GHOST DIVISION – On The BhutaGana of Mahadev & The Einherjar of Odin
[Author’s Note: This piece was initially intended as an offering for MahaShivRatri, which was this year in early March. A combination of delays in the writing and peer-review process – for which I take full responsibility – meant that it was not published until early April; as ‘Luck’ [one potential translation for ‘Shiva’] would have it, just in time for Arya Akasha’s first anniversary of proceeding ‘above ground’ with our operations. References to matters of ‘timing’ and dates , therefore, should be taken in this light.]
Tonight marks the high holy observance of MahaShivRatri – the Great Night of Shiva. Falling upon a New Moon when the sky is darkest, this is often regarded as the blackest point of the year. Appropriate, then, for MahaKaal.
As with many elements within Hinduism, there are several reasonings for the Sacredness of this Night. Some say that it is the occasion when Lord Shiva Nataraja performs the Tandava – the cosmic dance whose rhythms and motions are keyed to those of the Universe itself. Others emphasize the significance of the commemoration of the reunification of Lord Shiva and Lady Parvati in marriage, following the latter’s reincarnation after the events of the ill-famed Horse-Sacrifice of Daksha [for more details upon this, please consult Arya Akasha’s NavRatri series, and in particular the piece on Ma as ChandraGhanta].
This multiplicity of mythic mandates for the observance is mirrored in the myriad of methods via which Devotees will mark it, dependent upon temperament and regional/sect-ional custom. At its most basic, Shaivites and other Hindus will make offerings of milk upon a Shaivite Altar [ShivLingPuja]. The more ardent Devotees will carry out a Jagraan – an all-night vigil at which it is customary to sing hymns, to perform more intricate rituals (such as synchronized RudraAbhishekam], to chant, even to dance, and to tell the stories and legends of Mahadev so that we may (re-)immanentize them out into the reality around us once more.
As a point of interest, Kathmandu this time of year is shrouded the city-over in dense clouds of smoke – the conventional fire offerings intermingled with the cannabis smoke so beloved of the Lord, as thousands upon thousands of Sadhus and other holy-men of the Mountains come down from their meditations amidst the crags to throng the streets leading to the Pashupatinath complex which lies at its heart. These ‘wild men’ live their lives in conscious honorific imitation of Shiva, growing their hair long and Jatta, bearing both Trident and Drum, dancing, and smoking cannabis in resin or plant form with little thought given to the externally imposed (quite literally – by the Americans, in the 1970s) laws governing such things. It amuses me every year when the Nepali police issue a statement in the run-up to Maha ShivRatri stating they won’t be enforcing anti-drug laws against the Shaivite Saints and Sadhus in attendance – nobody, one supposes, wants to arrest a holy-man.
Nepal also goes very ‘all-out’ in other ways for this festival; with the custom that is often performed by ordinary Devotees elsewhere in the Hindusphere, of dressing up (in a manner perhaps not entirely dissimilar to Halloween/The Day of the Dead costuming in their older and yet-uncommercialized significance) as the Bhole Ki Baraat – the Wedding Processional/Armed Retinue of Mahadev – being mirrored directly by the Nepali Army, who carry out an annual Parade in honour of the Deity Whose Trishula & Damaru they themselves bear as their ensign.
In fact, it is this element of the mythology which forms the crux of this piece. You see, the Baraat of Rudra is comprised of many of the same elements as the BhutaGana of Mahadev. Which is entirely understandable. After all, if one is going to have an armed wedding processional (as was the custom in older times upon the Subcontinent for a prospective Dulha [Groom]), then it only makes sense for it to be built around the Army of Ghosts (and, for that matter, Court of Fiends, intimidatingly visaged religious folks etc.) which frequently accompany Shiva anyway.
So therefore, just as MahaShivRatri is an observance of reunification, and characterized by votive offerings from Devotees to recognize said theme … allow us here at the Nordic-Aryan Sangha [ #NAS ] and Arya Akasha Research Institute, to present our 2019 MahaShivRatri commentary:
GHOST DIVISION – On the BhutaGana of Mahadev, and the Einherjar of Odin.
As we shall demonstrate, in the case of the Terrifying [Yggr/Bhairava] Lord of the Worlds, the One Who is Roarer [Rudra/Hrjóðr], Who is Wielder of the [Three]Spear [ShulaPani/GeirTyr], with the Flaming Eye [Baleygr – also a well-known Shaivite element], accompanied by the Two Wolves, Husband of the Mountain-Goddess [UmaPataye / Faðmbyggvir Friggjar] and Who is the Wandering [Harrower] of the Storm Wind [Vayu-Vata/Voden] … the accompaniment of this most Mighty of Deities, in both Indo-European cultures’ mythological perspectives, by an armed force of dead-but-not warriors is yet further evidence of the underlying fundamental *unity* of both ‘Vedic’ and ‘Eddic’ religion.
It also has further societal and devotional implications for the ‘soteriology’ of each pathway. Insofar as the highest honour for the pious in both cultures can be regarded as the demonstration over the course of one’s lifetime and in the manner of one’s death that you, too, are worthy to join the most esteemed ranks of the retinue of the Lord of the (Un)Dead [Draugrdrottin/Bhutenath] and ascend to a more fundamental (indeed – Feudal ! ) unity of purpose with the primarch-primogenitor Heavenly Father of our people(s). [add appropriate Old Norse & Sanskrit equivalencies for the aforementioned terms].
But who – or, one supposes more especially, what – are these revenant reivers?
The Haunting Harii of the High(est) One
We shall start with the Nordic understanding – the Einherjar, and other, strongly similar encounterings such as the “Harii” ‘tribe’ cited by Tacitus in Germania, and the subsequent developments of the Wild Hunt and Troupe of Harlequin.
As applies the “Einherjar”, the etymology of the term renders it something closely approximating “One Man Army” – a fitting epithet for those who were, in life, the mightiest of the mighty upon the fields of war. [The ‘Herja’ particle, as a point of interest, continues on also into modern German as “Heer” – Army; modern English in “to harry”, or Harrow, the latter of which originally referred to a Germanic raiding party; and in a fitting bout of #NAS – is strongly coterminous with the “Hara” epithet of Mahadev, meaning a “Destroyer” or “Seizer”, and in a slightly older form, “Overpowerer”, “Victor”.] [However, it is important to note the other potential rendering of ‘Einherjar’ – with ‘Ein’, in this sense, meaning a “Unique”, ‘one-of-a-kind’ combatant – further underscoring the quite literally exceptionally high standards of both skill and nobility requisite for entry into Odin’s own Spear-Hall]
Observed in combat by the Valkyries [the ‘choosers of the slain’ – an epithet closely coterminous with the Valkjosandi theonym of Odin, their Lord], they are selected upon their death for their inherent worthiness, their nobility, as measured in no small part through their sheer hypercompetence at feats of heroics and force of arms; and then borne aloft to a further ‘winnowing’ (or, if you prefer, “harrowing”) process, wherein half the ‘worthies’ are directed to Freyja’s own equivalent to Valhalla – Folkvangr [the ‘field of the body-of-men’ , perhaps understandable in a manner similar to an army encampment].
Once there, they continue to hone and perfect their martial skills fighting against one another day in, day out; interrupted by the restorative feasts and drinking, and presumably also story-telling upon an evening.
The purpose of all of this?
The superior prosecution of the War At The End Of Time; a conflict so incredibly dire in scope and portency that, as Odin says in the Gylfaginning, “when the Wolf comes”, even such a mighty host of the greatest warriors in the world, numbering in their thousands, and with thousands of years worth of further preparation and training atop their already incredible prowess, shall seem “too few”.
But what is Indo-European mythology – especially of the Germanic iterations – without brave, glorious, and noble Last Stands.
Now, it is intriguing to note that the same general concept of ‘ghost warriors’, turns up repeatedly and in perhaps surprising places, elsewhere in the corpus of what we know about the ancient Germanic folk.
One most prominent source is, as mentioned earlier, a peculiar passage in Tacitus’ Germania work of ethnography, detailing a tribe he called the “Harii”.
Quoth Tacitus: “As for the Harii, quite apart from their strength, which exceeds that of the other tribes I have just listed, they pander to their innate savagery by skill and timing: with black shields and painted bodies, they choose dark nights to fight, and by means of terror and shadow of a ghostly army they cause panic, since no enemy can bear a sight so unexpected and hellish; in every battle the eyes are the first to be conquered.”
Now, there are a number of things going on here that are important to mention. The first ,unquestionably, is that it’s likely Tacitus was getting the wrong end of the stick [usually, in Germanic culture, the *pointy* end of the spear … quite literally] when it came to nomenclature – if this tribe ever did exist, and wasn’t simply an interpolation via slightly confused interlocutors recounting tales of the rather more *literal* Ghost Warriors we have earlier encountered above. “Harii”, is a latinization of the aforementioned Germanic words for a war-host, a raiding-party, an army; or of those referring to warriors and their warrior-chieftains. It is possible, I suppose, that some Roman somewhere with a passing knowledge of Germanic speech encountered some Germans, asked them who they were, and in a manner akin to a particular scene from The 300, was told simply that they were “warriors”, which got misrecorded as an ethonym instead of a more … generalized statement of fact and purpose.
