'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Snake God - And A Name

I wrote here sometime ago about some unusual divinities (especially bestial ones) that enrich the folk pantheon of Gujarat. This post is a short addition; and a bit more.

At almost every third or fourth roadside joint in Ahmedabad, one sees among the icons, pictures of a formidable hooded cobra. A bit of research took me to wikipedia:

Gogaji ... is a folk deity of Rajasthan state in India. He was an eminent warrior-hero of the region. Hindus and Muslims alike honor him. He is also venerated as a saint and even as 'snake-god'. He is known as Goga among the Hindus and Jahar Peer among the Muslims. .... Gogaji is popular as a snake-god ... In Gujarat, an annual procession is taken out in honour of the great warrior.

A grand fair is held at Gogamedi, which is 359 km from Jaipur,... The inscription in Persian at the main entrance describes Mahmud of Ghazni's regard for Gogaji(it does not get any more Hindu-Muslim-Bhai-Bhai than that!)

Gugga Pir (Zehar Pir) The great Indian Hindu was a Rajput warrior-king. He was reputed to have the power to miraculously cure those suffering from snake bites. He was also referred to as king of snakes and initiated by a Muslim Pir, and is worshipped in North India and Pakistan... Probably there was some relationship between Jhule Lal the great Pir of Sindh and Gugga Pir.

(Elsewhere Goga is said to have been Gorakhnath's disciple. Among people (nick)named after the hero are Pakistani wrestler Goga Pehelwan and rugged Bollywood actor Goga Kapoor)

Here is a different serpentine piece, a very old bit of conversation featuring a certain 'Jack' and Self:

Jack: A relative of mine has just had a third son. And he is seriously searching for a name that rhymes with those of his elder sons. And finding it real difficult...

Self: What are the existing names?

Jack: Dileep and Pradeep. So...

Self: Guess he wants a name with an 'eep' ending... How about 'Sandeep'?

Jack: I suggested just that. But, Sandeep means the same as 'Pradeep'. And 'Dileep' means something else... Basically, he wants an 'eep' but with a different meaning to the two already in place.

Self: Hmm, heard a name 'Nirleep', or something of that sort.

Jack: Tough luck! I examined that as well. 'Nirleep' is a bit of misspelling. The correct word is 'Nirlep' but that has a slightly different ending sound. So...


Self: You seem to have done some serious research...

Jack: Yeah ... and know what, the only word I could find satisfying the specs is 'Sarisreep'... but then, that means 'Serpent', a terrible serpent at that!


Note: 'Maheep' (rhyming with English word 'deep') would have been a neat fit to the specs; but perhaps 'Mahip' (rhyming with 'slip')is the spelling that correctly reflects the pronunciation of the original Sanskrit word meaning 'king'. And it might well be the case that both 'ip' and 'eep' are allowed - one of the rare such cases. To give another example, 'Dilip' is a bit of inaccurate spelling; 'Dileep' is truer to the original.

I really dunno what name the then newborn received. But, I do know, however, about someone else who, having named his first-born 'Gireesh' ('lord of the mountain', could be Siva or Vishnu or even fellow-Mallu Ayyappa, depending on which mountain one chooses as reference), thought of naming his junior son 'Pureesh' ('lord of Puri', Krishna) and then was told by someone in the know that 'pureesham' in Sanskrit (which naturally goes to 'pureesh' in Hindi) meant ... 'shit'! The crux of the matter is that the final letters of 'Pureesh' and 'pureesh' are in fact different (though similar-sounding) consonants in Sanskrit/Hindi which are usually mapped onto the same 'sh' group in English.


Update (15th August 2009): For the corresponding Sanskrit word, 'Maheep' is a correcter English spelling than 'Mahip', as I have found out by asking a Sanskrit expert. That solves the naming problem.


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