Chinese and Indian Parables of the Turtles and Frogs (Post No.2854)


Compiled by london swaminathan


Date: 30 May 2016


Post No. 2854


Time uploaded in London :– 9-43 AM


(Thanks for the Pictures)




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The philosopher Chuang Tzu was fishing on the bank of a river when a messenger appeared with an invitation form the king of Ch’u offering him the post of prime minister.

Without taking his eyes from the river, the philosopher replied,

“They say that the King has in his treasury a shell of a supernatural tortoise. If the tortoise had been allowed to choose, would it have preferred to adorn a king’s treasury or to continue to wag its tail in the mud of its native marsh?”

“It would have preferred to remain wagging its tail in the mud”, said the messenger.

“And I, too”, answered Chuang Tzu, “Prefer to live obscure but free. To be in the office often costs a man his life and always costs his peace of mind. Go back to the king and say that I will continue to wag my tail in the mud”.



turtle frog, croc

Tuttle and Frog on the back of a Crocodile


The Frog and the Turtle


A certain frog lived in an abandoned well.

“How you must envy my delightful existence!”, he said to a Giant Turtle of the Eastern Sea. “When I go into the water I can make it hold me up under the armpits and support my chin; when I jump into the mud, I can make it bury my feet and cover my ankles.  As for the baby crabs and tadpoles, none of them can compete with me………..To have at one’s command all the delights of a disused well, that surely is the most that life can give.”


The Giant Turtle tried to get into the well, but before his left foot was well in, the right got wedged fast. So he wriggled free and retired, saying, “As you have been kind enough to tell me about your well, allow me to tell you about the sea. Imagine a distance of a 1000 leagues, and you will still have no idea of its size; imagine a height of a thousand times man’s stature, and you will still have no notion of its depth. Not to be harried by the moments that flash by nor changed by the ages of the pass; to receive much, yet not increase, to receive little, yet not to diminish; this is the Great Joy of the Eastern Sea.”

—-Chuang Tzu (China)


Compare it with the Frog in the Well story of Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago Address at the Parliament of Religions.


Why We Disagree: Swami Vivekananda (from my post  ‘The Blind men and the Elephant: known Story, Unknown Facts’ (posted on 14 March 2014)

Swami Vivekananda expressed the somewhat a similar theme through his story Frog in the Well in the very second lecture in Chicago about 125 years ago:

I will tell you a little story. You have heard the eloquent speaker who has just finished say, “Let us cease from abusing each other,” and he was very sorry that there should be always so much variance.

But I think I should tell you a story that would illustrate the cause of this variance. A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. Of course the evolutionists were not there then to tell us whether the frog lost its eyes or not but, for our story’s sake, we must take it for granted that it had its eyes, and that it every day cleansed the water of all the worms and bacilli that lived in it with an energy that would do credit to our modern bacteriologists. In this way it went on and became a little sleek and fat. Well, one day another frog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well.

“Where are you from?”

“I am from the sea.”

“The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?” and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other.

“My friend,” said the frog of the sea, “how do you compare the sea with your little well?”

Then the frog took another leap and asked, “Is your sea so big?”

“What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your well!”

“Well, then,” said the frog of the well, “nothing can be bigger than my well. There can be nothing bigger than this. This fellow is a liar, so turn him out


Green Sea Turtle. Chelonia mydas. Maui, Hawaii, USA.

Green Sea Turtle. Chelonia mydas. Maui, Hawaii, USA.

Appar’s Turtle Story!

Appar, Tamil Saint of seventh century, saw another scene along his travel route. In a village he saw people boiling turtle for their food. It was a big vessel with cool water. The turtle is swimming happily, but below the vessel firewood is just lighted. The flames are growing bigger and bigger. The happily swimming turtle is going to be boiled and eaten in an hour. Stupid turtle does not know the danger to its life and enjoyed the momentary pleasure. Such is our impermanent life, he says.


My previous posts:–

Frog in the mouth of a snake (posted on 9 March 2014)

In Tamil

கிணற்றுத் தவளை: அப்பரும் விவேகாநந்தரும் சொன்ன கதைகள் (9 மார்ச் 2014)



Hindu Temple Mystery!


Thirissur Temple in Kerala

Research article by London swaminathan

Post No.2230

Date: 9  October 2015

Time uploaded in London: 21-43

Thanks for the pictures.

