Category: Animals and the earth


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By Sharon St Joan

 

Inside a stone structure near the temple, langur monkeys played in the rays of the late afternoon sun.

 

Like nearly all Hindu temples, the Virupaksha Temple at Hampi began as just a small shrine; it is thought to go back to around the seventh century CE.

 

Virupaksha is the God Shiva, and this is a living temple, which means that people still go there to worship so many centuries later.

 

Over time many rulers contributed to its growth. Around 1000 CE, the temple was expanded. In 1510 CE, on the occasion of his coronation, King Krishnadevaraya, the iconic emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire, added a complex comprised of the inner eastern entrance, or gopuram, a pillared hall, and many more shrines.

 

Near the temple entrance are several graceful statues of Nandi, the sacred bull who is the vehicle of Shiva; he gives permission to each devotee to enter the temple. One of the Nandis has three heads. There’s nothing mysterious about this, the sculptor simply gave him three heads, but normally Nandi has only one head.

 

*2Nandi by VirupakshaDSC00293

 

Quite far away, perhaps a tenth of a mile up high in a structure of pillars built by the side of a mountain, near where the monkeys were playing, the original Nandi looks out towards the temple – a very imposing figure carved out of a giant black boulder.

 

It is said that it was Nandi who taught Shiva to dance. The dance of Shiva is an important one since Shiva is the God of destruction, and one of his two dances is the tandava, the dance which brings the world to its end. The other is a gentle dance during which the world begins anew.

 

The destructive aspect of Shiva is not in any way unkind or malevolent. It is essential; without destruction there can be no renewal. It is the essence of how the cosmos works, causing the wheel of life and death to turn. There are many worlds, many levels, both seen and unseen, and many Gods, yet they are all One, the ultimate Brahman.

 

To be separated and cut off from the truer levels of being is to live in a world of turmoil and unrest. To be in touch with the deeper levels of reality and with the Gods, is to know peace and truth.

 

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Many thousands of years ago, during the time when the Rig Veda, the oldest book in the world, was written, there existed another, earlier, magnificent phase of Indian civilization. The ruins of over a thousand cities which existed along the banks of the Saraswathi River, in India, and spread out encompassing a far wider area, have been found, along with other already well-known ancient cities such as Mohenjo Daro and Harrappa, now in Pakistan, which were all part of the same civilization. The artwork found there shows clear evidence of continuity between the customs and worship of Indian people then and today.

 

The Rig Veda describes the Saraswathi River as being vast and energetic, a huge, dynamic river. Eventually, the Saraswati River dried up and most of it went underground, which is how it remains today. Archeologists and geologists have noted that the last time the Saraswati River was flowing in full force as a huge beautiful river was around 5,000 BCE. This has led to their being able to date the time when the Rig Veda must have been composed as no later than 5,000 BCE – which means that the history of India goes back at least seven thousand years, and possibly much, much farther. Many more fascinating confirmations of this very ancient antiquity are described in an article in the IndiaFacts newsletter – please see below for the link to this and also for the link to Michel Danino’s book, Land of Seven Rivers.

 

One of the most intriguing pieces of artwork found in the Indus-Saraswati Civilization is the depiction of a God believed to be Shiva. Portrayed as a yogi, he is surrounded by animals and is shown as the God of the natural world. Shiva is a sacred being, the beginning and the ending of all existence, of the entire cosmos. His living beings — the animals, the plants, the trees, the rivers, the mountains, and all of nature, are sacred too, and they are to be cared for and worshipped.

 

*4one of the Virupaksha gopurumsDSC00277

 

Within the Virupaksha Temple, in the late afternoon, one can feel an age-old connection with levels beyond; an ancient continuity that is only evident when there is still a link with the past – when we are not lost in a present that is chaotic like a boat cast adrift without moorings. Like the temple trees whose roots provide a grounding strength, the centuries and centuries that go back into the mists are rooted in an ancient truth that is always there, a light shining through the forests of time.

 

© Sharon St Joan, text and photos, 2017

 

Photos: Sharon St Joan

 

Top photo: A part of the Virupaksha Temple that goes back to around 1000 CE.

 

Second photo: A giant Nandi overlooking the temple.

 

Four: Nearby boulders.

 

Five: One of the temple gopurams.

