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Goddess… or Demon? Hidden History of Vinayaki, the Mysterious Elephant-Headed Woman of Hindu Myth

Goddess… or Demon? Hidden History of Vinayaki, the Mysterious Elephant-Headed Woman of Hindu Myth

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In one of the shrines of the Thanumalayan temple in Kanyakumari district, India, is the stone sculpture of a four-armed deity sitting cross-legged in Sukhasana (“easy pose” - similar to sitting in a simple cross-legged position) holding a battle-axe, a large shell, a vase and a staff around which the deity entwines a long trunk. At first glance, one would think that this is the famous elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha, except that this deity is clearly female.

Elephant-Headed Goddess: Black Stone, Circa 10th Century CE (Biswarup Ganguly/ CC BY 3.0 )

Every year, Hindus across the country celebrate the birth of Ganesha , revered as the remover of obstacles, in the Bhadrapada month of the Hindu calendar which usually begins at the end of August. But the same level of adulation has never been given to this goddess - Vinayaki.

The 16th century Shilparatna (“Sculptural Gems”), a classical text on traditional South Indian arts, gives a description of Vinayaki as having the head of an elephant and the body of a youthful woman. She is vermillion-colored, with large breasts, a corpulent belly, and beautiful hips.

Vinayaki (Kathie Brobeck/ CC BY 3.0 )

Independent Goddess Overshadowed

However, Vinayaki’s legends are so overshadowed by the popularity of Ganesha that she is either known by a wide variety of names and descriptions (which makes recognizing her in ancient texts difficult) or worse, ignored completely. In another stark contrast to the immense popularity of the images of Ganesha, Vinayaki is not often represented by an icon and she is also one of the least encountered deities in religious literature.

Ganesha (Sachinbatwal/ CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Variations of Vinayaki’s name are all feminine versions of the elephant god – Gajanani, Vighneshi, Gajarupa. She does not have a consistent name and is known by various names, Stri Ganesha ("female Ganesha"), Vinayaki, Vighneshvari ("Mistress of obstacles") and Ganeshani, and many more, all of them being feminine forms of Ganesha's epithets Vinayaka, Gajanana, Vighneshvara, and Ganesha itself. These identifications have resulted in her being assumed as the shakti (“feminine form”) of Ganesha. Here again lies another conflict as, although Vinayaki is generally related to Ganesha and the obvious theory is that Vinayaki is Ganesha’s shakti, at no historical period was she given as much personal adoration as is accorded to the feminine forms of other gods.

The Jain and Buddhist traditions offer another interpretation that Vinayaki is not one of Ganesa’s Shaktis or consorts, but an independent goddess. In Buddhist works, Vinayaki is called Ganapatihridaya ("heart of Ganesha") indicating her importance.

Goddess of Misfortune? The Trouble with Identifying Vinayaki Among the OTHER Elephant-Headed Goddesses in Ancient Texts

Vinayaki is not the only elephant-headed female in Hindu mythology! Elephant-headed females appearing in the Puranas are usually considered to be demonesses or cursed goddesses.

In a version of a tale about Ganesha's birth, the goddess Parvati took a bath at the banks of the river Ganga. After she had finished her bath, Parvati threw the used water into the flowing river which was then drank by the elephant-headed demoness, Malini, who then gave birth to a boy with the head of five elephants. What followed was a heated argument as the goddesses Ganga and Parvati appeared—each claiming this multiple elephant-headed infant as their own.

Goddess Parvati. India, Tamil Nadu, 11th century Sculpture Copper alloy (LACMA/ )

The two goddesses took the issue to Shiva and asked him for a solution. Shiva solved the problem by proclaiming Parvati as the mother of this five-headed infant. He then combined the five elephant heads into one and named the child Ganesha.


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Martini Fisher is a Mythographer and author of many books, including Time Maps: Evolution of Languages and Writings . For regular updates about Martini’s books, interviews, courses, and blog, check out


Invertebrates Edit

Worms Edit

  • The skōlex (Indus Worm), in ancient Greek writings, was a supposed giant, white, carnivorous worm with a large pair of teeth that lived in the Indus River.

Arthropods Edit

    is 'the Goddess of bees' or 'the Goddess of black bees'. She is associated with bees, hornets and wasps, which cling to her body.
  • Ájakava - a poisonous scorpion mentioned in the Rig Veda. , a Scorpion Goddess, native to southern Karnataka.

Matsya Edit

  • Matsya is the first avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu in the form of a fish. [1]
  • In Hinduism, The Rainbow Fish was a fish that was as large as a whale. It ate Buddha. [2] is a huge aquatic creature that can swallow whole whales in one bite.
    is a daughter of Tosakanth (Ravana) appearing in the Thai and other Southeast Asian versions of Ramayana. [3] She is a mermaid princess who tries to spoil Hanuman's plans to build a bridge to Lanka but falls in love with him instead. [4] is the son of Hanuman in the Cambodian, Thai and other versions of the Ramayana, and who looked like a vanara from the waist-up but had the tail of a fish.

Frog Edit

Sarpa Edit

  • In Hinduism, Kurma is the second Avatar of Vishnu, in the form of a turtle. [5][6]
  • The World Turtle in Hindu mythology is known as Akupāra, or sometimes Chukwa, a chiranjeevi. [7]
  • Bedawang or Bedawang Nala is a giant turtle in Balinese mythology who brought the whole world on his back. In the creation mythology of the world, it represents a change from Antaboga. He along with two dragons support the human world. If he moves, there will be earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on earth.
    appears as the vahana (vehicle) of the river goddess Ganga, Narmada and of the sea god Varuna.
  • Huhu is the crocodile in the legend of Gajendra Moksha.
    is the world serpent of traditional Javanese mythology. It is a derivative from the Hindu Ananta Shesha combined with Javanese animism. also known as Jahar Veer Gogga is a folk deity, worshiped in the northern states of India. He is a warrior-hero of the region, venerated as a saint and a 'snake-god'. He is worshiped as a pir amongst Hindus. is an Asura who has the lower parts of a snake and said to have four arms. (Nagnechi Ma, Nagnechia Ma), a snake goddess, is the kuldevi of Rathore, a Suryavanshi Rajput clan of India, as well as Brahmbhatts (who are also Vaitalik Kaumudik Bramhins),
  • Patanjali is a snake footed rishi. is the severed head of an asura called Svarbhānu, that swallows the sun causing eclipses. He is depicted in art as a serpent with no body riding a chariot drawn by eight black horses. (Kurdish : Şahmaran) (Persian: شاهماران, Şamaran Turkish: Şahmeran, Tatar: Şahmara / Шаһмара / شاهمار, literally, shah (king) of the snakes.) is a mythical creature from the folklore of The Kurdish people. Shahmaran is known as the queen of the serpents. This story can be traced from the Middle East to India with different variations. or Ahi is a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra.
  • The Naga is an entity or being, taking the form of a very great snake — specifically the king cobra. A female nāga is a nāgī or nāgiṇī. Notable nagas.
      is half Brahmin and half naga, son of Manasa. , a snake conquered by Krishna. controls weather , also Mansa Devi, is a Hindu folk goddess of snakes, sister of Vasuki and wife of sage Jagatkāru (Jaratkāru).
  • Paravataksha, his sword causes earthquakes and his roar caused thunder. is a Hindu goddess, who is described as the mother of the nagas (serpents). [8] is a horned serpent-demon who aids the Asuras in their war against the Deva. The serpent also guards the essence of Amrita in its stomach. Susna is also associated with drought. is the nagaraja or king of all nāgas. The snake on whom Vishnu is in yoga nidra (Ananta shayana). [9] is mentioned as a King of the Nagas. , a companion of Arjuna in the epicMahabharata is a nagaraja, one of the King serpents of Hindu mythology, who coils over Shiva's neck. [10]
  • Pakshin Edit

      (feminine Byangomi) are legendary birds of Bengali mythology, appearing most notably in the fairytales of Thakurmar Jhuli, where they are portrayed as wise, fortune-telling birds that help the deserving. (also known as the Bherunda) is a two-headed mythological bird of Hindu mythology thought to possess magical strength.
    • Homa Pakshi (a Vedic bird). It lays eggs while flying in the sky and then the egg will fall. As it is falling, a bird will hatch from the egg. The hatchling then learns how to fly without touching the earth.
    • The Huma (Persian: هما, pronounced Homā, Avestan: Homāio), also Homa, is a mythical bird of Iranian legends and fables, and continuing as a common motif in Sufi and Diwan poetry. The kingship-bestowing function of the Huma bird reappear in Indian stories of the Mughal era.
    • The Karura is a divine creature with human torso and birdlike head in Japanese Hindu-Buddhist mythology. is a mythological creature of Russian legends, with the head and chest of a beautiful woman and the body of a bird (usually an owl). According to myth, the Sirins lived "in Indian lands" near Eden or around the Euphrates River.
    • Bagala - A crane-headed god in Hindu legend, Bagala controls black magic, poisons and disguised forms of death.
    • Krauncha - A crane mentioned in the Ramayana.
    • Nadijangha - The name of a crane, who was liked by Brahma very much. His story was told by Bhishma to Dharmaraja.
      Vultures who were the sons of Aruna, brother of Garuda.
        , the King of Vultures, was the oldest son of Aruṇa and a brother of Jatayu. is the youngest son of Aruna, brother of Sampati.
      • The hamsa (Sanskrit: हंस, haṃsa or hansa) is an aquatic bird of passage, such as a goose or a swan. Its icon is used in Indian and Southeast Asian culture as a spiritual symbol and a decorative element. Hamsa is a part of the mythical love story of Nala and Damayanti. The hamsa is the vahana of Brahma & Saraswathi.
        • Arayanna, or heavenly hamsa (swans), are said to live in Manasasaras in the Himalayas.
        • Chanda, a crow, is the father of Bhusunda and his twenty brothers (Bhusunda and his brothers were born from the union of Chanda and the seven swans of the Goddess Brahmi). is a very old sage, in the form of a crow. In the Story of Bhusunda, a chapter of the Yoga Vasistha, Bhusunda recalls a succession of epochs in the earth's history, as described in Hindu cosmology. He survived several destructions, living on a wish-fulfilling tree on Mount Meru.
        • Krichi is the rooster of Murugan, depicted on his war flag, the Seval Kodi.
        • Citramekhala is the mayura of Saraswathi, Goddess of learning and wisdom.
        • Paravani is the mayura vahana of Murugan, the God of War.
          was a certain female bird of the species called Sarngika. She was wife of saint Mandapala.
        • Suka - The parrot vahana of Kamadeva
        • Shuka - The parrot of Kalki
        • Shyena (Sanskrit: श्येन ) is the divine hawk identified with Agni, who ascends to heaven for bringing soma (nectar) to earth with the intention of rejuvenating and revitalizing of all things that exist on earth.
        • The Garuda is a large bird-like creature, or humanoid bird. Garuda is the mount (vahana) of the Lord Vishnu. According to the Mahabharata, Garuda had six sons from whom were descended the race of birds.
          • Sumukha
          • Suvarna
          • Subala
          • Sunaama
          • Sunethra
          • Suvarcha
            , a kind of partridge, is a legendary bird described in Hindu mythology. It is believed to reside upon the beams of the moon, that is, the Chandra.
        • Kapinjala, a partridge associated with Indra, or a form of Indra.
          • Pravirakarna - Is a chiranjeevi owl who lives in the Himalayas.
          • Uluka - The owl of Lakshmi.

          Mushika Edit

          • Mushika - the rat mount of Ganesha /GANESHA is very careful about his mount Mushika and also his safety

          Gaja/Hastin Edit

            (Thai: เอราวัณ, from Pāḷi Erāvana, or Sanskrit Airāvana) is the Thai version of Airavata. He is depicted as a huge elephant with either three or sometimes thirty-three heads which are often shown with more than two tusks. Gadjamina, Gaja minah, or Eon is an elephant headed mythical figure with the body of a fish used for patulangan sarcophagi in Bali,
          • The Gajasimha is a mythical animal with the body of a lion and the head of an elephant. At Angkor, it is portrayed as a guardian of temples and as a mount for some warriors. is an elephant demon killed by Shiva, in his Gajasurasamhara form. the elephant, was rescued by Vishnu from the clutches of Huhu, the Crocodile in the legend of Gajendra Moksha. also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, the elephant headed God. is a daughter of Kadru and Kasyapa. She is the mother of Airavata, the mount of Indra. She is also associated with a sacred river.
          • In a tale about Ganesha's birth, the elephant-headed demoness Malini gives birth to Ganesha after drinking the bath-water of Parvati, Ganesha's mother.
          • In Hindu mythology there were three elephants by the name Supratika. The foremost among them is listed as one of the Diggajas, each representing the eight quarters. The Hindu epic Mahabharata describes two more elephants by the same name – a mythical elephant that was an incarnation of a sage, and the one that belonged to Bhagadatta, the king of Pragjyotisha. is an elephant-headed Hindu goddess, a Matrika. The goddess is generally associated with the elephant-headed god of wisdom, Ganesha.
          • The Amarakosha, a thesaurus of Sanskrit, mentions the names of eight male elephants, and their respective consorts, that bear the world together.
            • Airavata is a mythological white elephant who carries the Hindu God Indra. He also represents the Eastern direction, the quarter of Indra. Abhramu is the consort of Airavata.
            • Pundarika, carries the Hindu god Yama. He reprents the Southeast. Kapila is the consort of Pundarika.
            • Vamana and his mate Pingala guard the South with an unspecified god.
            • Kumunda (Southwest) and his mate Anupama, with the god Surya.
            • Anjana and his mate Añjanā guards the West with the god Varuna.
            • Pushpa-danta and his mate Subhadanti guards the Northwest with the god Vayu.
            • Sarva-bhauma represents the North, the quarter of Kubera. His mate is Tāmrakarna.
            • Supratika represents the North-east direction, the quarter of Soma. Anjanavati is believed to be the wife of Supratika.
            • Four names are given in the Ramayana 1.41:
              • Viru-paksha - East
              • Maha-padma - South
              • Saumanas - West
              • Bhadra - North

              Kapi Edit

              • Kapi is known to be a form of monkey, especially used to represent Hanuman as seen from Hanumaan chalsa lines:- jai kapees tihu lok ujagar
                The Vanaras are the monkey race in the Ramayana. The following are notable vanaras.
                  , son of Bali, helped Rama find his wife Sita , Hanuman's mother. is a monkey God and an ardent devotee of the God Rama. , Hanuman's foster father. is the son of Hanuman as per the Valmiki Ramayana. , son of Vishwakarma. , son of Agni. was the wife of Sugrīva. , king of Kishkindha, son of Surya. , wife of Bali. , Sugriva's brother, and a son of Indra

                Varāha Edit

                • Emūsha - In the Brāhmana, a boar which raised up the earth, represented as black and with a hundred arms (probably the germ of the Varaha avatara). is the third avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu in the form of a boar. is one of the Matrikas. With the head of a sow, Varahi is the consort of Varaha.

