Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Ganas: Hooligans of Heaven

The Ganas are the host of spooks, hobgoblins and spirits who accompany Shiva. Some are said to dwell with him on Mount Kailasa, whilst the more fearsome and terrifying Ganas are confined to the cremation grounds.

It is told that Uma once asked Lord Shiva why he liked to reside in cremation grounds, which were the abode of demons, jackals, corpses and vultures, when he had so many more beautiful places. Mahesvara replied that he had roamed the world, looking for a pure place to meditate in. Unable to find one, he, out of anger and frustration, he created the terrible pishachas, flesh-eating ghouls and terrible rakshasas, intent on killing people. Out of compassion however, he kept this terrible horde in the cremation ground. As he did not want to live without the bhutas and ganas, he chose to live in a cemetery. When the ghosts stayed with him, they caused no harm.

The presence of the terrible Ganas also acted as an honour guard to Shiva and a bar to the impure. Those who feared the awful ghosts and goblins were destined to remain outsiders. Only heroes could be near him in the cremation ground, heroes who had defied death and liberated themselves from passions and fear. These were the true devotees - those who had nothing to fear, who had mastered the onslaught of the multiple categories of threatening powers that were fatal to those who were less than heroes and could not control the frightening phantoms because they had not controlled themselves.

In one sense, the Ganas can be thought of as emanations of Shiva. They are described by Stella Kramrisch in her book The Presence of Shiva as "prognostications or caricatures of possibilities of the human condition." Whilst some of them were created by Shiva, others attained the status of Ganas after being defeated in battle by Shiva.

Ganas - Ganna Chakra

қαvї - கவி

1 comment:

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