Tonight [the 11th of March 2021 at time of writing] marks the observance of MahaShivRatri – a Night dedicated to the worship of that Great God, Lord Shiva – the Indo-European Sky Father. Known to the Hindus as Rudra Shiva, the Norse as Odin, the Greeks as Zeus – and by half a hundred other names and Masques to half a hundred other Indo-European peoples besides.
As has become our custom, we present to you (and to Him) an (A)Arti-cle written in His Honour, extolling some feature of the Deific – one that is most prominent still amidst the Hindu understanding, yet which was once known more broadly. And which, properly considered, provides vital illumination for otherwise hidden aspects of the Sky Father deific in not only Hindu, but also Greek, Roman, and Nordic, perspectives ‘pon He.
In 2019, our offering was the immensely well-received GHOST DIVISION piece – which looked at the Revenant Retinues of Rudra and Odin and the implications of these phantom-warriors (and Their Lord) for our relationship to, our situation ‘midst the Myth. In 2020, we took as our theme the Manyu – a term which simultaneously refers to the most formidable of the Vedic War Gods, as well as to the divinely inspired ‘Active Mind’ state (also known as Odr, Furor, Menos) bestowed upon the Indo-European man alike in emulation of He.
One of the more intriguing revelations propounded in the course of that latter work was the apparent presence within Greek mythology of a directly cognate understanding to what we would, in Hinduism, think of as the Third Eye. I shall not go through the detailed points made in that previous work here, but suffice to say that key features of the (Third) Eye of Shiva were also attested not only for Zeus, but also for other figures of myth such as Diomedes when acting under the enlightening influence of Goddess Athena (indeed, the Emanation or Birth of Athena (Minerva) from Zeus’ Forehead is an intrinsic part of this – directly mirroring the manner in which The Manyu comes forth from the forehead of Prajapati in the Shatapatha Brahmana, or various Avenger / Destroyer Aspects are projected out by Lord Shiva in the later Hindu mythology).
This seemed quite remarkable – as I had generally previously presumed that the Third Eye was a specifically Hindu development. Something which, while it did have certain obvious points of very loosely cognate understanding in the other and more westerly Indo-European mythic schemas (such as the Flaring/Flashing ‘Bale Eye’ of Odin), was nevertheless unique to us and a development which could only have occurred somewhere between Central Asia and Aryavarta Prime.
Yet in truth, it was the opposite. The Hindu perception had preserved something incredibly archaic – something which had once been prominent elsewhere, plausibly running right the way back to the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat … yet had largely faded from view over the ages. But was still very much in evidence – if only one knew where and how to look.
And which, as is so often the case, concealed a far deeper series of reservoirs of meaning to it of far broader saliency than one would first have presumed about something so deceptively simple as merely having a Third Eye.
Now in order to make our non-Hindu brethren feel perhaps a little more comfortable – we shall start with the Greek (and, as it happens, potentially Luwian – more upon that in due course) expressions of the typology.
The Triple Dominion Of Three Eyed Zeus
Pausanias in his Tour of Greece makes reference to there being a ‘Three-Eyed’ (Triophthalmos) Zeus at the height of the Citadel of Argos, to Whom he ascribes an ultimately Trojan origin. Indeed, more than just a geographical provenancy – per Pausanias, this wooden sculpture was purported to be King Priam’s own paternal-patron deific; this representation of which having been taken as war-bounty by the victorious Greeks from Priam’s own court [that is to say, the Herkeios form of the God – the Protector of Hearth and Home]. The Trojan ascribing of the statue is rather curious, as by the time Pausanias was writing (the 2nd century A.D.), the Trojan War would have lain perhaps a millennium and a half toward the past. It is not impossible that the wooden statue was of Anatolian origins – however, it would be quite remarkable for it to truly be of antebellum Troy.
Pausanias then goes on to venture an entirely plausible explication as to just why this Larissaean Zeus had a third eye in the first place. To put it directly – Pausanias suggests that the Three Eyes are in fact indicative of Zeus’ Triple Aspect as Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon (which he justifies in part via referencing previous generations of Greek materials by the likes of Homer and Aeschylus, to show that Hades and Poseidon, too, are Zeus) … and that what is connoted by the Eyes is, in fact, ultimate rulership over all via regency throughout the Three Realms which comprise the Universe (the Heavens, Underworld, and the Oceans). Hence, presumably, why the Zeus of Argos is also hailed as ‘Panoptes’ – “All-Seeing”; for no World is beyond His Rule – no Enemy beyond His Wrath.
