‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett

“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done – then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.” 

‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, though belongs to children’s literature, is an interesting read even for adults. Mary Lennox, a sick looking girl, goes to Yorkshire after her uncle takes her custody due to the death of her parents in India. Having brought up without any motherly love and having got her way in everything from her childhood, Mary finds Yorkshire a new world. Her caretaker Martha, being a young girl herself, isn’t subservient to Mary and this is all new to Mary who has always got her own way. Mary learns about Yorkshire from Martha and also learns about the Secret garden in her uncle’s manor. The door to that garden was locked ten years ago and the key has also been buried, whose whereabouts no one knows. Intrigued by this, Mary tries to find the secret garden. The book progresses to show whether Mary finds the secret garden and what she finds in there and what effect it has on her. 

Colin, who is also of the same age as Mary, is introduced as a sick and bed ridden boy. As the story progresses, we can also see that he imagines an illness which he doesn’t have and expects to die soon. In simple words, Colin suffers from hypochondria. So, what happens when Mary and Colin meet? What changes do they bring to each other? How will Mary assure Colin that he won’t die? All these are answered as the plot unfolds.

One character that everyone has to look out for in the novel is Dickon. Just as how he is loved by everyone in the novel, he is loved by every reader. Who doesn’t love a person who is friends with every animal, bird and plant. Being elder to Mary and Colin by two years, Dickon acts as a good friend and as an agent of positive influence on them. 

This novel is a healing novel. It has the best lines which teaches the reader on how living with nature heals the soul and makes one to grow positive and healthy. When we see things budding and thriving to come out of the earth, it makes us believe we can grow too. 

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”

Another lesson we learn from the book is about magic. Now, you don’t need to relate magic to flying castles and extraordinary power. Magic is found in everything even within us. That which makes things come true is magic. That which fills us with goodness and makes us move forward is magic. Magic is in everything.

“Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.”

The novel is an amazing read except for the racism and stereotypes it contains against India. Thus, ‘The Secret Garden’ is a book you would love to read and recommend. 

Pasupathi Seal: An Indus Valley Exotica

Synopsis

The paper gives an all-inclusive review of the venerated Pashupati Seal recovered from Mohenjodaro, one of the cardinal sites of the Indus Valley civilization. Regardless of its size, the seal is a centre of extensive scholarly attraction. A plethora of scholars study the seal and attempt to identify the central figure in the seal surrounded by animals. While scholars like John Marshall identify the central figure as tricelaphic and ithyphallic and relates it with Rudra-Shiva, others give Dravidian, Vedic and Post-Vedic interpretations of the seal. The pictograph present above the seal commands equal attention but remains an enigma as the boustrophedon Indus script is undeciphered to date and so is the conundrum associated with the same. 

Introduction

The Pashupati seal, being an exotica recovered from the southern region of the DK-G area of Mohenjodaro, 3.9 metres below the surface; arouses varied interpretations from a school of scholars, historians, Indologists and scientists. In his 1937-’38 report, Ernest Mackay dated the seal to fall within 2,350-2,000 BCE and numbered the seal as 420. The 3.56cm x 3.53cm seal is devised out of steatite and has a thickness of 0.76cm. 

The central figure is found seated on a platform looking straight with legs bent at the knees. The heels of the figure touch each other and the toes point downwards. The arms are extended to reach the bent knees but don’t touch them- they rest lightly upon the knees and the thumbs face away from the body. The hands are embellished by three small bangles and eight large bangles. There are double band wraps around the waist with necklaces covering the chest. The figure has elaborate head-dresses that appears to be a fan-like crown with two huge striated horns similar to that of a bull.  The central figure is surrounded by four animals- a water rhinoceros, a tiger, a bull and an elephant. Below the figure, one may notice two ibexes facing backwards with their horns meeting each other. Above the central figure is seven boustrophedon pictographs that are undeciphered to date. 

