It is Tuesday – the Day of Mars (and, for that matter, Mangala).
Therefore … an Indian Jawan [‘soldier’ or ‘paramilitary’] with a certain devotional image tied to the foregrip of his rifle.
Now, I have occasionally made semi-joking reference to the notion of “Gun-Esha”. Of course, this is not the proper understandings for Lord Ganesha’s Name – which is ‘Gana-Esha’ … Lord of the Gana, or Lord of Army, a title inherited from His Father.
As some may recall from an (A)Arti-cle written earlier in the year, the etymology of modern English ‘Gun’ in fact comes from Old Norse ‘Gunnr’ (as in Battle, Conflict, War) … and more archaically, from PIE ‘Gwhen’ – meaning to kill, to strike, to slay. It has frequent occurrence when we are speaking of the actions of a certain deific in, we may fairly say – “Removing Obstacles”.
To quote from that previous work:
“So, for instance, we have Herakles engaged in the act of ‘κᾰτέπεφνον’ [‘Katepephnon’ – which, given the ‘Kata-‘ prefex, I suppose we might feasibly translate as ‘To Strike Down‘ somewhat more aptly than merely ‘To Slay’] in Hesiod against Giants or the Nemean Lion; or Indra in RV VIII 49 2 – शतानीकेव पर जिगाति धर्ष्णुया हन्ति वर्त्राणि दाशुषे , rendered in the Jamison-Brereton translation as “Like (a missile) with a hundred facets he advances boldly. He smashes obstacles for the pious man”. The key word in the ecclesiastical Sanskrit there being ‘Hanti’, our ‘Gwhen’ derivation’ – and the ‘Obstacles’ actually being, funnily enough, ‘Vritrani’ – that is to say “Vritras”, the word “Vritra” performing double duty for both ‘obstacles’ in the general sense (for example, to the free flow of waters as part of the orderly cycle of creation in accordance with Cosmic Law), and ‘adversary’ especially ‘demon dragon(s)’ in the more specific intonation. That ‘Friend to Man’, ‘Helper of (Pious) Man’ theological element is quite consistent across many of the manifestations of the (Proto-)Indo-European Striker/Thunderer Deific – however more upon that, perhaps some other time.
The Sanskrit ‘Gwhen’ formulations are quite pervasive, and we shan’t go through all of them here. Suffice to say that they are so endemic in association to certain figures that we do not merely see ‘Ahann Ahim’ [‘Slew the Serpent’] as a phrase, but an entire field of theonymics built around the concept. Vritrahan, Vritraghni, etc. – as seen, for instance, in RV VI 61 7: वर्त्रघ्नी वष्टि सुष्टुतिम (‘Vritraghni Vasti Sustutim’) … translated by Griffith as ‘Foe-Slayer, Claims Our Eulogy’, although given that the Deity being hailed there, Vak Saraswati, is also stated to play the key role in slaying the Vritra (in a manner not unrelated to Athena making Herakles and Iolaos able to slay the Hydra in Hesiod etc.), it is also quite feasible to interpret this more directly as well, as hailing Vak Saraswati as the enactor of Gwhen ‘gainst the demon-dragon Vritra.”
“Given the strong association of the Striker/Thunderer with this ‘Gwhen’ term and its derivatives, it should therefore come as no surprise that in addition to the broad and general verbs for ‘Killing’ or ‘Striking’ (consider Ancient Greek ‘Phonos’ ( φόνος )and ‘Theino’ ( θείνω ) respectively), we also find rather more hard-edged developments more specifically salient for His general forms of usage. Sanskrit हन्ति (‘Hanti’) includes in its ambit ‘striking’ in the sense of beating and hammering , as we might strike a drum to produce a ‘beat’ (‘beating’ and ‘pounding’ are certainly in there as well). घन (‘Ghana’) is an operationalized noun – referring to a killer, a slayer … but also a percussive weapon such as a mace or a hammer specifically.”
Now, Ganesha is in some ways quite a close resonancy for a particular Facing of His Father – indeed the most prominent Ganesha mantra today, is that which is also a RigVedic Verse dedicated to Brihaspati, the ‘Lord/Father of the Songs of Prayer’
It therefore seems rather apt, in closing, to once more quote a certain AtharvaVeda hymnal’s words:
AV 11 10, “An Incantation For The Destruction Of A Hostile Army”:
‘Sarvahllokantsamajayan Deva Ahutyanaya. Brhaspatirangiraso Vajram Yamasincatasura- Ksayanam Vadham.
Brhaspatirangiraso Vajram Yamasincatasura- Ksayanam Vadham. Tendhamamum Senam Ni Limpami Brhaspate’mitran Hanmyojasa.’
Which, as you shall note, concludes with our friend, the ‘Gwhen’ particle – in the specific form of ‘ हन्मि ‘ (‘Hanmi’), the meaning of which ought be clearly apparent.
Or, phrased in a perhaps more approachable speech, if a less immanently resonant one:
‘All worlds did the Gods completely conquer by means of that offering [‘Song Calling To’ – ‘Invocation’] — the thunderbolt which Brihaspati of the Angiras race poured, a Demon-destroying weapon. The Thunderbolt which Brihaspati of the Anngiras race poured, a Demon-destroying weapon — therewith do I blot out yon army, O Brihaspati; I slay the enemies with force.’
जय गजानन (A term which not only refers to the Elephant visage – but also, implicitly, to the Roar or ‘Crack’ loud sound … apt for where it is attached here ! )
One thought on “Ganesha – The Lord On The Gun”
Mr Buckingham sends regards No more Latin – gone from NCEA and Cambridge.