The non-dual reality of Lord Shiva – David Frawley

Parvati, Shiva, Vishnu and Garuda

David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri )Shiva is not what we think God is supposed to be, conforming to our opinions or hopes; Shiva is what the Supreme Divine truly is beyond the limitations of our minds and the fixed tenets of any particular faith or belief. … There is no box we can place Shiva into, no formula or structure that the mind can arrive at that can comprehend him. – Dr David Frawley

Shiva is ultimately a deity that represents the non-dualistic Absolute beyond all the contraries and oppositions of this dualistic world of time, space, and karma. He is the force of transcendent unity that is more than the combination of opposites and holds simultaneously the power of both sides of all dualities. Shiva is a deity who transcends duality in his very nature, appearance and manifestation—which also requires that he embraces all dualities and resolves them back into himself. This makes Shiva difficult to understand for the dualistic mind caught in outer differences and distinctions.

Shiva reflects the supreme truth that dwells beyond both relative truth and relative falsehood. He is the Supreme Being beyond both relative being and non-being. He is the supreme good beyond both relative good and evil. He embraces our world on both sides, above, below, and in the center and yet stands infinitely beyond it. He is One, yet he is all. He is everything and nothing, both within all things, outside of all things, and not limited by anything.

As a non-dual deity, Shiva seems contrary to our prevailing views of what is logical, right or appropriate. Shiva is portrayed as a dispassionate yogi yet he has the most powerful passions and the most beautiful and powerful wife. He both destroys Kamadeva, the ordinary God of love but then becomes the Supreme God of Love himself, Kameshvara. He takes us beyond suffering, but to do this he can cause us excruciating pain.

Shiva awakens a higher awareness in us, but for this to occur he must first take us beyond all our preconceptions, making us see the darkness of ignorance behind our lives. Shiva represents our higher Self that is the goal of our aspirations, but to reach it we must allow our ego, its attachments and opinions to be dissolved, giving up our ordinary sense of self altogether.

The challenge of our encounter with Shiva

Shiva in his diverse names, forms, and actions is meant to be challenging for us to grasp. Lord Shiva is not meant to be easy to understand, nor can we present his reality in a simple manner that resolves all doubts as to what he actually represents. To contact the reality of Shiva we must face all doubts and difficulties within ourselves and learn how to move beyond them with steadiness and grace. We must recognize the limitations of the mind and its particularized knowledge. The portrayal of Shiva is not meant to present us with only a pleasing appearance, any more than life is always kind. Our encounter with Shiva is meant to shake us up, to stir our inner transformative energies—to get us to question ourselves and all that we may hold to be truth or reality.

Any real encounter with Lord Shiva is not likely to conform to our existing beliefs, hopes, or expectations. It may not leave us feeling more confident about who we are, or more certain that our lives are moving in the right direction. An encounter with Shiva may not initially make us feel happier or give us more prosperity or what we may regard as a better life.

Shiva is not what we think God is supposed to be, conforming to our opinions or hopes; Shiva is what the Supreme Divine truly is beyond the limitations of our minds and the fixed tenets of any particular faith or belief. Shiva is the supreme reality, not we ourselves, our ideas, opinions, books, or institutions. Shiva is the cosmic reality not our individual or collective imaginations and fantasies. There is no box we can place Shiva into, no formula or structure that the mind can arrive at that can comprehend him.

To arrive at the state of supreme awareness that is Shiva, we must allow ourselves to be stripped bare of our personal conditioning down to the subconscious level, beyond the memories of the present birth and the perceptions of the outer world. We must learn to see ourselves in all beings past, present, and future. We must be humbled back to the core of our being where no self-image prevails, and where there is no other that we have to conform to, please, or fear.

The human mind as it is today is not a conscious intelligence that we can rely upon to determine what is real. It is a conditioned response mechanism for biological survival and social development. Information technology has augmented its powers but not taken us beyond its dualistic limitations. But in the silence of the heart, where all is forgotten, one can know the truth. You are Shiva in your deepest Self and core being. Shiva is the non-dual reality in which you personally are not there, yet in which through your inmost essence of feeling and awareness you are everything.

We can approach Lord Shiva many ways through ritual, yoga, mantra, pranayama and meditation, but these are only expedient measures to draw us beyond body and mind to the mysterious core of our being that knows all intuitively without being trapped in any concepts.

Om Namah Shivaya!

» Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is a teacher in the Vedic tradition. In India, Vamadeva is recognized as a Vedacharya, and includes in his unusual wide scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the Vedic teachings going back to the Rigveda. Article from Vedanet.

Lord Shiva meditating in bliss while Devi Parvati plays the vina.

Soma inspired poets and seers and made warriors fearless – Science First Hand

Soma : To the left of the altar is the king (priest) holding a mushroom over the fire altar. The mushroom resembles well-known psychoactive species Psilocybe cubensis popularly known as gold cap or golden top.

Gold Cap MushroomRestoring the ancient burial clothFor over a hundred years now, scientists have been discussing what plant was used to prepare Soma (Haoma), a sacred drink of the ancient Indians and Iranians, which “inspired poets and seers, made warriors fearless.” The hypotheses were plenty: from ephedra, cannabis, and opium poppy to blue water lily and fly agaric. The answer was found in a grave of a noble woman buried in an elite burial ground of the Xiongnu, the famous nomads of Central Asia. – Science First Hand

Importantly, none of the researchers denies the fact that the ancient Indians and Iranians consumed a drink with a psychoactive substance as a sacrament. However, the precise identity of the substance and its plant source, as well as its influence on human consciousness, are still being debated.

The translator and greatest authority on the Rigveda Tatyana Ya. Elizarenkova wrote: “Judging by the Rigveda hymns, Soma was not only stimulating but also a hallucinogenic drink. It is difficult to be more specific not only because none of the plants suggested as soma satisfies all the parameters and only partially answers the description of soma given in the hymns but mainly because the language and style of the Rigveda, an archaic religious tome with the typical features of ‘Indo-European poetic speech’, pose a formidable obstacle to soma identification.” Knowing perfectly well that all the possibilities of the written source had been exhausted, Elizarenkova believed that the answer could come from archaeologists, from “their findings in North-Western India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (and not in remote Central Asia).”

Remarkably, her opinion, expressed 25 years ago, was confirmed by new findings made in Mongolia. No one could have suspected that a grave of a noble woman buried in an elite burial ground of the Xiongnu, the famous nomads of Central Asia, would answer the question asked long ago.

It happened in 2009. A team from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RAS, which was led by Natalia Polosmak, was performing archaeological excavations in the Noin-Ula Mountains, Northern Mongolia. In tumulus 31, at a depth of 13 meters, the archaeologists discovered a wooden burial chamber. On the floor, which was covered with a thick layer of blue clay, around an old tomb ruined by ancient robbers, there were visible traces of a woollen fabric; this was all that was left of an embroidered strip, which was of great historical value even in this fragmentary state. Textiles are virtually never preserved in ancient graves, and such findings are exceptionally rare. The remains of the textile were retrieved from the grave and delivered to the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RAS. The second life of this remarkable artefact began thanks to Russian restorers.

