Bon III

Upon the completion of his sentence Padmasambhava returned to Oddiyana and he took the Princess Mandrava as his consort. Now it’s interesting that the myth says consort and not wife because Padmasambhava did not wed in the formal, orthodox or traditional sense of the word and this may imply that he had a spiritual consort.

The Kings of Angkor were proprietors of a similar version of Tantrism. We’ll go into it in depth later when we cover Angkor but it suffices to say for now that the Kings of Angkor did not have one but nine spiritual consorts who they communed with on a nightly basis.

Many of the concepts that I touch on here may be hard or difficult to grasp but in order to understand Tantrism it is crucial to come to terms with some of its basic concepts.

In addition to Mandarva (India) and later Yeshe Tsogyal (Tibet), Padmasambhava had 3 other consorts, Kalasiddhi (India), Sakya Devi (Nepal) and Mangala (Bhutan). According to some sources, all of Padmasambhava’s consorts had the hallmarks or the trademarks of the dakinis and are worshipped in some circles as the 5 wisdom Goddesses.

Yeshe Tsogyal was the most prominent, followed by Mandrava the daughter of the King of Zahor, a Kingdom in Northeast India.

Now it is important to mention that the word dakini in its most simplistic form basically means “an enlightened female” i.e. someone who has attained spiritual liberation or is freed from the birth and death cycle.

In some circles these dakinis are worshiped as bodhisattvas i.e. enlightened beings who have been freed from the birth and death cycle but have chosen to remain on earth in spiritual form because of the compassion they have for humanity. It is entirely different from a dakini who derives her powers from the mahavidyas. The latter is purely tantric in essence and substance.

It may or may not be of relevance but the number 5 is significant to the Goddess Varahi. For starters, she is the Goddess who sits on the fifth Chakra. In addition to that, in Indian classical music or traditional music, the 5th swara (a note in the octave) is synonymous to the Goddess Varahi. Varahi is also the 5th of the 8 matrikas.

Padmasambhava’s consorts may also be perceived to be 5 different manifestations of the Goddess Varahi, each synonymous to 5 different aspects of the Goddess or to take it further the 5 different weapons that are associated to the Goddess i.e. a bell, a yak’s tail, a discus, a mace and Sharanga (Vishnu’s bow given to him by the craftsman of the Gods, Viswakarma).

Varahi is also alternative worshipped as Satya Ekakini, she who reveals the inner truths and this aspect of the Goddess is particularly important to seers. Those who are blessed by the touch of Satya Ekakini need only to look into their inner-selfs to discover and uncover all truths.

Because the Goddess Varahi is an incarnate of Vishnu’s boar avatar, those who are touched by her, exude tremendous strength. All in all, we can safely say, from the tantric perspective anyway, that Padmasambhava didn’t really require any external help because he was blessed from birth. Being surrounded by his 5 consorts only enhanced his abilities.

I have thus far tried to exclude the Buddhist influence because we are here solely concerned with the Bon faith and the Bon-Tantric fusion that occurred post the arrival of Padmasambhava in Tibet.

Following his union with Mandrava, Padmasambhava journeyed to Nepal and there he and Mandrava were conferred the gift of longevity and were granted eternal life. Presumably this is where he met Sathya Devi. He then journeyed to Tibet and according to some sources to “tame a wild land that was rife with shamanic practices” which was most likely a reference to the Bon practices that were prevalent at that time.

It is to some degree an unfair reference to the Bon faith especially because we know so little about it.

It must also be said that there are some scholars who divide Bon into white Bon and black Bon. The former is with reference to Bon rituals that are used to produce good results or positive results and the latter is in reference to Bon rituals that are performed to bring about or produce negative results and is likened to black magic.

One of the salient aspects of Bon is that it is a polytheistic religion and therefore it is a religion with numerous deities and like most polytheistic religions it has the potential to evolve either with the archeological discoveries of new deities or when someone who is exceptionally pious is elevated to a near god status.

The fundamental principle behind all polytheistic religions or faiths is that all deities are representations of the one God and each manifestation represents a different aspect of the one God. God being both omniscient and omnipresent will undoubtedly have numerous aspects.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Partition of Sindh I

The Partition of India on the 15th of August 1947 included some very poignant tales some of which may be systemically erased from public archives or records unless we take stringent measures to ensure that they remain intact so that posterity may remember the cost of freedom.

The Sindh province is bordered by West Punjab to the North, Rajasthan and Gujarat to the East and Baluchistan to the West. Like other provincial areas in the northern sector of the subcontinent it suffered major upheavals and population shifts during and post partition.

The threat of violence, often vocal, triggered a mass exodus and almost a million Sindhis left their ancestral homeland fearing communal riots and fled to India leaving behind most of their wealth and possessions.

