Monday, August 31, 2009

Greener Grass?... Think again... !!!

We are all very familiar with the proverb: "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." We use this proverb to say that the things other people have or their situations always look better than our own, even when they are not really so. It is often shortened to: "The grass is greener on the other side," or even: "The grass is greener." The phenomenon is as old as the hills, but people still fall for it.

But... Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side? The answer is... 'NO'.

It's human nature to want what the other guy or gal has got. I know it, you know it, and even the God Almighty aka the Supreme Being knows it. Just think about it. If you order the chicken biriyani, you wish you ordered the chicken noodles instead, or maybe the mixed fried rice or perhaps the ghee rice with the chicken kabab or the grilled chicken... especially if the people sitting at the table next to you is really enjoying theirs. And if you ordered the KFC Zinger burger, you'd see someone really loving the Chicken Tikka Pizza, the Pizza Margherita, or the Mexican Pizza and wish you had that. Whatever you do, don't order the fish or the pork or even the mushroom! We're indecisive. We're insecure. And no one likes the feeling that they're missing out on something fun. Or, by the same token, that they could have done better than what they have. Ever heard of the "Buyer's Remorse?" Whether it's a pair of jeans, jackets, shoes, a hair cut, a car or a house, we second guess almost every decision we make, if even for a split second. If you're tall, you'll wonder what it's like to be short. If you're overweight, you'll wonder what it's like to be skinny... I can go on and on and on. It goes on every day, in every life. And it's OK to wonder. It's part of what makes us human... so very human.

Why do we always have the perception that other people's lives are better than ours? Why are we constantly trying to find something better? Why are we never satisfied with what we have? And why, oh why does the 'grass always seem greener on the other side'??? The answer is simple. When we observe other people's lives, it is usually only for a little while. And in that little while, we probably see these people on their best behaviours, and we immediately form a good impression of them. All we usually get is a tiny inkling of how they really are, and most of the times, we like it. But, as you get to know someone better, you realize - hey, this person is disorganized/messed up/has issues. They have all these problems and issues... small issues, big issues, unimportant issues, whatever... but they have issues. The bottomline is: We all have issues!!! We are not perfect, we all say things we shouldn't, we all do things we shouldn't and we all make mistakes... several of them, to be precise. We all fight, we all get irritated or cheesed off at each other and we all sometimes want to just up and leave. While it always does seem like the 'grass is greener on the other side', just remember - when you get to the other side, you just may wanna come back...

Don't compare your talents with others... (by following "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" theory...) Just do your best. Forever wondering or second guessing... if that's your plan, you can spend the rest of your life looking for something better. And then you'll never be happy. So even if you play with the idea of switching teams, remember that as soon as you do, the other team will start winning again. Look, grass is grass. Even if the grass is greener on the other side, who's to say that green grass is what you/we even wanted? Most folks don't even like lawn and yard work...!

It's important in life to reach out, to strive for greater achievements, to go for that 'greener grass' that is on the other side of the fence.

But one must also be careful... Sometimes you can reach too far!

But when you find yourself over-extended and you're stuck in a situation that you can't get out of, there is one thing you should always remember...

Not everyone who shows up... Is there to help you... !!!!

So, what is the 'moral of the story'... ???

- "If you go for where the grass is greener, you might get screwed"... !!! *wink, wink!*

Now, its time for some updates... regarding my blog. It's raining awards... this month... !!! The indefatigable blogger, Shilpa has very generously presented me with the 'Humane Award' on August 26th. 'Humane' as being characterized by kindness, mercy, or compassion; marked by an emphasis on humanistic values and concerns. Wow!!! While the Indian Pundit has honoured me with the 'One lovely blog award' on August 29th. *I'm beaming!*

I may have shared this before... but so what, let me do it again. My blog's current IndiRank is 80 (up from 77). IndiRank is a system that the folks at IndiBlogger have built to rank the blogs in the IndiBlogger network. It's like runs in a game of cricket - the higher the score, the higher ranking you (i.e., your blog) have. Blogs are ranked on a scale of 1-100. So, 80 is a pretty good score... what say?!! Also... in a short span of time... my blog has received 10,525 page views... with visitors from across the globe... scattered across 76 nations, to be precise! And... this is my 95th post! *a very satisfied smile!*


Two pictures to 'prove' that 'the grass is not always greener on the other side'. Its all in good humour, of course! I assure you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

GAY? - Some points to ponder... Part: (III)

Author's Note: You can read the Part: (I) of this post: HERE and the Part: (II) of this post: HERE.

Throughout Hindu and Vedic texts there are many descriptions of saints, demigods, and even the Supreme Lord transcending gender norms and manifesting multiple combinations of sex and gender. These include male, female, hermaphrodite, and all other possibilities. In
Hinduism, God is recognized as unlimited and untethered by any gender restrictions. For the purpose of enjoying transcendental pastimes (lila), the Supreme Lord manifests innumerable types of forms—just like an actor on a stage. As parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, the various living entities can also be seen to manifest within the full spectrum of sex and gender possibilities. From the impersonal perspective, the soul is not male, female, or hermaphrodite, but from the personal perspective the soul assumes such forms according to desire. In the mundane sphere, the soul manifests various gender roles in the pursuit of material enjoyment, but in the spiritual world these roles are adopted for the transcendental purpose of reciprocating with the Supreme Lord and rendering loving service.

Sri Ardhanarishvara is perhaps the most popular and widely known hermaphrodite deity in Hinduism. One half of the deity is Lord
Shiva (usually the right side, but not always), and the other half is his wife, the radiant goddess (devi) Parvati or Durga. In the Brahmanda Purana (5.30) it is stated that Lord Shiva assumed his hermaphrodite form of Sri Ardhanarishvara after duly worshiping his Shakti through meditation and yoga. The Kurma Purana (1.11.3) relates how Shiva's original form of Rudra was also hermaphrodite. When Shiva was generated from Lord Brahma's anger at the beginning of creation, he appeared in a very fierce half-male, half-female form known as Rudra. Brahma requested Rudra to divide himself in two and thus he became Shiva and Parvati. In Jayadeva Goswami's twelfth-century text, the Sri Gita Govinda (3.11), Lord Krishna praises Shiva's form of Ardhanarishvara while experiencing separation from His beloved Radha, as follows: "Just see! Lord Shiva lives happily with half of his body united with Parvati, whereas I am far from united with Radhika—I don't even know where She is."

