A Foreigner’s comment on Tamil Brahmins

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Compiled by London swaminathan

Date: 15th September 2015

Post No: 2161

Time uploaded in London :– 19-50

(Thanks  for the pictures) 

 

 

I am reading an interesting book titled “South Indian Hours” written by Oswald J. Couldrey I.E.S., sometime Principal of Rajamundry College, published by Hurst and Blackett Ltd., London in 1924. The book has 3 colour and 19 other illustrations by the author.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“The oxen of Telengana, including the famous Nellore breed, have shortish horns, but those of the further South are one and all crowned as it were with a great stringless lyre of ivory, which lends a silent note of majesty to the traffic of the streets and wharves of metropolitan Madras. Likewise upon the bows of men caste marks, the seals of the national gods, are commoner and larger, and commoner and more conspicuous also are the many forms of that contrarious Hindu tonsure, which leaves a long horse-tail of hair just where the European monk wears nothing.

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These human fashions mean a greater steadfastness in the old and purely Indian order than the Telingas, in the towns at east, have been able to preserve. Not that the Tamil people are backward; rather they know better than their northern neighbours how to lay hold on the new without relinquishing the old. There is no need for an Andhra man to go to the Tamil country to study the Tamils. The latter visit him at home, and get employment in his offices and schools, faster than he can find room for them in his heart.

For the Tamil Brahmins are a remarkable race, clever and full of enterprise. For all their strict orthodoxy they adopted Western education earlier, and still ensue it more industriously, than the more easy-going men of Andhra-desha. Therefore are they sometimes called by lovers of analogy the Scots of Southern India; but the comparison, though illustrating well enough the point in question, should not be further pressed. It is perhaps chiefly the fear of Tamil penetration which has led the Andhras to agitate for a separate administration.

The Tamil Brahmins shave clean, unlike their Andhra brothers, who largely affect a Maratha-military moustache which hardly fits one’s notion of a Brahmin. True, it is the mark only of the Niyogi, the Brahmin who has renounced the service of religion for professional work in the world; but in the Tamil country even such retain the mask of ancestral holiness. Nothing impressed me more, on first arriving at South India, than the faces of these Tamil Brahmins. They reminded me of a Roman portrait-gallery, where the features of unknown sages, poets and statesmen are assembled, and sometimes the face occurs a Greek God grown thoughtful; all are chiselled in the same clear medium, but here it is darker than old marble, and liker walnut-wood or a very ancient ivory.

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The difference is greater in the South between the higher and lower castes than in Telingana. The common people of the South are far inferior to those of Telengana in refinement of feature, but the Brahmins of the South, Aiyars and Ayangars, are at no such disadvantage beside their northern brother. Feminine beauty in these latitudes is generally held to shine brightest among the Tamil Aiyangars, the Vaishnava Brahmins of Coromandel.

The Southern ladies deserve also this praise, that tjhey still remain staunch to the noble silken flow of their ancestral costume, and robes darkly rich with India dyes, having among them nothing sewn but the sort close bodice; a costume which has not its equal in the world today for dignity and beauty. But the daughters of the Andhras, those at least who pretend to wealth and station, are beginning to coquette with the barbaric fashions of the West, and interpolate half sleeves, puffed and frilled, into such weeds as might have beseemed the mother of the Gracchi.

Altogether the Tamils have a far weightier and more  comfortable body of ancestral culture behind them than the people of the Cirkars. I shall never forget how disgusted I was when, having lately left Tanjore, where they still entertain one with a dance of damsels (unless vulgarity and puritanism have swept them away since 1909), I was asked, by a prominent citizen of an Andhra city of old renown, to an entertainment of card-conjuror and a gramophone were to be respectively the life and soul. Fortunately this was an extreme instance, but the suggested contrast was typical enough. Some are even said to consider the substitution of the gramophone for the dancing girl as a sign of advancing civilisation, because the dancing girls too often sing sweet love-songs over-boldly, or are otherwise no better than they should be.