Sindh is the second largest province in Pakistan and in terms of wealth density there is a large discrepancy in the province. The wealth is not proportionally distributed and there is a wide gap between the rich and the poor. It is commonly believed that Baluchistan is the most impoverished province in Pakistan but living conditions in some Sindh villages are equally as bad and fall well below acceptable levels.

The situation has been further aggravated by reports of repeated violence – a salient feature in many of the provinces. According to human rights organizations, the most serious breaches include extrajudicial and targeted killings, sudden disappearances and torture. Like Baluchistan there has been a recent spike in Sindh nationalism with calls for the formation of a breakaway republic – Sindhudesh which is backed by an armed militia, the SDLA.

According to the IGC (International Growth Center), political violence has long been endemic in Pakistan, but the scale, scope, and geographic distribution of the problem has not been systematically studied.

The problem is twofold, on the policy side, decision makers lack credible quantitative data with which to weigh the relative costs of politically-motivated violence against the many other challenges facing Pakistan and on the academic side, scholars lack the ability to quantitatively assess the role of violence in Pakistan’s political and economic development.

The Sindh province holds a majority of the seats in the Pakistani National Assembly and it is the most influential province in the Pakistani political sphere.

Therefore, the province is of some significance and while much of the internal turmoil is conveniently blamed on extremists, it is worth examining the internal policing and administrative mechanisms that operate within the province.

The province itself has a large number of migrants from Punjab and Baluchistan, many of whom have come in search of work. Karachi, the capital of the Sindh Province houses one third of the provincial population.

Pakistan presents us with a novel opportunity to study a unique democracy. In May 1999, Pakistani forces crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and launched a bold and belligerent attack which resulted in a high-altitude conflict, focused and centered, in and around the town of Kargil which is located approximately 205 km north-east of Srinagar (the summer capital of Kashmir).

During the conflict the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was quoted as saying that he wasn’t aware of any plans to encroach on Indian territory and while it might sound far-fetched to some, it is both possible and plausible. It may have been what actually transpired.

While the Sindh province controls a majority of the seats in the national assembly, the Punjabis control the military. There is some discrepancy there and there is always the possibility that the military might have acted independently.

Much of the animosity is due to what was left behind and the lamentable loss of a rich and vibrant cultural heritage that was the result or the legacy of a hastily brokered partition especially with regards to Kashmir and Punjab.

The previously independent and autonomous Kashmir was reduced to the brink of social and economic disaster overnight.

According to most sources, the migration of the Sindhi from Pakistan to India and vice-versa was peaceful but that does not mean that there was no violence or that the level of violence that they were subjected to was negligible, acceptable or tolerable.

Other sources say that many of the Sindhis that migrated from India to Pakistan were exposed to very high levels of violence. Therefore, the animosity that still lingers in the air between India and Pakistan is tangible, conceivable and understandable.

There are tales of murder, rape, pillage and of people being set alight by the truckloads or train loads and it is difficult to determine how much of it is true and how much is fabricated but there is no doubting or denying that there was an extremely high level of violence that followed the partition of India and Pakistan.

Copyright © 2018 by Kathiresan Ramachanderam

Impulse Control Disorders – Trichotillomania

Motive is best defined as the reason or the rationale behind an act and while traditionally criminal law adheres to the principal that a crime consists of only two components i.e. the physical element (the act of committing the crime) and the mental element (a person’s awareness that he or she has or is about to commit a crime) motive nonetheless plays an important role. It is a key component in several defenses and is taken into account during sentencing.

Motive can be a mitigating factor and can lessen the gravity or the impact of a crime. The person who knowingly steals a loaf of bread and the person who knowingly robs a bank both satisfy the physical and mental element required to establish guilt but to treat both in the same manner would be a generalization. Let’s take it a step further. Let’s say that the hypothetical person who stole the loaf of bread did so to feed his hungry family and wouldn’t have committed the act otherwise. Is he or she to be treated in the same manner as the bank robber? Motive is relevant to ensure that perpetrators receive fair treatment especially when it comes to public perceptions.

When we are dealing with the mental element the assumption is that we are dealing with a person of normal fortitude and likewise motive, which is an intangible element, is also based on the notion that the person who committed the act is a person of normal strength and firmness of mind.

On that note it is also important or relevant to mention that there is nothing to indicate or suggest that people who suffer from psychosomatic illnesses have a higher propensity to commit crimes when compared to a normal person unless of course the illness itself compels the person to commit a crime (Impulse Control Disorder) for example kleptomania or the recurring urge to steal. In Australia for example only 4.4% of Australian homicide offenders are recorded as suffering from mental disorders.

