Sunday, February 10, 2013

Primeval Forest of Stories

Deep in the center of the forest called blinks-of -the-eye, the Boar tells the Earth all about the creation of the world, its destruction, the various dynasties, the families derived for the Sun and the Moon, and the many eras that have been, are, and will be: yes, my patient reader, I am held by the Puranas. The one that I am in right now, is, of course, the Varaha Purana. I amazes me how the stories compiled over a millenia ago, still hold their magic. Even though these are attributed to Ved Vyasa, reading them, their contradictions, their unwillingness to support each other's contentions, the very nature Ved Vyasa, all of it reminds me of nothing as much as the Vulgate Cycles through which the stories of Arthuriana come down to us.

It is true that I first turned to the Puranas as I tried to heal from the absolute loss of my home back in 2011. However, this need to heal goes beyond my individual loss and I find, as I drown in the labyrinthine interpolations, that these stories address the very nature of humanity and seek to articulate questions about the validity of a cosmos that is continually being destroyed and created. From this larger perspective, my individual losses, lacks, complaints, whittle away into nonentities, fade away into normalcy of losses, lacks, and complaints of all humanity, nothing unusual. For some reason, this is reassuring: there is comfort in knowledge that all previous and present generations have more or less the same problems, which makes me part of a teeming whole that has survived.

Beyond that, there is the sheer magic of these stories, and I hear the crusty, gruff voice of the very land telling them. There are the stories of cities submerged into the ocean, destroyed by random pieces of unthinkingly discarded metal. Serpents coil around mountains to churn the ocean, which yields unimaginable poisons, riches, nectars, and muses. Gods and demons emerge from the same family, and there are as many admirable demons as there are petty gods. The many levels of heavens, underworlds, the various islands, the ending and unending worlds, all assure that the cosmos is a very balanced structure, with a proper designation for everything in it: the serpents, for example, argue that their venom is no reflection of malice or fault; they insist on a proper allocation of their own place in the world, and their suit is honored.

Along my trek through the Naimisharanyak (Nimesh = blink of an eye; aranyak = forest), I have often found that my sympathies lie with the demons and the gods seem unreasonable; often, the rightful remain unrewarded, not because they were being tested for patience, but because they wished for improbable things. The stories point out that neither the store of merit, nor the hoard of faults is inexhaustible. Sometimes, nothing is lost, not even a blade of grass, a drop of blood, or a grain of rice; sometimes, the very Earth is lost and she has to be sought after, rescued, and healed, that life may be sustained.

I no longer look to be healed by the Puranas, though I find many catalogs of medicinals, curing rituals, and herb lore in them. Without my asking them, these stories have grounded me, and after all, the only way that finds us when we are lost, is the path through the darkest of forests that lie between the blinks of the eye.



  1. I never heard of the Varaha Purana but after reading this post; I'm immensely curious.
    Have a great week,

    1. Thank you, Ofelia! I love it, of course, but discover for yourself!


There was an error in this gadget