But the Tamil people excels in every art, in the weaving of soft raiment as well as of alluring gestures, in the graving of brass, the carving of wood, the working of stone, in fact in the devising of all those embellishments which make the life of a  people happier for themselves, and more interesting to others. Such embellishments in a simpler form are still a part of popular life even in Telangana, but for centuries the country has not been rich enough to develop them, and its later prosperity turns away from them away to foreign gewgaws. The new spirit of nationalism, I fear, has come too late to help them.”

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In a footnote, the writer adds,

“I think the Aiyangars must have come largely from Gujerat, a little more than 1000 years ago, for Gujerat was a centre for Bhagavatas, the original Vaishnavas. Gujerati women are likewise famous for their

Jesus had only 12 Followers!

12 disciples

Written by London swaminathan

Date : 10 September  2015

Post No. 2145

Time uploaded in London: –  19-57

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Following are the anecdotes about film directors:

Test for a Good Actor

John Barrymore once asked the Great Russian director, Constantin Stanislavski, how he selected artists

“I chose them by means of this,” said Stanislavsky, picking up a pin. “Now, you go into the next room.”

Barrymore went out and in a moment Stanislavsky said, “You may come in now. Please look for the pin.”

The Russian watched as Barrymore picked up the glasses fro the table, looked under them and lifted each plate. He felt along the surface of the table cloth, lifted the corner, and there was the pin.

Stanislavsky clapped his hands: “Very good – you are engaged! I can tell a real actor,” he explained, “by the way he looks for a pin. If he prances around the room, striking attitudes, pretending to think very hard, looking in ridiculous places — exaggerating – then he is not good.”

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How to say you are not fit for acting?

One day at rehearsal Sir Herbert Tree asked a youthful actor to “step back a little.” The player did so. Tree eyed him critically – and went on rehearsing. After a time he repeated his request: “A little further back”. The youth obeyed. Surveying him, Tree went on with his work. Shortly after wards he again asked the youth step still further back.

“If I do,” expostulated the youth, “I shall be right off the stage.”

“Yes,” said Tree, “that is right.”

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10,000 followers for a film director!

This story concerns the Hollywood director, Joseph von Sternberg, who came to sword’s points with Sam jaffe when the actor was appearing in “The Scarlet Empress” under Von Strenberg’s direction.

Mr.Jaffe deemed certain arbitrary instructions to be improper, and disputed the point.

“Mr.Jaffe,” screamed Von Sternberg, “I am Von Sternberg, I have 10,000 followers.”

“You are very fortunate,” said Jaffe coldly, “Jesus Christ had only 12.”

—————xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx——————-

Do as I say!

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Don’t Reblog it  at least for a week. Pictures are copyrighted by someone else. Don’t use them. When you use the matter, you must not remove the author’s name and blog name.

 

Compiled by London swaminathan

Date : 7 September  2015

Post No. 2134

Time uploaded in London: – 18-27

This is a folk tale based on Tamil words with two meanings (pun).

A silly illiterate villager was in the habit of beating his wife every day. She reflected, “I must bring good sense to this foolish man. He beats me without any rhyme or reason. I have committed nothing wrong.”

One day she boldly asked him why he was beating her even when she did not commit any mistake. He told her that she did not do what  she was told to do. That was the reason for him beating her. Then she told him that I would do whatever you say. But you should never beat me. Give me a promise”. He immediately made an oath that he would behave and never revile her.

Adi! Come here and look what I have brought for you. She came running with a big stick and beat him. He asked, “Why did you beat me?”

You said “Adi! “ ( Adi! Is used to address wives or any younger ladies who are close relatives or friends in Tamil. It has another meaning “Beat”). Then he realised that he should not have said that.

Another day he sat to eat and she started serving him food. She deliberately put some husk on her head while serving. When he saw husk on his wife’s head, he said “ Adi, Umi ! on  head!”

She took the opportunity to beat him and spit on his head. Adi ! means beat and Umi means ‘spit’ as well as ‘husk’!

