DCIB Book Club: Siva Purana! It’s all SEX! Sex Sex Sex, and Violence!

3 weeks, but we finished it! At least, I finished it. And I hope some of you did. And if you didn’t, that’s okay too, we can just talk about your impressions of the parts you read.

Just to start us off, a couple of specific questions:

Which is the best sex scene, the first one with Sati when Siva doesn’t know what to do? Or the second one, when Siva and Uma don’t make it to the bed and end up on the floor for 4 days? Or the third one, when Siva and Uma turn into their powerful God figures and merge into one male-female being?

Image result for siva parvati sex

Which is the best vengeance scene, Siva after Sati dies, or Parvati after Siva cuts off Ganesha’s head?

Which son did you like better, clever Ganesha or strong Kartikkeyya?

Which semen story is better, Brahma dropping three drops on the earth while acting as priest at Siva and Sati’s wedding, or Siva’s magical burning semen that travels the world?

Which one off story fascinated you the most? Vishnu tricking the Asuras out of immortality by becoming a beautiful woman? The lion that ate itself? For me, it was the two sisters, where jealousy lead one to kill the other’s son.

Now more general philosophy:

How did you respond to the circular time of it all? I wasn’t even sure that was happening until there was a story about how Siva’s throat turned blue which took place after he was married, but then in all the stories of his courtship they mention his blue throat. It all happens at the same time and different times, and again and again and again.

What do you think of making the Gods like men, but more emotional? More inflamed by lust, more angry, and so on? More to your taste than a story which makes Gods less passionate than men, or less to your taste?

What do you think of these two endlessly warring groups? If I am understanding this correctly, there is nothing necessarily innately “worse” about the asuras, it is just that they are the enemies of the devas. Did you get that too?

And the biggest question: Why all the lotus metaphors????

Image result for red lotus
They lost me when angry eyes were described as “like red lotuses”. Why not just say “red”???

Oh, and the other big question, why were the beautiful woman always super super young, almost pubescent looking, while the men could be covered in ash and old and stuff and still drive women wild?

Final question: after reading all about lingas, can we safely say that the Washington Monument is an enormous linga and, if so, is that why there are so many sex scandals in DC?

Image result for washington monument

33 thoughts on “DCIB Book Club: Siva Purana! It’s all SEX! Sex Sex Sex, and Violence!