John Marshall identifies the central figure to be one of the earliest representations of Hindu god Shiva in his 1928-29 publication. However, his claims are criticized by a school of scholars but identifying the seal with proto-Shiva or Rudra Shiva, his Vedic predecessor; seems to be the most accepted claim. With the Indus script that remains undeciphered to date, the pictograph above the figure remains an enigma. Following Marshall’s claims, many scholars conducted independent researches that came out with a series of conclusions: while Doris Srinivasan claims the figure to be a divine bovine man, Alf Hiltebeitel claims it to be the depiction of puranic Mahisasura. SR Rao claims it to be a depiction of Vedic God Agni while SP Singh identifies the figure to be Rudra, the Vedic predecessor of  Lord Shiva

Notwithstanding the scholarly tussle over the seated figure, the seal is an element of archaeological marvel. The seal along with all the artefacts recovered from the sites of Pakistan was claimed during the partition melee. However, the Government of India refused and finally, an agreement was made to hand over around 8,000 Indus Valley articles out of a total of 16,000. While the Priest-King was claimed (and successfully received) by Pakistan, the Dancing Girl and Pasupathi Seal were retained by India. 

Pashupati seal - Wikipedia
The Pashupati Seal

Seal 420 as Proto-Shiva

In his 1928-29 publication, John Marshall identified the central figure to be Lord Shiva. Firstly, he claims that the seated figure represents the lord of all beasts or Pashupati. It is worth noting that Pashupati is one of the epithets of Lord Shiva. Secondly, he claims that the figure is tricelaphic and Lord Shiva is sometimes depicted with three or five heads. Some scholars claim that the fourth or the fourth and the fifth head remains unseen in a 2-D interface. However, Lord Shiva is also depicted as having four or five heads. Thirdly, he identifies the elaborate headdresses to be congruent with the trident and the two large horns to be the horns of a bull. Both the trident and the bull symbolises Lord Shiva as the trident is his weapon and the Bull is his mount. Fourthly, he claims that since the central figure is sitting in a typical yogic posture, he could be identified with Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is also known as Adiyogi or Mahayogi who is considered the originator of Yoga. 

In his 1931 publication, he added that the Pashupati seal is ithyphallic and he claimed that certain stones and seals recovered from the Indus Valley hints at sex worship or phallic worship. Since linga is undoubtedly linked with Lord Shiva, he claims the central figure in the Pashupati seal to be the Indus depiction of proto-Shiva. However, late scholars have pointed out that that the stones that are claimed to be sex symbols by Marshall may be game stones or gamesmen. One of the notable scholars with the same viewpoint is Ernest Mackay who claimed that:

“... Various small cones made of lapis lazuli, jasper, chalcedony, and other stones, most beautifully cut and finished, and less than two inches in height, are also thought to be lingas … on the other hand, it is just as possible that they were used in the board-games …” 

-Early Indus Civilisation, 1948.

Divine Bull-Man?

On other hand, Doris Srinivasan came with an alternate approach and claimed that the central figure is a divine buffalo man. She identified the figure to be having a single head and claimed that what Marshall claimed to be two extra faces are ears of the buffalo man. She backed her findings with various articles recovered from other Harappan sites that hint at the association of buffalo or attributes of buffaloes with divinity. 

She attempted to relate the central figure of seal 420 with the terracotta bull recovered from Kalibangan, horned mask unearthed from Mohenjodaro and a horned deity represented in a water pitcher recovered from Kot Diji. With reference to these parallels, she interprets Marshall’s proto-Shiva as a divine buffalo man. 

Nonetheless, the significance of the animals surrounding the bull-man is a mystery. She claims that these animals may represent divine powers and reinforces the strength of the bull-man. However, the description seems to be dissatisfactory. 

Rudra- The Rigvedic Predecessor of Lord Shiva

Another notable interpretation of the Pasupathi seal comes from SP Singh who identifies the seated figure to be Rudra. Rudra is the Vedic predecessor of Lord Shiva nonetheless, the Rig Veda has only three hymns attributed to him. However, Rig Veda’s verse 2.33.11 depicts Rudra as fearsome as a formidable wild beast. It is also to be noted that verse 7.46.3 mentions that Rudra is armed with a bow and fast-flying arrows. There is no mention of the trident as well as a bull which’s depicted as the mount of Lord Shiva in later Puranas and epics. The Rig Veda depicts Rudra as the lord of the hunt who’s known for his ferociousness and wrath and the depiction doesn’t fit a tranquil Pasupathi. But verse 10.92 of the Rig Veda mentions that Rudra has dual natures- wrathful and tranquil. The tranquil nature of Rudra can be viewed as Shiva, Yogi or Pasupati

However, even if the Rig Veda doesn’t conform to the trident and the bull as the symbols of Rudra, it is so in the later texts. Erwin Neumayer and VS Wakankar identified some of the Bhimbetka paintings carbon-dated pre-10,000BCE to be associated with Natraja, the dancing depiction of Lord Shiva. 