The craftsmanship and the story unfolding on the threadbare fabric are truly amazing. Embroidered in woollen thread on the thin cloth is a procession of Zoroastrian warriors marching towards an altar; one of them, standing at the altar, is holding a mushroom in his hands (see image above).

A distinguishing feature of this embroidery is that the craftsmen did their best to depict the faces, costume, arms, plants, and insects, trying to copy everything from life. According to the mycologist I. A. Gorbunova (Candidate of Biology, senior researcher with the Inferior Plant Laboratory, Central Siberian Botanical Garden, SB RAS), the mushroom depicted on the carpet belongs to the Strophariaceae family. In some ways—the general habitus, shape of the cap, stitches along the edge of the cap reminding of the radial folding or remnants of the partial veil and dark inclusions on the stipe that can remind of a paleaceous ring, which blackens after the spores are puffed—it is similar to Psilocybe cubensis (Earle) Singer [Stropharia cubensis Earle]. Some of the mushrooms of the genus Stropharia cubensis, or Psilocybe cubensis, contain psilocybin—a unique stimulator of the nervous system. In their psychoactive properties, psilocybin mushrooms are much more befitting as vegetative equivalents of Soma, or Hoama, than fly agaric, which was identified with Soma in the Rigveda by R. G. Wasson in his well-known book. His point of view was supported by many famous scientists; the psychedelic theory proposed by T. McKenna even assigns the main role in human evolution to psilocybin-containing mushrooms.

For the first time, we can see vivid evidence, embroidered on an ancient cloth discovered by archaeological excavations, for the use of mushrooms for religious purposes, probably, to make Haoma, a “sacred drink.”

The origin of this embroidery and characters depicted on it is associated with North-Western India and the Indo-Scythians (Sakas). How the embroidered cloth made it into a Xiongnu grave is a surprise of the so-called Silk Road, a network of trade routes crossing the whole of Eurasia. Judging by the Chinese chronicles, veils and blankets from Northern India were highly valued in the Han China.

The woollen curtain with an amazing plot was discovered after its 2,000-year-long confinement in a deep grave, which is a miracle in itself. The curtain is not only a fine example of ancient art, which was recovered thanks to the meticulous work of Russian restorers, but a unique source of information casting light on one of the obscure periods of ancient history. – Science First Hand, 3 September 2015

» Read the original article, with illustrations, here.

 

Vedic origins of the Europeans – David Frawley

Goddess : Maiden, Mother & Crone

David FrawleyThe term Danu or Danava appears to form the substratum of Indo-European identity at the base of the Hellenic, Illyro-Venetic, Italo-Celtic, Germanic and Balto-Slavic elements. The northern Greeks were also called Danuni. Therefore, the European Aryans could probably all be called Danavas. – Dr David Frawley

Many ancient European peoples, particularly the Celts and Germans, regarded themselves as children of Danu, with Danu meaning the Mother Goddess, who was also, like Sarasvati in the Rig Veda, a river Goddess. The Celts called themselves “Tuatha De Danaan”, while the Germans had a similar name. Ancient European river names like the Danube and various rivers called Don in Russia, Scotland, England and France reflect this. The Danube which flows to the Black Sea is their most important river and could reflect their eastern origins.

In fact, the term Danu or Danava (the plural of Danu) appears to form the substratum of Indo-European identity at the base of the Hellenic, Illyro-Venetic, Italo-Celtic, Germanic and Balto-Slavic elements. The northern Greeks were also called Danuni. Therefore, the European Aryans could probably all be called Danavas.

According to Roman sources, Tacitus in his Annals and Histories, the Germans claimed to be descendants of the Mannus, the son of Tuisto. Tuisto relates to Vedic Tvasthar, the Vedic father-creator Sky God, who is also a name for the father of Manu (RV X.17.1-2). This makes the Rig Vedic people also descendants of Manu, the son of Tvashtar.

In the Rig Veda, Tvashtar appears as the father of Indra, who fashions his thunderbolt (vajra) for him (RV X.48.3). Yet Indra is sometimes at odds with Tvashtar because is compelled to surpass him (RV III.48.3-4). Elsewhere Tvashtar’s son is Vishvarupa or Vritra, whom Indra kills, cutting off his three heads (RV X.8.8-9), (TS II.4.12, II.5.1). Indra slays the dragon, Vritra, who lays at the foot of the mountain withholding the waters, and releases the seven rivers to flow into the sea. In several instances, Vritra is called Danava, the son of the Goddess Danu who is connected to the sea (RV I.32.9; II.11.10; III.30.8; V.30.4; V.32).

In the Brahmanas Vishvarupa/Vritra is the son of Danu and Danayu, the names of his mother and father (SB I.6.3.1, 8, 9). Clearly Vritra is Vishvarupa, the son of the God Tvashtar and the Goddess Danu. Danava also means a serpent or a dragon (RV V.32.1-2), which is not only a symbol of wisdom but of power and both Vedic and ancient European lore have their good and bad dragons or serpents.

In this curious story both Indra and Vritra appear ultimately as brothers because both are sons of Tvashtar. We must also note that Tvashtar fashions the thunderbolt for Indra to slay Vritra (RV I.88.5). Indra and Vritra represent the forces of expansion and contraction or the dualities inherent in each one of us. They are both inherent in Tvashtar and represent the two sides of the Creator or of creation as knowledge and ignorance. As Vritra is also the son of Tvashtar and Danu, Indra must ultimately be a son of Danu as well. Both the Vedic Aryans and the Proto-European Aryans are sons of Tvashtar, who was sometimes not the supreme God but a demiurge that they must go beyond.

The Danavas in the Puranas (VaP II.7) are the sons of the Rishi Kashyapa, who there assumes the role of Tvashtar as the main father creator. Kashyapa is a great rishi connected to the Himalayas. He is the eighth or central Aditya (Sun God) that does not leave Mount Meru (Taittiriya Aranyaka I.7.20), the fabled world mountain. Kashyapa is associated with Kashmir (Kashyapa Mira or Kashyapa’s lake) and other Himalayan regions (the Vedic lands of Sharyanavat and Arjika, RV IX.113.1-2), which connects the Danavas to the northwest. The Caspian Sea may be named after him as well. The Proto-Europeans, therefore, are the sons of Tvashtar or Kashyapa and Danu, through their son Manu. They are both Manavas and Danavas, as also Aryas.

