‘Send the Wolves’ – Demons And Demon-Worshippers Driven Out From The Vedic Sacred Space By The Howling Hounds Of Heaven : An Exaltation !

Ever since I first read of it, this Vedic myth (and ritual operation) has resonated most potently within my mind.

It deals with an ‘exorcism’ of sorts. One wherein a coterie of ‘priests of demons’ being fought by Indra are hurled into the howling demesne that is as the ‘Gates of the Underworld’ – the place of the vengeful Pitrs [‘Ancestors’], the SalaVrkas [‘Wolves of the Boundary’, ‘Temple Wolves’], Death (‘Swift-As-Thought’ – ‘Manojavah’), and ‘That Which Is Krura’ [‘Cruel’, ‘Bloody’, ‘Wrathful’, ‘Formidable’, ‘Barbaric’, ‘Pitiless’, ‘Savage’, ‘Violent’ ‘Dreaded’, ‘Terrific’] (Black Yajurveda (TS) VI 2 7).

We have written of the ‘Temple Wolves’, the Wolf as Vengeful Protector of the Sacred (Vastopati, indeed!). Well, this is Them – and we do not consider it at all coincidental that They are to be hailed in the space coterminous with that of the Army of the Ancestors.

Nor that They are to be encountered in the Direction of Righteousness (‘Dakshinah’ – cognate with ‘Dexter’) that is also the direction of the Realm of the Dead … the roadways ranged by those stern Sons of Sarama (‘Wolves’), Yama’s vigilant Hounds.

Earlier in the suite, we find Indra Himself to take such ‘SalaVrka’ form – that of a Wolf, in order to ‘delineate the borders’ of the Divine Realm won as consequence of conquest against the Demons (TS VI 2 4). The Wolf, in other words, is the Guardian of the Grounds of the Gods.

We also encounter Indra utilizing His ‘Howl’ (‘Ghosha’ – can also refer to a Roar, a Prayerful Invocation) in order to drive back the Demons from the Altarspace that they had sought to malefically appropriate from the Suzerainty of the Divine.

As ever – the situation is one of both Myth and Ritual Instruction : the Myth provides the Template for the later Ritual enactions and metaphysical engagements.

The ‘Temple Wolves’, in other words, did not merely act Mythically and ‘once, a long long time ago’ to devour the ‘Priests of Demons’ who had sought to displace the true and proper Priest(s) of the Divine (and later Puranic renditions of the myth pointedly have these ‘Yatins’ aforementioned attempting to steal the Wife of the Priest (viz. Vak – the Goddess) through perniciously afflicting mental “influence”) … but also act to this day to provide watchful warding ‘gainst the demonic, anti-divine foe in such contexts.

As we have extolled elsewhere, They are also represented in the modern era by the canid-associated Bhairava (‘Terror’, The Terrific) as Kshetrapala [‘Protector of the (Sacred) Space, The Temple’], Himself a clear ‘carrying forward’ of Rudra’s role as Vastopati (where He is Hailed as a ‘Son of Sarama’ – a Wolf (RV VII 55 2) ).

And we might also seek to invoke the dread specters encountered in AV-S XII 5, those formidable Roudran (and, I would say, Kali ) clades Who likewise shall drag (back) screaming into perdition those who would dare seek to sunder and steal the immanent Divine from our Hearts and the Heart of our Ritual Existence.

To quote in translation:

“Quickly, when he is smitten down by Death, the clamorous Vultures cry:
Quickly around his funeral fire dance Women with dishevelled locks,
Striking the hand upon the breast and uttering Their evil shriek.
Quickly the Wolves are howling in the habitation where he lived:
Quickly they ask about him, What is this? What thing hath happened here?
Rend, rend to pieces, rend away, destroy, destroy him utterly.”
[AV-S XII 5 47-51, Griffith Translation]

(I also tend to quite like quoting the Dr Tulsi Ram rendition for line 49:
“Soon after, Wolves rush into his homes and secret vaults and raise a deathly howl of loot”)

As a point of interest, those Women in line 48, of the RudraGanika clade (and with the ‘distinctive’ tangled hair – ‘Keshini’), are implicitly the Wolf’s female counterpart: They, too, are both ‘Howling’ and ‘Devouring’ heroes of the Sky Father’s Household and retinues.