Impulse Control Disorders

Under normal circumstances most people can control their urges and impulses. With people who suffer from impulse control disorders however the situation is more complex and they act on impulse i.e. they cannot resist the urge to do something that is often harmful to themselves or others. There are six categories of impulsive control disorders – trichotillomania, intermittent explosive disorder, pathological gambling, kleptomania, pyromania and impulsive sexual behavior. Impulse control disorders present unique issues for the criminal justice system and presents it with the challenge of distinguishing between a controllable act and an uncontrollable act.

Impulse control disorders become relevant during sentencing and the inability of the perpetrator to refrain from committing the act despite knowing that it is wrong complicates the process. While on the subject we must also consider the implications of Parkinson’s Disease (a progressive and chronic movement disorder that worsens over time). Recent research on the subject suggests that all six categories of impulse control disorders can occur in individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and it occurs in 3 – 5% of patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Ultimately it should be doctors and phycologists who determine if an accused or a perpetrator suffers from an impulse control disorder.

When dealing with a person who is afflicted by an impulse control disorder the question of motive does not arise. Impulse control disorders are classed as repeated acts that have no clear rational motivation. Pyromania for example is categorized as multiple acts of, or attempts at, setting fire to property or other objects without an apparent motive and by a persistent preoccupation with subjects related to fire and burning.

Despite the improbability of being able to establish a clear and discernable motive it is worth looking at the six categories of impulse control disorders because it is an illness that most of us will stumble across at some point in time or other. Let’s start with Trichotillomania which is characterized by the repeated pulling of one’s hair. It may be hair from the scalp, the eyebrows or any other part of the body that the victim feels compelled to aggrieve.

There is a period of tenseness prior to committing the act and a sense of relief once the act is completed. Some researchers compare it to an unexplainable addiction or a compulsion that continues for the afflicted person’s lifetime. Often, a common symptom with those who suffer from Trichotillomania is self-imposed isolation because despite getting some measure of relief or satisfaction from committing the act they are ashamed of their actions and have difficulty in explaining it to others.

Other symptoms associated with Trichotillomania are repeated self-grooming, nail biting and lip or cheek biting. Many Trichotillomania sufferers commit the act without realizing it and the act is normally done during sedentary activities i.e. while they are seated at a desk, reading, watching television etc. An average person blinks 15 – 20 times per minute and up to 1,200 times per hour and he or she does so without realizing it. A similar comparison may be made to understand the nature of Trichotillomania where the actions are sometimes done without conscious thought.

With some Trichotillomania sufferers, there is an impulse to reach over to certain areas of their body and to start picking and pulling at the relevant areas especially when they experience an itching sensation. It is akin to an automated response.

It is important to recognize the symptoms and to try and be as understanding and as accommodating as possible. The inclusion of Trichotillomania here doesn’t mean that those with Trichotillomania have any sort of criminal tendencies or that Trichotillomania precipitates criminal behavior. It is to give us some insights on the challenges that those with Trichotillomania face on a daily basis.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Possession III

One of the most talked about cases of possession in recent times is that of Anneliese Michel. I’m not going to go into the facts of the case too much but it is important because it dismisses many of the myths that are often associated with the possession phenomenon.

Firstly, it clearly tells that possession doesn’t only occur in rural, isolated communities and that it can also happen in modern, contemporary societies and secondly, it also tells us that the Roman Catholic Church does perform exorcisms but it does so very rarely and with a great deal of hesitation – the facts of the case will explain its reluctance.

In this particular case the victim after having displayed outward signs of possession received a lot of medical attention but the medications didn’t seem to have any effect on her and according to most sources she displayed 6 different alternate personalities. Her condition deteriorated with time despite taking the medication that was prescribed and the intervention of the church. To some degree she was like the girl Regan in the movie the exorcist.

The movie, by the way, was based on a novel by William Blatty but what many people don’t realize is that the book itself was based on a true story. The child was a 13-year-old boy who was particularly attached to his aunty, a spiritualist and she introduced him to the Ouija board.

When she died, he tried to contact her through the Ouija board and that’s how the whole thing started. The boy was assigned the pseudonym Roland Doe by the priests who performed the exorcism.

Both cases were well documented because the cases went to trial and there are pages of transcripts that a diligent student can siphon through.

As to denomination of the church that performed the exorcism, it was the Roman Catholic Church or to be more precise the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) who without doubt have a lot of experience in the field particularly because of their work in South America, where cases of possession are more frequent. Exorcisms are a lot more common that a lot of people perceive them to be.

As paranormal researchers, we need to know and to understand as much about the possession phenomenon as possible and to realize that it occurs in most communities and to draw parallels where possible.

We have to establish, if possible, certain rules or guidelines to aid us in our research. To start with we have to have it clear in our heads that possession in most cases, does not occur on its own. There has to be something that has triggered the possession as in the case of Ronald Doe – the Ouija board.