 

 

Aryan Invasion Myth How 21st Century Science Debunks 19thCentury Indology – the IndiaFacts newsletter http://indiafacts.org/aryan-invasion-myth-21st-century-science-debunks-19th-century-indology/

 

 

Lost River: On the trail of the Sarasvati by Michel Danino https://www.amazon.com/Lost-River-Sarasvati-Michel-Danino/dp/0143068644/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498344116&sr=8-1&keywords=Michel+Danino

 

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By Sharon St Joan

 

The 27 National Monuments now under review for downsizing are some of the most uniquely beautiful wild lands on the planet earth, with spectacular mountain ranges, enchanting rock formations, magnificent wild birds and animals, essential wildlife corridors, and hundreds of thousands of sacred Native American sites. Nature really is not ours to destroy, and the continued protection offered by National Monument status is needed to prevent opening up these lands to threats – either from coal, oil, fracking and other development, or from further changes in status down the road which could lead to their being sold, exchanged, or otherwise disposed of.

 

Please send a comment to the U.S. Department of the Interior, asking that the 27 National Monuments and the oceanic Monuments which are also now under review, not be diminished or downsized in any way.

 

The comment I have sent is given below.

 

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Here is the link where you may send your comment. Sometimes this link doesn’t work. You can also go to www.regulations.gov and continue from there.

https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001

 

The deadline for comments is July 10, 2017. The deadline for comments on the Bears Ears National Monument was May 26, and has already passed.

 

If you live in southern Utah, or even if you don’t, you may wish to comment specifically on the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, which is the largest of the Monuments.

 

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Several criteria are listed which Secretary Zinke will be considering when making his decisions about these Monuments.

 

If you can submit a comment that relates to these criteria, please, by all means do so. That may be most effective. I’m not suggesting that you write a comment similar to mine below. Sticking to the criteria given may work best.

 

I confess that I was unable to force my comments into something that could be fitted into the pigeon holes of the criteria. Because we have freedom of speech and freedom of thought, it seems that our comments ought to be considered, whether or not they fall within the stated categories. Also our own sense of justice requires that we speak up clearly on behalf of nature that is in peril.

 

Among many of us there is a feeling that perhaps the decision has already been made, and the die has already been cast. There have been a great many occasions; however, when public comments have actually been heard and have modified an outcome. In any case, speaking up in defense of wildlife and wild lands is worth doing, regardless of whether or not one is being heard, even if only the clouds and the wind are witnesses.

 

Also, hearing happens on many levels. We ourselves hear what we have said, and all those who have ears to hear do also hear. This gives strength to the global movement to protect the natural world, and on some level, joins forces with the plants, the wild animals, and the earth itself.

 

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Here is the comment that I sent:

 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the review of certain National Monuments established since 1996.

 

I am opposed to this review, and I ask that Secretary Zinke not recommend diminishing any of these Monuments which were designated by former presidents.

 

In my view, there are no legal grounds and no justification for attempting to undo or downsize any Monuments designated under the Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act provides for the establishment of such Monuments by American presidents, but it does not provide for their dismantling by any succeeding president.

 

The efforts to downsize or diminish any of these Monuments are misguided.

 

Cascade Siskiyou in Oregon is home to two hundred species of birds, including the endangered Great Grey Owl. Craters of the Moon in Idaho is made up of amazing volcanic landscapes found nowhere else. Giant Sequoia Monument in California has some of the oldest and most spectacular of these beautiful trees. Gold Butte in Nevada protects the threatened Mojave Desert Tortoise, Bighorn Sheep, cougars, and magnificent desert rock formations. Grand Canyon-Parashant includes remote natural wilderness areas near the Grand Canyon.

 

Grand Staircase Escalante has some of the most beautiful rock formations on earth as well as sacred Native American sites and essential wildlife corridors. The only remaining jaguars within the United States, whose presence is greatly endangered, are to be found in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana is filled with scenic wild lands, still unspoiled since the Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through in 1805. The Vermillion Cliffs in Arizona holds 12,000 years of Native American settlements and some of the earth’s most astonishing 3,000 feet high rock formations. For 11,000 thousand years, human beings have lived among the forests and rivers of the Katahdin Woods and Waterways National Monument in Maine. Each of these Monuments has unique and irreplaceable natural wild lands.

