Hindu Beliefs in Shakespeare: Moon, Eclipse, Ghosts (Post No.4096)

Written by London Swaminathan

Date: 19 July 2017

Time uploaded in London- 17-11

Post No. 4096

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks.


It is needless to say that Shakespeare was a great scholar, playwright and a poet. he must have read and heard about India a lot. He lived just 500 years ago and no wonder he knew about India and Hinduism; by that time lot of Europeans were travelling in different directions in search of wealth. We see several references to Hindu beliefs in his plays. Had he been an essayist he would have mentioned the sources; but he was only a playwright and his main aim was to satisfy the English audience.

I have been collecting such references from different sources; I have written about his reference to Nagaratna (Cobra gem) a few years ago. Now look at some more references about Moon, Eclipses and Ghosts.

Mr Crooke, in his book Popular Religion and Folk-Lore of Northern India, has an interesting note on the moon:

“The moon has several special functions in relation to disease. Roots and simples collected by moonlight are more efficacious”. This is quite Shakespearian for Jessica says,


“n such a night Medea gathered the enchanted herbs

That did renew old Aeson “(The Merchant of Venice)

And Laertes speaks of the poison ‘collected from all simples that have virtue under the moon’ (Hamlet) .

Also very common is the belief that any disease contracted by  a man under the waning moon tends to diminish. Patients are often told to look at the moon reflected in butter or milk or water, and the cure will be effected. This is mostly done in the case of leprosy and similar diseases.

“In spite of all these advantages there is very little special worship of the Moon. When an image is erected to him it is usually associated with that of the Sun God. Moon worship is most popular in Bengal and Behar.”


My comments

I have already written about Moon’s effect on mind, why Hindus worship moon, Nagaratna and Vedic hymns linking Plants and Moon. Western biologists have not yet found out what Hindus already knew. Soma is used to denote Moon, Soma herb and moon in astrology.

Eclipses in Shakespeare

Until today Hindus are the only race in the world who take eclipses seriously.  They knew the bad and good effects of the eclipses. Any prayer done during eclipse is 100 times more effective. Any food eaten during or just before the eclipse will have bad effects. Such beliefs and special rituals like propitiating the departed souls do not exist in any other religion. They put Dharba grass in all the cooked foods to save it from the radiation. The reason is that not all the eclipses are bad. But they want the same rules for all eclipses so that people will remember to follow them.

Eclipses are believed to be of evil omen. Gloucester summarises admirably the Hindu belief in passage in King Lear (1-2)

“These late eclipses in the sun and pointed no good to us… love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide; in cities mutinies; in countries discord; in palaces treason; and the bond cracked ‘twixt son and father”.


Shakespeare said more than what Hindu scriptures said about the eclipses. Hindus will eat no food which has remained in the house during an eclipse, and all the earthen vessels which are in the house must be broken. During an eclipse, all the household business is suspended and eating and drinking prohibited. Even sleeping is forbidden. They bathe before and after the eclipse; use the time for prayers. Orthodox Hindus stand in the water and recite Gayatri mantra. Bathing during eclipse also cleanses from sin.


People born under particular stars wear special talisman, i.e., a palm leaf written with mantra is worn on forehead.

Though Hindus knew what causes eclipses and they calculated precisely and forecast the date and time, they told the laymen some stories. Ignorant people cant understand  astronomical calculations. They told the laymen that two planets (shadows) Rahu and Ketu are demons or snakes and they devour sun and moon.

Ghosts in Shakespeare

Foreigners have a big confusion about Hindu beliefs in ghosts. All the foreigners described Hindus as devil worshippers. Ignorant people like Dr Caldwell called all the Nadar community members as devil worshippers. Other foreigners described 90 percent Hindus are devil worshippers. This is because of their ignorance; they could not differentiate between the Asuras, Rakshasas, departed souls, Brahmarakshas (Brahmin ghosts), demon planets Rahu and Ketu and the actual ghosts (of people who died unnaturally in murders, suicides, accidents); apart from these some tribal beliefs about forests caves and hills (they are like Bermuda Triangles) and anything that cant be explained were classified as mysterious ghosts. Foreign writers classified all these as devil worships. Such beliefs exists in all parts of the world and in all cultures. Atharva Veda described even bacteria and Viruses as demons because the laymen won’t understand. Eclipsing planets such as Rahu and Ketu were described as demons but not ghosts


In King Lear, Shakespeare says,

:Unsepulchred they roamed and shrieked, each wandering ghost”.

