Hindu Gods and Goddesses

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lotus Flower Perfection

सत्त्व sattva (righteousness, pure being)

धर्म dharma (teaching, justice)

ऱ्त Rta (correct, true, root of English word "right," though not "as opposed to left")

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sanskrit and . . . Somali?!?!

Though this is a more obvious or intuitive connection to be drawn than the Sanskrit-Native American (Indian!) connection (see post entitled, "Maybe Columbus Was Right After All") upon a cursory study, the Somali language contains quite a number of near cognates to Sanskrit.

agal Somali, "house"
agAra Sanskrit, "house, apartment"

nin Somali, "man"
ninditAzva Sanskrit, "of a man"

The "Orishas" of Africa (guardian spirits) might well be derived from the term "rishi" from India, which denotes shaman or guru.

haruud Somali, "yellow"
Haruuda Somali, "being yellow"
haridambara Sanskrit, "wearing a yellow or green garment"
haridra Sanskrit, "the yellow sandal tree"

jacayl Somali, "love"
kalgacal Somali, "love, affection"
kA Sanskrit root, to seek , desire , yearn , love

qudcur Somali, "darkness, i.e., second half of a lunar month (when there is no moon)"
cUDAmaNi Sanskrit, "an eclipse of the sun on a Sunday or an eclipse of the moon on a Monday"

As Somalia is the nearest land across the Indian Ocean to the source of Sanskrit it should not be surprising to find vestiges of said ancient tongue in the words of Somali, and by merely flipping through (scrolling through) lexicons for these two languages, Sanskrit influence is yet again found in another seemingly distant culture's words. Yet again, the truth of the predominance of Indian (i.e., the Asian subcontinent's) influence on the whole world in ancient times is clear.

geed Somali, "tree"
gaNDi Sanskrit, m. "the trunk of a tree from the root to the beginning of the branches"

These cognates/near cognates were found by a very cursory study.

Certainly a more thorough study would uncover many more similarities and cultural kinships between India and the vast neighboring continent across the ocean, Africa. Two great southern lands that were at various times source to the outflow of humanity and culture, both to be revered and respected as ancestors to all peoples.

Unkulunkulu, son of Umvelinqangi, a Creator God, Heavily involved in the Thunder and Earthquake industry. He came down to Earth one day and married the Swamp Goddess Uhlanga. The subsequent formation of primeval reeds resulted in the birth of Unkulunkulu. This is a South African myth.

Zulu Reed Dance

In one version of the Indian story of the conception of Kārttikeya (or "Skanda", god of war) Siva's seed is carried by the Ganges and deposited in a bed of reeds, which then give birth to Kartikeya.

Murti representing the Birth of Kartikeya 

As an aside, the name Skanda seems obviously associated with the name "Iskandar," the Arabic version of the name "Alexander." Thus arises the question in my mind, was Alexander the Great an avatar of Skanda!? After all, he stopped his conquests once he reached India . . .

Scandinavia seems similarly potentially named after Skanda, who is a war God.

And back to India and Africa, it is interesting to note that the Mountain of the Devas and Devis in Heaven is Meru according to the ancient  lore of India, and Mount Meru is a prominent sacred mountain in Kenya. 

Wheel Weights and Fishing Tackle . . . Yet More Toxic Hazards To Get Rid Of For A Cleaner And Healthier World For Us All To Enjoy

S'pose I've never given it much thought. Though I've watched tire techs placing them on my wheels when balancing them after replacing tires, and noticed them alongside the highway when hitchhiking, I didn't really consider how these little chunks of lead end up toxifying our environment, and creating a serious health hazard for children.

The EPA banned lead paint back in the seventies when I was a kid, and even then I was aware of the health hazard old paint chips created--though as an avid fisherman as a child into my early adult years, I handled plenty of lead fishing weights, and even put them in my mouth to bite off excess fishing line at times. Nonetheless, lead is one of oh so many environmental toxins folks just don't think about these days.

