[Author’s Note: This continues the Excerpt Series from my 2020 #MahaShivRatri article, “MahaShivRatri And The Mytholinguistics Of War [Part 3] – The Mind, The Mania, The Manyu”. It seemed appropriate for a Wednesday. For further discussion of both the concept of “Mind” and “Men” in the Indo-European World-View, as well as The Manyu Himself, Athena Herself – get thee to the full-length piece!]
मन्यु – Manyu. What does this mean? On one level, it is the ‘Mind’ and ‘Spirit’ Itself. On another, it is the ‘active expression’ of that Mind, and the raging forth of that Spirit – you have heard the English idiom “High Spirit(s)”, well, this is the Sanskrit hypostasis of the concept. It can be translated as “Mood”, but the better representation – to my Mind – is as “Passion”, “Ardour” for those are the emotions to which ‘Manyu’ is most directly affixed. Anger, Wrath, Roaring Grief and Sorrow [and these are, some would suggest, the natural fruits of ‘Attachment’ – another one of those ‘Man-‘ Sanskrit terms we met earlier, “Mana(a)”, to be more specific]. But also, and this is quite important, the emotions and the active expressions of “Piety”, of “Zeal”, and “Resiliency” in the face of the foe or hellish circumstance. If “Manyu” means “Rage”, then it is “Righteous Fury” [and ‘Furor’, in the Latinate and especially as applied to Germanic experiences, is most relevant here!]; If it is “Impetuousness”, then it is also “Pride” (And if it is, figuratively ‘Imperiousness’, then it is also, as its natural close-correlate, ‘Grandeur’); If it is “Craze(d)”, then it is also “Courage”; If it is “Grief” [and this, in and of itself, is a curious linguistic cross-occurrence, given the phonetically similar German terms for ‘seizing’, in an assault, or being Seized, as with the ‘Furor’ concept briefly afore aforementioned], then it is Loss which Shall Be Avenged. Or, also eminently appropriately, it is “Sacrifice” – another meaning of “Manyu”, and also hugely relevant for both the ‘Religious’, and ‘Martial’ contexts and connotations of the Term. But then, as we have seen quite clearly in the preceding portions of this series, when I say “Religious” and “Martial”, especially in this context, I repeat myself. For just as ‘Manyu’ can adjectivally relate to Agni – as in Piety – it is also most clearly said in relation to Rudra – as in Destruction. Thus is the Duality of ‘Fire’ [‘Spirit’], Thus is the Duality of Man [‘Mind’], Thus is the Duality of the Dvandva – but as with many a ‘Dvandva’ compound, in truth, there is no ‘Duality’ at all heer … only a single element, that is expressed via two seemingly slightly contrasting Faces.
Interestingly, for our purposes, a strikingly close parallel construction to this is to be found in the other #NAS corpus – that of the Old Norse. Here, “Odr” [also, when utilized as a theonym, referring to the Husband of Freyja … which is a remarkably obvious pseudonym for, you know, Odin] is understood to mean pretty much the same thing as “Manyu” – only with a far greater emphasis upon the ‘Furor’ element, which is more implicit and implied due to the thelogical context in the Sanskrit term. However, in addition to its adjectival usage to connote a state of frenzy, of fervor, of ecstatic rage, (whirlwind) energized conduct, and more than a hint of what might at first strike [and then strike again, and again, and again until the target is felled] one as ‘insanity’; as well as the noun-essence employments to mean “mind”, and “soul”, and “spirit” as well as “mood”; we also have an expressive sense to the term – wherein it comes out (quite literally – of the mouth, most usually; and perhaps we should note the Sanskrit correlates of ‘light/seeing’ and speaking in several terms like Bhasa, from PIE ‘Bheh’, meaning to shine or to glow – certainly, perhaps, the way in which we perceive one who has become Divinely Inspired; ‘Arka’ (‘hymnal’/’lightning’/’flame’/’sage’/’singer’), as well, is relevant, amidst several other such terms) … as Poetry, verse, song, and “prayer” in a certain sense, as well.
Reflexively, it can also refer to the aforementioned (Divine) Inspiration which sparks and empowers such feats of composition – and as I have long maintained, the “Furor Poeticus”, as it is known, is not at all distinct from the “Furor Teutonicus”, the “Battle Rage” so characteristic of the Germanic people as to bear their name in the Latin exposition of their sort. It is just that the same thing is being expressed in different ways as befits the needs and nature of the expressor and the inspirer. With the possible exception for some rare sort capable of carrying out a rather more literal application of the term “battle-rap” than might otherwise be perhaps expected. Or, going back and looking at it the other way – the manner in which Brihaspati makes use of a verse He has come up with to defeat the demon-dragon Vala, in a manner compared in its impact to the Vajra of Indra (possibly partially because in several RigVedic Verses, it features the conjuring of a meteorite for orbital bombardment of the bunker-complex within-which the foe has laired). Or, come to think of it, and as we shall briefly address much later on, the array of citations for the warrior empowerment and supremacy of Goddess Vak [‘Speech’], and also in some hymnals, the exaltant martial proficiency of Saraswati (Goddess of Eloquence and Wisdom, Arts, Literature, and the Milky Way).
