rAjahaMsa in the ha?sasa?des ́a

victor van Bijlert victorvanbijlert at KPNPLANET.NL
Fri Apr 17 22:14:17 UTC 2009

This is also a very interesting piece of information. But I am wondering if
the ancient Indians knew all these physiological facts regarding this bird.
They certainly could have seen these birds cross the Himalayas. But could
they have measured the speed at which these birds fly on a jet stream?
But I more and more get the idea that high flying and crossing the Himalayas
may be the origin of the metaphor, and hence also of giving Brahmaa a hamsa
as vahana. Of course Brahmaa represents the top of the cosmic / social Hindu
hierarchy and could therefore best be portrayed as riding a high-flying

Many thanks for all the information

Victor van Bijlert

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk] Namens Allen W Thrasher
Verzonden: vrijdag 17 april 2009 16:58
Aan: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
Onderwerp: Re: rAjahaMsa in the ha?sasa?deśa

I suspect a factor in the soul being compared to it, and the sannyasis being
called paramahaMsa, is that it flies very high and also fast and without
stop, seeming to make it almost completely detached from the earth.

The Wikipedia article Bar-Headed Goose says:

"The Bar-headed Goose is one of the world's highest flying birds, having
been seen at up to 10175 m (33,382 feet). It has a slightly larger wing area
for its weight than other geese and it is believed this helps the goose to
fly high.[2] Studies have found that they breathe more efficiently under low
oxygen conditions and are able to reduce heat loss.[3] The haemoglobin of
their blood has a higher oxygen affinity than that of other geese.[4]
The Bar-headed Goose migrates over the Himalayas to spend the winter in
India, Assam, Northern Burma and the wetlands of Pakistan. It migrates up to
Magadi wetlands of Gadag district of Karnataka in the southern part of
India. The winter habitat of the Bar-headed Goose is on cultivation where it
feeds on barley, rice and wheat, and may damage crops. The bird is can fly
the 1000-mile migration route in just one day as it is able to fly in jet
stream. [1]"

Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Senior Reference Librarian
Team Coordinator
South Asia Team, Asian Division
Library of Congress, Jefferson Building 150
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4810
tel. 202-707-3732; fax 202-707-1724; athr at loc.gov
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of

>>> victor van Bijlert <victorvanbijlert at KPNPLANET.NL> 4/17/2009 5:31:55 AM

I am aware of the fact that the hamsa is the Anser Indicus, a kind of goose.
Could anyone explain why the hamsa has been used as a metaphor of a special
type of world-renouncer, the socalled paramahamsa? Is there anything in the
behaviour of the bird that could have led to calling certain renouncers
paramahamsa's? I know this is sidetracking, but it seems relevant in
connection with the discussion of the bird hamsa.


More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list