Kumbha Mela and the Reestablishment of India's Truth and Power in the World ⁓ Part 5

Elephants pouring out Kumbhas onto Lakshmi, Tanjore Big temple, Wikipedia
Elephants pouring out Kumbhas onto Lakshmi, Tanjore Big temple, Wikipedia [See Author's Note at end of post]

In Parts OneTwoThree and Four I discussed the astrological, zodiacal and Vedic basis of the Kumbha Mela. In this fifth part of the series, I will discuss some of the many ways the Vedic Kumbha is celebrated in India, other than the Kumbha Mela itself. As already mentioned Kumbha means Water Jar (also pot, pitcher, ewer, vessel and urn) and is the Sanskrit name for the sign of Aquarius also known as the Water Bearer who in astrological lore pours out the cleansing waters of his Jar (Kumbha) onto humanity. According to Wikipedia, ‘[T]he kumbha symbolises the womb. It represents fertility, life, generative power of human beings and sustenance and is generally associated with devis [goddesses], particularly Ganga.’ In Hindu mythology, the first kumbha was created by Prajapati – the known as the lord of animals or lord of creation.

Radius and Vesica Piscis measuring out one-third (120 degrees) of the circle (by Lori Tompkins)
As I have already presented in this series and in my book Geometric Keys of Vedic Wisdom [2018], the Kumbha also symbolizes the sacred and eternal geometry of the vesica piscis ‒ the almond shape which is formed by the movement or arc of the radius of a circle through its own circumference. This shape (or form) drawn out by the radius within the form of the circle, measures out precisely one-third of the circle. Knowing that the radius is the creator of the vesica piscis and the circle, we can see that the ‘first potter’ Prajapati ‒ the Lord of Animals and maker of the first Kumbha ‒ is a symbol of the radius of the circle which measures out the 12 months of the Zodiac (a.k.a. the ‘Circle of Animals’). [See Part Two and Part Three] This geometric sense of the Kumbha has been forgotten for millennia and it is important for India and for those concerned with India’s ancient wisdom to understand that this eternal form, together with the circle, point and radius, establishes the triple knowledge (trayi vidya) and Eternal Law (Sanatana Dharma) of the Vedic Rishis which is the basis of much of the world’s religious symbolism and lore.

Surya Arghya 
The first Hindu ritual involving the Kumbha which I wish to discuss is Surya Arghya. This is the offering (arghya) of water to the Sun (surya) at sunrise, noon and sunset, which in terms of the Zodiac are cosmologically connected to the four cardinal points of Aries, Capricorn and Libra [Thea, The New Way, Vols. 1&2, p. 399, also shown in Thea’s series ‘Culture and Cosmos’]. The offering of water to the Sun is typically poured out of a water pot (preferably copper) but some use their own hands as the pot or vessel of water. This tradition, whether understood by practitioners or not, is connected to the sign of Kumbha and its iconic Water-Bearer. In Part Three I presented this image below of a man performing Surya Arghya at the Kumbha Mela next to an image of the Aquarian Water Bearer pouring out his Kumbha to demonstrate this connection.

Hindu Ritual of Surya Arghya (offering water to the Sun (Astrology Magazine) & the Water Bearer of Aquarius (Wikipedia)

The symbol of the Sun (Surya) is a circle with its center point , or circumpunct as some call it. This symbol and circle of the Sun is of course the basis of the 360° Zodiac and its geometries. As discussed in my book and in this series, the symbol of the pouring out or release of the rivers by the divine hero(es) in the Rig Veda is a symbol of the way the radius pours out the vesica piscis, which FLOWS through the Circle/Zodiac like a river or stream.

The ritual of pouring out water from a water pot to the Sun (Surya Arghya) is an enactment of this Vedic symbolism and eternal law. This geometry of the Zodiac is the basis of many mythologies, Eastern and Western alike, wherein holy water(s) or rivers are connected with higher wisdom and immortality, In St. John’s Revelation (21.6 and 22.1) this eternal geometry is portrayed as the fountain or spring of the ‘water of life’.

