It has come to my attention that the chap who does “DharmaNation”, is once again pushing his “Thor Mantras” effort. Now with all the appropriate respect that is due to the gentleman in question … there are some issues with what he has presented. I won’t get into his attempted co-identification of Odin with Indra (if you’re interested in that – I have quite voluminous works demonstrating that Odin is, in fact, Dyaus Pitar, Rudra in the Vedic/Hindu comparanda) – except to note that it is interesting that he has chosen to use an Indra mantra as the basis for his “Thor Mantra”, considering his opposition to the identification of Indra with Thor.
The following is something I had written analyzing his proposed “Thor Mantras” last year, edited slightly to enhance clarity upon some points. I present it here as it also touches upon some quite important cautionary points in our general field of resurrecting Indo-European theology & religion. And also because it always helps our audience to take a walk-through of some of the elements we are drawing upon – in this case, a little bit upon how the relevant actual Gayatri Mantra works.
The two “Thor Mantras” which the figure known as ‘Sri Dharma Pravartaka’ has presented are as follows:
“Thor Mantra: Om Odinputraya namaha
Thor Gayatri Mantra: Om Odinputraya vidmahe vajrahastaya dhimahi tanno donnar prachodayat”
Now, the first one is basically just an incredibly standard almost sentence. You might as well just say “Hail Odinson”. [there’s a bit more going on in terms of the phraseology, but more on that some other time].
But the second one … what the man’s done, is he’s taken a particular form of mantra – a Gayatri Mantra – and he’s swapped some words out from a semi-prominent version of same.
The Indra Gayatri Mantra in question being –
“Om Sahasranetraya Vidmahe
Tanno Indra Prachodayat”
Except in place of ‘Sahasranetraya’ [an epithet that may usually refer to Indra – or to Vishnu], he has put “Odinputraya’.
And instead of ‘Indra’, he has put ‘Donnar’
Now, as it happens, my issues with this are … perhaps not quite what you would think.
I do think that simply swapping words out from a Mantra is … something to be cautious about, because the deep and interleavened meanings of various of the words, mean that changing one can disrupt patterns that one might not even have appreciated at the time.
In this case, Sahasranetraya would mean ‘Thousand Eyed’ – or, occasionally, ‘Thousand-Limbed’. It is something that goes, in part, with the Solar underpinnings of the Gayatri Mantra class … and also with the intended meaning of the formulation all up – which is to awaken the mind and intellect
So … taking that particle out to replace with a dual-language “Odinson” … is something to be a bit careful about. I would have thought it’d disrupt the intended energy flow from the opening of the Mantra and its empowerment [which is, after all, at least partially Solar – and hence, also, the well-attested Solar Deity Arms(Rays)/Eyes(Beams) mentions in the Vedas] … but then, that is just me.
Meanwhile, “Indra” is a complex term , to say the least. I’ve written more about the etymology etc. elsewhere – but suffice to say that, again, simply swapping in a German word for “Thunder” is .. quite a shift in some ways.
You are going from a term that connotes the Leadership and Warrior-Chieftainship in a crisis – and also the bright, illuminating descending empowerment from Heaven [via a closely related particle that is semi-intrinsic in the term – “Indu”] … to a word that means a noise.
Now, all of this is why I am habitually rather .. sketchy about various attempts at ‘integrationalism’ between different Indo-European traditions that are not done pretty carefully.
It is not to say that it is impossible. It is just to say that if you don’t really know what you’re doing, you are liable to cut out essential arteries in things, so to speak.
Indeed, it can get worse – you can unintentionally invert the meanings of some things , by swapping in words that sound really close to Sanskrit [or whichever other liturgical language we are talking of] terms that you do not want in the liturgy in question.
So, with that in mind … what I would suggest is that the better approach is one that makes use of the toolset we have available. IN the language in question rather than patchwork jobs drawing from outside it, unless you’re really sure that is what is right.
As a side-note … I look kind of sidesways at using both “Odin” and “Donnar” [i.e. a Nordic and a German(ic) term each] in the same thing, but side-issue.
