These gods give us the message that no one is perfect in this world! , Mythology of Rasarang: These gods give us the message that no one is perfect in this world!
Devadatta Pattanayak52 minutes ago
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The sculptures of the Jagannath Puri temple remind us that everything in the universe is fundamentally imperfect and flawed.
There is an interesting story in Mesopotamian mythology about crippled creatures. A god named Enki created humans and gave them various tasks on earth. Because of this, all the gods became free from work and began to live comfortably. One day, a goddess named Ninmah jokingly said that she could create imperfect humans. To this Enki said, ‘You may create imperfect men, but I will make them an inseparable part of human society.’
When Ninmah made a man blind to test Enki, Enki changed him into a musician. Enki made the armless man the king’s trusted spy. Enki made the barren woman a courtesan and the impotent man a guard in the king’s harem. Ninmah finally accepted defeat. He knew that Enki could turn every disadvantage into an advantage.
Even in Hindu mythology, there are references to disabled (now called Divyang) beings and gods. The Jagannath idol of Puri depicts the beauty of Krishna in many places, but it is not complete in itself. That idol has no hands or feet. The lips and nose of the statue are also painted. The statue has no lid. Nor does the statue have ears. Usually during festivals, Jagannath is made complete with artificial golden arms. It is said that the sculptor asked the king not to open the door of the workshop until the statue was done. But when the king did not hear the sound of the wood being carved, he got worried and opened the door and thus the statue remained incomplete.
Many devotional songs deal with the incompleteness of Jagannath’s idol. So does this imperfection have a deeper meaning? Is Jagannath as a ‘disabled’ person to remind ‘able-bodied’ people that they should not forget those who are different from them and whom they consider imperfect or abnormal? Is this also the message given that everything in the world is fundamentally incomplete and flawed?
According to the Puranas, Vinata, wife of sage Kashyap, laid two eggs. Since no baby came out of the eggs for a long time, Vinata, in her impatience, broke an egg. An imperfect child came out of it. His lower half is deformed – he has no legs and no genitalia. This child was called Arun and he became the god of dawn. He is given a place in the Hindu pantheon as the charioteer of the Sun God.
Because the lower part of Arun is deformed, it is not decided whether he is a boy or a girl. In early Vedic texts, the god of dawn and the charioteer of the Sun is described as a woman named ‘Ushas’. Thus, this deformed child of ambiguous gender was given a place in the pantheon.
But the society at the time of Mahabharata was very different from this. Shantanu’s elder brother Bahlika, suffering from a skin disease, was prevented from becoming king. Then, the same happened to Dhritarashtra, who was blind. The reason given for this is that the kings must be complete. When Pandu was cursed to be childless, he also voluntarily vacated the throne. These examples show a society that is uncomfortable with the increasing number of disabilities and does not know how to make room for them.
Unhealthy and disabled animals in the forest are not taken care of by their herds, so they are killed immediately. But people behaving like animals is a sign that we have not embraced our humanity, which makes us civilized.
Why can’t we accept the disabled wholeheartedly? Why do we want them not to be seen among us? Are we afraid of their trust in society? Are we tired of their expected empathy? The stories of Dhritarashtra and Arun and the idol of Jagannath force us to ponder these questions.