Friday, 11 December 2009

The glory of Adhiseshan (cont’d)



The poem continues to speak the glory of Adhisesha in the following words.


மணி புரை மாமலை ஞாறிய ஞாலம்
அணிபோல் பொறுத்தாரும் தாஅம்;

பணிபு இல் சீர்ச்
செல் விடைப் பாகன் திரி புரம் செற்றுழிக்
கல் உயர் வென்னி இமய வில் நாண் ஆகித்

தொல் புகழ் தந்தாரும் தாம்



The first two lines speak about how Adhiseshan holds the earth on his head as though it is a jewel.


மணி புரை மாமலை ஞாறிய ஞாலம்
அணிபோல் பொறுத்தாரும் தாஅம்;

(மணியை ஒத்த நிறத்தை உடைய மாபெரும் மலைகளை உடைய இந்த உலகை , ஒரு அணிகலன் போல எளிதாகத் தாங்கியவரும் நீர் தான் )



The earth which looks blue in color like the gem called Mani (blue sapphire) is held by Adhiseshan like a jewel.

Here the term பொறுத்தாரும் is given. The strength and tolerance of Adhisesha in bearing the weight of the earth is meant by this. Usually Bhoomi devi is known for tolerance. The heaviness of the earth and the heaviness caused by the wrong doings of the beings of the earth are tolerated by her. Here Adhisesha bears the earth itself with all her burdens and yet looks cool as though it is not heavy but an adorable jewel that is worn on his head.

In this context it may be of interest to know how Adhisesha actually bears the earth.



The earth has 7 layers beneath the surface which are characterized as 7 hells namely Atala, vitala, sutala, talaatala, mahaatala, rasaatala and paatala.


According to Hindu Thought, serpents like Vasuki reside in the innermost layer of Paatala where the 1000 hooded Anantha (Adhisesha) resides bearing the earth.


The actual import of this can be understood from the dialogue of Mount Mainaka which rose up to give place for Hanuman to take rest (as part of Athithi pooja by the Samudra Rajan) when Hanuman was on a mission to look for Sita’s whereabouts.


Mainaka says that Samudra Rajan requested him to rise up from the place where he is stationed. Groups of asuras were living in Paatala and they could anytime come out and destroy human beings living on the surface. Mainaka has been placed by Indra as an obstacle to them from coming out of Paatala.



At the request of Samudra Rajan, Mainaka rose up and peeked out of the water surface with a peak that looked like molten gold. This is how Valmiki describes in Ramayana. This description shows that Mainaka had a volcanic eruption with molten lava looking golden at its peak. The Rasatala which covers paatala is similar to the outer covering of the mantle. This does not allow the inner molten lava from shooting up and destroying the habitat in the surroundings. The Mainaka is apparently sitting on a fracture or fissure on the ocean bed thereby ‘controlling’ the hot molten material of the underground – signified as serpents or nagas - from eruption.



The earlier formation of the earth is described as a story by Mainaka to Hanuman when he says that those were times when mountains were flying with wings. This is the reference to the exploding and quivering earth in the formative times. Indra broke these mountains with his weapon called vajra. This is nothing but lightening and thunders that were violently happening in those times. There were continuous and violent earth quakes accompanied with lightening and rough weather. The big chunks of earth of the size of mountains were thrown up and smashed by lightening. When Mainaka was also thrown up like this, he was pushed by Vayu deva (Wind), the father of Hanuman into the sea, even before he could be smashed by Indra’s lightening. He landed at a place which was originally a vent for the molten lava to escape. This natural scenario is explained as the story of Mainaka.



A similar narration is given by Varahamihira in Brihat samhita where he explains this natural phenomenon that happened in the past in the chapter on earthquakes.


The information relevant for this post is that, the core of the earth is characterized as Paatala. This is surrounded by the molten materials that are characterized as the serpents or nagas of the underworld. It is the core that holds the earth together. That core is personified as Adhisesha. In spite of any kind of disturbance happening to the earth, the core remains unperturbed and intact. It continues to hold the earth. Any disturbance or damage caused to earth even by way of digging for a good cause is like causing disturbance to the underworld creatures that are personified as serpents. That attracts sarpa dosha.



This personification of Adishesha as the core helps in understanding how strong and tolerant he is; how this entire earth is dependent on Adhisesha for survival.


This also explains the first two attributes we analyzed in the last post.


We saw at first how Adhisesha was the rope to churn the Meru which was held in place by Thirumaal (ஆழியான் ).

It signifies a happening in Nature of the subterranean molten material getting churned for a period of kalpa (தோழம் )

It means the earth itself was shaking then. Thirumaal as a tortoise held the earth in balance, so that the shakes and churnings do not throw the earth out of orbit and be lost for ever. It was a time the earth was submerged in water.


The next attribute was how Adhisesha coiled around the Meru by protecting it form heavy winds. This signifies the firming up in orbit without much disturbance.



It also shows how the erupted material got solidified as firm earth. It is the time of Varaha avathara that signifies the eruption of land surfaces above the waters. At that time the serpents got locked underground with sesha firmly in place at the centre keeping the earth in balance.


The 3rd attribute that we saw in the beginning of this post is about this aspect. Adhisesha is the pivotal force that keeps the earth together. This is described as carrying the earth on his head.


