21st January 2020
The Vedic religion is all about fire worship. So what is the link (if any) between Vedas and Shiva and Ganesha – which have everything to do with fertility worship.
What do Shiva, Parvati (both related to fertility) and Ganesha – their "son", have to do with the Vedas? They are purely Hindu gods. Not the slightest link to fire worship.
This is the biggest single clue that demolishes the idea that Hinduism has anything to do with the Vedas.
— 🙂Sanjeev Sabhlok, Pope @Church of Reason& Liberty (@sabhlok) January 19, 2020
I’ve taken some material sent by Sanjay Sonawani and reviewed against well-referenced standards. These are my initial findings (many words continue to be that of Sanjay)
IMPORTANT NOTE TO READERS: In order to understand the background to this blog post, please read (at least) the following two books by Sanjay Sonawani first:
I have discussed many of Sanjay’s views and findings earlier on this blog and also raised them on my Times of India online blog (here). Basically, this post discusses merely one of the many proofs of the distinctiveness of the Vedic and Hindu religions.
INDUS VALLEY CIVILISATION DEFINITELY KNEW ABOUT THE ELEPHANT
The oldest elephant-type image in India so far was found at Harappa. (approx. 2600 BC). This is the image from Harappa.com, a reputed website.
This is extremely tiny: Approximate dimensions (W x H(L) x D): 5.4 x 4.8 x 4.6 cm. It is difficult to made deductions from this. However, it has some traces of vermillion. Further, it does look close enough to a modern Ganesha.
Elephant bones have also been found (see this )
SHIVA WAS DEFINITELY PART OF THE INDUS VALLEY BELIEF SYSTEM
Shiva is the highly worshipped Hindu deity, with millions of temples across the country. Not a single town or village is to be found where a Shiva shrine is absent. Shiva is worshipped either in the temples or in the open in his Lingam (Phallic) form. His consort Shakti (synonyms Parvati, Jagdamba, Amba etc.) are also worshiped in unified form with Shiva and also independently in abundant temples dedicated to Shakti across the country.
Shiva-Shakti worship can be traced back to the Indus civilization where abundant proofs of Shiva worship have been found. What is considered a Shiva lingam has been found at Kalibangan site, dating back to 2600 BC.
A “proto-Shiva” was found in the Indus Valley, image below. Many archaeologists note a resemblance to future depictions of Shiva. Non-Vedic elements are seen, such as wearing a tiger skin (tiger was unkown to the Vedics).
CONTEMPT FOR FERTILITY WORSHIP IN VEDAS
The early Vedics display knowledge of fertility worship (not necessarily Shiva but something similar that they came across in their travels) and ridicule such gods as “Phallus Gods” (Shisnadeva) in the Rig Veda.
RIG VEDA DID NOT DISPLAY CONCLUSIVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE ELEPHANT
The word “Gana” in Rig veda appears as individual abstract deities, most probably Maruts,
“Ganapati” in Rigveda is used as an epithet of Brahmanaspati and verses themselves are clear that they were used to invoke abstract god who had nothing to do with elephant head god.
Vedic people might have heard about elephants but the verses show that they had no physical knowledge of elephants. The terms used for Elephants also are too ambiguous and this is why the commentators on Rig veda are not sure what actually Vedic people meant. No direct reference to “Hastin” is found in the Rigveda. (Note this Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hastin#The_elephant_in_the_Rigveda )
Rigveda nowhere shows any connection of Indra with an elephant, even if considered that the Vedic clans knew elephant. In the later centuries, when Indra was depicted as lord of the heaven, he got a vehicle “Airavat”, a heavenly elephant. Rigvedic verses nowhere mention of existence of any Airavat or for that matter any vehicle of Indra.
DIDN’T VEDAS INVOKE GANESHA?