This time also he had to bear with his wife’s behaviour because she did what he said to her. Another day he was very happy because he got lot of money and told his wife “Put this money in the house”. Put in Tamil is “Vai” which has another meaning “scold”. She started shouting at the money, “O Money of a Foolish man! Money of an Idiot! Money of a stupid man!”

He was wondering what happened to her. He asked her, “Are you mad? Why are you reviling like this?”

You said “Vai” this money in the house.

Afterwards, considering and understanding all these things he felt ashamed. He became a good man and never beat his wife. She also stopped criticising him.

Indian villagers use lot of riddles, puns, puzzles in their stories. Though they were illiterates they never lacked in common sense and great wisdom.

PATRIOTISM: Bismarck and Californians!

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Written by London swaminathan

Date : 1 September  2015

Post No. 2115

Time uploaded in London : 19-50

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(1).Californians are famous for their loyalty to their native state. One of its native sons was once visiting his wife’s relatives in the East. While there he had occasion to attend the funeral of a man who was little liked in the community. At the services the minister, who was new to the parish, called upon someone to say few words about the deceased. A long and significant silence ensued. Finally, the true son of California stood up and said, “Well, since there is no one present who has anything to say about our departed brother, I would like a few minutes to tell you something about California.”

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Bismarck story

(2).Bismarck told a story of an Alpine host who, after pointing out the glories of his native land, asked a berlin youth if they had any such mountains in Berlin. “No”, he replied, “we have not got such mountains, but, if we had, they would be much finer than these.”

(3).Emperor Vespasian: Bhagavad Gita Echo!

When the Emperor Vespasian commanded a Roman senator to give his voice against the interests of his country and threatened him with immediate death if he spoke on the other side, the Roman, conscious that the attempt to serve a people was in his power, answered with a smile:

“Did I ever tell you that I was immortal? My virtues is in my own disposal, my life in yours; you do what you will, I shall do what I ought; and if I fall in the service of my country, I shall have more triumph in my death than you in all your laurels.”

((When I read this I am reminded of the Bhagavd Gita sloka/couplet: “Either slain thou shalt go to heaven; or victorious thou shalt enjoy the earth; therefore, arise, Arjuna, resolved on the battle” (2-37) “Weapons do not cleave this self, fire does not burn him; waters do not make him wet; nor does the wind make him dry. The soul is eternal (2-23)

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(4).Little Boy’s Reply

It was a little boy in an American school, who in his reply to his teacher’s question, “Who was the first man?” answered, “George Washington”, and upon being informed that it was Adam, exclaimed, “Ah, well! If you are speaking of foreigners, perhaps he was.”

(5).I would have produced more sons!

In the early part of the American civil war an elderly lady who attended meeting of the First Vermont Regiment, arose, full of enthusiasm, and said she thanked God that she was able to do something for her country; her two sons, all she possessed in the world, were in the regiment; and the only thing she had to regret was that she could not have known twenty years before that the war was coming – she would have furnished more.

(A True Patriot!)

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(6).Retort to British

Sometime after the conclusion of the revolution, a young American was present in a British playhouse, where an interlude was performed in ridicule of Americans. A number of American officers being introduced in tattered uniforms, and barefoot, the question was put to them severally: “What was your trade before you entered the army?”

One answered tailor, another a cobbler etc. the wit of the piece was to banter them for not keeping themselves in clothes and shoes, but before that could be expressed, the American exclaimed from the gallery: “Greta Britain beaten by tailors and cobblers! Hurrah!”

Even the Prime Minister, who was present, could not help smiling, amidst a general peal of laughter.

Funny Ghost Story from Indian Villagers!

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Article No. 2109

Compiled  by London swaminathan
Date : 30 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :– 20-22

We always read about bad husbands beating their wives. But in all parts of the world there are bad wives who torture their husbands as well. We know the suffering of Socrates at the hands of his wife. His famous quote is: if you want to become a philosopher, marry a bad woman.” That was a true story. Here is a funny ghost and a bad wife story from Indian villagers.