What I mean by this … is that as Thor is clearly Indra/Hanuman (same deity – c.f RV X 86; also note the obscure Nordic scriptural reference to Thor as an “Ape” in the Grimnismal) … why go through the extra steps that lead you in curious directions. Why not just use an Indra mantra, a Hanuman mantra as already extant. We already know these work in the canon in question – although I do appreciate that there may be some issues using it outside of that canon ; or bringing something else into that canon, etc.
Another point that I should perhaps raise, is that yes, you can use various terms that are cognate/resonant with the Nordic/Germanic ones in Sanskrit if making something .. bespoke, you might say … and it will probably lead to better results.
So, in terms of the example of that “Thor Gayatri Mantra” … if you were going to take out the Thousand-Eyed One in favour of “Odinson” …
Yes, that is actually fair enough in some ways. And I would simply have gone with Vataputraya … or, perhaps, Vayuputraya – because Vata, in particular, has cognate/coterminous derivation with “Odin”.
It’s .. complex, to be sure, because Odin mainly derives from ‘Weht’ , but there is unquestionably also a ‘Va-‘ particle synergy that means the ‘Wind’ element, and what that represents – including ‘Word’ – is also preserved therein .. .after all, the ‘excited state’, in question, the Odr, is one that lends itself well to the swift-moving of the wind, the life-force of breathing, and the intellect (of the mind), the speech of words … and we are here taking advantage of the fact that there are two “Vata” terms in Sanskrit – which are complete homophones despite having nominally separate derivations; one which we have aforementioned, from ‘Weht’, the other which means ‘Upper Atmosphere’ – where the Wind meets the Akasha.
The idea with ‘VataPutraya” – would not be to literally conote the “Son of Vata [Deva]” … but rather, a figurative descending from this deity and this metaphysical/cosmological zone. That sending of ‘wit’, ‘words’, and ‘wisdom’ which we know from our comparative theology that the Divinity in question mediates and mandates to us.
OdinPutraya therefore actually does work rather well in some ways for the purpose of that portion of the Mantra, but it is amusing to me because it also resonates therefore with a Shaivite position that the Vaishnava who has proposed this mantra … would not like. So he is correct in some ways .. it is just that he is accidentally correct.
But to bring this back to tin-tacs … you would not be attempting to have a drawing of the power of ‘Odr’ in a Thor Mantra – I would have thought, anyway. It is a useful thing to be drawing , this is true … but just as we would probably not expect Solar energy in association with Thor … so too would it seem that this perhaps would be under another aegis.
Meanwhile, Vata- as in, the upper atmospheric layer but also a somewhat archaic Vayu theonym [indeed Vayu-Vata is directly attested, and Vata is maintained in oddly enough the Iranic reading of the figure] , would be an apt source to be drawing the desired energy from , whence the Vajra energy would somewhat hail from. And would also connote the descent of the Breath in the Lungs – a vital investiture ! and most definitely an empowering one, also good for clarity of the mind by blowing out some of the more moribund and ‘tamasik’ delusions- although at the potential expense of, like Odr, being ‘in motion’, rather than easily ‘settled’; even if the upper atmospheric layer may appear quite ‘serene’ from afar. It is, almost, the Akasha , the Akasha mixed with Air.
[Although I should also make mention of the … well, there is another meaning to “Vata” – to assault, to injure … which uh … well, this may be not so good ; same (sounding) word a lot of the time, but yee; although on the other hand, it does accord somewhat with the ‘To Seize’ , Ergreiffen concept as applies Odin. And ‘Son of the Assault’ would also have a potential utility to it for our context and purposes]
For a comparative of what I am getting at … the relevant Hanuman equivalent Gayatri Mantra instead has ‘Anjaniye’ in this place … and while on one level, it is saying Anjani’s Son … on another level, it is referencing अञ्जना – that is ‘Fire’, and the power of illuminating clarification.
I suppose what I am getting at … is that:
a) the proper way to approach these matters, is to use the material from the other Indo-European mythoreligious canons to help you to understand the one that you are in and adhere to.
This may occasionally be a quite extreme thing – like, given the state of the Nordic/Germanic religious canon, we are going to have to use quite some Vedic elements to fill in the ‘gaps’ in what has come down to us. And if you’ve followed my work on Classical (Greek & Roman) mythology of late, you can see me doing something similar to undo ‘Mess-O-Potamia’.