                Hariṇa Edit

                  (Sanskrit Paśupati) is an incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva as "lord of the animals". was a boy born with the horns of a deer in Hindu-Buddhist mythology, who became a seer.

                Gō Edit

                Paśu Edit

                  are associated with the reddish cows, and are released by Indra from the Vala cave at the beginning of time.
            • Vrishabha - A cow-headed Yogini, who is considered to be the mother of Ganesha.
              • Kamadhenu also known as Surabhi, is a bovine-goddess described in Hinduism as the mother of all cows. She is a miraculous "cow of plenty" who provides her owner whatever he desires and is often portrayed as the mother of other cattle as well as the eleven Rudras. The following are the offspring of Kamadhenu.
                  cows (the golden cows), are the children of Kamadhenu, who were also called the mothers of the world (according to the Anushasana Parva, the thirteenth book of the Mahabharata). , a calf, created by Krishna (along with its mother, Kamadhenu) from the left side of his body (according to the Devi Bhagavata Purana) (sometimes referred to as Sabala), the cow of Vashistha, the daughter of Indra's cow Kamadhenu. , daughter of Surabhi, who is said to be the mother of cows (according to the Ramayana) , a daughter of Kamadhenu in the Brahmanda Purana , a cow, daughter of Kamadhenu (according to the Matsya Purana)
                • The guardian cow goddesses of the heavenly quarters (they are the 4 daughters of Kamadhenu according to the Udyoga Parva, fifth book of the Mahabharata):
                1. Dhenu in the north
                2. Harhsika in the south
                3. Saurabhi in the east
                4. Subhadra in the west

                Vṛṣabha Edit

                  or Birkuar, also known as Birnath, is a Hindu cattle-god worshipped by the herder-class of Ahirs of western Bihar in India. He is considered to be a form of the god, Krishna. , or Nandikeshvara is the name for the bull which serves as the mount of the god Shiva and as the gatekeeper of Shiva and Parvati.

                Mahiṣa Edit

                  According to Hindu mythology, Mahishasura was a combination of both an Asura and a mahisha ("water buffalo"), with a trident. - The sister of Mahishasura. After the death of Mahishasura, Mahishi continued the war against Devas. , is a horned buffalo deity of pastoral tribes in Western and Southern India.
          • Paundraka is the name of the buffalo of Yama.
          • Aja Edit

            • Aja - A "He-goat" sacred to Pushan. Holds a prominent position in death rites it shows the path to the dead.
            • Ajaikapala - A boy, whom was begotten by the grace of Shankara. He had one foot of a man and the other of a goat. He overcame death as a child and is known as 'Mrityunjya'. (see also Markandeya) - His head was replaced by a goat's after a beheading. also known as Harinegameshi, is a goat-headed or deer-headed deity (associated with the war-god Kartikeya). - a Vedic guardian of flocks and herds.

            Ashva Edit

            • The Ashvins, in Hindu mythology, are two Vedic gods, divine twin horsemen in the Rigveda, sons of Saranyu, a goddess of the clouds and wife of Surya in his form as Vivasvant. They are represented as humans with the heads of horses.
            • Badavā - 'A mare, the submarine fire.' In mythology, it is a flame with the head of a horse, called also Haya-siras. is the name of a divine horse or bird, personification of the morning Sun.
            • Devadatta - The white horse of Kalki. , daughter of Kamadhenu, and is the mother of horses (according to the Ramayana).
            • Farasi Bahari - These are magical green Water Horses that live at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. They are depicted as a horse in its forepart, with a coiling, scaly, fish-like hindquarter. , also spelt Hayagreeva, is a horse-headed avatar of the Lord Vishnu in Hinduism. is the horse-demon, healed by Krishna. In Hindu mythology, a kinnara is a paradigmatic lover, a celestial musician, half-human and half-horse. is the name of a mythical being in the Rigveda, described as a horse with the epithet áriṣṭa-nemi "with intact wheel-rims". is a horse faced Ghandarva, a celestial musician. is a seven-headed flying horse, that was obtained during the churning of the milk ocean. Uchchaihshravas is often described as a vahana ("vehicle") of Indra - the god-king of heaven, but is also recorded to be the horse of Bali, the king of demons. White horses appear many times in Hindu mythology.

            Khaḍgin Edit

            • The Karkadann (from kargadan, Persian: كرگدن "Lord of the Desert") was a mythical creature said to live on the grassy plains of India and Persia. The word kargadan also means rhinoceros in Persian and Arabic. (Greek: odontotyrannus or dentityrannus ("tooth-tyrant") is a three horned beast said to have attacked Alexander the Great and his men at their camp in India. It had a black, horse-like head, with three horns protruding from its forehead, and exceeded the size of an elephant.
            • The Unicorn is a legendary creature that has been described since antiquity as a beast with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. The unicorn was depicted in ancient seals of the Indus Valley Civilization and was mentioned by the ancient Greeks in accounts of natural history by various writers, including Ctesias, Strabo, Pliny the Younger, and Aelian. The Bible also describes an animal, the re'em, which some versions translate as unicorn.

            Shvan Edit

              - a dog one of the Bhairavas, a manifestation of Shiva.
            • In Hindu mythology, Sarama is a mythological being referred to as the dog of the gods, or Deva-shuni. (literally, "sons of Sarama") are the children of Sarama, whose names are Shyama and Sabala. is an ancient Hindu mythical dog belonging to Yama.
            • Sisara is the husband of Sarama, father of the Sarameya.

            Mahabidala Edit

              is a fearsome goddess of forests and jungles, who roams northern India, particularly Assam, in the form of a tiger. a sacred tiger (sometimes drawn as a lion), it was offered by gods to serve goddess Durga or Parvati as mount for rewarding her victory. were described to be lion-headed beings. is an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, and is often visualised as having a human torso and lower body, with a lion face and claws. (Sanskrit: नारसिंहीं, Nārasiṃhī), power of Narasimha (lion-man form of Vishnu), is a woman-lion and throws the stars into disarray by shaking her lion mane.
            • Manasthala is the lion vahana of Durga who was known as the asura Simhamukha in his previous life. or sometimes called Prathyangira, Narasimhi or Narashimhika, is a Hindu Goddess described with a lioness's face and a human body. is a lion faced demon, brother of Surapadman who later was transformed into the vahana of Durga due to his bravery in fighting the god, Muruga. , that is, one having the feet like a tiger, was one of the mythical rishis (sage) of ancient India.

            Bidala Edit

            Bhallūka Edit

              The Rikshas are described as something like Vanaras but in later versions of Ramayana, Rikshas are described as bears. Notable Rikshas are as follows:
                is a character originating in Indian epic poetry. The King of the Bears, he is an Asiatic or sloth bear in Indian epic tradition. is the daughter of Jambavan, King of the Bears, and the third wife of Krishna.

              Yuyukkhura Edit

              • The Crocotta (or corocotta, crocuta, or leucrocotta), is a mythical dog-wolf of India or Ethiopia, linked to the hyena and said to be a deadly enemy of men and dogs.

              Theriantrope Edit

                or Naagin is a mythical shape-shifting cobra in Indian folklore.
                - In India, the weretiger is often a dangerous sorcerer, portrayed as a menace to livestock, who might at any time turn to man-eating. These tales travelled through the rest of India and into Persia through travellers who encountered the royal Bengal tigers of India and then further west.
                - The hemaraj is a creature found in Thai and possibly South Asian mythology. It is said to be the combination of a hem (an ill-defined creature in and of itself usually likened to a swan but sometimes depicted more like a crocodile) and a lion. is a sea-creature in Hindu mythology. Makara is the vahana (vehicle) of Ganga - the goddess of the river Ganges and the sea god Varuna. [11][12] It is also the insignia of the love god Kamadeva.

              In the epic Ramayana, the Makara is responsible for the birth of Lord Hanuman’s son, Makardhwaja.

              Snake in the Garden of Eden

              Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

              Godong/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

              A man. A woman. A snake. And a fateful apple. In the Old Testament Book of Genesis, a serpent memorably appears in the Garden of Eden, the earthly paradise God created for the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. The cunning snake convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit of the “tree of knowledge,” telling her that “when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When God learned of Adam and Eve’s transgression, he banished both of them from Eden and cursed the snake for its role, saying “You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” Debate has long raged over whether the serpent in Genesis was a literal reptile, an allegory for sexual desire or temptation or even Satan himself.

              She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

              This Goddess makes me so very happy. Finding her started last Yule when my husband gave me a statue of Ganesha. I was surprised because my spirituality is Goddess-based only. I placed him amongst my Hindu Goddesses. A couple of months later, looking at Him, it occurred to me that there just HAD to be an elephant-headed Hindu Goddess. Frantic research ensued, and voila……I give you Vinayaki.

              Little is found in Hindu scriptures about Vinayaki and just a few images exist of Her. She is most generally associated, of course, with Ganesha and is assumed to be his Shakti. She is also said to be the 5th of Ganesha’s 32 forms. In this form, She would be the protector of the householder, vanquishing evil and bringing peace to the home.

              She is known by various names, such as Sri Ganesha, meaning female Ganesha Vainayaki Gajanana, meaning elephant faced Vighneshvari, meaning Mistress of Obstacles and, in Tibet, Ganeshani.

              She is very often seen as part of the 64 Yoginis. The 64 Yoginis was a cult of mystical, female dakinis, now usually called yoginis, between the 9th-13th centuries. It is thought that their worship was a blending of Shaktism and Tantric. A yogini is used to refer to the forms of Devi, the Great, Supreme Goddess, and/or different parts of Her body. A dakini is most often thought to be a messenger or attendant to Devi. Devotees of Devi were also called Shaktas. There are believed to be nine 64 Yoginis Temples located in India.

              At the 64 Yoginis Temple in Chausath, She is the 41st of the 64 Yoginis and is named here as Sri Aingini. She is slender, with full breasts. She is also depicted in Chitrapur Math Shirali, holding a sword and a noose.

              In Satna, there is an image of five Goddesses, one of which is the cow-headed Vrishabha, who is holding the infant, Ganesha. Vinayaki is portrayed holding an elephant goad, or bullhook, much like the adult Ganesha. This could indicate that Vinayaki and Ganesha are siblings.

              One myth tells us that the demon Andhaka wanted the Goddess Parvati for his wife. Shiva fought Andhaka, but each drop of his blood made another demon. Parvati called on all of the Shaktis, which included Vinayaki, to drink the demon’s blood before it hit the ground and Andhaka was destroyed. At this time, Vinayaki became a handmaiden to Parvati.

              Some see Her as part of the Matrika or Divine Mother Goddesses, a group of Hindu Goddesses always depicted together, which may or may not be the same group of Shaktis called upon by Parvati in the above story. In this stone tableau of the Matrikas, you can see Vinayaki on the far right.

              The fourth day after a new moon is called Vinayaki Chaturi. Even though this day is sacred to Ganesha, it is named after Vinayaki.

              In Buddhist traditions, She is an independent Goddess and is called Ganapatihrdaya, which means “heart of Ganesh”.

              Whatever Vinayaki may be – Yogini, Dakini, Matrika, or independent Goddess, She is more than welcome into the pantheon of Hindu deities.

              Kali – A Most Misunderstood Goddess

              Title: Durga Slaying the Buffalo Demon, Raktabij, and Kali Lapping up the Demon's Blood, Illustration from a Markandeya Purana Publication, 1800 - 1825. Here, Kali is depicted in classical form as a terrifying black skinned skeletal figure. Picture credit: Brooklyn Museum.

              In the eyes of westerners, Kali is a goddess dark of mind, body and soul, a mysterious goddess of death and destruction. However her story is far more complex and far-reaching she cannot be easily fitted into a typical western narrative of good verses evil, and in fact transcends both.