But given the other elements at play in this passage, including the pointed use of psychological warfare, striking from the dark in unexpected places, the visual efforts to appear as the supernatural soldiers of the sepulchre, and the quite pointed remarks about the infliction of *blindness* of the enemy upon the field of war [which strongly recall two Theonyms of Odin – Herblindi , and Gunnblindi – meaning ‘Army-Blinder’ and ‘Battle-Blinder’, respectively] … I suspect that this is either the indirect recounting of the archetypal ‘Bhutagana’ of Odin – or, perhaps more interestingly, that it is a sort of necessary ‘re-unification’ of the aforementioned archetypal concept in its *mythic* sense, with the ideal performance, tactics, and ultimate result of actually-existing Germanic tribal war-hosts.
Or, phrased another way – while I would be rather surprised if there ever were a “Harii” tribe of Germanic humans at the time Tacitus was writing … and suspect rather strongly that it’s at least one and possibly several layers of confusion (appropriately enough) about a mythic account or actually practiced martial practice … in its supernal sense, this passage is best understood (to my mind, anyway), as *both*.
The prototypical , archetypal army of legendary reputation to which all should aspire to be.
Much like, as we have seen earlier, the Einherjar all up.
The Performances Of The Masqued One ; The Sayings of the High Harlequin ; Insane Kon Pati
Another, perhaps less immediately obvious derivation from this initial point of inspiration, concerns the medieval and renaissance figure of the “Harlequin”, and his associated troup of ghosts and devils. Now, it’s not hard to see why this seems rather curious if not outright counterintuitive to the modern eye.
If we say “Harlequin”, at *best* most think of some Renaissance Italian actor dressed up like a clown. The ordinary person more probably thinks of a female criminal with demonstrable ‘daddy-issues’ from a certain rather recent bad movie.
Yet as applies the former, at least, the essential connexions are there if you know where to look. After all, in terms of ‘dramatic performance’, the putting on of masks or disguises, and the singing recitation of poetry … both Odin and Shiva have very *very* strong resonances here. Doubly so when we consider the strong elements of intellect, meta-textual/meta-narrative (self-)awareness [that is to say, being keenly aware of one’s own place within the plot, the story … and thence, able to ‘manipulate’, to ‘game’, and even to ‘subvert’ somewhat or ‘dance upon the fourth wall’ if not outright breaking through it] , and a significant acrobatic agility, untrammelled by the fetters of ‘orthodox’ or ‘ordained’ social conduct, particularly in pursuit of a rather special woman … which the Harlequin came to be characterized by.
This is further strengthened via the French identification of the “Wild Hunt” as the Mesnée d’Hellequin – the House [or, if you prefer, the Huscarla] of Harlequin. And it is to that phenomenon which we now shall turn. Albeit briefly, for the examination of the Wild Hunt, in all its various observations throughout the Indo-Europeanisphere , would be quite a weighty work all by itself!
Riders On The Storm – The Wild Hunt In Europe & Eurasia
Suffice to say that in an array of Northern European cultures, it has never lost its very direct identification with Odin (as seen in quite a number of localized names in particular tongues especially occurring across the Germanosphere), and is customarily visualized as an oncoming host of, as the old song puts it – “Ghost Riders In The Sky”; often engaged in some sort of hunt, lead by a mighty figure appropriately equipped (say, with a spear – a frequent hunting weapon when upon horseback), and characterized overall by a “wildness” (hence, you know, the name) – an untameable fury. In Sanskrit, we would say “Ugra”.
Now this, in and of itself, is interesting, for looking at what we have just described we do not only have a very close coterminity with the aforementioned ‘Ghost Warriors’ who form Odin’s ‘host’ and ‘household guard’, so to speak. We *also* have a straight-up refraction of the likely original Indo-European divine archetype whence both Odin (Voden, Vatain, etc.) and Vayu-Vata [Who interestingly is regarded as bearing a *Flag*, in relation to His Lance, a symbol of striking import in terms of both sovereignty and battle-line/rallying-point], and quite a number of wind-wandering, horseback-riding, lance/spear equipped deific figures in between (these are especially common amidst the Scythians and related Indo-European cultures of the Steppes, for reasons that should be patently obvious – it represents, more than any other, their idealized way of life and war and death (the infliction of)).
The Lord of such a Host, then, is not just the Atriðr (the Charging Rider – and it occurred to me at Mandir this evening that Kartikeya/Skanda, the Son of Shiva and a Commander of the Heavenly Army, is very much also this in terms of both panoply and iconography, as well as linguistics .. “Like Father Like Son”, we might say), or the Fráríðr (He Who Rides Forth). He is also the Reiðartýr (the God of Riders). A veritable ‘Rider On The Storm’.
This ‘archetypal’ formulation shall be expanded upon at various points in the ensuing article below; as it is my belief that it lies at the very core of most all the veritable whirlwind of mythemes and elementized instances which are presently under our consideration.
Yet speaking of ‘Storm-Riders’, in the Vedic context, it is not necessarily the BhutaGana who spring instantly to mind. Rather, in addition to those Hindu deific aspects aforementioned, it is the Maruts to Whom we now turn.
The Golden Legion Of Thunder Warriors
On the face of it, leading into the Vedic section of this piece with the Maruts, may seem like something of a curious choice. After all, whereas the BhutaGana or the Einherjar are ‘post-human’ ‘Ghost-Warriors’ after a sort, born of men and having already died at least once … the Maruts are something very different. At least in terms of essence-tial origin. They are more appropriately thought of as something akin to ‘Demigods’, although with parentage directly traceable to Rudra and the Earth Mother, this is more of a relative term in terms of power-levels, than a literal one. Matters are further complicated by the potentially coterminous class of roaring followers of Rudra, the Rudras, with whom the Maruts share many significant characteristics, role, and function.
Interestingly, for the purposes of our Indo-European Vedic-Eddic cross-comparative analysis, the Rudras are specifically identified with the ‘breath of life’. This is vital (in more than one sense of the term) – as not only is this itself an Odinic linkage, and further emanation of the general principle of ‘Wind’ [or, in at least one ancient IE culture, that we shall not go into too deeply, “Smoke” or “Mist”]; but the Upanishadic citation for the *leaving* of Breath from the body (i.e. *Death*) being what produces the perceptible observation of the Rudras (although I suspect rather strongly that the resultant ‘folk-etymological’ explanation for Their group-name as referring to the ‘howling’ of those who mourn somebody who has just died … may be a post-facto interpolation of limited saliency, and borne from a desire to ‘make things fit’) … well, that fairly naturally entails the Rudras, too, in this accounting, being post-mortal figures existing in archetypal emanation of Their mighty Lord. This is further supported by the iconographic descriptions of the Rudras – whether as Roaring, aggressive, skull-bearing, trident-wielding wild-haired warriors clad in potentially totemic skins of fearsome beasts, Their Moon-Crowns perhaps signifying that They are as Princes or Jarls amongst the Ishvara’s [God-Emperor’s] Forces; or in perhaps less overtly anthropomorphic form, as lightning-infused storm-clouds, Whose roaring is more directly that of the Storm : as They range about the Upper Atmosphere, there can be little doubt as to Their most direct affinity and affiliation.
In either case – that of the Maruts, and/or that of the Rudras – we have, once again, the essential ingredients of the *broader* [as broad as an incoming storm-front, in fact, riding forth from the North, and therefore implicitly, the high atmospheric heavens about the World Mountain(s)] typology of the Housecarls of the Hurricane we have sketched out earlier. It is my belief that even though the Maruts may be described as chariot-borne combatants (*horseless* chariots, in some RigVedic hymnals, I note – which induces me to ponder at least partially on the basis of Rule of Cool, the concept of the ‘roaring’ of the Maruts being because They are astride flying motorbikes … ], and of directly Divine parentage, that They nevertheless very much represent the same underlying archetype as the Wild Hunt, in this regard.
How else to conceptualize or otherwise construe this retinue of rampaging riders, armed with lances of light and axes of golden-electric hue (in both cases, in emulation of the armaments of Vayu-Rudra, respectively), Who soar through the Sky, striking with the magnitude not of mere mortals – but of the proverbial Force of Nature, the Fury of the Storm and the Might of the Monsoon Itself.
This interpretation is strengthened considerably by the display of the RudraGana on show in the Vayu Purana – one of my favourite sections of the mythological Hindu accounts – wherein Their manifestation, mission, and ministry as executors of the Wrath of Rudra is so eloquently described. First, Veerabhadra [a Form or Emanation of Mahadev, more specifically of His Wrath] is brought into being, and also described in such terms that we are left in absolutely no doubt that here stands (or, occasionally, *dances*) an embodiment of many if not most of the key features of Mahadev – an ’emulation’, we might say.
Now, the etymology of “VeeraBhadra” is interesting, and very revealing in terms of our overall comparative typology with the earlier aforementioned Einherjar of Odin. The name ‘Veerabhadra’ itself may be broadly translated as “Great Hero”, but also as the ‘Excellent Man’. “Veera” being of the same etymological origins as the Latin “Vir”, but also “Virtus”, and thence both “Virile” and “Virtue” in modern English – each pertaining in certain senses to the idealized qualities of the best man. “Bhadra” , meanwhile, shares both an etymology and a certain shade of meaning with the modern English term “Better”, and serves to communicate the notion of ‘greatness’, of ‘excellence’. A ‘Great Hero’, of the Best of Men, you may recall, being *exactly* what Odin-dev demands of His Chosen emissaries upon the fields of war.