In the Rig Veda, Danu like Dasyu refers to inimical people and is generally a term of denigration (RV I.32.9; III.30.8; V.30.4; V.32.1, 4, 7; X.120.6). The Danavas or descendants of Danu are generally enemies of the Vedic people and their Gods. Therefore, just as the Deva-Asura or Arya-Dasyu split is reflected in the split between the Vedic Hindus and the Persians, one can propose that the Deva-Danava split reflects another division in the Vedic people, including that between the Proto-Indian Aryans and the Proto-European Aryans. In this process the term Danu was adopted by the Proto-Europeans and became denigrated by later Vedic people.

We should also remember that in the Puranas (VaP II.7), as in the Vedas the term Danavas refer to a broad group of peoples, many inimical, but others friendly, as well as various mythical demons. In the Rig Veda, the Danavas are called amanusha or unhuman (RV II.11.10) as opposed to human, manusha. The Europeans had similar negative beings like the Greek titans or Celtic formorii who correspond more to the mythical side of the Danavas as powers of darkness, the underworld or the undersea region like the Vedic asuras and rakshasas. Such mythical Danavas can hardly be reduced to the Proto-European Aryans or to any single group of people.

The Celtic scholar Peter Ellis notes, “Irish epic contains many episodes of the struggle between the Children of Domnu, representing darkness and evil, and the Children of Danu, representing light and good. Moreover, the Children of Domnu are never completely overcome or eradicated from the world. Symbolically, they are the world. The conflict is between the ‘waters of heaven’ and the ‘world.’” The same thing could be said of the Vedic wars of Devas and Danavas or the Puranic/Brahmana wars of Devas and Asuras.

The Good Danavas (Sudanavas)

The Maruts in the Puranas (VaP II.6.90-135) are called the sons of Diti, a wife of Kashyapa, who is sometimes equated with Danu. Her children are called the Daityas which term we have found also connected to the Persians, as the name of the river in their original homeland (Vendidad Fargard I.3). While meant to be enemies of Indra, the Maruts came to be his companions and were great Gods in their own right, often referring to the Vedic rishis and yogis. As wind Gods they had control of prana and other siddhis (occult powers). They are also the sons of Rudra-Shiva called Rudras, much like the Shaivite Yogis of later times. They were great sages (RV VI.49.11), men (manava) with tongues of fire and eyes of the Sun (RV I.89.7). They were free to travel all over the world and were not obstructed by mountains, rivers or seas (RV V.54.9; V.55.9).

The Rig Veda contains many instances where Danu has a positive meaning indicating abundance or even standing for divine in general. Danucitra, meaning the richness of light, occurs a few times (RV I.174.7; V.59.8). The Maruts are called Jira-danu or plural Jira-danava or quick to give or perhaps fast Danus or fast Gods (RV V.54.9). This term Jira-danu occurs elsewhere as the gift of the Maruts in the last line of most of the hymns of Agastya (RV I.165-169, 171-178, 180-186, 189, 190). Mitra and Varuna are said to be Sripra-danu or easy to give and their many gifts, danuni, are praised (RV VIII.25.5-6). The Ashvins are called lords of Danuna, Danunaspati (RV VIII.8.16). Soma is also called Danuda and Danupinva, giving Danu or overflowing with Danu (RV IX.97.23), connecting Danu with water or with rivers.

The Maruts are typically called Sudanavas, good to give or good (Su) Danus (RV I.85.10; I.172.1-3; II.34.8; V.41.16; V.52.5; V.53.6; VI.66.5; VIII.20.18, 23). Similarly, the Vishvedevas or universal gods are called Sudanavas (RV VIII.83.6, 8, 9), as are the Adityas (RV VIII.67.16), the Ashvins (RV I.117.10, 24) and Vishnu (RV VIII.24.12). The term also occurs in a hymn to Sarasavati (RV VII.96.4), where Sarasvati is called the friend or companion of the Maruts (Marutsakha; RV 96.2). Most importantly, there is a Goddess called Sudanu Devi (RV V.41.18), which is probably another name for the mother of the Maruts. The Maruts in particular or the Gods in general would therefore be the sons of Sudanu or Sudanavas. This suggests that perhaps Danu, like Asura, was earlier a positive word and meant divine. There was not only a bad Danu but a good or Sudanu. In the Rig Veda the references to the Sudanavas are much more than those to Danava as an inimical term.

The Maruts are called Sumaya (RV I.88.1), having a good (Su) or divine power of maya, which stands for magical power, or Mayina (RV V.58.2), possessed of maya power. Danu is probably, in some respects, a synonym of maya, a power of abundance but also of illusion. Like the root ma, the root da means “to divide” or “to measure”. Maya is the power of the Danavas (RV II.11.10). The Danavas, particularly Ahi-Vritra, are portrayed as serpents (RV V.32.8), particularly the serpent who dwells at the foot of the mountain holding back the heavenly waters, whom Indra must slay in order to release the waters. Maya itself is the serpent power.

The Maruts as wind Gods are powers of lightning, which in Vedic as in most ancient thought was considered to be a serpent or a dragon. The Maruts are the good serpents, shining bright like serpents (RV I.171.2). The Maruts help Indra in slaying Vritra and are his main friends and companions. Indra is called Marutvan, or possessed of the Maruts. Their leader is Vishnu (RV V.87), who is called Evaya-Marut. With Rudra (Shiva) as their father and Prishni (Shakti) as their mother, they reflect all the Gods of later Hinduism. As Shiva’s sons they are connected with Skanda, Ganesha and Hanuman.

Pashupati : Harappan seal and Gundustrup cauldron in DenmarkPerhaps these Sudanavas or good Danus are the Maruts, who in their travels guided and led many peoples including the Celts and other European followers of Danu. As the sons of Rudra, we note various Rudra like figures such as Cernunos among the Celts, who like Rudra is the lord of the animals and is portrayed in a yoga posture, as on the Gundestrop Cauldron. If the Maruts were responsible for spreading Vedic culture, as I have proposed, they could have called their children, the children of Danu, in a positive sense. We could also argue that the Sudanavas were the Maruts, Druids and other rishi classes, while the peoples they ruled over, particularly the unruly kshatriyas or warrior classes could become Danavas in the negative sense when they refused to accept spiritual guidance.

We know from both Celtic and Vedic texts that the early Aryans, like other ancient people, were always fighting with each other in various local conflicts, particularly for supremacy in their particular region. This led to various divisions and migrations through the centuries, which we cannot always take in a major way, just as the warring princes of India or Ireland remained part of the same culture and continued to intermarry with one another. Therefore, whatever early conflict might have existed between the Proto-European Aryans and those in the interior of India, was just part of various clashes between the different princely families that occurred within these same groups as well. It was forgotten over time.