"Lead poisoning can cause severe health effects including damage to the liver, kidneys, brain, nerves, bones and blood. Children are especially at high risk. Toxic levels of lead can cause permanent learning disabilities, retardation and even brain damage in young children. In adults, lead poisoning can cause high blood pressure and reproductive problems. In pregnant women, the fetus is particularly vulnerable to lead’s toxic effects.
Early symptoms include:
Loss of apetite
Sleep disturbances
Sudden behavioral change
Developmental regression

More Serious Symptoms include:
Muscular irregularities
Abdominal Pain
Persistent vomiting
Changes in consciousness
High blood pressure" (from leadcheck.com)

Well, recently a coalition of environmental groups have called for the EPA to ban lead wheel weights, which after falling off end up being ground into a powder and creating streets and neighborhoods that are a hazard to kids brains. Makes sense to call for this ban, but it seems it should logically follow that lead fishing weights should be banned as well, and lead bullets, too.

These sorts of everyday poisons that most give little thought to on a daily basis are vitally important to consider and remediate if this world is to remain sustainable into the forseeable future. Clean water, air and soil are vital for the survival of the human race, as well as for so many wonderful creatures with whom we share this planet. Sure, CO2 emmisions are an important issue, but the other toxins that are more immediately hazardous to life ought to take a higher status in our fight for a clean and healthy environment.

Check out the link below for an article on the hazard of lead wheel weights, and please consider contacting the EPA to voice your concerns regarding this issue, for the health and wellbeing of children and the environment generally.



Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Importance of the Mysterious . . .


I once had an encounter with a bigfoot--no, really!! I was doing trail work in the Pacific Northwest, and . . . well . . . if you want the rest of the story, buy the book, hopefully soon to be published, entitled Memories and Musings of a Post-Postmodern Nomadic Mystic Madman. I've also seen a faerie or two, and once had sex with a woman who shapeshifted her face whilst astride my lap (buy the book). On and on I could rant regarding my wild and weird experiences with cryptozoological creatures and mystical oddities (again, when it gets published . . . please buy the book).

In an age that places science divorced from the divine up on a pedestal, it is perhaps vital that our culture continues to maintain myths about the "supernatural" and tales of the inexplicable. Not that the discovery of hard proof of the existence of Sasquatch or some such would be a bad thing, but the continuation of the mysterious in popular culture keeps our imaginations alive, and inspires creativity. Accounts of cryptos like bigfoot and giant snakes and the little peoples of the world (which have been proven to exist, at least in the not too distant past, on the isle of Flores in Indonesia), tales of hauntings and other unexplained stuff offer fodder for children's stories and help some grown-ups keep their imaginations whirring.

Stories to tell around a campfire and the stuff of science fiction movies and books often derive from such unproven yet plausible accounts of UFO encounters and sightings of upright hairy beasties in the forest, and offer the hope that we have not seen or at least not quantified and qualified and taxonomized everything on the planet, which would be rather a disappointment to the imaginations of those who've yet a sense of curiosity and wonder. What a boring world if everything on earth were available in a science textbook, already studied to death and dissected and analyzed in a laboratory setting!!

Sonar photo of Loch Ness Monster from a 1975 expedition

I do not wish to maintain that the gov's top secret information about UFO's should be kept hidden (unless too terrible to widely publicize), or that it would be an absolute tragedy if someone found a Sasquatch body in the wilderness of Canada, or caught clear footage of the Mokele Mbembe (a purported sauropod--living dinosaur--reported in the swamps of the Congo) on film. Yet if there were no mysteries to feed the imaginings of a sixth grader bored to death with his uninspired math teacher's rants, or inspire a man or woman in the midst of a mid-life crisis to explore the jungles of Africa, or to animate the sacred dance and stories of tribal peoples round the globe, how much less wonderful would life become? Sure we'd survive, and perhaps expand our search for the unknown to beyond this world. Nonetheless, I must say I am grateful that not every species has been discovered, and that many places in the world's wildernesses (and even in the cities) hold wonders and mysteries not yet fully revealed to science's often cold and clinical approach to life.

(Representation of a tribe of Pygmies who reportedly killed a Mokele-Mbembe--"One Who Stops the River From Flowing" just a few decades ago . . . )

Below: Tasmanian Tiger, thought extinct in 1930's, filmed in 1970's . . .


Purported Pterodactyls shot with guns then film in late 1800's . . .


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Shame on the Senate !!!!