The further (and somewhat more figurative) derivations of these terms only strengthen the linkage – “Veera” can also refer to a ‘Son’, an ‘Actor’, a ‘Chief’, particularly one who is ‘Brave’ and ‘Daring’ (and, interestingly enough, ‘Fire’ – which is, after all, both sanctifying and destroying). “Bhadra” has also itself come to mean ‘nobility’, ‘auspicious/good luck’ [perhaps compare the Old Norse ‘Hamingja’], ‘skillful, skill at arms’, as well as terms for both iron and gold [the metals of death and immortality/nobility], ‘prosperity’, ‘friendliness’, and ‘happiness’. And what are the Einherjar? Why, Odin’s Adoptive *Sons*, drawn of the greatest, the bravest, the luckiest, and most martially skilled of those of Noble stock and bearing (that is to say – ‘chiefs’, the cognate term of which, ‘Captain’ is also very relevant here in terms of the relationship with the Rudran retinue which accompanies VeeraBhadra in the myth). “Actor”, meanwhile, recalls both the strong dramateurgical associations of the Deity in question (c.f the Harlequin and His Troupe; but also, one could argue, Odin’s Masks and mastery of verse; and, as we shall see subsequently in this piece, Mahadev’s most strong linkage to the concept), as well as the idea of ‘acting as’ another – emulating a figure for a role. Such as, in this particular case, one’s Patron-Primogenitor Deity, as the (im)mortal and immediate instrument of His Holy Wrath, an embodied (in the instance of VeeraBhadra, quite literally) thereof here on Earth or elsewhere.
‘Friendliness’ might seem an odd quality in a superlatively competent combatant and killer, yet ‘camaraderie’ is key to an effective fighting force; the Nordic concept of ‘Frith’, particularly as a bond between the closest of friends (same etymological root) and especially those who share common purpose, as well as in its subsequent sense pertaining to ‘Fealty’ and ‘Feudal’ loyalty towards one’s Lord, forms a very useful comparative here.
“Happiness”, meanwhile, is also a quality we should be entirely unsurprised to find in a (V)Ed(d)ic Divine Warrior (Consider the Odinic Theonymic: Herteitr – ‘Glad of War’; ‘teitr’, interestingly, deriving from a term referring to ‘radiate’, to ‘shimmer’ and ‘shine’, ‘brilliance’, ‘brightness’). Even leaving aside the strong image of one who ‘laughs in the face of danger’, smiles as they smitheth the foe, and generally all-around seems most ‘at peace’ when in the midst of war; at its simplest level, one who enjoys – indeed, *relishes* – their role and sacred purpose, is a vital figure for the truly religious to emulate – almost regardless of the service to which they are called upon to perform.
We find a similar concept in the philosophical interpretations of the term ecstasy. Its literal meaning is something along the lines of ‘outside one’s self’, interpreted variously as ‘connection with God’, being ‘outside of time’ through total engagement and absorption within one’s action and purpose – or, as I have previously sought to explain it, the sort of joy which the hammer being used as a hammer must experience. The ‘self’, or at least the self-critical and constraining portions of it, is discarded in favour of the most simple and near-purest-possible Being; rendering the devotee far beyond ‘human’ – quite probably, acting in accordance with some deep-seated mythic archetypal ethos they are not at all conscious of choosing to become. It is more than possible, it is likely in fact, that various of the trance-like rages or states of (oft-dancing) devotion such as the Hamasking of the Berserks, the howling rages of the Ulfhednar, the famed Furor Teutonicus or Furor Poeticus, and even (perhaps most especially) the ‘Ergreiffing’ phenomenon reported upon by Jung in his famed ‘Wotan’ essay, are similar occurrences.
As Wordsworth put it in his poem at least partially about Lord Nelson – “This is the Happy Warrior;this is He / That every man in arms should wish to be”.
These superlatives do not simply apply only to VeeraBhadra – but also, almost equally, to the war-cry shouting formations of Rudras similarly emanated Whom He is accompanied by. The Rudras are described as even able to subdue the might of the other Gods due to Their being as their Deific Progenitor Himself in (relative, here) power and wrathfulness.
The message is clear: the Rudras, and Their most martially proficient commander in the field of combat, charging “from the gloom”, and flying through the sky, with the full force and fury of the storm, are a further manifestation of the concept that the War-Host of Woden-Rudra run upon exactly the same archetype as He is – albeit at far more numerous scale.
Yet these are not the only Ganas amidst the War-Hosts of Woden-Dev.
The Cremation Court of Krewh, the Kravyada-King
We shall largely leave the ‘Court of Fiends’ for another time; as they are a fascinatingly broad area of discussion in and of themselves. However, in addition to the obvious point of cross-cultural comparison with the warband of ‘devils’ which the aforementioned Hellequin figure is accompanied by, there are two salient elements yet to be raised about them, of direct relevancy to our cross-cultural analysis.
The first of these, concerns the role and function of these frightful apparitions, particularly in their preferential demesne of the Smashana – the Charnel, Cremation Grounds, where Lord Shiva is Also to be Found. You see, here they act as something of a ‘filtration mechanism’; ensuring in a manner very reminiscent of the Valkyries of Odin, that only the bravest and most mighty souls are able to move close enough to Mahadev in this guise for the benefit of an audience – and potential recruitment themselves into the Retinue of Rudra the Terrific. Partially, this is supposed to be an ‘exercise in self-mastery’ and the demonstration of Faith: where others would quail in terror at what they see dwelling therein (both in themselves, to be sure, but also most especially, in amongst the Ashes and the Skulls of the Charnel Quarters) and run screaming thereupon, or collapse in paroxysms of phobia, their hearts stopping in their chests from adrenal overload … those who have attained a certain mastery over their emotions, and over their perceptive powers of discernment (one part of the Aghori devotional understanding, to be sure), and those who are appropriately sure of Mahadev’s protection and mastery over All, are not similarly imperilled.
This is also the case in terms of the martial vigour, and the cunning of said aspirants to the Company of MahaKaala – for in addition to the presence of mind not to collapse at the meerest sight of the Court of Fiends, and the determination to persist through their frightening visages and malefic intercessions, it shall also often be necessary to more directly subdue (via ‘conventional means’ or otherwise) some of the Champions of the Skull-King; an adequate ‘test of mettle’ before meeting the Lord of Metal Himself.
This is a combination of a sort of Barbarian-ethos ‘test of strength’, mythic Katabasis [the ‘Going Under’ of a venturing into the Underworld frequently encountered in an array of Indo-European and other myth, which also forms the core mytheme for Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces], and an interesting ‘twist’ on what has been previously observed with the Valkyries. For as the Valkyries ‘choose of the slain’ once these aspirants are *already* dead, in battle – here, the would-be worthies instead venture into the Demesne of the Dead , perhaps *as if* they are slain, and only thereupon to be judged via further exertions upon their behalf. In a way, this may perhaps be said to be more ‘courageous’ – or at least more ‘bold’. After all, to every man upon this earth death cometh soon or late. Yet to voluntarily venture into a microcosm of Hell while yet still alive, in pursuit of decidedly uncertain reward … and to still live to tell the tale … *that* is a form of Heroism all its own.
Most particularly when it is enabled and indeed *impelled* through the most single-minded dedication and pious devotion that *only* Mahadev , not thoughts of self-preservation (which is ultimately, what ‘fear’ stems from), nor material gain (which is, after all, fundamentally ‘illusion’ – or a golden hind – and the denizens of the Deadening Space(s) are masters thereof to their purpose), nor vainglorious pursuit of one’s own aggressive (self-)aggrandizement (in which case, the terror of death weighs most doubly – both due to the potential for the ‘end’ to this span of ‘self’ which it represents; and also due to a fundamental, foundational *lack of Piety*, and Belief : FAITH : in the Isvara-Who-Is-Dominate-Over-Death to empower one, to guide one, to meet these challenges and triumph also over them) … – that *only* Mahadev and the simple desire to be nearer, more proximate and closer in emulation to one’s righteous (Svarga-)Sovereign , lies within one’s heart as plenipotentiary purpose. For anything *else* may have to be “burned away” (this is, after all, a cremation ground) – and burnings, you see, especially of that which we hold most tightly to, and definitely of iron-y disposition, can *hurt*. (or, often, disfigure in the longer term) .
It is also possible that the ascension through the Cremation Ground is to be interpreted rather more literally – that is to say, as transpiring with death, and therefore being very much aligned with the Einherjar tradition, of the best of the slain being those from among whom Odin-Rudra takes into His Company.
And, for that matter, that the processional into the Cremation Grounds – a place of fire, and the ‘burning away’ of what is no longer necessary for a soul- represents exactly that for a Devotee. Heading into a place of death … wherein the Devotee (or, at least, their soul) does not die; but the illusions, delusions, impurities, and other such encumbrances upon them which would otherwise hinder their efforts to be ‘Closer to God’ in both propinquity and in proclivity. Except whereas in ‘conventional circumstances’, this would include the destruction of the body in fire so that the soul might be unfettered for further transmigration elsewhere (which, to be sure, *may* include eventual winding up with, or even potentially *part of* one’s Deity) … in these instances, neither portion (the disintegration in flame or otherwise of the body, and/or the transmigration of the soul) are necessarily the case. Instead, the Devotee able to master their fear, brave the inhospitable environs [and inhabitants], and the implicit conditions of their mortality, is hopefully accepted thusly into the Court of the Charnel Lord, to become ever more like Him as a result.
This more ‘figurative’ approach to the notion of sanskara-by-immolation also shows up in some commentaries upon the Srimad Bhagavatam – wherein the BhutaGana phenomenon is ‘explained’ via suggestion that Lord Shiva surrounds Himself with Ghost and Demons, as these are supposedly decidedly imperfect and unenlightened beings (hence why they have become ‘stuck’ at their various stations and stages of existence), and Mahadeva has taken it upon Himself to help them, to improve them, to ‘refine’ them, so that they may thence continue their ongoing progression ‘upwards’.
