of the Aryan invasion
4.7. INDRA AND SHIVA
4.7.1. Indra stands accused
central Vedic myth is the killing of the dragon or snake, Vrtra, by the
Vedic thunder god Indra. Here is a beautiful occasion to demonize
Vedic religion to its core, considering that “the duel between Indra and
Vrtra, officially the symbol of the eternal fight between good and evil,
is the central element of the Vedic sacrificial rite.”58
For Dravidianist agitators and other anti-Brahmin
writers, the central Vedic myth of the dragon-slayer is but an allegorical
report of the Aryan invasion and defeat of the pre-Aryan natives, a commemoration
of an ancient crime against humanity.59
the slaying of the dragon is a pan-IE myth, attested even in the remote
Germanic tradition, where it was later christianized into Saint George’s
and Archangel Michael’s dragon-slayings. In Iranian this dragon-slayer
is actually called Verethraghna, a form eroded in Armenian to Veragn
(remark that while the rejection of Indra was a central concern of Zarathushtra,
Indra’s epithet Verethraghna remained as a separate deity in the
Avesta). Obviously, the Iranians and Armenians did riot have a history
of conquering North-India from the Harappans, as per the AIT itself, so
we may safely assume that the Vrtra myth has nothing to do with an Aryan-Harappan
there any evidence that there ever was any war between Aryans and Harappans
in the first place. No large-scale destruction of Harappan cities
has been noticed. Contrast this with the IE expansion in the Balkans.
From linguistic evidence, we understand that the Hellenes (Greeks) along
with the Illyrians and Thracians supplanted or absorbed a highly civilized
non-IE native population, whose culture is known as the VinCa culture
(after its richest excavation site near Belgrade). These natives
had used an as yet undeciphered writing system reportedly going back to
5300 BC, and disappearing along with the Old European culture in about
3500 BC. So there it really was an advanced civilization being overrun
by barbarian invaders who largely destroyed it.
is being projected onto the Vedic-Harappan history: a literate urban and
agricultural civilization being overrun by semi-nomadic horsemen.
But the crucial difference is that in the Balkans, this violent scenario
is attested by archaeological findings: “The existence
of archaeologically attested burnt layers at many settlements is evidence
for military confrontations between the native farmers of Southeast Europe
and the cattle-breeding nomads from South Russia.”60 The
same thing happened when, according to most specialists, the Greeks entered
mainland Greece in 1,900 BC, driving the last remains of Old European culture
to their last refuge on Crete: “numerous destructions”, “widespread destruction
on the mainland, but no destruction on Crete or the islands”.61
This testimony of many settlements having been burnt down is absent at
the Harappan sites.
same, a whole superstructure of invasionist readings of Indian symbols
and mythology has been erected on the invasionist suspicion that, in Sir
Mortimer Wheeler’s famous words, “Indra stands accused” of destroying the
4.7.2. Continuity between
Indra and Shiva
had been identified by the AIT as a deified tribal leader of the invaders,
an antagonism was elaborated between the “Aryan” sky-god Indra and the
“pre-Aryan” fertility god Shiva; Indra being the winner of the initial
military confrontation, but Shiva having the last laugh by gradually winning
over the conquerors to the cult of the subdued natives. As I heard
a Catholic priest from Kerala claim, “Shiva is not a Hindu god, because
he is the god of the pre-Aryans.”
was the god of the Harappans, is based on a single Harappan finding, the
so-called Pashupati seal. It depicts a man with a strange headwear
sitting in lotus posture and surrounded by animals. Though not well
visible, he seems to have three faces, which may mean that he is a three-faced
god (like the famous three-faced Shiva sculpture in the Elephanta cave),
or that he is a four-faced god with the back face undepictable on a two-dimensional
surface. The common speculation is that this is Shiva in his Pashupati
(“lord of beasts”) aspect. Ever since the discovery of the Gundestrup
cauldron in Central Europe, which depicts the Celtic horned god Cernunnos
similarly seated between animals, this Pashupati seal is actually an argument
in favour of the IE character of Harappan culture.
nevertheless, go with the common opinion: Shiva for the Harappans, Indra
for the Aryans. Those who see it this way have never explained why
the dominant Aryans have, over the centuries, abandoned their victorious
god (Indra is practically not worshipped in any of the temples manned by
Brahminical priests) in favour of the god of their defeated enemies.
