Rediscover the Wisdom and Traditions of the World!
The Eternal Varna Asrama Dharma – Part 13
Logic is a function of time. What was logical at one time becomes illogical at another time and vice-versa, as knowledge keeps evolving.
There are several man-animal hybrid forms described in literatures all over the world. Now they appear illogical or fantasies or mis-understandings. It could be that they existed or heard to have existed at some points of time. May be few centuries down, there would be better explanations for them and they would appear logical again.
As the intelligence evolves in this planet, it does not happen in linear fashion. I see it as a zig-zag curve over time.
Extinction events have wiped out several species in the planet many times in the past. At times almost all intelligent species have been destroyed and at times certain species have been destroyed. This is recorded in the Puranas too.
Manvantaras are periods after which extinction occurs and wipes out the whole intelligence evolution of the planet. Manva (intellect beings) antara (in-between) means periods between the intellect beings.
Such extinctions should have wiped out advanced intelligence in this planet and restarted them every-time. But some of that could have survived and passed on knowledge to homsapien race that started migrating 60000 years ago.
Indus Valley Seals
In the Indus valley seals amphibians are indicated by fish with four legs as shown in the below figures. Hence there is consistency in the way I had used fish with four legs as amphibians.
The animals with sacrum are those that can be ‘yoked’ and used for pulling carts. They are indicated in the figures below. While I had talked about the first figure in the previous blog, the next one is from a seal that depicts Vrishaba, the Bull that is used for ploughing.
The inscriptions below simply depict various parts of a Cart, wheel and axle. In other words they talk about how a Vrishaba can be yoked.
I have mapped the following figures with two –legged beings. Note that they are from different seals and are part of different inscriptions.
The Nrsimha Avatar
The below seal is variously interpreted based on one’s outlook. In general it is interpreted as a ‘King’ with a crown standing in a papal tree or emerging from fire, seven ‘sages’ or ‘people’ standing around as a ‘ritual’, a giant ‘ram’ watching the King, a person either bowing or ‘sacrificed’ before the king etc..
I see it as a depiction of ‘NrSimha’ Avatar.
I see a lions head facing front and a horse head on the RHS. I call the one facing front as a lion’s head, in the way the facial curves (which resemble an animal than any other men depicted in the seals) and something resembling a tongue that is sticking out.
The second image is from the museum of Philadelphia which shows a two-armed Nrsimha, probably the oldest ever discovered Nrsimha statue, made of mottled red sandstone from Mathura, two-armed, with tongue lolling out.
If we look the figure in totality, it is a man-lion on two legs, two arms wide-spread, emerging out or going back into a pillar or tree or some gateway structure. The round base indicates it is a pillar. The branches indicate it is a tree. It could be a ‘decorated’ pillar or a ‘gateway’ structure.
Nrsimha and Hayagriva
There is also a horse-face seen on the side, but in the background. The manes flow on the LHS as I could see it, which resembles a Hayagriva in the background. According to Vishnu Purana, Hayagriva happened just before Nrsimha.
Hayagriva and Nrsimha share a common trait.
Hayagriva slayed Madhu and Kaitabha to retrieve the Vedas. Madhu and Kaitabha are an aspect of Vishnu and called ardent devotees of Vishnu, according to Mahabharatha. Hayagriva slayed Madhu and Kaituba on his thighs to fullfil a promise of slaying them in land. (It was the time of deluge and water everywhere).
Nrsimha slayed Hiranyakasibu on his thighs. Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasibu are again aspects of Vishnu and called ardent devotees of Vishnu.
Since Hayagriva is in background, this picture is more about Nrsimha.
The triple-crown is worn by both Nrsimha and Hiranyakasibu indicating their stature as ‘Superior’ and almost ‘equal’ beings. The triple-crown depicted is the triple-crown of those days.
Event happening Inside
If we look at the color variation all around, the depiction of this event is as if one is witnessing an event happening inside. The ‘inside’ here is the place or palace of Hiranyakasipu.
The giant Ram like thing (which I call as Sarabha) is shown half-inside and half-outside watching the event, probably from a distance. Along with Sarabha, the Seven sages are watching the event.
Hence the round-base bottomed structure is more a decorated pillar than a tree. It could also be a gateway structure through which the lion-man or horse-man is exploding out.
Hiranyakasipu – The Slayed
The seal above depicts a person praying or begging in a pool of blood before Nrsimha with a triple-pointed crown and a hide of the body being woven around the Sarabha.
This person is the Hiranyakasibu whom Nrsimha slayed emerging from a pillar and went back into the same pillar.
Since the Sarabha is shown devouring the hide of the person, it is possible that person has been slaughtered by man-lion and going back into the pillar or entry structure and Sarabha is devouring the hide of that person and the person is lying in a pool of blood.
The Giant Ram is actually a Griffin or Sarabha, which is a lion-mammal or lion-bird combination. Here it is a combination of Garuda-head, lion body and hind of a Ram. References to Griffins are found in various literatures.
Sarabha is mentioned in the Puranas as a lion-bird combination that is mighty, strong and matchless. Vishnu Sahasranama says
“Maharti Hridho Vritatma Maha Akso Garuda Dhwaja
Atula Sarabho Bheema Samay Yajno Havir Hari”
It means “The great heart encompassing the Atma, the Hari, who makes the big eyed ‘Garuda faced’ ‘matchless’ ‘Strong’ Sarabha the Havir in the Sacrifice of time”
Ofcourse traditional interpretation of Vishnu Sahasra Nama goes word by word. This is the way I translate it.
Hari, the heart of that Atma, sacrifices the big-eyed Garuda faced sarabha as the havis in the sacrifice of time. Hari makes the strongest of the strong go extinct over a period of time.
From this we see Sarabha is Garuda faced and that’s what we see in the Indus Valley seal.
Stronger than the Strongest
Interestingly the Seal also has the inscription seen in other seals of “mrganam ca mrgendro ‘ham “ as present in the Prajapati seal. The figure LHS is from Nrsimha avatar seal and RHS is from Prajapati seal.
Obviously, Nrsimha devouring Hiranyakasibu is an example of “Stronger than the Strongest”.
Sarabha – Devouring the Hide
The Sarabha Upanishad talks about the encounter between Nrsimha and Sarabha where Sarabha is said to have devoured Nrsimha and worn the Skin of Nrsimha.
The picture above depicts Sarabha wearing the hide of Hiranyakasibu rather than man-lion (Nrsimha).
It is highly possible that the original story is Nrsimha devouring the HiranyaKasipu and Sarabha the bird-faced (garuda faced) lion-mammal taking the hide out of Hiranyakasipu, which later on got converted to Sarabha fighting Nrsimha and taking out the skin of Nrsimha.
Whatever it is there is an incident of taking the skin out associated with Nrsimha which is seen above in the Indus Valley seal.
The Seven Rishis
The Seven people are shown to be inside the place where man-lion is emerging out or going back. Their faces, hair style and moustache-less beard are more like later day Chinese courtiers. Their facial features are inline with human figures in other seals which are predominantly of Mongolian features.
They are shown standing or facing front rather than watching the event. Hence they are not courtiers.
These people could be Sapta Rishis or people who narrated the incident to those who crafted the seal.