The confluence of four paths

The vaiShNava during his perambulations in Central Asia had noted two texts with collection of Mongol “mantra-s”:
1) iruegel maghataghal : a collection of ritual formulae and hymns.
2)Altan erike by Arya paNDita who lived among the Khalkha branch of the Mongols.

In course of their study he uncovered a deity named guejir kuengker tengri, whom he brought to my attention. This deity was described as the deity who provides fodder for herds and also food for men. The Mongolian scholars Heissig, Poppe (“Zum Feuerkultus bei den Mongolen” and “Mongolische Volksdichtung mit deutscher Ubersetzung”) and Partanen (“A description of Buriat Shamanism”) have all noted this deity appear also under the name maqa galan Darqan Guejir tengri as the special deity of horned cattle. A remarkable hymn composed to the deity has survived in the Mongol ritual collection:

Great maqA gAlan Darqan Guejir tengri,
Eldest brother of the ninety-nine tengri,
Who arose through the blessing of Qormusta Tengri,
At the command of the holy teacher Buddha,
You who have a glorious cast-iron shield,
you who have a beautiful colored throne,
you who have a great golden hammer,
you who have a great silver anvil,
you maqA gAlan Darqan Guejir tengri, I worship,
Deign to come here on your blue-grey horse,
you who determines all things,
Deign to come here on your black horse,
For the sake of my child’s life and spirit,
For the sake of life and spirit of the four kinds of livestock,
That live in the steppe, I ask you.

What is remarkable here is that one sees 4 religious layers:
1) The Iranian Zarathushtrian cult of Ahura-Mazdha is the basis for the deity named Qormusta Tengri.
2) Darqan Guejir tengri himself is an archetypal Altaic deity of the steppes, a smith god, who wielded a hammer and an anvil. He appears to have been the patron deity of Jelme, one of the great generals of Chingiz Kha’khan
3) He is identified as maqA gAlan which is the Hindu element in the mix: mahakAla, who as the archetypal rudra-pashupati is a bucolic lord.
4) There is the nAstIka element seen in the form of the holy teacher buddha who is placed in a supreme position under the Lamaistic influence.

As we have discussed before, the early interaction between the Iranian tribes on the steppes with the Mongols was critical for the rise of the latter. It was during this process the first amalgamation of the cult of Ahura Mazda and the Altaic religion took place. It probably began during the first great Hun Khaganate when its founder Motun Tegin was a hostage of the Iranian tribe of the Kushanas. Subsequently the Hepthalite Huns were a part of the confederation of second great Hun Khaganate of the Juan-Juan. One Hepthalite Hun coin from Afghanistan shows a fire altar with Ahura Mazdha. These two Hun Khaghanates were recognized as the precursors of the Chingizid Mongols, suggesting that the Iranian influence of the Ahura Mazda cult was an early element.