              It is likely that Kali’s origins begin, as do the origins of most divine figures, with tribal folklore deeply rooted in the history of humankind. The name Kālī first appears in the Atharva Veda, a collection of hymns and mantras published between 1200 BCE and 1000 BCE. However she is not a goddess but rather a fierce black tongue, one of seven belonging to Agni, the god of fire. It is another 400 years before Kali is described as an individual in her own right, when she appears around 600 CE in the Devimahatmya as a battlefield goddess personifying the wrath of Durga. Her aspect at this time is terrible – a skeletal and frightening crone, coloured black (a literal interpretation of her name), wearing animal skins and carrying a khatvanga, the skull-topped staff associated with tribal shamans. Other texts of the period associate her beginnings with Shiva. The Linga Purana (500 to 1000 CE) describes how Shiva asks his wife Parvati to defeat the demon Daruka, whom only a female can kill. Parvati merges with Shiva, reappears as Kali and does the deed, but at a terrible cost her bloodlust becomes uncontrollable, only calming when Shiva intervenes. The Vamana Purana (900 – 1100 CE) has a different version. When Shiva addresses Parvati as Kali, "the black one," she is affronted and performs certain austerities to lose her dark complexion, ultimately generating Kali as a separate entity.

              Kali is often associated with Shiva. Her very name is the feminine form of Kāla, an epithet of Shiva, thus tying her inextricably to him. She is regarded as the shakti (power) of Shiva, and he her consort. She is closely linked with him in many of the Puranas and when she appears in these writings besides Shiva, she plays an opposite role to that of Parvati. While Parvati soothes Shiva, neutralising his destructive tendencies, Kali actively provokes and encourages him. As scholar David Kinsley states, “it is never Kali who tames Siva, but Siva who must calm Kali”.

              A 14th century Nepalese image of Kali as Chamunda, battlefield demon killer, in her most frightening aspect. Photo credit: David Nelson

              In her earliest appearances, Kali was frequently associated with violent endeavours on the battlefields of the gods. In one legendary battle with the demon Raktabija, she is manifested by Durga to deal with a situation that has gotten badly out of hand. Every drop of blood spilled by the wounded Raktabija becomes a deadly fighting clone, but Kali turns the battle around and defeats him by draining his blood before it touches the ground, then devours his replicates. In this story she is brought in to play when decisive action is required, when dark deeds must be matched with dark deeds, when resolve must be shown - attributes not always associated in the west with the archetypal woman. In another story, Kali is summoned by a group of criminals who decide to sacrifice a human to her image in order to gain her favour. They unwisely choose a young Brahmin monk of upstanding character, however his saintliness shines so brightly that her statue is scorched in his presence. She manifests but proceeds to horribly kill her erstwhile worshipers by decapitating them and drinking their blood. Here, Kali demonstrates her refusal to be controlled by those who think they understand her and her triumph over the attributes of ignorance and evil, as well as the absolute impartiality of her nature.

              While Kali was well integrated into the Vedic, or orthodox, Hindu tradition from the first, she also developed a parallel relationship with Tantra. Tantric teachings are a collection of ancient magical stories and folk practices that exist alongside the Vedic tradition, and could be considered to hold to the wild tribal origins of Kali more faithfully than the Vedic. One of the meanings of Kali’s name is “force of time”. In this aspect she is considered to stand outside of the constraints of space-time and have no permanent qualities she existed before the universe was created and will continue to exist after the universe ends. Limitations of the physical world such as colour, light, good and bad do not apply to Kali. She is a symbol of Mother Nature herself – primordial, creative, nurturing and devouring in turn, but ultimately loving and benevolent. In this aspect of goodness she is referred to as Kali Ma, Mother Kali, or Divine Mother, and many millions of Hindus revere and worship her in this form. In Tantric meditation, Kali’s dual nature leads practitioners to simultaneously face the beauty of life and the reality of death, with the understanding that one cannot exist without the other. It is worth noting that Shiva, in his role of destroyer of worlds, also stands outside the boundaries of the physical universe and is well complimented by his association with Kali.

              Kali’s worship was not always so benign. From the 14 th century to the 19 th century, a cult group called the Thuggee (from the Hindu word to deceive) was operating at will in India. A hereditary sect, Thuggee membership was passed from father to son, although outsiders, particularly criminals, could be recruited if found worthy – or might end up as victim if not. During its peak, the group is believed to have had thousands of followers and during the 600 years of its operation its members are estimated to have killed anywhere between 500,000 and 2 million people. Thuggees proudly traced their origin to the battle of Kali against Raktabija, and considered themselves her children, created from her sweat. Pandering to the fiercest aspects of Kali and her requirement for death, destruction and human sacrifice, the Thuggee believed that they were doing Kali’s sacred work (although it should be noted that they had no hesitation in also robbing their victims). The British finally wiped out the Thuggees in the mid 19 th century, and the cult of religious stranglers ceased to exist except in myth and folklore.

              A groups of Thuggees strangling a traveller on a highway in India in the early 19th century. One member of the group is gripping the traveller's feet, another his hands, while a third member is tightening the ligature around his neck. Anonymous Indian artist. Made for Capt. James Paton, Assistant to the British Resident at Lucknow, 1829-1840. Picture credit: Frances Pritchett's web site, Columbia University

              The Thuggee are said to have had their female equivalent in a sect of Tantrists who held that it was through constant indulgence in gluttony of the senses and the five recognised vices – drinking of wine, eating of meat and fish, performance of “mystical gesticulations” and sexual indulgence - that a human could achieve purification of the soul and all-embracing union with Kali. It is difficult to discover any concrete information about this group of women – their name, the extent to which they practiced in India, whether they were associated with the Thuggee cult, and whether they died out or continue to exist within the many Tantric sects extant today. Their ethos has similarities to that of the male Aghori monks of Varanasi who inhabit cemeteries and sometimes eat human flesh as part of their rituals, use marijuana and alcohol, and meditate on top of corpses to help them reach a state of heightened awareness and bring themselves closer to Shiva, Kali’s consort.

              Here Kali is shown in her post 17th century, rehabilitated form: beautiful of face and body, blue skinned rather than black, her right foot forward to indicate the correct spiritual path, with her right hands displaying the gestures of fearlessness and blessing and her left holding the sword and severed head. lIllustration from Myths of the Hindus & Buddhists, 1914. Author Surendra Nath Khar.

              In part because of her dread characteristics and habit of acting unpredictably, at least to those who tried to control her, devotion came late in the game to Kali – even devout Hindus were wary of her wrath. However in the seventeenth century Kali received a makeover from the Tantric Bengali poets in northwest India. No longer a terrifying red-eyed crone, she began to be depicted as voluptuous, motherly, young and beautiful, with a gentle smile, attractive ornaments and pleasing blue complexion. While she continued to brandish weaponry and severed heads, two of her right hands now made soothing gestures - the mudras of fearlessness and blessing.

              Today, her image reflects her duality. Kali is depicted in the act of killing but smiles engagingly. Her protruding red tongue signals both modesty (a Bengali tradition) and her thirst for blood. Her dishevelled hair hints at unrestrained blood lust and alternatively the metaphysical mystery of death that encircles life. Her three eyes represent omniscience, her voluptuous breasts both sexual lust and nurturance. Her nakedness simultaneously represents carnality and purity. Her necklace of severed heads and girdle of severed arms signifies her killing rage but are also tantric metaphors for creative power and severance from the bonds of karma and accumulated deeds. Even her stance is imbued with dual meaning. The respectable, right handed path of Tantra (Dakshinamarga) is emphasised by her right foot forward stance, while the infamous left-handed path (Vamamarga) followed by “degenerate” Tantric practitioners such as the Aghori is down-played. While her right hands are generally associated with positive gestures, her left hands hold weaponry – depending on the number of arms she is portrayed as having, a bloodied sword or trident, a freshly severed head and a skull cup to catch the blood. However, even these are symbols of greater purpose. The sword symbolises higher knowledge, the head the human ego that must be severed in order to exit from the cycle of life and rebirth.

              In the 20 th and 21 st centuries, many western feminist scholars have adopted Kali as a mascot of female empowerment, or have politicised her as a symbol of the supposed former matriarchal golden age that came before our present state of patriarchal control and decline. New Age Tantric practitioners adapt her obvious sexual manifestations as a therapeutic tool, while Hollywood employs her as a convenient symbol of malevolence. But Kali, the true Kali, will continue to defy all attempts to tame and domesticate her, as she has since the beginning of time.

              Would the real Kali please stand up. Kali can be depicted in various aspects, both as a terrible force for violence and retribution, and as a loving protective chaste figure. Photo credit: Kashgar

              References and Further Reading

              Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained, 2008. Secret Societies: the Thuggee. Accessed 4 th June 2017.

              Gordon, Sarah , 2015. The Cannibal Monks of Varanasi. Daily Mail. Accessed 6 th June 2017.

              Hixon , L 1995. Coming Home, the Experience of Enlightenment in Sacred Traditions, Larson Publications, New York. Excerpt accessed 4 th June 2017.

              Kinsley, David R 1988. Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. University of California Press.

              McDermott, Rachel Fell 2001. Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal. Oxford University Press.

              Nelson, David 2008. The Many Faces of Kali. Accessed 6 th June 2017

              Urban, Hugh 2001. "India's Darkest Heart: Kali in the Colonial Imagination". In McDermott, Rachel Fell. Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West. Berkeley: University of California Press (published 2003).

              Wendy Doniger, Kali: Hindu Goddess. Britannica Accessed 2 nd June 2017

              White, David Gordon 2000. Tantra in Practice. Princeton Press.

              About Vinakayaka and Vishwaksena

              Vinayaki is an elephant-headed Hindu goddess. Her mythology and iconography are not clearly defined. Little is told about her in Hindu scriptures and very few images of this deity exist. Due to her elephantine features, the goddess is generally associated with the elephant-headed god of wisdom, Ganesha. She does not have a consistent name and is known by various names, Stri Ganesha (female Ganesha), Vinayaki, Gajanani (elephant-faced), Vighneshvari (Mistress of obstacles) and GaneshIni, all of them being feminine forms of Ganesha's epithets Vinayaka, Gajanana, Vighneshvara and Ganesha itself. These identifications have resulted in her being assumed as the shakti - feminine form of Ganesha. Nagaraja yajnopaveeta of Ekadanta Ganesha becomes mangalya sutra for Enkadantini Ganeshini

              In a Buddhist text called Aryamanjusrimulakalpa, the goddess is called the siddhi of Vinayaki. She inherits many of Ganesha’s characteristics. Like Ganesha, she is the remover of obstacles and has an elephant's head with only one tusk. She is also called the daughter of the god Ishana , an aspect of Shiva.

              Vahanas - the Divine Animal Mounts of Hindu Gods

              The Hindu Pantheon is replete with interesting and entertaining stories and legends about the various Gods and Goddesses. What is special about these epics, stories and legends is that each of these anecdotes come with a little lesson hidden in them - something that sounds mundane, yet have a great spiritual connotation behind them.

              Many of the main Indian Gods and Goddesses (Devas and Devis) have their own vehicles, mounts or vahanas that comprise various types of animals and birds. While this seems peculiar at first glance, there is a deep inner significance behind their choosing particularly those vahanas. This detailed article gives you invaluable information about these vahanas and their significance both in mundane and spiritual terms.

              Sometimes, the deity is shown mounted on or riding his or her vehicle, while at other times, the vahana is shown by the deity's side. Many times, this vehicle is also represented by way of symbolisms, as a divine attribute. Though the vahana appears to be independent, it is part and parcel of the deity's presence and has an emblematic or syntagmatic inner meaning to it. Sometimes, the deity's vehicle may also symbolize the evil force, which the deity embodies.

              We now take a detailed look at the various main Devatas and their vahanas.

              Garuda - Sri Maha Vishnu's Vahana

              The Garuda, the vahana of Sri Maha Vishnu, one of the Divine Trinity, is a large mythical eagle-like entity that is part of both Hindu and Buddhist culture. The Garuda is often depicted as having a shiny, golden body, red wings, white face, a sharp, eagle's beak and a man's body. He is a powerful creature, full of energy and a size big enough to block the Sun God Himself!

              The Garuda is one of the most powerful demigods and is given an important place in Indian mythology. This can be gauged by the very fact that there is a complete Upanishad and Purana (Garudopanishad and Garuda Purana respectively) on him. Garuda has several other names such as Syena, Gaganeshvara, Chirada, Khageshvara, Kashyapi, Kamayusha, Sitanana, Sudhahara, Nagantaka, Tarkshya, Suparna, Vishnuratha, Vainateya and so on.

              Garuda's true power

              Garuda has always played a very important and vital role in his master, Vishnu's life. In fact, Indian art itself is a testimony to Garuda's gigantic persona. It is said that the Veda chants can be heard with each movement of Garuda's massive wings. There are several Indian sculptures and paintings that depict Vishnu and His consort, Lakshmi, seated on the bird. Krishna also carries an image of Garuda on His banner.

              According to the Vedas, Syena was the one responsible for delivering the Deva Amrut (nectar of immortality) from earth to heaven. Worshipping this divine bird is even said to remove poison from one's body. Lord Krishna Himself declared in the middle of Kurukshetra, the battlefield, "Of birds, I am the son of Vinata (Garuda)". Krishna and His consort, Satyabhama rode on him to kill Narakasura. In yet another incident, Krishna mounts Garuda to save His elephant devotee, Gajendra.

              Garuda's birth

              Garuda was born to sage Kashyap and Vinata. When Garuda first emerged from his egg, he appeared as a raging inferno, consuming all in its wake. When the Devas pleaded with him for mercy, he consented and reduced his own size and energy.

              Reaching the Amrut to the Devas

              Vinata, the sister of Kadru, the mother of serpents, once lost a bet to her sister and consequently became enslaved to her. In a bid to free his mother from the bondage, Garuda promised to bring the serpents Amrut, in exchange for his mother's freedom. This elixir was at that time fiercely guarded by the gods and was kept safely within a fiery ring that covered the entire sky. This was further protected by a machine with sharp rotating blades. The potion was further guarded by two vicious poisonous serpents.