The Radius drawing or pouring out one Vesica Piscis (kumbha, river, stream or fountain) of the circlethe radius (a.k.a. the Man/Water Bearer) drawing or pouring out the Vesica Piscis (kumbha, river, stream or fountain) of the Circle/Zodiac (by Lori Tompkins)

Whereas the third image in this graphic (above) shows the radius (a.k.a. the Man/Water Bearer) drawing or pouring out one Vesica Piscis (kumbha, river, stream or fountain) of the circle, the fourth image shows the first seven vesica piscis (kumbhas or rivers) of the Zodiac as discussed in Part Three. The seventh vesica piscis or river/stream of the Zodiac arcs from 0° Libra to 0° Aquarius/Kumbha. In Rig Veda 1.191 the seven rivers of the Vedas are referred to as seven virgin sisters (and as peahens) who carry away poison like girls who ‘bear water in their jars’. [RTH Griffith]

Purna Kalasha 
Poornakumbham pillar relief,  Chaturmukha Brahma-lingam Temple,  Andhra Pradesh – Wikimedia Commons
Poornakumbham pillar relief,
Chaturmukha Brahma-lingam Temple,
Andhra Pradesh – Wikimedia Commons
Another name for the water pot, pitcher or kumbha (i.e. the vesica piscis) and for the sign of Aquarius in the Rig Veda is kalasha (also spelled kalash or kalaśa). [1] In the following verse, RTH Griffith translated kalasha as ‘the beaker’. The horse (steed) and bull (steer) in this verse are symbols of the radius of the circle of the Zodiac.
‘[Like a steed urged to battle….] The vigorous and far-seeing one [Agni-Soma], the Lord of heaven, flows, [roaring] to the beaker [kalasha], with his thousand streams. Coloured like gold he rests in seats where Mitra dwells [2], the Steer made beautiful by rivers and by sheep.’ RV 9.86.3, 11, tr. RTH Griffith [See Part Three for a visual portrayal of the geometric relationship between the horse and the ‘beaker’ or ‘jar’ of Aquarius/Kumbha.]
Purna Kalasha [alternately called Purna Kumbha] means full kumbha, vessel or pot. It is a widely prolific symbol in Indian iconography, art, architecture, rituals and celebrations.
‘Sometimes "Kalasha" [refers to] a pot filled with water and topped with a coronet of mango leaves and a coconut.... Sometimes the Kalasha is filled with coins, grain, gems, gold, or a combination of these items instead of water.… The Kalasha is used as a ceremonial object as well as a decorative motif in Indian art and architecture. The Kalasha motif was used in decorating bases and capitals of pillars from the 5th century.... 
‘The Purna-Kalasha is considered a symbol of abundance and "source of life" in the Vedas. Purna-Kumbha is preeminently a Vedic motif, known from the time of Rigveda. It is also called Soma-Kalasha, Chandra-Kalasha, Indra-Kumbha, Purnaghata, Purna-Virakamsya, Bhadra ghata, or Mangala ghata. It is referred to as "overflowing full vase" (purno-asya Kalasha) in the Vedas. 
‘The Kalasha is believed to contain amrita, the elixir of life [3], and thus is viewed as a symbol of abundance, wisdom, and immortality. The Kalasha is often seen in Hindu iconography as an attribute, in the hands of Hindu deities like the creator god Brahma, the destroyer god Shiva as a teacher, and the goddess of prosperity Lakshmi. 
‘The Purna-Kalasha is believed to be a symbol of auspiciousness embodying either Ganesha, remover of obstacles, or his mother Gauri, the goddess of household bounty or Lakshmi. The Purna-Kalasha is worshipped in all Hindu festivities related to marriage and childbirth, as a mother goddess or Devi…. 
‘Sometimes, a silver or brass face of the Goddess is attached over the coconut of the Purna-Kalasha. In this form, the Purna-Kalasha symbolizes the Goddess as the manifestation of mother earth with her water, minerals, and vegetation. This method of Kalash pooja (worship) has come in for Vishnu in household functions too. 
‘The Purna-Kalasha is also worshipped at Hindu ceremonies like Griha Pravesha (house warming), child naming, havan (fire-sacrifice), Vaastu dosha rectification, and daily worship…. 
‘A kalash is placed with due rituals on all important occasions. It is placed near the entrance as a sign of welcome. It is also used in a traditional manner while receiving holy personages.’ ‒‘Kalasha’, Wikipedia
Vishnu being showered by dual Kalashas (pillar  relief, Ramaswamy Temple, Kumbhakonam,  Tamil Nadu
Vishnu being showered by dual Kalashas (pillar
relief, Ramaswamy Temple, Kumbhakonam,
Tamil Nadu) as found in Trivedi's presentation.
In researching this article I came across a presentation by Kirti Trivedi called ‘Purna Kalasha - Rituals of the Pot of Abundance’. Trivedi describes Purna Kalasha as a ‘full or complete vessel … installed in the beginning of all major ceremonies: birth, naming, wedding, house-warming, and in daily worship. He presents many photographs displaying the various forms of Kalasha or Purna Kalasha worship including:
  • Purana Kalasha utilized to bless the beginning of construction activity.
  • Ceremonial processions wherein the participants carry water-filled Kalashas on their heads.
  • A tower of Kalashas used to sanctify a space.
  • Purna-Kalasha utilized in marriage ceremonies.
  • Kalasha or Purna Kalasha featured in Indian architecture, including at the base of temple Pillars and columns.
  • Kalasha or Purna Kalasha featured in Indian (and Indonesian) iconography including Garuda (Vishnu’s carrier/Eagle) carrying a Kalasha, and the goddess of abundance, Lakshmi being anointed by the descending waters of the Kalasha.
Trivedi also connected the Purna Kalasha to the vessel of the human body, the urn of human ashes, and the common tradition of filling a vase with water and flowers. Many images of the Purna Kalasha/Kumbha can be found on Pinterest.


