Sunday, May 24, 2020

Indic Past Series 4: Zodiac re-designed by Skanda.


The 4th part of the Indic Past series continues with the narration of sage Markandeya in Mahabharata on the life events of Skanda. Three events are discussed in this video in the same sequence given by Markandeya.

The first one was the marriage of Skanda with Devasena, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati who was offered in marriage to Skanda by Indra! In the Tamil tradition Devasena is regarded as the daughter of Indra. To separate myth from reality it is highlighted that the name Indra has three connotations - as a deity, a natural force (rainfall) and a human being who lived in flesh and blood. All the references to Indra in Indic texts can be understood from one among these three.
In the context of Skanda’s marriage it is highlighted in the video that Indra was a human being who lived in Indra Dweepa, comprising Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam that is home for Parijata tree. Parijata is indigenous only to India and these regions of East Asia.

After Skanda’s marriage the six rishi patnis were acceded the status of mothers of Skanda, and ultimately identified with the six Krittika stars.

Here comes the secret of the change of an Epoch identified with astronomy features. The end of the Ice Age that marked the end of a cycle or an epoch is recognized in the shift in position of the star Abhijit. This shift is explained with a sketch of the orbit of the earth shifting from elliptical to the current near-circular path by which Abhijit which was once part of the zodiac when the path was elliptical was found away from the zodiac as the earth’s orbit started becoming what it is now. This is a crucial piece of evidence of the cycle of eccentricity of the earth in terms of astronomy reference which is completely unknown to the outside world and the scientific community.

The video further discusses the implication of this shift and the subsequent recognition of Krittika to fill up the count, on the design of the zodiac and how it solves some of the difficult and mis-interpreted references in the Indic literature. Other related features such as ‘Swati Patha’ and Skanda fixing Aries as the first sign of the zodiac are discussed.

The last theme of this video deals with Skanda-apasmara and Shamanism recognized as Skanda cult. It is also revealed that it is not right to grade Skanda as a sub deity or a lower deity as Markandeya’s subsequent narration states that it was Skanda who started the first ever Vedic Homa. That will be discussed in the next episode. 

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Indic Past Series 3: Time period of Skanda deduced from climatic descriptions.

Previous                                                                                                                    Next                      

The 3rd part of the Indic Past Series moves on to the next step of deducing the time period of Skanda based on the climatic references found in the birth legends of Skanda gleaned from Valmiki Ramayana and Kalidasa’s Kumara Sambhava. The video can be watched here:

The birth legends of Skanda are many but all of them have a common thread of events. The events are found repeated but the deductions had been different, perhaps changing with time. The events are mostly metaphorical of natural or geological happenings but cited with some hints of cosmic or climatic nature giving scope to deduce the time period of the events, thereby of Skanda. Ultimately all the events and the hints are associated with a real character, Skanda who lived at that time. The reality of Skanda as a human being who walked on this earth will be discussed in the course of this series.

In Markandeya’s narration in Mahabharata, Skanda’s birth is infused with a mythical element as one born from the union of Svaha with Adbhuta the Agni. One of Skanda’s works was to redesign the zodiac by adding Krittika in the 27-star count. This event gets mythical in Valmiki Ramayana and Kumara Sambhava besides adding newer elements in the birth legend with climatic hints to decipher the time period of Skanda and the events associated with him. The Krtttika star group that was promoted by Skanda as part of the zodiac was made the foster mother of Skanda in these texts. The bottom line is that Krittika stars had some connection with Skanda’s times.

The climatic events match with ‘Younger Dryas when a sudden drop in temperature followed the rising temperature at the end of Ice Age. This raises the scope to interpret that Skanda had lived at the junction of two epochs – the end of the Last Glacial Maxima and the beginning of Holocene. The change over from glaciation to de-glaciation marks the change of the epoch perhaps caused by the change in eccentricity of earth’s orbit that is documented in one of the astrological Siddhantas, to be discussed later, sounds more perfect compared to Milankovitch theory. The epoch change that matches with Indic perception of precession (not with western perception) had come up with newer revelations with reference to certain stars such as Arundhati, Vasishtha, Abhijit and Krittika in the narration of Markandeya. It is a sad state of events that Indians themselves are not at all aware of these.