              The gods, knowing Garuda's intentions, proceeded to save the elixir by stationing a huge army against him. But Garuda destroyed them effortlessly. Then, collecting the water of many rivers in his mouth, he extinguished the fires surrounding the potion. Becoming a fraction of his size, he then manouvered his way through the rotating blades, killed the two serpents and took the pot of nectar in his mouth.

              On the way back, he met Vishnu. While Vishnu promised him immortality without having to consume the nectar, Garuda promised he would become His permanent mount. He also met Indra, to whom he promised that he would indeed deliver the nectar back to the Devas. Indra, in turn, promised Garuda the serpents as food.

              Finally freeing his mother, Garuda asked the serpents to finish their religious rites before consuming the amrut. While they were at it, Indra made off with the pot. Garuda thus became the ally of the gods and the vehicle of Sri Vishnu.
              Garuda is said to have had six sons who gave rise to the spicies of the birds. Like Garuda, they too were strong beyond compare and also preyed on the snakes as did Garuda. Lord Vishnu continued to be their Protector as well.

              Garuda in Buddhism

              In Buddhism, the Garuda is said to be a huge bird, his wings spanning several miles! He is said to have amazing power, intelligence, strength and wisdom and can change to human form at will. There are some stories which even talk of Garuda kings having romantic dalliances with human women. The Buddha, in the Mahasamyatta Sutra, is shown as making peace, albeit temporarily, between the Nagas (serpents) and the Garudas.

              The concept of Garuda is also seen in Indonesian, Thai, Japanese and Mongolian culture. While the Garuda is the national symbol of both Thailand and Indonesia, it is the symbol of Ulan Bator, the capital city of Mongolia.

              Nandi - Shiva's mount

              Nandi, the Bull, is Lord Maheswara's (Shiva) gatekeeper and mount. Nandi is a Shiva bhakta (devotee) and the most important of Shiva's ganas. Like Garuda for Vishnu, Nandi too plays a major role in Shiva's life. One can see a statue of the bull, facing the Lord's idol, in most Shiva shrines. There are several temples built solely to worship Nandi as well.

              Unlike Garuda, who is a lesser god, Nandi is considered a separate, powerful god, whose history can be traced right from the Indus Valley Civilization. Dairy farming was the most important occupation then and so, the Nandi was given much respect at that time. There was also a deity, much like Shiva, who was then worshipped as the Pasupathi (the caretaker of herds).

              In some Puranas, the Nandikeswara features as one with a bull's face and human body which is similar to Shiva Himself. He is shown with four hands, two holding the Parasu (axe) and the Mruga (antelope) and the other two folded in prayer. In Sanskrit, the word for 'bull' is 'vrisha', which also means Dharma or righteousness. This is why it is considered appropriate to seek the blessings of Nandi even before bowing down to Shiva!

              While the Puranas consider Nandikeswara to be the leader of the Siva Ganas, he is also said to be the principal disciple of Shiva, also a primal guru to Siddhar Thirumulanathar, Patanjalinathar and many others of the ancient Natha / Siddhar tradition.

              Nandi's birth

              There are no accurate records of Nandi's birth. According to some Puranas, he was born from Vishnu's right side, exactly resembled Shiva and was brought up by sage Salankayana. Yet other Puranas say that he was born by the grace of Shiva to sage Silada.

              Popular legends

              Nandi cursed the ten-headed asura king, Ravana, that he and his kingdom would be destroyed by a Vanara (monkey). Hanuman was the one that burnt and destroyed Lanka.

              Shiva and Parvati once played a game of dice, in which Nandi agreed to become the umpire. Though Shiva lost the game, Nandi declared Him the winner, as he was His favorite. Thereupon, Parvati lost her temper and cursed Nandi that he would die of a terrible and incurable disease. When Nandi begged for forgiveness and told Her he had lied only to protect his Master, Parvati relented and offered him a way of atonement and release from her curse. She asked him to offer his favorite foodstuff (grass) to Her son, Lord Ganesha, on the latter's birthday. Nandi did as he was told and was immediately released from the curse. This is also why people offer Arugampul (a type of medicinal grass) to Ganesha during prayer.

              During the Samudra Manthan (churning of the Ocean of Milk) episode, Shiva swallowed Halahala, the deadly poison that arose from the sea. When Nandi saw a few drops of the poison falling to the ground, he immediately licked if off the ground. All observing were shocked and fearful of Nandi's state after consuming the poison, but Shiva smilingly assured them that the bull would not come to any harm, as he had completely surrendered his will to his lord and master, Shiva.
              Nandi's white color is symbolic of his purity and sense of justice. Even today, women worship Nandi as a bestower of fertility.

              Nandi idols

              The largest Nandi idols throughout India can be found at Lepakshi, Thanjavur, Chamundi Hills at Mysore, Bull Temple at Bangalore, Rameswaram and Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, Karnataka.

              Egyptian and Greek mythology

              In Egyptian mythology, Apis or Hapis, a bull-diety is worshipped as a major deity in the Memphis area. Greeks belive that Apis is an incarnation of Osiris. Romans also give Apis a divine status in their culture.

              Mooshika, the rat - Ganesha's vehicle

              Ganesha is known to be the Deva of intelligence and wisdom. He is also said to be a patron of the arts and sciences. This Gananayaka (Lord of the Ganas) is propitiated before the start of any ceremony or ritual and is also invoked as the Lord of Letters before the start of writing sessions.


              Some of the earliest depictions do not show Lord Ganesha with a vahana at all. The Mudgala Purana talks of eight incarnations of the Lord, in which Ganesha has a mouse in five of them. As Vakratunda, he uses a lion as a vahana. As Vikata, he has a peacock with him and the Sesha (divine serpent) is present with him in his avatar of Vighnaraja. Jail philosophy also shows Ganesha with a mouse, elephant, tortoise, ram or peacock.

              According to some philosophers, the mooshika appeared as Ganesha's vehicle in India, somewhere around the 7th Century. The earliest mention of the mooshika is in the Matsya Purana, the Brahmananda Purana and then the Ganesha Purana. There is also mention of the Lord using an image of the mouse on His flag. The names, Mooshikavahana (mounted on a mouse) and Akhuketana (mouse flag) appear in the Ganesha Sahasranama.

              Philosophical connotation of the mooshika

              The term 'Mushika' is derived from the Sanskrit root, 'mush', which means, 'to steal'. The rat is generally a destructive creature if not controlled. It robs people of crops and food. In other words, this is a destructive pest that causes a lot of trouble.

              In philosophical terms, the human mind tends to be wavering, selfish and full of desires. Many of us do not hesitate to achieve our goals even if it means hurting someone. The mooshika here is the vighna or obstacles created by our own negative mindset and thought patterns.

              Additionally, our thoughts multiply multifold when left uncontrolled. Like mice attacking in the night, they stealthily attack us in the darkness of our ignorance. Ganesh seated on the mouse signifies His crushing our negative thoughts when we surrender our lives to Him.

              Our minds are extremely fickle and tend to run around here and there, completely leaving our control on it! Achieving control is a sign of great wisdom. The mouse at Ganesha's feet signifies that He can bring our minds under his control and bestow grace and plentitude on us. Bowing to the Vighneswara's also allows us to gain control over our minds, thereby, getting beyond our vighnas as well! The mooshika, staying at the Lord's feet permanently, signifies the steady mind forever being in prayerful attitude, leaving aside all negativity and ultimately attaining bliss and oneness with Him.

              The Mushika also signifies adundance. In symbolic terms, the mouse carries Lord Ganesha's immense grace wherever he goes, including the hearts and minds of the devotees in which He resides.

              The Peacock - Lord Muruga's Mount

              Lord Muruga or Subrahmanya as he is referred to is a very popular Hindu Tamil deity and is worshipped all over Tamil Nadu, Malaysia, Sri Lanka. This deity, the son of Shiva and Parvati, is mostly popular in south India and does not have quite so much of an impact in other parts of India. He is also known by the names Saravana, Senthil, Arumuga, Kumara, Shanmukha, Guha, Skanda, Swaminatha, Vadivel and so on. According to the Tiruppugh (hyms in praise of the Lord), "He never hesitates to come to the rescue of true devotees in distress."

              The Atharva Veda depicts Muruga as 'Agnibhuh' or the son of Agni, the fire God. Versions of the Purana, though, generally agree that he is the son of Shiva/Rudra. The main significance of the deity is His teaching of the relevance of 'Aum' or the Pranava Mantra (primordial sound) to his own father, Shiva.

              How Kartikeya's mount came to be

              Kartikeya is known to be the protector of good, hence he carries a Vel or the divine spear. His mount is the beautiful national bird of India, the Peacock. He destroyed the terrible asura (demon) Surapadman by hurling the spear at him. The asura was split into two parts, one of which became His mount, and the other, His rooster banner.

              The Fruit of Knowledge

              There is an interesting story relating to both Velayudha (Muruga) and his mount. One day, Shiva and Parvati decided to conduct a competition between their sons, Ganesha and Muruga. They asked them to go round the world three times on their respective mounts and declared that the winner would get to have the unique Jnana Pazham (the Fruit of Knowledge). Ganesha mounted his vahana, the Rat and Kartikeya proudly sped off on his own vehicle, the peacock.

              It was then that Ganesha, being the wiser one, realized merely had to go round his parents three times, and that would be equivalent to going around the world three times. He finished the three rounds quickly enough and got hold of the precious fruit. Kartikeya came back flying on the peacock, confident that he would finish much faster than his brother who would have to travel on a little rat! He was absolutely disappointed and angry when he learnt what had transpired in his absence and, renouncing the world, went off in a huff to Palani, where there stands a sacred temple today.

              There are many temples of Muruga all over south India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Even Buddhists and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka venerate this deity. The Sinhalese refer to him as Kathirkamam. Lord Muruga is usually shown seated on his peacock, its brilliant plume spread out fully, with his two wives, Valli and Devayani seated by him on either side.

              The Tiger - Devi Durga's vahana

              In Hinduism, Devi Durga is the supreme Warrior Goddess, the complete embodiment of Shakti (creative cosmic energy) and the Mother of all the beings in this world and beyond. She is the wife of Lord Shiva and the mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya. Durga is depicted with ten arms, each holding a weapon, riding a lion or tiger. Though an aspect of Parvati Herself, Durga is considered fiercer and much more powerful than the calm and serene Parvati.

              Durga is said to be extremely beautiful and radiant, her form filled with stunningly brilliant aura. She manifested in order to kill the most terrible demon, Mahishasura. Each God gives Her their weapon in order to enhance Her strength and powers. Shiva gives Her His trident Vishnu, his discus Indra, his thunderbolt, Brahma, the kamandalu Kubera, his mace and so on.

              The story of Parvati

              Parvati, who was King Daksha's daughter, Sati, in her previous birth, killed herself by jumping into the sacrificial fire at her father's Yagna (fire sacrifice). Her father disapproved of Shiva and insulted both her and her husband when she arrived at the Yagna. Feeling hurt and humiliated, she immediately jumped into the sacred fire and ended her life.

              Shiva was furious when he came to know of it, took her body away and took penance in a deep, cold cave in the Himalayas. Later, Sati took birth as Parvati, Mount Himavan's daughter and, after severe penance, finally wedded Shiva and lived with him yet again.

              Durga's mount, the lion

              Being mount Himavan's child, Himalaya gifts her a ferocious white lion. Seated on her vahana, the lion, She proceeds to attack Mahishasura, the half-buffalo, half-human asura, who had got a boon that no God, man or animal could ever kill him. Drunk with his power, he ruled the earth and the heavens and tortured and tormented both the Devas and the Suras (earthlings). Not able to defend themselves, the hapless Devas approached Parvati, who readily decided to help. Since no man could vanquish the demon, only a woman could and that is how Durga came into being.

              Devi Durga undertook a severe penance before she came face to face with the asura. On the beginning of the 9th day of the waxing moon, the demons Chanda and Munda came to fight Her. The Devi turned blue with rage and the Goddess Chamunda sprang forth from Her third eye. This powerful entity killed the demons with Her sword.

              Finally on the 10th day of waging a terrible battle against Mahisha, She finally vanquishes him. Her powerful lion climbs on top of the asura, paralysing him completely, digging its sharp fangs into him. The Devi then kills him with Her trident. This day of victory is marked by the Vijaya Dashami, the tenth and final day of the major Hindu festival Navratri.

              The Durga Puja is held with much religious fervor by people from West Bengal. This is celebrated in a big way, erecting gigantic pandals, installing impressive, larger-than-life Durga idols and organising several bhajan (prayer group), music, dance and other entertainment programs.

              Durga is revered as the most powerful among Goddesses, all over the length and breadth of India. She is always shown with the lion or tiger by her side. As Santoshi Mata, she appears standing along with her tiger. She is sometimes also worshipped in Her peaceful attitude, rightly referred to as Shanta Durga.

              The lion or the tiger's presence as Parvati's vahana reflects her own ferocity and agression at the time of battle with asuras such as Chanda, Munda and Mahisha. At the same time, one sees Devi Santoshi Mata as a smiling, benevolent figure, standing by her vahana, the tiger. This indicates how she keeps undue aggression and arrogance under her control, without allowing it to become her own true nature.

              The Owl - Vahana of Lashmi

              Devi Lakshmi or Mahalakshmi, the daughter of Bhrigu and Khyaati, is the consort of Sri Mahavishnu and one of the Holy Trinity of Goddesses. The Hindu Goddess of prosperity and wealth, Shri, as she is also known, can be found in Buddhism and Jainism.

              The name Lakshmi is derived from the Sanskrit root, 'laksh', which means observation, perception or concentration, also aiming towards a certain objective or goal. In one life, She emerged from the Milky Ocean during Samudra Manthan, and went on later to wed Vishnu. Her name, 'Shri', also stands for auspiciousness. Married women in India are adressesed by the title 'Shrimati'.