It also tells how dangerous Ouija boards really are. Similarly, another common game, especially among young teenagers, the spirit of the coin, can also produce similar undesirable results – the older the coin, the more potent the spirit that is summoned.

Possession in most cases starts with the victim coming in contact with something that is owned by the dead person and if the person has died an untimely death or an unnatural death for example death by accident or suicide then the lingering spirit has a greater propensity to haunt or possess.

These spirits are extremely restless and in instances of such deaths it is best to find out if the last rites had been performed and if they had been performed in accordance with the dead person’s religion.

If the last rites have not been performed then it is just best to perform the last rites as dictated by custom, tradition, and religion and to try and set the spirit at ease and to prompt it to leave the world of the living and continue with its journey to the hereafter.

What is extremely compelling in the case of Anneliese was the grueling manner in which the exorcism was performed and it ultimately led to her death. The priests were charged with negligent homicide and the cause of death was determined as malnutrition and dehydration.

Paranormal research requires a high degree of self-honesty. If we were to, by chance stumble across cases of what could be actual instances of possession than there is always the possibility that we can’t cure or help the victim and that being the case it is best to leave it to someone who is better at it for example someone schooled in religion.

By all means do the basics well i.e. gather as much information as possible and apply the process of analytical thinking before seeking the aid and assistance of a spiritual medium i.e. priests etc. but remember to draw the line between what can and cannot be done.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Bon II

Before we continue with the topic on hand it is worth looking into the exploits of the Indian monk Padmasambhava to help us understand the fusion and amalgamation that took place after his arrival in Tibet and it is worth mentioning, briefly at least, the two other Hindu deities that have become central to Tibetan mysticism and have risen to iconic proportions in the ancient South Asian kingdom.

Padmasambhava is also known as Guru Rinpoche and like the name implies he was first and foremost a teacher. Padmasambhava is also referred to as the “Lotus Born” and that is simply because he was never physically born but sprang from a lotus when he was 9 years old.

He was the adopted son of King Indrabhuti who was the ruler of the Kingdom of Oddiyana which according to most sources was located in the Swat Valley though other sources have concluded that because of the similarities in the name, Oddiyana could also have been an ancient kingdom in either Orissa or Haryana.

The kingdom would have existed somewhere at about the 6th – 7th century and we can safely say that it wasn’t located in either South or Central India because the prevailing dynasties at the time were synonymous to a different blend or facet of Hinduism.

Without doubt the kingdom was located somewhere in the north of India at a time when both Pakistan and India were one country. Having said that let’s not take anything away from Orissa because it has a rich historic legacy of its own.

The Sun Temples built by the Eastern Ganga Dynasty and its predecessors are ample testament to its vibrant and colorful history. Orissa was also the scene, many centuries prior to the rise of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, of the final battle between the Mauryan Empire and the Kalinga Empire, which devastated both armies.

Now Indrabhuti was childless for many years and after much prayers and devotion he was granted a son. As the story goes, he was out hunting with his men one day when he stumbled across a large white lotus in the middle of a lake. Taken aback by its size he sat on his horse staring at it when the petals opened and out came the 9-year-old Padmasamabhava.

Indrabhuti dutifully adopted the boy and made him his heir apparent but young Padmasmabhava was a mischievous boy and would often get himself into trouble and therefore upon attaining a certain age he was sent to a graveyard to reflect on all the things he had done and serve out his sentence in silent meditation.

A graveyard is selected for the purpose of meditation for two reasons. Firstly, because it is silent and peaceful and there is very little interruption and secondly because it is also a form of getting used to spirit-beings, to come to terms with the fact that there are other entities that we share the world with and not all of the them occupy the same shape or form as the rest of us.

It is relevant at this stage to elaborate on Indrabhuti’s and Padmasambhava’s religious practices to understand the fusion that took place in Tibet after the monk’s arrival. They practiced a form of Hinduism that is known as Tantrism (i.e. tantric in essence and substance). All the texts available on Tantrism were originally translated from Sanskrit but I dare say a few things would have gone amiss during the translation because it is not always possible to translate from one language to another.

Tantric rites and rituals revolve around the 8 Hindu Matrikas one of whom already occupies a place of significance in Tibetan religious circles (Varahi). The other Matrikas are Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Mahesvari, Indrani, Kaumari, Chamunda and Narasimhi and the 10 Mahavidyas.

Tara who is one of the ten Mahavidyas is one of the most venerated Goddesses in Tibet. The other Mahavidyas are Kali, Sodasi, Bhuvaneshvari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bhagalamuki, Matangi and Kamala.

There are a few salient points that should be mentioned here. Firstly, all the 8 Matrikas and the 10 Mahavidyas are female and therefore the power that is derived from them is feminine in essence. It is very potent and dominant.

