This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Monday, 26 November 2012
The Gods Themselves: Hindu Cultural Programming
I think I have said this before: cultural programming is really, really difficult to get over.
But for a statistically insignificant number of tribal communities, all Indians are, historically speaking, loaded with the cultural baggage of Hinduism. Be they Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs or Buddhists – or raving atheists like myself – we are all from the same proto-Hindu stock and share the same cultural background. We’ve all had the same programming.
This proto-Hindu programming, in fact, explains a lot about who we are.
Hindu gods are, if you don’t know, not exactly clear-cut “good” characters. They are, in fact, sneaky, underhanded, political, and determined to screw you if they can. Hindu mythology is full of instances where people went through decades of hardships and self-abnegation in order to earn boons from the gods, who then did all they could to trick them into settling for ridiculous alternatives...and after all this, the gods are still the good guys. The god-king Rama, for example, cheated his way to victory, had his minion Hanuman burn the city of Lanka for the fault of its king Ravana, forced his wife to walk through fire to prove her "purity", and still remained a symbol of "good". This same Ravana's brother Kumbhakarna worked for many years to obtain divine favour, and then was fobbed off with a "boon" which made him sleep for six months at a stretch.
In other words, Hindu mythology drives it into our heads that underhand tactics are perfectly OK. As long as you keep repeating to yourself that you’re on the side of good, you can, without a qualm, lie, cheat, and do whatever else you want. The god Vishnu, a notorious shape-shifter, is especially culpable in this. One of his avatars, Krishna, was a notorious juvenile delinquent turned mass seducer turned wily politician, and a warmongering spin doctor to boot. Another, Mohini, was a con artist and femme fatale, who, among other things, seduced the god Shiva, Vishnu's colleague.
Don't think these things haven't left their traces on the collective consciousness, and haven't helped to make us who we are. After all, if the gods can trick and lie and cheat, why can’t you?
Then, there is this object: It’s called the Shiva Lingam, and is a depiction of the god Shiva’s penis inside his consort Parvati’s vagina (look closely at the flared structure at the base). It’s an obvious fertility symbol, and as such worshipped by Hindus, though they’re pretty loath to openly admit that it’s a phallus entering a vulva.
It’s far from the only sexual symbolism in Hinduism; the “devi puja” in South India includes a doughnut-shaped food item called the vada in conjunction with a banana. I leave it to you to draw the obvious conclusion. In fact, said “devi puja” is basically a fertility ritual for the gods and intended to make them...the gods...have sex. No, you did notmisunderstand me.
And though the public acknowledgement of sex is, in today’s India, vanishingly small, we have the cultural permission to reproduce and reproduce and reproduce, so is it a wonder that this nation is bursting at the seams?
Then, look at this picture. Never mind the question of how half a sari stays on. It’s a representation of the dual male-female nature of the god Shiva, and at least in this, I submit, it acknowledges and admits innate human bisexuality. These deities preceded the entirely modern, and British-imposed, anti-homosexual trends in Indian society, and historically, Indians were extremely homosexual-friendly. Check out this Indian erotic art, for instance: I’ll be writing more about Hindu deities in future posts and their parallels with the Judaic deities. Often the similarities are astonishing, and argue strongly for a common origin.