Now before moving on to actually discuss the symbolism of the Eye in the Indo-European conceptual schema which confirms Pausanias’ view here – I should just like to take a moment to briefly address some of the surrounding context to this Zeus of the Larissa. Namely, that en route to the site in question, Pausanias encounters a Temple to Apollo which houses an Oracle [i.e. a Seer], and a directly adjoining Temple to Athena Oxyderkes [‘the Sharp Sighted’]. The latter situation is of great interest to us in terms of the original evidence advanced in the Manyu article from last year – for this Temple was commissioned by the heroic Diomedes, in recognition of Athena’s bestowing of the potency of the True-Sight (via the imbuing of the Menos) to Her Chosen upon the field of war afore Troy. Something which enabled the human hero to contend even with the Gods Themselves – routing first Aphrodite and then mighty Ares, the Lord of War Himself. This potency is described by Athena as being an ‘ancestral’ quality (i.e. possessed also by Tydeus, Diomedes’ father and another Favourite of Athena), and manifests in particular via the coruscation of flame from the brow of Diomedes’ helm – ‘discerning truth from illusion’ and a beam of fire from the forehead, as some readers shall no doubt be aware, being exactly the characterizations of Lord Shiva’s Third Eye when Open. The investiture of this Menos by Athena also directly mirrors the situation of Vak Saraswati imbuing Her Chosen with the Ugra – a term usually utilized to refer to berserk fury, but in-context in RV X 125 5, also to the potency of the true-seeing Vedic Rsi to produce soaring insight in poesy; but I digress.
The point is – it would seem that there is quite some association of the environs of Argos’ Citadel with this especial espying and escrying capacity for Vision. Perhaps also reflected in the noteworthy characteristic of the eponymous Argos of myth – who himself was hailed as Panoptes. I have my suspicions that Argos Panoptes [‘The Bright’ ‘All-Seeing’] may in fact be yet another instance of the Indo-European Sky Father in mis-remembered form (and then given an elaborate ‘backstory’ to endeavour to ‘justify’ the confusion) – which would plausibly explicate not only the etymology of the name in question, and the iconographic associations of the figure (the ‘Thousand Eyed’ – this being quite a prominent Sky Father characteristic in the Vedas), but also the linkage with Hera. But that is an excursion for another time.
As a further point of interest before we move on – it is useful to note that Zeus Triophthalmos is not the only occurrence of Three-Eyed conceptry (Or, indeed, the term ‘Triophthalmos’) within the Greek canon. Apollodorus in his ‘Library’ makes reference to a seer’s direction for Temenus (himself a future King of Argos) to follow the guidance of a ‘Three-Eyed one’ … who, as it happened, turned out to be a man (Oxylus) riding a one-eyed horse. Pausanias himself also makes mention of another very similar occurrence in his Tour of Greece – this time, featuring a two-eyed man riding a cart pulled by a one-eyed mule aiding and availing the Doric army to victory. There is something odd going on here, which I may look at in a future piece – but suffice to say, I have reason to doubt that the original forms of these legends featured a human with a one-eyed steed or cart-pulling beast of burden; but rather, would have instead entailed a Three Eyed One in the sense that we are more directly accustomed to in the Hindu sphere. Indeed, it would be intriguing to speculate that the Three Eyed figure would actually be the Seer Himself in one or both cases – or, perhaps, a One Eyed figure riding a horse or bovine … but that is, as I say, speculation for another time. What we can say is that there was a certain trend of ‘rationalization’ and almost euhemeric re-working of Indo-European myth going on at some junctures of the Classical Age – hence Herakles going from a Vajra (Lightning/Thunder) wielding Deity to a club-wielding pre-Apotheosis demigod when He slays the Hydra, for instance … an occurrence which Pausanias, to demonstrate this tendency in action, overtly expresses doubts about various of the characteristics of the major antagonist involved therein – turning the multi-headed and otherwise mythic monster into, as he puts it, a single-headed (although admittedly rather large) serpent, because that is what he is “ready to believe”. He insists that the more memorable – indeed downright iconic – mythically resonant elements to even that well-known tale (which, as we can demonstrate via our Vedic comparanda, are most definitely the archaic, underpinning, and true form to the Myth) are merely the result of poetic license and exaggeration by a poet endeavouring to ensure “his poetry might be more remarkable”. With that in mind – it is not hard to see how the same figure or those of the similar mindset might ‘reduce’ something obviously supernatural such as a Three-Eyed Seer … into a poetically phrased riddle for a man with a one-eyed conveyancy. Perhaps this ‘planing away’ approach also underpins the fading from view in the Greek sphere elsewhere of the Three Eyes of the Sky Father.
