Friday, 2 May 2008

Hindus' Mother Goddess or Alla

Since prehistoric times, worship of the Mother Goddess in many forms was the standard practice in many cultures. It still continues in some cultures especially in Asia.

For example there are similarities between the Goddess Ma Tsu (Chinese)and Goddess Mariamman (Tamil), both of whom are Goddesses of the Sea. In Indian traditional culture, Mariamman is one of the numerous forms of Amman, the Supreme Mother of all beings in the universe.

One of the many of names of the Mother Goddess Amman is Alla. The word Alla means mother in Sanskrit and is used across many Indian languages.

One of the forms of Mother Goddess in Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. One of the many names of Lord Shiva is Kabaali, which means "one holding a skull". It comes from the root word kabaalam which means head. The same word is also used in Malay as kepala. Lord Shiva in the form of Kabaali, is shown as holding a skull in his hand. Here Lord Shiva is depicted in the form of destroyer, as one of his functions. Here the word destruction is used in the sense of creative destruction, meaning that one form changes into another. To quote Lord Alfred Tennyson, "the older order changeth yielding place to new".

The Shiva Lingam, originally carved in natural crystals, is also often depicted by a black cylindrical stone. The black cylindrical stone form is also called Sanghey Ashweta, or Non-white stone. It must be present in any temple dedicated to Kabaali, i.e., Lord Shiva. The Lingam is a non-anthromorphic representation of the primeval energy of the universe. The underlying thought is here is that God is formless.

In Hinduism, thus one can see the presence of both ideas, i.e., a formless God as well as numerous forms of Gods. However one should also appreciate that the numerous forms of Gods as illustrated in Hindu Temples are the equivalent of visual presentation of abstract ideas in PowerPoint 5000 B.C. and therefore serve as visual aids to realise God.

Perhaps the most significant Hindu concept is that God is one. Even one of the oldest available sacred Indian texts on this subject, namely the Rig Veda, proclaims so. Numerous other sacred texts in numerous Indian languages have said the same thing. Nevertheless, humans are free to visualise God in any number of forms, or even conceptualise as a formless God. Humans are also free to call God by any number of names in any number of languages. That is one of the reasons why a few countries that adopted the Hindu ways of thinking gave their own local names for Gods and Goddesses as is still readily evident in Chinese cultures. In other cultures such as Khmers and Indonesians, the original Hindu names were retained. There are so many names for Gods that among Indians there is a form of worship of Gods using "Namavali"( nama = name; avali =row) meaning "row of names". One recites or sings simply hundreds or thousands of names of God as a show of love and devotion.

Recital or singing out prayers aloud is also an ancient Hindu tradition.

One of Lord Shiva's emblems is the crescent moon. Hindus have a practice of worshipping the Solar Planetary System known as a Navagraha Puja (nava = 9, graha = planet, also graha in Malay, puja = worship, puji in Malay). Included among the celestial bodies are Saturn and the Moon. The celestial bodies are represented by nine statues in a Hindu temple placed together in three rows of three planets each.

Going annual or once in a life-time pilgrimage to holy places such as Rameswaram in South Indian or Kasi in North India is also an ancient practice since time immemorial.

Hindus practice circum-ambulation which means going round and round the arrangement of Nine Planets while uttering mantras as prayers.

According to the Hindu tradition, Ganga (River Ganges) is inseparable from Lord Shiva just like the crescent moon as His emblem. So wherever there are Shiva or Kabaali's temples , there must a sacred river or water source nearby. The water at such places is treated as holy water.

Since ancient times, male Hindus shave their head and beard and don special sacred attire that consists of two seamless sheets of white cloth (Veshti and thundu) when they perform prayers in the temple. One of the white cloths is to be worn round a man's waist like a sarong and the other over his shoulders.

Ancient Vedic injunction of Panchmahayagna ( daily worshipping five times) requires that all individuals must pray five times a day. The word panchmahayagna is made up of 3 words: panch = five, maha = great, yagna = sacrifice.

Hindus commemorate their ancestors during the Pitr-Paksha that is the fortnight reserved for their remembrance.

In reading even the few practices as quoted above from Hinduism, one can easily see and identify for themselves how many of the practices of later day religions resonate with this most ancient religion of them all.

It is humbling to know that we are more similar than dissimilar.


Anonymous said...

Good material you have here. I am finding out the origins of "alamak" and your information is one of the leads to many new findings. Thanks!

Puravin said...

Great research and analysis bro...keep up the good work:)

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Homer MakeDonski said...

To whom it may concern

Dear Sathia.
For this nice and educated material, there is a references request from my side.I hope you do't mine
Goce Janevski
Homer MakeDonski

Everyplace is my home; Everyone is my kin