  1. Lotuses are revered in India as they grow in slimy ponds without getting dirty,indicating divinity.Thus lotus is a metaphor for anything concerning gods-red,pink,blue,white,black,hundred petal,thousand petal,golden lotus are all metaphors.It is speculated that lotus was adopted from Buddhism as early Vedic texts don’t revere the lotus as much.
    Poor Brahma is the butt of jokes in all Saivite and Shakta texts.Getting beheaded,cursed,beard pulled,punished for being a peeping Tom,attacked by his own children.Metaphor for rise of asceticism and mysticism(Shiva) against ritualistic priests(Brahma).
    The lion that ate itself,called Kirtimukha(glorious face),is still depicted on temple gateways especially in the South.
    While women are described as pristine looking,in tantra exterior beauty and rituals are considered a sham.Shiva is a metaphor for the soul while Parvati is a metaphor for the devotee seeking divinity.Notice that Parvati’s penance was much harder than Sati and she grew gaunt for a short while.Thus she was closer to Shiva due to her asceticism,her beauty irrelevant for God.
    I prefer Ganesha,hands down.What’s not to like about such a cute God.
    The Washington Monument cannot be called a linga-notice the base of a Shivling is pear shaped and supposed to represent vulva.Thus a Shivling has both phallic and vaginal imagery associated with it.We do see natural Shivlings without an elaborate base such as the Amarnath jyotirlinga.However the entire area is supposed to be a Shakti peetha or a place where Sati’s body parts fell hence the land itself is associated with the goddess.The same cannot be said for Washington.
    That’s a valid question about Asuras.Technically there is no concept of “evil” in Hinduism,Buddhism or Jainism due to cyclical timelines.In early Vedic texts linguists suggest that Asura is derived either from Asu+Ram=air+rest=resting in the vital force(life) or PIE Asera meaning mighty lord.To add to the confusion,Rig Veda calls the Devas as Asuras dozens of times indicating Asura is a positive connotation.In later Vedic texts a distinction arises.Brahma’s son is Kashyap,who has 13 wives.His children through Aditi,Diti,Danu,Kalaka and Puloma were called Adityas,Daityas,Danavas Kalakeyas and Paulomas respectively.Adityas came to be considered as Devas(good)while the rest became Asuras(distinct from Rakshasas who descended from Pulatsya)who were chaotic but not ‘evil’.The change of Asuras from divine to chaotic is interesting.In ancient Iranian mythology Daevas are demons and Ahuras are divine beings who collectively create the world,complete reverse of the Hindu tradition.Historians speculate that there was a common Indo-Iranian culture at some point which worshipped both Asuras and Devas but then there was a feud due to which Iranians made the Ahuras their God while the Aryans migrating to India retained the Devas.Inhabitants of North India resemble Iranians quite a lot in phenotype.While Vishnu is often pro-Deva,Shiva is generally neutral and in fact supports the Asuras,Rakshasas and Pisachas in Tantric texts.This again adds to the mystery of origin of mythological figures-was Shiva a Vedic God,or a pre-Vedic Harappan deity continued after the Aryan arrival or a God of tribal people appropriated into the Brahminical fold,whose resurgence as a non-Vedic deity is reflected in the Tantra.
    I must clarify that Tantra rejects Vedas and hence it is not considered exactly a part of Hinduism.While classifications tend to align it with Hinduism and Buddhism,it retains its individual identity strongly and goes against the basic tenets of both these religions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you SOOOOOOO much for the lotus explanation! It sounded like a jokey question, but I was seriously curious why it was used so much. The meaning of them being pure makes sense.

      Yaaaaay, Ganesha!!!

      One thing that struck me when I was looking at the Washington Monument after reading about lingas is the reflecting pool. I don’t think it really is a Shivling, but I do find it interesting that there was an urge to balance this big tall phallic symbol, with something low and deep.

      Thank you for the explanation of Asuras versus Devas, and the higher level of Shiva who is neutral over both! I did catch that several times the other Gods argued with Shiva to fight the Asuras and he said he couldn’t, because they were also his worshippers.

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  2. So I’m on page 96, I know I failed, but it took like four days to get through the big battle after Sita’s death, constant interruptions so I’d always forget where I was and start back at the beginning. And I didn’t want to skim. After the amazing Siva Sita sex I stopped getting angry at the book. Sex is so much more than intercourse, and is obviously a very important part of life. I liked the first story with the erotic fish smelling girl. But the whole rape of the daughter thing was rough, as was Sita’s non personality until she had sex with Siva. When did women become objects? A long long time ago….

    I have read both semen stories, and I pick Brahma’s three drops after stealing a peak of Sita. It is funny.

    Vishnu’s turning himself into a woman, an alluring woman that is chased by Siva with Parvati watching causing the great semen spill. Well that is some cross dressing going on!

    Normally I’m cool with circular time a storytelling device, but I have to admit, when I am unfamiliar with all the tales I do wish it was in a linear fashion. But I’ll survive as I muddle through the 230 pages.

    Making Gods like men- outside of singular God religions are there religions whose gods are not like men? My main reference is Greek Gods, because that is what I know, so the godly man thing is familiar. Only Vishnu has any Jesus like qualities. But I’m not sure the gods are more emotional than the men. Men are pretty emotional.

    The warring groups – Well in 96 pages I don’t see any reasons why one group is better than the other so it is a sort of proponent to tribalism. Your group is your group and you will fight the others.

    In the first story the girl was repulsed and yet drawn to the old man. Not really yeah I think he is sexy, more like he is a god like thing and I better make the most of it. But in general there is quite a bit of objectification of women going on. Honestly that objectification is interesting because in truth female women and men don’t look that different. Especially athletic ones. Now big boobies do make a difference, but not everyone has big boobies. That said there are few Indian female actors with small boobies, so I suppose there could be a bigger difference in India. A lot a focus on the differences. In fact, in 96 pages the women pretty much seem like a different species.

