- Religion and Philosophy»
- Exploring Religious Options
Egyptian Gods and Hindu Goddesses Play
The Gods get to-gether
Conversations between the Gods and Goddesses
Children have a unique appreciation of God. I discovered this when I first visited India in the 1970's. I was in my 30's and knew nothing about Hinduism. My first impression happened as I was stumbling down a narrow dark alley on a Bombay/Mumbai side street and came across a tiny dark temple. There was great excitement and singing coming from the entry. I entered and saw that a group of teenage boys were pouring milk over the head of a shiny bronze statue. Rubbing the head of the statue and kissing it lovingly. It was the bull Nandi. This great bull is "Shiva's Mount". He is the powerful mystical bull that carries Lord Shiva.The children were singing enthusiastically as they poured the milk and caressing the statue. I was amazed by their ecstasy, and mystified by what I was seeing.
When we travel around the world my partner Marie Belle likes to shop. She is also fascinated by different Gods. Consequently she weighs down both our packs as she brings back various Gods and other pantheistic spiritual figures. Some of these are carved figures like Kyashu Katsing, the Hopi Parrot dancer, purchased in the ancient mesa communities east of Flagstaff Arizona.
Some are cast brass godslike Shiva, the Hindu God of Creation and Destruction, purchased in a dusty little tobacco shop in Bangalore India. When she bought Shiva the large God looked tattered and rusty. But after a good bath all the red color washed away. Shiva had been covered with years of caked red dust.
There is the beautifully carved wooden figure of the reclining Buddha. Marie-Belle found this Buddha hidden on a side shelf in the main post office in Saigon/Ho Chi Min City, South Vietnam.
The Egyptian Gods are moulded in plaster and hand painted. Thot,the Egyptian God of Knowledge and wisdom, has a birds head. He comes from a market in Old Cairo.
WHY are there NO MUSLIM or JEWISH or CHRISTIAN GODS in the Group?
We can never buy Jewish or Muslim Gods since it is forbidden by both Judaism and Islam to make graven images. Christianity does produce many figures of Jesus on the cross, but they don't seem to fit in the God collection. The Christmas creche figures fit into in the God collection.
As a little girl Tay liked to visit gramma Marie-Belle every day and play with the Gods. It was a bit like playing house. Tay arranged the Gods in a circle so they could speak to each other. She set them up in twos and threes so they could have more intimate conversations.
Krishna the God of Love could speak with Kyashu Katsing the Hopi Parrot dancer.
Kyashu could dance and shake his rattle to the music of Krishna's flute.
OMM in the School Class
After a trip to India Marie-Belle came home with more brass Gods. Tay asked if gramma could come to school with some Gods for "Show and Tell." Marie Belle wore her OM T Shirt to school and asked the class:" Do any of you know what OM means?" Their response was surprising to Marie-Belle. Immediately all the kids assumed the lotus position and with eyes closed chanted OMMMM. Marie Belle was amazed that this yoga practice had been learned so well at the Roberts Creek public elementary school since she was just learning about Om in her senior years.
Tay Has a Question
They like to talk to each other and make friends.
Tay Plays House with the Gods
When she was young Tay enjoyed playing house with the Gods. For several years. Buddha lord of compassion and rebirth spoke with Hanuman the superman servant of Shiva. Shiva the dancing God of Creation and Destruction spoke with Buddha, Thot God of Knowledge met Krishna God of Love, and Saraswati discussed education and knowledge with Thot. The reclining Buddha checked out Durga who is the Holy Mother Goddess of the Earth and Goddess of Destruction.
TAY has a QUESTION
One day Tay came home from grade one with a question for her gramma.
"Gramma, which one is the Real God?" asked Tay.
Marie-Belle was a little stumped.
"Umm, er , well there are many ideas about God and different people think different things.
Some Hindu people worship Shiva and Christians think Jesus is the one God. Then there are the Buddhists who worship Buddha."
Tay was fidgeting. She was getting impatient. She didn't want a theology lecture.
"No gramma. That's not what I'm asking. "
"What do you want to know Tay?'
Which one is the one
that you spell G O D ???"
Marie Belle chooses Durga
Marie-Belle gets Black Tongue from Durga
Adults also have confusing ideas of Gods and their powers.When we started our second trip to the Himalayas Marie-Belle wanted to buy a Goddess charm for her symbol of the trip. She decided to get a silver necklace pendant of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. We looked for Lakshmi but could only find a small silver medallion of Durga/Kali riding on her lion. Durga and her other incarnation Kali are Supreme Earth Mothers. However they are also destroyers and Kali has a black tongue because she killed and ate her children.
Up at a lovely hillside village the altitude was about 8,000 feet and Marie-Belle started feeling sick to her stomach. We fed her Pepto Bismo and she stopped eating. She was drinking a lot of hot lemon when suddenly she noticed her whole tongue on all sides had turned black as coal. It was gross. We thought Marie Belle might be dying.Maybe we should try to call for a rescue helicopter.
"Quickly, take off the Durga charm," I said, and called my friend Doctor Reshma who is a psychiatrist in Delhi.
" Reshma Marie-Belle is sick and her tongue has turned black."
"You are lucky that before I was a psychiatrist I was an internist" said Reshma.
"Black tongue in itself is not so serious. But she probably has altitude sickness so get her down as fast as possible."
We hiked out, called a taxi, and descended. Marie-Belle's tongue turned grey then dull pink. She recovered.
When we were back in civilization she Googled "black tongue". It is caused by: bubonic plague, or imminent death, or a combination of Pepto Bismo and lemon juice.
One of the largest and most famous temples in South India is the Madurai Temple. A wise old woman in Vancouver once told me "Go to Madurai. All of India is there."
In the Madurai temple crowds of visitors: devotees, families on vacation, children, tourists stare and worship. There are chambers and shrines that go on forever containing hundreds of wonderful stone sculptures: dancing women , elephants and many incarnations of the Gods. There are spectacular gigantic brass figures of Dancing Shiva. There are holy dancing elephants that will bless you if you give them a coin. But one of my favorite parts of the Madurai temple is a dim back corner of the museum section. There I found plaster figures of animals which had achieved enlightenment. There was a Holy wise cow, an enlightened dog, a holy peacock, even a chicken which had achieved enlightenment.
I sometimes think of those peaceful enlightened animals when Tay's lively dogs are chewing up my running shoes, stealing the cell phone, or barking at deer at 3 am.