 

The five marine National Monuments also being reviewed, the Marianas Trench, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Pacific Remote Islands, Papahanaumokuakea, and Rose Atoll are the homes of some of earth’s rarest and most endangered sea birds and sea creatures. The preservation of these great ocean expanses is essential to the continuation of life in the sea.

 

When my ancestors and the ancestors of many Americans first arrived on our shores around five hundred years ago, and began to travel west, they found a continent overflowing with life. From coast to coast, there was such an unimaginable abundance of wild lands and wildlife that it would have been impossible to imagine that today it would be mostly gone. The Native Americans who lived here for 13,000 years used what they need to survive and destroyed nothing else. They left the natural world as they had found it.

 

A September 9, 2016 article on the online site Science Alert, reports on a study which estimates that today only 23 percent of the world’s wilderness areas remain intact. Very little is left of the natural world. Yet, instead of striving to protect whatever bits of nature are left – every tree, every mountain range, every wild species, the rivers, the oceans, and every blade of grass – instead, we continue to plunder the natural world.

 

The claim that the natural world “belongs” to us, because our forbears traveled across the prairie displacing the Native Americans who were here for many thousands of years before us – or that wild lands exist solely in order to be gobbled up by coal, oil, fracking, and other industrialization, is absurd. The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth.

 

This is not a weird or unpopular point of view. The vast majority of the American public supports protecting public lands, including the National Monuments, along with all wild lands and wild species. Americans, like all peoples on the earth, value the intrinsic beauty and worth of the natural world. We are part of nature. We cannot exist without nature, though, irrationally, we are rapidly killing the very source of life on which we depend. When the natural world is gone, we will be gone too. Yet that, in itself, is not the primary reason to protect life on earth. The earth has it’s own existence and its own value, and it is not ours to destroy.

 

When we destroy our past – the ancient sacred sites that are the legacy of this continent, and when we destroy the great beauty and sacred integrity of the rocks, the rivers, the mountains, the wild animals and birds, and all the life that was put here long before we arrived, that is a mistake that cannot be undone.

 

I would like to request that the Department of the Interior and Secretary Zinke undertake a review of all the as-yet-unprotected wild lands in the U.S. with the intent of seeing how they can be safeguarded by being designated as National Monuments, National Parks, or other protected lands.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

 

Sharon St Joan

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© Sharon St Joan, 2017

 

Photos:

 

Top photo: John Fowler / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.” Wikipedia. / Metate Arch, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, in Utah.

 

Second photo: Philipp Haupt / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.” Wikipedia. / A Bighorn lamb.

 

Third photo: Snowpeak / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.” Wikipedia. / House on Fire Ruin; Anasazi Ruin in upper Mule Canyon near Comb Ridge in Utah.

 

Fourth photo: Bob Wick, BLM / “This image is a work of a Bureau of Land Management employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain in the United States.” / Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in California.

 

Fifth photo: Bob Wick, BLM / “This image is a work of a Bureau of Land Management employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain in the United States.” / Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, in Colorado, Painted Hand Pueblo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By Sharon St Joan

 

On this planet, as we all know, life began in the sea, with the fish and other sea creatures; then came reptiles like the turtles, as animals began to adapt to life on land. Great sea turtles still swim in the sea, but they lay their eggs on the shore. Then the land animals, like the boar, appeared. And of course, much, much later humanoid beings appeared, including the several species of early humans.

 

In Hindu tradition, one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu is Narasimha, who is half-man, half-lion. Preceding Narasimha are three Vishnu incarnations that have an animal form: Matsya, the fish, Kurma, the turtle, and Varaha, the boar. The incarnations that follow Narasimha are all human in form: Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Ballarama (or in some sources, Buddha) and Kalki.

 

Interestingly, this progression throughout time corresponds to the theory of evolution: first a fish; then a reptile; then a mammal; then a half-mammal half-human, followed by the human forms.

 

An eighteenth century painting This work is in the public domain in India because its term of copyright has expired.808px-Narasimha_oil_colour

 

How did ancient Hindu seers know about the theory of evolution—which was only “discovered” by Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century? Well, they seem to have known quite a lot of things. Ancient Sanskrit writings are filled with scientific treatises on mathematical and scientific topics, especially astronomical knowledge, a lot of which was only “discovered” many centuries later by Europeans, yet this knowledge was there all along, and was written down in very early Sanskrit texts.