The European Aryans had Gods like Zeus, Thor and Jupiter that serve as the counterparts of Indra as the God of heaven, the God of the rains, the thunderbolt and the lightning. Therefore, we cannot read the divide between the Rig Vedic Aryans and the Danavas as a rejection of the God Indra by the Proto-Europeans. In addition, the Proto-European Aryans continue to use the term deva as divine as in Latin deus and Greek theos, unlike the Persians who make asura mean divine and deva mean demon. They also know Manu, which the Persians seem to have forgotten and only mention Yima (Yama). Unlike the Persians, who developed an aniconic (anti-image) and almost monotheistic tradition, the Proto-European Aryans maintained a pluralistic tradition, using images, and worshipping many Gods and Goddesses, like the Vedic. This suggests that their division from the Rig Vedic people occurred long before that of the Persians or Iranians, and that they took a larger and older form of the Vedic religion with them.

Migrations Out of India or Central Asia

We have noted Danu or Danava as a term for an inimical people or even an anti-god, like Deva and Asura, probably reflects some split in the Aryan peoples. This could be the conflict the Purus, the main Rig Vedic people located on the Sarasvati river near Delhi, and the Druhyus, who were located in the northwest by Afghanistan, who fought quite early in the Rig Vedic period.

Certainly we can only equate the Proto-Europeans with the northwest of India or greater India that extends into Afghanistan and Central Asia. If they can be connected to any group among the five Vedic peoples it must be the Druhyus.

However, we do find Druhyu kingdoms continuing for some time in India and giving names to regions like Gandhara (Afghanistan) and Aratta (Panjab) connected more with Iranian or Scythian people. Yet, we do note a connection between the Scythians and the Celts, whose Druid priests connect themselves with the Scythians at an early period. The Scythians also maintained a trade from India to Europe that continued for many centuries. In this regard the Proto-Europeans could have been a derivation of Aryan India by migration, cultural diffusion, or what is more likely, a combination of both.

Though the Druhyus and Proto-Europeans may be connected, it is difficult to confirm, particularly as the Europeans were a very different ethnic type (Nordic and Alpine) than most of the Indians and Iranians, who were of the Mediterranean branch of the Caucasian race.

However, it is possible that European ethnic types were living in ancient Afghanistan or Central Asia, even Kashmir, where we do find some of these types even today. The evidence of the Tokharians suggests this. The Tokharians (Tusharas) were a people speaking an Indo-European language closer to the European (a kentum-based language), and also demonstrate Nordic or Alpine, blond and red-haired ethnic traits. They lived in the Tarim Basin of western China that dominated the region to the Muslim invasion up to the eighth century AD, by which time they had become Buddhists. They may be related to the European featured mummies found in that area dating back to 1500 BCE. They were also present in Western China around Langchou in the early centuries BCE. The Tokharian language is possibly related to the Celtic and Italic branches, just as their physical features resemble northern Europeans. The Tarim Basin region was later regarded as the land of the Uttara Kurus and as a land of the gods. So such groups were not always censured as barbarians at the borders but were sometimes honored as highly advanced and spiritual.

The evidence does not show an Aryan invasion/migration into India in ancient times, certainly not after the Harappan era (c. 3000 BCE) and probably not before. No genetic or skeletal or other hard evidence has been found to prove this. Similarly, we do not find evidence of migration of interior Indic peoples West, the dark-skinned people that were prominent on the subcontinent to the northwest. But if the same ethnic types as the Europeans were present in Western China, Afghanistan or in northwest Iran, like the Fergana Valley (Sogdia), such a migration west would be possible, particularly given their familiarity with horses. In this case the commonality of Indo-European languages would not rest upon a common ethnicity with the interior Indo-Aryans but on a common ethnicity with peripheral Aryans on the northwest of India.

It is also possible that the European people derived their Aryan culture from the influence of Vedic peoples, probably mainly Druhyus but also Scythians (who might themselves be Druhyus), who migrated to Central Asia and brought their culture to larger groups of Europeans already living in Europe and Central Asia. The Europeans could have picked up an Aryan influence indirectly from the contact with various rishis, princes or merchants, without any significant genetic or familial linkage with Indic peoples. Or some combination may have existed. Such peoples with more Vedic cultures like the Celts could derive mainly from migration, while those others like the Germans might derive mainly from cultural diffusion. In any case, various means of Aryanization existed that can explain the spread of Vedic culture from the Himalayas to Europe, of which actual migration of people from the interior of India need not be the only or even primary factor.

We do note the names of rivers like the Don, Dneiper, Dneister, Donets and Danube to the north of the Black are largely cognate with Danu. This could reflect such a movement of peoples from West or Central Asia, including migrants originally from regions of greater India and Iran. At the end of the Ice Age, as Europe became warmer, it became a suitable land for agriculture. This would have made it a desirable place of migration for people from the east and the south, which were flooded or became jungles.

European and Iranian Peoples of Central Asia and Europe: Sycthians and Turanians

The northern Iranian peoples, called Turanians or Scythians, dominated the steppes of Central Asia from Mongolia to Eastern Europe. By the early centuries BC they had set up kingdoms from the Danube in the West to the Altai Mountains in the East. They were the main enemies of the Persians. Unlike the Persians, their religions had more Devic elements and affinities to the Vedic with a greater emphasis on Devas, Sun worship, drinking of Soma and a greater variety of deities like the Vedic. We could call these Turanians or Scythians the main Proto-European Aryans. Some would identify them with the original Slavic peoples as well, who were likely always the largest and dominant Indo-European group in Europe.

Curiously in the early centuries AD we find the Scythians entering into north India and creating some kingdoms there, with both Hindu and Buddhist influence. It is possible that such contacts with India were transmitted to Central Asia and West, much as from previous Vedic eras.

It is probable that the Danavas, Scythians and Turanians were largely the same group of people with Vedic affinities and connections to Vedic culture through various kings, rishis, traders and movements of both people and cultures. Later the Turks came into Central Asia and displaced the Scythian peoples driving them south and west.

Western Indo-European scholarship is obsessed with these eastern Scythian and other possible European elements. Some like Parpola even see the Vedic peoples of the Rig Veda as a migration of the Scythians into India. However, these Central Asian Vedic people were just one branch of a greater Vedic people that included several branches within India itse.f

Much of the search for a Proto-Indo-European language or PIE could be more correctly regarded as a search for the proto-European people. What has been reconstructed through it is more the homeland of the Danava-Druhyu branch of the Vedic people after their dispersal from India rather than all the Indo-European speakers. It is at best only a recontruction of the western branch of the Vedic peoples and even that in a limited and distorted manner.

