A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Monday, December 31, 2012

Curtains 2012

Its curtains for 2012 and I am so happy.

Usually, on the last day we turn retrospective and look back on how the year was, but I don’t intend to do that. The year 2012 wasn’t one of the best years that went by, both as an individual or as a community or as a nation. Then why look back? As they say, never follow your footsteps backwards.

So, I look forward to the New Year, 2013.

During the New Year 2013,

  • I sincerely hope that history does not repeat itself.
  • I hope we do not see an awful failure of governance in every aspect of administration
  • I hope we do not have to see such menacingly poor law and order situation
  • I hope we do not have to suffer hardships leashed out by poor Govt policies
  • I hope the economy tries to improve and look-up (just as I am trying to!)
  • I hope we see less of corruption (I am not asking for elimination of it!!)
  • I hope we see less of corrupt leaders getting away with murder and more
  • I hope we do not end up with good-for-nothing politicians all in the name of who-else-is-there-anyways
  • I hope we do not get lost from our secularist credentials
  • I hope our children and theirs do not have to search for empty spaces in the city and elsewhere
  • I hope we do not have to worry when the ladies of our homes step out for just about anything
  • I hope the self-appointed moral policemen, will open their eyes to a new age India

Personally, there is much that I look forward to and hope the year turns out good for all around me, associated with me and remotely linked to me!

I am a rank optimist and one of the firm believers of a rainbow at the end of a heavy rain. Nature hasn’t disappointed as yet by withdrawing the rainbow, so I feel quite upbeat about the year looking up.

I would like to end on a positive note in an otherwise gloomy outlook, by quoting the lyrics penned by Sahir Ludhianvi (based on his aptly titled poem, Umeed or Hope), from a 1958 Hindi film “Phir Subah Hogi” –

Woh subah kabhi to aayegi, woh subah kabhi to aayegi

In kaali sadiyon ke sar se, jab raat ka aanchal dhalkega

Jab dukh ke baadal pighalenge, jab sukh ka sagar chalkega

Jab ambar jhoom ke naachega, jab dharti naghme gayegi

Woh subah kabhi to aayegi

Jis subah ki khaatir yug yug se, hum sab mar mar kar jeete hain

Jis subah ke amrit ki boond mein, hum zahar ke pyale peete hain

In bhookhe pyase ruhon par, ek din to karam faramayegi

Woh subah kabhi to aayegi

Mana ke abhi tere mere armano ki keemat kuch bhi nahi

Mitti ka bhi hai kuch mol magar, insano ki keemat kuch bhi nahi

Insano kii izzat jab jhoothhen sikkon mein naa toli jaayegi

Woh subah kabhi to aayegi, woh subah kabhi to aayegi

If the year 2012 was characterised with a sense of hopelessness, let’s usher in 2013 with a sense of hopefulness!

Here’s wishing all of you a very .....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Woman of 21st Century

All of us know that Parashuram was an avatar of Lord Vishnu and is better known as the form of god who had a hatred for the Kshatriyas and that he was the guru of the likes of Bhishma, Drona and Karna. However, I would like to highlight an altogether different aspect of the life of Parashuram.

Parashuram, besides being an avatar of Lord Vishnu, also has the dubious distinction of being the first man responsible for matricide, i.e. killing his own mother. Let me tell you that story.

Parashuram was the son of sage Jamadagni and his wife Renuka. Renuka was a chaste woman, which was characterised by her ability to bring water from the river in wet clay or unbaked clay pots. It is said that the pot held the water only on the strength of her devotion to her husband.

Once at the river, she saw a gandharva, a celestial being, and for a moment she was smitten by his looks, just for a moment. That day, the clay pot broke and she had to return without water. Sage Jamadagni came to know about it and was very angry and commanded his son Parashuram to behead his mother immediately, which Parashuram did without questioning his father. Later, impressed by his obedience, Sage Jamadagni granted a boon to his son, who asked for his mother, and Renuka was brought back to life.

This is one story, which is often cited as an example of a child’s obedience and thereafter devotion to his parents. But let us look at it differently.

The times when this legend takes place were different. Those days the concept of chastity, devotion had different meaning and such legends were told and retold probably to shape an entire new generation with patriarchal mind-set. Limits were continuously being defined for the women folk, whose sole purpose was to serve the men-folk of the family and bear and raise children. Even a momentary lapse of focus could derail the society, was what the creators of such myths probably had in mind. Women in those days were nothing but appendages to the men, be it fathers and brothers initially, and then husbands later, sons.

But haven’t times changed? Haven’t the standards of morality changed? Does a moment (just a moment) of fascination of another person, call for such measures? Does a woman still have to define herself based on the man in the current stage of her life? Is the patriarchal society going to define and re-define, her standards and punish or eulogise her accordingly?

