Sunday, August 10, 2008

Aryan Éireann

My electronic pen-pal, the writer and journalist Tony Bailie, sent me this link about Irish-Indian connections from today's Sunday Tribune in Ireland. Perfect timing, as I just finished John Moriarty's autobiographical sequel, and Tony and I share an interest with that late Kerry shaman about where ancient East meets arcane West. Apropos, I refer you to Manchán Magan's webpage linked from this blog; his "Manchán's Travels" in India for TG4, the Irish-language channel, pursues themes touched on in today's entry. (I reviewed the travelogue on this blog and Amazon U.S.) In a future foray into scholarship psuedo- or probable, I hope to continue exploring such divergent paths winding between Mohenjo-Daro and Mullingar. I admire David Kenny's own compositional admissions excerpted below, as its first paragraph can serve for my own crí de coeur-- or plume.

Regular readers will know that, rather than just slop out random facts about Ireland we like to connect our trivia. (Or at least appear to.) We take something in the news, possibly have a mini-rant about it, wander about, and finish up back at the start.

Kenny goes on to plug Jaipur's in Dalkey as his favorite tandoori temple, and then segues into a protest about the sale of Nazi memorabilia at a Balbriggan open market. From there he delves into the roots of "our own version of Hitler's most infamous symbol". Forty thousand years ago, his ancestors and mine left their Hindi homeland. It took our forebears a while to wind up in Hibernia.

Indo-Europeans from Iran to the Ould Sod, used to call themselves Aryan or "noble". See the connection? Aryan, Éireann/Erin/Éire and Iran are all versions of the same name and so too might be Iraq.

The Irish for noble is "aire".

Kenny's article's a bit sniggering in that sloppy Sunday supplement deprecation that journalists other than Tony take on for their presumably semi-literate audiences, as if we Mass-milchers hungover in our bed-sits would flinch from the burst of illuminating erudition. My hometown paper first diminished the Opinion and Book Review sections from separate sections into a combined one. Two weeks ago, they shoehorned a reduced number of columns and reviews into the Arts & Music pages. (Viz. my new blog a-borning: "Not the L.A. Times Book Review.") Of course, they expanded room in the Calendar (stage/screen/glitz/bimbo) for Choire Sicha's dumbfoundingly banal and utterly Hollywoodish "The Sunday Conversation" with B-list up-and-coming actors. The LAT used to feature on Thursdays "My Favorite Weekend" with like-minded actresses-models-whatevers musing about where they'd brunch, brood, buy, and boast.

Anyway, Irish papers still at least nod to intellectuals, if often to mock them. Perhaps eggheads thrive better in cooler climes? I think of Flann O'Brien's Dalkey. What'd he make of Jaipur's there? Surely he'd have a briskly satirical, yet tellingly recondite, eight hundred words typed up for "An Cruiscín Lán" before a liquid lunch at McDaid's? With Myles na gCopaleen's líofa go leor, he'd beat us all to smidirín. Kenny reveals for such a trivial reader of Flann, Myles, or me a clutch of intriguing Hindi-Gaeilge cognates.

Krishna is the Supreme Lord in Hinduism and gave Irish the word for heart or essence – "croí". The Irish for soul is "anam" which comes from the Hindi word "atman".

The religious link doesn't end there. The Indian tribe, the Druhyu, are said to have given their name to the Gaelic "draoithe" or "druids". Another tribe, the Anus (stop sniggering) gave their name to the Celtic goddess Anu/Danu/Dana who gave her name to the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Then, he notes how Peig Sayers' dispiriting autobiography, dreaded by generations of Irish-language recruits in classrooms much as "Silas Marner" must have been by earlier schoolkids than me as a staple of their adolescence, could have been spiced up if we'd thought of Kerry's lamenting matron as instead a sultry Bollywood dervish.

A lot of what she said was actually through Hindi, in a manner of speaking. Many Irish and Hindi words share the same Indo European roots. Here are a few (Irish/Hindi):

Ainm/nam (name); bard/bhat (bard); barr/bara (top, great); bodhar/bahar (deaf); cad/kya? (what?); cá háit/kidhar (where?); cruaidh/kara (hard); dána/dhani (bold, enterprising); deachar/dushkar (difficult); domhan/duniaya (world); fás/fasal (to grow/crop); mainistir/ mandir (temple); marbh/mar jana, marna (dead); meon/man (mind); paróiste/parosi (parish/neighbour); poll/pola (hole/hollow); uain/un (lamb/wool).

And some numbers: Aon/ek (one); dó/do (two); trí/tin (three); ceathar/char (four); sé/chhe (six); seacht/sat (seven); ocht/ath (eight); naoi/nau (nine); deich/das (ten).

Kenny now leads us to another Irish-Indian intersection. I wonder what's the relevance of the vagina dentata. I admit my ignorance of sub-equatorial, submissive, or sub-continental iconography.
So far we've had Irish people importing the dark side of German culture, Indian people importing the positive side of Indian culture. How about a German who's
importing positive Indian culture to Ireland?

Victor Langheld, latterly of Dresden, is an ex-Tibetan monk, patron of the arts and all-round-nice chap. He also owns Europe's most unusual theme park – Victoria's Way near Roundwood in Wicklow.

After entering through a granite vagina with teeth (ouch) visitors can feast their eyes on the sight of 20 sculptures which include a giant forefinger, a drowning ferryman in a pond and a nine-foot-tall 'Mr Cool, The Nirvana Man'.

The stars of the show are nine giant statues of Hindu elephant god Ganesh, which weigh up to five tons. They feature him dancing, reading, playing the flute and – be the hokey – knocking out a tune on the uileann pipes with a shamrock in his hat.