In a village there was a poor Brahmin who was beaten by his wife every day. He also accepted the torture like a ritual. One day he got fed up with his wife’s treatment and decided to go out for ten days. He told his wife, “Look, My darling! I have an important business in the neighbour town. I am leaving today. I will be back after ten days”. Immediately she told him, “Every day I used to beat you with broomstick asking for money. Now who do I beat with the broomstick. I can’t eat without doing that.”

He told her, “Don’t worry about it. I have already trained the tamarind tree in the back garden. It will take all your beatings. You can do it without any hesitation.”

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She also did it for ten days. The ghost that occupied the tamarind tree was suffering for ten days. The Brahmin returned after ten days and she took him to the Tamarind tree and showed what she did for ten days. As soon as she left the place, the ghost in the tree called the Brahmin and told him that he could help him to get out of poverty and his wife’s cruelty. It told him that it would go to the palace and possess the king’s wife. It promised him to leave her only when he came and do some exorcism. The Brahmin also agreed to it.

When the queen was possessed with the ghost the king called the famous exorcists in the country and in spite of that the ghost did not leave her. Then the Brahmin approached the king and told him that he could easily drive away the ghost. As soon as the ghost saw the Brahmin, it left the queen according to the original plan. The king amply rewarded the Brahmin. He became very rich overnight. But the ghost warned the Brahmin that he should not help anyone this way any more.

After leaving the queen the ghost went and took over the control of minister’s wife. Immediately the king sent a word for the Brahmin. In spite of the warning of the ghost, he boldly went to cure the minister’s wife. The ghost reminded him of its warning. But the clever Brahmin told that he was not ready to do that job. But his wife only drove him out of the house to do the job. The moment the Brahmin told about his wife, the ghost started shivering and shaking. It asked the Brahmin where his wife was. The Brahmin told the ghost that she was just near the door of the minister’s house. The ghost ran away in a fraction of a second. Once again the king gave him more money and provided him security. His wife could not beat him any more!

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No Pain, No Gain! Wisdom from Villagers!

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rticle No. 2107

Written by London swaminathan
Date : 29 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :– 19-56

Indians have been passing their age old wisdom through proverbs, stories and golden sayings (Subhasitas). The villagers who go to field in the morning and return during sun set after a daylong hard work never had time to go to school and learn. But they learnt a lot of things from stories told by their grandmas and grandpas when they were children.  Even when they were working in the fields they exchanged such stories and proverbs in their conversations. That is how we have developed the largest story collection in the world (Katha Sarit Sagara), 20,000 Tamil proverbs and 20000 Sanskrit Subhasitas (Golden sayings).

Here is one more story to show how people learn some truths by the hard way:

There was wealthy villager in a village. He worked hard all through his life in his filed which is vast covering acres of land. He earned a lot of money through his successful farming. But his eight lazy sons were spending money in gambling. They did not go to the fields at all. They competed with one another in wasting father’s money. Their father tried all the ways to teach them good things, but failed in his attempts. When he was 85 year old and in his death bed, he called all is children to tell them about his will. Everyone was eager to know what he has written in his will and how much each one would get.

But he told them, “Look, my sons, I am not going to tell how much each one would get. But I will tell you a secret. I have buried all my treasures in various places in our vast land. It is definitely more than eight places. So whoever digs the land and gets it, it is his own. So the more places you dig, more you would get. But there is one condition. If you all respect me, don’t take it before my death”.

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Every one of his sons was eagerly waiting for the farmer’s death. And the day came. The farmer died and after cremating his body all his sons ran to the fields with axe and other equipment’s and started vigorous digging. Several days passed. No one got anything. And the rainy season came. It started raining heavily making the fields muddy. Then his sons met together and decided to cultivate crops. They divided the land among themselves and did grow the same crops like their father. Because of vigorous digging and timely rain they had a very good harvest. They made big money. Then they realised what his father meant by “burying treasure under the earth.”

No pain, No gain

Are you a Beggar? Beg only of God!!