In Hinduism, Ardhanari (Devanāgarī अर्धनारी, IAST Ardhanārī) or Ardhanarishvara (अर्धनारीश्वर, Ardhanārīśvara), is an androgynous deity composed of Shiva and his consort Shakti, representing the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies. The Ardhanari form also illustrates how the female principle of God, Shakti, is inseparable from the male principle of God, Shiva. Ardhanari in iconography is depicted as half-male and half-female, split down the middle. The term 'Ardhanarishvara' is a combination of three words- 'ardha', 'nari' and 'ishvara', meaning respectively, 'half', 'woman' and 'Lord' or 'God', that is, Ardhanarishvara is the Lord whose half is woman, or who is half woman. Ardhanarishvara also refers to the Dual Nature of the Cosmos. Sri Ardhanarishvara, the half-male, half-female form of Shiva-Shakti is symbolic of basic polarity; the right side is male and the left side, female. Ardhanarishvara stands in a lingam known as Itara Lingam. The lingam is shining white, like the color of light. The male half of Ardhanarishvara has camphor-blue skin. He holds a trident in his right hand, representing the three aspects of consciousness : cognition, conation, and affection. The female side of Ardhanarishvara is pink. She wears a red sari, and about her neck and arms are wound shining golden ornaments. She holds a pink lotus, a symbol of purity. All duality has ceased. Shiva has total command over all aspects of the self in this plane of liberation, or moksha. The third eye of Shiva is called sva-netra, the organ of clairvoyance. Becoming Sada-Shiva, the eternal one, Shiva is no longer separate from Shakti as a separate male entity. Devata Shiva is the granter of knowledge. This knowledge brings the breath (prana) and the mind under control of Ardhanarishvara.

Remarkably, the fantastic hermaphroditic form of Sri Ardhanarisvara is not unheard of in nature. There is a rare type of mosaic intersexuality known as gynandromorphism in which a creature is biologically divided in half with one side (usually the right) male and the other female, often with a sharp line of demarcation between them. While extremely rare in humans, gynandromorphism has been observed in a number of different animals including butterflies, spiders, small mammals, and especially birds—more than 40 cases of gynandromorphism have been reported in avian species like finches, falcons, and pheasants. The gynandromorphic animal is literally divided in half by sex, with one testis and one ovary, and in the case of birds with male plumage on one side and female plumage on the other. Some aboriginal societies highly value such intersexed creatures—they are kept separately and cared for meticulously in the belief that they bring good luck to the village. Sri Ardhanarisvara embodies the fusion of the male and female principles and is said to represent all contradictions in nature such as masculine and feminine; light and darkness; impotence and fertility; harshness and compassion, etc. The deity is often worshiped for blessings in fertility, marriage, progeny, and longevity. People of the third sex, associated with this deity due to their combined male and female natures, are believed to possess similar powers. Temples of Sri Ardhanarisvara exist throughout India and large festivals are held on the Shiva-ratri day in the month of Phalguna (February-March).

In Vedic narratives
Arjuna manifests all three genders—male, female, and hermaphrodite. He is most popularly known in his male form as the heroic warrior of the Mahabharata, the disciple of Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita and the husband of Draupadi. He is very, very dear to Lord Krishna. It is said that when Krishna first met Arjuna tears came to His eyes and He embraced Arjuna wholeheartedly—this was because Arjuna reminded Krishna of His intimate cowherd friend in Vraja of the same name. Krishna and Arjuna became instant companions and spent many years together in deep friendship. In the Mahabharata (Sauptika Parva, XII), Krishna states, "I have no dearer friend on earth than Arjuna, and there is nothing that I cannot give to him including my wives and children." In the Drona Parva of the same text, Krishna reiterates, "O Daruka, I shall not be able to cast my eyes, even for a single moment, on the earth bereft of Arjuna…Know that Arjuna is half of my body." Once, when Krishna had to leave Hastinapura for Dvaraka, He quickly hurried to the apartments of Arjuna and spent the entire night with him in happy slumber, even at the risk of upsetting His temperamental wife, Satyabhama.

As inseparable friends, Arjuna and Krishna are said to be non-different from the two Vedic sages of the Himalayas, Nara and Narayana. Nara-Narayana is the twin-brother incarnation of the preserver-god Vishnu on earth, working for the preservation of dharma or righteousness. In the concept of Nara-Narayana, the human soul 'Nara' is the eternal companion of the Divine 'Narayana'. The epic, Mahabharata identifies Lord Krishna with Narayana and Arjuna - the chief hero of the epic - with Nara. The legend of Nara-Narayana is also told in the scripture Bhagavata Purana. Hindus believe that the pair dwells at Badrinath, where their most important temple stands. According to the Monier-Williams dictionary, 'Nara' is "the primeval Man or eternal Spirit pervading the universe (always associated with 'Narayana', "son of the primeval man"; both are considered either as gods or sages and accordingly called देवौ, ऋषी , तापसौ. In epic poetry, they are the sons, of Dharma by Murti or Ahimsa and emanations of Vishnu, Arjuna being identified with Nara, and Krishna with Narayana.- Mahabharata, Harivamsa and Purana".

Sri Harihara is a form in which the two male deities of Vishnu and Shiva are fused together, similar to the Ardhanarisvara form. It is said that this form of the Lord appeared when Shiva embraced Vishnu as 'Mohini'—thus the right side of the Deity is Lord Shiva (the male side) and the left is Lord Vishnu (the female side). Many variations of this form can be found throughout temples in India. In traditional images, the right side depicting Lord Shiva carries a trident, has matted hair and is accompanied by Nandi (Shiva's bull carrier/mount or vahanam) or a gana (a dwarf-like attendant). The left side with Lord Vishnu carries a cakra, wears a crown, and is accompanied by a Vishnu attendant.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu is described in post-medieval Bengali texts as the combination of Sri Radha and Sri Krishna. He is also clandestinely alluded to throughout the Puranas and other Vedic texts as the incarnation for this age of Kali (the Kali Yuga)—the golden avatara, who descends to augment the chanting of the holy names of God. In the Chaitanya Charitamrita (of Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami), two more confidential reasons are given for Lord Krishna's descent as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: He wanted to taste the ecstatic love experienced by Sri Radha for Him, and He wanted to propagate this confidential knowledge to anyone eager to receive it. Thus, while appearing in a male form, Lord Caitanya's inner mood and emotions were that of a female, His divine consort Sri Radha, i.e., in the mood of Radharani. There are numerous biographies available giving details of Sri Chaitanya's life, the most prominent ones being the Chaitanya Charitamrita of Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami and the earlier Chaitanya Bhagavata of Vrindavana Dasa Thakura (both originally written in the Bengali language but now widely available in English and other languages) and the Chaitanya Mangala, written by Lochana Dasa Thakura.

Kartikeya is the son of two male deities—Shiva and Agni (the fire God)—born without the help of any womb. He is the god of war and commander-in-chief of the demigods. Kartikeya is also known as Skanda, Kumaran, Subrahmanya and Murugan, and portrayed as a brave, handsome youth riding on a peacock, sometimes in a six-headed and twelve-armed form. Kartikeya is traditionally worshiped as a bachelor who avoids women. In the Brahmanda Purana it is stated that Parvati cursed Kartikeya so that he would see all women as his mother. Thus he never married and instead took companionship from his fellow soldiers. Another name for Kartikeya is Senapati—he was a lord or "husband" to his army. There is another version. Karthikeya is said to have been born to destroy the Asura Mahisha. (In later mythology, Mahisha became the adversary of goddess Durga.) Indra attacks Karthikeya as he sees the latter as a threat, until Shiva intervenes and makes Karthikeya the commander-in-chief of the army of the Devas. He is also married to Devasena (also called Deivayanai), Indra's daughter. The origin of this marriage lies probably in the punning of 'Deva-sena-pati'. It can mean either lord of Devasena or Lord of the army(sena) of Devas.