And you can also see it in what I have just done with the commentary on that ‘Thor Gayatri Mantra’ attempt – wherein I have utilized my understanding of both Nordic mythology and my own Hindu home(a), to mutually reinforce things; to facilitate a greater understanding of scriptural and cosmological elements particularly as applies the latter [or, we may say, the Vata].
b) in situations wherein we attempt to rather hastily bring together stuff from different traditions, this can lead to confusion and misunderstanding ; and even occasionally some counterproductive results.
So, for instance, we had a guy not so long ago who was insisting that Indra was the Sky Father [Dyaus Pitar] , on the basis of , largely, some stuff around Zeus, and some not quite properly understood Vedic materials. He also said that Thor was the Sky Father on a similar basis.
And yes, as it happens, the Romans [or, rather, the post-Christianization Romans who had forgotten much of the truth of their heritage and its respective theology] made just such an assertion – it is why we have ‘Thursday’ for the Day of Jupiter, for example.
But this does not make it right, it just means that things get confused.
And when we are using prayers and the Sacred Speech … confusion can quite literally be deadly.
There is a famous example of this, as it happens, in the Hindu corpus – wherein Vritra is attempting a spell to grant himself immortality …
.. he mispronounces a single syllable, it changes the meaning, and he fates himself to be killed , particularly by Indra.
Now, if you are just blithely ‘injecting’ terms from other languages into your Sanskrit, or your Old Norse … well, one ought be careful about this , for obvious reasons. Who knows what bilingual translation errors / puns you are inviting.
NoteI: I said “careful” not “opposed to”.
That concludes what I had penned upon this subject more than half a year ago, when I first became aware of the matter.
Now I do wish to emphasize here that I am not attempting to take some sort of shot at the gentleman calling himself ‘Sri Dharma Pravartaka’. He is a Vaishnava Acharya, and as far as I am aware he is in fact a properly initiated one of a reputable lineage. However, comparative Indo-European religion is not, perhaps, his forte – and for whatever reason he has made some curious choices as applies this particular effort of his.
In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that it is precisely his competency within the specific field he is acclaimed in – that of the modern Vaishnava tradition – that may have meant he is less in his element when dealing with some other spheres. There is no shame in that.
And I must confess – even though I am perhaps a bit bemused by various of the results and postulations he has come up with – I do acknowledge his enthusiasm. And if it helps to get some of the people who like what he does, to see the world in the more pervasive Indo-European terms that are the fundament and the foundation of our view here at Arya Akasha … well, that is something, then.
Although I do prefer that people – whomever they may be – engage with a tradition … and approach the blending of traditions with caution and with care. We are dealing with a three dimensional (well, more than three dimensional) conceptual framework when it comes to Indo-European comparative theology. That is how I have come to view the scenario we find ourselves in – wherein we can simultaneously understand that Odin is the Father of Thor, Dyaus Pitar is the Father of Indra, Vayu is (a) Father of Hanuman, Zeus is the Father of Herakles, etc. (i.e. these are all expressions of the same Indo-European Sky Father begetting the Striker/Thunderer) … but also recognize and appreciate that there are subtle, yet important differences to each particular understanding. Some of which are incredibly intricate in the underlying meaning actually being conveyed. Unity – yet nuance, depth, and refraction giving greater resonancy to the overarching whole.
The issue with these “Thor Mantras”, is that they are in part collapsing down this multi-dimensional space to a single and rather two-dimensional and linear approach (which would, in fact, be one-dimensional). Instead of parallel and mutually reinforcing understandings – we have key elements of the main understanding stripped out, and replaced somewhat awkwardly with decontextualized elements from these other dimensions. With little regard for how these might impact upon the overarching formula – other than that it fit the right number of syllables for the appropriate Vedic metre. As I have said – glorious, multifarious and multi-dimensional complexity of perspective reduced down to something more simplistic than it is simple … and smooshed together rather than truly made ‘single’, with limited regard for the vitally important detail thusly stubbed out in consequence.
It is possible to speak – as I have often done, in fact – about various of the august figures and understandings of the Indo-European mythic-religious sphere in more than one language at a time. Part of that is a necessity – many of us speak English, fewer of us Sanskrit, and even fewer still of us, Old Norse. So in order to even speak about the comparative theology to one another, we are already blending speeches in order to do so.
