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Indian God[desse]s

To: alt.magick.tantra,alt.religion.universal-life,alt.mythology,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,
From: (Leslie O. Segar)
Subject: Re: Indian God[desse]s (was Siva ...)
Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1999 21:17:37 -0500

>Would you mind posting your condensed version of the 
story of the Eternal 
>Boy, and how he used an
>idol to teach him to be such a great bowman that Arjuna 
was jealous of him?


The story that Lani refers to is the story of Ekavalya, a 
prince of the Nisadas, an outcaste tribe of hunters, who 
inhabited the remote forests of Northern India; to the 
Aryans who are the main protagonists of the Mahabharata, 
the Nisadas would have had a position similar to the 
position that the forest Indians had to the European 
settlers of America's East Coast in the 18th & 17th 
century - barbarians, but with some essential nobility 
that even the settlers' blindered Christianity could not 
keep them from glimpsing.

The background of the story, in brief: Drona was the 
greatest teacher of weapons in the Three Worlds, and he 
had been brought to the court of Hastinapura to teach the 
five Pandava brothers, who are the heros of the 
Mahabharata, the art of archery; Arjuna was Drona's 
favorite among the Pandavas, and Drona had promised 
Arjuna that he would make him into the world's greatest 

Many others came to learn of Drona, among them "a certain 
Ekalavya, the son of Hiranyadhanus, the chief of the 
Nisadas. But Drona, who knew the Law, declined to accept 
him for archery, our of consideration for the others, 
reflecting that he was the son of a Nisada. Ekalavya ... 
touched Drona's feet with his head and went out into the 
forest. He fashioned a likeness of Drona out of clay.This 
image he treated religiously as his teacher, while he 
spent all his efforts on archery, observing the proper 
disciplines. And so great was his faith, and so sublime 
his discipline, that he acquired a duperb deftness at 
fixing arrow to bowstring, aiming it, and releasing it."

(This quotation, as those which will follow, are from 
the first volume of Jacob van Buitenen's superb and 
tragically unfinished translation of the Mahabharata, 
University of Chicago Press.)

One day, when the Pandavas were released from their 
studies, they went out to the forest to go hunting, with 
their dogs. One of the dogs wandered off and discovered 
the sleeping Ekalavya, and began barking; Ekalavya, 
without even thinking, "shot almost simultaneously seven 
arrows into its mouth". When the dog found its way back 
to its masters, they recognized that only a very great 
archer could have accomplished such a feat; they tracked 
Ekalavya down, and demanded to know who he was. Ekalavya 
answered "Know me for the son of Hiranyadhanus, chieftain 
of the Nisadas, and also for a pupil of Drona, who toils 
on mastering archery."

When they went back to court, they told Drona of their 
meeting, and Arjuna complained bitterly to him: "Didn't 
you once embrace me... and tell me fondly that no pupil 
of yours would ever excel me? Then how is it that you 
have another powerful pupil who excels me, who excels all 
the world - the son of the Nisada chief?"

Drona went to the forest. "He found Ekalavya, his body 
caked with dirt, hair braided, dressed in tatters, bow in 
hand, ceaselessly shooting arrows. When Ekalavya saw 
Drona approaching, he went up; to him, embraced his feet, 
and touched the ground with is head. After honoring Drona 
duly, the Nisada-born boy declared himself to be his 
pupil and stood before him with folded hands. Thereupon 
Drona said to Ekalavya, 'If you are my pupil, then give 
me at once my fee!' Hearing this, Ekalavya said happily, 
'What can I offer you, sir? Let my guru command me! For, 
great scholar of the Brahman, there is nothing I shall 
withhold from my guru!'

"Drona replied, 'Give me your right thumb!' And hearing 
Drona's harsh command, Ekalavya kept his promise; forever 
devoted to the truth, with a happy face and unburdened 
mind, he cut off his thumb without a moment's hesitation 
and gave it to Drona. When thereafter the Nisada shot 
with his fingers, he was no longer as fast as he had been 
before. Arjuna's fever was gone and his heart was happy; 
and Drona's word was proved true: no one bested Arjuna."

That's the story; three or four paragraphs from an epic 
that is three times longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey 
combined! That is all the evidence that Lani can muster 
for her claim that "the Mahabharata teaches idol 

There was no "idol worship" involved in the story; 
Ekalavya was using his image of Drona as very many 
Hindus, today, use photos of their gurus, to help them 
focus on their task and remember the guru's teachings. 
The image of the crucified Christ in many Catholic homes, 
or the holy cards that used to be passed out in church 
school, or the images of Jesus painted on black velvet, 
are very much closer to "idols" in the sense that Lani 
used the word than was the image of his guru that 
Ekalavya fashioned out of clay.

That the story demonstrates wicked racism at work in the 
culture that the Mahabharata deals with is undeniable; so 
is the fact that that same culture is able to see 
nobility wherever it appears. There is no doubt at all 
that Ekalavya is the hero of the tale, and that Arjuna's 
whining appeal to Drona is less than noble; in fact, it 
is one of a number of ignoble acts that Arjuna and his 
brothers perpetrate and that cause them, at the very end 
of the epic, to have their entrance to Indra's heaven 
delayed until they have spent some time in the epic's 
equivalent of Hell. 

I'm sorry if that was not condensed enough, but it's a 
good story, and I had to tell it at length to completely 
dispel Lani's misrepresentation of its meaning.

> Your idea of what "worship" is quite simplistic and limited, But if you will read the story once
> again, from the POV that the Eternal Boy is actually wroshiping his idol, I'm sure you'll see it
> the same way as I do. Remember that when you take a particulat stance concerning what a religion
> believes in, and then use that asumption to reject it, then you will always be wrong.

Same to ya, kid! I rest my case.


In article <>, says...
> Leslie O. Segar wrote:
> > In article <>,
> > says...
> > >
> > > Of course, the Mahabarata teaches Idol worship too, but you ignore that fact, as it doesn't
> > > suit your infamous purposes here! Eh?
> > >
> >
> > I am pretty intimately familiar with the Mahabharata - as
> > familiar as one can be, I think, without Sanskrit - and
> > nowhere in the Mahabharata I know is there any teaching
> > that explicitly or implicitly "teaches Idol worship".
> > It's true that there are many gods in the Mahabharata, as
> > there are many gods in this world, and it is true that
> > the relationship between humankind and gods presented in
> > the Mahabharata is more subtle and complex, and more
> > ennobling of humankind, than the simple-minded fearful
> > "worship" that prevails in the Yahwist creeds, but "Idol
> > worship"? That is a provocative charge, based on
> > ignorance and monotheist arrogance; you can provide no
> > evidence to support it.
> >
> > LOS
> >
> > --
> > Leslie O. Segar
> > First Instigator, Church of the Open Hand
> >
> >
> > For a summary treatment of the Mahabharata, check out
> >
>   Aloha,
> I see you have not been following the dialog in alt.religion.universal-life. I usually try to
> limit the cross postings, except in certain cases.
> Now it sounds like to me that you have some familiarity with the Mahabarata.
> Would you mind posting your condensed version of the story of the Eternal Boy, and how he used an
> idol to teach him to be such a great bowman that Arjuna was jelous of him?
> Please don't forget to keep in about how he made an idol of his teacher, and how he used his
> idol.
> Your idea of what "worship" is quite simplistic and limited, But if you will read the story once
> again, from the POV that the Eternal Boy is actually wroshiping his idol, I'm sure you'll see it
> the same way as I do. Remember that when you take a particulat stance concerning what a religion
> believes in, and then use that asumption to reject it, then you will always be wrong.
> Aloha,
> Lani

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