To be in possession [an intentional double-phrasing there] of a Mind, in other words, may also mean that one is capable of the feats of Speech – and/or the other forms of ‘artistic’ expression’ to demonstrate an intellect and an appreciation for beauty … such as the entrancing feats of a gifted spear-wielder, for instance.
Indeed, speaking briefly of both the ‘Furor Poeticus’ and the ‘Furor Teutonicus’, and their unifying characteristic(s) of the sense of being ‘seized’ by something and thence moving in an ecstatic high energy and trance-like, rapturous, raging state … it should come as absolutely no surprise to us to find the same Deity, Who Bears the relevant Name, to be responsible for both. And this also, as I have previously elucidated, helps to show why Odin, Shiva, Dionysus are patron(s) of the performing arts, the theater and the stage as well. Not just because “ShakesSpear” is almost a direct theonym, either. But because the notion of being an actor, especially in ancient dramateurgy meant ‘putting on a mask’ – speaking with a voice that was decidedly not one’s own, and an eloquence that was most definitely borrowed. This finds its expression going down different paths in the various cultural derivations – in the Hindu end of things, the ‘dance’ side has become much more prominent, and the notion is also of moving in-synch with the universe’s own unfolding, unfurling dance-like progression of steps …. as Shiva creates and maintains its rhythm at the center of It All, the bhooming bass of the Damaru (Drum) moving all others especially those who, to reference me some Nietzsche, may or may not be “Insane”, but can definitely Hear the Music. (Of the Spheres, or otherwise). In the Norse, more emphasis is placed upon the Verse side of things, and the Skaldic tradition contains some absolutely underrated (presumably due to their serious complexity and the otherwise-obscurity of our English’s direct and immediately adjacent forebear languages) poetic compositions and constructions as well (as does Sanskrit, of course, but then – we already well know about them!); and for the Athenians (as well as, to a certain extent, the English – in somewhat more gaudy and often profane(d) fashion, too, their cultural descendants, the Americans), the drama is held to be both amazing and at the heart of civic life. All three have all the elements, of course – including the battle-rage, as well, and quite some ‘enabling’ utilization of mind-altering substances, on a spectrum from alcohol to cannabis, and psychedelic mushrooms as well.
But the point here is that these elements – the ‘Furor’, the Enraged/Energized Spirit welling up deep from within one, and the conceptual aid of ‘Donning the Mask’ – are integral to our understanding of the operation of the Manyu.
Something we should be entirely unsurprised about; as “Odr” and “Odin” have coterminities of roots and of essence with the PIE terms “Weht” [‘Excitement’/’Rage’/’Inspiration’; which also stands at the root of Latin “Vates” (‘Seer’, ‘Poet’)] and “Hweh”/”Hwehti”/”Hwehnt” [‘Blow’/’Blowing’/’Wind’, respectively]; with some reconstructions actually going so far as to effectively combine the two; and suggesting a figurative meaning field along the lines of “‘Blow’, ‘Fan [as in, the fan the flames’], ‘Inspire’”.
Certainly, it is difficult to see a hard-and-fast separation of the terms in question – the Deity presiding over the activities of the former pretty invariably having a Wind (and Wandering) correlation, and often a direct responsibility for what we might easily call the “Breath of Life”. The relationship is quite clearly demonstrated in the Sanskrit “Vata” – which, in addition to being a Theonym for the Wind-Lord, and meaning Wind (as well as an upper atmospheric layer, a region of the high winds, and potentially also intermixing with the Akasha), and referring to the Vital Breath (also strongly associated with the Rudras, but then I repeat myself – ‘smoking breath’, ‘hot breath’ being a sign not only of life but of its active expression via rage, as well; and the last breath, which may veer-y likely bear this, being that of the Spirit exiting the body via exhalation), is also correlate with the other “Vata” [the same spelling/pronunciation in Sanskrit, as it happens – ‘वात’; a pattern shared with the verb ‘वाति’] which refers to attacking, injuring, seizing, and danger.
Perhaps we might say that for the Ancient Indo-European Man, “To Be Alive” meant also and quite irreducibly, “To Be Angry”. [I also have my own thoughts about the Old Norse ‘Eitr’ being similarly derived – both in terms of its necessity for life … as well as its poison in too great of an abundance, and, for that matter, its primary means of expression via the mouth especially of certain serpents; but we shall, perhaps, leave that as another story for another time]
Perhaps, with particular regard to the sort of Wind which is Powerful, Howling/Roaring, Oncoming, and Irresistible in its Raging and beauteous while potentially veer-y destructive force … we could take this above typology further; and call our Ideal Man, our Forebear, Our Ancestor for what He Truly Is – The Storm. [And not least because this, too, carries implicit within it in modern English, the sense of the assault (a French-sourced term itself connoting rapid military movement via the air) – to “Storm a Trench”, for instance; a sense also captured in the Germanic ‘Greif’ (which also, interestingly, was the name of Rommel’s personal transport, and may also mean a Griffin/Gryphon – a creature most prominently associated in ancient texts with another band of Wind-Raiders of ancient Indo-European archetypal significance .. the Scythians), that happens to stand at the core and root of Jung’s famous term from his ‘Wotan’ essay for a man becoming ‘seized’ by the eponymous Odr Deity .. the ‘Ergreifen’ concept, which should probably also be understood as the ability to ‘grip’ a people via one’s oratory, charisma, and other forms of supernatural God(s)-given Radiance]