Wide and Flat Kalash,  Abu Ambaji Temple, Gujarat,   Wikimedia Commons
Wide and Flat Kalash,
Abu Ambaji Temple, Gujarat,
Wikimedia Commons
Kalasha (Kalasam) as a central feature of Hindu temples
Included in Trivedi’s presentation of the multiple ways Hindus celebrate the Vedic Kalasha/Kumbha is the tradition of placing an inverted (i.e. poured out) Kalasha upon the pinnacle (shikhara or ‘mountain peak’) of Hindu Temples. The tower-like Gopurams of Hindu Temples, which function as massive gates, have multiple inverted Kalashas upon their peaks.
‘In every style of shikhara/vimana, the structure culminates with a "kalasha", or urn for offerings, or water-pot, at its peak.’ ‒ ‘Shikhara’, Wikipedia 
Gopuram with nine Kalashas,   Meenakshi Temple, Madurai
Gopuram with nine Kalashas,
Meenakshi Temple, Madurai 
‘Hindu temples typically have Kalasam at the top of temple towers. These Kalasams in the form of inverted pot, with pointed head facing the sky, is one of the prominent symbol of temples. Periodic renewal of temple is called Samprokshanam or Kumbhabishekam (held as a festival) centers around Kalasams [a.k.a. Kumbhas], when elaborate rituals are performed along with renewing the temple's physical structures…. Once in 12 years, the grains in the temple Kalasams are refilled and changed during the festival.’ ‒ ‘Kalasam’, Wikipedia



Paal Kudam (Milk Pot) Processions

Milk Pot procession during Panguni-Uthiram, G.Karthikeyan, The Hindu, 21 May 2012
Panguni-Uthiram, G.Karthikeyan, The Hindu, 21 May 2012

Another variation of the celebration of the Kumbha/Kalasha in India mentioned by Trivedi is the ceremonial processions of participants carrying water-filled Kalashas upon their heads. Often these pots are full of milk (Paal Kudam) instead of water. This tradition is enacted during certain Hindu festivals. In some cases, it is enacted in honor of a public figure. Two instances in which this tradition is practiced (which I learned about through two of my colleagues in India) include Thaipusam and Panguini Uthiram.
  • Thaipusam is ‘a festival celebrated by the Tamil and Malayali communities on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February)…. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel "spear" so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. It is commonly believed that Thaipusam marks Murugan's birthday.’ ‒ ‘Thaipusam’, Wikipedia]
  • Panguni Uthiram (Meena Uttara-phalguni in Sanskrit) ‘is believed that the wedding of Rama and Sita was celebrated on Panguni Uthiram. So divine marriages are celebrated on this day.’ [‘Significance of Panguni Uthiram’, Lalithasai, The Hindu, 21 May 2012]. ‘[Panguni Uthiram] is the Purnima or full moon of the month of Panguni 14 March - 13 April). This coincides with the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna/Chaitra.… In solar religious calendars, Phalguna begins with the Sun's entry into Pisces, and is the twelfth month of the solar year.’ [‘Panguni Uthiram’, Wikipedia]
Click HERE to see many images which show many instances of the milk pot procession (paal kudam). Included in these images is 10,000-person Paal Kudam procession enacted as a collective ‘get-well’ prayer for Jayaram Jayalalithaa the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu before she passed in 2016.

