Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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The Two Brothers Ganesha and Kartikeya

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on December 6, 2019

Ganesha

Ganesha, also known as Ganapati, Vinayaka, or by numerous other names, is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. Though not alluding to the classical form of Ganapati,the earliest mention of Ganapati,is found in the Rigveda.

Ganapatya is a denomination of Hinduism that worships Ganesha (also called Ganapati) as the Saguna Brahman. Ganapati has been worshipped as part of Shaivism since at least the fifth century.

Ganesha’s rise to prominence was codified in the 9th century when he was formally included as one of the five primary deities of Smartism. This worship practice invokes the five deities Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and Surya.

The 9th-century philosopher Adi Shankara popularised the “worship of the five forms” (Panchayatana puja) system among orthodox Brahmins of the Smarta tradition. He instituted the tradition primarily to unite the principal deities of these five major sects on an equal status. This formalised the role of Ganesha as a complementary deity.

Once Ganesha was accepted as one of the five principal deities of Hinduism, some Hindus chose Ganesha as their principal deity. The title “Leader of the group” (Sanskrit: gaṇapati) occurs twice in the Rig Veda, but in neither case does it refer to the modern Ganesha. The term appears in RV 2.23.1 as a title for Brahmanaspati, according to commentators. While this verse doubtless refers to Brahmanaspati, it was later adopted for worship of Ganesha and is still used today.

Equally clearly, the second passage (RV 10.112.9) refers to Indra, who is given the epithet ‘gaṇapati’, translated “Lord of the companies (of the Maruts).” However, Rocher notes that the more recent Ganapatya literature often quotes the Rigvedic verses to give Vedic respectability to Ganesha.

Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha’s elephant head makes him easy to identify. Devotees believe that if Ganesha is propitiated, he grants success, prosperity and protection against adversity.

Some have noted the roots of Ganesha worship, dating back to 3,000 BCE since the times of Indus Valley Civilization. In 1993, a metal plate depiction of an elephant-headed figure, interpreted as Ganesha, was discovered in Lorestan Province, Iran, dating back to 1,200 BCE.

First terracotta images of Ganesha are from 1st century CE found in Ter, Pal, Verrapuram, and Chandraketugarh. These figures are small, with an elephant head, two arms, and chubby physique. The earliest Ganesha icons in stone were carved in Mathura during Kushan times (2nd–3rd centuries CE).

An early iconic image of Ganesha with elephant head, a bowl of sweets and a goddess sitting in his lap has been found in the ruins of the Bhumara Temple in Madhya Pradesh, and this is dated to the 5th-century Gupta period.

Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rites and ceremonies.

The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana (gaṇa), meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha (īśa), meaning lord or master. The word gaṇa when associated with Ganesha is often taken to refer to the gaṇas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva, Ganesha’s father.

Hindu mythology identifies him as the restored son of Parvati and Shiva of the Shaivism tradition, but he is a pan-Hindu god found in its various traditions. The family includes his brother, the god of war, Kartikeya.

Ganesha’s marital status, the subject of considerable scholarly review, varies widely in mythological stories. One lesser-known and unpopular pattern of myths identifies Ganesha as an unmarried brahmachari. This view is common in southern India and parts of northern India.

Another popularly-accepted mainstream pattern associates him with the concepts of Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity); these qualities are personified as goddesses, said to be Ganesha’s wives.

He also may be shown with a single consort or a nameless servant (Sanskrit: daşi). Another pattern connects Ganesha with the goddess of culture and the arts, Sarasvati or Śarda (particularly in Maharashtra). He is also associated with the goddess of luck and prosperity, Lakshmi. Another pattern, mainly prevalent in the Bengal region, links Ganesha with the banana tree, Kala Bo.

He is often shown carrying a bowl of sweets, called a modakapātra. Because of his identification with the color red, he is often worshipped with red sandalwood paste (raktachandana) or red flowers.