 

We are so used to thinking that only modern humans, within the past few centuries, have possessed any real knowledge about the world, that we remain ignorant of all the thousands of years of human history in which there is evidence that humans knew far more than we give them credit for.

 

In any case, Narasimha stands on the threshold between the animal and the human forms of Vishnu. He is an intriguing figure.

 

Author Adityamadhav Narasimha at Simhachalam Temple in Visakhapatnam

 

Many stories in Hinduism and in legends all over the world, portray the great battle that takes place between the self-absorbed forces of darkness and the beings of light who defend the innocent from wrongdoing. Narasimha is a defender against injustice.

 

Once upon a time, so one of these stories goes, there was a demon named Hiranyakasipu who didn’t like Vishnu very much because in a previous incarnation Vishnu had killed his younger brother. This had happened because one day the brother, Hiranyaksha, had brutally attacked and then tried to drown Mother Earth at the bottom of the sea. In his role as protector of the innocent, Vishnu had saved Mother Earth from the sea, and killed the demon brother.

 

The demon Hiranyakasipu, who was perhaps afraid because his brother had been killed as a consequence of his evil deeds, feared death and wanted to live forever.

 

So one day, he approached Brahma to ask for the gift of immortality. Brahma replied that that gift was not within his power to bestow, but, at Hiranyakasipu’s insistence, he agreed to do the next best thing. Brahma granted him a boon – that he would not die either inside or outside, neither during the day nor the night; also that he would not be killed by any weapon, or by any human being or any animal. Hiranyakasipu was quite happy with all this and felt pretty certain that he would now live forever.

 

A few years passed, and Hiranyakasipu had a son named Prahalada. Unfortunately for Hiranyakasipu, his son became an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. This upset Hiranyakasipu no end because he saw Vishnu as his mortal enemy. One day just as the sun was setting, Hiranyakasipu came upon his son Prahalada, who despite all his father’s objections, was still praying to Vishnu. He even said to his father that Vishnu is all-powerful and is present everywhere. Thoroughly exasperated, his father shouted at him, “Look at that pillar; is your God Vishnu inside that pillar?”

 

Prahalada replied, “Vishnu is inside every pillar and even every twig.” Losing his temper completely, Hiranyakasipu picked up his heavy mace and smashed the pillar into pieces. Out jumped Narasimha. By this time Hiranyakasipu was swinging his mace wildly, and his son’s life was in danger. To save the boy Prahalada, from the wrath of his father, Narasimha lifted the demon Hiranyakasipu up off his feet and killed him with his bare hands.

 

As it turned out, Hiranyakasipu was after all subject to death, despite the boon granted by Brahma, because he was killed at twilight – neither in the day or in the night; by Narasimha’s powerful hands, not by any weapon; in the doorway, and therefore neither inside nor out, and he was killed not by any animal or any human, but by Narasimha, who was part man, part lion. Perhaps the lesson is also that no matter what kind of deal one tries to strike with fate or with the Gods, one cannot evade one’s karma.

 

As an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Narasimha is a fierce and powerful, magical being who protects those who call on him from harm and danger.

 

The twenty feet high, beautifully carved statue of Narasimha at Hampi, however, was not immune to the violence done by the invading army which destroyed the city in 1565. His legs and hands were cut off, and they lay nearby on the ground for several hundred years until significant restoration work was done in the 1980’s by the Archeological Survey of India. Now he looks down, once again an imposing presence, ready to spring into action to bring about justice and rid the earth of evil.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2017.

 

Top photo: Sharon St Joan. Narasimha at Hampi.

 

Second photo: An eighteenth century painting of Narasimha. Wikipedia: “This work is in the public domain in India because its term of copyright has expired.”

 

Third photo: Author: Adityamadhav83 / CC BY-SA 3.0, Narasimha at the Simhachalam Temple in Visakhapatnam.

 

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To the one who lived among the hills,

 

Unseen,

 

Now your voice has become an echo

 

In the distant mist.

