THE DOG-DEITY: DIVINITY, HISTORY AND DOGS IN ANCIENT SCRIPTURES

VANDANA SHARMA

Abstract


A sub specie of wolf that was domesticated came to be known as ‘Dog’. History suggests that Dogs have been human companions since Adams. They have been with humans and have been an integral part of their culture, lives, leanings extending to them emotional support, spiritual enrichment and adding to their very being. Based on DNA evidence, the wolf ancestors of modern dogs diverged from other wolves about 1,00,000 years ago, and dogs were domesticated about 15,000 years ago. Keeping in mind this date, it can be said with utmost certainty dogs were the first to be domesticated by humans and human-dog bond has its historical base. The relationship between human beings and dogs has deep roots, with archaeological and genetic evidence indicating a time of domestication in the late Upper Paleolithic Age, between 17,000 and 14,000 years ago. Dogs have been an important part of both Hinduism and Buddhism. They have been glorified and appreciated in various ancient texts. With time we have become cruel towards dogs for no reason. A mass killing of dogs in Kerala has jolted many of us. We as humans are said to have “Viveka” and yet an event like “war against canines” in Kerala talks about our low spiritual levels and our avidya. It is time that we realize how dogs have been a part of our age old history, philosophy, literature, art, yoga, dance and they still continue contribute to us medically, emotionally, physically, spiritually and by serving our nation. Is it not time that we rise above variations of forms and see the Brahman that exists within all, including dogs. It is time we go back to our texts and understand them in the right light so that we do not fail to give the respect dogs, animals and even humans deserve. We need to question ourselves whether or not with time we have touched higher planes of spirituality or have merely become slaves to names, forms and materialism? Should we respect and love dogs only because they serve us, only because they are or they can be of use to us? Only because our ancient texts talk highly of them, should we be bound to give them respect? Is their very being not enough or not a reason enough to love them, respect them and cherish them? While dogs continue to submit unconditionally and love humans, when will we humans offer our bhoota rinn to our four legged friends? This paper aims at digging into the past and bringing to fore references that glorify dogs in Hindu and Buddhist traditions besides which it will also throw light on how dogs have significantly added to literature, art and architecture.


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