The Senate just voted 90 to 6 to deny Obama the ability to close the Guatanamo Bay prison, and to deny the transfer of these prisoners to the United States for fair trials and hearings. What a bunch of shitheads!!!! The many unconstitutional violations of civil and human rights that have been undertaken by the United States government at said institution need to be addressed, and the actual guilt or innocence of each individual needs to be determined.

The original use of the "camp" was to hold Cuban and Haitian refugees, until the Supreme Court declared the detentions unconstitutional in the mid-nineties. Now, a significant portion of the prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay facility who have very likely not truly committed a crime are being held in unconstitutional detention. In domestic murder cases, the defendant is found not guilty around 20 percent of the time. There is obviously much less room for confusion in a domestic trial than on a battlefield, where civilians are quite often confused for combatants. In the case of the prisoners at Guatanamo, it is a safe assumption that more than twenty percent are not guilty of anything worthy of the harsh imprisonment, torture and humiliation they have received.

These statistics alone are enough to warrant the closure of a facility that serves no purpose other than to detain accused combatants without trial. Many of these took up arms only after the United States invaded their homelands. How many of you who do not necessarily agree with the government would take up arms if this land was invaded?

It is time for this nation to not only cease to violate international law, but also to uphold the Constitution!!! These prisoners deserve a fair trial--'cuz some of them are indeed innocent of any crime worthy of such arbitrary and indefinite detention!!

Grasping at straws to justify the Senate's action, the NYT reported that "1 in 7 Detainees Rejoins Fight, Report Found." Now let me ask you folks, if you had been held in isolation, forced to wear earmuffs and goggles that effectively make you blind and deaf, tormented, tortured and humiliated, would you not assume your captors were not rightly resisted? Would you not conclude that they were nigh to the "Great Satan" some extremist Muslims contend? It is a wonder more of them don't return to fight against their oppressors!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Meat-Eating Is Mostly Evil . . .

I have been a (mostly) vegetarian for something like fifteen years. I write "mostly" in parenthesis because I have on rare occasions eaten the flesh of felled beasties (mostly in consideration of the world's five out of six billion who are not yet aware or properly responsive to the suffering and unnecessary cruelty inflicted upon animals raised for consumption and the inefficiency and waste of precious resources that goes into raising animals for food--that, and on occasion the predator in me wants to sink teeth into flesh . . .).

Now mind you, a significant part of my nature is a hunter, and if approached with respect and due reverence, reverently receiving sustenance from animals who live their lives free in the wilderness is not a sin, in my humble opinion. Animals raised to kill and eat, especially when confined to feed lots, is exceedingly unjust and cruel, and the amount of crops and water required to raise animals for food is excessive and wasteful.

Raising animals for meat consumes 90 percent of the soy, 80 percent of the corn, and 70 percent of the grain grown in this nation. If everyone nationwide turned vegetarian, that land would be freed for more responsible use, and could be either allowed to return to a natural state or utilized to grow biodiesel crops, food for hunger relief globally, or to grow hemp, which can be used for paper pulp, plastics, and as structural material to replace the deforesting use of lumber from cutting down trees.

Regarding water use, the livestock industry is responsible, more than any other industry, for the depletion of fresh water in this country. It takes over one-hundred times more water to produce a pound of beef than it does to produce a pound of potatoes!! Eating mass-produced meat is an environmental crime!!

Estimated water requirements for various crops and livestock (m³ water/ton crop) (Wikipedia)

Beef 16726
Pork 5469
Cheese 5288
Poultry 3809
Eggs 3519
Rice 2552
Soybeans 2517
Wheat 1437
Maize 1020
Milk 738
Potatoes 133

The above table clearly displays how wasteful raising livestock for food is compared to food crops. When considering the water wasted, the wasteful use of crops to feed livestock that could be used directly as human food, and the cruel conditions of animals kept in feed lots and factory farms, the extreme pollution of water caused by livestock production, etc., etc., there is no doubt that meat-eating is amongst the greatest environmental and inhumane crimes of this land. In addition, the conditions of most animals raised for meat is atrocious.

Chickens are confined to cages in most large farms, and in such hazardous conditions those who tend to them often must wear respirators or other protective gear.

Cattle in feedlots don't have it much better . . . and worse if you consider their intelligence level.