The Atharva Veda describes Kumaran as 'Agnibhuh' or son of Agni, the fire god. The Satapatha Brahmana refers to him as the son of Rudra and the ninth form of Agni. The Taittiriya Aranyaka contains the Gayatri mantra for Shanmukha. The Chandogya Upanishad refers to Skanda as the "way that leads to wisdom". The Baudhayana Dharmasutra mentions Skanda as 'Mahasena' and 'Subrahmanya.' The Aranya Parva canto of the Mahabharata relates the legend of Kartikeya Skanda in considerable detail. The Skanda Purana is devoted to the narrative of Kartikeya.

In the best-known version from the
Shiva Purana, Kartikeya's birth is described as follows: The demigods needed a son who would lead their army against the asuras (demons). Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati agreed to produce such a son, but when they were locked in cosmic embrace for a very long time, the demigods became alarmed and interrupted them. Shiva spilled his seed on the ground and Agni, disguised as a dove and urged on by the other gods, swallowed the semen with his beak. Parvati was enraged by the course of events and chastised the gods bitterly. Agni was burned by the fire of Shiva's seed and submitted himself before the Lord. Shiva was pleased and allowed Agni to pass the semen on to the Krittikas. The sagely husbands of these goddesses, however, accused their wives of unfaithfulness and therefore they discharged the semen onto the Himalayan peaks. Himavata (the Himalayas personified and father of Parvati) was burned by the seed and tossed it into the Ganges River, which in turn deposited it into a forest of reeds—wherefrom a very handsome boy was born named Kartikeya. His appearance made Shiva, Parvati, and all the gods very happy. In the Skanda Purana, the story is nearly identical with the exception that Agni swallowed Shiva's semen disguised as a male ascetic instead of a dove. The Mahabharata also relates that when Kartikeya was very young, Indra feared he would usurp his throne and thus threw a thunderbolt at the boy. Instead of killing Kartikeya, however, it simply produced from his body another fierce-looking youth named Visakha. Indra then worshiped Kartikeya and installed him as commander-in-chief of the demigods... hence he is also the God of war. The Ramayana version is closer to the stories told in the Puranas, though.

Vedic texts, especially the
Bhagavata Purana, describe Sri Krishna as the fountainhead and original source of Vishnu and all avatāras (incarnations). Because Sri Krishna is 'adi-purusa'—the supreme and original male—all other beings are regarded as female in relation to Him. In the Padma Purana it is said that during the advent of Lord Rama, the sages of Dandakaranya Forest became so attracted to the Lord they developed conjugal affection for Him. Since Rama could accept only one wife, Sita, He blessed the sages to become cowherd maidens in Krishna's pastimes, thus fulfilling their desires.

Sri Krishna's pastimes are very playful and sportive; narratives from the Puranas as well as post-medieval texts often portray Krishna and His friends (both male and female) crossdressing for fun and delivering messages in disguise. Krishna has many male attendants (sahayakas) who meticulously dress and care for Him and His intimate priya-narma friends arrange rendezvous for Him to meet with the
gopis. These intimate friends are said to have nearly the same emotions (bhava) for Krishna that the gopis do and are always completely overwhelmed by Krishna's beauty and the love they feel for Him. Krishna is most famous for His loving pastimes with the gopis and His rasa-lila dances with them (rasa means 'emotion' or 'performance' and lila is a concept from Hinduism, which roughly translates to "play [lila] of the dance [rasa]," or more broadly as "Dance of Divine Love"). His chief consort is Sri Radha, the original source of all shaktis and Goddess of the spiritual energy. Radha is Krishna's life and soul; in His incarnation of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He combines with Her to experience the ecstatic love She feels for Him. Krishna's natural complexion is bluish but when He combines with Radha He takes on a golden complexion and is thus known as Lord Gauranga. In another popular pastime, the svayam bhagavan Sri Krishna disguises Himself as the beautiful maiden, Syamali, just to pacify the jealous anger of Radha.

Vishnu once transformed Himself into the most beautiful woman in the universe—Sri Mohini-murti. "Mohini" means "one who bewilders the mind," and "murti" means "form". This pastime is narrated in the Bhagavata Purana (8.8-9) as follows: The demigods and demons once combined their efforts to extract immortality-producing nectar from the ocean of milk. When the nectar was produced, however, the demigods and demons struggled for it and the demons made off with the pot. The demigods approached Lord Vishnu, who told them not to fear—He would resolve the issue. Vishnu then appeared as Sri Mohini-murti, the most bewildering of women. She is described as an extremely beautiful youth with a dark complexion and attractive fragrance. Her behavior and movements were very feminine and She attracted the minds of all men. Mohini approached the demons and, taking advantage of their captivation for Her, convinced them to release the pot of nectar. She told the demons She would distribute the nectar Herself and made them promise to accept whatever She did. They agreed, and once Mohini received the nectar She proceeded to distribute it only to the demigods. Thus the demons were never able to receive the nectar of immortality.

The largest festival and human gathering on earth or the world's largest act of faith—the
Kumbh-mela—originates from the pastime of churning the milk ocean. It is said that while the demons and demigods were struggling over the pot of nectar, four drops were spilled in four places: Prayaga, Haridvara, Ujjain and Nasik. These places are thus believed to have great mystical powers.

Narada Muni is the transcendental sage of the demigods. He was born from the mind of Lord Brahma and is a pure devotee of God. According to legend, Narad is regarded as the 'Manasaputra' referring to his birth 'from the mind of Brahma', the first living being as described in the Puranic universe. He is regarded as the 'Triloka sanchaari', the ultimate nomad who roams the three lokas of Swargaloka (heaven), Mrityuloka (earth, literally: "place of death") and Patalloka (nether-world). He does this to find out about the life and welfare of people. Narada Muni is a lifelong celibate (naistiki-brahmacari) and is mentioned throughout the Vedic literatures. He is often depicted traveling freely through outer space, plucking a stringed musical instrument (the veena), and preaching the glories of Lord Vishnu. Narada Muni moves from planet to planet and in all three realms of the universe—upper, middle and lower. His dear companion, Parvata Muni, often accompanies him. He is somewhat of a cosmic instigator—constantly coming and going, setting things in motion and sometimes creating mischief—but always for the higher purpose of demonstrating Vedic philosophical truths.