Don’t use pictures. Don’t reblog for at least a week.

If you read any modern book on Hindu Temple architecture they broadly classify the temples into three categories: Nagara, Dravida and Vesara. But these are relatively modern terms. It is neither found in Varahamihira’s classification of temples or Tamil saint Appar’s classification of temples. Both of them lived before seventh century CE. Temples did not exist during Vedic times. But they existed during Epic times. We have references to Temple worship in Ramayana and Bhagavata. They may not be the gigantic temples like the temples we see today. They may be just places of worship inside a palace or under a banyan tree.


Dwajasthamba with Tortoise

Nagara type of North Indian temples have curvilinear towers. They have square base. Dravida type of South India have towers like pyramids. They have octagonal base. Vesara type of temples combined both these styles. They have circular base. Earlier temples were built with perishable materials such as wood, brick, clay and mortar. Then Guptas built cave temples probably following the Buddhist caves. The gigantic temples we see today came into existence around eighth century CE. In the South, Pandyas and Pallavas made cave temples from sixth century CE at Kazukumalai, Tirupparankundram, Tirumeyyam,Pillayarpatti, Kundrakkudi Kanchi and Mamallapuram. Athiyaman also made such temples in Namakkal.

Varahamihira enumerates twenty types of temples!

(Read my article Twenty Types of Temples in Ancient India- posted on 30th March 2015. In another article I have listed all the temples from the Tamil epic Silappadikaram). Later Appar mentioned seven types of temples:-

Appar alias Tirunavukkarasu, one of the Four Great  Saivite Tamil saints sings about

“If the seventy eight great temples of the Lord

Whose matted crest is adorned with the great flood

KARAKKOYIL, GNAAZHARKKOYIL  girt with well protected

Groves, the hill like KOKUDIKKOYIL of  Karuppariyal

ILANGKOYIL where with the chanting of the Rig Veda

The Brahmins hail and adore the lord MANIKKOYIL

AALAKKOYIL  and every TIRUKKOYIL where Siva abides

Are circumambulated and hailed in humble

Adoration, evil Karma will get annulled “

(Sixth Tirumurai, Adaivu Tiru Thandakam of Appar)


He and his junior contemporary Sambandar visited nearly 300 temples in Tamil speaking areas of South India in the seventh century CE. But we could not even figure out the temples mentioned in Appar’s Thevaram hymn. My research shows that the Kerala Type of temples were the oldest type. We can see such temples from Kerala to North East India. It is also seen in Nepal. Such type of temples don’t fall under the Nagara, Vesara, Dravida Types. The structure of the temples are designed to withstand the monsoon climate. The rain water drains easily in the step like tiled sheds. It helps the teak wood inside to last for longer. Periodically they wold have changed the roof and wood. No mention of these temples in the modern temple architecture books show that they were not taken into account in the classification of temples.

IMG_6786 (2)

Nepalese Temple

The mystery lies not only in its structure but also its occurrence from southernmost tip of the land to the Himalayan country of Nepal. We see them even beyond north east India, in Burma, Thailand and other South East Asian countries. After Cambodian and Javan kings modelled their temples on the stone temples of India, this structure continued its existence only in the royal palaces of those countries. Before eighth century they also must have had temples like Kerala. Two things remain a mystery until today:

  1. How come the temples from Kerala to Nepal were built in the same style?
  2. Why there was no mention of this type in Temple architecture books? I mean they were not listed under the three main categories.

3.Third Mystery

There is another mystery surrounding the Dwajasthama, the Flag Staff. In Kerala, most of the temples have erected the Dwajasthamba on Tortoise/Turtle. There is no explanation to show why Kerala temples only followed this type of Flag staff. Tortoise is associated with various things such as Kurma Avatara, Kurma Mudra, Kurma Asana etc in Hindu literature. But we have no explanation to show why they differed from other temples in the erection of Dwajasthamaba. We have Mandapas (Halls) erected on Turtle/ Tortoise in Tamil Nadu, but no Dwajasthamba.

IMG_6785 (2)

Temple in Nepal

After studying these things and other ancient customs in Kerala temples, I concluded that they were the oldest models available today. More research is required to put them in the correct place in the development of Hindu Temple architecture. Till we do it there will be some gaps in the study of temple architecture.