    As I read more I can pop back in with my foreign interpretations.

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    • In Indic traditions,the bosom is not associated with sexuality but with motherhood.Waist is the point of objectification.I read quite a few texts where the supreme goddess is described as “her breasts are like mountains allowing us to rest upon her as a mother,and her milk nourishes like rivers.”The main sexual metaphor was-kinda overused at this point- lotuses.That scene in ‘Sita sings the Blues’ where her eyes,hands and bosom were described as “big juicy lotuses”is lifted from the texts,notwithstanding how hilarious it sounds.
      Indian art does tend to depict gods with feminine ffeaturesand poses.I am not sure why exactly Shiva is depicted as “hot hunk” in modern art.Most of the early depictions show him as middle aged with a pot belly,something that Bengali art has retained.Maybe a metaphor for “God is God,even if he is ugly”?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wait for it, Vishnu has his own sexy adventures later. Not quite Jesus-y, unless there is some x-rated edited out bible tales of him and Mary Magdelene.

      There is sex EVERYWHERE, so good to pay attention. But also, the section after Sita dies when it turns into a series of small “stories about Siva” was the part I personally found most boring. It picks up again like gangbusters when the second heroine is introduced (Parvati). And then you’ve got a bunch more sex scenes.

      Thinking about it, there are a lot of stories of female arousal (usually when a God shows up), but they are purely sexual, not related to the appearance of the person necessarily, all about the Linga. While the men seem to only be turned on by beautiful women. Although, come to think of it, Vishnu’s female avatar was described as not just beautiful, but oozing with sex and arousal, in a way that Sati was not.

      If we look at it in philosophical terms, I do find a really interesting gender concept. “Male” versus “Female” is super super important in a sort of spiritual way. Intercourse is power, male and female must join, Siva and Parvati/Sati in particular are two halves of the same whole that must come together. So the men have huge lingas, and the women have huge breasts and they both just ooze with the essense of their gender. But, on the other hand, the Gods are capable of flipping between genders like it is a costume you put on. So gender is definite and important and clear, but also something that can be put on and off, something that can be changed.

      On Sun, Feb 21, 2021 at 8:12 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I did not mean to imply that Sexy lady turning Vishnu was like Jesus, I meant that he is the God with wisdom and kindness. Which are two traits that Christians associate with Jesus.

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        • Oh yeah, makes sense. If I am understanding the philosophy correctly, I think Siva is supposed to be least human (least driven by desire and lowly urges) and Brahma most. And then Vishnu is a bit in between. Vishnu still allies with the Devas in wartime, and is quicker to feel desire than Siva, but is also wise and kind. Siva is sort of so removed that he almost no longer is capable of compassion. So yeah, now that I talk it out, Vishnu is totally Jesus!!!!! He is the middle link between God and man. Mostly a kindly God type figure, but sometimes giving in to human urges enough that he can understand them.

          On Mon, Feb 22, 2021 at 8:47 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • It’s a trinity too, because humans like 3s. And I have to admit, I am still not clear on what the heck the “holy Ghost” is. But luckily, I don’t have to be! The one central component of my religion (Unitarian) is that the trinity is a scam! So I guess in Siva-Vishnu-Brahma terms, we would only believe in Siva as a holy figure and the other two as just dudes. Interesting fact, the only country/ethnic group/nation that ever fully accepted Unitarianism officially is Transylvania. So possibly not believing in the holy Ghost makes you a Vampire. It’s unclear, but we do little fundraisers every year for our sister church in Transylvania.

            On Mon, Feb 22, 2021 at 8:59 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • If Jesus was inspired by God, but no the “Son of God” then you don’t have to believe in the Virgin Birth right? I don’t go to church because of the virgin birth thing.

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          • Oh good heavens no! A few Easters ago, we had a sermon on “Jesus-Son of Rape”. Which seems far more reasonable, doesn’t it? And also, how awesome was Joseph? Taking this young pregnant woman on and accepting her child as his own.