But that is discussion – it is speaking about the figures, about the understandings in question. It is quite different from speaking to the Figures (i.e. The Gods); and it is also quite different to those occurrences wherein the speech itself is the ‘understanding’ – and, as is the case with the ‘Empowered Speech’ that is Sanskrit, those cases wherein changing the word most definitely changes the understanding for it changes the underlying reality itself and how we interact with same.
In closing, I should like to quote a line of Vedic verse which is of considerably ancient provenancy.
The hymnal it is from is one dedicated to a Vajra-wielder – although not that Vajra-wielder of Whom you may be thinking. Rather, it is to Rudra – the Lord of the World and Most Mighty.
In Sanskrit, it would read – मा त्वा रुद्र चुक्रुधामा नमोभिर्मा दुष्टुती वृषभ मा सहूती । (Ma Tva Rudra Cukrudhama Namobhirma Dustuti Vrsabha Ma Sahuti)
It is a cautionary injunction to the human hearer, even as it is a reverent (indeed, directly ‘Eusebian’ – in the sense of doing something whilst affeared of the awesome Power of a God) prayer to the Divine Listener. The invoker is being pointedly polite with his etiquette (lest he become ‘pointed at’ in another sense, through dereliction of same), and emphasizing that the petitioners do not wish to offend the God – whether through worship, or through ‘Dustuti’ or ‘Sahuti’. These last two terms are in large measure why I have chosen to quote this verse – for they mean “ill-formed/executed prayers” and “mingled calling/invocation”, respectively.
These “Thor Mantras” may be addressed to, ostensibly, Thor – and may indeed, in the case of the “Thor Gayatri mantra”, make use of a valid and viable Vedic formulation oriented most usually to Indra … but I would be hesitant in the extreme to actually utilize them in a devotional context. For to me they do indeed seem to be , in various senses broader than the Vedic context I have originally drawn those designators from … “Dustuti” & “Sahuti”.
Your mileage, as ever, may vary.
7 thoughts on “On “Thor Mantras” Proposed By DharmaNation”
I’m curious as to whether the Acharya in question truly equated Indra with Odin. I saw the claim made here in a comment left below another article, but the suggestion is so strange that I’d certainly like to see direct proof of it to be sure that the commenter wasn’t mistaken.
An unrelated observation relating to Vritra’s fateful mispronunciation of a single syllable of a spell is that we see something similar in Egil’s Saga where a whalebone with (intended) healing runes is placed in the bed of a sick woman, who becomes even more sick because of an error in the runes. Egil discovers the mistake, destroys the faulty runes and replaces them with properly carved runes, leading to the rapid improvement of the woman’s health.
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He directly states for example in the text with the video I’m responding to –
The quote in question from him is “Thor is known in the Vedic tradition as Jayanta. Thor’s father, Odin, is known in the Vedic tradition as Indra.”
You can see why I was .. rather bemused by this – because it is, indeed, very very peculiar.
Interesting and useful insight viz. Egil’s saga – I should do a follow-up 😀
Thanks for posting this. It needed to be said. That Acharya person is a very confused individual. He has a background in the Neo-Gaudiya Vaishnava (as opposed to the Traditional Gaudiya Vaishnava) Hare Krishna movement but now claims to be a Srivaishnava even though he doesn’t use a Srivaishnava tilak or espouse much Srivaishnava doctrine except for the most basic stuff. He claims to be an Arch Traditionalist while in actuality following a mishmash of Hare Krishna and Srivaishnava teachings. Very disappointed in him. I used to support his work in the past.
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I suggest you all make up your own mantras in English, to Thor et al.
“Thor the Mighty, Thor descend!
Thor here and now all powers of evil end!”
“Thor come to earth, raise us out of darkness
Bless, help, heal us to Valhalla lead us!”
Here’s one you’ll enjoy, from a Nov 15, 2021 DharmaNation video entitled, “The Path of Joy,” at around the 51:30 mark:
“Indra is not Shiva, Shiva is not Indra, and Odin is not Shiva as well – that’s another nonsensical thing that a fool made up.”
Absolutely bonkers. All of it
Where in Grimner’s Speeches is Thunder called an ape? This must be a mistranslation of some sort, I find it nowhere in the original poem.