Festivals associated with Ganesh are Ganesh Chaturthi or Vināyaka chaturthī and the Ganesh Jayanti (Ganesha’s birthday). The Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the śuklapakṣa (the fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of Bhadra or Bhadrapada or Bhaado or Bhadraba that corresponds to August/September in the Gregorian calendar.

In India’s national civil calendar (Shaka calendar), Bhadra is the sixth month of the year, beginning on 23 August and ending on 22 September. In Vedic Jyotish, Bhadra begins with the Sun’s entry into Virgo, and is usually the fifth month of the year.

It is a Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of Ganesha to earth from ‘Kailash Parvat’ with his mother goddess Parvati/Gauri. Thereafter Ganesha is believed to return to Mount Kailash to Parvati and Shiva. The festival celebrates Lord Ganesha as the God of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles as well as the god of wisdom and intelligence and is observed throughout India.

The Ganesh Jayanti is celebrated on the cathurthī of the śuklapakṣa (fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of magha (January/February).” Maagha is a month of the Hindu calendar. In India’s national civil calendar, it’s the eleventh month of the year, it corresponds with January/February in the Gregorian calendar. In solar calendars, Maagh begins with the Sun’s entry into Capricorn, and is usually the eleventh month of the year.

Kartikeya

Kartikeya, also called Murugan, Skanda, Kumara, and Subrahmanya, the Hindu god of war, is an ancient god, traceable to the Vedic era. Archaeological evidence from 1st-century CE and earlier, where he is found with Hindu god Agni (fire), suggest that he was a significant deity in early Hinduism.

Three of the six richest and busiest temples in Tamil Nadu are dedicated to him. He is also found in other parts of India, sometimes as Skanda, but in a secondary role along with Ganesha, Parvati and Shiva. In northern India, Skanda was an important martial deity from about 500 BCE to about 600 CE, after which worship of him declined significantly. As Skanda fell, Ganesha rose.

There are ancient references which can be interpreted to be Kartikeya in the Vedic texts, in the works of Pāṇini (~500 BCE), in the Mahabhasya of Patanjali and in Kautilya’s Arthashastra For example, the term Kumara appears in hymn 5,2 of the Rig Veda. The Kumara of verse 5.2.1 can be interpreted as Skanda, or just any “boy”. However, the rest of the verses depict the “boy” as bright-colored, hurling weapons and other motifs that later have been associated with Skanda.

The difficulty with interpreting these to be Skanda is that Indra, Agni and Rudra are also depicted in similar terms and as warriors. According to Fred Clothey, the evidence suggests that Kartikeya mythology had become widespread sometime around 200 BCE or after in north India.

The Epic era literature of ancient India recite numerous legends of Kartikeya, often with his other names such as Skanda. For example, the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata dedicates chapters 223 to 232 to the legends of Skanda, but depicts him as the son of Agni and Svaha. Similarly, Valmiki’s Ramayana dedicates chapters 36 and 37 to Skanda, but describes him as the child of god Agni and goddess Ganges.

A totally different legend in the later books of the Mahabharata make Shiva and Parvati as the parents. They were making love, but they are disturbed, and Shiva inadvertently spills his semen on the ground. Shiva’s semen incubates in River Ganges, preserved by the heat of god Agni, and this fetus is born as baby Kartikeya on the banks of Ganges.

Kartikeya means “of the Krittikas”. This epithet is also linked to his birth. After he appears on the banks of the River Ganges, he is seen by the six of the seven brightest stars cluster in the night sky called Krittikas in Hindu texts (called Pleiades in Greek texts).

These six mothers all want to take care of him and nurse baby Kartikeya. Kartikeya ends the argument by growing five more heads to have a total of six heads so he can look at all six mothers, and let them each nurse one.

Some legend state that he was the elder son of Shiva, others make him the younger brother of Ganesha. This is implied by another legend connected to his birth.