Indeed, not only is the same word (‘Ailaba’) utilized here in AV-S XII 5 for the Howls of the Wolves (line 49) as for the terrifying ululations of the Women (line 48) – but in AV-S XI 2, that famed Hymnal to the Wolf-Sons (or Wolf-Forms) of Rudra, Sarva & Bhava, we find these groups pointedly co-evoked.

Line 11 (aptly and portentously enough) has the ‘abhibhah svanah’ [the ‘baleful’ / ‘ominous’ / ‘calamitous’ / ‘phenomenal’, ‘appearing-as-an-omen’ Hounds] and ‘gharudo vikesyah’ [‘howling’ ‘women-with-(tangled/distinctive/comet-like)-hair’] appearing right alongside one another and engaged in the same important action.

Lines 30 & 31 (with which the Hymnal concludes) feature both the Wolves (in the former) and the Wild Women (in the latter): saluting Them as ‘Howling’ [‘ailabakarebhyo’ and ‘Ghosinibhyo’, respectively] and ‘Ravenously Devouring’ [‘[a]samsutta-gilebhyah’ – ‘devouring raw / uncooked’, and ‘sambhunjati’ – ‘Those Who Eat [Their Prey] Together’, or rendered by Manasataramgini as ‘[who] devour their targets’; or, perhaps, ‘Those Who Devour Completely’, if we take a different sense of ‘saṃ’] in pointedly mutually resonantly-reinforcing (indeed, ‘comradely’) terms.

As well they should: after all, where Sarva & Bhava are (in the context of Shankhayana Shrauta Sutra IV 20, for example) ‘Sons of Rudra’ – the RudraGanikas are His Daughters; and in both cases, the notion of patrilineal descent is also doing serious double-duty to also mean something along the lines of ’emanations of’, ‘expressions of’, and most certainly ‘bearing the essence(s) of’ (particularly as applies the especial human worshippers who act as His retinue, vanguard, and executors down here upon this plane of ours).

These are not the only ‘Female Wolves’ one might encounter – Sarama, we have already mentioned at several points herein, most usually in terms of the ‘Sons of Sarama’ descriptor utilized for particular prominent Canids in service to the Divine [these being the Hounds of Yama, and Rudra as Vastopati] .

Yet She deserves great mention as well upon a more directly focused basis. As we find at various places (most pointedly RV X 8 – which I do rather like to note is , when not in Roman for the Mandala number, RV 10 8) , this She-Wolf of the Heavens engages in a more ‘Expeditionary’ approach.

That is to say, whilst operating alone (which makes some assumed logical sense given the distance and remoteness of Her Reconnaissance) She tracks down and confronts the Demons that have stolen That Which Is Precious from the Gods, forcing them to abandon their possession (both in terms of a territory, a strongpoint occupied and garrisoned – but also in terms of their utilization of this and its ‘enclosure’ to exert control and influence over their ill-gotten (and decidedly temporary) ‘gain’) and flee for their lives in dread anticipation of a full war-procession of chanting (combat-) priests and enraged Divinity bearing down upon them in earnest.

She does all of this in the face of a concerted effort at subversive ‘temptation’ by Her prey to lure Her from the side of the Gods over to that of the Demons through promises of ‘a share of the spoils’ and the ‘camaraderie’ of the latter invidious grouping.

A Wolf of True Heart and ferocious Clarity of Purpose, She refuses to be dissuaded, nor demoralized, nor defeated in pursuit of Her Aim no matter the words nor weaponry (of other sorts) wielded against Her.

An Iron Will, at least as potent an armament as the Sharpness of Her Fangs or Speech.

Indeed, we are reminded of that hailing from the Kalika Sahasranama Stotram (also found within the famed Sri Durga Ashtottara Shatanama Stotram) of ‘Ameya Vikrama Krura’ – ‘Limitless (Ameya) Power / Valour / Heroism (Vikrama)’ … and ‘Krura’, by this point, surely needs little translational rendering.

Hail to those Wolves Who Keep Watch, Who Seek Out & Recover, And Who So Implacably Oppose The Iniquitously Invidious Efforts Of The Foe !

May THEIR Howl Bring HOPE !

One thought on “‘Send the Wolves’ – Demons And Demon-Worshippers Driven Out From The Vedic Sacred Space By The Howling Hounds Of Heaven : An Exaltation !

  1. Pingback: ‘Send the Wolves’ – Demons And Demon-Worshippers Driven Out From The Vedic Sacred Space By The Howling Hounds Of Heaven : An Exaltation ! – Glyn Hnutu-healh: History, Alchemy, and Me

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