Elephant Emissaries of Shiva

May 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ganesha was Shiva’s son, or Parvati’s son, or was created by Shiva and Parvati, or appeared mysteriously and was discovered by Shiva and Parvati. In a fit of jealous rage, Shiva cut Ganesha’s head off because he stood between himself and Parvati. Recognizing his mistake, Shiva performed surgical therianthropy, mending the boy’s severed body with the head of an elephant, that hideous, snake-handed beast.

Ganesha, elephant-headed boy, dances lightly on a mouse with his axe, rope, tusk and sweets in his four hands, and like the mouse slips into the secret places.
Lord of beginnings, Lord of obstacles, patron of arts and sciences, pot bellied dancer poised delicately on a rat, ready to spring to heroic action. All the cosmic eggs, past, present and future are contained within him. He resides at the original base, the Muladhara chakra. Vasuki, the Naga King, who was Vishnu’s churning rope in the sea of milk, encircles his neck.

Shiva’s first ambassador:
Shiva sent Dionysus home from India on an elephant and waited for a sign, a message from Europe. Alexander’s army arrived, furiously assailed the ivory palisade and was rebuffed.
Shiva’s second ambassador:
Annone was not Manuel’s emissary, but Shiva’s. The Portuguese were merely the vehicle, the rat that Ganesha danced from Vijayanagara to Rome. It was young Annone who infiltrated the walls of the Vatican, slipped into the secret places of the city. He inspired painters and poets, seduced the Lion and made him weep. Only Raffaello with his art could restore what Nature had stolen away.

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Shiva and Dionysus

March 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Herodotus writes that India, the most remote, fantastical and climatically harsh place on Earth, is the nation that lies farthest to the east, and that beyond it lies desert, a wasteland of giant ants but abundant gold. While Roman writers would associate the Greek god Dionysus with the Hindu Shiva, Herodotus, though he writes nothing about Indian deities, establishes the possibility of an intermediary figure between Dionysus and Shiva: the Egyptian god of the dead, Osiris. He states that Dionysus is called Osiris in Egypt, is believed to rule the underworld, and is the only deity other than Isis who is worshiped throughout Egypt, and that his son, Horus, is Apollo.” (1)
“Several classical European authors even believed that such ‘Hindu’ ideas as metempsychosis [that the souls of animals travel into the bodies of other animals after death] had been brought back to Europe by the Greek gods themselves. Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and mystical ecstasy was purported to have journeyed to India, subdued the Aryan and Dravidian peoples, absorbed their philosophies, and returned to Europe with their chief ideas. Euripides describes Dionysus in Bacchae (406 B.C.) as a provider of knowledge and the conqueror of Arabia, Persia and Bactria”. (2)
“The triumphal march of Dionysus (or Bacchus, as he was generally known in Rome) through the lands of India was equated in Roman thought with the triumph of the deceased over death. His mythical victorious return from India on an elephant’s back, or in a chariot drawn by elephants, was shown in sculpted sarcophagi. Since Dionysiac processions symbolically reflected the joy of victory over death, the presence of elephants, which were believed to be favorites of the Sun-god gave further point to the triumph of light over darkness.” (3)

(1) Cowan R. The Indo-German Identification: Reconciling South Asian Origins and European Destinies, 1765-1885.
(2) Ibid.
(3) Scullard H.H. The Elephant in the Greek and Roman World.
Images:  Shiva, contemporary chromolithograph; Bacchus, Caravaggio, c.1595; Sarcophagus, Roman, c.190

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