              Two elephants flank her on either side, spraying water. This signifies that adhering to dharma at all costs, in accordance with the laws of purity and wisdom, finally lead to success and prosperity in both the worldly and spiritual pursuits.
              Lakshmi is also known by the names, Padma, Kamala, Padmapriya, Padmamaladhara, Padmakshi, Padmamukhi, Padmasundari and Padmahasta. Yet other names are Indira, Kamalika, Lalima, Rujula, Ramaa, Manushri, Chandrika and Nandika.

              The Ashta Lakshmi

              The Ashta Lakshmi or eight Lakshmi-s is a group of manifestations of the Goddess of Fortune. They jointly represent the eight sources of wealth. They are Aadi Lakshmi, Dhaanya Lakshmi, Dhairya Lakshmi, Gaja Lakshmi, Santaana Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi, Vidyaa Lakshmi and Dhana Lakshmi.

              Hindus celebrate their major festival, Diwali, by lighting little oil lamps inside and around their houses in order to welcome the Goddess of Happiness and Prosperity into their houses. It is believed that the Goddess only enters homes which are neat and clean and where her devotees are hardworking, sincere and completely devoted to her.

              The significance of the Owl

              The Owl, or the Ulooka in Sanskrit, is Devi Lakshmi's vahana. Though this bird appears to be the unlikeliest vehicle for the extremely lovely Goddess, there is a deep spiritual significance as to why she selected this creature as her mount.

              The Ulooka is a bird that sleeps during the day and prowls through the night. This is because it can only see in the dark, and goes blind in the day. This partial blindness in the creature is actually indicative of a sadhaka's (seeker) tendency of going toward the pursuit of secular instead of spiritual wealth.

              The owl, in the Bhagavad Gita, is likened to an enlightened sthita prajna (the one who remains unwavering to any situation, whether it be happy or sad). Goddess Lakshmi is also said to be the mistress of spiritual wisdom. By keeping the owl as her vehicle, she teaches us to open our eyes to the light of the wisdom residing within us. This Karunamayi (compassionate One) Mother, hence, symbolically keeps ignorance under her control.

              The Swan - Mount of Brahma and Goddess Saraswati


              Brahma is one of the Divine Trinity, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is revered as the Father, the supreme Creator, who gave birth to the whole universe. Brahma is also hence referred to as Prajapati. He is a Vedic deity and husband of Saraswati, the Goddess of learning. Though He created the entire universe, He seldom interferes with events happening in Devaloka (paradise) and Bhooloka (the earth).

              According to the Puranas, the four-faced, four-armed Brahma was self-born, from a lotus that grew from Vishnu's navel. His other name, hence, is Nabhija (the one arising from the nabhi or navel). Yet another version says that He was born in water (His other name is Kanja) and that he sowed a seed that became a big, golden egg that is the universe as we know it (Hiranyagarbha).

              Brahma, the Lord of Sacrifices, is said to constantly recite the four Vedas with his four faces. He holds the Vedas in one hand, the others holding a scepter, water-pot and a rosary of rudraksha beads.

              In Hinduism, however, there are not many temples of Brahma. The most famous is the one in Pushkar, Rajasthan. There are some others such as the Kheteshwar Brahmadham Tirtha in Asotra village, Barmer district, Rajasthan, Brahma-Karmali village in Goa, in Khedbrahma in Gujarat and in Khokhan village in the Kullu Valley. A six-foot tall idol of Brahma has now been discovered at Sopara, near Mumbai (Bombay).

              Why Brahma chose the Swan as His vahana

              The Swan has an important place in Hindu mythology. This creature is said to have the Neera-Ksheera Viveka, an amazing power to separate the water from the milk, when both are combined together. In philosophical terms, this implies the power of discrimination between good and evil, and to throw away that which is bad and worthless in terms of spiritual growth.

              This also implies the power to dispense justice to all creatures, irrespective of how complicated the situation might be.
              The concept of Brahma or Brahman exists in Buddhism too, as Brahmavihara. This religion accepts the existence of one supreme almighty, the Infinite One, the Brahman.


              Saraswati in Hinduism is one of the most important deities. She is the Goddess of Learning, knowledge and also of music and the arts. She is the Divine Consort of Brahma and is one of the Tridevi-s (Maha Saraswati), the Trinity of Goddesses, the others being Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali. Saraswati's children are the four Vedas, the most sacred texts in Hinduism.

              Sarawati is seen sitting on a lotus, clothed in brilliant white, holding the national musical instrument of India, the Veena, in two hands. She holds a book in one of the other hands (signifying knowledge) and a garland of crystals in the fourth hand. Alternatively, the four arms also symbolize her complete grasp on the four Vedas.

              Saraswati is likened to the huge river by the same name - as one whose creativity and purity flowed effortlessly from her being. That may be the reason why she is often depicted as sitting near a huge body of flowing water. The deity symbolizes prosperity, fertility and virtue. She also embodies purity and creativity, especially in the fields of literature and poetry. Saraswati's image has been immortalized through the paintings of some very great artists, the most famous being Raja Ravi Varma, whose painting will never be forgotten for ages to come.

              Why Saraswati chose the Hamsa (Swan) and Peacock

              Devi Saraswati chose the Hamsa or Swan as her mount, symbolizing her experience of the Highest Reality and Knowledge. The Swan's white color again depicts her own purity and realization of the true knowledge and true state of Brahman.

              Her swan is always shown seated by her feet. Hence she is called 'Hamsa-vahini', the one who rides the swan.

              A peacock is sometimes also pictured seated near Saraswati. The peacock signifies arrognace over one's beauty. By mounting a peacock, Saraswati teaches us to let go of our thoughts of external appearance and focus instead, on discovering the eternal truth.

              The ninth day of the Navratri festival is celebrated as the Saraswati Puja day in many parts of India, especially in south India. On this day, nothing new is learnt and one keeps all one's books and other literature in the Puja, as a gesture of surrender to Vidya, the Goddess of Learning.

              The Seven Horses - Surya's vahanas

              In Hinduism, the Surya Devata is the Sun God, the main solar deity, the giver of light. Surya, one of the 12 Adityas, is the son of Kasyapa and the husband of Chaaya Devi. He is depicted with hair and arms of gold and moves through the heavens in his triumphal golden chariot driven by seven horses. Some versions talk of just one horse with seven heads.

              One version says that Lord Surya is a conglomeration of the powers of the Divine Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. The Surya Graha represents the Ravi-Vaar or Sunday.

              In Vedic astrology, the Surya Devata is even regarded as ever-so-slightly malefic, as he is always hot and dry and even hostile at times. The Sun God represents the soul, willpower, fame, health and vitality, valour, royalty, majesty and authority.

              Surya is given a lot of importance in Indian culture as he is a God that can be seen everyday. Even Shaivites and Vaishnavites regard him as an apsect of Shiva and Vishnu respectively. Vaishnavites regard Surya Narayana as an aspect of Vishnu, while Shaivites consider him to be Astamurti, one of the eight forms of Shiva.

              Surya's other names are Ravi, Pusha, Viswakarma, Vivaswat, Aditya, Arka, Savita, Mitra and Grahapati. Devotees chant the Aditya Hridayam in praise of Surya.

              The number seven

              The number seven has great significance in Indian philosophy. There are seven colors in the rainbow, seven seas, seven notes in music, seven chakras (spiritual centers in the subtle body or sukshma sharira) and seven rishis (sapta rishi).

              What the seven horses represent

              Horses portray power, arrogance and speed. We are always in awe when we sight an impressive-looking steed racing away to his destination.

              The Sun God's seven horses represent the seven sins and his control over the same indicates the Devata's perfect control over the same. It also represents the way we need to control our base emotions so as to climb further and higher in the spiritual realm of our own lives.

              Surya's seven horses also represent the seven chakras in the chakras or spiritual centers in our subtle body, the blossoming of which leads to the rising of the power of Kundalini or the serpentine energy residing within us.

              The Elephant Airavata - vahana of Indra

              Indra is the King of the Devas in Hindu mythology, also the God of War and Weather. He is said to reside in Indraloka and is mentioned as the chief deity in the Rig Veda (one of the four sacred texts of Hinduism). Indra is often portrayed as heroic, aggressive - even arrogant, and of an amorous character. Inspite of stories, many of which speak of his negative aspects, Indra always enjoys an important position in Hindu mythology, right through the pre-Vedic, Vedic and Puranic times. Weilding the powerful weapon, Vajra (thunderbolt), sometimes even a net, hook and bow, he is also said to enjoy the Soma (divine drink especially meant for those residing in Devaloka).

              Hinduism now concentrates on the Trinity, but Indra is still worshipped in Pali, where he is referred to as Sakka. Indra is also worshipped by different names in Malaysia (Indera), Thailand (Phra-Intra) and Japan (Taishakuten).

              The Rig Veda talks very highly of Indra, referring to him as Sakra, the mightiest of them all. Brihad-Aranyaka refers to him as the master of eight Vasus, eleven Rudras and twelve Adityas or suns. Being the lord of the Vasus also gives Indra his name of Vasava. He also came to be known as Devendra, Manavendra and Raghavendra in many more ensuing yugas (epochs).

              Indra's main functions include maintaining all the elements such as Agni (fire), Varuna (water) and Surya (sun) and also to wage war against Asuras and other miscreants, thereby establishing dharma (righteousness) in all the three lokas (worlds), namely, the Swargaloka (heaven), Bhooloka or Mrityuloka (earth) and Patala (the netherworld). Though depicted as very brave and heroic, Indra is also given very human shades of character, thus making him vulnerable some base and mundane emotions.

              The Airavata - Indra's Elephant

              Airavata, a huge, four-tusked white elephant is Indra's vehicle. His tusks resembled a sacred mountain. He is also sometimes portrayed with seven trunks. Airavata manifested during the Samudra Manthan episode, while the Milky Ocean was being churned by the Devas and the Asuras. It is interesting to note here that elephants are vehicles for all the guardian deities presiding over and protecting the eight directions. Airavata stands just outside the gates of Swarga (or Paradise).

              Born to Airavati, the elephant Airavata is pure and spotless white in color and was deemed the King of Elephants by Prithu, in the Vishnu Purana. The Matangalila relates that Airavata was created right in the beginning of life itself. When Brahma created the huge golden egg and sang sacred hymns, Garuda hatched, breaking the egg into two halves. This was followed by the birth of seven male and eight female elephants.

              Airavata and the rain

              There is a popular myth which believes that elephants are capable of giving rise to clouds. One of Airavata's names means "one who binds or knits clouds". There is yet another story linking Airavata with clouds an drain. Indra rides on Airavata to defeat the demon Vritra. After having routed the demon, Indra proceeds back to Swargaloka on his mount. The huge elephant then reaches down with his trunk to pull out water from the netherworld and then sprays it generously on the clouds, thereby resulting in cool water (or rain) arising from the clouds.

              Hence Airavata is also called Abhranu or Abhra-Matanga. Additionally, he is also referred to as Naga-Malla (fighter elephant) and Arkasodara (brother of Surya, the Sun God). Airavata guards the east, the direction which is protected by lord Indra.

              Temples of Airavata

              In a Darasuram temple, near Tanjore district, Tamil Nadu, is a Shivalinga, which Airavata is said to worshipped. This Linga is now referred to as Airavateshwara. This is also a world heritage monument today.

              In Thailand, Erawan is the name given to Airavata. He is shown with 33 heads and more than two tusks. Some idols also show Indra riding Erawan.

              In the now defunct Kingdom of Laos, Erawas was shown as a three-headed elephant, featuring in their Royal Flag.

              The Ram - Agni Devata's mount

              Lord Agni, or the Lord of Fire, holds the second most important position in Hindu mythology, after Indra. Born from a lotus created by lord Brahma, he is depicted as being young, vibrant and energetic. He is often shown as red-hued, short, pot-bellied with three legs, seven tongues, seven arms and two faces. The two faces signify both the creative and destructive properties of fire. Seven rays of brilliant light spring forth from Agni's person and he is known to be the guardian of the southeast direction. Being a dhoomaketu, Agni has an image of smoke on his banner.

              The very first verse and also the mandalas (or divisions) of the Rig Veda starts with a hymn to Agni. Hindu mythology holds Agni in an exalted position. The Upanishads talk about him as the supreme Lord, the Atman and the Eternal Flame - the soul of the Universe. Agni is the chosen Priest, God, Lord of Sacrifices, Guardian of Law, witness of the whole world and the One that dispels darkness within and without.

              The three-faced rudraksha bead is the main symbol of this Devata. Wearing this bead cleanses the person, just like the fire that burns and annihilates all impurities. This Devata is the central character in yagnas and yagas (sacrificial rituals) and is part and parcel of all major Hindu rituals. It is believed that offering sacrifices burnt through the sacrificial fire reaches directly to the Gods. Even today, Agni is an integral part of wedding ceremonies and the like.

              Fire worship has existed and still exists in every culture of the world as well. While Christians light candles, God was worshipped as fire in ancient Israel. Especially in the Hindu context, Agni continues and will continue to embody all that is mystical, vibrant and divine!

              The Ram

              Agni is shown as riding the Ram and rarely, a chariot pulled by goats. Some versions also talk about Agni riding a chariot pulled by horses. The Ram signifies power, strength and vitality. The vibrancy of Agni is also reflected in the vehicle he chose for himself, the ram.