These things said, I should add that though I do not think raising animals and then slaughtering them is without moral and ethical flaws at any level, family farms and ranches that keep free-range fed cows or maintain cage-free conditions for poultry are at least a half-step above mass-produced meat. Though I believe the ideal would be (and better soon become, or else . . . ) a vegetarian society through and through, small family farms and ranches are at least mostly cruelty free--except that most family farms end up selling some portion of their cattle to feedlots anyways.

These things said, I still maintain that hunting is the most responsible and ethical meat eating process there is. Those animals taken by hunters in their natural wild habitat live their lives free, and only experience a short period of suffering when pierced by an arrow or other projectile compared to animals who spend their whole lives in captivity, sometimes spending the better portion of those lives standing in their own feces. And any animals raised for food learn to trust humans as their providers, only to end up slaughtered by those they learned to trust.

Native Americans (er, perhaps more appropriately "Indians"--see post entitled "Maybe Columbus Was Right After All . . .") greatly revered the animals they hunted, doing ceremony and offering prayers as due respects offered their quarry.

When I lived for a short while with a Dine (Navajo) family in Arizona, Che ("grampa") Begay slaughtered a ewe (female sheep) for a Native American Church meeting this family was hosting. Though I did not observe the slaughter, my traveling companion Jonah watched as Che Willie Begay sang a Dine song over the doomed sheep, then according to Jonah's account, groaned and was visibly thrown back upon slicing the sheep's throat, as if perhaps receiving into himself the pain caused by the act. This level of empathy and respect is the least that is due a sentient being who gives its life to feed humans.

Mass feedlots and slaughterhouses are an infinite distance from the respect shown by those traditional societies who eat meat to the animals they raise for food.
Even Kosher and Halal rules (Hebrew and Muslim dietary guidelines) establish modes designed to minimize the suffering of animals raised and slaughtered for food. There is really no excuse for the cruel and inhumane modes of modern approaches to raising animals for food. Period!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Caste and Realized, Systems and Siva--The Destroyer, If'n Ya Didn't Know

Kali, righteous wrathful bisatch who kills thousands of demons with one swath of her blade. She is Hara's consort (er, one form of Great Goddess who happens to be Siva's woman)

(Two Seikh warriors--dunno why I put this picture here, except that it kinda looks cool . . .)

Often when I talk highly of the traditions of India in conversations--specifically, in my intentions at least, with reference to certain specific tantric perspectives--I am often taken to task to justify the caste system.

Though I do not always mention that Saivism is generally opposed to--and various Sivite groups have historically and often revolted against--the falsely measured controls of the caste system, I usually do mention the ideal of the caste system is that reincarnation, or rebirth after death in cycles of samsara, actually works justly and according to the perfect harmony of the universe, with perfectly measured dharma, etc. Still, for the record, if I am beholden to a tradition in India--the mother and father land of so many dispersed traditions--it would be to Saivism and tantra and thus in tune with a bunch not so cozy with castigation and prejudice.

One group of tantricas called the kaulikas with little violence seized power from the high caste, and inverted norms by treating the high born as if untouchables, with no repurcussions. This revolt, and others like this fomented by various wild and crazy naked forest dwellers, was a non-violent overthrow of the "powers that be." The high caste folks were made to realize they were indeed beholden to even the supposedly "lowest-born" of society.

This carnivalesque inversion turned their version of ritualized "carnivale days" into the rule of the day during this group's visible prominence centuries ago. The previously high holies got a taste of thier own medicine, as those they would once have been expected to shun were shunning them, those who they would not touch now eschewing the touch of the brahmins, high-born brought low.

Imagine the egalitarianism of Mardi Gras more than respresenting or symbolically playing out the inversions of rich and poor, revered and reviled in previously held socio-economic orderings. Imagine everyday normative social hierarchies reversed, and taking hold in the other weeks of the year. This is what the kaulikas accomplished, to the degree that high caste officials had to consult the kaulikas before official actions, and were bound by the kaulikas censure. High born to some degree in subserviance to the poor.

This is more the "Hindu" tradition I'm diggin' than the one arbitrarily limits social mobility by anachronistic castes--yeah, I s'pose I'd be a dilettante revolutionary there too.