And perhaps – just perhaps – Pausanias’ speculation that the Zeus murti in question being of Luwian (Trojan) provenancy is also relevant here – as the Anatolians, a relatively early branching off from the PIE sphere may have managed to preserve some of this archaic Indo-European conceptry in better shape than various of the Achaeans had done. It is true that certain of the major Anatolian Indo-European groups wound up hybridizing their religions with non-IE elements in a much more overt way than various other IE peoples as the Bronze Age bore on – yet that does not mean that there is no scope for these fossilized early IE concepts to survive; especially in the case of the Luwians, who were quite notably less enthusiastic in the syncretic sphere than the more prominently thought of Hittites. Certainly, there are an array of situations wherein seemingly Western Anatolian Indo-European elements occurrent in later Greek mythology do accord quite well with what we know from the Vedas. So we should not find ourselves unduly surprised to find the Three Eyed Sky Father to be potentially a further instance of same.
But let us move on.
In order to explicate just why it is that I believe Pausanias’ inferency concerning the Three Eyes connoting the Three Worlds to be accurate, it is necessary to bring the Eye back into focus. And delve into some comparative Indo-European linguistics to more properly illuminate the subject in earnest.
Tri-Loka , Tri-Lochana , Tryambaka – The Archaic Attestations For The Three-Eyed One
As I am sure I have mentioned in previous works, one of my favourite Sanskrit words-and-concepts is “Loka” (and “Lochana”), derived from PIE “Lewk” (another firm(ament) favourite). These all form a closely interconnected nexus of meaning. PIE Lewk refers to Light and the ability to See [‘Look’]. Sanskrit Lochana refers to the Eye, to something which can be Seen, and also to a source of Illumination. Sanskrit Loka also connotes both the faculty of sight – as well as, in a more specific sense, that which is seen: it is most frequently encountered in this latter context in reference to a ‘world’ or ‘plane [of existence]’, a ‘kingdom’ or ‘realm’, and potentially the inhabitants (particularly a race) of same.
Lokalochana, therefore, refers to the Illumination (Lochana) of the World(s) (Loka) – the Sun, frequently conceived of in the Indo-European mythoi and cosmology as being the ‘Eye’ (Lochana) of the Sky Father [c.f the direct statements of this in both Greek and Hindu canonical materials; as well as the rather strong implication that Odin’s Golden Throne of Hlidskjalf (which is both ‘Lidded’ and ‘All-Seeing’) is likewise].
And to but briefly address the concept of TriLochana afore we head for TriLoka – the Three Eyes we find attested for Lord Shiva are the same but also slightly different to the Two Eyes found spoken of for Zeus. Where Zeus has the Sun and the Moon, Shiva has Surya, Soma, and Agni. That is to say – the Sun, the Moon (but relating also to that other quality connoted by ‘Soma’), and Fire. Sun and Fire are directly referenced in the Vedic conceptual schema for the Descent of this Radiant Energy – as the Sun in the High Heavens, Lightning ‘midst the Atmosphere, and Fire down on Earth. Which would naturally imply that in this Tri-Lochana approach, the Moon / Soma is intended to represent the Middle Realm and Mid-Atmosphere – although I am unaware of any direct statement upon that matter (the closest I had come across was statement of the placement of Soma upon the High Mountain – an area which would potentially accord with the Mid-Atmosphere layering ; although other interpretations of the passages in question are certainy possible).