It’s a nice story … but especially given the Vaishnava context of these remarks – which seemingly go out of their way in both the original text and the attached commentaries, to attack Shiva and Shaivites as various sorts of unkempt, crazy, drug-using, and even out-right a-Vedic ‘dullards’ … I think that we can safely say that there is, at the very least, a certain level of ‘inter-sect-ional’ negative/pejorative bias going on here. With consequent distortion of the actual realities of the matter.
This is not, of course, to say that I entirely dismiss the core of the notion that Shiva may very definitely and very deliberately incorporate into His company [in both senses of the term], imperfect beings who could use some help and guidance in improvement. Quite the contrary – and one could perhaps argue that the circumstances of Sri Ravan present something of an illustration of somebody coming into closer proximity with the Great God, and engaging in various tasks and acts of improvements at His behest. BholeNath is Most Merciful.
It is just that I am fairly certain that there is far more (and far more positively) going on than that ‘core’. For example, the statements of Lord Shiva genuinely enjoying the company of His creatures, as they are often rather alike to Him in many arrays of temperament, enthusiasms, and interests. And despite the supreme exaltation of Lord Shiva’s situation of quite radiant ‘Domestic Bliss’ with Lady Parvati [hence the Ardhanarishvara combined Aspect as a symbol of Their perfect union] – it is entirely understandable that even He may, from time to time, also relish spending time with, as the colloquialism would put it – “The Boys”. [Although as a brief footnote on that … given what we know from the mythology, Lady Parvati, especially in certain Forms and Aspects, is very much *also* capable of comporting with ‘The Boys’ in this sense; and, further, is attested in scriptural sources as possessing Ganas of Her Own – whether Her Own Bhuts [‘ निजगणभूत’], or fearsome ‘savage’ female figures perhaps analogous to the modern conception of ‘Amazons’ [‘महाशबरीगण’]; this may also link to the Nordic understanding of Freyja taking half the share of warrior worthies selected by the Valkyries, to Her demesne of Folkvangr]. One can also clearly imagine Sire Odin drinking, story-telling, and fight-training (that is to say .. “socializing”, although this does not quite capture the depth and weight of what is entailed by this here) with the denizens of Valhalla in much the same manner.
In either case, there is a clear resonance to be found with the concept underpinning the name of Valhalla – Hall of the Slain. Both locales, after all, are places of the God: where the selected of the Dead go and where yet-mortal and yet-breathing great men should often desire to head. Both would be seemingly inhospitable to any unworthy soul which somehow managed to enter therein to – the likely outcome being their yet-remaining shade ripped to shreds by the more ‘worthy’ inhabitants. And both are places where the imperfect (yet still somehow worthy) go to be rendered greater,closer to perfection than they already can be in their previous phases of existence.
It may be thought that Odin would have little use for “broken” things – and therefore, that this would provide somewhat of a point of distinction between the BhutaGana of the Smashana, and the Einherjar of Valhalla. Yet even leaving aside the fact that if one is making a weapon, the jagged shards of ‘imperfection’ can also be very useful (and there is a surrounding metaphor here about how some bottles, when dropped, just shatter .. whereas others produce lethal, and surprisingly efficient killing devices in the pattern of their crack); what is the ceaseless training undergone by the Adopted Sons of Odin, other than the quest to render the imperfect, as close to a monomolecular killing edge as honingly possible.
As I have said – this is actually a point of *coterminity* with the BhutaGana rationale. The rather strong desire and evident effort to make better, to engage in an ongoing process of perfection, of that which is as-yet imperfect, but which yet shows promise. A true action of the Patron of Devotees.
Brahmins, Also, In RudraLoka
The second element to be raised in connexion with the Court of Fiends of the Kaal-King, concerns the BrahmaRakshasas – Rakshasas of Brahmin status, and Brahmins who have become a particular type of Rakshasa. The former may include such luminary examples as Ravana, Who despite His malefic actions in the course of the Ramayana, was nevertheless amongst the most foremost Devotees of Mahadev [and, in fact, per legends, was responsible for the composition of the ShivTandavStotram which we still sing in reverence today, amongst other works of esteemable quality and quotient]. But as fearsome and formidable as those such fiends nevertheless are, our focus here is upon the latter typology. That of the Brahmin who upon his death, becomes a Brahma Rakshasa. [Interestingly, this term is also used in the current day to refer often with scorn and derision by certain sorts, to a Brahmin who yet eats meat – Rakshasa, having a figurative connection to the notion of a rapacious consumer of flesh. Perhaps also the root of more modern and pop-cultural informing linkages of the concept of Rakshasas with that of Tigers – these large and eminent lords of the jungle also informing the “Manticore” which comes to us here in the West via a derivation from the Persian for ‘man-eater’ – Merthykuwar ]
Now ordinarily, this is to be seen as a ‘condemnation’ for the otherwise should-be virtuous soul of the Brahmana in question. However, I have never taken the view that to be a Rakshasa is to be axiomatically evil; and the spate of such instances from Puranic-era and subsequent Hindu mythology would appear to support this critical perspective upon the more ‘narrow-minded’ presumption. This does *not*, of course, axiomatically entail that no Rakshasa, Brahmin or otherwise, is “evil”; and especially given the aforementioned instance of a ‘morally complex’ figure like Ravana (wherein serious and laudable acts of piety, and indeed of good-governance for His subjects; are mixed with ‘fatal flaw’ weaknesses that eventually lead to His undoing as the fairly evitable result of particular morally condemnable conduct), as well as the extreme possibility as presented elsewhere in Shaivite mythology that carrying out His Divine Will may entail otherwise seemingly ‘malefic’ acts (c.f the mass-purgation at the Horse-Sacrifice of Daksha by VeeraBhadra and the Hara’s Hosts which we have been discussing; or the action of KaalBhairavJi which lead to His incurment of the Sin and consequent Pursuit of Brahmahatya – as righteous as the Beheading of Brahma had been) … it is very possible that, much like men, these beings may be something other than entirely clear-cut ‘good’ or ‘evil’ in their actions and essence – or, for that matter, that what might at first *appear* to be ‘evil’, is in fact merely ‘good’ of a far more overarching kind. The Nordic-relevant paradigm of “Law vs Chaos” as a not-entirely-perfect correlate for “Good vs Evil” is also salient here. But I digress.
The point is – whereas in the Nordic reasoning, Odin has prime concern for the conscription of the mightiest warriors, for the purposes of the War at the End of Time (and perhaps, although this is my speculation, for other reckonings, or even recreational pursuits (After all, Shiva enjoys the company of His Ganas), in the mean-time) ; in the Vedic , it has not been the case that only Kshatriyas [or, for that matter, the various lineages and individuals of Weapons-wielding Brahmins, etc.) are capable of heroic heights upon the fields of war. Indeed, as has been covered elsewhere in our works on the presently relevant/immanent concept of “Dharma-Yuddha”, there is a *very strong* cause for those whose abilities and aptitudes lean more towards the ‘metaphysical’ than the ‘merely-physical’ to make vitally important active contribution in these regards. This is particularly the case given the fantastic powers available to those Sages Who possess the conversant [literally] knowledge of Sanskrit, of Rites (sacrificial and otherwise), and of Mantras, Siddhis, and Insights; which render Them *fully capable* of subduing more conventionally equipped foes, or even, in some cases, entire armies and potentially some amongst The Gods .
The recruitment of such ‘Sudarshana-serrated’ Souls, post-mortem (and this is another intriguing similarity between the Einherjar, and the BrahmaRakshasas – the fact that the latter also tend to result from Brahmins dying ‘early’ [i.e. premature/’before their time’] and especially ‘unnatural’ deaths), therefore makes absolutely abundant sense. As with their Brahmin competencies and empowerments and the greater resilience and other such characteristics of the fiendish form .. they present a most mighty force indeed.
It is not, it would appear, only Warriors who Go To RudraLoka.
Rakshas And Rakshasas – Protectors, Devourers … Actors?
As a brief point on etymology, it is interesting to note that “Raksa”, which *can* also mean ‘Rakshasa’, but is ordinarily a slightly different term, has additional meanings of “protection/protector”, “ashes”, and rather curiously, occasionally “mistress” [this last, I suspect resultant from the same sort of linguistic meaning-field of a “kept woman” in derivation from the notion of “to keep”, which can itself also entail “protection” or “holding” as a concept]. The implications of these should be clear – namely, that in the context of the BrahmaRakshasas Who form part of Sri Rudra’s Retinue Most Mighty, especially within the demesne of the Smashana Cremation Grounds, … well what is a Retinue for, if not also for “Protection”. And what do we find within the bounds of the Cremation Grounds, other than Ash? (And an awe-ful spectrum of fiends and specters, apparently; in addition to Forms of both Shiva & Shakti, singularly or in unison, there Dancing, or meditating, or otherwise extant, to greet us should we prove worthy or dead).
This has a further interesting impetus for the concept of Rakshasas (Brahmanical, or otherwise) to be encountered within the span of the Charnel court-yard. After all, a Rakshasa is an eater of flesh. A ‘Kravya-vore’, a ‘carni-vore’ – it is slightly inaccurate to regard them as “carrion”-eaters, as that entails they don’t kill what they’re eating yet instead scavenge. And in terms of the two things you are virtually guaranteed to find in a cremation ground – Corpses and Fire consuming them – it is not at all hard to see how a potential figurative linkage might ensue with those *other* man-eaters of passionate intensity, seeming unsatiable hunger, and frightening implication. This, surely, is why the term “Kravyada” contains within its spectrum of meaning both Demons and Lions, (in at least one case, a Wolf), Hawks and “Goblins” [a term of interpolation that I have always disliked in these circumstances, but I digress], Flesh-eaters, Predators, as well as the Fire of the Funeral Pyre – Whose all-consuming hunger for the corpses of the (soon-to-be) dead and departed is surely the common, unifying factor of all of the above-enumerated and enlisted.