Therefore, we need not stop short with reconstructing Scythian and Central Asian Aryan culture, we must take it into India itself, where other Vedic branches existed using many of the same cultural forms like fire worship, sun worship, the sacred plant or Soma cult, the cult of the sacred cow and horse, symbols like the sacred tree and swastika, worship of rivers as Goddesses. The philosophical, medical and astronomical knowledge that we find in European peoples like the Celts and the Greeks also mirrors that of India such as we find in the Upanishads, Ayurvedic medicine and Vedic astrology. – Vedanet, 12 June 2012

» Dr. David Frawley (Pandit  Vamadeva Shastri) D. Litt., is a teacher in the Vedic tradition. In India, Vamadeva is recognized as a Vedacharya (Vedic teacher), and includes in his unusual wide scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient Vedic teachings going back to the oldest Rigveda.

Human Migration Out of Africa

Mainstream and marginal tribes in ancient India – Michel Danino

Gond Women Madhya Pradesh
Prof Michel DaninoWas there … a “mainstream vs. marginal” duality in ancient India? The caste system … built its own categories, but tribals were not regarded as sharply separate from “mainstream” society. Interestingly, there is no word for “tribe” in Sanskrit or, so far as I know, in any Indian language; there are terms equivalent to “forest dwellers” or “mountain dwellers”, but not “tribe”. – Prof Michel Danino

The previous article (“India’s Own Sacred Ecology”) in this series made a passing mention of Bishnois, Bhils, Warlis, Santhals or Todas, in whom the reader will have recognized some of India’s better-known tribes. This land has the privilege—it is one, although few Indians realize that—of having hundreds of tribal communities, most of them struggling with modernity and “civilization” in a losing battle to preserve a semblance of their identity.

But what is a tribe? It used to be defined as a group of families or clans sharing a tradition of common descent, a culture and a language, living as a close-knit community under a chief and holding no private property. In the 20th century, however, anthropologists increasingly preferred the more neutral and elastic term of “ethnic group”. Indeed, “tribe” is tainted by 19th-century racist ethnology, which generally described those groups as primitive, barbarous and belonging to inferior races—a stereotype that has proved tenacious, especially when coupled with “animism”, a derogatory term that does little justice to tribal religions. In any case, the notion remains that such groups are marginal to mainstream society, whatever “mainstream” may mean.

Was there such a “mainstream vs. marginal” duality in ancient India? The caste system, of course, built its own categories, but tribals were not regarded as sharply separate from “mainstream” society. Interestingly, there is no word for “tribe” in Sanskrit or, so far as I know, in any Indian language; there are terms equivalent to “forest dwellers” or “mountain dwellers”, but not “tribe”. “Adivasi” was coined early in the twentieth century in the context of race-obsessed colonial ethnology which labelled every Indian community either as “Aryan” or “non-Aryan”—but India had no concept of “original inhabitant”, and as the sociologist G. S. Ghurye put it long ago, “It is utterly unscientific to regard some tribe or the other as the original owner of the soil.” I mentioned in “Decoding the Idea of India” how the Mahabharata lists 363 communities (janas or jatis) across the map, defined in geographical, political or ecological terms; some of them remain recognizable as “tribes”, such as “Mundas, Savaras, Kokuratas or Korkus, Karushas or Kurukhs, Kollagirs or Kolis, and Nishadas or Bhils,” according to the anthropologist K. S. Singh, who pointed out that the Epic does not seem to distinguish between caste and “tribe”, except that some of the janas happen to live in the mountains or forests: “There is hardly any evidence to show that in the collective consciousness of India there is any difference between the two sets of janas.”

The list of janas rises to nearly 700 if we include all ancient literature. In his Arthashastra (8.4.43), Kautilya states, “Forest tribes live in their own territory, are numerous, brave, fight in daylight and, with their ability to seize and ruin countries, behave like kings.” The word for “tribe” here is atavika, that is, “forest dweller”. Kautilya’s fear of their conquering impulse reflects a historical fact: many tribes took to warfare, expanded their territories and became as many Kshatriya clans. H. H. Risley, who conducted the 1901 Census of India, noted a decade earlier how some tribal groups moved straight towards Brahminhood by claiming descent from a legendary king or rishi, imitating Brahmin rituals and even adopting the gotra system. That illustrates the well-known upward social migration which the sociologist M. N. Srinivas called “Sanskritization” (not an ideal term, as the process has little to do with Sanskrit). In fact, recent genetic studies have failed to find radical differences between today’s scheduled tribes and caste groups, and some geneticists now speak of a “caste-tribe continuum”.

India’s tribal communities adopted the Mahabharata and Ramayana with gusto, often relocating the events in their territories, the better to own them. They welcomed Hindu gods and goddesses into their pantheons, sometimes fusing them with their own. This has led to some intriguing situations, such as tribal communities of western India worshipping the Vedic god Indra (under the name of “Babo Ind”), long after he had faded from “mainstream” Hinduism. Interaction is never a one-way affair: the same Hinduism imported Jagannath, Ayyappa, Narasimha, aspects of the Shakti, possibly too Ganesha and Venkateshwara; fusion and assimilation were the rule with varying degrees. The sociologist André Béteille summed up the process thus: “The thousands of castes and tribes on the Indian subcontinent have influenced each other in their religious beliefs and practices since the beginning of history and before. That the tribal religions have been influenced by Hinduism is widely accepted, but it is equally true that Hinduism, not only in its formative phase but throughout its evolution, has been influenced by tribal religions.” There are of course exceptions, mostly because of geographical isolation. The Todas of the Nilgiris are one such; but even if their god-inhabited geography and eco-sacred rituals are distinct, they remain in tune with “Pagan” Hinduism.

Mainstream India’s perception of her tribes remains blinkered by the colonial approach, on which the missionary agenda rode piggyback, seeking to “detach the considerable masses of non-Aryans from the general body of Hindus,” as Risley approvingly put it. Or a few years before him, Richard Temple, a high officer of the colonial administration: “Hinduism, although it is dying, yet has force … and tribes, if not converted to Christianity, may be perverted to Hinduism. If they are attached, as they rapidly may be, to Christianity, they will form a nucleus round which British power and influence may gather.” A glamorous politico-religious agenda that was diligently carried out, partly by demonizing Hinduism’s organic, syncretic and assimilative—but “pervert”—nature and processes. Those very processes will enable us to attempt an empirical definition of Hinduism. – The New Indian Express, 3 January 2017

» Prof Michel Danino teaches at IIT Gandhinagar and is a member of ICHR. Email : micheldanino@gmail.com.