Moreover, SP Singh claims that the animals surrounding Rudra– the tiger, bull, elephant and the rhinoceros are Maruts or Rudras. Verse 2.33 of Rig Veda states that Rudra is the father of Maruts and the 64th verse of the first book of the Rigveda compares the Maruts to lion, deer, bull, elephant and a serpent. This can be the basis of SP Singh’s observation. It’s believed that Maruts are storm Gods who are the children of Rudra and an androgynous cow, Prisni. Verse 8.96.8 of Rigveda numbers Maruts from twenty-seven to sixty. However, later Puranas mention that Maruts are born from the battered womb of Diti, the mother of all demons. Puranas suggest that Indra used his thunderbolt over Diti’s womb so as to prevent the birth of a demon who could rival Indra. The Puranas also suggests that Indra befriended the Maruts at a later stage and came to be known as Marutvant. He was accompanied by the Maruts while defeating the serpent king Vritra or Vedic Ahi who is represented as a dragon blocking the flow of rivers and thus, inviting drought. The hymn eighteen of the fourth book of Rigveda illustrates the series of events pertaining to the heroic battle between Indra and Vritra

Harappan Navaratri?

One of the most interesting Vedic interpretation of the Pasupathi seal is given by Alf Hiltebeitel. He claims that the central figure seated is Mahishasura. The festival of Navaratri eulogises the epic battle between Mahishasura, a very powerful buffalo demon and goddess Durga, an incarnation of Devi Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. He claims that the animals depicted are the mounts of different Gods- like Bull (Nandi) is the mount of Lord Shiva, Tiger (or Lion) is the mont of Goddess Durga and Elephant (Airavata) is the mount of Indra

Conclusion 

Notwithstanding these interpretations sprawling from Marshall’s proto-Shiva to Alf’s Mahishasura, there are many other interpretations by various celebrated scholars. No other Indus Valley artefact might have been the base of such intense scholarly attention. 

Out of the available interpretations, Herbert Sullivan of Duke University claimed that the seated figure is a woman. She claimed that what Marshall claimed to be the phallus is, ipso facto, a tassel. Asko Parpola studied the Pashupati seal and claimed that the seal is an imitation of the proto-Elamite method of seating bulls. Some claims that the seated figure is an aquatic deity while others claim the seated figure to be Varuna (Water God), Agni (Fire God) and even Indra (Rain God). Some scholars also draw parallels from the Gundestrep Cauldron while others identify the central figure to be the Sage Rishyasringa of Ramayana Epic. However, there are some group of scholars who claim that the figure is not determinable. 

Amongst all interpretations, Marshall’s proto-Shiva is still celebrated and the seal 420 is still known by the name, Pashupati. Some scholars also claim that the seal invariably hints at the existence of Yoga at that time. It’s not only the central figure and the animals nearby that attracts scholarly attention but the pictograph is also considered on par. The mystery may be partially solved if the boustrophedon script of the Indus valley is deciphered and the pictograph, read. However, the seal remains a question mark to date. More and more interpretations of the seal 420 are coming from various research scholars and universities with the due course of time and remain one among the Indus Valley exotica. 

