GODS AND BIRDS

Pictures of Goddess Meenakshi, Kamakshi and Andal

 

“ I suppose he (the crow) has no enemies among men. The whites and Mohammedans never seemed to molest him; and the Hindoos, because of their religion, never take the life of any creature, but spare even the snakes and tigers and fleas and rats”

–Mark Twain writing on Indian Crows

Hindus are great lovers of animals. They show kindness and respect to birds and animals. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of towns are named after birds and animals in the whole of India. From ant, snake to elephant, every animal is honoured. Each town has a long story about them, mostly connected to Gods. Birds and Gods are close. We have several Hindu gods carrying a bird in their hands. Why? What is the significance?

Meenakshi, Goddess of Madurai, carries a parrot on her right shoulder, so do Andal of Srivilliputur near Madurai  and Kamakshi of Kanheepuram (Tamil Nadu,India). Lord Muruga/Skanda  has  a cock in his hand or flag with cock.

Meenakshi Navaratna Mala, a Sanskrit hymn praises her in the very first verse as the carrier of a parrot. Such is the importance of parrot in her life:

“Meenakshim ,Madhureswareem, Sukhatharam Sri Pandya Baalaam Bhaje” =Salutations to Goddess Meenakshi, goddess of Madurai, who has a parrot in her hand, who is the daughter of Pandya king.

Madurai Meenakshi has got a parrot made of pearls. ( Please read about her amazing jewellery collection in my THE WONDER THAT IS MADURAI MEENAKSHI TEMPLE ).

Picture of Parrot made with leaves in Srivilliputtur, Tamil Nadu

 

When we were children we used to go to Meenakshi temple very often. There was a big cage near the sanctum sanctorum of goddess Meenakshi where 20 to 30 parrots were kept. If we call Rama  they will repeat RAMA. If we call  Meenakshi, they will echo MEENAKSHI. I have already explained in three or four posts the relationship of Brahmins and parrots. The parrots simply repeated the VEDAS, says the Indian literature.

Now we know the reason. All good things we say are repeated. Hindu devotees believed that our requests and prayers are also repeated to Goddess even after we leave the temple. Birds’ link to omens has been already explained in my post “Can Birds Predict Your Future?” Tamils, Etruscans and other Hindus strongly believed in such omens.

In Srivilliputtur, a parrot is made every day with leaves and kept In the left hand of goddess Andal. At the end of the day, It is given to devotees who believed it would bring good luck to them.

‘ Kili viDu Thuthu’  is a genre in Tamil. The meaning is sending parrot as a messenger to a loveror beloved. Andal is said to have sent the parrot to Lord Vishnu to give the message of her love. More over wherever parrot is there it is velieved Sukhabrahmam is repeating the mythologies.

In the story of Skanda/Kartikeya the cock was a subdued demon. It symbolises that our demonic thoughts would be subdued ‘in the hands of God. Hindu goddess Lakshmi and Sarawati have owl and swan as their respective vehicles (vahanas). Crow is the vahana of planet Saturn and Garuda/eagle of God Vishnu (Please read my articles on Vahans for more details).

 

Picture of Greek Goddess Artemis with birds and Hindu Swastika symbol, 700 BC

Parrot Upanishad= Taitriya Upanishad.

Upanishads are the highest philosophical treatise in Hinduism. One of the 18 main Upanishads is Taitriya Upanishad. Thiththi and Thaththai are words for parrot in Sanskrit and Tamil. The story of Taitriya Upanishad is interesting. Yagnavalkya’s teacher was offended and asked him to return the Veda. He “vomited it and the parrots ate it”. Even a child can understand the symbolic story. When Yagnavalkya’s Guru asked him not to repeat it, he gave it to his disciples (What he threw out was taken/eaten by others).

Once again this story proves the significance of parrots in Vedas and Gods hands/shoulders. The message is, repetition of good things, is essential. Taitriya Upanishad is a beautiful Upanishad with instructions for students, saints as well as laymen. Be a parrot and repeat God’s names or good principles!

Picture of Greek Goddess Athena with an owl

Vyasa’s Son ‘Parrot Saint’ = Sukha Brahmam

Vyasa’s son Sukha Brahmam was the one who recited all the Puranas (Hindu Mythologies). Hindu mythologies are voluminous running to millions of lines. This monumental work was done by Sukha (literally parrot). Needless to explain the symbolism behind it. Sukha’s dad Vyasa did another great task of compiling and dividing Vedas into four sections and entrusting them to four of his disciples. Nowhere in the world we see such immense task carried out by any human being. Till this day no one on earth has beaten Vyasa or his parrot son in compiling lost works. Humanly impossible task was done by both. When we talk about Vyasa and Sukha we can use only superlatives!

Sumerian and Greece

Gods in Sumerian culture also carried birds. Greek Goddess Athena carried an owl in her hand. Owl is considered a bird of wisdom. The Greek word for owl is Glaukos. It is derived from Sanskrit word Uluka=owl. In India also owl was considerd wise and Uluka, Kausika were used by Rishis. In Sumerian culturecertain gods and goddesses carried birds. There are lots of other stories about owls as well.

