N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 8 17:24:44 UTC 2000

Prof. Simson wrote:
>The Rgveda does not yet say that Vishnu is black, as far as I know, but
>since it does not say very much about the god anyway, we cannot arrive at
>the conclusion that he was not conceived as black either. For me his
>identification with Krishna, "the Black one" is more than a mere
>coincidence, but I think that his blackness has a symbolic value and has
>nothing to do with skin colour and even less with beauty. One of the most
>important manifestations/incarnations of the
>later Vishnu is the boar, an animal characterized by its black colour, but
>not by its beauty. One of the (many) meanings of blackness is absence of
>light = absence of distinct/visible forms; it can therefore indicate
>mysteriousness and magic, both characteristics of Vishnu. This is a
>complicated subject, and I will certainly not be able to convince you in a
>few lines. I just started writing a major article on Vishnu, but -
>as I have many other things to do - it will take time to finish it, so
>please be patient!

I read in a book on Vishnu (will give the reference, page number
later). Black VishNu statues are called something like abhI-sAra
vishNu. So, people might have feared from this mysterious magical
VishNu in the early stages. Did they worship so that they can avoid
harm and wrath from him?

VishNu is mAl(Thiru-mAl=Vishnu) and mAyan. Tamil lexicon:
a) mA = 1. greatness; 2. strength
b) mA = 1. beauty; 2. blackness; 3. colour; 4. paleness caused by
c) mA = 1. animal, beast; 2. horse; 3. elephant; 4. male of horse, hog or
d) mAyan2 = 1. dark complexioned person; 2. Vis2n2u; 3. deceitful
e) mAyavan2 = Vis2n2u
f) mAl= 1. illusion, delusion, aberration of mind; dullness; stupor;
confusion; 2. desire; 3. love; lust; 4. blackness
g) mAl = 1. greatness; 2. great man; 3. cf. ma1la Vis2n2u; 4. Arhat;
5. Indra; 6. wind; 7. mercury; 8. Co1l6a king; 9. mountain;
10. plenty; fertility; 11. antiquity; 12. cloud; 13. a plant that
grows only in hot and dry places
h) mAl(lu)-tal = to be confused, perturbed.

Yes, the boar is not beautiful. But Laxmi's color is black,
and paintings (and sangam texts) portray Kaama as black.

P. T. Srinivasa Aiyangar(1926) derives mAyA in RV from tamil:

Compared to Iranians, Indians prefered night rituals.
And, nAL-mIn = night-star and, telugu nal- = black.
Is this nAL=black embedded in the name Naaraayana?

Did Indians first worship Gods because they are to be feared,
and hence to be satisfied? A parallel is Iravatham Mahadevan's
thinking. He says Murukan(Subramaniam) in early stages was a demon
who inflicted illness on children etc., Following a book by
P. L. Samy, (a study of Murukan in sangam poems), an emancipated
crouching deity with chest bones represented like a comb
is the Indus sign for Murukan, so claims I. Mahadevan.
Kumaara is a youthful deity happened much later, the
article says. They work from the semantics of Muruku and its occurences
and vElan shaman in CT. This article must be useful for you, I'm sure.

The reference:
I. Mahadevan, 'Murukan' in the Indus script,
p. 21-40. J. Inst. of Asian studies (Madras),
vol. XVI, no. 2, March 1999.

With kind regards,
N. Ganesan

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