Koya tribe drummers of Odisha

Maheshwara as the Mountain – B. R. Haran

Arunachaleshwar + Apeethakuchambal

Arunachala Hill & Arunachaleshwar Temple, Tiruvannamalai, TamilNadu

B.R. Haran“Where there is no Maheshwara Seva and Mahajnana Seva, need will increase; when need increases, vision will change; when vision changes, approach will vary; when approach varies, aliens will get into the mind; when aliens get into mind, the mind will get confused and that confusion will lead to change. Thus to fulfil real necessities and avoid artificial needs, seva must increase. When seva increases, Dharma will be established. The established Dharma will save the nation, its people, its religion and civilization.” – B. R. Haran

Priest-King of Indus CivilisationDharma, Seva and the Vedic Civilisation

The Vedic civilization evolved on the banks of Sindhu and Saraswati with Dharma as the basis of evolution. Though it got the name “Hinduism” in later times, it is still denoted as Sanatana Dharma. The Itihasas and Puranas have vividly described the crushing of adharma by different avatars of almighty Bhagwan, whenever it raises its head and attempts to rule over this world. In the Kaliyuga, though Bhagwan doesn’t descend as an avatar, he establishes the reign of Adi ShankaraDharma through His Blessed Avatara Purushas such as Adi Sankara, Ramanuja, Ramana Maharishi and Ragavendra, et al. Such mahatmas bless and guide people through their immortal dharmopadesas.

In the Kaliyuga, as adharma raises its head quite often, we would be able to protect our land and safeguard ourselves only when we adhere to the dharmopadesas of our Dharmacharyas and act accordingly. It becomes Sri Ramana Maharshiimperative for us to follow the path of Dharma to establish the truth of the age-old maxim, “Adharma will engulf Dharma; ultimately Dharma will prevail”. “If we protect Dharma, Dharma will protect us” is the code of this land.

A huge threat is looming large over this bhumi known for punya and Dharma, surrounded by adharmic alien forces. It is essential for us to stick to Dharma to destroy the alien forces and safeguard our motherland. Though many Dharmic concepts have been described in our Vedic religion, for us, the two most important are Maheshwara Seva and Mahajana Seva.

Maheshwara Seva caters to (i) protection of temples and continuation of worship rituals flawlessly, (ii) construction of temples in places where there are none and daily rituals of worship, (iii) renovation of dilapidated temples and resumption of worship, and (iv) organising temple related festivals involving the local populace across castes and communities. Mahajana Seva caters to donating food, clothing, houses, education and medicines for the poor, downtrodden and incapacitated people, apart from social and community services.

The Vedic faith has identified specific auspicious days for specific worship for specific Devas and Devis. It is only during these special days, festivals and utsavams, that the entire place, village or town, comes together to worship and celebrate. So, if at all the people are to remain united and if at all the alien forces causing division among the people are to be defeated, frequent celebrations of festivals and utsavams is essential.

During these common celebrations, the “haves” must take care of the “have-nots”. The well off and capable must help the poor, downtrodden and incapacitated by establishing a system whereby the poor can be helped permanently. This will act as an impediment to the evil designs of alien forces and stop religious conversions as well.

The sacred town of Tiruvannamalai stands testimony to the fact that mahatmas reside permanently in places where Maheshwaram Seva and Mahajana Seva are carried out perennially without hindrance. The thought that my recent experience in Tiruvannamalai would be meaningless and become useless if it is not shared with others, has resulted in this column.

Kartigai Deepam on Arunachala Hill at Tiruvannamalai

Arunachaleshwar as Lingabhavad Maheshwara as the Mountain

Tiruvannamalai, the Theyu Sthal or Agni Sthal, is one of the Pancha Bhuta Sthals where Shiva shows his Jyoti Swarup as Lingabhava to Brahma and Vishnu, who made futile attempts to find his head and feet respectively. As the bhumi could not withstand the power of His Jyoti Swarup going beyond the universe (prapancha), Maheshwara compressed himself and became a mountain, Annamalai. This puranic incident is Shiva & Parvati as Ardhanarishwara observed as Kartigai festival, and people observe the Jyoti Swarup by lighting the huge deepa on the peak of Annamalai in the month of Kartigai on Kartigai nakshatram day (December 5, 2014).

Tiruvannamalai has another significance in the Puranas: Bhagwan Shiva gave his left part to Shakti (Devi Parvati) and appeared as Ardhanarishwara. During the Kartigai festival, at the exact time of lighting the Deepam on the mountain peak, the utsavamurthi blesses devotees as Ardhanarishwara inside the temple premises. Apart from being a Pancha Bhuta Sthal, the five peaks of Annamalai denote the pancha bhuta concept, as Shiva himself is a personification of a mountain comprising the pancha bhutas of  earth, water, fire, air and ether.

ArunagirinatharA Siddha Bhumi known for Sevas

Tiruvannamalai is considered a Siddha Bhumi, that is, a land of Siddhas. Siddhas are considered representatives of God with complete mastery over the powers of nature. They are believed to have conquered death and live anywhere and everywhere without being seen, recognized or identified by ordinary humans, and other living beings. Certain places in general and mountain ranges Sri Sheshadriin particular are considered permanent seats of Siddhas; Tiruvannamalai is one such sacred place.

Gautama Rishi, Arunagiri Yogi, Namachivayar, Namachivayam (author of Annamalai Venba), Viroobatcha Devar, Arunagiri Nathar (author of Thiruppugazh), Kondappa Desikar, Jadini Shanmuga Yogini Ammal, Ammani Ammal, Seshadri Swamigal, Ramana Maharishi, Yogi Yogi RamsuratkumarRamsuratkumar are some of the great mahaans of later times, who lived and attained siddhi in Tiruvannamalai, apart from the countless Siddhas who are believed to be permanently seated in Annamalai.

Ramana Maharshi Ashram, Seshadri Swamigal Ashram, Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram, the mathams established by the disciples of Namachivayar, are some of the organisations which have been rendering great service to the people. In the recent times, in order to arrest the illegal and immoral evangelical and conversion activities by the Church and Christian missionaries and also to take care of the needs of the Hindu masses, many Hindu organizations have opened branches in Tiruvannamalai. Kanchi Matham opened a branch recently.

Arunachala Temple

Bhikshatana Shiva at TiruvannamalaiShort History of Tiruvannamalai Temple

Stone temples came into being only during the Pallava Dynasty. Tiruvannamalai Temple is one of the earliest stone temples built by the Pallava kings. Later, the Cholas, Vijayanagar Kings, Thanjavur Nayaks and others built many sanctums, mandapams and towers. The kings of the Tulu dynasty also made some edifices.

The Chola period inscriptions found in this temple start from Vijayalaya Chola’s time (849 CE – 9th century inscriptions) and go for about 400 years of Chola Samrajya up to 13th century CE, giving us a lot of historical information.

Then, from 13th century CE to 16th century CE, kings like Kadavarkon Kopperu Singan, Posala king Veera Vallaalan, Vijayanagara kings (Krishnadevaraya &  others), Thanjavur Nayaks (Sevappa Nayak & others) marked their inscriptions with vivid details of their times. The inscriptions found in this temple are in Tamil, Sanskrit and Kannada.

Sage Meikkandaar, who blessed us with the divine treatise Sivagnana Botham donated a lot to this temple on 22 May 1232 CE. Even kings from far off places (Ganges and nearby kingdoms) donated wealth for this temple.