Posted in Heathen thought, History

The song and memory

R is a great believer of the view that for every mood there is a song that matches and creates a resonance. Hence, R collects music by this criterion and may play the same song over and over again when in a certain mood, but will be simply unable to listen to it when not in that mood — it is like enzyme specificity– you need the right enzyme for the right reaction and enzymes can be exquisitely specific ! Mn was similarly inclined, believing in the match between the mood and the song. While I have little to no knowledge of any form of taurIya gANa, it is clear that R’s collection spans an great diversity of taurIya gaNa. I was mentioning to R how I was dreading the planned rendezvous with ST and ekanetra, because the weather was threatening to be terrible. Given their disposition ST and ekanetra have planned a stroll in the evening in all the freeze and hima. R asked me to listen a song — its effect was felt by me despite knowing nothing of its context. It moved me back to a different time — I was lost in the old memories from a certain point almost 13 years ago. A particular vision came to mind:
The archer was alone in the vast grassy plain with a young vigorous horse beside him. There was a target before him he was repeatedly shooting arrows at it like my illustrious ancestor the R^iShi jamadagni. He was disturbed by all manner of insects and birds, but he kept shooting, perfecting the strike. Sometimes shooting from the ground, sometimes shooting from his horse while in charge. He looked up and saw a golden eagle in its flight.
This was an “internal” vision.
There was an “external” one too:
It was 9.00 PM or so. I was a man of boundless energy. We readied to light a bonfire. For some reason “R^iddhyAsma havyair… came to mind”. Around a bonfire ekanetra, va~Nga paNDita, vaishya jyotiSha, maithila, kAca-netra, Igul the mahiShi of the 3rd varNa, kalashajA, ST and me stood. It was a little off the path leading to the pinnacle of the fort of Rajmachi. ekanetra, va~Nga paNDita and me were sequestered together, away from the rest of the folks. We were laying out an outline for a world history ancient and more recent. An ulka flashed in the firmament and we even heard a noise. Smiling to each other, we continued our discourse on the theories of history. The rest of the folks were creating a racket around the fire, playing precisely that song on the cassette box till the battery died. ST then kindly beckoned us to eat dinner — as ever a dinner by her was a memorable event. While biting into a dainty edible, I thought of Khan Qabul.

Posted in Life

Dreaming of pleasures

We sat in the train after a brief wait at the station. We received a signal from indra. We opened our eyes from the spell of somnolence into which we were lapsing. We saw two sets of vidyAdhara-s, like those described by vAlmIki. Then our eyelids closed. We felt the thundering indra rend apart the rodasi. The cosmic nature of maghavan and imagery of his earth plays intermingled like waves interfering on a pellucid pond’s surface. We had a brief dream of pleasure, like an island in the sea of sorrow.
He sees not pleasure when he encounters vidyAdhara-s,
he sees not sorrow when he encounters yakShiNI-s,
but like the bow of the thunderer filling the atmosphere,
the indra in his nerves props the rainbow of pleasure.

From the dream we emerged and found that we were back in the rough waves of the sea of sorrow, with sharks seeking to make a meal of us. In our house prowled the agents of dhUmAvatI and assorted vetAlas and pishAchI-s, as though in a smashAna. Tormented by these we wandered. Thus, we arrived at the mahAyuddhArNava.
R^ikShabAhu and rasa-pishAchI attacked us, but the spell of AdyalakShmi neutralized them;
The speckle-skinned vidarbhan attacked us, but by the spell of skanda we overcame him;
The kShurika-mukhA attacked us, but by the spell of bhIma we slipped past her;
kAlAnana surApAyin, with madonmatta attacked us, but the spell of indra blinded them;
The bands of mlechCha-s fell upon us, but the thunderer saw us through them, sending brahmins to fight in our ranks;
But now we face the khANDavan-s, who have been moving like kumbhakarNa against the vAnara-s. Which deva will come to our aid?

Posted in Life

The seven-fold agni and the seven-fold troops of the maruts

In the agnichayana/agniShToma the following sequence of rituals are performed:
1)At the yajamAna’s gArhapatya the oblations to prajApati vishvakarman are made.
2)The adhvaryu carries forth the fire in the eastern direction (agni-praNayana)
3)The adhvarAhUti-s are performed in the fire established in the new AhavanIya altar.

In course of #2 the adhvaryu and hotar recite their yajushes and R^iks, while the prastotA sings the sAman-s. In the agnichayana the maitrAvaruNa additional chants the war-like aprathirathaM to indra.

The fire is laid in the new AhavanIya with a long yajurvedic chant (KYV-TS 4.6.5), in course of which the connection between agni and the bhR^igu-s, the first fire sacrificers is remembered:

agne prehi prathamo devayatAM chakShur devAnAm uta martyAnAm | iyakShamANA bhR^igubhiH sajoShAH suvar yantu yajamAnAH svasti ||
O agni, advance, first of deva-sacrificers, eye of the deva-s and mortals; advancing in unison with the bhR^igu-s, let the sacrificers attain light and well-being.

