The Lord of Creatures

In Hermes in India a discussion began about the Lord of Creatures.  It is now obvious that this subject is more difficult than I imagined. There are several related terms that have to do with the nature of God. They have similar meanings, but they can belong to completely different gods.

Dumézil said the name paśupati (Lord of Animals) might be the name of the demon who opposed Kṛṣṇa–the demon’s name was Śiśupāla, but it might be a ‘transposition’ of Paśupati. According to a Wikipedia article, paśupati is Sanskrit for Pashupati. This is one of the names of Siva. Definitions differ, but some say it means the Lord of all Created Beings.  Here Śiśupāla is associated with Siva.

The name given in the Hindu Pantheon is Prajapati and it belongs to Brahma. It means the Lord of Creatures, or Lord of all Created Beings. Prajapati can also refer to the three major deities together–Vishnu, Siva and Brahma. It seemed reasonable to associate paśupati with Prajapati–both terms denote lordship over animals. Also Śiśupāla possessed a ‘sublime radiance’ which passed to Kṛṣṇa.

In The Names of God another term entered the discussion by way of a new translation of the Book of Job. It was argued that the god who spoke out of the whirlwind was not the sky-god that we normally associate with the Old Testament but a Master of Animals–he was a deity equally concerned with humans and animals–a Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer Master of Animals. This idea led to more research on the archaeological evidence for this deity. The name of Hermes is prominent in discussions about the Master of Animals.

The next set of clues comes from a legend told in “The Hindu Pantheon” and has to do with the nature of the war described in the Puranas. It is said that the conflict arose between the worshipers of the female principle and the worshipers of the male principle. It was “a battle of cosmic proportions” in which the earth lords resisted the rise of a sky god. The war started in India and spread all over the world. It was discussed by Wilford in “Egypt and the Nile”, and repeated by Moor, and also by Christian missionaries in a publication called the Chinese Recorder. Versions differ, but the theme is the same. This was the basis of Grecian mythology with its battles between the gods led by Jupiter; and the giants or sons of the earth. The gods led by Jupiter were the followers of Iswara, worshipers of the sky-god. The giants were the men produced by Prit’hivi, a power or form of Vishnu, (see more on this below) who acknowledged no other deities than Water and Earth.

This conflict is to blame for the rise of theological and physiological contests, veiled by the use of allegories and symbols. Wilford offers the following example of allegorical mythology: “On the banks of the Nile, Osiris was torn in pieces; and on those of the Ganges, the limbs of his consort, Isi, or Sati, were scattered over the world, giving names to the places where they fell…In the Sanskrit book, entitled Maha Kala Sanhita, we find the Grecian story concerning the wanderings of Bacchus; for Iswara, having been mutilated through the imprecations of some offended Munis, rambled over the whole earth bewailing his misfortune: while Isi wandered also through the world, singing mournful ditties in a state of distraction.”

The Servarasa is more specific and says that the conflict involved Siva and Parvati:

When Sati, after the close of her existence as the daughter of Dacsha, sprang again to life in the character of Parvati, or Mountain-born, she was reunited in marriage to Mahadeva. This divine pair had once a dispute on the comparative influence of sexes in producing animated beings; and each resolved, by mutual agreement, to create apart a new race of men. The race produced by Mahadeva was very numerous, and devoted themselves exclusively to the worship of the male deity; but their intellects were dull, their bodies feeble, their limbs distorted, and their complexions of different hues. Parvati had at the same time created a multitude of human beings, who adored the female power only; and were all well shaped, with sweet aspects and fine complexions. A furious contest ensued between the two races, and the Lingajas (worshipers of Siva) were defeated in battle. But Mahadeva, enraged against the Yonijas (worshipers of Parvati), would have destroyed them with the fire of his eye, if Parvati had not interposed, and appeased him: but he would spare them only on condition that they should instantly quit the country, to return no more. And from the Yoni, which they adored as the sole cause of their existence, they were named Yavanas.

The declared victors of the contest differ depending on the storyteller’s point of view. Wilford thought this version must have been written by the Yonyancitas, or votaries of Devi because the Lingancitas say that Siva’s offspring were the most beautiful. The most numerous sect of Hindus are those who attempt to reconcile them, saying that both principles are necessary, and so the navel of Vishnu is worshipped as identical with the sacred Yoni. But it is important to mention, in light of our interest in the Lord of Creatures, that Brahma is ignored.

Brahma was the creator. In the Hindu solar religion, he represents one aspect of the Sun and corresponds to the early part of the day, from sunrise until noon. His realm is the earth, and fire.  However, in Hinduism Brahma is not as familiar a figure as Siva and Vishnu, or even mentioned as much as the incarnations and lesser deities.  The reason given in “The Hindu Pantheon” is that the act of creation is past.  The creator has no further role in the “continuance or cessation of material existence, or, in other words, with the preservation or destruction of the universe.”  Now this is the basic premise of Deism.  Deism was the religion of the Enlightenment.

Siva, on the other hand, in his aspect of the destroyer, is said to have a sort of “unity of character” with Brahma, although they are usually found in hostile opposition.  It is said that destruction is inevitable.  It is actually another form of creation.

As mentioned in American Civil Religion and the Enlightenment one of the criticisms of the Enlightenment is that Reason has replaced God.  However, it seems that Reason is not just an abstract principle; Reason is a god.  In The Hindu Pantheon Reason is an attribute of Nareda.

If Brahma is Prajapati and Śiśupāla is paśupati, Śiśupāla must have been associated with Brahma, not Siva. If the Grecian giants are part of the same conflict, they should also have been associated with Brahma, not Vishnu.  So it shouldn’t be surprising that Śiśupāla is not a solar figure.  In the Mahabharata, the would-be king whom Kṛṣṇa supported forced Śiśupāla and his fellow kings to attend a sacrificial ceremony where he claimed for himself universal kingship. The original kings were to be his subjects and accept a subordinate relationship to him. During the ceremony Kṛṣṇa was honored all out of proportion to the kings, and Śiśupāla objected. The highest honor being given to Kṛṣṇa was not appropriate, he said, in the presence of “great spirited earth lords”.


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