Dahi Handi (Utlotsavam)
Govindas forming a human pyramid  to reach the Dahi Handi, Wikipedia
Govindas forming a human pyramid
to reach the Dahi Handi, Wikipedia
Another tradition involving a kumbha or kalasha is Dahi Handi, enacted during the Hindu festival Gokulashtami (also called Krishna Janmashtami) celebrating the birth of Krishna, Vishnu’s 8th Avatar.
‘Dahi Handi is celebrated every August/September, the day after Krishna Janmashtami. It involves communities hanging an earthen pot [handi] filled with dahi (yogurt) or other milk-based delicacy, at a convenient or difficult to reach height. Young men and boys form teams, make a human pyramid and attempt to reach or break the pot.… The event is based on the legend of the Krishna stealing butter and other milk products as a baby … the community hiding the products by hanging them high out of his reach, but he finding creative ways to reach what he wanted.’ – ‘Dahi Handi’, Wikipedia
Krishna’s pot of butter in this mythology and ritual celebration is equivalent to Vishnu’s Kumbha of Amrita (the nectar of Immortality) which is discussed in Part Three and in ‘Recovering the Ancient Light and Amrita of the Vedas’ – Part One and Two.

Shiva Abhishekam
Shiva Lingam (with hanging vessel/pot) in the Bull Temple in Bangalore, Wikimedia Commons.
Shiva Lingam in the Bull Temple in
Bangalore, Wikimedia Commons.
Abhishekam refers to the anointing of an object with water or other liquids (such as milk, honey or oils). Shiva Abhishekam refers to the ritual or practice of pouring water (or other liquids) out of a pot onto the Shiva Linga in order to gain spiritual purification.
‘[The] Majority of Shivling [Shiva Linga] worshipped in temples and sacred places have pots hanging on top of the Shivling. A hole is made in the pot and water drips continuously on the Shivling.‘ ‒ Abhilash Rajendran , ‘Symbolism in the water pot above Shivling’, Hindu Blog, Friday, 24 April 2015 
‘Shiva Abhishekam is usually performed to a Lingam representing his manifestation as a creator of good (by destroying evil). In many temples, there is a vessel hung over the Lingam called thaara paathra, that continuously drips water or other offerings onto the Lingam in deference to Shiva's desire for Abhisheka.’ ‒ ‘Shiva Puja’, Wikipedia
In Geometric Keys of Vedic Wisdom I discussed the Shiva Linga as a symbol of the radius of the circle, and the yoni-shaped base it sits on as a symbol of the vesica piscis. I believe this ritual or tradition of pouring water (or other liquids) from a pot onto the Shiva Lingam is another symbol of this same eternal geometric form (and eternal law) which the Vedic Rishis lauded as immortal, strengthening, purifying and as a treasure won via the Victory over the forces of Falsehood in the world.

***

If I come across more Hindu rituals, traditions and festivals which feature the Vedic Kumbha or Kalasha, I will happily add them to this post. What I have presented above should give readers a good sense of how central and sacred the Vedic Kumbha is in India and in Hinduism. Seeing and appreciating the geometric (mathematical) and zodiacal sense of this much-celebrated Vedic symbol is an important step in the ongoing process of uplifting the Eternal Law or Truth (Sanatana Dharma) of India’s ancient Vedic gnosis in the world. The uplifting of the Sanatana Dharma contained in the veiled symbols and language of the Vedas was a central piece of the yogic adesh or mission of Sri Aurobindo. [4] In India’s Rebirth, Sri Aurobindo wrote:
'I believe [the] Veda to be the foundation of the Sanatan Dharma; I believe it to be the concealed divinity within Hinduism, — but a veil has to be drawn aside, a curtain has to be lifted. I believe it to be knowable and discoverable. I believe the future of India and the world to depend on its discovery and on its application, not to the renunciation of life, but to life in the world and among men…. 
‘Religious movements and revolutions have come and gone or left their mark but after all and through all the Veda remains to us our Rock of the Ages, our eternal foundation…. Yet for some two thousand years at least no Indian has really understood the Vedas.' - Sri Aurobindo, India’s Rebirth, pp. 256-57, 265-66
Through Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, and through the yoga of Mother and Thea, great strides have been made towards lifting this veil or curtain by which the Vedas have been misunderstood in India and throughout the rest of the world for multiple millennia. The wholistic spiritual truth and the zodiacal context underlying the Vedic symbols was recovered through their efforts. What I have brought forward in my book, in this series, and elsewhere about the vesica piscis as a geometric key of Vedic wisdom and as key of a wide array of Hindu lore and symbol, is entirely based upon, and built upon, what these three maha yogis recovered and brought forward through their collective supramental yoga spanning 144 years (1872-2016). I hope many in India and those concerned with India’s ancient wisdom, begin to utilize the recovery of the geometric and zodiacal sense of the Vedic Kumbha/Kalasha (together with its sacred waters, nectar, milk, etc.) in the necessary process of self-purification, cleansing and healing from the thousands of years of misunderstanding of Vedic symbols which Sri Aurobindo discussed and exposed in his writings. That is exactly what this occult sacred vessel or secret treasure of the Vedic Rishis was intended and prophesied to do once its true sense was recovered and released from the darkness in which it was hidden.

