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purAnas and the sibling ideal- 3

From: sudarshan (
Date: Sat Sep 26 1998 - 10:23:13 PDT

Dear bhAgavatOttamA-s,

In Act 1 Scene 2 of our little "purAni-c" tale we see poor Goddess Parvati
turned into a forlorn cow on earth and living out the curse befallen upon
her thanks to her irate husband, the Lord of Kailasa.

Like common bovine denizens of the Indian countryside, she roamed the
plains and the valleys, across fords and woods, over hills and canyons.....
aimless in life, derelict in state, stranded and trapped in an  empty
existence of earthly abjectness ...for no fault of her own save that of
having earned the displeasure of the gods....

The state of existence that Parvati portrays in this part of the "purAni-c"
narrative mirrors the great Upanishadic description of the human soul in
its sojourn through this "vale of tears" called life on earth.
There is a special term used by the Upanishads to describe all of us who
are born unto this world and who perforce eke out an existence as wretched
and as devoid of dignity as the one Goddess Parvati poignantly essayed in
her role as a poor, forsaken cow abandoned to its unknown fate on earth by
a celestial husband who turned out to have feet of clay, after all. 

The special term in Tamil is known as "vAzhA-vatti". ("zha" is to be
pronounced with a retroflex affricate sound.)

"vAzhA-vatti" : to translate this Tamil term into any other language in the
world would simply rob it of the superlative degree of derogation and
contempt which it conveys with such expressive intensity. 

Very roughly, the term is used to denote any subject-being --- man, animal
or thing --- that has lost its existential purpose; a derelict; an
atrophied piece of dis-organism; a useless limb of nature for which Nature
itself has no use; an earthly and eternal reject; a parasitic non-being
that knows not why and wherefore it came into being and where it is

All the above expressions which approximate to "vAzhA-vatti", the
Upanishads tell us, are indeed apt descriptions for the real nature of
souls like our very own. The wise ones of yore held us all to be inveterate
"vAzhA-vatti-s" as long as we remained in this life as we blithely do now
and and will perhaps do too in the hereafter as well : fated to ignoble
ignorance about the Ultimate Truth of the One and Resplendent "brahmhan". 

Let's leave aside the grim reflections of the Upanishads --- they are not
for us --- and return, shall we, to simpler and pleasanter  distractions of
the "puraNa" and see how our poor Goddess Parvati fared as a cow on

We then should let the curtain rise on Act 2 Scene 1.

And onward thus to the next post of mine....