STORY OF VEDIC SUNAHSEPHA IN GREECE AS CYNOSURE! (Post 10.743)

WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No. 10,743

Date uploaded in London – –    14 MARCH   2022         

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The story of Sunahshepa was recited in every Coronation ceremony of ancient India. The recitation was an important feature in Coronation ceremonies. It may sound strange that a story of attempted human sacrifice is recited in Coronations. William Henry Robinson who did much research on this story and the ceremony, compared it with Cynosure of Greece. Is it correct or just a namesake accidental coincidence?

Let me give the story of Sunahshepa  (from my article posted in September 2017)and meaning of Cynosure:-

“Nobody has any proof for Purushameda Yajna (Human Sacrifice). The only anecdote is Sunashepa Anecdote. The brief account is as follows:-

 It is from the Aitareya Brahmana: King Harischandra of the race of Ikshwaku, being childless, made a vow that if he obtained a son he would sacrifice him to Varuna. A son was born who was named Rohita, but his father postponed, under various pretexts, the fulfilment of his vow (sacrificing children is in every religious book all around globe; thousands of mysterious children’s graves are in Bahrain; read my article about Mysteries of Bahrain).

When he was ready to perform the sacrifice, Rohita refused to be the victim and he ran into the forest. He lived there for six years. He then met a poor Brahmin Rishi Ajigarta, who had three sons. He gave his second son Sunashepa (meaning Dog’s tail)  for an exchange of 100 cows. Sunashsepa was tied to a pole. Viswamitra was passing that way and found Sunashepa and released him. He thought it was barbaric to sacrifice a human being. Ramayana and Mahabharata gave different versions where Viswamitra’s two divine mantras released Sunashepa. He was adopted as a son by Viswamitra and changed his name as Devavarta.

This clearly shows that there was no such human sacrifice nor any custom before Harischandra, one of the long list of kings. Vedic literature was very huge and most of them came before Greeks started writing.

Foreigners thought they could use it against Hinduism; but they couldn’t because there was no human sacrifice even in this episode.

But on the contrary Hindus, particularly Brahmins, used it in a positive way. This is the longest and most interesting story in Aitareya Brahmana. The mere telling of the story saves one from sin.

“If a sinful king has the story of Sunashepa told him, not the slightest trace of sin and its consequences will remain in him. He must therefore give a 1000 cows to the teller of this story and a 100 to him who makes the responses required; and to each of them the gold embroidered carpet on which he was sitting; to the priest, besides a silver decked carriage drawn by mules. Those who wish for children should also have this story told them; then they certainly will be blessed with children”.

The boy’s name was Sunahshepa  that means dog’s tail.

Cynosure in Greek also means dog’s tail. But they applied it to Northern Pole Star, the fixed centre of the revolving heavens and a guide of travellers.

In Hindu coronation ceremonies the seats of the reciters of the legend were placed in front of the king’s throne, on the sacred ground , where the yearly cycle of ancient sacrifices had just been completed.

Robinson says,

The main purpose of the legend was to epitomize , and illustrate the inner spiritual teachings of the inspired Vedic hymns and ritual. These however became obscured as the Vedic age shaded off into that of the Upanishads. We find the Sunahshepa  story in the epics as well. It was recited during the Rajasuya . we have the full description of Yudhisthira’s Coronation in Mahabharata. Tamil Sangam literature mentioned the Rajasuya done by a Choza king. We know Jaichand’s coronation was done during Afghan invasion of India in 1190-92 CE.

xxxx

CYNOSURE

Cynosure means dog’s tail in Latin. But in modern English it means something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance; Centre of Attention.

Etymologists say it came from the dog tail constellation Ursa Minor. Sailors used it for navigation. The tail points to the pole star.

In Greece it is neither connected with religious ceremony nor with the Coronation. The etymology of the word is as follows (etymon on line)

cynosure (n.)

“something that strongly attracts attention,” 1590s, from French cynosure (16c.), from Latin Cynosura, literally “dog’s tail,” an old name of the constellation (now Ursa Minor) containing what is now (but was not in ancient times) the North Star, the focus of navigation, at the tip of its tail; from Greek kynosoura, literally “dog’s tail,” from kyōn (genitive kynos; from PIE root *kwon- “dog”) + oura “tail” (see arse). Apparently in ancient times the whole constellation was used as a rough indicator of the celestial north pole. Related: Cynosural.

*kwon- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning “dog.”

It forms all or part of: canaillecanarycanicularcanidcaninechenillecorgicyniccynicalcynosuredachshundhoundkennelProcyonquinsy.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit svan-, Avestan spa, Greek kyōn, Latin canis, Old English hund, Old High German hunt, Old Irish cu, Welsh ci, Russian sobaka (apparently from an Iranian source such as Median spaka), Armenian shun, Lithuanian šuo “dog.”