Fish, Tortoise and Crocodile Stories in Mahabharata


Matyavatar= Fish incarnation of Lord Vishnu

Written by London swaminathan

Research Article no. 1709; dated 11 March 2015

Up loaded at 20-35 London time

2.Strange Animal Stories in Mahabharata! – Part 2

Part 1 :Snakes and Snake bites in Mahabharata appeared yesterday.


Adrika, an Apsaras, was cursed by Brahma to become a fish. She ate the ‘seed’ of human being and became pregnant. When it was caught by the fishermen, they saw two human beings in the womb of the fish 1-63

Fishermen gave the babies to the King of fishermen Dashraja. A boy fish Matsya was given to king. Girl fish Matsyaa was raised by Dashraja as Satyavati. Later Satyavati was married to King Shantanu 1-100

Shambara and Fish

Demon Shambara kidnapped Krishna’s son Pradyumna when he was only ten days old. He threw him into ocean and was swallowed by a fish. Later Pradyumna was recovered from the fish. When Pradyumna grew as an adult killed Shambara and married his widow Mayavati.

My comments: Fish devouring people and coming out alive from the stomach of the fish is a common theme in Indian literature. Fish becoming pregnant with human beings is also common.

Pradyumna marrying a demon’s widow shows that they are also as human as everyone else. We have several stories of inter marriages between the demons and angels. Dubbing one as Drvida and the other as Arya is absurd.

Shambara’s name is also common among demons. We have Shambara in the Rig Veda, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavata. In future we have to name them Shambara I, Shambara II, Shambara III, Shambara VI etc. Foreigners without knowing the number of people with the same name, wrote a confusing history.


Indus seal of crocodile and fish


Arjuna came across a region where there was a beautiful lake with crocodiles. Brahmanas migrated to different regions fearing those crocodiles. Arjuna purposefully bathed in the tank and caught a crocodile which turned into an Apsara called Varga. She asked Arjun to catch other 4 crocodiles. Arjuna caught those man eating crocodiles and they became Apsara women too.1-216

Crocodiles eating man or animals is a common theme in Tamil and Sanskrit literature. Adi Shankara of Kaladi in Kerala became an ascetic only after caught by a crocodile. Tamil saints revived boys eaten by crocodiles. Tamil poet Tiru Valluvar used the Crocodile’s strength in water as a simile. Gajendra Moksha sculpture is famous from the days of the Gupta dynasty in which the elephant caught by a crocodile was saved by Vishnu. India being a tropical country was infested with crocodiles and all the rivers from Tamil Nadu to Himalayas had crocodiles. Indus valley civilisation seals show a fish in the mouth of a crocodile.

tortoise mandapa, kanchi

Tortoise Mandapa in Kanchi


Tortoise figures in Indradyumna story in the Mahabharata (3-199).

Indradyumna went to heaven, but had to come down to earth when he spent all the merits he earned through good deeds. He was going from place to place to see old faces who he could remember. At last he found an old tortoise in a Himalayan lake who recalled all the good deeds done by Indradyumna. He again ascended to heaven. Even a tortoise can help a king to ascend to heaven.

Tortoise and Fish form the earliest of the Ten Avatars (Incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. So both of them attained divine status.

In Kerala temples the Dwajasthambas are on top of mysterious tortoise!

In Tamil Nadu,  Temple Mandapas are on tortoise in Kancheepuram, Tirukkazukundram, Tiruchengodu and many other places.

Tortoise was the foundation when Devas and Asuras churned the ocean in Hindu mythology.

Panchatantra fables have several stories of intelligent and stupid tortoises.

panchatantra story, kopeshwar temple

Tortoise story in Panchatantra

Tomorrow we will see the birds in the Mahabharata

தண்ணீர் கொண்டு வா — நியாயம்!


சம்ஸ்கிருதச் செல்வம் – இரண்டாம் பாகம்

  1. தண்ணீர் கொண்டு வா — நியாயம்!


