Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Who do I think I am?

It's my search of trying to trace my origin. Only thing I know is, what I am not. Haven't figured out what I am, yet. In terms of faith, I am agnostic (During college days, I used to be a devotee before and after the exam. Once the result comes, an atheist!).
 
I do not pray to God everyday. But whenever I get stressed, all the stotras that I know of will come to my mouth. Will never say he does not exist, as I don't know when I need him next.  But if he exists (as he does for me, now and then.. ), I am sure he would not differentiate between me and a true devotee. After all, we all (straight or twisted) are supposed to be his children. I visit temples occasionally. When Aarti time starts, when the bells start to ring, my eyes close. The science I learnt tells me, this so called "effect" can be attributed to the resonance of the sound waves. But still for a fraction of a second, my brain leaves logic and prays to the God in front of me to make my life better. It is this moment, that separates me from an atheist. I am quite comfortable with this hijra mind as logic and faith have learnt to co-exist peacefully in my brain. 
 
Just like my mind, faiths of communities have also oscillated in this region. I understand, there was a time when the movement between the communities were not rigid. Vishnu Vardhana (Bittideva) converted from Jainism to Srishaivism (Brahminism). Don't exactly know, when and why it got rigid. I am aware, during Hoysala's rule one third of the population were Jains. Now they are hardly few percent of the population. Where did they all go? Surely they must have got converted to something else. Did they all convert to one community itself or spread out to different communities? Since there was a conflict between them and Veerashaivas, Veerashaivas must have converted some of them to their community. Also I came to know, names like NyamGowda (Gowda is an agriculturalist community/caste) are actually derived from Nemideva, a Jain Thirthankar. This implies, Jains did not convert to one community alone. Could they get back to the respective communities they came from? (Did they have any clue where they came from) or they chose randomly? Could some of them have chosen Brahminism as well? Is there anyway to find out traces of Jainism in any of these communities, to which they got converted ? (Every caste has so many sub castes. What is the history behind every sub caste?).
 
Take the example of Brahmin community. 3 main branches of it are well known. But explanation for the sub sects comes from geographical divisions from where these people hailed. For example,  Havyaka Brahmins in Karnataka are supposed to have been brought from UP in 3rd century AD from Mayura Sharma. When I try to look for origin of my own community Hoysala Karnataka (a small sect in Brahminism), I am refered to a region where Hoysalas ruled earlier. Though Hoysala name is present for a long time, name of the community has only been mentioned in last few hundred years. Off the records, one traces the origin up to Govida Dixita who served Nayakas of Tanjavore (1530). I also note, the term Hoysala could have been derived from Ballala who were equivalent of Tamil Vellalars which was the land owning community. Does it apply to Hoysala dynasty alone or this sect of Brahmin community as well? (Shudras conversions to Brahmin). (At least in the case of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana, the route must have been Shudra-> Jain -> Brahmin). Colours of the members of most Brahmin community (except people like Havyakas) are just contrast to the description of Aryans. If entry of Shudra blood into Brahmin is only through unofficial way, I can understand why no records are kept. (Also it just shows the act of Brahmin women. Obviously, results of Brahmin men's Varna Sankara (I am trying to use sophisticated word with the help of Bhagavadgita.!) cannot be obtained within Brahmin community).  But what frustrates me is, same thumb rule is applied (no records) even if the route is official (regular conversion). There is no way of finding out who my ancestors were. Shudras? Jains? (as they were one of the main population during Hoysala rule) or just Brahmins who got Shudra blood by some other means?
 
That's about me, a person. What about the Gods and Goddesses? Rise of Vijayanagar Empire (15th century) was associated with the revival of Hinduism, which involved reconversion of people, reconversion of temples and reconversion of Gods from Jainism.  Most of them were covered up using Shankaracharya's name. Wherever I travel near Chickmagalore, every devi (goddess) has some connection with Acharya Shankara. Mookambika in Kollur, Sharadamba of Sringeri. Recently, I visited a temple in Hariharapura near Sringeri. Even the idol in there, is supposed have been installed by Shankara before Sringeri.  (All these along with Kanchi and other matts from south to Kashmir). Well, why should I have any problem with how many temples Shankara visited? I nod my head with the priest. But still few things make my head turn. Like VidyaShankara temple in Sringeri. If no one knows which is Sharada Devi temple, he would presume this is the one. So huge and artistic, yet not the main temple in the complex. Why such ignorance? I don't get any clues from the carvings outside the temple. They are about Dashavatara of Vishnu (Yes, it is a Shiva temple!) with carvings of Jain saints as well. Was the deity here was  Shiva all the time, or has it replaced any other God?

Even Dashavataras of Vishnu must have undergone many revisions. Some earlier versions had Balarama and Hayagriva as Avatars, which later gave way to Buddha and Kalki. Jayadeva's Ashtapadi (12th century) omitted Krishna, as it considered Krishna as the source of incarnation. Aprameya Temple near Bangalore (which is supposed to be more than 1000 year old) shows another interesting feature. Every pillar on the side walls of Raja Gopuram depicts an avatar of Vishnu. Here, a Jain Tirthankar statue (Mahavir?) has been sculptured at the end instead of Buddha. Looks like people wanted to amalgamate Jainism also into Puranic Avatars.
 
In Horanadu (place of goddess Annapurneshwari) after parking the vehicle, I got curious towards a new Jain temple which has come up near it (just few years old). Felt like visiting the temple. It was of Yakshi Padmavati. Priest said, there used to be a temple in the region before, hence (in its memory) they have installed the deity. What made me puzzled was, image of Padmavati more or less resembled my goddess AdiShakti Annapoorne. Who is my goddess then? I came back to Annapurne temple. I stood there confused. Don't know what my ancestors were before. Don't know what this goddess was before.... By then, bells started to ring, Aarti started.. my eyes closed themselves and my rationality died. I prayed to my mother who was standing in front of me to take care of me and my family. Yes, I am comfortable with my hijra mind.

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