But again, I digress. The final note I shall make upon the Rakshasas , is that they are also specifically cited in a Shastra context – alongside the Bhutagana, the Maruts, and other such entities – as requiring propitiation alongside the “Gods of the Stage”. This recalls not only the hailing of Lord Shiva (and, correspondingly, Lady Durga) as Themselves supreme dramateurges (a sphere of artistic endeavour which, for the ancient Hindus, in a manner not dissimilar from that of the ancient Greeks, encompassed not just what we would today regard as “acting”, but also singing, dancing, and other such performing arts, all woven together in a tapestry of representation, beauty, grandeur, and storytelling); but also, another form of Odin Whom we have earlier met in the course of the unfolding of this piece. Namely, the Harlequin figure [a ‘Masked One’ – or, as we should say in Old Norse .. ‘Grimnar’], Whose demesne has become the stage; and the earlier Harlequin/Hellequin and His troupe of Devils and Ghosts.
And speaking of troupes of Ghosts, the time has now come for the BhutaGana of Mahadev to make their long-overdue and much-awaited Parodos into this piece.
The Apparition of the Gana
To be sure, the term is also rendered more simply as the “Ganas” of Shiva – this lesser degree of specificity serving also to encompass the array of other beings, entities who can be enumerated amidst the Armies of the Ishvara. However, due to the dual shades of meaning of the term “Bhuta”, which can in onesense simply mean “being” [a word it is rather strongly cognate with – being derived ultimately from the same sorts of “To Be” verb-iage) , but in another refer to an undead, post-mortem creature (that is to say, a ‘Has-Been”, so to speak) – most especially, a ghost. There is a *third* sense, in which “Bhuta” has come to mean an “element”, a constituent of existence/being, as seen, for instance, in the Panchabhuta [‘Five Elements’ – Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Aether/Akasha(/in certain senses, Dyaus)] which Lord Shiva is also regarded as Master over; which further informs the notion of Mahadev as ‘Lord of Being’ (a concept attested in multiple Shaivite theonyms) but that is another commentary, for another time.
In any case, the connotation of “Bhuta” as ‘has-been’ [i.e. was-alive and had a ‘present’, in the past tense – yet now remains, even though it no longer lives, and its active life is in the past tense] renders it not entirely inappropriate as something of a ‘catchall’ term for the further array of undead which are to be found therein – the Pretas (interestingly, regarded as constituted of Air and Aether), Vetalas, Pishachas, as well as the Bhuts themselves, and no doubt, others besides (for instance, the BrahmaRakshasas I have already mentioned, above). A slightly more figurative interpretation would therefore also include the ‘renunciate’ holy-men who also dwell within the Cremation Ground and otherwise have ‘left behind’ their previous mortal lives in order to live closer (both figuratively/conceptually and literally) to the presence of Their Lord. Some might, therefore, somewhat metaphorically regard these as ‘Ghosts’, not least due their sepulchral appearance as coated in the ash of the cremation pyres, and their existence ‘beyond’ the world of men as a ‘remainder’ of their previous selves shorn of bodily comforts and the ‘household’ span of living, leaving their families behind at the place of death.
The term ‘Gana’, is further interesting; and is perhaps best initially approached through its cognates – which, in the Western Indo-European languages, include such terms as “Genos” and “Gens” in Ancient Greek and Latin respectively, whence the more modern “Genus”, which bears a striking resemblance to the shared reconstructive PIE originator of all of these terms – ‘Genhos’ (referring to the concept of a race or a line of heritage – a ‘set’ that has a descent and a ‘kind’ in common). [This is also, as it happens, the PIE root which quite likely gives us “Kon” – “King”, or as the royal term of address not at all coincidentally goes, “Sire”.]
In Sanskrit, it retains this general shade of meaning; however, as with many words in that language, whether due to the significant span of time involved or the logical entailments of the meaning-field of the term, it has also acquired others. These include the notion of a ‘nation’ or ‘the people’ [as slightly distinct from the much more defined and ethnically based “a people”], as shown in terms such as ‘Ganarajya’, which would render as “popular rule” or “people’s rule”, perhaps “people’s republic” [or, for that matter, simply “republic” – res publica, indeed, being an interesting comparative] – the latter of which is still today utilized in the Sanskrit referentials for the modern Republic of India. [Another term, Janapada, is closely related – Jana being a close correlate of Gana, from the very same root; Pada, referring to the foot , therefore providing a combined rendering as a territory ‘under the heel’ of a people, and/or which they stand upon and walk in – the ‘footprint’ of a people, you might say, as its defined territory].
This has also resulted in “Gana” coming to bear the potential meaning of a ‘council’, a deliberative body incarnated for the shared purpose of discussion on defined matters – like a Parliament, or a theological conclave.
Yet it is three further developments upon the term which are most relevant for our purposes.
First, that of the idea of “Gana” as connoting a group of people who have been united not simply by the shared sacrament of blood – but by a common purpose, an aim shared as the essential foundation of their ‘set’ and ‘kindred’ and ‘kind’; which has obvious imputations both for the religious, and for those who are gathered around a single, powerful figure or concept or idea.
This is inarguably the cardinal and ‘foundational’ ambit of ‘Gana’; correlating members by their ‘thematic’ adherence, and potentially also signifying the ‘denominative’ (as in, ‘of the name of’ (‘de nominative’ in its most literal sense), sharing a characteristic of, belonging to) linkage of the resultant Gana with the concept or character at their center [e.g. the ‘RudraGana’, referring simultaneously to the Gana of Rudra (i.e. the war-host/attendants/descendents of the God Rudra), the Gana of Rudras (i.e. the grouping made up of the Rudras), and the Gana alike unto Rudra (i.e. which is unified by their sharing of a common characteristic, the emulation of Lord Rudra)]. Interestingly, despite being likely etymologically unrelated, the Germanic suffix “-Jana” shares both elements of pronunciation with ‘Gana’, as well as the more formal ‘thematic’ and ‘denominative’ functions within that proto-language.
Second, that of the idea of “Gana” as referring to a small-to-medium sized military unit, perhaps akin to a modern ‘company’, or mayhap a “battalion”, or in older times (and this works out rather well in some senses given the subsequent development of this word’s meaning in modern English], a “cohort”.
And third, the notion of “Gana” as referring to as a grouping of “attendants” or servants of a figure. Although given the nature of the figure in question, as a Deity, but also as a Ruler – this would therefore naturally entail a rather more diverse assortment than what we might find in an English stately home. (For example, the presence amidst the Retinues of Rudra, of Priests/Holy-Men , Icon-Bearers, Holy Avengers, and so on and so forth .. )
Nevertheless, there is a significant resonance to be found in all three of these definitions, properly construed, with the Nordic concept of the Huscarla – the House[‘s] Karls [‘Men of the House’]. A term which, despite its modernly familiar meaning of a body of armed men in the personal retinue of a lord, had an older swathe and broader of meaning which also encompassed other, not-immediately/directly-militarized free-men of the Lord’s House. Interestingly, another term – Hird – went in the other direction over a similar period, from meaning just such an armed retinue of personal guard, to a more generalized concept of a ‘household’, and even a royal court.
Sons Of The Storm – The Lords Of The Host
In any case, both of these Old Norse concepts align most strongly with the sense of the BhutaGana, in its aforementioned broader sense, as the Retinue, the Chamber Militant, indeed, the *Companions* [and I mean that term, too, also in its far older militaristic sense] of Lord Shiva. Although it is perhaps worth noting that while both are very much in accord with the concept of the Einherjar, neither *quite* encapsulates the severe degree of closeness with which the Einherjar were occasionally regarded in relation to Odin – stated in the Gylfaginning to be as that of His adoptive Sons.
This notion of “Sons” (adoptive or otherwise) is one which comes through repeatedly when detailing the Ganas of Mahadev. As we have already heard, the Rudras and the Maruts may be direct instances of the Sons of Shiva, arrayed about Their Lord in resplendent, Roudran (that is to say – ‘Roaring’) might. However it is also worth noting the positions of two *other* Sons of Shiva, rather better known in these modern days – that of Skanda/Kartikeya, and most especially, of Ganesha.
As applies the former, Lord Skanda – Whose Name means ‘The Charger’ – I would contend that we have another instance of the prototypical Storm-Sergeant of the Wild Hunt, as mentioned way aloft above in the course of this essay. Consider not only His position as the Lord of the Wrathful Might of the Heavenly Hosts, but also the traditional representations of Him as seated upon a bird (that is to say – a flying mount), and armed with a rather large spear.
As was said earlier .. “Like Father, Like Son!” [an interpretation given considerable strength by the citation in the MahaBharata for Lord Rudra stating that Skanda should be regarded as a form or aspect of Rudra]
The etymological roots of the theonym of Skanda are also illuminating. While it is conventionally regarded as deriving from PIE ‘Skendh’ – that is, “To Jump”, and related concepts; I would instead perhaps link it to PIE (S)Kewd – that is, “To Shoot”, “To Throw”, or rather directly .. “To Skewer”. You can see how this is relevant for a Spear-Wielding Deity; and interestingly, it is also the origin-point for the folk-name of those *other* famous mounted warriors, the Scythians, with their mastery of both riding and firing-on-the-move, as akin to the wind and the hail and the storm themselves .. , and possessed of prominent deific figures with long-arm weapons, mounted upon horseback.