References

  1. Hiltebeitel, Alf (2011). “The Indus Valley “Proto-Śiva”, Reexamined through Reflections on the Goddess, the Buffalo, and the Symbolism of vāhanas”. In Adluri, Vishwa; Bagchee, Joydeep (eds.). When the Goddess was a Woman: Mahabharata Ethnographies – Essays by Alf Hiltebeitel. 
  2. Mackay, Ernest John Henry (1928–29). “Excavations at Mohenjodaro”. Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India: 67–75.
  3. Mackay, Earnest John Henry (1937–38). Further excavations at Mohenjodaro: being an official account of archaeological excavations at Mohenjo-Daro carried out by the Government of India between the years 1927 and 1931. Delhi: Government of India.
  4. McEvilley, Thomas (1981). “An Archaeology of Yoga”. RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics. 1 (1): 44–77.
  5. Marshall, John (1931). Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization: Being an Official Account of Archaeological Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro Carried Out by the Government of India Between the Years 1922 and 1927. Asian Educational Services. 
  6. Possehl, Gregory L. (2002). The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective. Rowman Altamira. 
  7. Samuel, Geoffrey (2017) [2008]. The Origins of Yoga and Tantra. Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century. Cambridge University Press. 
  8. Srinivasan, Doris (1975–76). “The So-Called Proto-śiva Seal from Mohenjo-Daro: An Iconological Assessment”. Archives of Asian Art. 29: 47–58. 
  9. Srinivasan, Doris Meth (1997). Many Heads, Arms and Eyes: Origin, Meaning and Form in Multiplicity in Indian Art. 
  10. Sullivan, Herbert P. (1964). “A Re-Examination of the Religion of the Indus Civilization”. History of Religions. 4 (1): 115–125. 
  11. Bryant, Edwin (2001). The quest for the origins of Vedic culture the Indo-Aryan migration debate. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  12. Basham, A.L. (1989). Zysk, Kenneth (ed.). The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism. New York City: Oxford University Press.
  13. Bhandarkar, Ramakrishna Gopal (1995) [1913]. Vaisnavism, Śaivism, and Minor Religious Systems (Third reprint ed.). Delhi: Asian Educational Services.
  14. Chakravarti, Mahadev (1994). The Concept of Rudra-Śiva Through The Ages. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 

The dichotomy of ‘good lie’ and ‘bad lie’

“….Was it the time I realised that adults were not
all they seemed to be,
They talked of love and preached of love,
But did not act so lovingly…."

As Markus Natten had beautifully pointed out in the above lines, adults find their place in the long rolls of hypocrites. They talk of love and preach of love, but these are only confined to words. One of the most cardinal preachings of the adults is on an essentially contested topic of ‘truth’. They always ask us to speak the truth and punish us for not doing so. However, does this really mean that adults are the epitome of righteousness and truth to an extent that they only speak the truth? Well, obviously, the most rational answer is ‘no’. All aren’t Mahatma Gandhi no? Then what backs the essence of truthfulness or righteousness imparted by the adults to the younger generation? How is it legitimized? 

Family is considered to be the lowest unit of social interaction. It’s the lowest social organization. If it is the miniature version of the society, the family will be, ipso facto, communitarian in spirit. As always, some liberal values are to be compromised in a communitarian atmosphere. Consequently, the size of the families started reducing and today, we can find people living alone preserving their sacrosanct individuality. The more the size of the family, the more communitarian it is and the more liberty, rights and independence are compromised. Family hence becomes a sphere of power- where power is feloniously exercised by the elders and the youngest ones and mostly women being mute recipients of the communitarian power thus exercised. All power relations are marked by hierarchy and family thus becomes a hierarchy of the elders over the younger ones and sometimes that of men over women.  The hierarchy of men over women in the family was challenged by the second wave feminists with a powerful slogan of ‘the personal is the political’. But what can the younger ones do? Simply being mute victims of the authoritarian, totalitarian and communitarian decision-making process with the least representation of themselves even on matters regarding their life, liberty and property. 

Coming back to the notion of truth and lie, the adult’s lie is often legitimized as a ‘good lie’. A ‘good lie’ is something that can be told, preached and are legally plausible. As opposed to this concept is the ‘bad lie’ that cannot be told, cannot be preached and invites punishment. But what makes a lie a ‘good lie’ or a ‘bad lie’? As far as I’ve observed, there can be two ways to determine what’s a ‘good lie’ and what’s a ‘bad lie’. Firstly, the lie told by the adults comes under the banner of a ‘good lie’ whereas the same lie told by the younger ones become a ‘bad lie’. What is to be noted in this case is age is the criteria that determine the nature of your lie.  Secondly, the lie which the children are made to say on behalf of the adults also comes under the category of a ‘good lie’. However, if the same lie is told by the child without the directions of the ‘high command’, then it is criticized to be a ‘bad lie’. 