There are at least two instances in the Puranas wherein Narada Muni becomes a woman. In one narration, Narada asks Vishnu to show him His maya (illusion). Vishnu complies and instructs Narada to fetch Him some water from a nearby river. Narada does so, but falls into the water and emerges as a female. Narada then meets a man, falls in love, gets married, has many children, builds a home and establishes a prosperous farm on the riverbank. She becomes very happy and satisfied for many years. One day, however, there is an enormous flood, and Narada's husband, children, home and farm are all washed away in the raging waters. Narada laments piteously until finally the turbulent waters capture Narada herself. Terrified, she screams for help again and again. A hand grasps Narada and pulls her from the river. It is Vishnu—He has shown Narada His maya! In the Padma Purana there is a description of Narada's transformation into the beautiful cowherd maiden, Naradi. Narada Muni asks Lord Krishna to show him His divine loving affairs, and Krishna complies by turning him into the gopi Naradi and sporting with him for an entire year. This pastime is very similar to the one in which Arjuna is transformed into the maiden Arjuni, and it appears immediately afterward in the Purana.

In the
Ramayana (4.5.11-18), Lord Rama aligns Himself with the 'vanara' king, Sugriva, and they officiate their sacred alliance with a Vedic friendship ceremony. The ritual they perform is very similar to a Hindu wedding—fire is invoked as a witness, vows are exchanged, and the pair circumambulates the fire arena together. In India, third-gender couples sometimes emulate such friendship marriages to demonstrate their own love and commitment to one another.

Sri Shukracharya is the preceptor of the
Daityas, the guru of the Asuras (Danavas) and master of all kinds of supernatural powers. He is associated with the planet Venus (one of the Navagrahas), material pleasures, beauty, magic and bewitchment. The story of Shukracharya's appearance as the son of Lord Shiva is narrated both in the Mahabharata and the Vamana Purana as follows: A powerful mystic named Kavya knew all sorts of maya (magic) but did not have the spell for bringing the dead back to life. Hearing that Lord Shiva possessed this power, Kavya propitiated the god by hanging himself upside down over a smoldering fire. When Shiva appeared, Kavya slipped into his mouth and remained there for a very long time, gaining access to Shiva's knowledge and powers. After acquiring the spell for reviving the dead, he sought a passage out but could only find Shiva’s phallus. Emerging from there, Shiva quickly caught the asura and decided to kill him. The goddess Parvati, however, stopped her husband and said, "Since this asura has left your body through the phallus, he is to be considered your son." Shiva agreed and from then on Kavya was called Sukra—"sprung from the semen of Shiva."

Sri Surya is the Vedic sun god also known as Ravi or Vivasvan. He is in charge of illuminating the universe and empowered by the Vaikuntha Deity, Surya-Narayana. In a popular South Indian version of the Ramayana, Surya falls in love with his charioteer, Aruna, after the god transforms himself into a woman. The story is narrated as follows: Aruna, the god of dawn, desired to see the beautiful courtesans dancing in the palace of Indra. He thus transformed himself into the goddess, Aruni, and sneaked into Indra's palace. Indra noticed Aruni and was immediately captivated by her amazing beauty. The two then came together and created a son named
Vali. The next day, Aruna was late for his duty and Surya demanded to know why. Aruna described the incident and Surya requested if he could also see the beautiful form. Aruna complied, but Surya then became so captivated by Aruni he immediately united with her, producing another child known as Sugriva. The two offspring were later turned into 'vanaras' (human-like apes or man with ape nature) by the curse of Gautama Maharishi.

Sri Vallabhavardhana is a relatively little-known hermaphrodite form of Lord
Vishnu and Lakshmi-devi combined. Lord Vishnu is a transcendental manifestation of God who resides in the spiritual world known as 'Vaikunta' (literally, "beyond all anxiety"). Vishnu maintains both the spiritual and material cosmos simply by His own sweet will—He is depicted as being completely aloof, lying peacefully on His serpent bed (Ananta-Sesa/Adi-shesha), attended by the Goddess Lakshmi (His spiritual shakti), and served in awe and reverence by His devotees. The demigods (devas) often call upon Sri Vishnu as a last resort for deliverance from their calamities. Like many other deities, Lord Vishnu manifests Himself in all three genders—male, female (Mohini) and hermaphrodite (Sri Vallabhavardhana). The Vallabhavardhana form of the Lord is literally split down the middle with the right half represented by Lord Vishnu and the left half by goddess Lakshmi. Sri Vallabhavardhana (literally, "half Vallabha or Vishnu") is mentioned briefly in the Bhavishya Purana, but otherwise little else is known about this rare and unusual form.

Sri Gangamma-devi is an expansion of Lord Vishnu's spiritual shakti known as "Yogamaya" or "Subhadra". She is worshipped in South India as the younger sister of Lord Venkateswara - also known as: Venkatachalapathy, Srinivasa, Perumal and Balaji - a popular Vishnu Deity presiding over the famous Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh. "Venkateshwara" means "the Lord who destroys the sins of the people". According the Hindu scriptures, Vishnu, out of love towards his devotees, incarnated as Venkateshwara and appeared for the salvation and upliftment of humanity in this Kali Yuga and is thus considered to be the supreme form of Lord Vishnu in this age. Yogamaya (Mahayoga) or the power of divine illusion. The aspect of Krishna's personal energy who enhances His loving pastimes with His devotees by putting the devotees in benign illusion, making them forget that 'He' is God. When Krishna descended to earth, Yogamaya appeared as 'His' sister, Subhadra. Mahamaya, the material energy of illusion, is her partial expansion. Subhadrā (Sanskrit: सुभद्रा) is an important character in the epic, Mahābhārata. She is the half-sister of Krishna, wife of Arjuna, and mother of Abhimanyu. She was the partial incarnation of Shatarupa. In Hindu mythology, when Brahma was creating the universe, he made a female deity known as Shatarupa (literally śata-rūpā, she of a hundred beautiful forms). According to the Matsya Purana, Shatarupa was known by different names, including Satarupa, Sarasvati, Sandhya, or Brahmi.

These are anecdotes from our mythology about a male transforming into a female and vice versa. How can a man/male "transform" himself into a woman/female and vice versa, and that too temporarily...??? Think about it...

Note: Some info gathered, Courtesy: Wikipedia, and


A depiction of Sri Ardhanarishvara - an androgynous deity composed of Shiva and his consort Shakti, representing the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies. The Ardhanari form also illustrates how the female principle of God, Shakti, is inseparable from the male principle of God, Shiva. The term 'Ardhanarishvara' is a combination of three words- 'ardha', 'nari' and 'ishvara', meaning respectively, 'half', 'woman' and 'Lord' or 'God', that is, Ardhanarishvara is the Lord whose half is woman, or who is half woman. Ardhanarishvara also refers to the Dual Nature of the Cosmos. (Picture courtesy:

Monday, August 24, 2009

GAY? - Some points to ponder... Part: (II)

Authors Note: You can read the Part: (I) of this post: HERE.

This so-called "debate" on "gays" is a sham. The shameful treatment meted out to the "eunuchs" or the third gender in our country, is a disgrace. In the "sanatana-dharma"/the ancient Vedic faith or the Vedic civilization (in ancient India), even animals, birds and reptiles were held in high esteem. Most of the current prudishness is a result of the foreign invasions... in the last millennium or the last 1000 years... after the decline or rather the end of Emperor Ashok's rule. One conqueror after another descended on this land... like a pack of wolves, their sole motivation being... to plunder, destroy, kill and maim by the thousands.