              The Crow - Shani Graha's vahana

              Shani Devata is one of the Navagrahas, the nine primary celestial beings ruling their respective planets. The Lord of Saturn, he is also the Lord of Saturday. He is also referred to as Shanaischarya, Shaneeshwara, Shani Bhagavan and Shani Deva. He is the son of Surya Deva and Chaaya Devi and so he is also known as Chaayaputra. He is also the cousin of Yama, the God of Death.

              Shani is depicted as being dark-complexioned. He is mostly shown mounted on a crow, though sometimes also on a raven or vulture.

              Though a much-feared God, he is also known to bestow a lot of good on his devotees. Shani creates great difficulties for the seeker, with an intention of leading him on the path to spirituality and, eventually, enlightenment. Shani Devata embodies patience, endeavor and endurance.

              Shani's metal is iron and his gemstone is the Blue Sapphire. He is the Lord of the West and also the Ruler of Seasons. Perhaps because of his dark and fearsome nature, he is linked to dark things that are ugly and quite useless.

              Lord Hanuman, it is believed, is the only panacea for Shani's unfavorable presence in one's life, as Hanuman was the only one Shani could not even lay a finger on! The former's immense bhakti (devotion) of Lord Rama was so strong that he could even manage to save Shani from the clutches of the asura king Ravana himself!

              The significance of the Crow

              Portraying Shani Bhagavan with the crow, vulture or raven as his vehicle is symbolic of his own fearful appearance. It also represents the Planet God repressing thieving or negative tendencies. Further, it shows us how Shani's benevolent influence can even change the wicked creature into something hopeful and useful.

              The Water Buffalo - Yama's vahana

              Yama, son of Vivasvat and Saranya and husband of Shyamala, is the God of Death in Hinduism. His name first came up in the Vedas. Yama is sometimes said to be the first mortal that died in Mrityuloka, ascended to the other world and found out ways and means by which to enter Swargaloka. By virtue of his being the pioneer, he was awarded the position of the Ruler of the Dead.

              He lives in a dark and gloomy palace called Kalichi, situated in the far reaches of Patala of the netherworld. He is the ruler of the Southern direction. His face is scary and grisly, reflecting all the pain, suffering and diseases affecting creatures all round the world.

              Yama, which also means 'twins', is said to have a twin sister, Yami. Assisted by Chitragupta, Yama keeps records of each living creature on earth and, upon the end of their life term in Bhooloka, look into their respective Karma-s and decide whether they should be sent to Heaven (Swarga) or Hell (Naraka). Hence Yama is referred to as Dharma, the Lord of Justice. He is one of the wisest of Devatas and can be loosely compared to Hades or Pluto, the Greek deities of the underworld.

              Yama is depicted with green or red skin, red attire, riding a water buffalo, holding a mace in his right hand, with which he strikes down his victims. In his left hand, he holds a rope which he uses to pull out the soul from the corpse. He is the Guardian of Directions and reports to Vishnu (the One who maintains the universe) and Shiva (the One who destroys it). He is also known by the names Dharmaraja, Mrityu, Antaka, Kaala, Vaivasvata and Sarvapranahara.

              The Water Buffalo

              The tough, strong and resilient mount of Yama, the water buffalo, is said to have had the grit enough to carry two fully armored Gods on its back. Some rare portraits of Yama show him seated on his mount with his consort, Shyamala.

              The water buffalo signifies strength and commitment to the purpose of upholding justice and dharma or righteousness.
              Yama ascends his mount and travels around the whole world in search of those whose lifeterm on Bhooloka has ended, so as to take them back to where they came from, thereby bringing the process of life and death to a full circle!

              Goddess… or Demon? Hidden History of Vinayaki, the Mysterious Elephant-Headed Woman of Hindu Myth - History

              For those who would like to read the Arabic wording I reproduce it hereunder in Roman script:
              "Itrashaphai Santu Ibikramatul Phahalameen Karimun Yartapheeha Wayosassaru Bihillahaya Samaini Ela Motakabberen Sihillaha Yuhee Quid min howa Yapakhara phajjal asari nahone osirom bayjayhalem. Yundan blabin Kajan blnaya khtoryaha sadunya kanateph netephi bejehalin Atadari bilamasa- rateen phakef tasabuhu kaunnieja majekaralhada walador. As hmiman burukankad toluho watastaru hihila Yakajibaymana balay kulk amarena phaneya jaunabilamary Bikramatum".
              (Page 315 Sayar-ul-okul).
              [Note: The title 'Saya-ul-okul' signifies memorable words.]

              A careful analysis of the above inscription enables us to draw the following conclusions:
              That the ancient Indian empires may have extended up to the eastern boundaries of Arabia until Vikramaditya and that it was he who for the first time conquered Arabia. Because the inscription says that king Vikram who dispelled the darkness of ignorance from Arabia.
              That, whatever their earlier faith, King Vikrama's preachers had succeeded in spreading the Vedic (based on the Vedas, the Hindu sacred scriptures)) way of life in Arabia.
              That the knowledge of Indian arts and sciences was imparted by Indians to the Arabs directly by founding schools, academies and cultural centres. The belief, therefore, that visiting Arabs conveyed that knowledge to their own lands through their own indefatigable efforts and scholarship is unfounded.

              An ancillary conclusion could be that the so-called Kutub Minar (in Delhi, India) could well be king Vikramadiya's tower commemorating his conquest of Arabia. This conclusion is strengthened by two pointers. Firstly, the inscription on the iron pillar near the so-called Kutub Minar refers to the marriage of the victorious king Vikramaditya to the princess of Balhika. This Balhika is none other than the Balkh region in West Asia. It could be that Arabia was wrestled by king Vikramaditya from the ruler of Balkh who concluded a treaty by giving his daughter in marriage to the victor. Secondly, the township adjoining the so called Kutub Minar is named Mehrauli after Mihira who was the renowned astronomer-mathematician of king Vikram's court. Mehrauli is the corrupt form of Sanskrit 'Mihira-Awali' signifying a row of houses raised for Mihira and his helpers and assistants working on astronomical observations made from the tower.

              Having seen the far reaching and history shaking implications of the Arabic inscription concerning king Vikrama, we shall now piece together the story of its find. How it came to be recorded and hung in the Kaaba in Mecca. What are the other proofs reinforcing the belief that Arabs were once followers of the Indian Vedic way of life and that tranquillity and education were ushered into Arabia by king Vikramaditya's scholars, educationists from an uneasy period of "ignorance and turmoil" mentioned in the inscription.
              In Istanbul, Turkey, there is a famous library called Makhatab-e-Sultania, which is reputed to have the largest collection of ancient West Asian literature. In the Arabic section of that library is an anthology of ancient Arabic poetry. That anthology was compiled from an earlier work in A.D. 1742 under the orders of the Turkish ruler Sultan Salim.

              The pages of that volume are of Hareer – a kind of silk used for writing on. Each page has a decorative gilded border. That anthology is known as Sayar-ul-Okul. It is divided into three parts. The first part contains biographic details and the poetic compositions of pre-Islamic Arabian poets. The second part embodies accounts and verses of poets of the period beginning just after prophet Mohammad's times, up to the end of the Banee-Um-Mayya dynasty. The third part deals with later poets up to the end of Khalif Harun-al-Rashid's times.

              Abu Amir Asamai, an Arabian bard who was the poet Laureate of Harun-al-Rashid's court, has compiled and edited the anthology.

              The first modern edition of 'Sayar-ul-Okul' was printed and published in Berlin in 1864. A subsequent edition is the one published in Beirut in 1932.

              The collection is regarded as the most important and authoritative anthology of ancient Arabic poetry. It throws considerable light on the social life, customs, manners and entertainment modes of ancient Arabia. The book also contains an elaborate description of the ancient shrine of Mecca, the town and the annual fair known as OKAJ which used to be held every year around the Kaaba temple in Mecca. This should convince readers that the annual haj of the Muslims to the Kaaba is of earlier pre-Islamic congregation.

              But the OKAJ fair was far from a carnival. It provided a forum for the elite and the learned to discuss the social, religious, political, literary and other aspects of the Vedic culture then pervading Arabia. 'Sayar-ul-Okul' asserts that the conclusion reached at those discussions were widely respected throughout Arabia. Mecca, therefore, followed the Varanasi tradition (of India) of providing a venue for important discussions among the learned while the masses congregated there for spiritual bliss. The principal shrines at both Varanasi in India and at Mecca in Arvasthan (Arabia) were Siva temples. Even to this day ancient Mahadev (Siva) emblems can be seen. It is the Shankara (Siva) stone that Muslim pilgrims reverently touch and kiss in the Kaaba.

              Arabic tradition has lost trace of the founding of the Kaaba temple. The discovery of the Vikramaditya inscription affords a clue. King Vikramaditya is known for his great devotion to Lord Mahadev (Siva). At Ujjain (India), the capital of Vikramaditya, exists the famous shrine of Mahankal, i.e., of Lord Shankara (Siva) associated with Vikramaditya. Since according to the Vikramaditya inscription he spread the Vedic religion, who else but he could have founded the Kaaba temple in Mecca?

              A few miles away from Mecca is a big signboard which bars the entry of any non-Muslim into the area. This is a reminder of the days when the Kaaba was stormed and captured solely for the newly established faith of Islam. The object in barring entry of non-Muslims was obviously to prevent its recapture.

              As the pilgrim proceeds towards Mecca he is asked to shave his head and beard and to don special sacred attire that consists of two seamless sheets of white cloth. One is to be worn round the waist and the other over the shoulders. Both these rites are remnants of the old Vedic practice of entering Hindu temples clean- and with holy seamless white sheets.

              The main shrine in Mecca, which houses the Siva emblem, is known as the Kaaba. It is clothed in a black shroud. That custom also originates from the days when it was thought necessary to discourage its recapture by camouflaging it.

              According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Kaaba has 360 images. Traditional accounts mention that one of the deities among the 360 destroyed when the place was stormed, was that of Saturn another was of the Moon and yet another was one called Allah. That shows that in the Kaaba the Arabs worshipped the nine planets in pre-Islamic days. In India the practice of 'Navagraha' puja, that is worship of the nine planets, is still in vogue. Two of these nine are Saturn and Moon.
              In India the crescent moon is always painted across the forehead of the Siva symbol. Since that symbol was associated with the Siva emblem in Kaaba it came to be grafted on the flag of Islam.

              Another Hindu tradition associated with the Kaaba is that of the sacred stream Ganga (sacred waters of the Ganges river). According to the Hindu tradition Ganga is also inseparable from the Shiva emblem as the crescent moon. Wherever there is a Siva emblem, Ganga must co-exist. True to that association a sacred fount exists near the Kaaba. Its water is held sacred because it has been traditionally regarded as Ganga since pre-Islamic times (Zam-Zam water).
              [Note: Even today, Muslim pilgrims who go to the Kaaba for Haj regard this Zam-Zam water with reverence and take some bottled water with them as sacred water.]

              Muslim pilgrims visiting the Kaaba temple go around it seven times. In no other mosque does the circumambulation prevail. Hindus invariably circumambulate around their deities. This is yet another proof that the Kaaba shrine is a pre-Islamic Indian Shiva temple where the Hindu practice of circumambulation is still meticulously observed.

              The practice of taking seven steps- known as Saptapadi in Sanskrit- is associated with Hindu marriage ceremony and fire worship. The culminating rite in a Hindu marriage enjoins upon the bride and groom to go round the sacred fire four times (but misunderstood by many as seven times). Since "Makha" means fire, the seven circumambulations also prove that Mecca was the seat of Indian fire-worship in the West Asia.

              It might come as a stunning revelation to many that the word 'ALLAH' itself is Sanskrit. In Sanskrit language Allah, Akka and Amba are synonyms. They signify a goddess or mother. The term 'ALLAH' forms part of Sanskrit chants invoking goddess Durga, also known as Bhavani, Chandi and Mahishasurmardini. The Islamic word for God is., therefore, not an innovation but the ancient Sanskrit appellation retained and continued by Islam. Allah means mother or goddess and mother goddess.

              One Koranic verse is an exact translation of a stanza in the Yajurveda. This was pointed out by the great research scholar Pandit Satavlekar of Pardi in one of his articles.

              [Note: Another scholar points out that the following teaching from the Koran is exactly similar to the teaching of the Kena Upanishad (1.7).

              The Koran:
              "Sight perceives Him not. But He perceives men's sights for He is the knower of secrets , the Aware."

              Kena Upanishad:
              "That which cannot be seen by the eye but through which the eye itself sees, know That to be Brahman (God) and not what people worship here (in the manifested world)."

              A simplified meaning of both the above verses reads:
              God is one and that He is beyond man's sensory experience.]

              The identity of Unani and Ayurvedic systems shows that Unani is just the Arabic term for the Ayurvedic system of healing taught to them and administered in Arabia when Arabia formed part of the Indian empire.
              It will now be easy to comprehend the various Hindu customs still prevailing in West Asian countries even after the existence of Islam during the last 1300 years. Let us review some Hindu traditions which exist as the core of Islamic practice.

              The Hindus have a pantheon of 33 gods. People in Asia Minor too worshipped 33 gods before the spread of Islam. The lunar calendar was introduced in West Asia during the Indian rule. The Muslim month 'Safar' signifying the 'extra' month (Adhik Maas) in the Hindu calendar. The Muslim month Rabi is the corrupt form of Ravi meaning the sun because Sanskrit 'V' changes into Prakrit 'B' (Prakrit being the popular version of Sanskrit language). The Muslim sanctity for Gyrahwi Sharif is nothing but the Hindu Ekadashi (Gyrah = elevan or Gyaarah). Both are identical in meaning.