It is also interesting and worthy to note the ‘role and function’ of Lord Skanda, whence His epic genesis [covered in greater detail in the span of our NavRatri Processional of the NavaDurgas series – in particular, for reasons that ought be clear, in the commentary on MataJI as SkandaMata (‘Mother of Skanda’)] is the result in no small part of a Need for a weapon – a living weapon, at that – with which The Gods might defeat the onslaught of the demon-lord Tarakasur.
I mention this not at all to seek to impugne the nature of the relationship, nor depth of paternal affection and love for Son by Father – but rather because something in it reminded me of the Odinic approach. That of seeing the “long view”, of being able to ‘instrumentalize’ one’s progeny (adoptive or otherwise), as Weapons in the ongoing fight, the eternal war, against the demonic, the chaotic, the a’sura-nith.
Now to be sure, the most immediately thought-of parallel figure – that of Odin’s son Vali, the Avenger of Baldur and Binder of Loki beneath the Serpent’s Tears … is not necessarily an ideal cognate, for a number of reasons including the frankly shoddy nature of the Gesta Danorum as a source, and obviously the nature of the ‘other part’ of the parentage involved. Although the specific citations contained within the Gylfaginning for Vali as an exceptionally proficient marksman and an aggressive fighter, and potentially recording the archetypal totemic ‘Wolf Warrior’ so wide-ranging and renowned throughout the Indo-European Peoples’ (mytho-)history [this last, in particular, also being a recurrent theme with the Shaivite span of Aspects and Avatars], in concert with the ‘Ultor’-ior motive of conception, nevertheless suggests at least a certain degree of ‘conceptual overlap’.
Notwithstanding, of course, the fact that the course of our researches thus far have lead Arya Akasha / #NAS towards strong preference for a Heimdall equation with Skanda, at this point in time.
The Gana As Custodian Guard
Yet while Skanda is regarded as the ‘Lord of War’, and therefore the ‘Supreme Commander’ in a military sense of the Armies of the Heavens [a position which, in the Nordic end of things, would be held by Odin – as Herjan, Hertyr, Hergautr, etc.]; in terms of a Lord of the Host, that title may be more directly affixed to His Sibling – Ganesha.
Not least because, well, that’s what the Deific Theonym in question *directly* translates as: Gana-Esha [‘Esha’ meaning ‘Lord’]. Further conceptual support for the linkage of Ganesha with the Ganas, can be found in various of the myths surrounding Ganesha; and in particular, the much-retold legend of how He came to bear an Elephant’s Head.
As the story goes, Parvati had placed Ganesha on guard-duty outside a location where She was bathing. Shiva arrives, and seeking His wife, proceeds to attempt to enter; whereupon He is challenged by the child – which, for some reason, He does not recognize. In an incandescent mood, Rudra then decapitates the sentinel, and goes in anyway. Parvati, upon realizing what has happened to Her Son, is understandably irate; and berates Mahadev for His action. Shiva, distraught and remorseful at what has occurred, arranges for a replacement head to be procured and attached, which turns out to be that of an elephant.
Now, according to some sources, Ganesha then acquires the title ‘Ganapati’, understood as ‘Lord of [all] Creatures’, at this point, as part of the ‘rehabilitation’. But I’m not sure if that’s quite what’s gone on here. You see, the role little Ganesha was carrying out when the decapitation occurred, was that of a sentinel – a guardian, a watchman standing in warding of His Lord (or, in this case, Lady). This is an absolutely prime function for a warrior in the retinue of a King; and therefore, I am of the opinion that this pre-eminent upholding of Duty, even in the face of what must have been the absolutely terrifying nature of an encounter with a lethally enraged Lord Shiva, must have been what induced the application of the GanaPati appellation. That is to say – Ganesha is Named as the Chief of the Ganas, as He is shown and seen to be of the highest resilience and resoluteness in the carrying out of one of the prime Duties of the Gana of Mahadev. That of Guarding, of Standing Watch over the Divine Couple (whether singly, or in partnership of Each Other’s blessed company), and of holding the entrance.
You can see how this leads directly into Ganesha’s portfolio responsibility as God of Entrances/Gateways/Doors/Openings. Hence why at Hindu Temples, you will customarily see a small (or, in some cases, (very) large) Ganesha positioned strategically at the entryway. Thus simultaneously showing that the Mandir is under the Protection of the Gods; and also, interestingly enough, carrying out a ‘filtration’ process of keeping out the “unworthy” (and therefore, from the direct Presence (in the Murtis, and radiating out, inter alia) of the Gods in Their Dwelling Therein). I say “interestingly enough”, because you may recall the earlier citation for exactly this, as a prime purpose of the Ganas in Their accompaniment of Lord Shiva into the Cremation Ground.
The selection of the motif of the Elephant’s Head, contra to some of the mythological accounts in this direction, can also have been no accident. After all, if we consider the traditional associations of the Elephant within the context of Hindu Iconography – that of mental faculty, of serious capability of force, and also of *regality* and royal power – it would make absolute sense for these to be visualized in connection with the retinue, the Royal Guard, of the God-Emperor. This becomes exceptionally the case in light of the *other* associations of the elephant – strong faculty of memory (a pretty important skill for the supernal sentinel, especially given the elephant’s ability for facial recognition and other such identifiers), and being *very, very protective* of their Graveyards.
The Father of the Songs of Prayer
However, it is worth noting that the august title of “GanaPati” has not always been applied to Ganesha. Going back to the Hymns of the RigVeda, the chief citation for the term in fact occurs in reference to Brhaspati [RV.2.23.1] (with a subsequent reference in RV.10.112.9 that has been suggested as affixing to Lord Indra; yet which I would contend may also refer in that instance to Brhaspati once more – on grounds of the ‘Sage of Sages’ sobriquet which occurs immediately next to it). If you have ever heard the famous “Om Gananam Tva Ganapatim” verse, that is often today regarded as hailing Ganesh – that is where this comes from. It has been ‘repurposed’ (or “inherited”, if you like), from its earlier Vedic bearer to its later (particularly Puranic/Post-Puranic) wearer.
I mention this not simply as an idle point of interest; but in particular, because research we are right at this moment conducting, suggests that Brhaspati may in fact be a potential Vedic cognate for Odin. The notion of Brhaspati – the older, wisest, night-sky, eight-horse-borne, ‘straight-shooting’, “victorious in the strife”, Lord of Prayer [perhaps analogous, due to the forms of prayer involved, with the Nordic Galdraföðr ] – as Lord of the Host, would therefore make strong conceptual sense, not least given Odin’s Own Theonyms as Herföðr/Herjaföðr , as Hergautr, as Hertýr, and as Herjan. (And after all – what is the Roar, but a Savage Song of Prayerful Exaltation, properly considered) This is particularly the case given the significance of the “-Pati” title in use here – which shares an obvious root with the Western Indo-European languages’ Patriarch, Paternity, and Father (to name but a few) … as this further reinforces the idea of being not merely an abstract ’employer’ (as if there could even *be* such a thing, in the time-period talked about, in this especial context emphatically), but rather the “Father of the Host”, the “Chieftain” of it in a sense that goes beyond simply being its “leader”, and more towards its progenitor, its inceptor, its pre-eminent member, as the greatest amongst the potentially related category of its membership.
Which, if you will recall, is *exactly* the relationship of Odin with *His* ‘Adopted Sons’ in the Einherjar; that of Sri Rudra to the Rudras and Maruts; as well as the figurative coterminity betwixt the Leader of the Wild Hunt (etc.) and its Riders (who are very much patterned after the archetypal figure of it and their Chieftain).
This last pattern, it can be strongly argued, is also closely related to the ‘unifying factor’ of Lord Shiva with various of His Ganas, and their constituents. That is to say, within each one we can more likely than not find an essentialized characteristic of Mahadeva which they emulate. Whether in terms of the Renunciates, often specifically depicted as Kapalikas, who both recall the activities and ethos of Shiva-As-AdiYogi, as well as, in the case of the latter, Kaal-Bhairav-Ji (often regarded as their prototypical quasi-‘founder’); or in the case of the terrifying and sepulchral characteristics of the Bhuts and others, which echo the supreme terror of ‘BaleYggr’ / Bhairava, or the dual ‘consuming’ (and therefore ‘destructive’) but also ‘performing’ (and therefore ‘creative’, in a sense) facings of the BrahmaRakshas.
Technically speaking , one could viably suggest that *All* is, in its own way, constituent reflections/refractions of the Great God; although that is a Shaivite theological exposition (although directly relevant for the Aghori, if I recall) , for another time.
The point is that the Ganas of Shiva, are clearly not only unified by their purpose, nor congealed as a warrior band or simply because they are ‘alike entities’ with each other. Rather, they are so-called (in that they are both referred to as, and summonsed by) this fundamental linkage of essence, eth(n)os, and emulation with their – with our – Great Lord. Even if they are ‘only’ partial refractions, at best, of His Supernal Majesty(‘s), aspects and attributes.
On that note, there is one final grouping we shall consider, before turning to concluding remarks – to try and make sense of it all.
The Vratya – Oath-Bound & Outlaws
A proper detailing and accounting of the Vratya is beyond the scope of this piece (although we may very well return to this theme in future endeavours).