The basis of this hypothesis of the hint at climatic change lays in the marriage legend of Uma, the younger sister of Ganga with Shiva not really producing an offspring, given in some detail in Ramayana and Kumara Sambhava. On the insistence of Agni Deva, Shiva transfers to him whatever “tejas” he could produce. Tejas means light or glow or fiery energy. That was carried by Agni but deposited by him on the slopes of the snowy Himalayas, unable to bear it any longer. This caused reed-growth on the slopes from which Skanda was born, says Ramayana.

The same narration is altered in the very next chapter of Ramayana where it is said that Agni Deva transferred the Tejas to Ganga in the hope that she would grow the embryo to the full form as a child. But Ganga too found it difficult to bear the embryo / Tejas and slid it on the slopes. This resulted in reed- growth from which Kumara was born. Since he was born from that which is shed or fallen or cast off, he came to be known as Skanda (from Skanna). The same narration is repeated in Kumara Sambhava.

The transference of Tejas, whatever of it was available from Shiva, the significator for sun or fire, that was further let off by Agni and the glaciated Ganga on the slopes of the Himalayas sounds metaphorical of the first spread of solar radiation or heat on the Himalayan slopes at the end of Ice age. Initially it started impacting the region of Uma, in the north west of Ganga (Gangotri) but got aborted. That is now the famous Amarnath Snow Linga – the peak known as Paruppadam (Barbara) in Tamil texts where the kings of the three Tamil dynasties engraved their emblems long ago. A serious exploration of the Amarnath peak might get us to see those engravings.

The advent of Younger Dryas caused by a comet hit brought out an abrupt end to the spread of heat in the Himalayas. This was described as loss of heat radiation from north to south with only a shred of it falling on the southern slopes of the Himalayas. By bringing Ganga into the picture, the myth making sages has indicated the location of the solar glow on the slopes south of Gangotri. Ramayana further states that minerals are also available in that region. This corresponds to the southern slopes of the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand where reed-growth and mineral presence are noticeable.

This birth legend of Skanda ends up with Skanda being made the commander in chief of the Devas. To know what he did as the commander in chief, we get continuity in Kumara Sambhava where it is stated that Skanda was made the commander in chief to destroy Tarakasura!  The fight with Taraka brings us back to the old and original story of natural burst of volcanoes witnessed in Skanda’s times. Traraka was the brother of Shura killed by Skanda. Kumara Sambhava picks out only the fight with Taraka whereas Adi Shankara hints at the fight with three that include Taraka. The fight with all the three and others continue in Tamil literature and in the temple tradition of Tiruchendur.

A special addition in Kumara Sambhava is the sorry fate of Kama deva. A closer analysis of the passages reveals that his inclusion also is part of the clever strategy to hint at the climatic change impacting the spread of insolation in the Himalayan region. Kama emerges in the scene to facilitate the marriage of Uma with Shiva. To seduce Shiva, Kamadeva induces an untimely spring (akAla vasanata) of sprouts and flowers in the Himalayan slopes, but he was burnt by Shiva. With that the short spring was gone. The import of this is that whatever sprouted withered away.

Initially the increasing insolation from south to north towards the end of the Ice age caused the first sprout of vegetation in the Himalayas. The sad story of Kamadeva hints at the abrupt end of it caused by Younger Dryas. Further loss of heat is hinted by the story of transfer of available Tejas sliding down the slopes south of Gangotri facilitating the growth of reeds. The clump of reeds is known as ‘SharavaNa’. By having said that was Skanda born from Sharavana, the sages had hinted at the time of Skanda’s birth. He was born after the comet-hit that caused Younger Dryas. We will be discussing all that in future episodes.

For now we are able to get a clear upper limit of the Indic chronology that started with Skanda. It was between 12,900 to 11,700 BP.

Vaivasvata Manu, Rama and Rig Veda had appeared after this date only. Any research claiming the date of Ramayana during or before this date is therefore untenable.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Sita’s Agni-pravesha, a case of fire-walking?

Sitaayah caritam Mahat!
Greater are the two ordeals she underwent!