Then savitA is then invoked and the early a~Ngiras ritualist kaNva is also remembered:

tAm savitur vareNyasya chitrAm AhaM vR^iNe sumatiM vishvajanyAm | yAm asya kaNvo aduhat prapInAm sahasradhArAm | payasA mahIM gAm ||
That excellent, many-formed, all-encompassing pleasantness of savitA, I choose; that mighty well-endowed cow of his which kaNva milked, with a thousand stream of milk.

The final part of this recitation is that of the heptads of agni and the marut-s.
agni is first invoked, being described as a series of 7 heptads:

sapta te agne samidhaH sapta jihvAH saptarShayaH sapta dhAma priyANi |
sapta hotrAH saptadhA tvA yajanti sapta yonIr A pR^iNasvA ghR^itena ||
That is: 1) 7 fuel sticks; 2) 7 tongues of agni; 3) 7 R^iShi-s; 4) 7 dear abodes of agni; 5) 7 oblations; 6) the 7-fold worship of agni 7) the seven sources of agni, which are filled with ghee.

Of course this association of 7 with agni is often encountered right from the RV itself.

Then 5 sets of seven fold maruts are invoked and asked to come to the sacrifice of the ritualist and aid him:

IdR^i~N chAnyAdR^i~N chaitAdR^i~N cha pratidR^i~N cha mitash cha sammitash cha sabharAH |
shukrajyotish cha chitrajyotish cha satyajyotish cha jyotiShmAmsh cha satyash chartapAsh chAtyamhAH |
R^itajich cha satyajich cha senajich cha suSheNash chAntyamitrash cha dUre-amitrash cha gaNaH |
R^itash cha satyash cha dhruvash cha dharuNash cha dhartA cha vidhartA cha vidhArayaH |
IdR^ikShAsa etAdR^ikShAsa U Shu NaH sadR^ikShAsaH pratisadR^ikShAsa etana |
mitAsash cha sammitAsash cha na Utaye sabharaso maruto yaj~ne asmin |
indraM daivIr visho maruto .anuvartmAno yathendraM daivIr visho maruto .anuvartmAna evam imaM yajamAnaM daivIsh cha visho mAnuShIsh chAnuvartmAno bhavantu ||

1)IdR^i~N 2) anyAdR^i~N 3) etAdR^i~N 4) pratidR^i~N 5) mita 6) sammita 7) sabharas
1) shukra-jyoti 2)chitra-jyoti 3) satya-jyoti 4) jyotiShmAn 5) satya 6) artapA 7) atyamhas
1) R^itajit 2)satyajit 3) senajit 4) suSheNa 5)antyamitra 6) dUre-amitra 7) gaNa
1) R^ita 2) satya 3) dhruva 4) dharuNa 5) dhartA 6) vidhartA 7) vidhAraya
5 (this last list is merely a plural representation of the first set, probably representing them with their troops:
1) IdR^ikSha-s 2) etAdR^ikSha-s 3) sadR^ikSha-s 4) pratisadR^ikSha-s 5) mita-s 6) sammita-s 7) sabhara-s

This is one of the few places in the veda where the marut-s are explicitly named. List 1 and 2 are again invoked in the KYV-TS in 1.8.13, in the same order, in rite of the mounting of the quarters in the rAjasUya ritual. It is of interest to note that two of these names are those of the seizing vinAyaka-s of the vinAyaka shAnti: mita and saMmita. Thus, the link between the vinAyaka and the vedic sons of rudra may be established (first proposed by the great savant Pandurang Kane).

The number 7 is associated with the marut-s from the earliest vedic period down to the classical Hindu lore, as seen in the RV itself:
RV 5.52.17: Here the maruts are said be 7*7 (sapta me sapta)
RV 8.28.5: Here the maruts are described as being 7-fold, bearing 7 spears and 7 glories.
RV 10.13.5:Here the maruts are again said to be 7 fold.
Additionally RV 8.92.20 might have an oblique reference to the 7-fold troops of the maruts in the phrase: “saptá saMsádaH”.