For now, it is suffice to say that the Vratyas recorded in the Vedas appear to have been a warrior-mystic order – armed with lance and bow, with long hair and an appearance that could suggest frenzy or insanity or intoxication, often mounted upon horse or wagon, renowned for their singing ability and correlate control of the essential wind-force of breath, possessed of great and secret knowledge, wandering and to be received with care and hospitality as an honoured guest [for a potential explication as to just *why* rulers are specifically directed to treat the Vratya who turns up in their court with utmost respect and proper hospitableness, perhaps consult the Grimnismal 😉 ] …
… and if the above sounds *familiar* to you, it should therefore come as *absolutely no surprise* to find out that Lord Shiva is specifically identified as the Chief Vratya – the Vrata-Pati.
What this indicates, to my mind at least, is that the Vratya are a strong instance of that tendency discursed upon repeatedly above : – that of a clade of the Chosen of the God under discussion, who most emphatically are as He is in both panoply and proclivity. This would therefore make them a very strong cognate for the European ‘Wild Hunt’ phenomenon briefly outlined well above – which is also, after all, made up of horse-borne [and lance, spear, javelin, and bow equipped] warriors who move with the swiftness of the storm-front, are regarded as “crazy” (or, if you prefer, “wild”), and are lead by the archetypal-level-Greatest of their number.
It is also possible that there is quite some ‘blurring’ going on between the Vratya cited in the Vedas, and the Vratya who are occasionally mentioned in subsequent scriptures and shastras – with the former forming a more substantively ‘mythic’ grouping, and the latter more likely to refer to the mortal imitators/inheritors of the glorious Vratya tradition. Which may present a potential comparable phenomenon to what happened with Tacitus and his “Harii”.
In any case, the etymology and interrelationships of the relevant Sanskrit words – Vrata, Vraata, and Vratya – are most illuminating for our purpose here.
For the first term – Vrata [व्रत] – derives from the same root-origin as the modern English “Word”. PIE: Werh, “To Speak”, Werdhom, “Word”. Although it is important to clarify that in its later developments of meaning from this Ancestor of the Steppe, it takes on an apparition rather more similar to the *older* English sense of the word “Word” – as in, not merely something somebody says .. but an oath, an undertaking, a pledge, a potency of *Law*. Indeed, of *Lore*. “I Give You My Word” being the relevant idiom – fully cognizant, also, of the extent to which “Words Have Power”.
These presumably help to explain its use in the context of religious acts of devotion; and also, in terms of legal codes (the position of “LawSpeaker” evidently being something of a #NAS one); and thence, through all of the above combined, to mean the “Realm” itself. A body of people, brought together in a combined metaphysical union – a community – through the shared fabric of laws, of customs [another potential translation of “Vrata”], and of rituals, and of binding oaths of fealty and emphatic feelings of solidarity, of sodality towards a Sovereign.
Speaking of “bodies of people”, this is a close confederate of the concept of “Vrata” [perhaps more properly, if slightly inelegantly, to be rendered in Roman characters as “Vraata”] [व्रात] – which directly means, in much the same way as “Gana”, outlined above, a “host” or a “troop” or other grouping of like-minded, like-motivated, like-mandated, and like-manifested (that is to say – quite possibly sharing ‘genetic’ coterminity) beings. It is also interesting to note its potential use to refer to the persons coming together for a marriage event [compare, perhaps, the “Herr” of German Bridegroom appellation, and its vague linkage to older Germanic terms for rulership;], which directly recalls the Bhole Ki Baraat [Wedding Processional of the BhutaGana for Mahadev] mentioned way well back above in the introductory parodos.
It is not at all hard to see how “Vrata” and “Vraata” closely interrelate – a body of (armed) men brought together by the common purpose of serving the Sovereign, bound by oaths of fealty thereto, and therefore united in all senses as a holy act [both the giving and receiving of oaths, as well as the armed exercise of the Bund’s potency through combat in service of their Lord, being Holy Acts].
We should therefore find it absolutely unsurprising that the Old Norse term “Var” – a “pledge”, “Varar”, an oath – is so closely related.
The third term – Vratya itself [व्रात्य] (the lengthened first ‘a’ sound renders it “Vraatya”] – is the inverse of another “Vratya” [व्रत्य]. The former, is often translated into English as “vagrant” [apt, as this comes from exactly the same root as “wanderer”, with added ‘uneasiness’ connotations of a rough-looking man … both of which arcen back to ‘Gangleri’], or “outlaw” [one also beyond the realm and its law, in the wilds] – or, most particularly for our purposes, one of that order of mendicant (warrior-)monks illustriously aforementioned. The latter (“Vratya” – व्रत्य), means one who is “obedient”, and interestingly – that which fits in certain senses within the ‘orthodox’ bounds of an array of ‘conventional’ religious rite and observance. It is not hard to see how these terms relate to the earlier “Vrata” [व्रत] which lies at their fundamental root.
The addition of “Pati”, a Sanskrit particle we have met frequently before over the course of this article, turns it to a Theonymic, and a specifically Shaivite one at that.
Here, it is VrataPati – the Father/Chieftain of the Vrata; eulogized also within an entire book of the AtharvaVeda dedicated to Him as the chief, eminent Vratya [व्रात्य]. These map well with Shiva’s terms of reference and respect elsewhere within the mythology – as we have earlier seen, the interpretation of “VrataPati” as “Father/Lord of the Host”, is a strong coterminate with Gana-Esha [therefore explaining why this is also a lesser-known Theonymic Title of His Son Ganesha], with SenaPati [that is to say – “Army Commander” – another Theonymic Title of both Shiva and and His Son Kartikeya/Skanda], and of course, with the array of Odinic theonyms such as Herjaföðr, HerGautr, Hertyr, and Herjan.
Meanwhile, the EkaVratya term utilized in direct reference to Lord Rudra-Shiva, that is to say, the “Prime Vratya”, the One Vratya, the Archetypal Vratya – helps to convey the broader mytheme I have been sketching out for much of this article : that of the Spear-God [GeirTyr/ShulaPani], as being the prototypical and greatest of the clade.
The Retinue Who Accompany Him, and the Devotees who Worship Him, all seek to emulate the Eminent Sire. Therefore, even beyond the ‘genetic approach’ [wherein, as with the Rudras mentioned above, and Above, They bear such close countenance resemblance to Rudra, precisely because They are His Sons], elucidating why those retinues and even (perhaps especially) those mortal lineages of devotional pathways are so familiar (in at least two senses) to Him.
This also helps to explain another meaning of VrataPati – that of “Father of the Realm”, “Father of the Nation”; which directly links to the Nordic understandings of both the term “Gautr”, as well as the array of directly Odinic theonyms which feature “Gautr” in their construction.
Indeed, it is also possible to construe “VrataPati”, with the “Vrata” as in “Word”, as connoting something far more ‘powerful’ again – as One with power over the ‘lexical’ fabric of reality. Sanskrit being the ‘Language of Creation’, immanent unto It, therefore, in a very real sense, renders ‘VrataPati’ as “All-Father” – the ‘Author’ (for what else is a ‘master, a creator, a producer of words’) of All. However, in addition to the clear facility of both ‘creation’ and ‘direction’ which it grants – is also the ‘destruction’ and plenipotentiary martial power that Mastery of the Word bestows. Sanskrit, after all, bears citation within the RigVedic Hymnals – in particular, RV.8.89, amongst others – as the mightiest of weapons and the supreme empowerment.
‘Mastery of the Word’ recalls also the notion of having supreme command over the arts and gifts of rhetoric, speaking, literary and dramateurgy. All of which, as we have earlier seen, apply to with huge significance and saliency both Shiva and to Odin – not only in the sense of congealing the characters and setting for the Cosmic Play [लीला], but also in terms of the acts of recording and thence the speaking and repetition, the transmission of the structure of reality and the histories of a people, its mythography and cosmology down onto the next generation (consider, for instance, the role of the Grimnismal, or any other Nordic/Eddic or Hindu/Vedic text which takes the form of a ‘song’ or similar recounting via a character to an audience), down to its succeeding generations. Heritage and Herja-tage; and also, as we shall recall from earlier in this piece – Brhaspati, the Liege of Liturgy, the Father of the Songs of Prayer.
Interestingly, one of the terms for such a ‘song’, is “Gana” [‘गान’] – derived ultimately from a very similar PIE particle to the Nordic “Galdr” [‘Gah’/’Geh’ vs ‘Ghel’]; and which is also used within the context of the Mahishasura Mardini Stotram to refer to the entire sweeping span of existence [as the Cosmic Play, with Shiva and Shakti as the Great Actor, the Protagonist, the causative agent and narrative focal point therein – as well as, of course, ‘the director’, figuratively speaking], as well as the clamourous din of Divine Warfare as *itself* being a sort of hymnal of holy praise and exaltation. Further coterminity, for our purposes, is to be found with the Sanskrit ‘Gna’ [‘ग्ना’], which simultaneously means a Wife, a Goddess, Speech, Voice. (Which, itself, in concert with ‘Brhaspati’, ‘Vratapati’, renders strong additional shades of meaning for UmaPatayee [‘Angan Friggjar’, ‘Faðmbyggvir Friggjar’, etc.]) This derives from the same source as our modern English word – Queen, with the ‘underlying idea’ likely being that of a ‘mother’, in much the same way as our modern ‘King’ [Kin + Ingwaz], Sire, and Patriarch are also keyed to a ‘generative’ understanding of lordship and leadership. Albeit with the ‘unifying force’ that quite literally ‘calls into being’ the ‘genos’, the ‘gana’, the grouping in question, not simply being the earlier ‘genetic’ causation – but the responding to a clarion call of rallying, a unification on the basis of purpose and shared loyalty to the (regal-theological) cause. A ‘Gana-Gana’, in other words. And therefore, closely coterminate with what is understood by the Vrata’s source of unified loyalty and identifying characteristic as a group.