Interestingly, the Shatapatha Brahmana [a ritual and commentary compendium compiled some centuries after the era of the RigVeda] also makes reference to Prajapati having as His Eyes the Sun and Moon – thus showing that the Sky Father Deific having two rather than three eyes was also an understanding retained in the Vedic sphere; which, like the Greek, seems to have had little issue simultaneously conceiving the deity in question as having two or three eyes contingent upon the symbolic requirements of the representation. Although even in the Shatapatha Brahmana, we find the veiled reference to the Third Eye conceptry – the emanation of the Manyu from the Brow of Prajapati, itself a suite of one-for-one cognate elements to the Birth of Athena / Minerva from the forehead of Zeus, is continually referenced in later Hindu materials as a typology featuring fierce Avenger/Destroyer/Warrior/Executioner Aspects of both Mahadeva & Devi coming forth from Their Third Eyes. In other words – even where the Third Eye of the Sky Father is not explicit, it remains there implicitly.
As well it should – for if we examine the Vedic exegesis, we find that the earliest mentions for the Third Eye occur in the oldest layers of the Vedas. The major instance – and also an integral thread of continuance for the ancient Vedic core of our religion on into the present day – is contained within RV VII 59 12. It is commonly referred to these days as the MahaMrityunjaya [‘Great Death-Conquering’] Mantra [for a more in-depth discussion of it, please see my earlier work – ‘Of Mrityunjaya and Modern Hinduism – The Deathless And Unceasing Glory Of The Three-Eyed One’; written, as it would happen, as a follow-up piece inspired by an observation at my Mandir’s MahaShivRatri observances last year]; and hails a being referred to as Tryambaka. Who is ‘Tryambaka’? Why, Rudra of course !
Except that is almost the wrong question – the right one is … what is Tryambaka? What does this theonym mean? And that, my friends, is where things get … interesting.
Tryambaka To Triformis – The Three Eyes Of The Three Mothers Of The Three Worlds
The conventional rendering of Tryambakam is that it means ‘The Three-Eyed One’. You shall find this in most of the major commentaries upon the subject. Except linguistically, it does not quite make sense. “Try” as in “Three” is logical enough – except “Ambaka”, this is rather peculiar to directly mean “Eye”. I do not dispute that the God in question is the Three-Eyed one, and that in a figurative sense it most definitely does mean Eye (effectively as the ‘reverse’ of how the literal ‘Eye’ in Zeus Triophthalmos effectively means “World”) … but we shall see just why that is in due course.
There are two alternate proposals for unpacking its meaning. The first, a ‘folk etymology’ of sorts, links the ‘Ambaka’ of ‘Tryambaka’ with the ‘Ambara’ and ‘Ambhas’ that mean ‘Space/Atmosphere’ and ‘Water(s)’ respectively. The implicit idea is that the Sanskrit root presumably underpinning all three is one referring to the notion of “to go” – and therefore, that what is meant by “Ambaka” is, effectively, a space within which one can go … a “dimension”, an expanse, a plane. It is not at all hard to see how this would quite directly link to and support Pausanias’ reasoning for the Three Eyes of Zeus connoting Zeus’ Dominion over the Three Worlds / divisions of the Universe.
The second is rather more interesting – and if properly considered is not actually mutually exclusive with the first. Amba is also quite frequently encountered as part of terms for a Mother. Tryambaka would, therefore, implicate Rudra to be The One With Three Mothers. Why do I say that this is a non-exclusive rendering with the Three Dimensions? Because there is a broad (indeed, were this Old Norse – ‘Jord’) Indo-European understanding of the Mother Goddess as being just exactly that. You have heard of Mother Earth? Well, it is the similar understanding – except applied not only to Earth, but also to Sky … and to That Which Lies Beyond Even Heaven (i.e. The Waters – or, were this the ‘derivation’ in later Greek cosmology, the more terrestrial Ocean with which it shares substantive coterminity). We find this directly expressed in a number of Vedic verses and ritual phrasings wherein the Goddess in question is quite expressly spoken of as the Earth, as the Sky, as the Infinite, the Waters. A good example of this is provided for us via RV X 63 2 – “Ye who were born from Waters, and from Aditi, and from the Earth, do Ye here listen to my call.” This is a bit different from various other ritual invocations which instead present Aditi as being above the Earth and Heavens (i.e. as the Waters – or, if you like, the ‘Astral’, indeed as Brahman Herself also, as we should expect with a name like “Infinite”, “Undivided”, “Unbound”), and also from those wherein Aditi is instead directly identified with/as the Earth. However, the fact that Aditi is identified without difficulty with all three of these planes only serves to confirm my rendering. The next line of that aforementioned Hymnal (RV X 63 3), dependant upon how one reads it either identifies Aditi again with the Heavens … or Dyaus (Pitar) is linked closely to Aditi. It is quite probable that both rather than either are, as per usual, intended to be read. As, after all, Aditi is the Wife of the Sky Father – as Earth, Heavens, and Above still further. Hence, Tryambaka would plausibly be understood in the same manner – as referring to the Sky Father via His Wife’s saliency. Something which is less odd and uncommon than it first sounds. We have, after all, the Old Norse theonymics for Odin which hinge around His relationship with Frigg (for example – “Angan Friggjar”, “Frumverr Friggjar”, and of course, “Faðmbyggvir Friggjar”); and for that matter, recurrent Hindu expressions of same – Shiva being hailed as UmaPataye [‘Husband of Uma’], AmbikaPataye [‘Ambika’ as in ‘Mother’, as we have seen – ‘Pataye’ as in ‘Husband’] inter many alia.