Allegedly, “Rig Veda begins with the invocation of Lord Ganesha, who is described as the Chief of Ganas (divine beings) and as the Supreme Seer (Rig Veda 2.23).” [Source]
But Sanjay Sonawani has clarified that “Vedic literature does not start with salutation to Ganesha. Interpolated fabricated literature has added him, including an inserted version in Mahabharata that depicts Ganesha as a writer of poet Vyasa. Rather, Mahabharata’s beginning lines salute Narayana and Sarasvati.
THE RIGVEDA SHIVA IS NOT SHIVA
Shiva’s name appears in Rigveda as a name of a tribe that fought against Sudasa in the celebrated battle of the ten kings.
RUDRA AND SHIVA ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT
Attempts are made today to “show” that Rudra and Shiva are the same. These are false.
Basically, the Vedics appropriated indigenous gods like Shiva for their benefit. The eminent Vedic scholar Tarkateertha Laxman Shastri Joshi made clear in Vaidik Sanskriticha Vikas that Shiva a.k.a. Mahadeva was the benefactor god of pre-Vedic people and was assimilated in Vedic culture by elevating his character. Shiva is a later addition to the Vedas.
Further, Kapardin is used as an epithet for Rudra but was later on (in the course of future appropriation by Vedics) also used for Shiva. This does not make Rudra-Shiva the same.
Rudra and Shiva represent an opposite religious tradition i.e. Vedic and Non-Vedic. The following information about Rudra, a minor God, is found in Rig Veda and other Vedas:
- Only three verses are dedicated in Rig Veda to Rudra, showing that he was a minor god.
- The main epithet of Rudra is “Agni” (Fire).
- In Agnichayana (a kind of fire sacrifice) to keep the fire kindled, butter is constantly poured in the fire pit, while chanting “Shatarudriya”(Hymns addressed to Rudra) requesting him to immerse in the fire.
- Taittiriya Samhitastates state that a sacrifice conducted in favor of Rudra enriches the host (person making the sacrifice) like Indra.
- Vedic Rudra is as handsome as the supreme Vedic God Indra, having golden complexion. He wears golden necklace and holds golden axe. He helps Vedic people in finding lost cattle.
- In Rig Vedic descriptions Rudra is said to be older than oldest.
- Rudra’s father is Prajapati.(Maitrayani Sanhita,6:1-9). In a mythical story Rudra is said to have killed his father, Prajapati.
- Rudra is depicted as a destroyer of humankind and animals in Rig Veda. (RV 2.33.10)
- Rudra is not a single entity but is enumerated from 11 to 60 in different texts of Vedic literature. In this way, Rudra represents a group of deities bearing the same name. He also is often called the father of Maruts, another group of Vedic Gods.
- Rudrasavarni, 12thManu, is said to be the son of the Rudra.
- Dogs and Wolves are the pets of Rudra. (Atharva Veda 11.2.2)
This description of the Vedic Rudra is completely different to what Hindus think of Shiva.
Shiva was and is a supreme God for the Non-Vedic (Hindu) people. Shiva is ajanma, having no birth or father. Indeed, Shiva is a concept of creation, preservation and destruction of the universe that is worshipped in phallic form. He has no son directly born to him, though kartikeya and Ganesha are associated with him as his sons in later times. Shiva’s mythical abode is mount Kailasa. None of the mythologies associated with him match with Rudra’s. Shiva is “Smarari” – the destroyer of fire sacrifices, which opposes the very concept of Vedic fire sacrifice dedicated to Rudra.
This point about the “Shiva” of Vedas being quite different from the actual Hindu Shiva is made clear by Doris Srinivasan in his “Unhinging Siva from the Indus Civilization”, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, No. 1 (1984), pp. 77-89
It is critical to observe that the animals depicted on the seal are all wild animals, being the elephant, tiger, buffalo and rhinoceros. In surveying the term pagupati in the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda, especially as it relates to Rudra, it is to be concluded that a pagupati does not protect wild animals. Verses in the Atharva Veda make it quite clear that a pagupati protects the domestic animals upon which the agrarian economy and ritual depend. The Vedic evidence would therefore not support the interpretation that the animals on seal 420 are within the domain of a Pasupati. Indeed there is further textual evidence in the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda that Rudra injures precisely those creatures under the protection of a Paiupati.