Post No 1619; Dated 3rd Febraury 2015

by ச.நாகராஜன்


நியாயங்களின் வரிசைத் தொடரில் மேலும் சில நியாயங்களைப் பார்ப்போம்:.


candracandrika nyayah

சந்திர சந்திரிகா நியாயம்

சந்திரனும் அதன் ஒளியும் பற்றிய நியாயம் இது. நிலவின் குளிர்ந்த ஒளியையும் நிலவையும் பிரிக்கவே முடியாது என்பதைச் சொல்லும் இந்த நியாயம் பிரிக்க முடியாதபடி இணைந்து பிணைந்து இருக்கும் இரு பொருள்களைக் குறிக்கப் பயன்படுத்தப்படுகிறது.



jalanayana nyayah

ஜலாநயன நியாயம்


நீரைக் கொண்டு வருதல் பற்றிய நியாயம் இது.


குடிக்கத் தண்ணீர் கொண்டு வா என்று ஒருவரிடம் சொன்னால் அதைக் கொண்டுவரும் போது அதை எடுத்து வருவதற்கான குவளையும் கொண்டு வா என்பதும் அதில் அடங்கும் அல்லவா! பிரிக்க முடியாத ஒன்றுடன் ஒன்று தொடர்பு கொண்ட இரு விஷயங்களைக் குறிப்பிட இந்த நியாயம் பயன்படுத்தப் படுகிறது.

pen painti1

Painting by S. Ilayaraja from Face Book


citrangana nyayah

சித்ராங்கனா நியாயம்

ஓவியம் ஒன்றில் சித்தரிக்கப்படும் அணங்கு பற்றிய நியாயம் இது. எவ்வளவு தான் த்த்ரூபமாக ஒரு அழகியின் படத்தை வரைந்தாலும் கூட அந்த அழகி நேரில் இருப்பது போல ஆகுமா? ஆகாது. எவ்வளவு அரிய முயற்சி எடுத்து ஓவியத்தை வரைந்தாலும் கூட நிஜத்திற்கு அது நிகராகாது. அதே போல ஒருவன் எவ்வளவு தான் சித்தரித்தாலும் பேசினாலும் ஒரு விஷயத்தின் நிஜ ரூபம் காண்பிக்கப்படும் போது அதற்கு நிகராக எதுவும் ஆகாது என்பதைச் சுட்டிக் காட்ட இந்த நியாயம் பயன்படுத்தப்படுகிறது.



kurmanga nyayah.

கூர்மாங்க நியாயம்

கூர்மம் – ஆமை அங்கம் – உறுப்பு

ஆமையின் உறுப்புகள் பற்றிய நியாயம் இது. ஆமை தனது கழுத்து மற்றும் கால்களை தேவைப்படும்போது  மட்டுமே வெளியில் நீட்டும். தேவை இல்லாவிட்டாலோ அல்லது ஒரு ஆபத்து வந்தாலோ அது தன் கழுத்தையும் கால்களையும் இழுத்து தன் ஓட்டிற்குள் அடக்கிக்கொண்டு விடும். அதே போல விஷயம் தெரிந்த ஒருவன் தன் சக்தியை தேவைப்படும் போது மட்டுமே வெளியில் காட்டுவான். சரியான வாய்ப்பு வரும் போது தன் திறனைக் காட்டிப் பயன் பெறுவான். தேவையற்ற காலங்களில் அனாவசியமாக தன் திறமைகளைக் காட்டி சக்தியை விரயம் ஆக்க மாட்டான்; தம்ப்பட்டம் அடிக்க மாட்டான்.

Sugar cane-23


iksuvikara nyayah

இக்ஷுவிகார நியாயம்


கரும்பை எப்படியெல்லாம் மாற்றுகிறோம் என்பதைக் குறிக்கும் நியாயம் இது. கரும்பை வெட்டி எடுத்து அதை முதலில் நசுக்கி அதன் சாறு எடுக்கப்படுகிறது. அந்தச் சாறு சூடாக்கப்பட்டுப் பின்னர்  மெதுவாக திட நிலைக்கு கொண்டு  வரப்படுகிறது. பின்னர் அது சுத்திகரிக்கப்பட்டு அழகிய வெல்லக் கட்டிகளாக ஆக்கப்படுகிறது. படிப்படியாக ஒரு விஷயம் பக்குவப்படுத்தப்பட்டு இறுதியில் விரும்புகின்ற ஒரு வடிவமாக ஆவதைச் சுட்டிக்காட்ட இந்த நியாயம் பயன்படுத்தப்படும்.