 

You have gone

 

to other worlds on star-bright

 

Wings of snow,

 

To that far mountain

 

You call home, where white-

 

Throated swifts soar

 

In the shifting clouds,

 

Where silver chimes

 

Ring

 

In the rain-cloaked ravine

 

And deer nibble

 

In the frost-green

 

Stillness,

 

Where crowds

 

Of petals

 

Fall

 

From the nagalingam tree

 

In ever-present peace,

 

And the wind brings

 

Gales of blessings from across the wandering sea,

 

Where geese

 

Climb the sunlit stairway of the morning,

 

And the langur monkey

 

Sings lullabies to her children

 

In the foothills

 

Of times beyond times,

 

Where the Gods of the forest

 

Listen

 

In the dawn

 

To leaf-told tales

 

Of nevermore

 

And long before.

 

© Sharon St Joan, April, 2017

 

Photo: © Ronnachai Limpakdeesavasd | Dreamstime.com

 

 

*DSC00077little ganesha one 2017

 

By Sharon St Joan

 

The 500 year old peepal tree, majestic, lifts its branches into the sunlight. In front of it stands a stone Ganesha which has been there even longer, for around a thousand years, extending his blessings of profound peace to all. This is a special place near the buildings of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation. The land of the Foundation was originally the ancestral home of the family of Dr. Nanditha Krishna, the Foundation’s Honorary Director. She recalls that when she was a child, much of the area was covered in trees with jackals scurrying through the brush and deer browsing among the leaves. Now, among the buildings built in the past few decades, trees still stand tall offering shade and tranquility, though sadly some fell during the recent severe cyclone, Vardah, which blew through in December.

 

*DSC00079ChinnyBhairava 5 2017

 

 

As the site of regular pujas, ceremonies to express devotion to the Gods, the air of this special place becomes filled with incense and ancient songs to Ganesha, who grants prosperity and knowledge, and who has the power to overcome all obstacles.

 

One day in 2006, when Dr. Chinny Krishna, who founded, with his parents, the well-known animal organization, Blue Cross of India, and who is the husband of Dr. Nanditha Krishna, had come to this site to spend a few quiet moments with Ganesha, he spotted a small brown form, barely visible, concealed in the brush off to one side.

 

With a lifelong understanding of street dogs – he and Blue Cross have rescued many, many thousands — he knew that a subtle approach was required with a frightened dog. Dr. Krishna sat down on the stone steps. Quietly, he called to a staff person and asked him to bring a little milk in a bowl and a leash. Leashes are always handy because rescuing dogs is a common event. Placing the bowl beside him on the step, Dr. Krishna waited. After half an hour or so, the brown form emerged from the bushes, gently approached the milk, and the thirsty dog began to drink. Within a few minutes, Dr. Krishna was able to slip the leash over the dog’s head. He did not touch the dog or try to pet him, and when he stood up, the small brown dog went with him. He put the dog into his car, into the back, and gave him a few moments to settle down while he went to have a bite of breakfast, then he drove him to Blue Cross to be neutered.

 

All street dogs rescued by Blue Cross are spayed or neutered if this has not already been done, along with many thousands of dogs on the streets of Madras, as part of Blue Cross of India’s ABC program. Blue Cross of India runs the world’s first and longest continuously operating spay/neuter program that began in 1964.

 

Giving the little dog time to recover from his surgery, Dr. Krishna picked him up a few days later from Blue Cross. He set him down by the gate of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, and walked away, giving the dog the chance to return to where he had come from. Generally, street dogs live in a neighborhood which is their home, where they know the other dogs who are their friends, and where one or two kind people will feed them and keep an eye on them. In this way they lead a stable life and may live for many years.

 

TNR (trap/neuter/ vaccinate/return) for dogs, not just for cats (as in the U.S.), is the accepted best practice way to relate to community dogs in most countries in the world. A shelter system, as is found in the U.S. and other developed countries does not work, and, for many reasons, wherever it has been tried in developing countries, putting street dogs in shelters creates an inhumane, over-crowded situation. TNR is the best and only workable solution for the many millions of street dogs in India. All animal welfare organizations in India are no-kill, and it would not occur to any of them to kill homeless animals. Also, it would be illegal to do so.

 

By evening, the small brown dog had shown no signs of going away and had found his way back into the center of the compound among the trees and the buildings. The next morning Dr. Krishna put him once again out by the gate. And by evening, he had wandered back. Clearly, he had no attention of leaving such a calm, welcoming place.