In both the KYV and SYV the association is reiterated in many ways:
In SYV-mAdhyamdina 9.32 (~KYV-TS 1.8.9) the maruts are said to win 7 domestic animals with the aid of the 7-syllabled mantra.
In SYV-M 25.4 (~T.S 5.7.21) the seventh rib of the ashvamedha horse is offered to the marut-s.
In many yajurvedic ritual injunctions the maruts are made offerings on 7 kapAla-s.
In KYV-TS 2.2.5, 2.2.11, 2.3.1, 5.4.7 it is stated that the marut-s are made offerings on 7 kapAla-s because they comprise of 7 gaNa-s.

Despite all these allusions the choice of 5 lists of 7 each is a bit puzzling, given that none of the above explicitly mention 5*7. The only possible mention is seen in RV 10.55.3:
A rodasI apR^iNAdota madhyaM pa~ncha devAn R^itushaH sapta-sapta |
chatustriMshatA purudhA vi chaShTe sarUpeNa jyotiShA vivratena ||
This is from a sUkta describing the universal form of indra, and is one of those cryptic sUkta-s filled with hidden astronomical allusions. The essential sense of the first hemistich of the above mantra may be approximated thus: “He(indra filled the two hemispheres of the universe and all that is contained within them, encompassing the 5-fold gods in the 7 (or 7*7) fold orders.” This appears to be a possible allusion to indra’s companions the marut-s ordered thus, but this sUktaM being so confounding one cannot be sure. There is a number 34 mentioned in the second hemistich (=35-1), which is traditionally interpreted in this context to mean 27 nakShatra-s+sun+moon+5 visible planets.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the “7” connection of the marut-s is also seen in their successor and paralogous deity, skanda. We had earlier discussed in our note on the marut-s being being “para-skanda”, how kumAra was made commander of the seven-fold troops of maruts. This connection is further seen in ancient triannual rite to kumAra, known as the dhUrta-homa and bali (the sacrifice to the roguish skanda) preserved in the bodhAyana tradition. The recommended date for its performance is the shukla-saptami of phalguna month. Again, in an invocatory verse used in this rite kumAra is described as born on the the seventh day and being a manifestation of the seventh moon phase. These points further strengthen the connection between the marut-s and kumAra: before the more popular ShaShTi connection over took the kaumAra tradition there was a parallel tradition that connected him to saptami-s, consistent with the 7-fold nature of the marut-s.

Posted in Heathen thought

Hexagonal nesting

click image to enlarge
Posted in art

aSTamUrti as per the li~Nga purANa

nandikeshvara in the li~Nga purANa narrates the nature of the aShTamurti to sanatkumAra. It records a unique shaiva tradition on the nature of the aShTamUrti and their significance

1) sharva :
charAcharANAM bhUtAnAM dhAtA vishvaMbharAtmakaH
sharva ityuchyate devaH sarva-shAstrArtha-pAragaiH 2.13.3 ||
vishvaMbharAtmanas-tasya sarvasya parameShThinaH
vikeshI kathyate patnI tanayo .a~NgArakaH smR^itaH 2.13.4 ||

wife=vikeshI; son=a~NgAraka, i.e. planet Mars; The lord of all and the entity pervading the universe.

2) bhava :
bhava ityuchyate devo bhagavAn veda-vAdibhiH
saMjIvanasya lokAnAM bhavasya paramAtmanaH 2.13.5 ||
umA saMkIrtitA devI sutaH shukrashcha sUribhiH
sapta-lokANDaka-vyApI sarva-lokaika-rakShitA 2.13.6 ||

wife=umA; son=shukra, i.e. planet Venus; envelops the 7 world-spheres; protects the universe, infuses life in the universe.