              The Islamic practice of Bakari Eed derives from the Go-Medh and Ashva-Medh Yagnas or sacrifices of Vedic times. Eed in Sanskrit means worship. The Islamic word Eed for festive days, signifying days of worship, is therefore a pure Sanskrit word. The word MESH in the Hindu zodiac signifies a lamb. Since in ancient times the year used to begin with the entry of the sun in Aries, the occasion was celebrated with mutton feasting. That is the origin of the Bakari Eed festival.
              [Note: The word Bakari is an Indian language word for a goat.]

              Since Eed means worship and Griha means 'house', the Islamic word Idgah signifies a 'House of worship' which is the exact Sanskrit connotation of the term. Similarly the word 'Namaz' derives from two Sanskrit roots 'Nama' and 'Yajna' (NAMa yAJna) meaning bowing and worshipping.
              Vedic descriptions about the moon, the different stellar constellations and the creation of the universe have been incorporated from the Vedas in Koran part 1 chapter 2, stanza 113, 114, 115, and 158, 189, chapter 9, stanza 37 and chapter 10, stanzas 4 to 7.

              Recital of the Namaz five times a day owes its origin to the Vedic injunction of Panchmahayagna (five daily worship- Panch-Maha-Yagna) which is part of the daily Vedic ritual prescribed for all individuals.

              Muslims are enjoined cleanliness of five parts of the body before commencing prayers. This derives from the Vedic injuction 'Shareer Shydhyartham Panchanga Nyasah'.

              Four months of the year are regarded as very sacred in Islamic custom. The devout are enjoined to abstain from plunder and other evil deeds during that period. This originates in the Chaturmasa i.e., the four-month period of special vows and austerities in Hindu tradition. Shabibarat is the corrupt form of Shiva Vrat and Shiva Ratra. Since the Kaaba has been an important centre of Shiva (Siva) worship from times immemorial, the Shivaratri festival used to be celebrated there with great gusto. It is that festival which is signified by the Islamic word Shabibarat.

              Encyclopaedias tell us that there are inscriptions on the side of the Kaaba walls. What they are, no body has been allowed to study, according to the correspondence I had with an American scholar of Arabic. But according to hearsay at least some of those inscriptions are in Sanskrit, and some of them are stanzas from the Bhagavad Gita.

              According to extant Islamic records, Indian merchants had settled in Arabia, particularly in Yemen, and their life and manners deeply influenced those who came in touch with them. At Ubla there was a large number of Indian settlements. This shows that Indians were in Arabia and Yemen in sufficient strength and commanding position to be able to influence the local people. This could not be possible unless they belonged to the ruling class.

              It is mentioned in the Abadis i.e., the authentic traditions of Prophet Mohammad compiled by Imam Bukhari that the Indian tribe of Jats had settled in Arabia before Prophet Mohammad's times. Once when Hazrat Ayesha, wife of the Prophet, was taken ill, her nephew sent for a Jat physician for her treatment. This proves that Indians enjoyed a high and esteemed status in Arabia. Such a status could not be theirs unless they were the rulers. Bukhari also tells us that an Indian Raja (king) sent a jar of ginger pickles to the Prophet. This shows that the Indian Jat Raja ruled an adjacent area so as to be in a position to send such an insignificant present as ginger pickles. The Prophet is said to have so highly relished it as to have told his colleagues also to partake of it. These references show that even during Prophet Mohammad's times Indians retained their influential role in Arabia, which was a dwindling legacy from Vikramaditya's times.

              The Islamic term 'Eed-ul-Fitr' derives from the 'Eed of Piters' that is worship of forefathers in Sanskrit tradition. In India, Hindus commemorate their ancestors during the Pitr-Paksha that is the fortnight reserved for their remembrance. The very same is the significance of 'Eed-ul-Fitr' (worship of forefathers).

              The Islamic practice of observing the moon rise before deciding on celebrating the occasion derives from the Hindu custom of breaking fast on Sankranti and Vinayaki Chaturthi only after sighting the moon.

              Barah Vafat, the Muslim festival for commemorating those dead in battle or by weapons, derives from a similar Sanskrit tradition because in Sanskrit 'Phiphaut' is 'death'. Hindus observe Chayal Chaturdashi in memory of those who have died in battle.

              The word Arabia is itself the abbreviation of a Sanskrit word. The original word is 'Arabasthan'. Since Prakrit 'B' is Sanskrit 'V' the original Sanskrit name of the land is 'Arvasthan'. 'Arva' in Sanskrit means a horse. Arvasthan signifies a land of horses., and as well all know, Arabia is famous for its horses.

              This discovery changes the entire complexion of the history of ancient India. Firstly we may have to revise our concepts about the king who had the largest empire in history. It could be that the expanse of king Vikramaditya's empire was greater than that of all others. Secondly, the idea that the Indian empire spread only to the east and not in the west beyond say, Afghanisthan may have to be abandoned. Thirdly the effeminate and pathetic belief that India, unlike any other country in the world could by some age spread her benign and beatific cultural influence, language, customs, manners and education over distant lands without militarily conquering them is baseless. India did conquer all those countries physically wherever traces of its culture and language are still extant and the region extended from Bali island in the south Pacific to the Baltic in Northern Europe and from Korea to Kaaba. The only difference was that while Indian rulers identified themselves with the local population and established welfare states, Moghuls and others who ruled conquered lands perpetuated untold atrocities over the vanquished.

              'Sayar-ul-Okul' tells us that a pan-Arabic poetic symposium used to be held in Mecca at the annual Okaj fair in pre-Islamic times. All leading poets used to participate in it.

              Poems considered best were awarded prizes. The best-engraved on gold plate were hung inside the temple. Others etched on camel or goatskin were hung outside. Thus for thousands of years the Kaaba was the treasure house of the best Arabian poetic thought inspired by the Indian Vedic tradition.

              That tradition being of immemorial antiquity many poetic compositions were engraved and hung inside and outside on the walls of the Kaaba. But most of the poems got lost and destroyed during the storming of the Kaaba by Prophet Mohammad's troops. The Prophet's court poet, Hassan-bin-Sawik, who was among the invaders, captured some of the treasured poems and dumped the gold plate on which they were inscribed in his own home. Sawik's grandson, hoping to earn a reward carried those gold plates to Khalif's court where he met the well-known Arab scholar Abu Amir Asamai. The latter received from the bearer five gold plates and 16 leather sheets with the prize-winning poems engraved on them. The bearer was sent away happy bestowed with a good reward.

              On the five gold plates were inscribed verses by ancient Arab poets like Labi Baynay, Akhatab-bin-Turfa and Jarrham Bintoi. That discovery made Harun-al-Rashid order Abu Amir to compile a collection of all earlier compositions. One of the compositions in the collection is a tribute in verse paid by Jarrham Bintoi, a renowned Arab poet, to king Vikramaditya. Bintoi who lived 165 years before Prophet Mohammad had received the highest award for the best poetic compositions for three years in succession in the pan-Arabic symposiums held in Mecca every year. All those three poems of Bintoi adjudged best were hung inside the Kaaba temple, inscribed on gold plates. One of these constituted an unreserved tribute to King Vikramaditya for his paternal and filial rule over Arabia. That has already been quoted above.

              Pre-Islamic Arabian poet Bintoi's tribute to king Vikramaditya is a decisive evidence that it was king Vikramaditya who first conquered the Arabian Peninsula and made it a part of the Indian Empire. This explains why starting from India towards the west we have all Sanskrit names like Afghanisthan (now Afghanistan), Baluchisthan, Kurdisthan, Tajikiathan, Uzbekisthan, Iran, Sivisthan, Iraq, Arvasthan, Turkesthan (Turkmenisthan) etc.

              Historians have blundered in not giving due weight to the evidence provided by Sanskrit names pervading over the entire west Asian region. Let us take a contemporary instance. Why did a part of India get named Nagaland even after the end of British rule over India? After all historical traces are wiped out of human memory, will a future age historian be wrong if he concludes from the name Nagaland that the British or some English speaking power must have ruled over India? Why is Portuguese spoken in Goa (part of India), and French in Pondichery (part of India), and both French and English in Canada? Is it not because those people ruled over the territories where their languages are spoken? Can we not then justly conclude that wherever traces of Sanskrit names and traditions exist Indians once held sway? It is unfortunate that this important piece of decisive evidence has been ignored all these centuries.

              Another question which should have presented itself to historians for consideration is how could it be that Indian empires could extend in the east as far as Korea and Japan, while not being able to make headway beyond Afghanisthan? In fact land campaigns are much easier to conduct than by sea. It was the Indians who ruled the entire West Asian region from Karachi to Hedjaz and who gave Sanskrit names to those lands and the towns therein, introduce their pantheon of the fire-worship, imparted education and established law and order.

              It may be that Arabia itself was not part of the Indian empire until king Vikrama , since Bintoi says that it was king Vikrama who for the first time brought about a radical change in the social, cultural and political life of Arabia. It may be that the whole of West Asia except Arabia was under Indian rule before Vikrama. The latter added Arabia too to the Indian Empire. Or as a remote possibility it could be that king Vikramaditya himself conducted a series of brilliant campaigns annexing to his empire the vast region between Afghanisthan and Hedjaz.

              Incidentally this also explains why king Vikramaditya is so famous in history. Apart from the nobility and truthfulness of heart and his impartial filial affection for all his subjects, whether Indian or Arab, as testified by Bintoi, king Vikramaditya has been permanently enshrined in the pages of history because he was the world's greatest ruler having the largest empire. It should be remembered that only a monarch with a vast empire gets famous in world history. Vikram Samvat (calendar still widely in use in India today) which he initiated over 2000 years ago may well mark his victory over Arabia, and the so called Kutub Minar (Kutub Tower in Delhi), a pillar commemorating that victory and the consequential marriage with the Vaihika (Balkh) princess as testified by the nearby iron pillar inscription.

              A great many puzzles of ancient world history get automatically solved by a proper understanding of these great conquests of king Vikramaditya. As recorded by the Arab poet Bintoi, Indian scholars, preachers and social workers spread the fire-worship ceremony, preached the Vedic way of life, manned schools, set up Ayurvedic (healing) centres, trained the local people in irrigation and agriculture and established in those regions a democratic, orderly, peaceful, enlightened and religious way of life. That was of course, a Vedic Hindu way of life.

              It is from such ancient times that Indian Kshtriya royal families, like the Pahalvis and Barmaks, have held sway over Iran and Iraq. It is those conquests, which made the Parsees Agnihotris i.e., fire-worshippers. It is therefore that we find the Kurds of Kurdisthan speaking a Sanskritised dialect, fire temples existing thousands of miles away from India, and scores of sites of ancient Indian cultural centres like Navbahar in West Asia and the numerous viharas in Soviet Russia spread throughout the world. Ever since so many viharas are often dug up in Soviet Russia, ancient Indian sculptures are also found in excavations in Central Asia. The same goes for West Asia.

              [Note: Ancient Indian sculptures include metal statues of the Hindu deity Ganesh (the elephant headed god) the most recent find being in Kuwait].

              Unfortunately these chapters of world history have been almost obliterated from public memory. They need to be carefully deciphered and rewritten. When these chapters are rewritten they might change the entire concept and orientation of ancient history.

              In view of the overwhelming evidence led above, historians, scholars, students of history and lay men alike should take note that they had better revise their text books of ancient world history. The existence of Hindu customs, shrines, Sanskrit names of whole regions, countries and towns and the Vikramaditya inscriptions reproduced at the beginning are a thumping proof that Indian Kshatriyas once ruled over the vast region from Bali to Baltic and Korea to Kaaba in Mecca, Arabia at the very least.

              SAYAR-UL-OKUL is a poem by UMAR-BINE-HASSNAM (Poetic Title: ABBUL-HIQAM meaning Father of Knowledge). He was an uncle of prophet Mohammed. He refused to get converted to Islam. He died a martyr at the hands of Muslim fanatics who wanted to wipe out non-Muslims. This poem was adjudged as the best in the annual fair at Kaaba.


              A man who has spent all his life in sin and immorality and has wasted away his life in passion and fury,


              If he repents in the end and wants to return to morality, is there a way for his redemption?


              Even if only once he sincerely worships Mahadeva, he can attain the highest position in the path of righteousness.


              Oh Lord! Take away all my life and in return pray grant me even a single day's stay in Hind (India) as a man becomes spiritually free on reaching that holy land.


              By dint of a pilgrimage of Hind a man attains the merit of noble deeds and gets the privilege of pious touch with ideal Hindu teachers.

              It was Islam that extinguished the light of knowledge in Vedic Arabia. It is ironic that the man who brought about such darkness himself belonged to the Qurayshi Tribe of Mecca. The Qurayshi were particularly devoted to Allah (Durga) and the famous Shivling of the Kaaba Temple. The fact that the Shivling remains to this day in the Kaaba is solely due to the fact that it happened to be the Qurayshi tribe's faceless Family Deity. As I mentioned before Muhammad's name itself came from Mahadeva, which is another cognate for Lord Shiva. Muhammad's own uncle, Umar-Bin-E-Hassham was a staunch Hindu and fervent devotee of Lord Shiva. He was a renowned poet and wrote many verses in praise of Shiva. One of these has survived on page 235 of Sair-Ul-Okul and reads as follows:

              Kafavomal fikra min ulumin Tab asayru
              Kaluwan amataul Hawa was Tajakhru
              We Tajakhayroba udan Kalalwade-E Liboawa
              Walukayanay jatally, hay Yauma Tab asayru
              Wa Abalolha ajabu armeeman MAHADEVA
              Manojail ilamuddin minhum wa sayattaru
              Wa Sahabi Kay-yam feema-Kamil MINDAY Yauman
              Wa Yakulum no latabahan foeennak Tawjjaru
              Massayaray akhalakan hasanan Kullahum
              Najumum aja- at Summa gabul HINDU

              The man who may spend his life in sin
              and irreligion or waste it in lechery and wrath
              If at least he relent and return to
              righteousness can he be saved?
              If but once he worship Mahadeva with a pure
              heart, he will attain the ultimate in spirituality.
              Oh Lord Shiva exchange my entire life for but
              a day's sojourn in India where one attains salvation.
              But one pilgrimage there secures for one all
              merit and company of the truly great.