 

Soon given the name of Bhairava, or Bhairu for short, he joined the twelve to twenty rescued street dogs who, at any one time, are part of the family of Dr. Nanditha and Dr. Chinny Krishna. They go where they wish, inside or out, are much-loved and cared for, and they are safe within the gates of the large, walled compound, which contains the buildings of the C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation.

 

Now perhaps fifteen or sixteen years old, Bhairava has a touch of arthritis, but otherwise he is fine. Appropriately, a natural white mark on the fur of his forehead resembles the sign that devout Hindus wear as a mark of devotion. Bhairava is the form of Lord Shiva who wanders the world as a homeless outcaste, always accompanied by his faithful dog. When reminded that, since the little dog Bhairava appeared, as if dropped from heaven, in the middle of the centuries-old site of worship of the peepal tree and the little stone Ganesha, he must certainly be a sacred dog, Dr. Krishna, replied, “Yes, of course, all dogs are sacred.”

 

 

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By Sharon St Joan

The most ancient myths of India tend to have a magical, timeless quality. Do they happen in this world, in another world? In this time? Or perhaps in all time, or no time? Do they simply transcend our limited, prosaic awareness of the nature of time?

Vrindivan is a town in Uttar Pradesh where it is said that Krishna passed the days of his childhood.

There, the Yamuna River is the second largest tributary of the Ganges. It originates from the Yamunotri Glacier in the Himalayas, at a height of 20,000 feet. It flows through several states and eventually merges with the Ganges.

A long time ago, an ancient story goes, a serpent king, Kaliya, had fled from his original home because he was afraid of Garuda, the great eagle or kite who is the enemy of all serpents. Garuda could not go to Vrindivan because of a curse that prophesied that he would meet his death there, so Vrindivan was a good place for Kaliya to live since his mortal enemy could not come there.

One day when the young boy Krishna and his friends were playing ball by the river bank, and Krishna had climbed up a Kadamba tree that was hanging over the river, the ball fell into the river and Krishna jumped into the water after it. Now Kaliya was a naga, a great serpent who lived in the river. Disturbed by this sudden intrusion of the boy Krishna jumping into the river, Kaliya’s giant head rose up above the surface of the water. A vile poison flowed out of his 110 hoods, poisoning the river and turning it black, killing the fish and all life in the river.

Kaliya wrapped himself around Krishna to strangle him, but, unexpectedly, Krishna grew bigger and bigger. He became so huge that Kaliya finally had to release him. When Krishna glanced at the people on the riverbank and saw that they were very frightened, he knew he had to do something. He leaped into Kalia’s head and took on the weight of the whole universe, then he danced on the naga’s many heads, in time to the beat of the music. Kaliya began to die, and his many wives prayed to Krishna for their husband to be saved from death.

At this moment, Kaliya came to his senses, and, acknowledging the power of Krishna, he surrendered, promising not to hurt anyone ever again. Krishna forgave him and let him go free, to return to his original home, Ramanaka Dwipa.

So ends the tale. Is this a story of the past, the present, the future – does it spell out a warning?

It is hard not to see in it a story of pollution — of polluted, lifeless rivers, which belong very much to our own time – of great black snake-like oil worming it’s way downsteam from one of those endless oil spills that, of course, can never really happen because the pipelines are “perfectly safe,” and we are informed that we are being quite silly to worry that they might be hazardous.

There is, however, a deadly spill; then Krishna, the essence of life and goodness vanquishes the pollution, sending it back to where it belongs and freeing the river from its grasp of death. All ends well.

This story, it seems, is a timeless one, of multi-layered meaning – of the past, the future, the present – of all time – of the physical world and the transcendent, spiritual world. Not just an odd tale from the distant past, but instead a profoundly relevant story of eternal truth – of the reality of evil and also of the recurring victory of good over evil.

Image: A painting by Maler in 1640. / Wikipedia / “The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide.”

 

 

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Did you ever wander

 

Among the winking

 

Cobwebbed nooks

 

Of times gone by,

 

Among the darkened, wind-shifting streets,

 

Or else leaf through

 

Broken backed and faded books

 

On the forgotten shelf?