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Article No. 2105

Written by London swaminathan (தமிழில் மொழி பெயர்ப்பு)
Date : 28 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :– 9-47 am

A Sadhu (saint) living in a forest wanted some money for repairs to be done to his hut. He therefore went to the nearby kingdom so as to request the king to provide him with necessary funds. He entered the palace and enquired where the king was so that he could see him. The minister in charge of the palace asked him to sit for a while in the waiting room as the king was at prayers. The King’s Prayer room happened to be in the adjoining the one in which the sadhu sat. Now the sadhu could distinctly hear the king praying,

”Oh Lord of the universe, I appeal to You to grant me more wealth and prosperity than what I have now. Deign to shower your grace on me so that this prayer of mine be fulfilled.”

On hearing this, the sadhu suddenly got up and started to go. The prayer being over, the king came to the waiting room just at the moment the sadhu was leaving .The king asked the sadhu why he came and what he wanted.

The Sadhu replied, “I came to request you for some money for reconstructing my small hut in the forest. But I heard your pray begging to God for more wealth and more prosperity. I find you are a beggar like myself. So I felt no purpose will be served by asking for anything from a beggar like myself. I prefer on the other hand to directly approach the same Supreme God to whom you appeal for help”.

So saying the sadhu left.

The King and the Slave! Punctuality and Reliability!!

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Article No. 2103

Written by London swaminathan
Date : 27 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :– 19-58

Here is a story on Punctuality, Loyalty and Reliability!

A king had a slave serving him with all faith and love. In fact the slave adored his master and was ever ready to please him in all manner of ways. The king appreciated his lovable nature and made him a minister in his court. He gradually raised him to the position of his Prime Minister. Seeing his rise to the biggest position under the king, the other ministers, who had served long in the state, becoming envious of the slave, grumbled and complained. All of them joined together and went to the king in deputation with the complaint. The king heard them patiently and said, “Exactly a week hence all ministers including the prime minister should meet me in the green rest house five miles away from the city, at four pm sharp. He who would meet me first would be considered to have real love and regard for me.

Soon after, he sent for the prime minister and, after telling him what he said to the ministers, asked him to build houses, camps and shamianas on both sides of the road that led to the distant garden where the ministers had to meet him as arranged. In the newly constructed camps and houses, all kinds of entertainment, shows etc. should be exhibited besides lines of shops and restaurants providing the most tempting foods and articles – the condition for meeting the king was all those who go to the garden house should do so on foot.

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The day came. The prime minister along with the other ministers started on the journey. When they walked on the road leading to the place, except for the prime minister, all other ministers were tempted to see the shows, witness the entertainments, visit the restaurants, etc. as all these could be had without payment. They thought that there was plenty of time to reach the place where they were to meet the king. Leisurely, they went from one place of entertainment to the other. Time passed. The prime minister, without looking to the left or right walked straight to the garden where the meeting was fixed, reached there an hour before schedule. The other ministers reached the place half an hour late, or one hour late. Some of them failed to be there at all.

The next day, the king called all the ministers and addressed them thus,

“Now you all know why I made this slave (pointing to him) a prime minister. He is a man possessing sterling qualities for the high post. Ministers hung down their heads in shame and unanimously applauded the king for his choice of the PM.

So also, God’s devotees, when they possess genuine love and devotion for him, never think of anything or anybody other than God. They take the straight course that leads to him and are not drawn away by the attractions and temptations of worldly pleasures.

–Story as told by Swami Ramdas.

Islamic Militants destroyed ‘Indra Temple ‘ in Syria ?

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Baal Shamin in Palmyra, Syria

Research Article No. 2098
Written by London swaminathan
Date : 25 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :–  16-18

Newspapers around the world have flashed the news of destruction of the temple of Baal Shamin in Palmyra, Syria. Those who read about the attributes to Baal Shamin can easily see the similarities between Baal Shamin and the Vedic God Indra.