3) pashupati:
vahnyAtmA bhagavAn devaH smR^itaH pashupatir budhaiH
svAhA patnyAtmanas-tasya proktA pashupateH priyA 2.13.7 ||
ShaNmukho bhagavAn devo budhaiH putra udAhR^itaH
samasta-bhuvana-vyApI bhartA sarva-sharIriNAm 2.13.8 ||

wife= svAhA; son= ShaNmukha; envelops the universe; protects all life-forms, is manifest as fire.

4) IshAna:
pavanAtmA budhair deva IshAna iti kIrtyate
IshAnasya jagat-kartur-devasya pavanAtmanaH 2.13.9
shivA devI budair-uktA putrashchAsya manojavaH
charAcharANAM bhUtAnAM sarveShAM sarvakAmadaH 2.13.10

wife= shivA; son= manojava; the substance of living and non-living forms; confers all wishes, is manifest as air.

5) bhIma:
vyomAtmA bhagavAn devo bhIma ityuchyate budhaiH
mahAmahimno devasya bhImasya gaganAtmanaH 2.13.11
disho dasha smR^itA devyaH sutaH sargash-cha sUribhiH
sUryAtmA bhagavAn devaH sarveShAM cha vibhUtidaH 2.13.12

wives= 10 directions; son= sarga; envelops the universe; basis of all manifestations in the universe, is manifest as space and as the sun.

6) rudra:
rudra ityuchyate devair bhagavAn bhukti-muktidaH
sUryAtma kasya rudrasya bhaktAnAM bhakti-dAyinaH 2.13.13
suvarchalA smR^itA devI sutashchAsya shanaishcharaH
samasta saumya vastUnAM prakR^ititvena vishrutaH 2.13.14

wife= suvarchalA; son= shanishchara, i.e. Saturn; gives liberation and pleasures; cause of devotion in devotees, present as the nature of all pleasant things, is manifest as the sun.

7) mahAdeva:
somAtmako budhair devo mahAdeva iti smR^itaH
somAtmakasya devasya mahAdevasya sUribhiH 2.13.15
dayitA rohiNI proktA budhash-chaiva sharIrajaH
havya-kavyasthitiM kurvan havya-kavyAshinAM tadA 2.13.16

wife= rohiNi; son= budha, i.e. Mercury; bearer of offerings to gods and ancestors, is manifest as the moon;

8) ugra:
yajamAnAtmako devo mahAdevo budhaiH prabhuH
ugra ityuchyate sadbhir IshAnashcheti chAparaiH 2.13.17
ugrAhvayasya devasya yajamAnAtmanaH prabhoH
dIkShA patnI budhair uktA saMtAnAkhyaH sutas-tathA 2.13.18

wife= dIkShA; son= saMtAna; manifests as the ritualist.

The concept of the aShTamUrti-s of rudra go back to the vedic period: 1) In the gR^ihya rite of shUlagava. The 8 oblations to rudra in the shUlagava are to the same 8 names of rudra. These are alluded to in the brAhmaNa-s, gR^ihya sUtra-s and yajur vedic mantra pATha-s. 2) In the atharvavedic sacrifice to rudra prescribed in the vrAtyakANDa of the AV-S (15.5) invokes the aSTamUrti and pacifies them to prevent “bhava, sharva or ishAna” from harming cattle. 3) baudhAyana dharmasUtra prescribes tarpaNa-s to the aShTamUrti-s, their wives and sons. 4) The offerings of the parts of the animal smothered in the great shrauta rites like ashvamedha are made to rudra with 8 names, which include among them rudra, bhava, sharva, mahAdeva and pashupati. The mantra used for this is KYV-TS 1.4.36: chitta: sinews, bhava: liver, rudra: pancreas, pashupati: diaphragm, agni: heart, rudra: blood, sharva: kidneys, mahadeva: the mesenteries, uShiShThahana: intestines and lungs.