Arunachaleshwara & ApeethakuchambalAnnamalai in Literature

Annamalai has found place in all kinds of literatures such as Puranas, Anthathis, Venbas, Prabandhams, Pathikams, Vannam, Sathakam, Kovai, Maalai, Viruththam, Keertanas, Sthothras, Kummi and plays.

As far as Sangam literatures is concerned, Tiruvannamalai is mentioned in Akanaanuru and Natrinai. Thirugnana Sambandar (Thevaram), Thirunavukkarasar (Thevaram), Sekkizhar (Periyapuranam) and Ramalinga Swamigal (Thiruvarutpa) sung hymns on Tiruvannamalai. More than 60 Sthal Purans are available in Tamil, and in Sanskrit we have Arunachala Stotras and Arunachala Ashtakam. Tiruvannamalai is mentioned even in Keno Upanishad.

Full moon over Arunachala HillSanctity of Pournami

Although many festivals are celebrated in Tiruvannamalai every month, Karthikai Deepam and Chithirai Thiruvizha are quite famous and both culminate on or close to Pournami (full moon day). Pournami is a very important day for Hindus, and apart from Karthikai Deepam and Chithra Pournami, we have festivals like Thai Pusam, Vaikasi Visakam, Avani Avittam, Masi Magam (Ganga Snan in Prayag) and Panguni Uthram (Holi in northern and western India) being grandly celebrated on Pournami.

Satyanarayana Puja is commonly performed on Pournami Day by people across the country. Pournami vrat has been observed by Hindus since ancient times. People observe fast right from morning and end their fast only after sighting the moon and performing puja in the evening.

Sadhu feeding

Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram Medical CampDana – The Prime Dharma

Dana and Dharma go together and we normally say “Dana Dharma” whenever we talk about seva. Dana refers only to annadana as denoted by the term dharmashala. Hindu Dharma says one should even sacrifice one’s life to save another life. While helping a person, we should not look into his/her caste or religion and we should not bother whether he/she is good or bad. Talking about annadana, Thirumoolar’s Thirumanthiram says, “Yaarkum idumin; avar ivar ennanmin”, or, “Give to anyone; don’t look into antecedents”. The most significant aspect of annadana is that it is the only service in which the acceptor will say “enough” and “I don’t want anymore”. Such words would not come from the acceptor if any other thing is given.

Arunachala Animal Sanctuary“Poortha Dharma” – Community Service

In our Vedic civilisation, the essence of Dharma lies in the concept Pancha Maha Yagna comprising, “Brahma Yagna” (reciting & teaching Vedas), “Pitru Yagna” (sradda and tarpana, etc.), “Deva Yagna” (puja & arati for Ishwara), “Bhuta Yagna” (feeding animals and birds) and “Nru Yagna” (serving atithis, guests). This concept of Pancha Maha Yagna caring and protecting all of creation is postulated only in the Vedic Religion.

Apart from this, social services have also been defined under Poortha Dharma in the Dharma Sastras. Various social services undertaken by a community as a whole belong to this category of Dharma – temple cleaning, temple renovation, road laying, constructing wells and tanks, annadana for locals and outsiders during temple festivals.

Pradakshina of Arunachala Hill ~ Click image for route mapPradhakshana Namaskaram

The uniting of Maheshwara Seva and Mahajana Seva is Dharma. The most important aspect of Maheshwara Seva is Pradhakshana Namaskaram, doing namaskaram after performing circumambulation. Circumambulation can be performed for a particular sannithi, or, for the whole temple, or, for the whole hillock or mountain if the temple is located on top. Circumambulation of a mountain is called “Giri Valam” or “Giri Pradhakshanam”.

Our whole body is engaged in the ritual of Pradhakshana Namaskaram. The mouth recites slokas, namavalis or sings bhajans. Hands play musical instruments; do archanas, ring bells or merely claps to the tune of bhajans. Legs perform the main task of Deepamcircumambulation; head bows down in reverence and bhakti. When we do namaskaram, the entire body from head to toe worships Bhagwan. Anga pradhakshanam is unique in the sense that it is a combination of both pradhakshanam and namaskaram.

Tiruvannamalai is a place where Bhagwan Shiva himself stands as Annamalai (mountain). That is why it attracts millions of devotees from world over for every Paurnami Day!

» B. R. Haran is a senior journalist in Chennai. This article has been extracted from the original called “Tiruvannamalai: Moon, Mountain & Mysticism”  published in 2012.

Deepam Namaskar at Tiruvannamalai

Devi Upanishad – Rishi Atharvan

Saraswati Devi

Om! Devas! With ears let us hear what is good;
Adorable ones! With eyes let us see what is good.
With steady limbs, with bodies, praising,
Let us enjoy the life allotted by the Gods.
May Indra, of wide renown, grant us well-being;
May Pusan, and All-Gods, grant us well-being.
May Tarksya, of unhampered movement, grant us well-being.
May Brihaspati grant us well-being.
Om! Peace! Peace! Peace!

1.  All the Devas waited upon Devi (and asked): “Maha Devi, who art Thou?”

2.  She replied: I am essentially Brahman. From Me (has proceeded) the world comprising Prakriti and Purusha, the void and the plenum. I am (all forms of) bliss and non-bliss. Knowledge and ignorance are Myself. Brahman and non-Brahman are to be known—says the scripture of the Atharvans.

3.  I am the five elements as also what is different from them. I am the entire world. I am the Veda as well as what is different from it. I am the unborn; I am the born. Below and above and around am I.

4.  I move with Rudras and Vasus, with Adityas and Visvedevas. Mitra and Varuna, Indra and Agni, I support, and the two Asvins.

5.  I uphold Soma, Tvastir, Pusan and Bhaga, the wide-stepping Vishnu, Brahma, Prajapati.

6.  To the zealous sacrificer offering oblation and pressing the Soma juice do I grant wealth; I am the nation, the Bringer of Wealth; Above it all, place I its protector.

7.  Whoso knows My essence in the water of the inner sea, attains Devi’s abode.

8.  Those Devas said: Salutation to Devi, Maha Devi! To Siva, the auspicious, salutation, for ever more. To blessed Prakriti, salutation! Ever to Her we bow.

9.  Refuge I seek in Her who is the colour of fire, Burning with ascetic ardour, Goddess resplendent, delighting in actions’ fruits; O Thou, hard to reach, dispel Thy gloom.

10. The Devas engendered divine Speech; Her, beasts of all forms speak; The cow that yields sweet fruits and vigour—to us may lauded Speech appear.

11. To holy Siva, to Daksha’s daughter, To Aditi and Saraswati, To Skanda’s mother, Vishnu’s power, To Night of Death by Brahma lauded, We render obeisance.