              However, more significant was the fact that the Kaaba was an extremely rich and ornate temple. On its walls hung innumerable gold plaques commemorating the winners of the annual poetry competition known as the Okaj fair. There were gold, silver and precious gems everywhere. It is no wonder that Muhammad armed with his facade of a new brand of religion set out to capture the immense wealth of the Vedic shrine of Mecca. After plundering the riches of the Kaaba, the wealth enabled him to systematically destroy all traces of the religion that threatened him so directly. It is an indisputable fact that money will make any low criminal devoutly religious in a hurry.

              1. Despite the fact that Muhammad had to destroy all traces of Hinduism in order to make his "new religion" work, he knew that in order to fool people convincingly he would have to borrow from the Vedic culture that surrounded him. Being illiterate he picked out rituals and symbols that he didn't understand and distorted and falsified them for his own ends. Here is a list of these distortions:
              2. Muhammad destroyed all 360 idols, but even he could not summon the courage to completely obliterate the Shivling in the Kaaba. He entered the temple and kissed the black stone. The Shivling was so sacred that the man who so detested idol- worship ended up kissing the largest idol in the Kaaba. Later his followers in a fit of piety broke the Shivling and then out of remorse repatched it together again. Today it lies broken at seven places and held together by a silver band studded with silver nails, bearing the name "Sangey Aswad" which came from the Sanskrit Ashwet meaning non-white or black stone.
              3. He jumbled up the Sanskrit words Nama and Yaja (which meant "bowing and worshipping" respectively) into a combination word Namaz and used that to describe his prescribed method of prayer.
              4. Because the Vedic custom was to pray facing the East, in his hatred for all things Hindu, he directed his followers to pray facing only the west.
              5. The method of circling around a shrine seven times in a clockwise direction is an ancient Vedic custom. Muhammad with his lack of originality decided that the 7 ritual perambulations should be retained but again in his hatred of all things Vedic decided the direction of the perambulations should be anti-clockwise.
              6. With his phobia of all things Vedic, Muhammad knew that the greatest reminder and threat to his forced brand of religion were the beautiful Vedic idols of Arabic temples. Thus he destroyed every idol he could find and made idol worship the greatest crime for a Muslim. Such a man could never have comprehended how an abstract concept can be conveyed through a symbolic representation in the form of an image. Thus he made all image representation a sin as well.
              7. Vedic religion is known for its ancient oral tradition. It is well known that the Vedic culture emphasized oral debate and expression far more than the written word. In adition the oral recitation of Vedic scriptures was always done in a lyrical fashion, utilizing music and thus reaching a height of expression. In fear of this musical tradition Muhammad decided to forbid Music.

              All Arabic copies of the Koran have the mysterious figure 786 imprinted on them . No Arabic scholar has been able to determine the choice of this particular number as divine. It is an established fact that Muhammad was illiterate therefore it is obvious that he would not be able to differentiate numbers from letters. This "magical" number is none other than the Vedic holy letter "OM" written in Sanskrit (Refer to figure 2). Anyone who knows Sanskrit can try reading the symbol for "OM" backwards in the Arabic way and magically the numbers 786 will appear!

              Hindu Reflections

              NAnam' is that logically prior principle of knowledge which is found to underlie all manifested appearances of knowing. It is that underlying principle called 'consciousness', which logically precedes all different instances of knowledge. And it thus carries on through time, in every  changing mind, beneath all-knowing states that appear and disappe ar.

              nAnam’ means paroksha j

              nAnam attained from the scriptures and the guru. The term ‘vij

              nAnam’ means aparoksha anubhuti , the direct or immediate experience of the knowledge, or realization.

              "SABARIMALA, INDIA, September 27, 2019 (Bar and Bench): The lack of concrete jurisprudence regulating the relationship between religion and the law has created an intractable lacuna in the social and legal ethos of India. Although the Supreme Court, through various opinions has helped curb this uncertainty, the ambiguity with respect to the interference of the courts with religion may not be easy to circumvent. One year since the Supreme Court's verdict in the Sabarimala matter, we take a look at various aspects surrounding the issue of balancing religious rights with other rights.

              The Essential Religious Practice (ERP) Test, used to determine inviolable aspects of a religion, favors an interventionist attitude by courts. This is because the test enables judges to become prophets and determine what falls within the contours of a religion and what does not. This, in fact, is a discretionary test which leads to inconsistent outcomes in as much as it seeks to rationalize religion and purge it of superstitions. Against the backdrop of the sole dissenting opinion in the Sabarimala case, we seek to suggest that the social and cultural practices of a community with a clearly "identifiable set of beliefs, customs and usages, and code of conduct which are being practiced since time immemorial, and are founded in a common faith", cannot be compromised or interfered with on the mere basis of their essentiality, which in turn is a judge-centric approach."

              Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

              The Sword of Summer

              Ten years after the quarrel between the three Chase siblings, Annabeth and Fredrick go looking for Magnus in Boston after being notified by Randolph that Magnus has been missing since Natalie's death two years previously. Annabeth was very angry at Randolph and wanted to strangle him, for not telling her about Natalie’s death for two years, and about Magnus. Frederick then told her she should probably avoid strangling him, and that he is her uncle, and that he cannot explain her uncles actions, and never could. Annabeth was worried and didn’t even know if Magnus was alive, and told her father he might be dead in a ditch somewhere. They decided to head to a youth center on Charles street to see if he was there, after Randolph called them and said he wasn’t at the nearest homeless shelter.

              Magnus witnessed them arguing and hid from them, and was notified of them looking for him by Blitzen, though he didn't know it was them. Magnus began to think a lot about his estranged cousin, and suggested to Randolph that instead of leaving, they wait for her and her father. He also wanted to reconnect with her before he died once he arrived at Hotel Valhalla.

              Magnus reunited with Annabeth after ten years when he visited his own funeral, and she walked in. Annabeth was ecstatic to see him and tackled him in a hug, saying she knew he wasn't dead. Magnus blinked tears out of his eyes and said it was good to see her, and she said that she thought he was dead, and called him a butt. Annabeth thought that the body was fake and he was faking his death, but Magnus didn't deny that, since he didn't know how to explain the Norse afterlife to her. Magnus tried to leave to find his friends, but Annabeth told him not to and that she needed some answers, and reassured him she had been in dangerous situations before. She told him that Randolph hadn't told her anything except for that he was in danger because of his birthday, and he was taking him to the bridge. After Magnus told her there was a connection between his mother's death, the bridge, and who is father is, Annabeth offered to take him to a safe place, but Magnus declined. He quickly introduced her to Hearthstone and said he needed to go on a personal quest, and he will explain everything to her when it was over. Annabeth said she wanted to help, but she learned the hard way that she had to step back and let people do their own quests. She gave him her phone number and he kissed her cheek, and she called him a butt.

              Magnus and Annabeth reunited on the Blue Hills after Magnus's quest, and spilled Natalie's ashes, with Annabeth remarking it is a lot better than the last memorial she attended. She said that Natalie was great and that they cremated Magnus's former body instead, with his ashes placed in a family mausoleum. She said that the service was hard on Randolph, who seemed shaken up, and confided that it was hard for her to hide what actually happened from her father, due to their rocky history and her efforts to try to be honest with him. Magnus apologized, saying he didn't want to rope Annabeth into his problems, but she said she understands more than he thinks. Magnus reassured her that he was okay and staying with "friends", and she asked for details, but Magnus said he didn’t want to put her in danger. Annabeth burst out laughing and said that her life was weird, and Magnus said he felt normal around her, and they shook hands, deciding to not hold secrets and make the next Chase family generation less messed up. They decided to bet on who's story as weirder and went to Fadlan’s Falafel.

              Between the books

              Annabeth told Magnus afterward about the Greek gods in New York, and Magnus told Annabeth about the Norse gods. Annabeth also explained to Magnus how the Chase family had a special connection to gods, with both cousins being demigods from two different pantheons. She told him that all the old myths were true as long as their stories survived, and they fed off of human memory. She also told Magnus about Dryads, and cried when she told him the most painful things she went through, of when she and Percy fell into Tartarus. Before she went back to Manhattan, she promised to talk about it more afterward and warned him that she didn't have a cell phone due to monsters. She also told him to give Randolph the benefit of the doubt and that they shouldn’t give up on Randolph.

              The Hammer of Thor

              Magnus is worried after Annabeth doesn't text him or contact him since January, even though she told him she doesn't have a cell phone. Nevertheless, Magnus still cares about her and thinks about her, and has a picture of her in his hotel room.

              After Magnus returned home from his quest, he sent a raven to meet up with Annabeth and they coordinated train rides, with them meeting halfway between Manhattan and Boston in New London, Connecticut. Annabeth hugged Magnus and was very worried about him, and said she was glad to see a raven at her window. They got lunch at the Muddy Waters Café and Annabeth explained that communications were down due to Apollo falling and the Triumvirate Holdings, and she realized that communications were gone between all demigods, not just Greek and Roman. She said she would’ve came to Boston sooner, but she had enough to deal with already. Magnus told Annabeth about Loki's escape and how he will be sailing to the farthest borders of Niflheim and Jotunheim to defeat him, and that since she'd been on a long boat ride, she could give him some pointers. Annabeth then decided it was time for him to meet Percy.

              The Ship of the Dead

              Annabeth and Percy Jackson were visiting Magnus in Boston and helping him train for his journey, with Alex Fierro. Alex and Annabeth watched from the dock as Percy helped Magnus dive in the sea, and applauded Percy when he demonstrated. Annabeth encouraged her cousin when he dived, but freaked out when she found out his sword, Jack could talk, and Magnus forgot to tell her. Jack chastised Annabeth when she called him "it" and she quickly corrected herself and said "he". Magnus introduced Jack to Percy and Annabeth, and Jack flew towards Annabeth trying to look for Riptide. Annabeth backed against the wall, and said she needed personal space. Annabeth was very shocked to find out that Riptide was a girl, but wasn’t shocked that Percy didn't know, and teasingly said he didn't even know she could write until the year before.

              Alex and Magnus took Percy and Annabeth out to lunch then at Fadlan's Falafel, while they let Riptide and Jack get to know each other. They discussed when they were going to sail off, and Annabeth stated that heroes never get to be ready, but they do the best they can. Percy replied that it usually works out as they haven't died yet. Annabeth then elbowed Percy saying that he keeps trying to die and he put his arm around her, kissing her blonde curls on the top of her head, making Magnus's heart do a little twist, reminding him of what was at stake if he didn't stop Loki. Annabeth joked that Estelle Blofis drooled, just like Percy, when he told Magnus about Estelle. Annabeth also got worried when Percy got a look he gets when he gets an idea. Annabeth agreed with Percy that all sea gods are possessive, though it sounded like every god they've met, and smirked when she heard that Jason saved Percy from Kymopoleia, making Percy's ears turn as pink as Alex's jeans.

              Annabeth frowned when Percy said that the best plan was no plan, saying that, as a child of Athena, she cannot endorse that, but Percy stated how Annabeth was the most powerful demigod of their generation, and even though she cannot shapeshift and doesn't have powers, she is very smart and good at improvising, which's what makes her deadly, and Magnus should have trained with her all weekend instead of him. Annabeth said that was sweet and kissed Percy on the cheek. After, Annabeth rapped her knuckles on Percy's head after he and Alex discussed what they called the Mist, and said they were leaving soon, and that he should help her clean up. She then learned from Magnus and Alex that using their demigod powers short circuits mortal brains, and that they don't need to sneak around, they can just be themselves.

              Annabeth said her goodbyes to Magnus and gave him a big hug and told him to take care, and ordered him to come back safely. Magnus promised, saying that Chases have to stick together. The last thing she did was ask Magnus if he was at Randolph's yet, since he needed to go through his things, and Magnus promised to that day. The last Magnus saw of Percy and Annabeth was Percy singing badly to Led Zeppelin in his Toyota Prius, and Annabeth laughing at his bad voice. As they left, Alex inquired that if Percy and Annabeth were any cuter together, they’d cause a nuclear explosion of cuteness and destroy the Eastern Seaboard.

              During Magnus's Quest to stop Naglfar from Sailing, Annabeth's chance of a happy and normal life motivated him to go on with the quest, and Magnus knew Annabeth deserved better than planetary destruction.

              When Magnus returned back to Valhalla, he called Annabeth (who was in California by the time) and told her how he was turning the Chase Mansion into a homeless shelter, and how Randolph's will was finalized. Annabeth was happy about it and said it was great, and that she needed good news. Magnus realized that Annabeth had been crying and asked what was wrong. Annabeth responded that she will be okay, and that she got bad news when she and Percy arrived [which was Jason's death (not specified in this book)]. He asked if Percy was okay and Annabeth said he was as fine as expected. Annabeth gave a broken laugh when Magnus told her to tell Percy he kept his butt clenched the entire trip, and she promised to tell Percy. Magnus told Annabeth to take care of herself and Annabeth promised to talk more the next time she saw him. Magnus felt that Annabeth had a chance of happy life. He also thought about asking Samirah al-Abbas if Einherjar can go to California.

              9 from the Nine Worlds

              I Play with Fire

              Alex mentions Annabeth when saying Magnus is away visiting her, presumably in New Rome.

              Watch the video: Vergessene alte germanische Göttinnen (August 2022).