Superficially we can see some similarity in sound and meaning. Pole star/cynosure guides the sailors in the sea. King , the centre of attention in the coronation, guides the people.

xxx

My views

But the question why did Hindus insist the recitation of the legend in coronations still remains unanswered. My view is now the star Polaris form part of Dog’s tail. They named it Dog’s tail like we named the boy of Ajigarta Dog’s tail; it cannot be a given name. it may be some nickname. Hist story appeared only in later Brahmana literature. Like we forgot the reason for this name, Greeks also forgot the meaning of ’Dog’s tail. The star Polaris (Cynosure) is part of Little Bear (Ursa Minor) not Dog. But I would say that the Greeks meant only Vedic Sunahshepa. We were the one who gave star status to Dhruva (Pole Star) Nakshatra. But little boy Dhruva is different from this little boy Sunahshepa. Perhaps in the olden days there were two stories for the same Pole star. Greeks use it only namesake forgetting the Dog’s tail boy. But we remember the Dog’s tail boy Sunahshepa but use it only in Coronations not with the Pole Star.

The innocent victim was saved by the sage cum king Visvamitra from death. Like him, a king should save all innocent people who are victimized by someone. Harischandra made a stupid promise to Varuna and dodged without fulfilling it. Instead sacrificing his own son Rohita, he bought Sunahshepa to replace him. He was saved.

This legend gives more information about Vedic society.

We have not heard any human victim before or after Sunahshepa .

Sunahshepa was also successfully rescued by Visvamitra

What is the position of Harischandra in the Ikshwaku Dynasty?

Harischandra was No.31 in the list of Solar Dynasty and Rama was 62 in the list. Even if we give 20 year per king there is a gap of at least 600 years. But unlike modern warfare the kings were not killed in Hindu dynasties ,but subdued. So I would give at least 30 or 35 years per king. That means a gap of 1000 year between Rama and Harischandra. We see Visvamitra  and Vasistha in Harischndra period as well as Rama period. Both could not have lived 1000 years. So it is only a Gotra (clan) name and not an individual’s name. Hindus must know that these Gotra names are found even in 2000 year old Tamil Sangam literature (Kauskika/ Kosika= Visvamitra in Tamil as poets’ names)

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Etymology of Dog

It is interesting to find the etymology of Dog and how it travelled to Greece in post Vedic period.

Svana for dog is found in the Rig Veda, the oldest book in the world.

RV 1-161-13; 1-182-4; 2-39-4 ; 7-55-5; 10-86-4; 8-55-39-101-1; 4-18-3

Sarama – 1-62-3; 1-72-8 (Indra’s friend dog Sarama became Hermes in Greek legends)

AV.6-37-3; 4-36-6

Svana becomes Spa in Avestan (V=P change is noted in other words as well.)

‘S’ becomes C/K in Latin and Greek.

If we place the words in chronological order, Rig Vedic Svana (feminine Suni ) comes at the top. Next comes Spa of Avestan. So we know the origin is from India. Knowing that all the words origin  in Sanskrit and accepting it would show that the civilization migrated from India to the West, they invented imaginary ‘Proto Indo-European’ and ‘Indo- European’. If one looks at all the words for dogs even in adjacent area, they change beyond recognition. If we put them in the order of available literary records, the linguists will be proved wrong.

They don’t know the etymology of English word DOG until this day. They treat it as unknown mystery! Probably it jumped into England from Heaven!!

In fact, every language has some words the origin of which we can never explain. In Panini’s Ashtadhyayi we have at least 85 words that are not found in classical Sanskrit .

Svana becomes ‘NAAY’ in Tamil Sangam Literature. Most of the Sanskrit words lose Sibilant sound in Tamil because Tamil has no S or Sh,

Tamils use Kurai for the verb Bark. On the basis of this verb,  comes Kukkura, another word for Dog in Sanskrit.

English word ‘Cry’ may also be related to Kurai (bark) in Tamil.

I have shown previously that the dogs barking sound have been different in many European languages exploding the myth of onomatopoeia theory of linguists.

Conclusion

The story of Sarama/Hermes and the word Cynosure show the westward cultural migration . The word Cynosure attained unusual significance because of its association with Sunahshepa. Even today we use it English to mean Centre of Attention or Attraction. And we use Sunahshepa story recitation (centre of attention) in Coronations as centre of Attention.

–subham–

 tags-  Sunahshepa, Cynosure, Dog’s tail, Coronation, Polaris, Aitareya Brahmana

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