The Agnipariskha and exile as a pregnant woman are so heart-wrenching that the current generation is totally at a loss to understand those events. One needs to shed present-mindedness in judging these events of a remote past. In this context it is worth remembering the verses inscribed on stone 1000 years ago by the Chola King Veerarajendra, the grandson of Rajaraja Chola.

The exile of Sita is discussed in this inscription besides the other contentious issues of Ramayana. These were debated all these years, perhaps right from Rama’s times. The one who understands them in the way they should be understood is truly closer to the state of ‘Sthitaprajna’, others can try to learn more, but never attempt to whitewash the truth. Any attempt to twist or remove Agni Pravesha incident is grave injustice to the Epic, to Sita and to posterity. Since because people of current times can’t understand the purport of it, it is not right to rewrite the Ramayana, which is Veda as per Valmiki and for scores of devotees of Rama including this writer.

Here I am taking up the analysis of ‘Agni Pravesha’ to show the historicity behind and the historic developments around that over the millennia.

Fire-walking as Agni Pravesha.

Anyone visiting Sri Lanka on a cultural tour will be pleasantly surprised to get introduced to Sita’s Agni Pravesha as Fire-walking. The cultural events arranged for tourists in Sri Lanka contain the event of fire walking too, which Sri Lankans think was done by Sita to prove her loyalty to Rama! This version prevalent in Sri Lanka cannot be ignored, for, that country was very much part of Ramayana events and the memory carried by them down the ages cannot be false. That memory of fire walk by Sita offers a convincing reason on how she managed to come out of the ordeal unhurt.
Sita asked Lakshmana to prepare a pyre (चितां मे कुरु). Similar pyre is created for fire walk even today. The following picture is that of the preparation of the fire in Draupadi Amman temple in Udappu, Sri Lanka.

Fire- walking is wide-spread in Tamil lands even today. Huge pyre is created for the fire-walk. The devotees walk on smoldering fire, not on burning fire. They come out unscathed due to their devotion – something to do with their thought force and will power. In all the cases the underlying concept is complete allegiance to the deity.

Similar fire walking is found in the Pacific island of Vanuatu where fire walking is a native practice. Today it is promoted as fire-dance for tourist attraction.

This could not have started as a past time, but anything other than that. Most probably as a ritual with religious connotations but is exploited as tourist attraction today.

The concept and causes for this ritual are best known from the Tamil lands only. In the contemporary world no other people conduct the fire-walking events as Tamils do. And this has been a continuing practice from an undated past. There was a Sangam age poet by name “Thee-midhi Naaganaar” – meaning, ‘Naaganaar who walked on fire” There is a tradition to call this event as “Poo midhi” – “walking on flowers”. One can understand from this expression what the devotees think about this ordeal. For the devout, walking on fire is akin to walking on a bed of flowers. And they voluntarily do it, as a show of devotion and commitment to the deity.

The strange feature of Fire walking is that it is done only to female Goddesses. Prominent among them is Draupadi Amman! Not many know that there are temples for Draupadi in remote regions in Tamilnadu where Fire- walking is an important annual festival. The devotees of this deity (Draupadi amman) in Tamil lands believe that she did this walk after Mahabharata war to wipe out the insult done to her by disrobing her in the court of Dhritarashtra! This proves that Draupadi Amman is indeed Draupadi of Mahabharata. How she came to Tamil lands is best understood from the literary references to the migration of Velir groups consisting of  relatives of Krishna and others owing allegiance to Krishna and Pandavas after the last deluge that happened 3500 years ago (coinciding with the decline of the Harappan culture and inundation at Byt Dwaraka).

The migrants had continued with their previous practices, one of which is worshiping Draupadi by means of fire-walk. The migration of fire-walking practice from Dwaraka and Harappan regions shows that this practice must have been prevalent in North India too in remote past but forgotten after a series of invasions.  

Now let us go from the known to the unknown to justify that Agni Pravesha done by Sita was nothing but fire walking.

Honor and Allegiance

Two features are deciphered from the fire walking ritual done by the devotees of Tamil lands. One is that the deity for whom the fire walking is done is a female and the other is absolute commitment or allegiance to her. The popular belief that Draupadi did fire walking to wipe off the dishonor she suffered in the hands of Dussasana could not have come up in the first place without an incident of fire walk done by her. It is like how gold shines more when burnt. The high level of importance attached to chastity must have given rise to this practice. The same act also demonstrates her complete allegiance to the Lord – in her case the Pandavas.