Conquerors do not have any faith/belief/religion... they have their own thoughts and interpretations of their beliefs... they only want to expand their kingdom and leave a larger footprint where-ever they go. In the process they also leave behind their distorted views and beliefs, strongly imprinted on the conquered lands and in the psyche of the hapless people living on those lands. These conquerors... in their quest for power and wealth... burn the books, sacred scriptures and ancient literatures of the conquered lands; destroy the holy sites and places of worship as well as the libraries. They imprison/torture/murder the custodians of the "culture" of these lands... and replace them with people of "their" choice - weaklings whose knees are as wobbly as their spines are elastic - and who do "their" bidding.

Hence a powerful "cartel" is formed... and these vested interests protect their own "interests"; in the process the actual "culture, values and traditions" of the land and the people are destroyed, altered and lost forever. This continue for centuries/generations... and today we find a bunch of neo-group(s)/cartel(s)... who want to 'force feed' "their" interpretation of this ancient vedic faith to others. e.g., the caste system that is a bane of our society today, is a complete corruption of what it was supposed to be... i.e., the "varnashrama". Hinduism, rather the ancient vedic faith ("sanatana-dharma") has often been termed "a way of life". The Rig Veda enjoins that human society be divided into four varnas (see: The Four Varnas). The revealed nature of "Vedas" suggests that the varna system is therefore not man-made but of divine origin. Lord Krishna teaches in the Bhagavad Gita that people are allocated to a specific varna according to two criteria, namely (1) guna [personal qualities] and (2) karma [aptitude for a type of work]. He makes no mention of varna being determined by birth. This differentiates the original varnashrama-dharma from the current caste system. The term "caste" originates from the Portuguese term "casta", denoting purity of descent. It has come to refer not just to the four varnas, but to a whole system incorporating occupational sub-castes (jatis). In fact, current caste practices often give far more emphasis to jati than to varna. What really differentiates caste from varnashrama-dharma, though, is its hereditary nature – possibly an imposition by the "Brahmins" attempting to consolidate their prestigious position in society. The fluidity of varnashrama-dharma is acknowledged by numerous textual references to people changing their varna.

There is no concept of "Brahmin" in this ancient vedic faith... as we know it today. There is the Brahman, which is a general term for the Supreme Being or Almighty God/the Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hindu Vedanta philosophy. Brahman is the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Universe. Note that "Brahman" is different from "Brahmin" (brāhmaṇa, ब्राह्मण), the priests/holy men. In fact "Brahmin" is derived from "Brahman" in the sense that a 'Brahmin is the one who knows Brahman'. The confusion between the terms can be dated back to the translation of the Upanishads into modern English. The English word "brahmin" is an anglicised form of the Sanskrit word "Brāhmaṇa", "having to do with Brahman (Sanskrit: ब्रह्म) or divine knowledge". The sage-seers of the Upanishads had fully realized "Brahman" as the reality behind their own being and of everything else in this universe. They were thus "Brahmins" in the true sense of the word. These rishis described "Brahman" as infinite Being, infinite Consciousness, and infinite Bliss (saccidananda). Today's "brahmins" can certainly not claim to be fulfilling these criteria. Also, there was no gender discrimination originally. Women who were learned scholars, wise and had attained the divine knowledge also underwent the "sacred thread" (upavita) ceremony... it is no longer done in today's times. (I'll be covering these topics in later posts).

There are several instances in our scriptures, epics, mythology and history... apart from Vātsyāyana's Kama Sutra and the paintings and sculptures of the Khajuraho Cave temples - that depict a sensuous poetry carved in stone. Amba reincarnating as Shikhandi in the Mahabharatha, Lord Vishnu taking the 'avatar' (the Sanskrit for "descent" viz., from heaven to earth - usually implies a deliberate descent from higher spiritual realms to lower realms of existence for special purposes; often translated into English as "incarnation") of Mohini (beautiful/charming woman) to kill Bhasmasura. And also after the 'samudra-manthan' - jointly carried out by the 'devas' (demigods) and the 'Asuras' (demons) - for gaining the 'divine nectar'/'celestial nectar of immortality'... or 'Amrita' - in order to ensure that the Asuras did not get even a single drop of it. 'Manthanam' is the Sanskrit equivalent of 'Manthan' meaning 'to churn'. When finally, Dhanvantari, the heavenly physician, emerged with a pot containing amrita, the heavenly 'nectar of immortality', fierce fighting ensued between 'devas' and 'asuras' for the nectar. To protect the nectar from the 'asuras', the 'devas' hid the pot of nectar at four places on the earth - Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. (At each of these places, a drop of the nectar spilled from the pot and it is believed that these places acquired mystical power. A Kumbh Mela is celebrated at the four places every twelve years for this reason). However, the Asuras eventually got hold of the nectar and started celebrating. Frightened, the devas (demigods) appealed to Lord Vishnu, who then took the form of Mohini. As a beautiful and enchanting damsel, Mohini distracted the 'asuras', took the amrita, and distributed it among the Adityas/devas, who drank it... and thereafter gained immortality.

More such examples can be found. Arjuna assuming the garb of a transgender (on account of a curse by Urvasi) named Brihannala during the period of the Pandava's disguise. Infact, of all the disguises that the five Pandavas assumed during the last year (out of 12 years) of their exile, none can be considered more curious or surprising than that of Arjuna's. His was not actually a disguise, but rather a transformation due to a curse. Arjuna was despondent over the impending curse, but Lord Krishna assured him that this so-called curse would actually become a useful benediction. It would serve as the perfect disguise for Arjuna during his last year of exile. When the time approached, the Pandavas decided that they would spend this last year in the capital city ruled by Maharaja Virata.

Dressing up like a woman, he was transformed by Urvasi's power into a person of the third sex. This third classification of gender, known as "tritiya-prakriti" in the Sanskrit language, is described as being a combination of both the male and female natures, yet at the same time neither one. Arjuna presented himself donned in a woman's blouse and draped in red silk. He wore numerous ivory bangles, golden earrings and necklaces made of coral and pearls. His hair was long and braided, and he entered the royal palace with the gait of a broad-hipped woman. At the same time his body still remained incredibly stout and muscular. According to the Mahābhārata, his feminine attire hid his masculine glory but at the same time it did not. He appeared just like the full moon when eclipsed by the planet Ketu. The Sanskrit word "kliba" is used throughout Vedic texts to describe many different types of people who belonged to a "gender-ambiguous" and neutral third sex. These people were not considered to be ordinary males and females, and they did not experience attraction for the opposite sex or engage in sexual reproduction. They were taken to be a combination of both the male and female natures, yet at the same time neither one. We are familiar with this third sex today as transgenders, the intersexed, and other types of persons who do not neatly fit into traditional male and female roles. In Vedic times, the third sex category served as an important tool for the recognition and peaceful accommodation of such persons within society. Gays, lesbians do not belong to the 3rd sex category though, and were considered as normal humans (men or women respectively).

Introducing himself as Brihannala, a professional dancer and musician trained by the "Gandharvas" (celestial musicians) or (lesser) celestial beings, Arjuna explained that he was an expert in singing, hair decoration and "all the fine arts that a woman should know." Maharaja Virata was surprised yet pleased with his manner of speaking, and he agreed that Arjuna should live among the palace women and instruct them in singing and dancing. Brihannala (Arjuna) soon became a great favorite within their chambers. The king instructed his daughter Uttarā, "Brihannala seems to be a high-born person. She does not seem to be an ordinary dancer. Treat her with the respect due to a queen. Take her to your apartments." It is important to note that Maharaja Virata addressed Brihannala as a female, accepting her transgender status, and that he was familiar with people of the third sex within his Vedic kingdom. He did not ridicule or belittle her, and he most certainly did not have her sent away or arrested. He also did not suggest that Brihannala change her dress and behave as an ordinary male. Rather, he accepted her nature as it was and offered her shelter and employment within his royal palace. She (he) taught arts to Uttarā, the princess of the kingdom of Virata. She (he) also won the war against the Kauravas for Uttara Kumara, (the prince of the kingdom of Virata), when they attacked the kingdom suspecting the presence of the Pandavas there.

Lord Ayyappa - worshipped in a number of shrines across India - is the son of "Hari" - Lord Vishnu (the "preserver"/"balancer"/"sustainer") in a female form, and "Hara" - Lord Shiva (the "destroyer")... and is also known as "Hari Hara putra" or Hariharasutan ("Sutan" meaning "Son"). He is considered to be born out of the union between Mohini (Vishnu) and Shiva and combines in himself the powers of Vishnu and Shiva, and is a visible embodiment of their essential identity. Lord Vishnu gifted the new-born deity with a little bejeweled bell necklace, so this god is called Manikanthan Swamy ("Mani", means gemstone and "kantan" means wearer around the neck). The story goes like this: the asura princess Mahishi was burning up with anger at the trick the gods had pulled on her brother, the asura king Mahishasura. As Mahishasura was blessed with invulnerability to all men, the gods had sent goddess Durga, to fight and kill him. Thus, Mahishi began performing a fearsome set of austerities, and pleased the creator god Brahma. He granted her the boon of ruling the universe and being invulnerable except to a being that had the combined strength of both Shiva and Vishnu. Since such a person did not exist, she thought she was safe and began conquering and plundering the world. The gods implored Shiva and Vishnu to save them from this catastrophe. Vishnu found a possible solution to the problem. When Vishnu had taken on the Kurma Avatar, he also had to manifest himself as Mohini, the enchantress, to save the nectar of immortality from the demons who were not willing to share it with the gods. If he became Mohini again, then the female Mohini and the male Shiva could have the divine child who would combine their powers and beat Mahishi. Thus, Lord Ayyappa was born.

The boy grew up to be a strong warrior and was very popular among the citizens, but due to family intrigue he renounced the crown to meditate as a celibate atop Mount Sabarimalai in Kerala. Vavar, his dearest 'yavana' friend and companion, accompanied Ayyappa into the forest along with Lila, a beautiful nymph whom Ayyappa had once rescued but refused to marry. It is said that Ayyappa told Lila he would marry her only when male devotees stopped visiting his temples, and for this reason throngs of male devotees faithfully make a pilgrimage each year to keep the demigod free from marriage. The friendship between Ayyappa and Vavar was extremely strong and reminiscent of the relationship between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. At one point Ayyappa tells his father: "Consider Vavar as myself." As the son of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, he is said to represent harmony between the 'Saivite' and 'Vaishnava' traditions; as the friend of Vavar, he symbolizes mercy and friendship toward non-Hindus and outcastes.

When Iravan/Iravat/Iravant (Aravan in South India)... the son of Arjuna and Ulupi (a 'Naga' princess, born in the race of Airavata... here, I think 'naga' is a race... found in the north-east part of India and beyond - Myanmar, Thailand, China, Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Malayasia included - and not a 'serpent') was to be sacrified (to Goddess Kali), so that the Pandavas could win the Kurukshetra War... he expressed his desire for marriage, so that he could get the right of cremation and funerary offerings (bachelors were buried). Since no woman was willing to marry a man who would only live for a day... Lord Krishna took on a female form and married Iravan. Krishna satisfied this boon (the first of three boons granted to Iravan by Lord Krishna himself, in honour of his willing self-sacrifice) in his female form Mohini, the enchantress, married Aravan, and spent the night with him. The Mahabharata portrays Iravan as dying a heroic death in the 18-day Kurukshetra War, which is the epic's main subject. In the Mahabharata, "Iravant" means "sacrificial victim". Iḍā is also used elsewhere to denote a substance that Devas (demi-gods) and Asuras (demons) vie for. Aravan is considered "the symbol of the price war exacts, a representative of countless innocent youth[s] who[m] [sic.] their mothers reluctantly send to the battlefield to be consumed by the insatiable Goddess of War."

The birth of Iravan is mentioned in Book 6 of the "Mahabharata"—Bhisma Parva (the Book of Bhisma)—while the marriage of his parents is mentioned in Book 1—Adi Parva (the Book of Beginnings). Arjuna, the third Pandava brother, is exiled from Indraprastha (the capital city of the Pandava kingdom) to go on a one-year pilgrimage, as a penance for violating the terms of his marriage to Draupadi, the Pandava brothers' common wife. Arjuna reaches the north-east region of present-day India and falls in love with Ulupi, a widowed 'Naga' princess. The two get married and have a son named Iravan; later, Arjuna proceeds with his pilgrimage, leaving Iravan and Ulupi behind in 'Nagaloka', the abode of the Nagas. Iravan grew up in 'Nagaloka', protected by his mother, but was rejected by his maternal uncle due to the latter's hatred of Arjuna. Later, Iravan went to Indraloka, the abode of the god Indra - the divine father of Arjuna, to meet Arjuna, where Arjuna requested his assistance in the Kurukshetra War.

The word 'Naga' in the Sanskrit language means snake or serpent. It seems likely that the 'Naga' people were a serpent-worshipping group who were later described as serpents themselves in ancient Indian literature. This transformation or identification was much like the 'Vanaras' (forest-dwelling humans, 'van' means 'forest') turning unto 'monkeys' in the later literature. Iravati River (Ravi) to the south of Kashmir could be the Indian territory of the 'Nagas' called 'Airavatas'... to which Ulupi belonged. Their original abode could be the Airavata region mentioned in the far north.

Sri Brahma (the creator) is the first created deity in charge of engineering and propagating the material universe. He was born from a single male parent - Lord Vishnu - without any female assistance. At the beginning of the universe, Lord Vishnu (the balancer/the sustainer) lies down upon the universal ocean and a lotus flower sprouts from His navel. Within the lotus appears Sri Brahma. The idea of demigods, demons and humans emerging from a single parent, whether male or female, is a common theme found throughout Vedic literature and transcends all stereotypes regarding reproduction. Sri Brahma himself... often generates progeny without any female assistance and conceives Lord Shiva (the destroyer), the divine sage - Narada Muni and many of the other demigods in this way.

Lord Ganesh (depicted with the head of an elephant) represents the mysterious identities and the "queerness" found in Hinduism and nature - the idea that anything can be possible. The elephant has appeared in cultures across the world. They are a symbol of wisdom in Asian cultures and are famed for their memory and intelligence, where they are thought to be on par with cetaceans and hominids. Aristotle once said the elephant was "the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind". The word "elephant" has its origins in the Greek ἐλέφας, meaning "ivory" or "elephant". The smallest elephants (dwarf elephants), about the size of a calf or a large pig, were a prehistoric species that lived on the island of Crete during the Pleistocene epoch (echos of Lord Vishnu's "Varaha" avatar, here... ??). Lord Ganesh (also known as: Ganapati, Vinayaka and Pillaiyar) is widely revered as the "Remover of Obstacles" and more generally as "Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles" (Vighnesha, Vighneshvara), "patron of the arts and the sciences", and the "deva of intellect and wisdom". He is honoured at the beginning of rituals and ceremonies and invoked as the "Patron of Letters" during writing sessions. The principal scriptures dedicated to Lord Ganesh are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India. "Vinayaka" (Sanskrit: विनायक; vināyaka) is a common name for "Ganesha" that appears in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras.

The earliest Ganesha images are without a vahana (mount). Of the eight incarnations of Ganesha described in the Mudgala Purana, Ganesha has a mouse in five of them, uses a lion in his incarnation as Vakratunda, a peacock in his incarnation of Vikata, and Shesha, the divine serpent, in his incarnation as Vighnaraja. Of the four incarnations of Ganesha listed in the "Ganesha Purana", "Mohotkata" has a lion, "Mayūreśvara" has a peacock, "Dhumraketu" has a horse, and "Gajanana" has a rat/mouse. Jain depictions of Ganesha show his vahana variously as a mouse, elephant, tortoise, ram, or peacock. The mouse as a mount first appears in written sources in the "Matsya Purana" and later in the Brahmananda Purana and Ganesha Purana, where Ganesha uses it as his vehicle only in his last incarnation. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa includes a meditation verse on Ganesha that describes the mouse appearing on his flag. The names Mūṣakavāhana (mouse-mount) and Ākhuketana (rat-banner) appear in the Ganesha Sahasranama. The mouse is interpreted in several ways. According to Grimes, "Many, if not most of those who interpret Gaṇapati's mouse, do so negatively; it symbolizes tamoguṇa as well as desire". Along these lines, Michael Wilcockson says it symbolizes those who wish to overcome desires and be less selfish. Krishan notes that the rat is destructive and a menace to crops. The Sanskrit word mūṣaka (mouse) is derived from the root mūṣ (stealing, robbing). It was essential to subdue the rat as a destructive pest, a type of vighna (impediment) that needed to be overcome. According to this theory, showing Ganesha as master of the rat/mouse... demonstrates his function as Vigneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) and gives evidence of his possible role as a folk grāmata-devatā (village deity) who later rose to greater prominence. Martin-Dubost notes a view that the rat is a symbol suggesting that Ganesha, like the rat, penetrates even the most secret of places with ease.

Ganesha appears in Mahayana Buddhism, not only in the form of the Buddhist god Vināyaka, but also as a Hindu demon form with the same name. His image appears in Buddhist sculptures during the late Gupta period. As the Buddhist god Vināyaka, he is often shown dancing. This form, called Nṛtta Ganapati, was popular in northern India, later adopted in Nepal, and then in Tibet. In Nepal, the Hindu form of Ganesha, known as "Heramba", is very popular; he has five heads and rides a lion. Tibetan representations of Ganesha show ambivalent views of him. A Tibetan rendering of Ganapati is tshogs bdag. In one Tibetan form, he is shown being trodden under foot by Mahākāla, a popular Tibetan deity. Other depictions show him as the Destroyer of Obstacles, sometimes dancing. Ganesha appears in China and Japan in forms that show distinct regional character. In northern China, the earliest known stone statue of Ganesha carries an inscription dated to 531. In Japan, the Ganesha cult was first mentioned in 806. Ganesha is also worshipped by most Jains, for whom he appears to have taken over certain functions of Kubera.

Throughout Hindu texts many strange, incredible creatures are found. Garuda, for instance, the carrier (mount or vahanam) of Lord Vishnu, has a form that is half-man, half-eagle. Hanuman, the devotee of Lord Rama, is depicted as half-monkey, half-god. Lord Vishnu's incarnation of Lord Nrsimhadeva/Narasimha appears in a half-man/half-lion form, having a human-like torso and a lower body, but with a lion-like face and claws. The third sex is half man, half woman. Many celestial beings are described in Vedic texts as "kinnara" (literally, "what creature?") or kimpurusa ("what man?"). The peculiar nature of Sri Ganesh's birth and features continues in this tradition, making him very attractive to his followers and hinting at the inconceivable nature of God and His creation. Narasimha indicates God's omnipresence and the lesson is that... God is everywhere. Killing Hiranykashyapu by incarnating as Narasimha is one of Lord Vishnu's major exploits.

Hanuman is one of the most important personalities in the Indian epic, the Ramayana. His most famous feat, as described in the epic scripture the Ramayana, was leading an army of "vanaras" (even though this is literally translated as "monkeys", "vanaras" are probably "forest dwelling humans" - "van" means "forest") to fight the demon King Ravana. He is also referred to as Bajrang Bali (Sanskrit: Vajranga) because his body was hard like a vajra. Sri Aurobindo states that "vanara" does not refer to "monkey": "Prajapati manifests as Vishnu Upendra incarnate in the animal or Pashu in whom the four Manus have already manifested themselves, and the first human creature who appears is, in this Kalpa, the Vanara, not the animal Ape, but man with the Ape nature", i.e. primitive man such as, Homo erectus. Hanuman, in one interpretation, is also considered as the incarnation of Lord Shiva or reflection of Shiva also known as Rudra. The story goes like this: Hanuman was born to 'Anjana', a female vanara on the Anjaneri hill in the Brahmagiri hills near Trimbakeshwar, Maharashtra. According to the legend, Anjana was an apsara or a celestial being, named 'Punjikasthala', who, due to a curse, was born on the earth as a female vanara. The curse was to be removed upon her giving birth to an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Others, such as the followers of Dvaita consider Hanuman to be the son of Vayu or a manifestation of Vayu, the god of wind. When Ravana tried to enter the Kailash (the abode of Shiva) he called Lord Shiva "a monkey". Lord Shiva in return cursed Ravana that a monkey would burn his Lanka (name of Ravana's kingdom). Shiva took the form of Hanuman to achieve this. References to Hanuman in classical literature could be found as early as those of 5th to 1st century BC in Panini's Astadhyayi, Abhiseka Nataka, Pratima Nataka, and Raghuvamsa (Kālidāsa).