Secondly, some of the Matrikas and most of the Mahavidyas are represented in an intimidating manner and sometimes associated to places that most people would rather avoid. The reason is as follows: – to harness the power of the Matrikas and the Mahavidyas one has to be able to confront his or her own worst fears.

Thirdly from the association to the Matrikas it is possible to ascertain the nature of a person. No doubt he or she may acquire special abilities from all 8 Matrikas but from the 8 there is always one Matrika that the person has a greater affinity to than others. In the case of Padmasambhava it is Varahi and therefore we can surmise that Padmasambhava was a seer, because Varahi is the Goddess of Seers.

Padmasambhava was also able to harness the collective powers of the Mahavidyas because he was later in his life closely associated to the Dakini (those who obtain their spiritual powers from the Mahavidyas) Yeshe Tsogyal and like all those who harness the power of the Matrikas, there would have been one Mahavidya that Yeshe Tsogyal was closer to than the rest and I would suspect it was Tara (she who embodies the power of compassion).

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Possession II

Let us now look at situations where a person receives intimation with regards to a future event. On the morning of June 28, 1914 at approximately 3.15 am Bishop Lanyi wrote “I awoke from a terrible dream. I dreamt that I had gone to my desk early in the morning to look through the mail that had come in. On top of all the other letters there lay one with a black border, a black seal, and the arms of the Archduke (Francis Ferdinand)”.

“I immediately recognized the letter’s handwriting, and saw at the head of the notepaper in blue coloring a picture which showed me a street and a narrow side-street. Their highnesses sat in a car, opposite them sat a general and an officer next to the chauffeur”.

“On both sides of the street there was a large crowd. Two young men sprang forward and shot at their highnesses”. “The text of the letter was as follows: ‘Dear Dr Lanyi: Your Excellency. I wish to inform you that my wife and I were the victims of a political assassination. We recommend ourselves to your prayers. Cordial greetings from your Archduke Franz. Sarajevo, June 28, 3.15 a.m.”

Having written the document, Bishop Lanyi dressed, called the household together, gave them the sad news that he had received and said that he would at once offer mass for their highnesses in his private chapel.

At 3.30 p.m. on that same day, June 28, 1914, a telegram arrived to say that the Archduke and his wife had been assassinated in Sarajevo. The crime occurred at 11 a.m., nearly eight hours after the Archduke had notified Bishop Lanyi of his own murder.

As aspiring parapsychologists, we need to find a determinant that will help us distinguish between intimations and alternate personalities that are a result of a person’s own latent abilities and actual cases of possession, which is by virtue a difficult proposition.

In 1671 in Groton Massachusetts a young lady by the name of Elizabeth Knapp began to display signs of an alternate personality.

She was a servant in the Willard household, and without warning the sixteen-year-old began to act in a strange manner and would burst into inexplicable laughter or utter audible shrieks when asked what was wrong.

Her condition deteriorated rapidly and she had even complained of strangulation and had attempted to throw herself into the fire on several occasions.

Knapp would make senseless statements repeating the words “money, money,” and sometimes “sin and misery” and her body would go into violent convulsions.

“Her tongue would be for many hours glued to the roof of her mouth, so that no fingers applied to it could remove it. Six men were scarce able to hold her in some of her fits, but she would skip about the house yelling and howling and looking hideous, her tongue being drawn out of her mouth to an extraordinary length”.

In his book, “Epidemiological Spirit Possession among the Maasai in Tanzania” Finnish author Arvi Hurskainen states that a large number of Maasai women experience possession at some time or other. “In a certain survey almost half (47%) of adult females had experienced the spirit possession phenomena and in almost half of the spirit possession cases the women had reproductive problems” – reproductive problems are among the over 100 symptoms of spirit possession.

In a case published in the East African Medical Journal, November 2000 edition, “E.D., a twenty-three-year-old single male from Kpando Dzoanti in the Volta Region of Ghana, a predominantly rural area of Ghana attended a general adult psychiatric outpatient clinic at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital (APH). He was accompanied by his mother and other relatives who claimed that E.D. had been possessed by a spirit for the past three years.

“The onset of his “possession” was sudden and started just before his final examination at his college. He believed that a spirit had taken hold of him and that it had made him so forgetful, that he could not take his examinations.

He also started behaving “abnormally” and this included wondering around aimlessly in his village. He further claimed that he had no control over his actions.