 

Or peer at a copper plate

 

Of unremembered scripts

 

Of ancient deeds

 

And hero tales long left

 

Unsung,

 

Or drift among those lost stone gods,

 

Their noses knocked asunder

 

By mortar fire

 

In some unmentionable war,

 

Or, through rain that falls in opalescent sheets,

 

Seek out temples entrenched under

 

The thick jungled trunks of time, of seeding pods, and twilit weeds,

 

Or visit deep in crypts

 

Where rest the tales, in a lost urn,

 

Of eons flown,

 

Of higher, rainbowed hallways in the sky

 

Where gods and beings once had shone

 

When trees were worshipped,

 

As they ought to be,

 

When holy rocks

 

And elf

 

And giant

 

Roamed among the crowds

 

Of shimmering lilies in the mist,

 

Where deer run free

 

And hummingbirds hover

 

In the half-lit glimmer of the dancing dawn

 

On those wildflowered ilses – still untouched, radiant –

 

Or have you

 

Heard coursing hooves ringing

 

Through the starbright forest

 

Of a green-mossed eternity,

 

And did you ever gasp

 

To glance back

 

At the paltry present time that seemed

 

So suddenly all awry,

 

So shorn of grace?

 

Look now – a poor cut-out,

 

A false façade,

 

A parody concocted of every chemical,

 

Torn metal,

 

And toxic dust,

 

A humdrum bar-coded day,

 

Bereft of meaning,

 

Meant to squander,

 

And nights of mechanical terror

 

That grate

 

Against the soul,

 

Though all quite scientific and practical,

 

Of course.

 

Did you ever find the present world a little lacking?

 

Cars chrome-bright, junkyards of rust,

 

Oil wells bubbling

 

And spewing out the oddest orange river,

 

Computer graphics jingling a frantic caper,

 

Medical mirages, ill-inducing potion and pill?

 

War-cratered skeletons

 

Of cities loom at the edge of the shattered rim,

 

Lies and lies and weary doom

 

And here comes death – grim and dreary –

 

Tripping after.

 

A clanking alleyway

 

Where the faltering march

 

Of the bedraggled lout,

 

The troll,

 

Plunges on and on

 

Into the dank and danker

 

Cellars of caustic confusion

 

(Where now the shack

 

On the hill

 

That slipped

 

Into the mist

 

Where strangers from a far star

 

Sought shelter?)

 

Did you ever watch that oft-trod stairway

 

From the first magic light of stars, fall

 

Down, down into the iron pits of delusion,

 

Of nowhere at all,

 

Where darkness dwells and nothing more?

 

And did you ever wonder

 

When will the thunderclouds gather again

 

And the wind fiercely roar,

 

Dragon-winged in snow

 

And sleet,

 

Spilling rain

 

Across the open plain

 

Like the glad-running,

 

Unshod

 

Feet

 

Of the wild horse

 

That once gleamed

 

In the sun,

 

Rain clouds like the enduring face

 

Of an early people

 

Brave, eagle-hearted,

 

Who will walk again

 

To the quickening drum of wisdom?

 

Now will the improbable one

 

Who speaks with unforked tongue

 

Return,

 

Followed by those who shake the sleep from their eyes

 

In the wan,

 

Uncharted

 

Light of a new

 

Day?

 

When

 

Will the wind blow

 

A wind to make way

 

For the gods of yesteryear

 

To unclasp

 

The hold

 

On the windowed arch,

 

On those most ancient rocks

 

That climb like towers

 

To the sky,

 

Who bring back the innocent ones,

 

The cottontail, the whimsical sage grouse, the fox,

 

The juniper stand,

 

The pinions,

 

The cry

 

Of the killdeer,

 

The wild flowers,

 

And the coyote who dances in the gentle moonlight,

 

Her song

 

Unheard

 

So long

 

Yet ever remembered,

 

Bright

 

In the mystic night,

 

So old, and gone

 

And yet to rise again

 

When the winds call

 

Alone on the stone

 

And grass-blown land?

 

 

Written in October, 2015

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2017

 

Photo: © Dan Ross / Dreamstime.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

elisa-bistocchi-dreamstime_xs_58504324

 

When the great ones return

 

Carrying magic in their wings

 

Then only the white teeth

 

Of the concrete kings

 

Will glimmer

 

In the pool of death.