12. Know we Great Lakshmi, Goddess of good fortune; On all fulfilment do we meditate. May the Goddess inspire us!

13. Through You, Dakshayani, was Aditi born; She is your daughter; after her were born the Gods auspicious, friends of deathlessness.

14. Love, womb, love’s part, the bearer of the thunderbolt, the cave, ha-sa, the wind, the cloud, Indra; again the cave, sa-ka-la with Maya. So runs the full primeval science begetting all.

15. This is the power of Self, enchanting all, armed with the noose, the hook, the bow and the arrow. This is the great and holy Science.

16. Who knows thus tides over grief.

17. Divine Mother! Salutation to You; protect us in all possible ways.

18. She, here, is the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the twelve Adityas, She is the All-Gods, (those) who drink Soma and (those) who do not; She is the goblins, the demons, the evil beings, the ghosts; She also, beings super-human, the semi-divine. She is Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. She is Prajapati, Indra and Manu. She is the planets, stars and luminous spheres. She is the divisions of time, and the form of primeval Time. I salute Her ever:

19. Goddess who banishes distress, grants pleasure and deliverance alike, infinite, victorious, pure, Siva, refuge, the giver of good.

20. Seed all-powerful of Devi’s mantra, is sky, conjoined with ‘i’ and fire, with crescent moon adorned.

21. On the single-syllabled mantra meditate the pure-hearted sages, supremely blissful; of wisdom the veriest oceans.

22. Fashioned by speech; born of Brahman; the sixth with face equipped; the sun; the left ear where the point is; the eighth and the third conjoint.

23. The air, with Narayana united, and with the lip; vicce, the nine-lettered; the letter, shall delight the lofty ones.

24. Seated in the lotus-heart, resplendent as the morning sun, Devi, bearing noose and hook, with gesture granting boons, dissolving fears; tender, three-eyed, red-robed, granting devotees their hearts’ desires, Thee I adore.

25. I bow to Thee, Goddess, Thou dispeller of gravest fears, vanquisher of obstacles; Thou wearer of great mercy’s form.

26. Brahma and others know not Her essence; so is She called the Unknowable. She has no end; so is She called the Endless. She is not grasped and so is She called the Incomprehensible. Her birth is not known and so is She called the Unborn. She alone is present everywhere, and so is She called the One. She alone wears all forms, and so is She called the Many. For these reasons is She called the Unknowable, the Endless, the Incomprehensible, the Unknown, the One and the Many.

27. The Goddess is the source of all mantras: Of all the words the knowledge is Her form. Her conscious form transcends all cognitions; She is the witness of all emptiness.

28. Beyond Her is nothing; renowned is She as unapproachable; afeared of life, I bow to the inaccessible One, bulwark against all sins; the Pilot who steers me across the sea of worldly life.

29. He who studies this Atharva Upanishad gains the fruit of repeating five (other) Atharva Upanishads; he who, having mastered this Atharva Upanishad, persists in worship.

30. Of this vidya ten million chants are less than the worship’s fruit. Eight and hundred recitations thereof make but this rite’s inauguration.

31. Who reads it but ten times, is released at once from sins; Through the grace of Maha Devi, tides he over obstacles great.

32. Reading it in the morning one destroys the sins of the night; reading it in the evening one destroys the sins committed by day. Thus, reading both in the evening and morning, the sinner becomes sinless. Reading it midnight, too, the fourth “junction,” there results perfection of speech. Its recitation before a new image brings to it the presence of the deity. Its recitation at the time of consecration (of an image) makes it a centre of energy. Reciting it on Tuesday under the asterism Ashvini, in the presence of the Great Goddess, one overcomes fell death. One who knows this, this is the secret.

Om! Gods! With ears let us hear what is good;
Adorable ones! With eyes let us see what is good.
With steady limbs, with bodies, praising,
Let us enjoy the life allotted by the Gods.
May Indra, of wide renown, grant us well-being;
May Pusan, and All-Gods, grant us well-being.
May Tarksya, of unhampered movement, grant us well-being.
May Brihaspati grant us well-being.
Om! Peace! Peace! Peace!

Here ends the Devi Upanishad, included in the Atharva Veda

Ganga: The world’s dirtiest river gets even dirtier – Mail Today

Bhagirathi at Gangotri

Ganga at Har ki Pauri Haridwar

Uma BhartiThe BJP-led government recently launched the Namami Gange programme on the banks of the river in Uttarakhand when 250 projects worth Rs 1,500 crore were launched. … Officials said that from the Gangotri to Ganga Sagar, “Namami Gange” will ensure cleanliness of the river for which Rs 20,000 crore have been earmarked. – Mail Online India

Crores of rupees spent on cleaning the Ganga over the years have gone down the drain with the holy river becoming even filthier.

A recent report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shows that water quality has worsened at places between Haridwar and Kanpur with heavy presence of fecal coliform bacteria and pollutants like heavy metals and pesticides.

The 1,569 mile-long river that runs from a glacier in the western Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal supports more than 400 million of India’s 1.25 billion population.

In the study “Restoration and rejuvenation of Ganga”, the findings claim: “The River Ganga is blocked and dammed at many places and water has been diverted for various uses. As a result, the water quality and ecological sanctity is threatened.”

The report has made many startling revelations about the water quality due to discharge of untreated sewage into the river.

It says that at present 823.1 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage is being discharged, without treatment, over a distance of 543 km between Haridwar and Kanpur.

Also, the stretch is affected by 1,072 polluting industries.

The latest data show that the water quality worsens as the river flows from Haridwar down to Kanpur.

While the quality criteria mentions that the fecal coliform content should be less than 2500 MPN/100 ml, in a part of Kanpur it reached 40,000 this year.

In 2015, the figure it was 20,889 at that location.

The CPCB has suggested that 30 storm-water drains carrying sewage, sullage and other wastes joining the Ganga at various locations, should have flow measuring systems at the terminal points for assessing the quantity of waste water being discharged.

Also, these drains should be hygienically maintained and properly dredged at regular intervals.

The dredged material should be disposed of properly without any adverse environmental impacts. The board has also recommended that all the factories discharging industrial effluents should transmit online data of their waste matter quality to pollution control boards both at the Centre and state.

“These industries should also submit fortnightly data of effluent-quality based on samples collected manually and getting it analysed through laboratory recognised under the Environment Protection Act,” it said.

The BJP-led government recently launched the Namami Gange programme on the banks of the river in Uttarakhand when 250 projects worth Rs 1,500 crore were launched.

These projects were also launched at 108 places situated on the banks of sub-tributaries.

Officials said that from the Gangotri to Ganga Sagar, “Namami Gange” will ensure cleanliness of the river for which Rs 20,000 crore have been earmarked. – Mail Online India, 21 September 2016

Ganga Barrage at Kanpur

Ganga at Varanasi

Ganga at Patna

See also

  • All Ganga articles here