The association of the Goddess with these Three Realms is not exclusive to the Vedic understanding, either – with the Serpent, Dove, and Dolphin triple-symbol of Greek Demeter similarly representation Her Dominion over Earth, Air, and Sea [see my various previous works looking at Demeter for more upon this oft-less well understood Goddess, especially in Her proper Indo-European context]; and in Hesiod’s Theogony, the eminent Anatolian-Greek theologian in question places significant emphasis upon the irreducible linkage of Hekate to Earth, Sea, and Heaven. I declare that it is “irreducible”, because that is, effectively, as Hesiod himself places it – stating that the dominion in question was in place “from the beginning”, and unaltered by Zeus (Who, it is noted, holds Her in most highest regard – resonant with the manner in which Aditi Vak Saraswati is hailed as the Goddess of Gods in the Vedic realm … and later, especially Shakta, scriptural canon of ours).
It would also be quite plausible, I suspect, to link in the Roman concept of the Diva Triformis – the Triple-Form Goddess. This is a complex figure, and a full consideration of Her is perhaps beyond the sufficient scope of this piece; however suffice to say that “Diana” is etymologically a female rendering of the same “Shining / Heavenly” Indo-European root which informs “Dyaus”, “Jupiter”, “Zeus”, etc. [compare Dion & Dione in Ancient Greek]. This is plausibly similar also to what we find expressed in the “Ju-” of “Juno” relative to “Jupiter”, and the “De-” of “Demeter” per my speculative re-interpretation of the linguistics of the figure in Light of the underlying comparative theology; Hera, too, should likely fit into this schema, albeit with a more synonymic approach to producing the ‘(Day)Light’ element to the theonym (see my recent work – “Hera As Indo-European Goddess – A Preliminary Investigation”). The common thread of male and female counterpart deifics having strongly resemblant names bearing the same core elemental theme is also well attested – Varuna & Varuni, Rudra & Rudrani, Kaal & Kali, Bhairava & Bhairavi, for instance; or, in Old Norse – Fjörgyn and Fjörgynn.
To bring things back to Diana Herselves – the understanding being communicated via the Diva Triformis conceptry is one of a multilayered multifacity, just as we should expect via the dual notions of the Three Eyes (wherein the same Eyes are at once, Radiances and also Planes/Worlds). There is, therefore, no inherent contradiction between those Classical authors who ascribed the identity and essences of the Diva Triformis upon the basis of what we might term the Tri-Loka (Three Worlds) (i.e. ‘planetological’) model; and those who instead appeared to approach the Goddess more via the Tri-Lochana (Three Illuminators) understanding.
To illustrate that which I mean by this – there are multiple figures and figurative understandings for this Diva Triformis schema. Some held that the correct trio was Diana on Earth, Luna in the Sky, and Proserpine in the Underworld. Others instead had the schema as being Hekate in the Underworld (which is interesting as – strictly speaking – Hekate should be a Solar Goddess per the original Anatolian IE conceptry as well as the direct correlate elements with Vedic Aditi – more upon this in a moment). These two perspectives are broadly correlate as the Tri-Loka model – each Goddess-facing is identified with one of the Three Worlds / Divisions of the Cosmos. Except implicit within the linguistics is the other model – the Tri-Lochana model of the Three Radiances, Three Illuminators, Three Celestial Bodies.