Srinivasan obviously is confused – he thinks that Shiva originated in the Vedas and since the Harappan seal doesn’t match the Vedic description, it can’t be the Shiva. He fails to recognise the obvious fact that Shiva originated in traditional Hinduism and that Shiva is TOTALLY different from Pasupati of the Vedas.
THIS IS WHAT THE RIG VEDA SAYS
Rigved Samhita Part 1, Sukt 114
and Rigved Samhita Part 1, Mandal 2, Sukt 33.
Rigved Samhita Part 2, Mandal 5, Sukt 3.
Rigved Samhita Part 2, Mandal 6, Sukt 74.
EVOLUTION OF THE IDEA OF GANESHA
Gana in Indian culture always refers to the clans and Ganapati as clan head. Different clans used totems such as serpents, reptiles, birds, trees and elephants. Later when various tribes/clans did assimilate, those totemic symbols were merged in single symbol.
Ganesha’s other epithet is “Vratapati”, lord of the Vratyas – which were non-vedic communities.
The iconology of Ganesha has evolved with time. We have couple of human-head Ganesha from Kushan era. The Ganesha we see today is a collective product of Naga, Yaksha, Vratya and Shiva culture.
GANESHA WAS THE ENEMY OF FIRE SACRIFICE
In the beginning Ganesha (aka Vinayak) was an enemy of fire sacrifices, causing obstruction to such sacrifices. Hence the first oblation was given to him asking him to go to the distant Mujavat mountain. Thus, Ganesha was considered a trouble-maker by the Vedics but was later was accepted as the destroyer of troubles.
WHAT ABOUT MAHAMRITUNJAYA MANTRA?
“Mahamritunjay mantra is mentioned in Rigveda” – said someone. I had no clue about this mantra. I’m informed by Sanjay that mahamrityunjay verse is addressed to “Tryanbak” (an epithet of the fire).
The meanings of Tryanbak is “one who has three fathers in Vedic sense. This term was applied to Shiva also as “one who has three eyes”. But these are entirely different concepts – Mhmrityunjay Mantra has nothing to do with Shiva.
In this regard, “Om” is absent throughout Vedas and other Vedic literature. Om is used mostly for Shiva and the gods in his pantheon. Om in mahamrityunjay mantra also is not found in the original text. The Original Rigvedic mantra simply starts with “Tryambakam yajamahe”. Om was inserted later to show affinity with Shiva.
WHAT ABOUT Yajurveda 126.96.36.199?
This verse states: “Hail to Shiva the most auspicious one, hail to Soma Rudra, hail to the red, copper hued one, hail to the terrible and fearful one, hail to the blue necked one, hail to Pashupati, hail to Shambhu, hail to Shankara, hail to Kapardin, the one with matted hair”- Yajurveda 188.8.131.52 [Source]
Sanjay’s response which I agree with – because he has a concrete theory that explains all facts, while the others don’t:
These verses are from Krishna Yajurveda’s Taaittiriya Samhita, which was used in the southern region only and might have originated there probably during the 1st century BC to third century A.D. – a far later composition (couldn’t be earlier than this as claimed and even if considered older, it is composed in India when Vedics were settled and had started spreading their religion with missionary practice). This mantra also appears without the initial Om in the eighth hymn.
This may be during the period of Vedic missionary entered south India and had to show semblance with Hindu popular gods.
Though Vedics tried to assimilate Shiva with Rudra, Shiva to Hindu remains as only Shiva. Rudra is not worshipped in Lingam form. [Sanjeev: This is the most crucial proof as far as I’m concerned]
These lines also appear in Vajasneyi Samhita of Shukla Yajurveda. This verse is part of Shatarudriya, a hymn in praise of Rudra in which this one line appears which mentions Shiva. But the entire Rudriya does not show that it is meant for Shiva. In fact, Shiva is used as an epithet to Rudra and some special attributes of Shiva have been used for Rudra. This does not make both one and the same.