The earliest Shakespeare in which Ghosts appear is Richard III. Richard is visited by the spirits of his victims in sleep.

In Hamlet, Horatio doubts the existence of ghosts that Barnardo and Marcellus claimed to have seen on two previous nights.

Horatio says that before Julius Caesar’s assassination,

“he sheeted dead

Did squeak and gibber in Roman streets”

In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare says, Brutus saw the apparition of murdered Caesar. He wondered whether it was some god or angel or devil.


This is definitely Hindu way of questioning.

In Macbeth Banquo’s ghost plays an important role.

In short all the important plays of Shakespeare have ghosts.

Monier William’s Ignorance:—

Rev, E Osborn Martin adds the epithet “bloody” for all the Hindu gods and goddesses: Shiva, Kali, Avatars of Vishnu and Ganesh! They are described in the chapter ‘Demon and Devil worship in India’ in his book ‘The Gods of India’.

Ignorant Sir Monier Williams writes, “the people worshipping a milkman who was killed by a tiger and he became devil”.

Sangam Tamil literature said that the heroes were worshipped after their death. If a person dies in an attack by a tiger or any animal when he tried to save the general public, Tamils erect Hero Stone for him and worship. Even today all the countries in the world erect memorials for their leaders and the visiting foreign dignitary must lay a wreath there. When some accidents happen people go to the spots and lay wreaths or flower bunches and light candles etc. Poor Monier Williams and his colleagues such as Caldwells would have described them as devil worship!


All the ladies who sacrificed their lives to save their honour or in Satee are worshipped! Ignorant foreigners called those devil worship. But they themselves erect war memorials in every nook and corner and ask Kings and Queens to lay flower wreaths every year. we can call them Devil worshippers!!


Sir Alfred Ryall declared that “every mysterious, gruesome looking dell, cavern, steep pass and wild and desolate hill top or ridge in Central India has its Deo (god), never seen of man, but felt by those who visit the spot – by shepherds and herdsmen camping out far amid the melancholy worlds or by travellers along the lonely tracks…. The whereabouts of the spirits is sometimes marked by a heap of stones, sometimes by rags tied to bush, occasionally by chains suspended mystically from a cliff or a tree; or the spirit wanders around a huge banyan tree or a ruined temple.


Mr Bowtring, in his Eastern Experiences (1871), described the Spirit Houses found in the Mysore Forests – little sheds built over the white ant hills and dedicated to the wood demons.

Captain Forsyth, writing about Berar, mentions that when the Gonds fell the wood on a hill side, they leave a little clump of trees to serve as a refuge for the spirit whom they have dislodged.

Westerners also believed in haunted buildings; every year newspaper articles about haunted places appear during Halloween times.

Sangam  age Tamils also believed that spirits occupy all the hills, water sources and trees. It is in Sangam literature. Those who don’t study both Tamil and Sanskrit literature blabber more than others. Hindus believed in ghosts but they are different from good spirits.

Tags: Shakespeare, Hindu Beliefs, Ghosts, Moon ,Eclipse, devil worship






Tamils are Devil Worshippers: Caldwell’s Bluff- Part 1 (Post No.3227)


Compiled by London Swaminathan


Date: 7 October 2016


Time uploaded in London: 17-05


Post No.3227


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.


From the book

The folk songs of Southern India


Charles E.Gover

Member of Royal Asiatic society and of the Society of arts, Fellow of the Anthropological Society, Year 1871.


“Since the learned book by Dr Caldwell- Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Languages – was issued, it has been taken for granted that the Tamils & c , are a Turanian People. The progress of philogical enquiry and the new means of analysis furnished by the great German writers on languages have shown the error of this classification. Driven at a very early period into the extreme south , and cut off by vast oceans from intercourse with other peoples, the Dravidian nations have preserved with singular purity the vocabulary they brought with them; and it is probably not extravagant or untrue to say that there is not one single true Dravidian root common to the three great branches, Tamil, Telugu and Canarese, that cannot be clearly shown to be Aryan.as an interesting example both of the true character of the language and linguistic progress made since the publication of Dr Caldwell’s book,, it may be noted that the learned doctor gives an appendix containing considerable number of Dravidian words which he asserts to be Scythian, and most efficient witnesses to prove the Turanian origin of the language. It is now known every word in this list is distinctly Aryan, although some of them have representatives in the Finnish group of Turanian tongues – the group which has been most constantly exposed to Aryan influences. The greater portion of them are included in Fick’s Indogermanischen Grundsprache as Aryan roots, although Fick does not appear to have seen Caldwell’s work.