Devas have been beaten up by Asuras led by Taraka, because Taraka had a boon from ascetic celibate yogi Shiva that only Shiva’s son can kill him. Devas learn about this boon, and plan how to get Shiva into a relationship. So they bring Parvati into the picture, have her seduce yogi Shiva, and wed Parvati so that Skanda can be born to kill Taraka.

His theology is most developed in the Tamil texts, and in the Shaiva Siddhanta tradition. He is considered the God of Tamil language and he is mentioned a lot in Tamil Sangam literature. The iconography of Kartikeya varies significantly; he is typically represented as an ever-youthful man, riding or near a peacock, dressed with weapons sometimes near a rooster.

Kartikeya iconography shows him as a youthful god, dressed as a warrior, carrying the weapon called Vel. It is a divine spear, often called sakti. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Parvati presented the Vel to her son Murugan as an embodiment of her power in order to vanquish the evil asura Soorapadman.

According to the Skanda Purana, in the war between Murugan and Soorapadman, Murugan used the Vel to defeat all the evil forces of Soorapadman. When a complete defeat for Soorapadman was imminent, the asura transformed himself into a huge mango tree to evade detection by Murugan.

But not fooled by Asura’s trick, Murugan hurled his Vel and split the mango tree into two halves, one becoming Seval (a rooster) and the other Mayil (a peacock). Henceforth, the peacock became his vahana or mount and vehicle and the rooster became the emblem on his battle flag.

Kartikeya symbolizes a union of polarities. He is handsome warrior and described as a celibate yogi. He uses his creative martial abilities to lead an army against Taraka and other demons, and described as a philosopher-warrior.

He is a uniter, championing the attributes of both Shaivism, one of the major traditions within Hinduism that reveres Shiva as the Supreme Being, and Vaishnavism, also called Vishnuism, who considers Vishnu as the Supreme Lord.

Kartikeya’s youth, beauty and bravery was much celebrated in Sanskrit works like the Kathasaritsagara. Kalidasa made the birth of Kumara the subject of a lyrical epic, the Kumārasambhava.

Many of the major events in Murugan’s life take place during his youth, and legends surrounding his birth are popular in Tamil Nadu. This has encouraged the worship of Murugan as a child-God, very similar to the worship of the child Krishna in north India.

According to Raman Varadara, Murugan or Kartikeya was originally a Tamil deity, who was adopted by north Indians. He was the god of war in the Dravidian legends, and became so elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent too.

In contrast, G. S. Ghurye states that according to the archeological and epigraphical evidence, the contemporary Murugan, Subrahmanya and Kartikeya is a composite of two influences, one from south and one from north in the form of Skanda and Mahasena.

He as the warrior-philosopher god was the patron deity for many ancient northern and western Hindu kingdoms, and of the Gupta Empire, according to Ghurye. After the 7th-century, Skanda’s importance diminished while his brother Ganesha’s importance rose in the west and north, while in the south the legends of Murugan continued to grow.

According to Norman Cutler, Kartikeya-Murugan-Skanda of South and North India coalesced over time, but some aspects of the South Indian iconography and mythology for Murugan have remained unique to Tamil Nadu. According to Fred Clothey, as Murugan (also referred to as Murugan, Cheyyon), he embodies the “cultural and religious whole that comprises South Indian Shaivism”.

Most icons show him with one head, but some show him with six heads reflecting the legend surrounding his birth where six mothers symbolizing the six stars of Pleiades cluster who took care of newly born baby Kartikeya. He grows up quickly into a philosopher-warrior, destroys evil in the form of demon Taraka, teaches the pursuit of ethical life and the theology of Shaiva Siddhanta.

Thai Poosam during January – February month is celebrated as a 6-day festival. Vaikasi Visakam day, (during May –June month), Kavadis and Palkudams are taken by devotees in procession around Chhedanagar. Skanda Sashti during October-November month is celebrated as a 6-day festival.

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