Now let us see the 4th attribute of the poem.


பணிபு இல் சீர்ச்
செல் விடைப் பாகன் திரி புரம் செற்றுழிக்
கல் உயர் வென்னி இமய வில் நாண் ஆகித்

தொல் புகழ் தந்தாரும் தாம்


(தன்னை மற்றவர்கள் பணியத் தக்க , தான் மற்றவர்களுக்கு பணிய வேண்டாத தகைமையை உடைய , விரைந்து செல்லும் காளை ஊர்தியை உடைய சிவ பெருமான் , திரிபுரம் எரித்த போது, இமயமே வில்லாக இருக்க , அந்த வில்லுக்கு நாணாக அதிசேஷனே, நீர் இருந்து தொல் புகழ் தந்தீர் .)



Here Adhiseshan is associated with Lord Shiva. Shiva is described as one riding his bull. When Shiva destroyed the Tripura asuras, Adhsiesha became the string of his bow which was made up of the Himalayas!

This information may look strange. But if we analyze along with the above personification of Adhisesha, a wonderful picture of past events that happened in Nature emerges.



To know this we must go to the description of this bow and string which is given in Valmiki Ramayana.


The shiva dhanus broken by Rama that qualified him to marry Sita was the same bow used by Shiva to destroy the Tripuras. This is told by Parashurama when he challenges Rama for a duel.


The description given in Ramayana on how Rama handled this bow gives us the insight on how Adhisesha became the string of the bow used by Shiva.


The above passage says that the bow was nothing but the Himalayas. When Rama stringed the bow, the bow broke with thunder of a mountain breaking to pieces!


Rama effortlessly stringed the bow in the first place, because it was none other than his close companion Adhisesha.



Combining these informations, we can deduce that Tripuras were destroyed by a massive eruption of the Himalayas when the mantle from the core (Adhisesha) poured out and helped in triggering the explosions in Himalayas. This makes me think that the present-day Tripura could perhaps be the home of Tripura asuras. The inhabitants (asuras) suffered annihilation or destruction when the Himalayas erupted due to an underground rupture resulting in the mantle pouring out. A geological survey at Tripura might throw up more facts to this effect.

When we rationalize the puranic events as per Nature’s way, we find it convincing to connect Adhisesha with Shiva!


This poem for most part, is in praise of Adhisesha only, perhaps due to the important role played by Adhisesha in helping to make this earth habitable in the vast expanses of this Universe.



The last part of the poem will be described in the next post.



Tail piece:-



The Mainaka episode narrated in this post contains an important geological fact. The Mountain stands where the Sethu bund was built by the vanaras. The mountain had apparently erupted when Hanuman crossed the seas. It is apparently sitting on a volcanic vent on the ocean- bottom. Any disturbance to this area is unwarranted. It is perhaps due to this reason, the samudra rajan who was wholeheartedly willing to help Hanuman in return for the help rendered by Rama’s ancestors in creating that sea, failed to show up when Rama went on a penance to seek his help. Does this not look strange? He did not want to appear to Rama, for he knew what Rama would ask. Rama would ask him to make way. But that part of the sea was not safe. That must be closed or hardened so that the molten material does not come out. That is why he has asked Rama to build a bund over there – as if to strengthen that area. This message of Ramayana is again food for thought that geologists and underwater researchers must not ignore. A scientific study of the nature of the ocean bed at Sethu, is sure to show the weak spot at the ocean bottom at that place.

5 comments:

raghavendra said...

a very good analysis Jayasreeji ..

jayasree said...

Thanks Mr Raghavendra.
Shiva's connection to Adhisesha in forming the string of the Shiva dhanush - as told in this poem, can be explained logically, only if we analyse the kind of personification for Adhisesha as done in this post. Hope my In-dweller is guiding me in the right path of analysis.

Raghavendra said...

These kinds of analysis are needed for the current generation who want to connect to our rich history by making some connection with the modern science.

But personally speaking, I think you should be very careful otherwise theres a danger of getting only a small amount of the puranic knowledge by looking through the small hole of modern science.

Also the about tripura, i think you may be incorrect in your inference. As there were 3 cities built by Maya Danava ( gold/silver/iron ), i think its too much of a trivialising when you are comparing it to the small piece of land thats in the eastern india :-)

And the same goes for the mountain erupting when hanuman was crossing the ocean. The eruption cannot be surely inferenced as a welcoming sign to sit and take rest.

jayasree said...

I understand your concerns.

However in my opinion, different levels of explanations exist for an event told in puranas and ithihasas.

For example tripura has many layers of relevance, of which one is about the 3 directions of east south and west, which were destroyed when Jupiter was in Pushya in the northern sign of cancer. The Himalyas of the North was the only direction from which Shiva had destroyed the asuras. Adiseshan conenction to this episode in this poem gives another dimension of the destruction which i have articulated in the article.

The place itself was known by that name. Mayan clans of a much earlier era had been connected to that place (read my article on Mayan doom's day).

On Mainaka, the description in Ramayana does give a picture of a solidified molten lava on a volcano peak. Perhaps it became visible above the waters when Hanuman crossed. That area has had some seismicity - is what is made out from that incident.

Raghavendra said...

>However in my opinion, different levels of >explanations exist for an event told in puranas and >ithihasas.

very true indeed. Your efforts are really commendable.