By which I mean – Diana is not, per the linguistics, “On Earth” … but rather, “Illuminating the Earth” as the Daytime Sky – the Sun, in just the same manner as Dyaus and Dyaus’ Solar Eye. Luna (Selene), meanwhile, is in the Sky, most certainly – however this is the Night-Time Sky; illuminating the Night just as the Moon does – the Lunar Eye of the Sky Father. And as for Persephone and/or Hekate ? Well, this is the “Underworld Sun” – or, as it happens, the far removed Highest (Outer) Heaven where the Realm of the Glorious/Ancestral Dead is to be found. This comes directly under the Reign of Aditi in the Vedic sphere (in addition to, of course, Varuna (the Sky Father – as is Hades , Dis Pater) and Lord Yama (Remus, in the Romanic conceptry)), with the Night both Gulf and Veil between the Daylit Realm of the Living Earth and the Ultra-Solar realm in question.
Said Highest Heaven, of course, is quite directly proximate to The Waters in the Vedic understanding – indeed, per one’s reading of RV X 125 [the famed Devi Sukta], the position of Devi Aditi is within/beyond these Waters (as liminal sphere of the Universe), breathing Life into our universe from the World’s Summit where the Realm of the (Fore)Father(s) is to be found. I have previously explored in quite some other works the process of ‘derivation” whereby the Sky Afterlife/Underworld of the more archaic Indo-European cosmology has ‘migrated’ to be an Underworld beneath the Earth’s surface and our feet [‘Patala-Loka’]; as well as the corresponding ‘shift’ whereby the Sea of Stars and Ocean of Suns has similarly ‘descended’ to become moored (indeed, meer’ed – and this is a double-service PIE pun due to the relevant ‘Mer’ and ‘Mer’ meaning ‘To Die’ (or Disappear) and Sea / Body of Water, respectively) in the more terrestrial oceans of our world. Hence the otherwise quite curious conceptry of the Sun and Solar Energy coming from the Sea still being somewhat preserved via the Horse association of Poseidon – despite this making less sense if the Seas are felt to be around one and on roughly similar level to the land , as compared to the more archaic situation of the Sea up in the Sky (which also more sensibly renders the Solar expression into our universe as being congealed emanation of the Absolute, the Undivided – Brahman Aditi; as with the Vajra and Soma for exactly the same reasoning … but more upon those points can be found in my other works).
Hence, even though the astute reader may have mentally noted that there is no overt ‘Sea’ division in the Diva Triformis conceptry – this does not mean that there lacks an implicit point of resonancy therein for same.
And thus, we may also handily reconcile two otherwise rather difficult and different ‘Three Worlds’ conceptual-cosmological schemas – the predominant Greek division of Heavens, Underworld, Sea ; and the major archaic Vedic ‘Three Worlds’ understanding of the Earth, Mid-Atmosphere, and (Higher) Heavens. Although as we have earlier demonstrated via the citation for RV X 63 2 – the Vedic Rsis were also quite well acquainted with an alternative Tri-Loka of the Earth, the Heavens, and the Waters.
The Concordancy Of The Triluminate Planes
Although what must be constantly kept in mind with these sorts of rubrics is that we are not expecting the precise concordancy between Indo-European cultures of the cosmo-religious co-ordinates in question – as there is not even such concordancy between the co-ordinates involved even within a given Indo-European descendant mytho-religious sphere. As we have seen, the Vedas know several ways to phrase the notion of “The Three Worlds”; the Classical canons cannot agree upon which Three ‘Facings’ make up the appropriate perspective upon Diva Triformis; and endeavouring to link up the relevant data-points either within or between these mytho-cultural complexes via necessity requires taking the proverbial (three) steps back in order to more properly appreciate the glorious broader and underlying true picture.
And what is that ? Well, let us put it this way:
We have the Sky Father Deific – represented with Three Eyes. These Three Eyes are, simultaneously, Three Worlds or Divisions of the Universe – and the Three Illuminations also found therein. Which Illumination corresponds to which World is, itself, rather “up in the air”, however – at least partially because just what these Three Divisions actually are is likewise convoluted.
