On Minerva And The Very Threatening Cat

…as it happens, I Have Theology For That.

Specifically, it’s a Puranic account [Shiva Purana, VII 1 25] wherein … well, we’ll quote from the Shastri translation.

Effectively what happens is Devi is meditating in a forest grove, and a ferocious tiger turns up, sees Her and feels that this female is “Ah .. Lunch.”

Except that is not what then ensues. The Tiger instead winds up a foremost devotee of Her, and protects Her meditation from disruption by other wild animals or interlopers.

Meaning that She insists on bringing this great terrifying tiger home with Her.

“8 After some time had elapsed, seeing Her performing the penance a huge tiger approached Her with wicked intention.

9 The body of that animal of wicked soul became stiff and benumbed when he approached Her.

10 Even after seeing the tiger that approached Her with wicked intention the Goddess (Devī) did not turn away from Her pious thoughts like ordinary people.

11-12 The animal with his body stunned and overwhelmed with hunger, stood there in front of Her glancing perpetually at the Goddess and thought, “My prey is nothing else.” Virtually this became his cherished goal.

13 Mercy was generated in the heart of the Goddess who thought, “He is the perpetual performer of contemplation on Me and My protector from the wicked animals.”

14 By this feeling of mercy the threefold dirt of the tiger perished and he realised the Goddess.

15 His hunger receded. The benumbed stiffness subsided. His congenital wickedness disappeared. Contentment set in.

16 Realising his contentment with great piety he waited upon the Goddess as a sudden devotee.

17 He roamed about the penance-grove as a router of wicked animals and wicked souls.”

To skip ahead a bit ..

“The Goddess said:—
2 Is this tiger that has resorted to Me seen by You? He has guarded My penance grove from wicked animals.

3 Dedicating his mind to Me he worships Me without thinking of anything else. There is nothing more pleasing to Me than his protection.

4 He shall be appointed as an official in My harem. Out of pleasure Śiva will grant him the post of Ganeśvara.

5 I wish to return with My friends keeping him ahead. I seek permission from you the lord of the subjects.

6 Thus addressed, Brahmā smiled and told the Goddess describing the lion’s wicked antecedents as though the Goddess was unaware.

Brahmā said:—
7 O Goddess, animals are cruel. How can Your blissful thought be directed to these? Why do You sprinkle nectar in the mouth of the serpent?

8 This is a certain night-prowling wicked demon in the garb of a tiger (vyāghra). Cows, Brahmins and saints have been devoured by him.

9 He is roaming about assuming forms as he pleases, pleasing and propitiating them. The fruit of a sinful action must of necessity be reaped by him.

10 Why shall mercy be shown to wicked souls like this? What is the purpose served by one innately sinful?

The Goddess said:—
11 What You have said is entirely true. Let him be like this. Still he has resorted to Me. One who has sought refuge in Me shall not be abandoned.

Brahmā said:—
12 I narrated his antecedents without realising his devotion. If there be devotion, sins are not effective? Your devotee never perishes.

13 What can a man of virtuous rites achieve without depending on Your behest? You alone are the unborn, intelligent, ancient Goddess.

14 Bondage and liberation depend on You. There is no greater Śakti than You. Without You rites cannot achieve results.

15 You alone constitute Śakti of living beings. Himself incompetent to do anything what will a mere agent do?

16 It is only Your behest that is the cause of acquisition of prosperity and glory by Viṣṇu, by Me or by any of these—Gods, Dānavas or Rākṣasas.

17 Innumerable Brahmās, Viṣṇus and Śivas have passed by. Such innumerable Ones are yet to be born, These carry out Your behests.

18 O Goddess of the Gods without propitiating You the fourfold arms of life cannot be acquired by all of us.

19 Since merit and evil have been established by You the mobile and immobile may even be inter-changed.

20 You are the primordial and eternal Śakti of Śiva the great soul, the Lord of the Universe, the Śakti without beginning, middle or death.

21 For the functioning of the universe You assume some form or other and play about in different aspects. Who knows You factually?

22 Hence let this wicked tiger (vyāghra) too attain the great Siddhi by Your blessings. Nothing can prevent it?”

23 Thus requested by Brahmā after duly reminding Her of Her great aspect the Goddess ceased from Her penance.

24-29 Then taking leave of the Goddess Brahmā vanished. […]
The Goddess was impatient to see Her lord. She kept the tiger ahead thinking Him as son born of Herself, out of affection. With the brilliant lustre of Her Body She illuminated the quarters. Thus Gaurī reached Mandara where Lord Śiva was staying—the Lord Who is the Creator, Protector and Annihilator of the Worlds.”

[…]

“The Goddess said:—
25 Was not Kauśiki, created by Me seen by My Lord? Such a girl has never been before in the world nor will ever be.

26-27 Brahma will tell You about Her prowess, strength, residence on the Vindhya, Her victory in the battle with Śumbha and Niśumbha, their death, Her blessing to the Devotees and Her protection of the Worlds.

28 At the behest of the Goddess Who spoke thus Her friends brought the tiger in Their presence.

29 On seeing him the Goddess spoke again—“O lord, see this tiger. There is no other devotee of Mine like him.

30-32 My penance-grove was guarded by him from wicked hosts. He is greatly devoted to Me. In view of his protecting Me he is trustworthy. He has left his native place and come here for your favour. If You are pleased with him and if You love Me, O God, let him stay at the door of the harem along with the other guards and under the charge of Nandin Himself.”

Vāyu said:—
33-34 On hearing the auspicious, loving and sweet words of the Goddess the Lord said to him “I am pleased”. Immediately he was seen like Gaṇeśa wearing the dress and features of a watchman, holding the cane made of gold and a dagger of serpentine lustre and wearing a bodice set with various gems.

35 He was named Somanandin because Soma means Śiva and this tiger pleased Soma as well as Nandin.

36 After carrying out this task pleasing to the Goddess the Lord with the circular moon on His crest embellished him with divine ornaments set with gems.”

One thought on “On Minerva And The Very Threatening Cat

  1. Pingback: On Minerva And The Very Threatening Cat – Glyn Hnutu-healh: History, Alchemy, and Me

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