First of all, we must remember that Syria and Turkey were ruled by the Hindus once. We already know that the oldest archaeological evidence for Vedic Gods came from Bogazkoy in Turkey. We also know the Sanskrit names of Kings Dasaratha, Pratardhana etc who ruled Mitannian empire in the Middle East. All of them existed before 1400 BCE.

Baal = Sanskrit “Paala” = protect, rule, maintain

Baal is a common Semitic noun that means ‘lord’ or ‘owner’, but it occurs quite frequently in ancient texts as the proper name of an important god. Baal was one of the widely known deities in the west Semitic pantheon. He was associated with aspects of the natural world that were central to agriculture and society.

All these attributes are similar to Indra’s. We add Indra with lot of words such as Rajendra (Tamil Choza king), Khagendra (King of birds eagle), Mrgendra (King of Beasts Lion), Nagendra (King of Snakes) etc. Baal is cognate to Paala in Sanskrit meaning protector, maintainer, ruler, Lord etc. We have Go+pala, Indra pala, Raja pala.

In short Indra, Pala, Baal – all mean Ruler, Chief, Lord and one who maintains. Like Hindus add Pala or Indra or Eswar (Lord) with all local Gods, Middle East people added Baal with all the local gods. Baal Hadad was the most popular one.

Like we used Indra to mention a particular deity or used it as suffix to many more, they used ball as local manifestations of the god (Eg. Baal Sidon, Baal Shamin, Baal Hermon, Baal Peor), but it was also used in its general sense to refer to other deities as well.

For example, Lord Shiva has over 300 different names in Tamil Nadu towns (Sundareswar in Madurai, Ekambareswar In Kanchi, Brhadeswar in Thanjavur). Similarly goddess Parvati has 300 different names in Tamil Nadu temples (E.g.Meenakshi in Madurai, Visalakshi in Kasi, Kamakshi in Kancheepuram, Neelayathakshi in Nagappatinam and so on)

Baal appears in Near Eastern texts in 3000 BCE, but he was best known from his prominent role in Ugaritic Literature (1250 BCE). The latter contains over 500 references to Ball, who was said to live on Mount Sapnu/Zaphon, north of Ugarit. It is like Mount Meru or Mount Kailash of Hindu literature.

Bible links Ball with Goddess Ashtoreth (Ishtar=Durga)

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Ball =Thunder God = Indra

Throughout the Ancient Near East, Ball was viewed as a Thunder God like Vedic Indra. He was associated with thunder, clouds, lightning and rain like Vedic Indra. As a Canaanite deity of weather and fertility, he was linked with the annual return of vegetation, similar to Indra Festival.  From Nepal to Tamil Nadu, Indra Festival was celebrated 2000 years ago every year. Now Nepal and South East Asian countries only celebrate this as Water Festival every year.

According to Ugaritic mythology Baal has to fight with his brothers Yam (sea) and Mot (death) for supremacy. Like Baal is a cognate to Sanskrit word ‘Paala’ (ruler, lord, maintainer) Yam is cognate to Sanskrit word Thoyam (water) and Mot is cognate to Sanskrit word Mrtyu (which gave birth to English words mortal, immortal etc).

Till the spread of Christianity in the 3rd or 4th century, Baal was worshipped. In numerous passages the Bible records a long term, intense animosity towards Baal and those who worshipped this deity (eg. Numbers 25; Judges 6; I Kings 18; Hosea 2 in the Bible). Later Baal’s attributes merged with Yahweh (Psalm 68:4) where Yahweh was said to ride on the clouds and to manifest his power into thunderstorm (Psalm 29).

In short, the concept of Nature God found in Rig Veda, the oldest literature in the world, spread to various parts of the Middle East and took its own forms in the course of 2000 years.

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Palmyra Temple destroyed by Islamic Terrorists!

 

Baal Shamin was built in 17 AD in Palmyra and it was expanded under the reign of Roman emperor Hadrian in 130 AD.

Known as the “Pearl of the desert”, Palmyra, which means City of Palms, is a well-preserved oasis 210 kilometres (130 miles) northeast of Damascus.