The incidence of Jauhar committed by Rajput women in the event of facing certainty of dishonor (rape) in the hands of the cruel Mleccha Muslims seems to be rooted in this practice only. Draupadi had a future with her husbands after the war and so opted for fire-walk, but the hapless Rajput women had none and therefore decided to end their life by fire. They could have chosen easier and less painful means to end their lives, but by choosing fire they seemed to have gone with the age old views on wiping out dishonor caused by or expected to be caused by a male and to demonstrate their complete allegiance to their husbands. What a thought, what a sublime emotional thought these women have held on to! Certainly we have no right question the way they thought.  

This has a parallel to Sita’s fire walk!

She did that to wipe out the dishonor suffered in the hands of Ravana. She had hopes of a future with her beloved husband Rama. An examination of the dialogues by Rama and Sita that ended with Sita entering fire sheds more light on this issue.

After winning Ravana, Rama says that he killed Ravana to wipe out the insult meted out to him by way of having abducted his wife, Sita. Now that insult had been paid back, Rama was not in a position to take back Sita in the interests of keeping up the honour of his dynasty.

Sita’s response to this was to undergo test by fire. She did not enter fire to get perished in it. Instead she wanted to show that fire would not harm her if she was genuinely loyal and faithful to Rama.

She made 3 statements as a kind of command to the Fire god, all of which convey only one meaning – that she was absolutely loyal to Rama in thought, word and action and that Fire would not harm her if this was true.

She used the same statements when she created yajna fire at Ashoka Vana to worship Fire God appealing him not to harm Hanuman whose tail was put on fire. The fire God did not hurt Hanuman. Such was the power of Sita, the Pati Vrataa! Could that fire do any harm to her when she entered the smoldering fire?

With Sita and then Draupadi being fire-walkers by themselves, the practice would have evolved after them and directed at female deities.

This practice might sound primitive and might have been in existence in the times of Sita or before.

Or it could be the other way that it was Sita who started the practice and others followed her - to show loyalty to whomever it matters and to show that they are as pure and golden like Sita. 

With Draupadi more recent in memory, fire walking has come to be associated with Draupadi. Following Draupadi this practice must have thrived and inspired Kshatriya women whenever they faced ordeal of similar nature. Today it continues with an emotional and spiritual fervor throughout Tamilnadu.  

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Did Valmiki compose Uttara Ramayana?

In Valmiki Ramayana 1-3 where the plan of the Epic is described we come across a verse “Vaidehyaah ca visarjanam” (1-3-38) stating that Valmiki described in the Epic the exile of Sita and also how Rama ruled the country.  This means Uttara kanda was composed by Valmiki only. In the next verse it is stated  he had written ‘anAgatam ca’ - what is going to come and ‘Uttare Kaavye’ that covers what is yet to happen at the time.  In the next sarga 1-4-2 we are once again told that Uttara Kanda was also written by Valmiki himself. षट् काण्डानि  तथोत्तरम् - ṣaṭ kāṇḍāni tathā uttaram where Uttaram refers to the end piece – Uttara Kanda. Earlier when Brahma met him he granted that whatever had happened and whatever was yet to happen would be known to him (1-2-34). So there can be no doubt who wrote Uttara kanda.

But Valmiki had not released all at once is what we gather from the next verse onwards. While he was wondering who would render his composition, (1-4-3) Lava-Kusha touched his feet (1-4-4) and Valmiki decided to teach them the kavya. Now that he has chosen Lava- Kusha, the question comes which parts of his composition he taught them. Definitely not the futuristic one when Valmiki himself enters the scene before Sita exits the world. Definitely not from the beginning that we have today, but from the 5th sarga of Bala kanda “SarvA pUrvam” when the story starts ..once upon a time.. and ended with Pattabhishekam, what we have now in the Epic.