In any case, all of this gives some further idea of the utter potency and immanence of these wagonborne warriors, the Vratya – road-men for the Cosmic Lord of Dharma! (to reference me some Hunter S. Thompson)
Now, whether that therefore thusly construes the Vratya themselves as being something akin to “Word-Warriors”, or “Force Immanent To The Very Fabric Of Reality, Descending Upon Ye In Howling Host(s)” , or even, perhaps … Combat Theologians … I shall not seek to here-say.
The point is, that these Vratya, eloquently seem to encompass many of the ‘core traits’ and reflect much of the emergent quintessence of the Ghost Division that we have above sought to elucidate. Indeed, the only major element of these that they might immediately be said to lack, is the default presumption that they’re … well … “Ghosts”. And yet, this should not be overly focused upon – as not only are we dealing with a metaphysical paradigm wherein “life” and “death” are not, strictly speaking, a binary duality; but through their superior (even *Supernal*) dedication to their Deity, and embodiment of the ‘archetype’ and ‘role’ in question – they in effect, become “undying”, themselves.
Men, you might say, “Above Time”. Although in actuality, and with important deference to the theonymics around “Kaal” (rather than “Karl” – these being Sanskrit and Old Norse for “Time” and “Man”, respectively), more accurately Men *With* Time. Men *Of* Time. The Retinue and occasionally Rampaging Representatives of the Great Reeve (Reave-r – and, for that matter, in both senses, “Raver”), Himself. [Indeed, the notation for “Revere” as an alternate construction for “Reaver” in somewhat older English, but also in its more contemporary sense, as the act of Reverence, seems most appropriate here].
Not least because of the plenipotentiary position of Old Man Time as the yet unstoppable, and ultimately un-outrunnable Vanquisher of All. Truly the mightiest of lieges in this particular regard. Supercedable only via the Eternal.
But this is not the only interpolation of the phrase “Old Man Time”. For just as there is the interpretation of The Old Man Who Is Time … there is also the figurative sense of the Time of the Old Man. The Ancestor. And it is to that most important clade or clan, to whom we shall now turn in closing.
The Ancestors Ride For The Empire Of Eternity
At numerous points in this preceding piece, we have touched upon the notion of Primogenitors. Of the mythic precursor(s) of the Indo-European race as a whole (hence ‘Gautr’), and also of our own more immediate [if millennia or more removed] forebears. And it is not hard to see why. For the Father in the Sky, whether called by Odin or Rudra or Vayu or Dyaus-Pitar [we shall … spare a moment for the Catholic co-option of “Deus Pater”, as with so much else of Indo-European religion which they have sought to cobble atop of], is also held to be accompanied by, to be riding in leadership of, a host of warriors , the likes of which the World shalt only rarely see again. This is your Ancestral Folk Belief. It may also, for the favoured few, entail a quite literal faith in a supremely superhuman heroic forebear of deeds illustrious enough to ascend directly unto such Praetorian-Pitar status.
Even were that not the immediately obvious case, allow me to sketch out two other vitally important mechanisms via which it can be held to be so.
The first of these is via the most ingenious concept of the ‘Eternal Return’ or ‘Eternal Recurrence’, as prophecyed by Mircea Eliade. What this means, in practice, is the idea that many of our religious rites here in the present and mortal-(mostly)material world, are in point of fact, the re-enactment – and thusly, thence, the *re-immanentization* – of the Supernal, the Eternal, the *Mythic* out into the world around us. Consider that Bhole Ki Baraat custom which I mentioned much earlier to worst he outset of this piece. The idea of ordinary Hindus and/or the Nepali Army, re-enacting as Shiva’s BhutaGana for His Wedding Processional, as retold in Myth; and as lived, for those brief occasions when the observance is performed, by the Devotees Themselves. As we have seen also with the ‘Vratya’ concept, as well as one of my personal suppositions for the potential explanation for Tacitus’ “Harii” … this is a ‘concept with legs’ – which is frequently undergone by Indo-European People(s) seeking to do not just as their direct ancestors did in keeping this or that Tradition alive … but, in point of fact, as their Capital A *Ancestors* did – existing, during the course of these re-enactments and otherwise, as the Ishvara & Primarchs of the Indo-Europeans both Did and Do Today.
A Noble And Glorious Thing!
The second, starts out as a concept that might *look* euhemeric .. but in point of fact [and/or lance, spear, arrow, and blade], is potentially anything but.
It is my belief that the phenomenon of the Wild Hunt, and related mythological occurrences, are in fact something of a “Folk Memory” – of the time when the Indo-Europeans were in fact, horse-borne (or chariot/war-wagon mounted), shooters or spearmen [and, in point of fact, even the name “Scythian” derives from the Proto-Indo-European root for “shoot”], ‘huntsmen’ of man and beast, far-ranging and un-keep-out-able as the Wind. An interpretation strengthened via the perhaps surprising references to Odin Himself as hailing from the Black Sea (or possibly Anatolian) area – whence the Urheimat likely lies.
Now lest I be misinterpreted here, I am *not* seeking to suggest that this means they’re any less Real as a result of this. Rather, quite the contrary. This above-proffered explanation shows a clear pathway of connection between the Mythic and the Historical; with the co-occurring ‘Mytho-Historical’ Manifestation of the ‘Ghost Division’ therefore bringing both the Historical [i.e. the materialy adducible Ancestors and Ancestral existences] into the Mythical, and vice versa [via the ‘grounding’ of the phenomenon, also, in the barrows of the Steppe].
In any case, the idea is not merely one of a legend passed down to keep alive the vague idea of what we once were … but also, and at least as importantly, a “living” [perhaps ironic phrasing] memory, comprised of figures from our past, rampaging through our present, and thence helping to inform and refresh our glorious future. That is to say – these are *actual* illustrious Forebears, of whatever degree of Divinity or Divine Descent , periodically witnessed across the clouds or amidst the smoke of the cremation pyres. And no doubt, quite especially after the intake of the particular ancient somewhat entheogenic sacraments of Cannabis and/or Psilocybe – which can have a considerable positive net effect, for those able to handle it – of aiding and availing with the re-viewing , the re-velation of the world in a much more Mythic perspective. Both are quite strongly associated with the Lord of the Ghosts Deity in question; and with further buttressing from both the spear-shape of the mushroom, and the well-attested tendencies of Scythians, Sadhus, and Shiva Himself towards the crystal-bearing cane in question. (Indeed, one more colloquial term for Cannabis upon the Subcontinent – Vijaya (Victory) – provides quite an interesting potential #NAS spin on the array of Odinic Theonymics along the lines of “Victory-God”)
The identity of the “High Rider”, then, stands in most strong elucidation as a result of all of the above. Reconfirmed not merely as an ‘Archetypal’ resonance, a cross-cultural ‘resemblance’, nor a vague and now-enhanced ‘remembrance’ … but as the actual Sire – that is to say, King – of the ancient Indo-European Folk.
A King Upon The Mountain – A King Amidst The Stars. The King Of Clouds And Cavalry Amongst Them. Whose Beard And Breath Is As A Nebula; Whose Way And Pathway To Accession Is The Milky One. Who Is, Indeed, Verily, The *Highest* One. And As Boundless In HIS Reaving As The Wind.
Attended By Mighty Attendants; And Accompanied By The Mightiest Of His Sons –
The Supreme Loka-Lord, The Wind-Wizard, [The Wand-Bearer, The Shake-Spear-er, The Staff-Smiter];The Master Of Speech, Whose Tongue Lashes Like Lightning; The Tempestor Thundering With The Strength, The Speed, And The Sagacity Of The Storm.
The Crazed-Yet-Canny, The Cunning-And-Choleric [in point of fact – Cunningly Choleric], The One Who Is Both Cold [Krewh, Krios, indeed, Crystalline, in certain senses, and Corpse-Pallor] *as well as* Calidus and Callidus in all available senses.
Riding To The End Of Time Across The Sky Of Sea And Steppe Of Stars, With Awe-Inspiring And Terrific Retinue; Ever The Lead Trouper – Setting The Pace, Inspiring The Form, Guiding The Unfolding : Whether Upon The Field Of War Or The Lila Of The Cosmic Play.
HE is known by different names to different of His glorious descended Peoples; yet even here, the desire for riddles and references, and robust remembrances; the Kennings of fKings; show that we have always known, deep down, that this is in fact the same Wanderer-Warlord Divinity, simply behind different Masks [which are, themselves, often rather recognizable – note the repetition of the leitmotifs of the Black-Blue of Death and Darkening, and the Grey of Steel and Sky and Spear and Spire and Smoke and ash/Smashana], and occasionally seeing fit to play somewhat different rolls [consider the “Nebh-” PIE particulate which underpins each of “Nebula” and “Neptune” – i.e. “Njord” … although we shall have to explain *that* in some as-yet unpenned future article!].
And while this article has certainly taken its time wending its way through my brain and fingertips outward to the outside world … which has thus meant that it is *well* overdue as a proper or ‘timely’ [in one sense of the term] Tribute for Mahadev upon the Night of MahaShivRatri … I take some solace from that ancient wisdom tapped by Tolkien. A Wizard is never late, nor is he early – he arrives precisely when he means to.
And besides – you know what they say.
All Guð Theigns take Time (काला).