The Garuda (Sanskrit: Garuḍa गरुड, eagle; Pāli Garuḷa) is a large mythical bird or bird-like creature that appears in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Garuda is the Hindu name for the constellation Aquila and the Brahminy kite is considered to be the contemporary representation of Garuda. His stature in Hindu religion can be gauged by the fact that an independent Upanishad, the Garudopanidad, and a Purana, the Garuda Purana, is devoted to him. The Vedas provide the earliest reference of Garuda, though by the name of Śyena, where this mighty bird is said to have brought nectar to earth from heaven. The Puranas, which came into existence much later, mention Garuda as doing the same thing, which indicates that Śyena (Sanskrit for Eagle) and Garuda are the same. One of the faces of Śrī Pañcamukha Hanuman is Mahavira Garuda. This face points towards the west. Worship of Garuda is believed to remove the effects of poisons from one's body. In the Bhagavad-Gita (Ch.10, Verse 30), in the middle of the battlefield "Kurukshetra", Lord Krishna explaining his omnipresence, says: "Of birds, I am the son of Vinata (Garuda)" indicating the importance of Garuda. He also, says: "Of Nagas, I am Ananta" indicating the importance of Ananta Shesha.

"The foremost manifestation of Krishna is Sankarshana, who is known as Ananta. He is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to the appearance of Lord Krishna, this original Sankarshana will appear as Baladeva, just to please the Supreme Lord Krishna in His transcendental pastimes." (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.1.24) "That Ananta Sesha is the devotee incarnation of Godhead. He knows nothing but service to Lord Krishna." (Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita Adi-lila 5.120). In Hindu (Vedic) tradition, Shesha (Devanagari: शेष) or Adi-shesha is the king of all nagas, one of the primal beings of creation, and according to the Bhagavata Purana, an avatar of the Supreme God known as "Sankarshan". In the Puranas, Shesha is said to hold all the planets of the Universe on his hoods and to constantly sing the glories of Vishnu from all his mouths. He is sometimes referred to as "Ananta-Shesha" which means "Endless Shesha" and as "Adishesha", which means First snake. Shesha is generally depicted with a massive form that floats coiled in space, or on the universal ocean, to form the bed on which Vishnu lies. Sometimes he is shown as five-headed or seven-headed, but more commonly as a many hundred-headed serpent, sometimes with each head wearing an ornate crown. He is closely associated with Vishnu. His name means "that which remains", from the Sanskrit root śiṣ, because when the world is destroyed at the end of the kalpa (cosmic cycle), Shesha remains as he is.

Garuda plays an important role in Krishna Avatar in which Lord Krishna and his wife, Satyabhama (also believed to an Avatar of Bhudevi) ride on Garuda to kill Narakasura/Naraka - the asura son of the earth goddess Bhudevi (Bhumi) and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha (boar) avatar (incarnation) as per Hindu mythology. In other sources, Narakasura is the son of the asura Hiranyaksha. On another occasion, Lord Hari (Vishnu) rides on Garuda to save the devotee Elephant Gajendra. It is also said that Garuda's wings when flying will chant the Vedas. Also according to the Mahabharata, Garuda had six sons from whom were descended the race of birds. The story of Garuda's birth and deeds is told in the first book of the great epic Mahabharata. According to the epic, when Garuda first burst forth from his egg, he appeared as a raging inferno equal to the cosmic conflagration that consumes the world at the end of every age. Frightened, the gods begged him for mercy. Garuda, hearing their plea, reduced himself in size and energy. Garuda's father was the creator-rishi Kasyapa. His mother was Vinata, whose sister was Kadru, the mother of serpents. Throughout the Mahabharata, Garuda is invoked as a symbol of impetuous violent force, of speed, and of martial prowess. The the royal guru and the field marshall of the Kauravas, Dronacharya uses a military formation named after Garuda. Lord Krishna even carried the image of Garuda on his banner.

Garuda in Buddhist mythology: the garuḍas (Pāli: garuḷā) are enormous predatory birds with intelligence and social organization. Another name for the garuḍa is suparṇa (Pāli: supaṇṇa), meaning "well-winged, having good wings". Like the Nāgas, they combine the characteristics of animals and divine beings, and may be considered to be among the lowest devas. The garuḍas were among the beings appointed by §Śakra to guard Mount Sumeru and the Trāyastriṃśa heaven from the attacks of the asuras. In the Mahasamyatta Sutta, the Buddha is shown making temporary peace between the Nagas and the garuḍas. The Sanskrit word garuḍa has been borrowed and modified in the languages of several Buddhist countries. In Thai the word for a garuḍa is Krut (ครุฑ). In Burmese, garuḍas are called ga-lon. In Kapampangan the native word for eagle is Galura. In Japanese a garuḍa is called Karura. For the Mongols, the garuḍa is called Khan Garuda or Khangarid (Mongolian: Хангарьд). Before and after each round of Mongolian wrestling, groups performs the Garuḍa Dance, a stylised imitation of the Khangarid and a hawk. In the Qing Dynasty fiction The Story of Yue Fei (1684), Garuda sits at the head of the Buddha's throne. But when a celestial bat (an embodiment of the Aquarius constellation) farts during the Buddha’s expounding of the Lotus Sutra, Garuda kills her and is exiled from paradise. He is later reborn as Song Dynasty General Yue Fei. The bat is reborn as Lady Wang, wife of the traitor Prime Minister Qin Hui, and is instrumental in formulating the "Eastern Window" plot that leads to Yue's political execution.

Thailand uses the garuḍa (Thai: ครุฑ krut) as its national symbol. One form of the garuḍa used in Thailand as a sign of the royal family is called Krut Pha, meaning "garuḍa acting as the vehicle (of Vishnu)." Indonesia also uses the garuḍa as its national symbol. The Indonesian national airline is Garuda Indonesia. The garuḍa, known as Khangarid, is the symbol of the capital city of Mongolia, Ulan Bator. According to popular Mongolian belief, Khangarid is the mountain spirit of the Bogd Khan Uul range who became a follower of Buddhist faith. Today he is considered the guardian of that mountain range and a symbol of courage and honesty. The bird also gives its name to Hangard Aviation and Khangarid (Хангарьд), a football (soccer) team in the Mongolia Premier League. The elite bodyguards of the medieval Hoysala kings in Karnataka, India, were called Garudas, because they served the king in the way that Garuda served Vishnu. The US Navy's Electronic Attack Squadron 134 is nicknamed the Garudas. Garud Commando Force is a Special Forces unit of the Indian Air Force, specializing in operations deep behind enemy lines.

There is a story on the evolution of the entire "Chandravamshi" clan of Kshatriyas... I am unable to recollect it now, though.

(Stay tuned...)

Note: Some info gathered, Courtesy: Wikipedia and


Lord Krishna and Arjuna... during the Kurukshetra War, where Lord Krishna reveals the Bhagavad Gita during his conversation with Arjuna... a scene from our great epic, the Mahabharata.