Mythologically speaking - The God of beginnings
Updated: Jun 21, 2020
Mythology is a multifaceted and multidimensional subject residing at the confluence of social, political and spiritual worldviews. Myths around the world, function as a gateway into the psyche of those who follow it. These have a surprising hold over the minds of its believers. Why is there a shameless, and almost savage abandonment of rationality even in the face of solid evidence; when a person’s myth is falsified? And interestingly, in the real world, why those who live in glass houses DO throw stones on other houses? Why most often, a defense of one’s religion is be made, only at the cost of the insult of the others? The defense also ends up grossly violating the values of the myth it tries to defend. This endeavor is an attempt to understand and cross-analyze, myths of the world and to make sense of it.
So, to begin, let’s begin with the gods of beginnings! Ganesh in Hindu mythology and Janus in Greek mythology are the most prominent deities associated with beginnings. There are also, Arun/i and Eos; both deities associated with dawn- the beginning of the day. The story of Ganesh is well known. When Shiva denies Parvatis desire to have a child, she creates a boy out of the scrapings of her body ointments. She names him Vinayak- meaning Vi-nayak, or the one born without a man. When Vinayak is guarding Parvati while she bathes, Shiva arrives and tries to go inside. Ganesh stops him from doing so. Enraged, he cuts off Vinayak’s head. Parvati upon finding her son dead, becomes livid and demands that Shiva should bring him to life. Shiva does so by placing an elephant’s head on Vinayak’s torso and brings it to life. After the rebirth of Vinayak, he is blessed by all the other gods. One such blessings was that he will be worshipped before the worship of any other deity or before the beginning of any auspicious endeavor. Shiva also names him the head of all his ganas, thus making him Gana-pati. He has a round belly- an indicator of prosperity. The elephant was considered to be a knowledgeable creature, and his association to Vinayak makes him knowledgable too. . The god Janus is the patron god of Beginings and ends, doorways and passages- these are indicators of change. He has two faces, one looking in the past, the other to the future. He too, is worshipped in most rituals.
The idea of a god associated with abstract concepts like ‘beginning’ is fascinating. It is also an indicator of people who are becoming more intelligent. The metaphorical layers of symbols and how they are connected to concepts hints towards mature civilisations. Another feature common in Hindu and Greek myths is that these gods of beginings are not the most important ones. In fact- no god is all powerful and all important. Gods in Hindu and greek mythology are not exactly like the God Jehovah. They have favorite dishes, they have enemies and friends and they too follow cycles of nature. One is left wondering, then what exactly makes them god? Or maybe the meaning of ‘god’ changes from person to person. If it so, what can be the ‘correct’ meaning? Krishna’s smile doesn’t look endearing anymore , does it?