EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
I guess we have pretty well covered the term 'deity' at this point, and yes, that is yet another dictionary definition. However, as is often the case with words, they can often end up with varying interpretation in parlance with colloquial or contextual usage .
For example, one reference notes, "..all the gods have some animals and birds as their vahana or vehicle, and in the process of time these creatures have become a great object of Hindu veneration".("Sacred Hindu Symbols" Abhinav Publications , 2001). This reference goes on to note, "..another mythological animal DEITY is makara, the sea monster who is the vahana of the Vedic god Varuna". Another reference I came across passim, noted the makara as an elephant headed sea beast is considered to be a benevolent sea DEITY.
The three principal animal deities are described in another reference on Hindu mythology as Ganesha, Garuda, and Hanuman. While this would by implication seem to exclude the makara, it does seem that the term has rather wide latitude. In cases such as metaphysical, mythological and other philosophical and theosophical studies it would seem far less than 'cut and dry'.
One of the best references, in my opinion, for understanding matters of perception in the application of these kinds of mythical figures and decoration on many of these weapons is found in "Hindu Arms and Ritual" (Robert Elgood, 2004, p.130). Dr.Elgood notes, "...since the power of the gods is held to be infinitely greater than than that of man, it follows that their weapons are replete with the supernatural qualities of their owners.They are frequently captured or gifted, thereby transferring potency from one deity to another".
Further, "...lions are symbols of royalty and Vishnu, the Buddha and the ain saviours all sit on lion thrones (Simhasana) while the goddess Durga has a lion as her vehicle".
It would seem that in these views concerning deities that in some cases the lion is indeed representative of supremacy, and in varying circumstances that it may represent a 'vehicle' much as the makara. Since 'deities' are defined as supernatural beings, thought of as divine or sacred and that some are supreme while others are of different ranks...might this not suggest that the term deity could be perceived comprehensively to include these mythical creatures?
Obviously, though Sri Lanka may have different perceptions of these facets of Hindu mythology and the terminology used, these are my own views set forth here as I understand them. In other references I have seen, it is noted that in some faiths it is considered blasphemous to imagine or depict a deity as having a concrete form.
Perhaps this might account for the seemingly stylized interpretations of these mythical creatures and why those of us virtually in layman status find it so difficult to identify them, let alone agree on what to call them or how to term them.
These are the kinds of questions we hope to discover answers for, and to better understand these swords and their history. Since the term 'deity' has become deemed of importance at this point, then we should address it accordingly and return to the kasthane.
I will also point out that my 'industrious' venture here to allow unimpeded focus on the kasthane specifically I believe has been most useful, and that in many cases discourses of this volume often require reiteration....often readers don't read the previous post, let alone the considerable text of the thread. Case in point is Ibrahiims not mentioning his Wikipedia contribution which was 'buried' in previous text. Therefore in many cases it becomes necessary to reestablish material again, even if it seems repetitive for some readers.