This however is a digression. The songs do not touch the question of roots or derivatives. On another side of the same argument their evidence is decisive. It has been always noted that the true Turonian peoples are inferior to the Aryan in everything connected with the moral nature of the man. One recent writer lays it down as a rule that the Turanian peoples display “an utter want of moral elevation”.



Caldwell grouped Tamils with Murderers!

Mr Farrar, the learned and eloquent author of Families of Speech asserts (page 155), “We may say generally that a large number of them (the Turanian peoples; – he has previously stated that the exceptions are Chinese, Finns, Magyars and Turks) belong to the lowest paleozoic starta of humanity………….. peoples whom no nation acknowledges as its kinsmen, whose languages, rich in words for all that can be eaten or handled, seem absolutely incapable of expressing the reflex conceptions of the intellect or higher forms of the consciousness, whose life seems confined to the glorification of the animal wants, with no hope in the future and no pride in the past.  They are for most part peoples without a literature and without a history, and many of them apparently as imperfectible as the Ainos of Jesso or the Veddahs of Ceylon – perhaps whose tongues in some instances have twenty name of murder, but no name for love, no name for gratitude, no name for God.


This is but a fair description of the class to which are said to belong the writers and learners of the songs this book contains. It will be seen that the Dravidian peoples possess one of the noblest literatures, from a moral point of view, the world has seen. Compare with the above, the remarks of the Rev. P Percival, in his excellent book – The Land of the Veda – perhaps no language combines greater force with equal brevity, and it may be asserted that no human speech is more close to and philosophic in its expression as an exponent of mind……. The language, thus specific, gives to the mind a readiness and clearness of conception while its terseness and philosophic idiom afford equal means of lucid utterance. The Rev W Taylor says about Tamil language, “it is one of the most copious, refined and polished language spoken by man. And again in his Catalogue Raisonne of Oriental Mss (Vol.1 p.v), “It is desirable that the polish of the Telugu and Tamil poetry should be better known in Europe; that no competent judges might determine whether the high distinction accorded to Greek and Latin poetry, as if there were nothing like it in the world, is perfectly just”.


Dr Caldwell asserts – “It is the only vernacular literature in India which has not been content with imitating the Sanskrit, but honourably attempted to emulate and outshine it. In one department, at least, that of ethical epigrams, it is generally maintained, and I think must be admitted, that the Sanskrit has been outdone by the Tamil.” Three such witnesses, added to hundred this book contains, suffice to show that, whether as regards literature or morals, the Dravidian people are deserving of entited to the honor of omission from the Turanian family.


This is no unimportant matter. Looking to the necessity that the governing race should not be disqualified from performing its noble task by labouring under a complete mistake as to the nationality, aspirations, feelings and errors of the people

It rules; seeing that the Dravidian peoples distinctly claim unity of race and origin with the yet more cultivated Sanscrit nation that has settled among them; knowing that Orientals look as much to points of etiquette, which require in their observer an accurate knowledge of popular social ideas, as to matters of stern fact – would as soon be robbed as loose title; it is indisputable that there can scarcely be a more serious and interesting question that that which would enquire of the true character and position of the subject nation.  All this is over and above that interest and value which is everywhere inherent in all attempts t learn the true life and inner feelings of any portion of the great human brotherhood.



Toshow how a simple error in such matters may lead to gigantic mistakes, and because the subject has a close connection with the question under discussion, it will be profitable to examine one feature of the theory started by Dr Caldwell regarding the South Indian DEMONOLATRY.  He shows truly enough that the Shanars worship malignant beings, pure devils and proceeds to note that  that there is ample proof that the Shanars, and the argument includes Tamils also, cannot be related to the Sanscrit race.