Vedics created this verse out of their need to adapt to a foreign land. Thus, Christians in the medieval period wrote their own “Khrist Purana” in Indian Purana style to spread their message. Such a strategy seems to have been initiated by the Vedics – who inserted the mention of Shiva in a couple of places in late writings in order to “prove” that the Hindu Shiva is also Vedic – which he is obviously not.
WHAT ABOUT DURGA PARVATI AND THE MOTHER GODDESS CONCEPT?
Since Parvati, Durga and so on are crucial to the fertility focus of traditional Hinduism, to what extent do such goddesses find mention in the Vedas?
Fertility is not part of Vedicism. The concept of “Mother Goddess” is absent in Vedic literature. Indologist Dr. RG Bhandarkar also states that the concept of the mother goddess is significant as it is more or less absent in the Vedas. Similarly, image worship which is so basic to the present day Hinduism was unknown in the Vedic and post Vedic periods, whereas there are indications that it was practiced by the people of Sindhu valley civilisation and so on.
The process and social ideology of both religions (Hinduism and Vedic religion) are completely opposite to each other which is reflected in their iconology and mythology.
Female goddesses are very few in the Vedas in comparison with about 640 male gods. Most female goddesses are the personification of natural elements such:
- Sarasvati (River)
- Ratri (Night)
- Dhatri (Earth)
- Ushas (the personification of the morning)
They are subordinate goddesses because the Vedic system is patriarchial and women are treated inferior to men. No Vedic goddess is prominent even today although the Vedics have tried to promote Sarasvati.
For instance, the consort of Vishnu, Laxmi is not originally a Vedic goddess nor does she finds any mention in the main body of Rigveda. Laxmi originally was worshipped in India in the Yakshini form and was associated with Vishnu in the Gupta era. But if we look and the iconology, Laxmi is not depicted as Mother Goddess and is subordinate to Vishnu serving him sitting at his feet whereas Shiva-Shakti is equal and unified in the form of Shivalingam and his Ardha-Nari Nateshvar form. Hindus give equal importance (and at some places even higher) to Shakti goddesses. That is why if there are 12 Jyotirlingas there are 52 main Shaktipeethas spread across the country.
MY NOTE REGARDING THE IMPLICATIONS OF SANJAY’S WORK
Once Vedic religion is proved to be distinct (and foreign) to Hinduism, it will have many political implications:
a) It will destroy RSS/BJP’s claim that Vedic Hinduism is indigenous. Since Vedic religion is foreign, their objections to Islam and Christianity become less valid.
b) It will destroy the concept of “varna”-based caste system. Vedics can continue with their caste if they wish. But most Hindus can then choose to abandon this nonsense and revert to their ancient tradition of total equality.
c) It will bring back a focus on India’s many sceptical schools of thought. It will liberate India from all forms of social, internal, tyranny and make it meaningful as a society to focus on freedom and good governance.
Many Vedic gods are similar or exactly the same in Greek and Avestan culture. For example, Zeus and Indra have many similar attributes and characteristics but their differences are also striking. These similarities don’t make both the religions or Gods the same.
Although nowhere as old as the evidence provided earlier, this also shows the ancient prevalence of the traditional Hindu gods across South India. I don’t think there’s even the remotest semblance of Vedic gods in any of the ancient South Indian temples.
Adhi Vinayakar temple, Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu is considered equivalent to Kasi & Rameswaram. This is the oldest unique temple (origin before 7CE) with the granite statue of Vinayakar or pillaiyar with out Elephant head. This Ganesh Shrine is located outside Shiva temple. pic.twitter.com/r9SX3Cr6PK
— Prabhakaran Natraj (@Physiatrics_) August 27, 2020