Contact London Swaminathan : swami_48@yahoo.com

Picture of Hindu Saint Ganapathi Sachidananda with a live parrot

 

Earlier related posts:

1. Animal Einsteins (Part 1 and Part 2) 2. Can parrots recite Vedas? 3. Why do animals worship Gods? 4. Mysterious Messengers for Ajanta, Angkor Wat and Sringeri 5. Elephant Miracles 6). 45 Words for Elephant 7. Can Birds Predict your Future? 8. Two Little Animals That Inspired Indians 9. Three Wise Monkeys from India 10. Mysterious Tamil Bird Man 11.Vedic Dog and Church Dog 11. Deer Chariot:  Rig Veda to Santa Claus 12. Mysterious Fish Gods around the World 13.  Serpent  (Snake) Queen: Indus Valley to Sabarimalai 14.Who Rides What Vahanas (Animal or Bird)? 15. Vahanas in Kalidasa and Tamil Literature 16. Vahanas on coins and in sculptures

Pictures of Greek and Sumerian Gods

Deer Chariot: Rig Veda to Santa Claus

 

Picture shows Santa Claus on a Reindeer Chariot

(Tamil version of this article is also available: London swaminathan)

It is an amazing similarity that we have chariots/carts drawn by deer or Reindeers in Rig Veda and Santa Claus stories. Of the Navagrahas, Chandra’s (moon) chariot is also drawn by deer. Tamil Sangam and Sanskrit literature describe goddess is also mounted on a deer (Kalaiyathurthi  in Tamil). Greek Goddess is also drawn by or carried by a deer.

Deer and parrots are associated with Brahmins and seers in Ancient India. They raise parrots and deer in Ashrams (holy cottages). Manu, the Hindu law maker,  says that his law is applicable only to Aryavarta where the black antelope lives. Brahmin Brahmacharis (celibates) must wear the deer skin in their sacred thread.

Deer is found in Indus seals as well. In the so called Pasupati seal, a god or an ascetic is surrounded by four animals and a deer under the dais. Buddhist sculptures have deer because of Buddha’s association with deer.

Picture of Hittite God on a deer from a silver cup (see below for cup)

 

Picture of Hittite god on a deer is etched at the ridge (enlarged drawing given above)

Deer Chariot in Rig Veda

Chariots drawn by antelopes are as old as Rig Veda. We have references to Marut (Marut=Maruti=Wind God=Hanuman) whose chariot was drawn by antelopes. Marutas are storm gods. They number from 27 to 36. Various origins are assigned to them. They are sons of Rudra, sons and brothers of Indra, sons of the ocean, sons of heaven or earth. They ride golden chariots drawn by ruddy horses or reindeers. They reside in the north. They are armed with lightning and thunderbolts Ramayana gives a different story and their number increases to 49.

Nordic god Thor whose chariot is drawn by goats is compared to Maruts of Vedas. He is attributed with the same qualities. He has massive red beards (like Santa Claus).It is said that a Minoan sarcophagus dated 1400 BC also shows a chariot drawn by goats (Hagia Triada sarcophagus)

RV I-85-4 (also RV I-39; I-146)

When mighty warriors, ye who glitter with your spears, overthrowing with your strength even what is never over thrown,

When, O Ye Maruts, ye the host that send rain , had harnessed to your cars the thought fleet spotted deer

When ye have harnessed to your cars the spotted deer urging thunderbolt ,O Maruts to the fray——

(Ralph T.H. Griffith’s translation of Rig Veda, year 1889)

Picture of Greek Goddess Artemis

When Ptolemy II became the king of Egypt in 285 BC, he organised a big procession of troops and chariots. The description goes like this , “An endless array of similar wonders followed; also a vast number of palace servants displaying the golden vessels of the king; twenty-four chariots drawn by four elephants each; the royal menagerie—twelve chariots drawn by antelopes, fifteen by buffaloes, eight by pairs of ostriches, eight by zebras; also many mules, camels, etc., and twenty-four lions.”

Picture of Roman goddess Diana

Tamil Reference

Goddess Durga has deer as her vahana. Tamil Thevara hymn (Pathikam 921) praised Durga has Kalaiyathurthi=one who rides a deer).

Metropolitam Museum of Art in New York has a cup in the shape of a deer on which a god riding a deer holding a bird in its hand is depicted. It was dated 1700 BC from Hittites in Syria/Tukey. Hittites belong to Vedic culture. It may be Vedic god Marut.

Picture shows Chandra, one of the Nava Grahas

Artemis, Greek goddess of animals was worshipped from 800 BC. Though she was called Mistress of Animals, she was portrayed with deer. Her Roman counterpart Diana, Roman moon goddess was also shown riding a deer.They can be compared with Hindu goddess Durga  and Aranyani and Rudrani, goddesses of Hindu Vedas. They are all connected with forest, hunting and animals.

Story of Santa Claus

Many of the customs followed by Christians such as Easter Egg, Christmas Tree, Santa Claus are the remnants of ancient religions. They have nothing to do with Christ or Christianity. Though they have found some modern explanations, they existed long before Christ. Santa Claus story is one of them. Encyclopaedias attribute various mythical, historical, legendary folk lore origins to Santa Claus. Modern figure of Santa with white beard and red coat was derived St Nicholas. He was a fourth century Greek saint. Neither he nor Christ has anything to do with North Pole or Reindeer chariots. Santa is always portrayed as travelling by Reindeer chariot in the icy regions of the North Pole. In short it is closer to Maruts of Vedas than to Christianity!

Vedic mantras are always associated with gifts, but gifts only for priests. We have several Dana Stutis in the Vedas giving a list of big gifts.

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