In his own words …. “It was the spirit that was making me do it, and putting thoughts into my mind, which are foreign to my religious beliefs as a Roman Catholic.” According to him he could hear voices from outside his head, commenting on his actions and criticizing some of them. He was certain that the voices were that of the spirit.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Bon I

Bon is the native religion of Tibet and it originated in the Western Himalayan kingdom of Zhangzhung. It is divided into two facets. Bon, prior to the arrival of Padmasambhava and the aspects of the religion that survived after the amalgamation with other religious components subsequent to the arrival of the Indian monk (7th – 8th century).

Bon in its original form was realized and propagated by Toenpa Sherab or Gshen-Rab and according to popular myth, Toenpa Sherab, was born with the gift to see spirits and other cosmic beings and was able to communicate with them.

At the age of 12 he was abducted and taken to the underworld where he was taught the secrets of spirits or demons and he reappeared or resurfaced 12 years later at the age of 24 to claim his rightful place as the son of the King of Thogar (Thodkar) a principality towards the northwest of Kashmir.

Central to Bon is the yungdrung which is interestingly enough represented by a symbol turning anti-clockwise. Many commenters on the subject have mentioned that Bon is shamanistic in essence, not that there is anything wrong with shamanism because most ancient religions are shamanistic to some extent or another, and I tend to agree with them because in most orthodox religious circles the symbols are represented clockwise and when the motion is reversed, then it falls outside the realms of orthodox religion and falls into the folds of shamanism.

Let us take it a step further and look at it in a different light. The general presumption is that the yungdrung is a key. When the key is turned clockwise it produces a certain effect and when the key is turned anti-clockwise it produces another effect or a counter effect and if we look at Bon per se without the influences of other orthodox religions, it is in essence and substance propitiation by means of incantation and in this aspect it is without doubt shamanistic and to some degree ritualistic.

According to most sources Bon is similar to Hinduism in that its adherents believe in the laws of karma and reincarnation and therefore are subject to the birth and death cycle.

The exploits of the tantric monk Padmasmabhava may shed more light on the matter. When Padmasmabhava arrived in Tibet, it is said that the prevailing religion was shamanism, though no mention is made of Bon, and the monk had to combat demons and other spirit entities that had been conjured by shamans to free its people.

However, it is worth keeping in mind that Bon adherents were subjected to a period of long-term persecution post the arrival of Buddhism and some of the facts may have been distorted. There have been attempts to dismiss Bon as another branch or sect of Buddhism and nothing could be further from the truth. Bon is a religion that is unique by itself.

By the 8th – 9th century the pre – Buddhist religion of Tibet had been suppressed and supplanted by Buddhism and many of its adherents and followers existed in small pockets scattered around the country.

There have been accusations by some scholars that Bon adherents mimic or imitate Buddhist rites but these accusations are baseless and unfounded.

Bon adherents observe similar rituals as some Hindu schools or sects. The similarities include an altar and offerings of fruits and flowers. They burn incense at the altar and some adherents even chant mantras. Such practices are common not only in orthodox worship but also in shamanistic rites and rituals and it is evident in every nook and cranny of the subcontinent. This type of worship has existed for eons and predates Buddhism.

Likewise, the concept of births, deaths, reincarnation and enlightenment have existed for thousands of years and therefore it is not unusual for any religion that originates from this part of the world to have at its core the aforementioned concepts or precepts.

The differences however would lie in the deities that are worshiped and the status that is accorded to the respective deities and not in the concepts. The determinant factor is if the deities can be classed as orthodox deities i.e. deities that most of us are familiar with or unorthodox deities i.e. deities that most of us have not heard of. With Bon I suspect it is the latter.

The other distinguishing feature with Bon is that worship according to most sources is not conducted from translations of Sanskrit based texts as it is with Buddhism but it is conducted from texts originally written in the Zhangzhung language and later translated into Tibetan which tends to suggest that Bon had its own series of texts which outlined the principles and the canons of the faith, all of which adds to its uniqueness.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Pannonia

Pannonia is the ancient name for Hungary and the seat of the nation’s first monarchy. The kingdom was established in the first half of the 800s following the marriage of Emeshe and Ugek and after the birth of their son, Almos.

Before his birth, Almos’s mother, Emeshe, had a dream in which Turul, the giant mythical Hawk in Hungarian mythology, who often acts as a messenger of the Gods, flew down from its perch on the tree of life and impregnated Emeshe with a drop of its saliva.

When she was giving birth to Almos, a tiny spring welled from her womb and slowly grew in size swelling with water until its torrents swept through the snowy mountains and the valleys wedged between them into the flat lowlands that lay on the other side.

There it stopped and grew into a wondrous tree with golden branches. The highest precinct on this tree was occupied by the mighty bird-hawk, the legendary Turul, and the land the tree stood on became the land of her descendants, the land of fabled kings and warriors.