This concept remained vivid in the post-vedic period, in purANa-s, coeval with the rise of the pAshupata based atimArga shaivaM and the mantra-mArga shaivaM. For example it is alluded to in the mahimna stava of puShpadanta from the paurANic period (although not specifically attached to a particular purANa):

bhavaH sharvo rudraH pashupatir athograH saha mahAn
tathA bhImeshAnAv-iti yadabhidhAnAShTakam idam |
amuShmin pratyekaM pravicharati deva shrutir api
priyAyAsmai dhAmne praNihita-namasyo .asmi bhavate ||

“bhava, sharva, rudra, pashupati, also ugra with mahat, furthermore bhIma and IshAna, these eight appellations of the god, each of them the shruti individually expounds, My salutations are to the dear abode in which these names are laid (i.e. to one who bears these names).”
Thus, the mahimna stava explicitly remembers the vedic origin of these names of rudra alluding to their exposition found in the brAhmaNas (e.g. shatapatha6.3.1, kaushitaki 6.1-3).

In the latter two shaiva streams there was more emphasis on the pa~nchabrahma compared to the aShTamUrti, though the siddhAnta stream did recognize the icons of the aShTamUrti in their Agama-s.

Posted in Heathen thought

Headed to kurukShetra ?

We made arrangements for our rendezvous with ST and ekanetra. Both passed to us the information regarding the laukIka bhrAtR^ivya-s ranged against us. Knowing that deploying the frontier troops were critical for future survival we consulted regarding how the corps should be positioned. We realized that it was important that they be widely distributed to counter different points of attacks by the bhrAtR^ivya-s. We decided to position the frontier command under the illustrious warrior pUrva-mAruti. Below pUrva mAruti we placed jAyadrathi, as suggested by ST, to ride out with a commando force against jIva-sUtra-aparNaka. We also placed under the aforesaid warrior a force under pa~ncha-nadi, who would also strengthen our yoddha dhUmra-tvacha. We also sent another force under druhyuka of krimi-kShetra. We also mobilized our kAsyastha warrior against bahu-mUShaka. But who knows the best laid human plans can fail with duShTa-bhrAtR^ivya-s like dakShiNa. ST cryptically said with khANDavans around kurukShestra is not far away.

We had planned a move to meet with the senA to build reinforcements. The news of the utter failure of their powerful mantra prayoga-s due to the power of kumAra had reached the khANDavan-s. Their spies also got the news of our intended joining with the senA. This immensely alarmed them and they decided to go for a direct strike. Gathering their troops they attacked twice before we could join with the seNA. They also cut off our communication line with our senA.We were hit by several sharp shara-s from them, but evaded their ambushes and reached the senA. In the mean time our spaSha-s reported tremendous activity on their side : 1) They discovered the breach in the kosha front and decided to mass their forces their.
2) They decided to deploy a mantra prayoga on the muni, while seeking to destroy their rest of us by pumping troops through breach.
3) They tried to send troops to separate us from the senA during a future conflict when the bhrAtR^ivya-s might attack.
4) They might try to rob the other kosha and tie us down with an attacking kR^ityA.
Mn’s amAtya also obtained similar intelligence regarding #1 and communicated it to us. Jx obtained intelligence likewise regarding #4 but felt they were a held back by our mantra prayoga.
The khANDavan-s sent another prayoga at us today but only caused us minor harm due to the subrahmaNya yAga. However, this promised to be a much more ferocious and merciless battle than that of the autumn of 2004 when we fatefully entered the khANDavan conflict — but those who live like kShatriya-s should be ready for a terrible death on the battle field.
Think back !

Jx was himself shaken by his attacker, but the third hero saved him. We now realized how he was in a different league. Just an year back the third hero was reeling under the “flight of the crane” which he came face to face with when we went to that distant shrine: the wall of bagalAmukhI, they said. But all prayoga-s sent at him were blown to smithereens like has never happened before.

Our amAtya deployed karNa-pishAchi and got precise intelligence about the khANDavan strike and deployed the shiva mantra

Posted in Life