All the Ganesh sculptures – designed by Langheld – were made in Tamil Nadu, India and each took five craftsmen a year to make.

Victoria's Way is a pure delight and is well worth a visit.

"Wander-about" of my own, tethered:
I read only this morning on the treadmill an article from the New Yorker by David Samuels about California's medical marijuana industry. Samuels notes how the only dispensary in my native city that escaped a raid by the DEA turned out to have Ganesh in its window. Now, pot clinics citywide apparently display cavorting pachyderms and I suppose other colorful figurines to keep the Feds at bay. I always have liked the Indian elephant; near where I used to live as a boy, "Elephant Hill" gave its name to the local high school and boulevard as Ganesha. When I bought tea recently at a local Indian sweets-and-spices shop, I looked for a statue, but found none. Now, I feel I'd be branded as a dopehead if I bought one. The Celtic-Asian cultural connections can be as dizzying as they spin through Bob Quinn's "The Atlantean Irish" (reviewed by me on Amazon US and on this blog). Back to Kenny...

And now finally, a (very simplified) answer to what Hitler and a medieval Irish nun have in common.

Strangest connection between Hitler and an Irish nun

The swastika is the Indian symbol for good fortune and is associated with Ganesh. It's shared in many other cultures – including our own. You'll find two carved on an early Christian gravestone in Anglish, Co Kerry.

The priests of the previously mentioned Indian tribe, the Anus, were called the Bhrgu and were said to have introduced fire to India.

As these Anuses (seriously) moved west they became the Celtic/Irish Tuatha Dé Danann who worshipped Brigid (note Bhrgu/Brigid) – the goddess of fire. St Brigid of Kildare (451 – 525AD) was named after this goddess and their legends became interwoven over time.

St Brigid's crosses – like the ones you wove from rushes in primary school – are traditionally made on her feast day (1 February) which is also the druidic festival of Imbolc. Old crosses were burned in the hearth to protect the home from fire.

Look very closely at a St Brigid's cross the next time you see one. It's actually shaped like a swastika with its four angled arms.

With the Indian, Celtic and Bhrgu/Brigid fire connections many believe it is a swastika.

So that's the connection between evil old Hitler, who abused the symbol, and St Brigid.

"Swastika?" you say? "St Brigid's cross?"

Cross? She must be bloody furious at what's on sale in Balbriggan.

The brilliant was an invaluable resource for this article.

Yeats mused of the "Irish country people" in 1926: "had they not lived in Asia until the Battle of the Boyne?" (Introduction to "The Cat and the Moon" [133-34]; cited twice in John Rickard's 1997 essay "Studying a New Science: Yeats, Irishness, and the East." Robert Anton Wilson's "The Land Where Bulls Are Pregnant" misquotes Yeats slightly but spins out a mini-Moriarty with a dizzying display of how Ireland echoes our bard's oracle. (Thus encouraged, I myself drift off to , Bóinne= ?white cow, Ptolemy's Bovinda, and then blue Krishna cavorting with fair milkmaids.)

Over my metal desk at work, as one of my many magnets, this one bought at Standun's in Spiddal, perches Brighid's twisted cross. If I tilt it diagonally, it looks Hackencrantz; straighter, it looks Christian. Shukavak N. Dasa, a Hindu priest, affirms this as a positive symbol in "What Is the Meaning of the Swastika?" The Cros Bhríde as a true cross-breed watches over me near a holy card of a no-nonsense nurse, St. Dymphna, another early-medieval Irish venerable lady. Patron of those with anxiety, she founded a hospice in Belgium for those who now, in my geographical and mental state, might seek to get doctor's signed note for a soothing toke or a potent brownie. Which may well take them away to lands as fabled and faraway as the Hindu Kush.

Full article: "David Kenny's Erendipity". Speaking of plugs, why Kenny's raving about this "brilliant" site's rather baffling. Two women, one ex-pat German & French fluent, tá bean eile féin go líofach as Gaeilge, put up a tourist-friendly pitch to the richer part of the EU. (English is on the fishing-horse riding-golfing entry but the homepage only offers links in the other three tongues to the "house" or "houses," depending on the language.) The appeal comes from your hosts who claim accommodation from "fíor-cheilteacha na hÉireann/ famille celtiques authentiques de l’Irlande/ ursprünglichen keltischen" around the embattled Irish-speaking coast from Dún Chaocháin and Leithinis a' Mhuirthead. I'm all for supporting this region's "authentic Celts," who try to keep a community thriving in their native language-- while feeding German hikers and guiding French anglers. But as "an invaluable source" of Irish-India inspiration, Kenny's enthusiasm aside, it's rather sparse, only a Jim Fitzpatrick illustration of Sadv next to an Hindu one of Saraswati. I guess he gets perks from Jaipur's and the two ladies of Ceathrú Thaidhg. Léarscáil na Gaeltacht, i dTuascairt Mhaigheo (Map of the North Mayo Gaeltacht).

Oileann Piper Ganesh

When Hindu Lord Ganesh came to Ireland he decided to go native, as indeed, he had done when he went to China and Japan. He is accompanied by his servant, the rat, the latter playing the bodran [sic] and enjoying a pint of Genius.

The sculpture is 6'4" high and weighs approx. 4 tonnes

Caption and photo from Ganesh's garden. Nota bene on Victor's (aka Victoria's!) Way Website
Please note: Victor's Way is a Spiritual Garden. It is specifically designed for individuals who are seeking spiritual renewal, who wish to touch again the well-spring of life, either by becoming at-one with the inner harmony of nature and its deep and healing essence, or through the medium of the magical sculptures found along the Way, or by re-attuning to the heart of the true self.

Victor’s Way is unsuitable for bored, hence mischievous teenagers.

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