In other historical circles, Almos is also known as the Voivode of Levedia. Levedia was a territory/kingdom located along the banks of the River Inhul, a tributary of the Southern River Buh in Ukraine and the Magyars, if the legend were true, followed the river to its end. The term Voivode or war leader coincidentally is a Slavic term and a Voivode is usually only appointed during times of war. The use of the term clearly implies a Slavic nexus.

At the time Almos or the Voivode of Levedia had his dream, the Magyars were besieged by enemies and after a long and protracted war they were on the verge of capitulating. On the eve of what was to be the deciding battle, a worried Almos or Voivode Levedia went to sleep and while sleeping he had a vivid dream.

In the dream his army was attacked by a flock of ravens that appeared out of nowhere and his men were overwhelmed by the flighted beasts. Just as his army was about to succumb, a mighty hawk appeared from the sky and led Almos and his men to safety. The hawk was none other than the majestic bird of prey, Turul.

The battle the following morning did not favor the Magyars and their lines faltered in the face of repetitive attacks. When all appeared lost, a hawk appeared from the sky and Almos remembering the dream the night before, ordered his men to retreat and follow the flight of the bird. The path led them along the River Inhul and after weeks of travelling they arrived in a fertile land that was to become their new home, Pannonia.

Almos who established the Kingdom of Pannonia was its first ruler and Pannonia flourished for about 150 years until the coronation of Stephen I in 1001. Stephen who himself was the son of a Magyar chieftain, acquired the throne from the last great Magyar King of Hungary, Geza.

Emeshe, the mother of Almos, is central to the legend. The word “Emeshe” in Sumerian simply means “High Priestess” and her story starts in 819, during the reign of the Assyrian King Ashur-Banipal, when a descendant of the Scythian King Magog married the daughter of Enid-Belia.

In contemporary literature the daughter of Enid-Belia is known as Emeshe but it is difficult to say for certain if the word Emeshe is used in reference to the princess’s name or if it is indicative of her status as High Priestess of the Temple of Kham, an office that she held prior to her marriage.

The word Kham in Sanskrit means sky, and the words Emeshe and the Temple of Kham, if read together can be interpreted in the following manner: – High Priestess of the Temple of the Sky or High Priestess of the Temple of the Sky God. It implies or suggests a Sumerian-Sanskrit radix and it unearths a new and unexplored facet of Sumerian-Sanskrit mythology.

Anu is the highest ranking deity in the Sumerian epoch but the extent of his worship remains undetermined. He is commonly acknowledged to be the Sumerian “father of the gods” and as such he wields or wielded extensive powers.

The priests and priestesses of Kham are the descendants of Emeshe who according to popular myth and legend are gifted with the ability to read the will of the Gods.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Vegan

The word vegan is used to denote a person who doesn’t eat meat or consume food that is made from animal extracts (animal based food). Animal based foods include water soluble proteins like gelatin which are obtained from boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments or bones of pigs and cattle.

Vegans have a clear, distinct and decisive preference for vegetarian food and some vegans even abstain from consuming eggs but they do supplement their diet with a range of dairy products made from cattle, goat and buffalo milk. Their vegetable intake includes a wide range of greeneries, many of which are rare and do not satisfy the requirements of the modern palate. Hence these greeneries are uncommon in contemporary culinary circles.

Meat includes fish and fish based products, white meat (poultry meat) and red meat (beef, mutton, lamb, and venison). Pork is regarded as white meat in the United States but outside the United States it is considered or regarded as red meat.

Seaweeds are an essential or a crucial part of the vegan diet and these vegetables are a better source of protein and minerals than fish or fish based products.

Seaweeds absorb a wealth of minerals from seabeds but it is necessary to keep the sea and ocean floors clean because if the seabeds are tainted, say for example with toxins like lead, than the seaweeds that grow in the contaminated area will absorb the lead that has seeped into the tainted seabeds and when the seaweeds are consumed and ingested the toxins may enter the digestive tract.

Therefore, when purchasing seaweed it is advisable to know, roughly at least, where it was harvested. Apart from the concerns that have been outlined here seaweeds are a good source of protein and essential nutrients.

It is also worth mentioning that by switching to alternate sea based proteins we can help stop the depletion of other important marine resources.

Well planned vegan diets provide the body with enough iron, calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals including antioxidants (chemicals that prevent cell damage due to internal and external factors). Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants.

Examples of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants include prunes, raisins, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, red grapes, cherries, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli flowers, beets, red bell peppers, onions, corn and eggplants (brinjals).

It is also useful at this stage to touch on livestock exports because excessive exporting of meat in certain countries can have adverse effects. The common presumption is that exporting livestock increases foreign revenue and contributes positively to the GDP (the most important measure of economic activity in a country).

However, in certain countries an increase in meat exports especially cattle, goat and buffalo meat has had a reverse effect. In India for example a rush to meet the offshore demand for meat has led to a depletion in stocks and that in turn has contributed to a decrease in milk production which has a negative impact on growing children.