            Jesus, cool dude whose teenage Mom got pregnant without a partner and whose stepdad accepted him as his own, and then he grew up and made friends and traveled around and did cool things and then was killed because he said things that were too radical for the times.

            On Mon, Feb 22, 2021 at 9:34 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • The father of one of Spouse’s old friends is Unitarian. He told Spouse the church was very involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He also worked on the Eyes on the Prize documentary. I’m actually super excited that there are Christians who don’t believe in the virgin birth. I saw my supposed to be quarantining friend in the grocery store, who I had read Zealot with, and we had a conversation that probably could have gotten us kicked out of the PTO.

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          • Unitarians are awesome and have always been on the right side of history. It makes us very smug (our greatest flaw). Not only did we do Civil Rights stuff, we were the first congregation to fully 100% accept same sex marriage and gay people, AND we were part of an underground railroad getting Jews out of Europe during the Holacaust. And we were big in the abolition movement, and in the first wave feminism movement, and basically every progressive cause you can imagine.

            It’s a great way to grow up though. As a kid, about half the kids in my Sunday School class were children of color/adopted/children of same-sex parents, and more than half were children of mixed race/religion families. This was in the late 80s/mid-90s. Now, I read history books and stuff about that era and all the agony of fighting for gay rights and prejudice and things, and I think “huh! I just thought of them as ‘the parents at church'”. It was/is delightfully normal for me.

            Speaking of Virgin Birth, there’s a debate among Unitarians as to whether we are Christian or not. It’s definitely a Christian tradition, based on bible teachings and church on Sunday morning and all of that. But the meaning of “Unitarian” is “One God, Jesus was just a dude”. So there is/was no “Christ”. And at my church, we barely even talk about the Bible and Jesus and stuff because it makes people it itchy.

            On Tue, Feb 23, 2021 at 9:02 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Thank you for all the information about Unitarians. Husband went to a really liberal UCC church growing up that sounds very similar to yours. We still go sometimes and the children seem very similar to the ones you see (i.e. of color/adopted/children of same-sex parents, children of mixed race/religion families.) It makes feel very comfortable sending my future children there. We also had a mixed Hindu-Christian ceremony that was conducted by a UCC minister. So, now I am curious about the similarities and differences between UCC and Unitarian. I also now want to go to a Unitarian service.

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          • My parents were both raised UCC. If your husband went to a Chicago area congregation at all, we probably know it. UCC also has a great liberal tradition, and is kind of an interesting combination of intellectual progressive German immigrants (that’s the Chicago area tradition my parents are from, there are still UCC churches in Chicago that do German language services) and “Congregational” liberal intellectual New England traditions.

            My parents say that UCC is like one step to the right of UU. There are actually UU/UCC combined congregations in some places. UCC is technically Christian, which UU is officially not (in that, we don’t believe that Jesus was Christ) but UCC is pretty open minded about how much you have to believe that. And UCC is officially Bible based, although they may have one off services about Hinduism and stuff. While a lot of UU churches are not biblical, they draw from all faith traditions equally, you are as likely to have a minister trained in Buddhism as one trained in a Christian tradition. UU’s sweet spot is appealing to mixed religion couples (lots and lots of Jewish/Christian couples, and a growing number of Hindu/Christian couples), while UCC is actually a church and does have “Christ” in the name, so there’s a commitment there to one side over the other.

            Weird personal thing: if you are interested in church shopping, Joyomama is UU and I think really likes her church, so you can talk to her about checking it out. I am sure they have virtual services now, so you can lurk and see if you like it. And All Souls in DC proper is historic and special in UU/American history, but also tends to be the center of controversy off and on (controversy like, half the congregation wants to fire the minister and half loves him). Again, you can lurk at a virtual service now and avoid all the controversies 🙂

            On Tue, Feb 23, 2021 at 10:09 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Thank you!!! Very helpful. Spouse actually grew up in DC and went to a UCC church in this area (his dad grew up in Chicago and his mom and sister went to school in Chicago and and then parents moved back once the kids were all grown up and sister decided to also settle in Chicago). Spouse decided to stay in DC. Thank you for the information on the UU churches in DC area and attending virtual services.