At any rate, when we study these two divine characters, we find that they
are not all that antagonistic.
is usually identified with the Vedic god Rudra. It so happens that
Indra’s and Rudra’s domains are more or less the same: both are thundering
sky gods. In mythology, Indra is, like Shiva, a bit of an outsider,
who is in conflict with the other gods, shunned by them (and even by his
mother), left alone by them to fight the Dragon, doing things that disrupt
the world order. Christians who picture Jesus as the friend of the
outcasts, may like to know that the despised “Aryan racist god” Indra is
in fact on the side of the outcasts: “Indra, you lifted up the outcast
who was oppressed, you glorified the blind and the lame.” (Rg-Veda 2:13:12) As
David Frawley has shown, Indra has many epithets and attributes which were
later associated with Shiva: the dispeller of fear, the lord of mAyA
(enchantment), the bull, the dancer, the destroyer of cities (Indra purandara,
Shiva tripurahara).62 Both are associated
with mountains, rivers, male fertility, fierceness, fearlessness, warfare,
transgression of established mores, the Aum sound, the Supreme Self.
and Indra are both associated with intoxication. Indra is praised as having
a tremendous appetite for the psychedelic soma juice. Shiva
has Soma-Shiva as one of his aspects, a name containing one of those
Brahminical etymology games: Soma is the Vedic intoxicant, and also the
moon (as in SomwAr, “Monday”), which is part of Shiva’s iconography
(hence his, epithet SomanAtha).
theory that Shiva is a non-Vedic and anti-Vedic god, is partly based on
the Puranic story of the destruction of Daksha’s sacrifice. Daksha
is the father of Shiva’s beloved Sati: he rebukes Shiva, Sati commits suicide,
and Shiva vents his anger by disturbing the sacrifice which Daksha is conducting.
Daksha refuses to worship Shiva because Shiva is vedabAhya, “outside
the Vedas”; as in a fit of anger, mortals also call their relatives all
kinds of inaccurate names.
Frawley shows, the Daksha story is quite parallel to the Vedic story of
Indra stealing the soma from Twashtr and even killing the latter,
and to the Vedic story of Rudra killing Prajapati. In each case,
a god who disrupts or “destroys” the world order, is seen to defeat a god
representing the process of creation, which is equated with the process
of the Vedic sacrifice (the Creator creates the world by sacrificing).
The destroyer-god, himself a cornerstone of the created world, disrupts
the creative sacrifice. David Frawley restores these stories to their
traditional metaphysical interpretation: “Both Indra’s
and Shiva’s role of destroying Prajapati or his son relate to their role
as eternity (absolute time) destroying time or the year (relative time)
represented by Prajapati and the sacrifice.”63
Personally, I prefer the more physical explanation given by Bal Gangadhar
Tilak and in consonance with modem insights into mythology, viz. that the
victory of the one god over the other may simply refer to the replacement
of one constellation by the next as the stellar location of the equinox.
role of Shiva in the Puranic pantheon is the continuation of Indra’s role
in the Vedic pantheon, which in turn is only the Indian version of a role
which exists in the other IE pantheons as well, e.g. the Germanic fire
god Loki or the Greco-Roman warrior-god Ares/Mars. Shiva also continues
Indra’s role of warrior-god. Till today, many
Shiva sadhus are proficient in the martial arts. The Shaiva war-cry
Hara Hara Mahadev is still used by some regiments of the Indian
army as well as by Hindu demonstrators during communal confrontations.64
shiva, “the auspicious one”, is an epithet of not only Rudra but of Vedic
gods in general. Indra himself is called shiva several times
(Rg-Veda 2:20:3, 6:45:17, 8:93:3). Shiva is by no means a non-Vedic
god, and Indra never really disappeared from popular Hinduism but lives
on under another name.
Van Lysebeth: Tantra, p.25.
very elaborate interpretation of the whole Rg-Veda as a report on the destruction
of the Harappan “Asura Empire” by the Aryan invaders is Malati Shendge:
The Civilized Demons. The Harappans in Rg-Veda.
Haarmann: Universalgeschichte der Schrift, p.80.
F. Wyatt, jr.: “The Indo-Europeanization of Greece”, in Cardona et al.,
eds.: Indo-European and Indo-Europeans, p.89-111, specifically p-93.
Frawley: Gods, Sages and Kings, p.224-225, and in more detail: Arise
Arjuna, p. 170-181.
Frawley: Arise Arjuna, p. 177. The symbolism of eternity and
time is very clear in the iconography of Shiva’s consort KAli.
Representing all-devouring time, she dances on Shiva’s unconscious body:
the world of change and destruction exists and affects us as long as the
timeless self-consciousness of the Self has not awoken.
the Chanakya TV-serial, broadcast in truncated version on Doordarshan
in 1992, the Hara Hara Mahadev sequences were censored out for fear
that they might arouse communal passions.
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