He says, “Every word used in the Tamil country relative to the Brahmanical religions, the names of the gods and the words applicable to their worship, belong to the Sancrit, the Brahmanical tongue; whilst the names of demons worshipped by the Shanars in the South, the common term for “devil” and the various words used with reference to devil worship are as uniformly Tamil………….. The words used with reference to devil-worship being exclusively tamil, we are obliged to assign to this superstition a high antiquity, and refer its establishment in the arid plains in the plains of Tinnelvelly and amongst the Travancore jungles and hills., to a period long anterior to the influx of the Brahmans and their civilization of the primitive Tamil tribes”.


The most important word thus noted is Pe or as Ziegenbalg correctly writes it Pey. It means a devil. The places of worship are called Pe- Coils. Another form of the word in Tamil is Penam, a devil. Now let us follow up this word. It appears in Khond as Pennu, the name of the deity. But the object of worship is the Sun or Light. Macpherson says – “There is one Supreme Being, self-existing, the source of good, and Creator of the Universe” This divinity is sometimes called, “the God of Light”, by others “ the Sun-God and the sun and the places from which it rises beyond the sea, are the chief seats of his presence”. Again Macpherson says, “The Supreme being and the Sole Source of Good is styled the God of Light”. It is true there are other gods to whom the name Pennu is generically given, and even the Sun god takes prename and is known as Bella Pennu, literally the Light of the Sun”. But this, it is clear, does not touch the question, for there are kinds of light which require an adjective off defentin. Then subordinate deities arose, to whom, though not representing ligh, the name was attached. This has happened everywhere. The Sanscrit word Deva means deity. But there are Sibva Deva, Vishnu Deva, Agni Deva and so on. Pennu exactly corresponds with Deva and both mean “the light”.



But how came Pennu or its root form Pey to be reduced till it mean a devil? Macphersn again gives the answer. He distinctly states that this worship of light is common to all the tribes. But the Khonds are divided into north, middle and south confederations. The former had degraded its worship into a demonolatry.  The deity exhibits nothing but pure malevolence towards man, and they believe that while no observances or course of conduct can change her malignant aspect into benignity, her malevolence mat still be placed in partial or complete abeyance by the sacrifice of human life, which has expressly ordained”. He describes the rites of this horrid superstition and they are the exact counterpart of the Shanar devilry, where, by the way, the male god has also been changed into a female devil.  The Khonds of the middle region have maintained the true and earlier doctrine. Macpherson says of their deities the same as those worshipped in the north – “No malevolence towards mankind is ascribed to them.  On the contrary they are merciful and benign towards those who observe their ordinances and discharge their rites.  Instead of delighting in cruel offerings they abhor the inhuman ritual of the northern, southern and western districts; and they would resent with detestation any semblance of participation in it by their worshippers.”


To be continued……………………………

(In the Second part I will give the argument of E Gover and the strange link between the Bella Pennu and Egyptian deity Benu of 2500 BCE)

Dravidian Devil Worshippers! J.P.Jone’s attack on Goddess Meenakshi! (Post No. 3111)


Written by London Swaminathan


Date: 1st September 2016


Time uploaded in London: 13-55


Post No.3111

Pictures are taken by london swaminathan



From the book

India – Its Life and Thought by John P.Jones D.D., The Macmillan Company, New York, 1908.


Page 32 to 34

“It will be convenient start upon our tour from Madura, the missionary home of the writer. It is a large, wide-awake centre of of enthusiastic Hinduism in the extreme south of the peninsula. In the heart of this town, of more than a hundred thousand people, stands its great temple, dedicated to Siva. The principal monuments of South India are its temples. They are the largest temples in the world. The Madura temple is only the third in size; but in s upkeep and architectural beauty it far surpasses the other two, which are larger. It covers an area of fifteen acres, and its many gopuras or towers, furnish the land mark of the country for miles around. It is erected almost entirely of granite blocks, some of which are sixty feet long. Its monolithic carving is exquisitely fine, and its most abundant and elaborate. Hinduism may be moribund; but this temple gives only intimation of life and prosperity as one gazes upon its elaborate ritual, and sees the thousands passing daily into its shrine for worship. It represents the highest form of Hindu architecture, and like almost all else that is Hindu, its history carries us to the dim distance of the past. But the great Tirumalai Nayak, the king of two and a half centuries ago, spent more in its elaboration than anyone else. And it was he who built, half a mile away, the great palace, which though much reduced, still stands as the noblest edifice of its kind south of a line drawn from Bombay to Calcutta.