We are increasingly looking backwards in this respect. Woman today does not have to prove her innocence and devotion based on a man’s standards. She is not a Sita anymore, who will suffer silently for the accusation of being unchaste and nor will she testify for the ever-doubting man of her life. She is not an Ahalya who will suffer because of the lust of another man and no fault of her own, except ignorance. She is not a Renuka, who will suffer in the hands of her husband and son, for just a moment of fascination of a celestial being.

More importantly, the rule book needs to be changed. There cannot be any extra-constitutional bodies like the KHAP’s and other such ancient (dis)organisations. She doesn’t need any Lakshaman to draw any lines binding her by medieval mindsets. She doesn’t need the standards of the axe-wielding man and his patriarchal devotion (Parashuram symbolises man’s evolution to the iron-age; Read Vishnu's Dashavatar & Charles Darwin). She doesn’t need any superficial comparisons with goddesses like Durga and Kali.

For heaven’s sake, this is the 21st century. Let the woman be a woman. 

Let her be herself.

And finally -

Quote Courtesy – indulgy.com

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Tree

It’s Christmas Eve and what is a Christmas without a Christmas tree? The most colourful aspect of Christmas is the Christmas tree and something that brings the whole family in decorating it. But how did the idea of a Christmas tree begin and what does it stand for?

Let’s take a look at history and mythology.

The Christmas tree is generally a conifer, which is either a Pine of a Fir tree. Both the trees are evergreen trees and thus a symbol of immortality as represented by Jesus, who came back after death.

Trees have always held a very significant place in all cultures, be it Greek and Roman in the form of ivy or mistletoe for the Celts or the numerous trees worshiped by the Hindus. The tree holds a significant position in many other cultures like the Mayans, Japanese, Muslims and many others. But today we won’t go into the comparative aspect of the tree-symbolism of all cultures.

The origin of the Christmas tree can be traced to ancient Germany. According to a legend which dates back to the 8th Century, there was an English Bishop, St. Boniface, who was on a mission from Rome, to preach Christianity to the native Germans. After a successful stint at preaching, he had to visit Rome to meet the Pope. When he returned after a long time, he was shocked to see that people had gone back to their older Nordic divinities and were getting ready to celebrate the Winter Solstice by sacrificing a man at the foot of the Odin’s sacred tree, which was the Oak tree. This enraged the Bishop so much that he picked up an axe and struck a blow at the huge Oak tree. It is said that with the very first blow, a strong gush of wind brought the tree down! This brought the shocked Germans to their knees and asked the Bishop the way to celebrate Christmas. The Bishop noticed a small fir tree which had withstood the fall of the Oak tree, and he advised all to take fir trees inside their houses, keeping with the Nordic tradition of keeping an evergreen tree inside homes during the winter.

The tree signifies peace and immortality, with its top pointing upwards indicating the Heavens. Many also feel that the tree has its roots in the Nordic belief of sacred trees, especially Thor’s Oak tree and the mythological Yggdrasil (Read more in Norse Mythology – Yggdrasill, the World). The choice of the Pine or the Fir is also significant, especially when all the plants die in the severe winters of the Scandinavian countries, it was only these two which retained their life, symbolising the immortality of the pagan gods. Many feel that this was the beginning of the concept of setting up Christmas tree and soon the missionaries took it back to their countries, like England, USA and other countries.

The decoration and ornamentation ideas evolved from fresh fruits and dry fruits to gifts and other ornamentation like the baubles, candies, stars and all sorts of things in the modern times. The top most part of the tree is usually adorned with a star, known as the Christmas Star, which represents the Star of Bethlehem, which announced the birth of Jesus to the Magi and later led them to the stable where Jesus Christ was born.

There is another interesting legend associated with the Fir tree. According to this one, when Christ was born, all living creatures headed towards Bethlehem carrying gifts for the baby Christ. All the trees like the Palm, Olive, etc. had brought their fruits for the child. The little Fir tree had brought nothing, besides the fact that it was so tired, that it was unable to resist the push by the larger trees and soon was right at the end of the huge crowd. An angel took pity on the Fir and asked some of the stars to adorn the tree. When baby Jesus saw the beautiful tree, he smiled and blessed it and declared that from then onwards Fir trees should be decorated with lights for Christmas to please all the children. Initially the tree was lit up with candles, but with the advent of bulbs, the tree started being adorned with bulbs and many other trinkets, toys, candles, etc.

Let me conclude with another interesting myth related to the Pine tree. It is said that when the Holy family was being chased by Herod’s soldiers, a Pine tree gave shelter to the tired Mary, who could barely move. The tree allowed the family to rest inside its hollow bark and gave them shelter till the soldiers had left. On leaving, baby Christ blessed the Pine tree and it is said that if you cut the Pine cone, lengthwise, one could see the imprint of baby Christ’s tiny hands!

For all who have Christmas Trees in their homes and for all who don’t, here’s wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays ahead.

For Santa Claus read -  Santa Claus