Ramayana as taught to Lava-Kusha ended with Pattabhishekam. Always we follow a tradition of ending the renditions on a happy note and a phala sruti. Pattabhiskheka sarga has the Phala sruti of what one gets by reciting Ramayana. That is why even after finishing Sundara kanda parayanam at home we recite Pattabhisheka sarga and offer sweets / payasam as neivedhyam. The Phala sruti we find in Pattabhisheka sarga contains futuristic elements of Rama’s rule.

Based on all these we can conclude that Uttarta Ramayana was written by Valmiki only. He had framed Ramayana in groups – one for Lava-Kusha starting from the  5th sarga and ending with the 6th Kanda; another for us starting from the background of composition that we have now. And another i.e., Uttara Kanda which must have been made known to the world after Rama exited.

We find a similar pattern in Mahabharata too. Bharatam was made known to the world not until Dhritarashtra, Pandavas etc (the characters of the Epic) exited the world (Mbh: 1-1-55 & 56) which means the 1st version of 24k verses was already made by Vyasa after the war was over but not released until Krishna and Pandavas left. He made the same story with differing number of verses meant for different people, but this 24K Bharatam was meant for us. Then he added 150 verses. Again he made 100,000 verses and made an entry in the Epic in Janamejaya’s sarpa yaaga – much like how Valmiki, the composer of Ramayana made an entry in  Uttara Kanda. These two Epics follow a certain pattern – of delivering only that part of incidents that were over, and releasing the rest later. Uttara kanda must have been released after Rama’s exit. All incidents of Rama’s life were conceived by Valmiki by the blessings of Brahma (1-2).

When did Valmiki compose Ramayana?

Though no explicit mention of the time of writing the Epic is found in Ramayana, we can make a fair guess.

From the boon of Brahma that Valmiki must write the Epic from whatever that was revealed and unrevealed or known to him or not yet known (1-2-34), it is known that he had already known something. Since the kids (Lava – Kusha) were around when he finished the Epic we can deduce that Sita was in the Ashrama during most time of his writing of the Epic. This means Valmiki was aware of the Sita’s side of the story, her plight.

Did the first hand information of her story that he got from her left him undecided about Rama’s stature? This question arises from the fact the Ramayana begins with Valmiki asking Narada who he thinks is a virtuous person. Doesn’t he know about Rama before? When Narada picks out Rama’s name and compares him with Vishnu, Valmiki must have been convinced about the divinity of the couple.

However the plight of Sita was upper most in his mind is revealed from the ‘Ma Nishada” verse that flowed from his mouth on seeing the plight of the Krauncha bird that lost her lover to the arrow of the hunter. The grief of the female bird continued to haunt him till Brahma consoled him and ordained him to compose Ramayana. The name Ramayana was repeated quite a few times by Brahma in his conversation with Valmiki, but Valmiki considered Ramayana as “Seetaayah Caritam Mahat” (1-4-7).

His devotion to Sita is again demonstrated in his Tamil verse found in Purananauru (Sangam verse) wherein he gives primacy to Sri, and not to her counterpart in not letting down anyone who gave up desires. She didn’t let down Kaakaasura and Trijata – both who agonized her. All these make me think that Sita’s story was haunting him right from the time she reached his ashrama.

Three turning points occurred after he was fully aware of Sita’s story – meeting with Narada, seeing the plight of Krauncha bird and getting blessed by Brahma. Writing the Epic started after that right in the presence of Sita, the glorious Sri or Lakshmi the motivating factor who points out the lakshya, the aim of the Epic and of anyone who reads the Epic.

On Valmiki’s contribution to Tamil:

Valmiki and Agastya were contemporaries.

Since Ramayana happened at the junction of the 1st and 2nd Tamil Sangam around 7000 years ago when sage Agastya migrated to the South to restore the literary tradition of the Tamil lands affected by sea floods, Valmiki’s contribution to the revived Sangam Assembly at Kavaatam sounds plausible. In fact Valmiki had composed Tamil grammar too that was studied till 1000 years ago as per Naccinarkkiniyar’s commentary to Tolkappiyam.

Bogar, the Siddha also remembers Valmiki as “Vedanta Valmiki’ says that he didn’t attain Samadhi but had physical existence for more than 700 years. (“Bogar 7000” verses 5723 to 5725) Bogar also refers to the birth date of Valmiki in the star Anuradha in Kanya month (Purattasi). 

Related article: