Other articles in the series:-
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Other articles in the series:-
I can justify my view that there was a disconnect between the original concept and the concepts that were developed over a period by showing another female Goddess found in Anatolia and dated at 6th millennium BC.
It appears as follows.
An obese figure sitting on a throne flanked by lions or leopards had given rise to many speculations on its role. The location where this was found and the relevance of this deity in the society are absolutely unfathomable.
But any Hindu seeing this figure would recognise it as Jyeshta Devi, the first born when the seas were churned. She was supposed to be ugly and obese. Taking cue from iconography described in ‘Mayamatham’, the book by Mayan on the science of building which covers the science of iconography of the ancient deities, this image of the female Goddess has pendulous lips, prominent nose and fallen breasts and stomach. She is seated on a throne. This image is consecrated in the outskirts of the dwellings – in places where evil and dirt are seen. Even in temples this deity is kept in neglected places. By worshiping this deity, the people can remain safe in beautiful, clean and happy surroundings. The location of this image in Anatolia must be explored in the light of these specifications.
For comparison, the images of Jyeshta Devi in Indian temples are shown below.
Kailasanatha temple, Kancheepuram, India.
This is also from the Kailasanatha temple, Kancheepuram.
Jyeshta Devi at Thiruppaarkkadal, India.
The worship of this deity was prevalent in olden days but very rare nowadays. The presence of similar image in Anatolia shows the connections with Vedic society. Read my old article in this connection.
Finally I am coming to the snakes and skull seen in the images of female goddesses of Europe and Middle East. Take a look at this image of Asherah / Ishtar from Minoan culture.
Similar style of raised hands as if to stop or destroy the threatening animal.
Even in Egypt, a similar kind of female image standing on a lion is seen
One hand has a serpent and on another there are some crops.
The following figure is available in Sweden.
(Relief from Väte Church at Gotland, Sweden. Photo by Berig, 2008. The church is from ca. 1100. This is not a Christian ornament. These figures are called Snake-witches in Sweden.)
For comparison, I am showing below the female goddess with snakes on her sides. This image is worshiped in Belur, in Karnataka, India.
A combined concept of feeding the animals and also offering crops in the raised hands in the image of Asherah found in Syria seems to be a later development of the Indus image of Mother Goddess.
A similarly looking Asherah standing on skulls tell us from where this idea originally came.
It was from the Hindu society. Taking information from “Mayamatham” of the different forms of female Goddesses, only 2 deities are connected with snakes and skulls. One is Chamunda. She is also identified as KAli. She is the concept of total destruction of enemies.
She holds the skull, has a cobra in place of a breast band and she is mounted on a corpse. She looks terrifying. Even her hair is of bristling snakes. She has a bare breast. Such an image of Chamunda is surprisingly seen in Tlatilco culture!
The previous image of Asherah standing on skulls seem to be a much diluted version of Chamunda. Chamunda’s breasts are exposed due battle-weariness. The image below is of Chamundi worshiped in Madhya Pradesh, India. It belongs to 7th century AD.
The image of Asherah also has a bare breast, but she is not battle weary. This shows the further modifications with time and place.
Asherah, Syria, 1300 BC
But the bare breast concept of the image was adapted by the people in course of time. The Minoan women were depicted as follows in their art works. This is similar to the degeneration in Mithraism explained in the beginning of the article.
However there also exists another piece of art from Minoan which resembles the way North Indian women wear their sari. Take a look at this picture below.
This is similar to how the North Indian women and particularly Gujarati and Sindhi women drape their sari. The blouse and the jewellery also resemble Indian. The wall hanging in the previous picture of Minoan women (a skirt with blue sari draped on top) also looks very much Indian.
The Indian connection of Minoan is there which I will discuss in a separate article. Here I am showing the connection with Mother Goddess concept of the Hindu Thought.
The 2nd image of Mother Goddess is that of KAtyayani that has connection with snakes,. This image holds a noose in the form of a snake and wears a breast band made of snakes. She is mounted on lion and is dressed in lion skin.
This is the most common image found in India and is in sync with Indus depictions. This deity is particularly known for removing marriage- hurdles and in getting a happy married life. The worship of this deity starting from the Full moon of Dec- Jan (Mithra’s birth date in Mithraism) was done by young girls during Krishna’s times. The Indus tablets could well be the images of Katyayani worshiped by womenfolk of those days.
Ishtar with lion could also be a derivation of KAtyayani, as she is supposed to have granted the wishes – ishta means wish or desire in Sanskrit.
There is another type of Mother Goddess principle called as the Sapta Mata – the seven mothers. According to Mayamatham, they are BrAhmi, MAheshwari, KaumAri, Vaishnavi, vArAhi, IndrAni and kAli.
Each one of them had a symbolism and a related paraphernalia. Kali was described earlier. Among them Kaumari or Kumari holds the key to the antiquity of Mother Goddess worship. Mayamatham describes her as having a cock and spear and mounted on a peacock. These are the accessories of Lord Skanda, also known as Kumara, the son of Shiva and Parvathi. The literary tradition of the olden Tamil sangam (sunken) lands is that all these three once lived there. This makes Kumari of Sapta Mata as the mother of Kumara or Skanda. She is none other than Shakthi or Parvathi, the female consort of Shiva. The location of Kumari was in the Indian Ocean. After it was submerged, her image has been consecrated at the tip of South India (at Kanya kumari) facing the ocean where she once had her abode. People from different parts of India went to this place to worship Kumari. Kumari was worshiped for release from the sin of adultery. The Tamil epic Manimegalai contains a reference to a woman from Varanasi who went to Kumari and worshiped her as a propitiation for the adultery committed by her.
By the location of Kumari in the South Seas, it is deduced that she and all her coterie in the Sapta mata group must have existed in the lands that are now submerged in the Indian Ocean. These seven mothers must have been the earliest group of Mother Goddesses, which however got separated in course of time and worshiped as separate entities nowadays. There are of course olden temples, with Sapta Mata and even Ashta mata (8 mothers). Mayamatham says that Sapta Mata must be consecrated at a great distance from the village.
The Indus tablet of seven women seems to be about the Sapta Matas.