 

Nothing else will sleep

 

On the stone,

 

No one slain,

 

But only

 

The echo of lies,

 

The din of malice,

 

Shed and gone,

 

When the green waves rise,

 

Bearing the emerald throne,

 

The majesty of the deep

 

Will deliver

 

Those long forgotten

 

Hooves of the innocent

 

To ride

 

Again on the mountain height,

 

Spirits of the living tide,

 

The throat of the lion of wisdom

 

Will rumble anew,

 

The rain

 

Of Indra will crash from

 

The chariot of thunder,

 

When

 

The forests reawaken to reclaim the earth,

 

Nothing will be lost then,

 

Only the masks of terror,

 

Only the mirrors of untruth,

 

When wolves dance on the hillside,

 

And tigers growl

 

In the blue

 

Dark,

 

With bright eyes that burn

 

Along the holy way

 

Of the night,

 

When spirits return

 

In the white magic of winter,

 

Triumphant,

 

On the howl

 

Of the winds of joy, the songs of sunrise,

 

In the victory of the horses of fire and snow

 

That break

 

Unstoppable, across the broad plain.

 

A storm to leave in its wake

 

Only the stillness

 

Of the lily of eternity

 

Waving in the sunlit rain,

 

For the truly living do not die, they say,

 

But only the walking, dissonant

 

Dead,

 

Only the soulless

 

Patterns of dismay.

 

Only the clouds ashen,

 

When the cosmic, winged mother

 

Gathers the wanderlings,

 

The flocks

 

Of garbled geese

 

And their errant goslings,

 

Among the trees of twisted juniper

 

And the radiant

 

Rocks,

 

Bundling all her children,

 

Into her many-storied home of peace

 

By the green-banked river

 

In the haunting bells of dawn.

 

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2017

 

Photo: © Elisa Bistocchi / Dreamstime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years of snow

cliffs-in-snow-one

 

Years of snow

 

 

Rains unspoken.

 

Do you remember

 

Diaphanous wings

 

Who knew only the mist

 

Through many–stranded years of snow

 

On the hill

 

Of the ringed dolmen,

 

The omniscient crow

 

Who hid high

 

In the sky-

 

Tossed towers,

 

In the moss-meandering forest

 

Of the great bear?

 

That was the world then,

 

The reality,

 

The flowers

 

Of dawn,

 

The eternity,

 

Emerald rings

 

Of the sycamore tree.

 

Gone,

 

Gone on the smoke over the brown hill.

 

Who now will bring

 

The buckets of songs and all the laughter,

 

Faint, so far

 

Away, yet ever near?

 

Where?

 

In the opalescent eyes

 

That peer

 

Through

 

Deep-green bowers,

 

Who

 

Know

 

Only the mist,

 

Only the flight

 

Of the dawn-winged petals,

 

Undaunted,

 

That settle

 

On the lake-footed land where

 

The goose plays still

 

With her snow-bright

 

Children,

 

Her flock that sings

 

Beneath a star

 

Cluster,

 

All the while, when

 

Blue-

 

Sailed ships

 

Slip

 

Into the shining seas of the night,

 

Ineffable, haunted.

 

 

© Sharon St Joan, text and photo, 2016

 

 

 

(To the people of Little Willow)

sh-photo-cottonwoods-at-zions

A poem by Raven Chiong

 

There’s something to be said…

Go, step into the long lost well of sacred silence. With courage, dive, free and deep into Oceans of open space, listen to your own Voice, follow your own drum.

There’s something to be said…

above the din of “progress”, above the cacophony of Other.

Dry Grasses beckon, Ancient Canyons echo with no syllable or rhyme:

Disconnect, unplug, return to Earth Mother, come Home, weary traveler, to your Self.

Walk.

Slow.

Sit.

Stay.  

Attune to the Place where symphony of Cottonwoods meets sweet silence of Sage, where Rocks speak, Rivers sing, and Shooting Stars have Voices.

There’s something to be said…

Who’s resonating?

Who’s calling?

There’s something to be said…

Are you listening?

Can you hear?

There’s something to be said…

Only the Dreamer, Awake, can say.

 

 August 11, 2011

 

Photo:  Sharon St Joan / Young cottonwoods at Zion National Park