Another interesting concept about this distinction is that the concept is not equally applicable to all situations. What all constitute a ‘good lie’ and what constitutes a ‘bad lie’ are determined from time to time by the adults. Also, a ‘good lie’ in my case needn’t be a ‘good lie’ in your case. Forget it. It’s you and me. A ‘good lie’ in my case today may not be a ‘good lie’ tomorrow and a ‘good lie’ in my case may not be so in my brother’s case. What is to be extrapolated from the situation is that the concept of ‘good lie’ and ‘bad lie’ are flexible- flexible to the overpowering whims and fancies of the adults and obviously, to the disadvantage of the children. 
In toto, what makes a lie qualified to be a ‘good lie’ simply depends upon the person who says it or the person by whose supervision it is said. This concept changes from time to time and place to place and even from person to person and families to families. This is quite natural, owing to the communitarian structure of the family. In the modern era, for social institutions like families to survive, it is necessary to democratize the structure. Internal decision-making processes shall be democratized and sacrosanct rights are to be protected with reasonable justifications. Also, any encroachment in the realm of such rights shall not be tolerated and the burden of justification shall be placed upon the adults. May the liberal ideas liberally sprinkle upon the social institution of the family.

Types of Photography

While the pandemic has confined us to our homes, we would want to try out new hobbies during our free time. Photography can be one of them. As a beginner in photography, you may want to try different kinds of photography before deciding your favorite.

FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY:

This type of photography is known to all because of social media trends. This photography aims to capture the food in an appetizing way. Most of the time, it promotes a certain restaurant or a new dish and appears in cookbooks, magazines, advertisements and so on.

ARCHITECTURE PHOTOGRAPHY:

Architecture photography focuses on buildings both interior and exterior. Photographers try to emphasise the details of the building and the structure as a whole in an aesthetically pleasing way. When the shoot is exterior, the photographer should pay more attention to lighting and exposure.

PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY:

Product photography is a part of commercial photography. It aims to promote the product and emphasises its features. They are mostly shot in studios with careful lighting set up. The photos of the product should lure the customers to buy it. 

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY:

This type of photography has a toil on the photographer because one has to wait hours for  the animals and has to capture them at the perfect moment. This type also appears in magazines, books and encyclopedias. Even if we can’t go outdoors, we can try photographing animals around us or even our pets. 

FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY:

As everyone knows, fashion photography focuses on apparels and accessories. Fashion photography is divided into editorial fashion photography, catalog photography, high fashion photography and street photography. The first type follows a certain theme or story line and the models are expected to express the theme. High fashion photography is by which fashion companies publicise their products through models, actors and actresses and other influencers. Just as the name says, Catalog photography photographs products in a way to advertise them to the public. Street photography focuses on the style of common people and brings out their fashion sense.

MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY:

Macro photography captures the miniatures, the fine details and of everything that a normal human eye cannot observe. Photography of insects, bugs, flowers, dew drops come under this type. The subject is made to stand out by displaying every minute detail of it. As interesting as it sounds, the lens used for this type is quite costly too.  

AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY:

This photograph presents a bird view of the subject. Because it is shot from a height, drones are sometimes involved. 

LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY:

It is an outdoor photography focussing on nature, environment and lands. The photographs are picturesque and remind us of our travels. Nowadays, even photography of seas, oceans and water comes under landscape photography.     

The other types of photography which are not discussed are event photography, wedding photography, still life photography and so on. There are so many types of photography because there is so much to capture and not every photo can be classified under a select few categories. Hence, it is always fun to try photography as a hobby!

                                                                                                                                                                                  

How to get over someone

When we break up or decide to move on, it might sound easy but the person who goes through it exactly knows how painful it is.

One has to be patient in this process, and have to keep reminding yourself that it will get easier with time because things can be really painful. Whether you are trying to get over a long relationship, a short-lived fling, or a crush. One should always remember a few of the important thing:

  1. Grieving: One should let themselves all the emotions because if you repress them they can turn ugly.
  2. Structure or plan your day: Grieving should be a part of your day but it should not be the main part. If you keep yourself busy, you won’t be wallowing about it all the time.
  3. Self-care: Put yourself in focus understand your needs. Focus on your mental being and development. So do anything you like be it exercise, any hobby, etc. Just make yourself feel confident.
  4. Cuttoff communication: If that person is hindering your growth cut off every inch of communication you have with that person should be stopped immediately.