Its name first appeared on a tablet in the 19th century BC as a stopping point for caravans travelling on the Silk Road and between the Gulf and the Mediterranean.

But it was during the Roman Empire — beginning in the first century BC and lasting another 400 years — that Palmyra rose to prominence.

Before the arrival of Christianity in the second century, Palmyra worshipped the trinity of the Babylonian god Bel, as well Yarhibol (the sun) and Aglibol (the moon).

Baal Samin was first mentioned in a treaty between the Hittite king Suppiluliuma and Nigmadu II of Ugarit. His epithets include Lord Of Eternity. He leads the list of deities like the Vedic God Indra. By Hellenic times he was equated with Zeus in the Greek pantheon and Caelus (sky) in the Roman pantheon. Zeus is Indra according to several scholars.

Story of a Bridegroom who changed his mind suddenly!

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Article No. 2096

Written by London swaminathan
Date : 24 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :–  16-22

“All living beings will raise their hands in worship to him who has never taken a living being’s life and has abstained from eating meat: – Tirukkural couplet 260

Nemi was a prince of Shauripur. His father was King Samudra Viajy. Nemi was betrothed to Rajul alias Rajmati, princess of Jungarh. Her father King Ugrasena made elaborate arrangements for the marriage. Both the kingdoms were celebrating the royal marriage with all the usual  decorations and music bands.

On the day of the marriage, Nemi was taken in a big procession with music, elephants, camels and professional dancers. Nemi was travelling in a decorated chariot. Nearer to the wedding hall Nemi heard lot of cries from the animals. He was very curious to know what was happening. Immediately palace officials told him that the cries came from the animals that were bought for the wedding feast. The very thought of slaughtering those animals for a feast made a big impact on his mind. Suddenly he left the procession saying that he did not want to get married. He asked the charioteer to turn it back and drive towards Girnar Mountains which was a holy site for many people including the Jains.

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There was a big commotion in the wedding hall. When his would be wife came to know the reason for the commotion, first she felt disappointed and sad. Then slowly wisdom dawned upon her mind. She thought if it could bring happiness and peace of mind to the Prince why shouldn’t I try that too. She also went to Girnar and became a Jain nun.

This Nemi was the celebrated 22nd Tirthankara of the Jain religion Neminath. He is considered to be a contemporary of Lord Krishna. There are many references to Aristanemi (Neminath) in the Vedic literature. Though the story of Nemi-Rajul wedding is not found in the Hindu literature it is found in the Jain Uttaraadhyayan Sutra. His story is illustrated with pictures.

Later Rajul- Nemi story formed the basis of love poetry as well. Later day poets used this story to describe the pains of separation between Nemi and Rajul. According to the later versions Rajul did not become a Jain nun immediately after the bridegroom joined the Digamber sect of the Jains, but waited for long. Some books described that she waited for 51 days and decided to become a Jain nun.

Stories of Rajul and earlier Upanishad stories of Gargi and  Maitreyi show that women saints or nuns were there from time immemorial. Later, other religions followed this system. Emperor Asoka’s daughter Sangamitra was accompanied by hundreds of Buddhist nuns 2300 years ago.

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Nemi’s story also illustrated that vegetarianism is one of the basic principles of ascetic life. Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar in his Tirukkural says,

“How can a man be compassionate who, for the purpose of increasing his own flesh, eats the flesh of other animals” – Kural couplet 231

 

“Grace or sin results from non-killing or killing respectively; it is sinful, therefore, to eat what is obtained by killing” – Kural 254

But one must remember Tiruvalluvar and other saints prescribe vegetarianism only for ascetics, not for common man. Even Asoka, a Kshatria by caste, never stopped killing after embracing Buddhism. He ordered to reduce the consumption of meat according to his rock edicts.

Hindu and Jain saints were strict about vegetarian food. Hindu ascetics, before taking the saffron robes, stood in the water and took a vow not to harm any living creature by word, thought and deed.

Buddhism was not that strict and Buddha Bhikshus eat meat; according to many of them, killing is not good, but meat eating is not a sin.