In the last post of this series, I will discuss the etymology of kumbha as well as the possibility that the name of one of the most revered sacred mountains in Asia, Mt. Kailasha, is a cognate of kalasha.

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Endnotes:
[1] Another name of kumbha and kalasha in the Rig Veda is koza, translated in the Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon as ‘a cask , vessel for holding liquids, (metaphorically) cloud’ and as ‘a pail’ , ‘bucket’, ‘drinking-vessel’ and ‘cup’. In his translation of RV 9.86.3, RTH Griffith translated koza as ‘reservoir’:  ‘Like a steed urged to battle, [Agni-Soma] finder of the light; speed onward to the cloud-born reservoir [kosa] of heaven’.
[2] Thea has associated the Vedic God Mitra, whose name means Friend, with Aquarius, also known as ‘the Friend’ of the Zodiac. She saw Mitra as equivalent to the 8th planet of Neptune, sitting at the 8 Point of the Gnostic Circle (20° Aquarius).
[3] This symbol is equivalent to Vishnu’s Kumbha of Amrita and the cherished Soma juice or wine of the Vedas.
[4] An excerpt from Sri Aurobindo’s 1909 Uttarpara speech after being released from Alipore Jail in May of 1909:
‘Then in the seclusion of the jail, of the solitary cell I asked for it again. I said, “Give me Thy Adesh. I do not know what work to do or how to do it. Give me a message.” In the communion of Yoga two messages came. 
‘The first message said, “I have given you a work and it is to help to uplift this nation. Before long the time will come when you will have to go out of jail; for it is not my will that this time either you should be convicted or that you should pass the time, as others have to do, in suffering for their country. I have called you to work, and that is the Adesh for which you have asked. I give you the Adesh to go forth and do my work.” 
‘The second message came and it said, “Something has been shown to you in this year of seclusion, something about which you had your doubts and it is the truth of the Hindu religion. It is this religion that I am raising up before the world, it is this that I have perfected and developed through the Rishis, saints and Avatars, and now it is going forth to do my work among the nations. I am raising up this nation to send forth my word. This is the Sanatan Dharma, this is the eternal religion which you did not really know before, but which I have now revealed to you. 
‘The agnostic and the sceptic in you have been answered, for I have given you proofs within and without you, physical and subjective, which have satisfied you. When you go forth, speak to your nation always this word, that it is for the Sanatan Dharma that they arise, it is for the world and not for themselves that they arise. I am giving them freedom for the service of the world. When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall be great. 
When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists. To magnify the religion means to magnify the country.’

Author's Note: I replaced the opening image of this post on 14 May 2019. The previous image (shown below with original caption) was an sculptural relief of elephants pouring out their kumbhas onto female figure which Wikipedia identified as Lakshmi. I was told by someone on Geometric Keys of Wisdom's Facebook page that Wikipedia's attribution of this relief to Lakshmi is an error. He  [Dinesh Gajera] wrote: 'This picture is of Budhdha's Mother Lumini.... [T]heses sculptures are made by Samrat Asoka in remembrance of Budhdha....This sculptures found at destroyed Baudh Stupas [a]nd there's no concept of Laxmi (Vishnu's wife) in Budhdhism. Rather Archeological Department not found any Vishnu's Sculpture Older than that of Budhdha.' The fact is that there are hundreds of instances of Hindu iconography wherein Lakshmi is the recipient of the waters of the dual elephants' kumbhas. From what I understand Buddhist iconography borrowed heavily from Vedic/Hindu symbols, while dismissing the core principles of Vedic Gnosis. I leave the debate about whether Hindu iconography borrowed from Buddhist iconography or the other way around, to others. My point in introducing the image was to help readers see that the iconography of the pouring out of the water jars (kumbhas/kalashas) traces back to the purification of the waters of the Vedic Kumbha, a veiled symbol of the divine measure (i.e. Divine Maya) of the vesica piscis. Interestingly enough, the name of the mother of the Buddha is typically understood to be Maya.

Elephants pouring out Kumbhas onto Lakshmi, Bhaja Caves, Lonavala, India,
photograph by Anandajoti Bhikkhu (image cropped here), Wikimedia Commons.

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