It would be therefore quite easy to either tie ourselves up hopelessly in knots attempting to hammer out perfect underlying concordancies – or to disregard the prospect entirely in favour of suggesting that these obviously interrelated understandings should be considered separately, if at all. Except that would be – to my mind, at any rate – almost to miss the point.
There is just such an underlying unity to be had here – if one knows how to look.
Consider the Shaivite symbolism of the Tripundra – the forehead marking supposed to recall that of Lord Shiva Himself. It is comprised of a red line or shorter marking running vertical, and three horizontal lines of greyish white Vibhuti (Holy Ash). The former, this is applied to the brow in the approximate space of a powerful Third Eye – where the Fire Eye of Lord Shiva is upon His Face; the latter, they run across the same space and intersect. What do these three plus one lines represent? Well, one understanding is that the three are correlate with the Three Worlds – the TriLoka; and the Red is, as we should find, the Third Eye of the TriLochana. Except these are not the only understandings for the three lines – there are quite an array of other symbolic connexions which can and have been made for them. Because in truth, what the Three stand for is, as with the Three Points of the Trishula [literally what it means -‘Three Points’ – the Weapon of Mahadev in English we would call a ‘Trident”; and ascribe to it the potency of not only Poseidon’s Trident, but also Hades’ Bident, Zeus’ Thunderbolt-Javelin, etc. – see my earlier work WORLDSPEAR for more] – is dominion over the Universe (and all is energies, realms, processes) entire.
It is such a simple thing – and yet it contains all within a set of three lines and one more , a far vaster conceptual array. How? By being keyed to , by being applied in emulation of – that of the Sky Father, Lord Shiva, Himself.
So when I emphatically state that there is an essential underlying unity to all of these Tri-schemas even despite various appearances to the contrary … that is exactly what I mean. The Unity in question is as the Sovereign Dominion of this Divinity. Whether we wish to take Pausanias’ own perspective of the Three Worlds in question being the Sky, Underworld, and Ocean; or whether we prefer the Vedic Tri-Loka of Earth, Mid-Atmosphere, and Higher Heaven (or, for that matter, the other Vedic perspective of the Waters, Heaven, and Earth) – the Point, singular, remains the same:
The Sky Father, particularly as Axis Mundi, has Three Eyes (plus a thousand – there for other reasons as the All-Seeing and potentially the wealth of Stars at Night).
Why? Because His is the Samrajya – a term we could translate as “Imperium” or ‘Empire”, but in fact means something closer to “Same Rule” … as in “Same Rule – Everywhere”.
The Three Eyes connote exactly this – that in all divisions of the Universe, He Reigns. And whether as Sun or Moon or Fire – the sources of Light and Life and Law within our great, vast, omnisphere of the Cosmos [a term itself connoting a ‘realm’, and a realm under law in the proper Ancient Greek] … all these are His Dominion.
We know these things elsewhere in the Indo-European sphere as well, too, of course – yet it is only among the Hindus that the tradition of the Three Eyed, Triluminate, and Three-Realmed Sky Father has truly been preserved. And therefore, it is only from the Hindu preserved Perspective that we are once more able to re-illuminate these great Three Fires of the Worlds – and Their Transcendent Upholder-Imperator.
Hail to the Indo-European Sky Father – Whether we know Him as Rudra, Odin, Zeus (and, of course, as we have Seen – Hades, Poseidon), Jupiter, Dyaus Pitar, alongside other more exotic theonyms besides such as Tryambaka and Triophthalmos … Or, indeed, simply as Shiva – to Whom this (A)Arti-cle as with this Night is owed.
The Triple-Eyed, Triple-Throned, Triple-Crowned-With-Radiance Ishvara .
नमस्तेअस्तुभगवन् विश्वेश्वराय महादेवाय त्र्यंबकाय त्रिपुरान्तकाय त्रिकाग्नि-कालाय
कालाग्निरुद्राय नीलकण्ठाय म्रुत्युंजयाय सर्वेश्वराय सदाशिवाय श्रीमन्महादेवाय नमः ॥
Worlds-Sovereign Emperor in the Past – Uncovered, the Present – Upheld, and the Future – Restored !
ॐ नमः शिवाय !