In this same temple, we find,transformed, another cult. It is called the Temple of Meenatchi, afer its presiding Goddess, “The Fish Eyed One”. When Brahmanism reached Madura, many centuries ago, Meenatchi was the principal demoness worshipped by the people, who were all devil worshippers. As was their wont, the Brahmans did not antagonize the old faith of the people, but absorbed it by marrying the Meenatchi to their chief god Siva, and thus incorporated the primitive devil worship into the Brahmanical religion. Thus the Hinduism of Madura and of all South India is Brahmanism plus devil-worship. And the people are today much more absorbed in pacifying the devils which infest every village than they are in worshipping purely Hindu deities. The prevailing faith of the Dravidians, therefore is demonolatry; and the myriad shrines in the villages and hamlets, and the daily rites conducted in them, attest the universal prevalence of this belief and the great place it has in the life of these so-called Hindus.”


Page 206

“4.Another marked feature of modern Hinduism is its devil worship. This is peculiarly manifest in South India. In the Madras Presidency, whose fifty million population is mostly Dravidian, nine tenths of the people follow the faith of their ancestors, which is Demonolatry (Demon Worship.


When Brahmanism came to South India, many centuries ago, it found entrenched among the people, everywhere and universally, this ancient cult. The Brahmans, recognizing this, did what they have already done; they said to the people: “We have not come to destroy your religion; we will take your demons and demonesses, marry them to our gods, and give them shrines and worship in our temples. Come with them and be a part of our religion. We will give to you the privileges, and confer upon you the dignity and blessing, of our great religion.” The people were impressed by this offer, accepted the situation, and were absorbed, with their religion, into the Brahmanical faith. From that time forward they have been recognised as Hindus, and have, after a fashion, been loyal members of the faith.


But let it not be supposed they, by becoming Hindus, they have deserted their ancestral religion, and have ceased to be devil worshippers. Far from it, Hinduism proper is to them a mere plaything, or a festival pastime. On special Hindu holidays, and perhaps on occasions of pilgrimage, they will visit these Hindu temples and bring their offering to the deities of Brahmanism. But their chief concern and their daily religious occupation is found in the appeasing of the many devils whose abode is supposed to be in their countless village shrines and under well-known trees in their hamlets. They have not abated one jot of their belief in the supremacy of these devils in their life affairs; and they always stand in fear of them, and do what they can do to satisfy their bloody demands.

Thus at least nine tenths of the people of South India, are first of all, demonolater, and secondly, but a long way behind, are Hindus. And yet a great many people in the West think of these people as the pure worshippers of the highest type of Brahminical faith”.

madurai temple

My Comments:

1.This is a very good piece to show how

the foreign invaders divided the Hindus

2.This shows that even after living in Madurai for thirty years or so, this Christian preacher did not know the Tamil History or pretended to not to know the history. All the forefathers of Goddess Meenakshi are from North India and Meenkashi’s father was Malaydwaja Pandya and Mother Knachanamala. All the name linked to the history Meenakshi are in Sanskrit.

3.Two thousand year old Sangam literature and the oldest Tamil book are full of Hindu rites and Hindu Gods.

4.Most of the famous Kings of Tamil Nadu did Aswameda or Rajasuya Yajnas.

5.Brahmins contributed one third of the Sangam literature

6.When J P Jones wrote this book Indus Valley sites were not excavated. After their excavation, scholars found all the symbols of Hindu Gods there.

7.Attacking all the Dravidians as Devil worshippers in one place and provoking them to fight against the “injustice: done to them by Aryans in another place is their usual tactics.

Foreigners knew that Hindus never read their literature in full and so they thought they can fool anyone by writing in English. But now we have fooled them and all their hope of changing  India into a Christendom failed miserably.

madurai pillayar

Ganesh/ Ganapathy/ Pillayar picture from Madurai

Please read my previous posts on the same subject:

The Wonder that is Madurai Meenakshi Temple, posted on 14 Oct 2011.

Acoustic Marvel of Madurai Temple, posted on 12 May 2013

Musical Pillars in Hindu Temples, posted on 12 May 2013

Madurai Temple Photos,31 May 2013

21 லிட்டர் கொழுக்கட்டை எதற்காக?, posted on 30 May 2013