            Also, interesting what you say that about ministers. Our minister is trained in obviously the teachings of UCC, but also Hinduism and Buddhism, so he was great to talk to. He also married my sister who is married to a Christian and married a gay American/Desi friend who is married to a half Jewish person and each ceremony was so unique and mixed all cultures really well. Basically, he is the best!

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          • He does sound The Best!!!! Both UCC and UU national orgs are so flexible, each congregation/minister really has its own personality. Like I said, my parents both grew up UCC, but their childhood churches were very different from each other. Even though they were both Chicago area UCC churches, the ministers set different tones.

            Also, random thing, the Hindu-Christian couple at my church I was always kind of awkward around because they named their son Abhimanyu and I always wanted to ask them why. Wouldn’t it make you sad all the time? And wouldn’t you be at least a little superstitious? But that would be a weird quesiton so I didn’t ask them and then I could never think of anything else to say.

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          • Oh, and the other Hindu-Christian couple named their son HRITHIK!!! Which is even WEIRDER!!!! And even more inappropriate for me to ask about!

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          • I totally will! I think Hrithik is way weirder than Abhimanyu. But this means the couple is filmi and you could totally talk to them about Hindi films!!!

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          • Instead what I did was secretly show all the people I knew from church shirtless photos of Hrithik so they could also look at this tiny blobby baby and have the Real Hrithik in their heads and want to giggle. That was probably not the best way to handle things.

            On Tue, Feb 23, 2021 at 12:29 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Oh maybe they named their son after Sid’s character in SOTY! Maybe they wanted him to grow up and look like Sid? I can get behind that! But yes, if not, the name Abhimanyu would make me a bit sad.

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    • Yep! And the “good” people were capable of ignoring her, while the “bad” people were completely seduced.

      On Mon, Feb 22, 2021 at 2:19 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Yeah, I’m gonna look at crazy old men under El platforms all different now. Probably won’t worship them though. Or approach them. Or even make eye contact.

          On Tue, Feb 23, 2021 at 8:38 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Had covid shot, felt punk (nothing bad) but didn’t finish SIva Purana or feel up to adding my two cents. But the comments here about it are great to read. I can say I liked the first Siva/Sati love scene, and preferred Kartikeyya to Ganesh. Like Genevieve, I thought Brahma’s three drops hilarious, especially his heroic attempts at control. The circularity confused me, but when I stopped critiquing the book like a novel, it didn’t bother me anymore. I’ve become a Ramesh Menon fan. As to deities with superhuman emotions, I’m for it, makes me feel God understands my weaknesses not because that’s what he/she does but because God has been there and done that. I’m Christian like my father. My mom was brought up Muslim. Neither practiced very rigorously, but I remember Mama teasing that Jesus never smiled, never seemed to enjoy himself, while Mohammad had like 13 wives.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Awww, my Grandpa says he “felt punk”! I didn’t know anyone else said it.

      I was Ganesh all the way, until the bit when Kartikeyya felt all sad and unappreciated, and then I felt sorry for him. But in the end, still Ganesh. Such a charmer!

      I had a really hard time with the circular time in the book, and then I took a break for a few days and came back to it, and it was fine. Definitely dipping in and out and not bothering to remember what came before is the way to enjoy it.

      I like your idea of God understanding your weaknesses. Certainly Brahma (the weakest God) seemed most sympathetic and forgiving to humanity. While Shiva, the Closest to Perfect, was a lot more remote.

      On Tue, Feb 23, 2021 at 1:15 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. The moon was married to 27 wives but only loved one of them. So the women’s father cursed him to waste away. But his prayers to Siva worked so that his penis will waste for half the month and grow for the other half, wax and wane. – Divorce would have been a lot easier. Also, it is kind like a Godly tale in support of monogamy.

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    • What I like is all these stories about wives angry because they want sex with their husband. On the one hand, it is a bit gender normative and stuff that all women desire their husband. But on the other hand, female sex drive!!!! You marry a woman, you better SATISFY HER.

      On Wed, Feb 24, 2021 at 9:29 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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