A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mythology and History - Part 2

Mata Tanot Rai Temple
Last time we discussed about the temple of Ghantiali Mata. We now move further.
Idol at the temple
Another 10 Kms from the temple of Ghantiali Mata, is a major tourist attraction, the temple of Mata Tanot Rai. Tanot is a small town which is about 120 Kms from Jaisalmer and is very close to the Indo-Pak Border.
The myths associated with the goddess are many, but we will start at the very beginning. The original and one of the first ones is associated with the self-immolation of Sati on the insult of her husband Shiva. It is said that Shiva had suggested that Sati not visit her father for a Yagna he had hosted and not invited both Sati and Shiva. But Sati did go and on feeling insulted, had thrown herself in the fire of the Yagna. When Shiva came to know about it, he was very upset with the ganas (Charans) he had sent along with Sati for not being able to protect his wife. In his anger he cursed them that they would not go back to heavens with him, and thus deprived them of immortality and the status. The Charans pleaded but Shiva would not hear of it. The Charans then fell on the feet of the dead Sati and started lamenting. A voice came from the dead body of Sati which said that the curse of Lord Shiva had to be borne; however, since it was she who was responsible for their condition, she said that whenever she would be born as a human, she would take birth in the Charan community only. It is said that due to the blessings of Sati, there were numerous births of Sati in the Charan community and there are many minor myths and miracles credited to the goddess. Thereafter the Charans were also referred to as ‘devi-putra’, sons of the goddess.
Later, Shiva took the dead body of Sati and went berserk in his pain and sorrow. Lord Vishnu had no option but to send his sudarshan-chakra, the discus, to sever the body into different pieces. As is well known that a religious site came up in all the places where a part of the body fell. In this region fell Sati’s head, and the place is known as Hinglaj. After Partition, this place now falls in the Balochistan province of Pakistan and the Charan community has converted to Muslim in due course of time. The present temple premises of Tanot Rai Mata is considered to be an extension of the main Shakti-peeth at Hinglaj.

The region is full of small myths associated with different births of Tanot Mata and numerous miracles are associated with the goddess, which is quite a norm associated with any divinity. However, the goddess Tanot Mata has modern day miracles associated with her too.
Unexloded shells kept in display inside the temple
It is said that during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, the Pakistani troops were very close to the temple premises. The Pakistani forces had fired more than 3000 bombs and nearly 450 of them were targeted at the temple. But it was nothing short of a miracle that none of them exploded! Some of the shells have been kept in the temple premises as done in museums (see picture). The temple is close to Longewala, the Indo-Pak border and after the war, the temple was handed over to the Border Security Force (BSF) which till date manages the temple. The BSF has erected a memorial in the temple premises.
The temple has become better known to people outside Rajasthan after it was shown in the Hindi movie “Border”.
Though the locals have their faith and belief in the goddess, the name and fame of the temple and the goddess is thanks to its historical association. No matter what science tells us and teaches us, our emotions are kindled when we hear about the Pak firing and the unexploded shells. It’s more of a tourist attraction than a place of religious sanctity. Also, the myths associated with Hinglaj are a mere association as this is not a Shakti-peeth, but the texts and books available there have mentioned the temple’s ‘association’ with the famous Shakti-peeth which now falls in Pakistan.
The last two temples (i.e. Ghantiali Mata and Tanot Mata) are religious places but have historical association. This is found across the country and many places where some aspect of the divinity shakes hand with history – creating an air of reality which is both believable and assignable to a current date. Is this done out of a purpose or just gets associated due to an accidental occurrence, is tough to prove. But the fact that the association lends credence to the sanctity cannot be undermined.
Even in Greek Mythology, scholars trace the Trojan War to history, but at the same time it has numerous references of gods and goddesses participating in the war.
Finally is it history adding to the truthfulness of mythology or is it mythology lending a religious credence to historical events, is a matter of debate.
Next we will go through one more example of mythology during historical times, but with a difference. The myths do not incite communal tensions, rather promotes communal harmony. Keep reading.

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