In 2010 India was registered as the 12th largest beef producer in the world and it produced a total of 1,086,500 tons of beef accounting for 1.74% of global production. It was the 2nd largest beef producer in Asia and accounted for 8.12% of total production (FAO).

India has an annual per capita beef and veal consumption of 0.77 kg, which is relatively small as opposed to Argentina which has a per capita beef and veal consumption of 41.02 kg. Both countries are on the extreme ends of the scale and a benchmark figure or a median figure would be between 20 – 21 kg.

India’s meat production is relatively high while domestic demand is modest at best. It has or had sufficient quantities of livestock because its per capita meat consumption falls well below the median, so there isn’t a great demand for meat. Yet it has in the past failed to produce enough milk. The most obvious reason for the discrepancy would be the rush to meet offshore orders.

In order to satisfy the demand for milk India has had to import milk and because either offshore producers couldn’t fulfill the demand or their prices were not competitive enough there were batches of milk that were tainted and mixed with additives, some of which are extremely toxic, like paint.

Therefore it would not be wrong to say that in some countries, because of the prevailing economic conditions, it is easier to try and inculcate a more vegetarian diet.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Slavic Myths

Myths and legends are often road-maps that tell us the route a particular society or community has taken in its evolutionary process. Similarities between myths and legends reaffirm age old cultural ties while dissimilarities make each and every community unique.

The Chronica Slavorum written by the twelfth century Saxon historian Helmold tells us something about the early Slavs. It lists down a series of lesser known Slavic deities worshiped principally in Western Slavia.

Chief among these deities is Belobog the Sun God who represents the light of the dazzling sun and underlines the importance of the solar entity in Slavic circles. The affinity to the sun clearly tells us that a majority of the early Slavs belonged to farming communities whose mainstream economic activity was agriculture.

These communities have a higher propensity than others to settle down and establish an agrarian routine and engage in religious activities – another facet of early farming communities.

Divinity in early Slavic settlements was represented by the color white and is reflective of the healing powers or properties of the sun. A manifestation of this positively radiant energy is the Sun God or Belobog.

The importance of agriculture in early Slavic communities is further reinforced by the simple fact that they also had a winter Sun God, Hors and as legend would have it, he is the reincarnation of Belobog, sometimes known as Dazbog, following his defeat to his arch enemy (Chernobog).

Hors is often depicted as the winter sun. In addition to symbolizing the importance of the sun throughout the year, Belobog and Hors also represent the seasonal cycle.

We can to some degree deduce from the importance that is attached to Hors that early Slav communities might have also cultivated winter crops.

Belobog’s arch enemy or the sum collective of all evil to the early Slavs is Chernobog or the accursed and where he resides crops and life wither.

The light or the solar entity illuminates the path to longevity and prosperity while darkness or the night denies academic knowledge and spiritual liberation.

This interpretation of good and evil is dominant in many agrarian communities or societies because of the importance that is attached to the sun. Without the sun crops would fail and famine would sweep through the land. It is a simple concept that has far reaching implications.

That however does not mean that the Dark Gods were not worshiped. Among certain Slavic tribes the Dark Gods and their emissaries were worshiped just as ardently or as fervently as the Sun God and to these tribes they were the principle source of alternate magic or black magic.

From the above, it is clearly evident that the early Slavs placed a huge emphasis on farming and like most agrarian cultures or communities were reliant on the sun.

A century or two after the birth of Christ, Slavic communities incorporated a new element in many of their settlements and that was the appointment of a warlord or voivode, who was elected during times of war.

Leadership of the respective settlements changed hands during these precarious times and power was placed in the hands of a war leader selected by the people.

Thus we can surmise to some degree that the early Slavs were an agrarian community who had to militarize or mobilize, despite their agrarian nature, at the turn of the last century possibly because they were under threat from repeated invasions or marauders.

One of the most interesting or intriguing facets or aspects of Slavic myths are Rusalkas or the returning spirits of women who die prematurely. In short, Rusalkas are the returning spirits of women who have died under suspicious, unnatural or mysterious circumstance like murders, suicides and accidents.

This part of the myth is not unusual and it is prevalent in many other cultures, especially if the dead women were maidens, but what is unique to Slavic tradition is that Rusalkas return to haunt waterways. Now, if we were to use Max Heindel’s classification, Rusalkas would be classed or categorized as water spirits.

They appear in the form of lonely, desolate women and this aspect of the myth gives it a romantic twist or turn that moves or stirs the imagination.

There is nothing to suggest that Rusalkas are evil or malicious and they are normally depicted as enchanting young ladies. A lot however is dependent on the narrator.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward