Saturday, December 5, 2009

Asteroid Impact: Destruction and Creation - Shiva as Ashutosh.

Long time ago, on one of my first flights from some southern city (probably Bangalore), the plane took me over a range of hills while nearing Poona (now known as Pune). What struck me quite forcibly was that there were features on the hills which seemed as if they were a string of craters stretching over several miles, with each crater --- judging roughly from the height of the plane --- to be a kilometer or so in diameter. When I later trekked in the hills around Pune after that I would imagine that the shapes of the hills resembled those of craters but I was never really convinced even if I am prone to be easily convinced by intuition.

It took several accidents associated with ceremonies for the dear departed and, what can surely be called, heavenly interference, to find out what these features were.

This blog starts with a seemingly innocuous and simple event of immersing a brother’s ashes, and is led by other events which would also be innocuous but, when connected, ends up with a sequence of awareness events, such as the immersion site being a holy sangam (union) of two rivers, the rivers being embedded in a valley formed by the strings of craters I thought I had seen; these vallies were knotted at the end by Sahyadri range; there is a connection with Deccan traps; it ends with the breaking up of Africa, even though I would have liked to continue with extinction of dinosaurs and a phase transition in gravity.

The vehicle of this blog is mainly Google Earth and Wikimapia. “Google Earth is a digital map of our planet made of stitched together satellite images. You can zoom in and out, fly around and inspect the landscape impressive detail. It’s a bit like video game--- except it’s real” says amateur astronomer Emilio Gonz├ílez who pioneered this technique in 2006. I was disappointed to find this statement when I had almost finished this blog.

Needless to say, the scope and content of this blog --- since one does not really care to provide refereed manipulations as proof --- is to be viewed (as usual, click on image to expand) as an assembly of Google-earth correlations even if it may be a trifle googly-ed (a googly in cricket is a surprise clock-wise delivery by a anti-clockwise bowler by disguising the direction of finger-spin; the emphasis here is on a surprising twist).

A Beginning Means a Path must Exist.

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the beginning is also the end.

Ivy Baker Priest, treasurer to Eisenhower

This section may have things a little too personal for a blog. But then, all blogs are expressions of experiential consequences. It starts as departed family and culminates in some surprising conclusions regarding the re-shaping of the earth.

More than a year ago my elder brother, Rangada (I always called him Rangada which denoted his position as an elder in our joint family hierarchy) breathed his last. Bashu, the younger brother had passed away more than a decade ago. Their passing away left me hanging.

I don’t really recollect what Rangada’s name in Bengali was actually meant to be. It could have been Ashutosh or Asutosh. In the old testament it could be a variant of Asher, one of Jacob’s sons, which meant “happy”. Asu is an Assyrian name for the east; Ashur is an Assyrian name for the God of War. In Sanskrit Ashu means quick or fast and tosh is derived from tosa means satisfaction, pleasure, delight. Rangada’s character goes well with “easily satisfied” as the meaning for Ashutosh. As a Bengali from the east Asutosh would mean a happy easterner. Asu also means dew. Lalitha would say Ashutosh means “the quintessential joy of living”. Knowing my brother I would agree with Lalitha's meaning.

We will be more concerned with Ashutosh as Shiva in this blog. As a name of the dancing god, Shiva, Ashutosh could mean anything, including a happy warrior god.

I can happily assert that neither Shiva nor Ashutosh find mention in the Vedas which I have, more happily, not read.

The coincidences may have started, say, with my late mother’s wonderful death in Pune when, surrounded by all children, she cracked a joke about her royal nose, prayed with folded hands above her forehead for the well being of all of us mentioning our names one by one, clutched me and urged me to take her home one last time when I went to bid her goodbye, and passed away quietly and with dignity of the princess that she always was.

After she was cremated and her ashes collected we chose the holy place of Alandi near Pune, for the immersion of her ashes. It was April end of 1994 and Pune was extremely hot. The Indrayani river of Alandi was dry and there was little water to clean worship inputs and worshippers’ outputs, so that Alandi looked an unlikely place for the last resting place of a dear lady.

We drove ahead towards what we thought was the up-stream of Indrayani. We stopped immediately after we crossed a bridge over what looked like a clean river worthy of our mother. We walked down to the river after walking a bit along the banks. The river bed was almost dry. We walked into the stream, emptied the contents (ashes) of her urn, said a few prayers, chanted her favourite Tagore songs, recited a few of her favourite poems, took a few pictures, vowed to come back every year. We did not do that partly because we could not recollect how we had reached the immersion spot and partly because we could not locate that spot on the Indryani later.

When my brother, Asutosh, died on Mahanavami of 2008, I had taken, in consultation with his family and my sisters, a part of his ashes for immersion at an appropriate place on the Ganges, hoping that his final resting place will relieve him of all that he and his family must have suffered in the last agonizing days of his dying. For some guiding (then unknown) reason this was not done and his ashes remained for some time at home in Pune.

Sometime later when Rangada’s ashes implored us to liberate him from his urn, we decided to immerse his ashes next to that of his mother. By some luck we happened to find the immersion spot without a hitch by just following Lalitha’s instincts.

It was (Figs 1 and 2) a warm bright day, with yellow flowers and a strict Buffalo in attendance at the immersion spot. The place was very soothing. Lalitha chanted a few verses wearing a straw hat, Bruno did not bark, Shanta wore a cowboy hat, locals caught crabs from the river bed.

It was during this visit that we realized that the river was Bhima and that the place was very close to the sangam of the rivers Bhima and Bhama. Our choice of place of immersion of mother’s ashes was purely a happy accident!

A year after Rangada’s death we could not attend his shraddha ceremony at Madras (now Chennai). We thought we would say a few prayers at the Bhima-Bhama Sangam. For some reason we could not find our way; we were guided by the local people to the more popular sangam (Fig 3, left; Bhima on the right) at Tulapur where the Bhima meets the Indrayani. This place is very important for us because Ni’s (Nirmala Patwardhan’s) ashes were immersed here. This is where Sambhaji, the son of Marathi manoos' much beloved Shivaji, was murdered by Aurangazeb, the son of Shah Jahan, of Taj Mahal fame.

Three rivers, Bhima, Bhama and Indrayani are wrongly thought --- by the locals as well as on most sites on the web --- to meet at the sangam in Tulapur. It was not the sangam we knew as the Bhima-Bhama sangam, which is about 9-10 kms up stream. There is a temple, Sangameshwar, at Tulapur which is associated with Sambhaji’s arrest by Aurangazeb. Temples ending with –eshwar are Shiva temples, Lalitha informs me.

The Bhima-Bhama sangam also has a spot without a temple that is marked Sangameshwar in the Wikimapia. There are also two temples around the Bhima-Bhama sangam which are called Sangameshwar temples without being marked as Sangameshwar in Wikimapia.

It was again a bright and sunny day when we reached the Bhima-bhama sangam (Fig 4 right) the next day, more by instinct than by logic. There were water lilies and flowering grass along the grass. Lalitha chanted verses from the Gita. Bruno swam in the river before he too sat down to his prayers on the banks of the Bhima.

The Bhima River is named after Bhimashankar on the Sahyadri. The name Bhima here is not the Bhima of the Pandavas (as westernized intellectual ignoramuses like me could conclude), but is said to be an asura, being the son of the rakshasas, Kumbhakarna and Karkadi, in Indian mythologies. The story goes that this boy, like all “good” sons, wanted to wreak revenge on the Brahmins and kings (vedic invaders?) of the Mahabharata lore for killing his parents and ancestors (read native people).

The interesting part is that Lord Siva as Ashutosh worked hard to subdue the demon after the severe penance in front of a siva lingam of the Bhima-persecuted. The sweat of Asutosh’s labour is the source of the river Bhima. Asutosh was persuaded to remain there eternally by the name of Bhimashan.

Maybe we can we draw some consolation that our mortal Ashu’s ashes rests with his sweat?

I still don’t know why Bhama River is named after Bhama. Bheemasena (Krishna) and his (third?) wife Satyabhama are known in shortened form as Bheema-bhama in which case the nomenclature would be an instance of Vaishnavites trying to stamp their presence on Saivites.

Just as an aside, since I like to jump to unwarranted conclusions before warranting it, I am wondering whether the asuras were actually Assyrian invaders and Siva came to the rescue of the pre-vedic but genuine adivasis

Shiva as Bhima of the Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga is associated with few other stories. One of these is associated with Tripura and the slaying of the demon (asura) Tripurasara. Tripura is considered to be weapons of flying citadels and Tripurasura had this weapon.

As true pre-religion Hindus, which means as residents of the Indian subcontinent, we shall not worry about what is the real story.
It’s quite simple, really!
There is no real story!
Those who want a true story are probably those who acquire material wealth from a reproducible invention including making gods.

As long as one is in the realm of the gods’ one has only to be true to one’s god. For us a-religious Hindus there are no limits to the number of gods nor even to the limits of stories associated with one god --- except perhaps that they should have some super-human characteristics --- include pocoman in the list of batman, superman, spiderman, hanuman… .

One of these superhuman characteristics of Shiva as Ashutosh is that he swallowed and kept in his throat the deadly poison which came out first when the gods and demons churned the seas. This churning of the seas could be associated with the beginning of man’s story itself!

Google Flights and Shiva’s Story: Seeing what you want to see.

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; and at last you create what you will.
(ssaid to be on the web by Shaw) ``1```

In order to understand Bhima, Bhama, sangam and Shiva (or Ashutosh) better I used Google Earth and Wikimapia. I took off into space ridigon Google Earth and traced the paths of rivers Bhima and Bhama to see their source and see if I could jump to some vedically unforeseen conclusions. After all, these googol resources may not have been available to our gods, especially since they are not mentioned in the ancient texts or puranas.

I (fortunately) have a biased mind and I found stories that gave some basis to these events in Ashutosh’s life as a god.

One of the first surprises as I started on this journey upstream of Bhama is that the terrain revealed features that I have been looking for ever since, I think, I took my first flight to Pune (Poona at that time). At that tie, looking out of the plane I thought I saw a string of rather large craters.

As soon as I saw the Google map features of the terrain on the left (looking down) of the Bhama valley from Google Earth (Fig 5, left) I recognized this “crater-chain” feature. It was helped from my recollections of images that I saw in 1994 with Professor Govind Swaroop in his laboratory computer in Pune; he was the only one looking at images of the collision of the Schoemaker-Levy comet with Jupiter that took place over several days. Rather strangely, other scientists in his laboratory as well as in Narlikar’s IUCAA condescendingly said that they were more interested in cosmological events rather than events in the solar system.

I had heard of a Lonar crater not very far away (~ 320 kms) from Pune. I visited it with Google Earth, and examined it by Google terrain (Fig 5, middle). The crater had a depth of about 150 metres and a width of about 1.8 km. Other neat well-defined circular craters such as the Barringer Meteor impact crater in Arizona, or the Wolfe Creek crater in Australia have similar dimensions (within a factor of two). The web informs me that such craters could be formed by a rocky asteroid or icy comet of 5010 m diameter impacting the earth at 20-50 km/s (speed of sound in steel is ~ 5 km/sec and nearly 0.35 km/sec in air).

The features on the left (as well as right) of the Bhama valley may be fitted (Fig 5 right) with isolated circles representing the diameter of the Lonar crater. These features on the Bhama ridge have a depth of nearly 200 -300 metres which is close to that of the Lonar crater. One requires fitting with several overlapping craters to get the features of the Bhama valley.

Such chain-crater features due to impact of chains of impactors have been examined more seriously by serious earth scientists since the Shoemaker-Levy impact. Due to forces of gravity a crashing asteroid may form a cluster of bundled smaller asteroids in the pre-disruption stage of a Shoemaker-Levy-like impact (see bottom inset of Fig 5 middle) before elongating after disruption (see top inset of Fig 5 middle) with a elongated chain-like feature (from William F. Bottke’s article on “Tidal Disruption of an Asteroid Encountering Earth”). Although the earth’s gravity is too small to create such disruption, we may still persist with the hope that the “asteroid” is actually a “pre-disrupted” rubble pile that could form single elongated holes or multiple holes around the same region of impact. This is what we will propose in Fig 12.

On further Google terrain examination of the Sahyadri ranges, the circular crater-like features with diameter of 1-2 km can be seen (Fig 5, top left). The most prominent of these must be the (said to be fabulous) Konkan Kada at Harishchandragad. The Konkan Kada is more than 600 m deep across 200 m at some point. Such circular features can be seen all along the edge of the Sahyadri ranges and around Bhimashankar (Fig 6 top right). Closer examination of the Sahyadri ranges show less rounded “crater-chain”-like morphology, as seen for, say, the features around Mahabaleshwar (Fig 6, bottom left) or even around our “badi” (Fig 6, bottom right) near Purandhar hills.

These features of the Deccan Trap is thought to be due to “… volcanic flows piled one upon the other”.

Flying over the mountain ranges on Google Earth it is easy to see self-similar features in the various mountain ranges such as those in the Grand Canyon (Fig 7 left), the Siachen Glacier (Fig 7 middle; we should know this terrain since so many of our brave soldiers lost their lives; never mind if it was sometimes merely to increase the profits of arms merchants or to give fake gallantry awards to some officers), or the Gomukh glacier (Fig 7 right) from which Ganga springs.

The chain of “crater-like” features of Fig 5 (left) is common in such mountain ranges (Fig 8) and the differences may easily be attributed to differences in the nature of erosion with time due to differing climes and terrains. The curvilinear structure of the main river bed as well as the nature of side canyons which form the secondary structure in Figs 5 and 6 are seen in the Grand Canyon terrain (Fig 7 left), near Gomukh and other places in the Himalayas or Tibet (Fig 8).

That naturally ends my speculations on the Shoemaker-Levy-like “crater-chain” aspect of the ridges of the Bhima-Bhama valleys, even though (I insist) that seeing the three-dimensional left ridge of the Bhama valley from the plane does distinctly give you the “crater-chain” impression.

Self-similar terrains have been recognized as manifestation of non-Euclidean fractal geometry. A fractal can be split into smaller and smaller parts (or grown into larger and larger units?) with each part being a size-scaled copy of one another. Ideally.

Some large-scale aspect of this self-similarity nay be imagined, I guess, by comparing the shape of the grand canyon fractures (Fig 9, left; a comparison is made with the generated shape of a common spiral fractal geometry on top and a different representation of Yin and Yang at bottom which represent opposite yet complimentary forces.

As one knows, the term fractal comes from the same origin as fractions or fractured. The shapes of natural fractals are only approximately so. A characteristic fractal is the Lichtenberg fractal which is associated with electrical discharges as seen in Lightning or the equivalent laboratory scale electrical discharge in a dielectric matrix (see Sconeridge Engineering at The track of this potential change in electrical discharges has been seen by Lichtenberg using fine particles which have charges opposite to that of the initial charge. The shape of the curves may be taken as a measure of the way the initial gradient in electrical potential (measured, say, in volts) at a point in an insulator relative to the oppositely charged electrode is reduced by propagating the potential through narrow channels in the medium. Such propagation takes place in a branching or bifurcative manner. Why a bifurcation should take place at all in a seemingly uniform medium is a complex process quite outside the scope of this blog.

Of relevance is the possibility that similar Lichtenberg figures may be seen if one replaces the discharge of electrostatic potential by discharge of some other potential. For example, one may inject a low viscosity liquid at the centre of a tray containing a liquid of much higher viscosity. Similarly, the propagation of mountain ranges may be looked upon as a consequence of the injection of high density (say, by a hammer or missile impact) into a low density material. The flow of the liquid or density would have a pattern similar to that of the Lichtenberg figures.

The fractal nature of such growths is critically dependent on an element of time associated with the change of potential brought about by a change in, say, charge or density or stress, especially when they are in low concentration. During this time there is a randomization of directions of growth. In crystal growth, for example, the key words used to describe the shape in such case are Diffusion Limited Aggregation. For fractal patterns in mountain ranges or propagating cracks one could consider Diffusion Limited Dissipation or decay. There could for example be a sudden increase in volume or stress at a particular point (say, by an asteroid impact) and the volume or stress decays in a fractal manner.

Asteroid impact on planet earth has increasingly become a likely scenario for explaining many of the features of global terrain. One of the more famous of these is the ~ 18 km wide Aorounga crater (Fig 10 bottom left) in Chad at the edge of the Sahara desert. This crater has evidence of having concentric rings has been interpreted as being due to impact crater formation. Indeed, the Aorounga crater has been thought to be part of a chain of impact craters which have been located by radar. Other so-called impact craters are stated to be the pair of Clearwater lakes in Quebec (Fig 10 top right).

There are so many other strange features such as Devil’s Head, Tarso Voon, Tousside Volcano, Mount Tieroko. One may imagine that volcanic-like features such as Devil’s Head (Fig 10, top left, heights varying between 1800 and 2200 metres) could have evolved into the rather flat Aorounga-like features over hundreds of millions of years. There are also chains of such large features of probably volcanic origin but with signs (multiple rings and central peak) of splash of a high-energy impact.

Volcanic activity could also give rise to “chain-crater” features such as those found in the “landscape full of craters” near the East African rift (see Fig 10 bottom right), which has other features such as Ol Doinyo Lengai, the only low-temperature (500-600 C) carbonatite volcano in the world, Lake Natron where the extremely salty water makes it safe for flamingos, Ngorongoro conservation area. Near Arusha at the foothills of mount Kilimanjaro such volcanic conditions must have resulted in the unique three-coloured gemstone tanzanite. It was discovered by a Goan tailor, Manuel D’Souza, in the late nineteen-sixties.

Indeed the bizarre (may be of 450 million years old glacial vintage) topology of the area around Devil’s head (at the centre of Fig 11 left marked by a circle and on the top left corner of Fig 11 right) reminds one of a churning or of the turbulence around Jupiter’s swirling red spot (Fig 11, centre).

This similarity would give fertile grounds for (so far) unsubstantiated imaginations. For example, one may imagine a spiral of faintly defined quasi circular shapes. The spiral in Fig 11, right, is a golden ratio spiral stretched horizontally by 140 percent (arbitrary amount) just as guide to the eye. Are these craters of turbulent origin in a distant (in time) mantle broth with Mandelbrot fractal connotations (could not resist that)?. The so-called Aorounga impact “crater-chain” would then be part of “crater spirals” associated with a whirling crusting soup.

Once one accepts giant-size impact craters there need be no limit to the size of the crater except that the size of the impactor needs to be considerably smaller than the size of the earth. This condition would be usually met considering that the size of the crater is usually 20-50 times more than that of the impactor. These giant craters are expected to have complex structures for radii greater than 2-5 kms and erosion with time further dilutes details so that one may be left with shallow craters perhaps with concentric rings and enhanced plateaus.

Inspiration is drawn from the Manicouagan crater in Canada (Fig 12, top right) and extended to an (imagined) crater in the Grand Canyon “fracture” (Fig 12, top left). The so-called African rift valley region then falls prey to this exercise. Circular features with various diameters are shown (Fig 12 bottom left) in this region starting from an “absurdly high value of ~ 2000 km (~ 12 times the diameter of another famous asteroid impact, the Chicxulub crater in Mexico) with lake Victoria as its centre and going down to ~ 700 kms.

These diameters may seem to be too large for even an immodest/ignorant person.

It seems that there is ability to measure correct to a few thousandths of a millimeter the separation between identical satellites in the same orbit. This ability marks the beginning of a new technology in remote sensing.

This twin satellite GRACE (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment) technology has been used in measuring earth’s gravity anomalies. An international team (von Frese et al, 2009) has reaffirmed a 500 km diameter gravity anomaly on Wilkes land which was postulated (as early as in 1962) to have a giant impact crater based on measurements of negative gravity anomalies; this postulate was refuted by air-borne radar measurements in 1970s. von Frese et al say that this, is consistent with thinned crust from a giant meteorite impact, which they conjecture to be 250 million years ago, coinciding with the great extinction of ~ 75% life on earth. Their earlier announcement in 2006 was met with considerable skepticism

As part of their evidence, von Frese et al claim (2009) that there is an antipodal relationship between their crater and the Siberian traps formed around that time. The point antipodal to Lake Victoria, which is the centre of the 1800 km dia impact Africa (Fig 12 bottom left), would be close to the Jarvis island in the Pacific Ocean. Jarvis Island, it seems, belongs to a linear volcanic chain of the same age and have a few seamounts which could be around 5515 million years old. This would be the only way that we may imagine any antipodal relationship between the (imagined?) impact crater centred on Lake Victoria and the hot spot near Jarvis Island.

The features in Africa (Fig 12 bottom right) are thought to be due to mantle plumes (learning, for instance, from an article on East African Rift Valley by James Wood and Alex Guth of Michigan Technological University) formed by increased heat flow from the earth’s mantle which bulges the continental plate which is seen as elevated highlands in the area. Such a bulging of the earth’s crust causes stretching and cracking by fracture and results in the formation of horst and graben structures in rift valleys, which are considered as stretched “extensional structure”.

One of the givens in geology is that flood basalts are formed by volcanic eruptions which coats large ocean floors with low viscosity lava due to a (simultaneous?) combination of several factors such as low viscosity of lava, melting of mantle plume, rifting between continents and melting of the top crust by decompression melting in conjunction with a decompression melting of mantle plume. The Deccan Trap (65 million years ago), the Siberian Traps (250 million years ago) and the Columbian River plateau (~ 18 million years ago) are considered to be regions covered by prehistoric flood basalts as are the maria of the moon.

The great African rift valleys are shown in the bottom right of Fig 12. My (I cannot say “our” since there is no refereeing) conjecture here is that there has been a continental rifting which may have been caused by giant asteroid impacts. The force of such asteroid impacts could have been to tear out part or parts of the continental plate which initiated the breaking of Madagascar/Seychelles and the (south) Indian region from Africa.

By examining the terrain and jumping to school-boy conclusions (which is also good for finding naked kings) we may also decide (see inset of Fig 12 bottom right) that the Arabian plate was also torn away from the continent. This could have led to the formation of the Afar depression which is identified with the Ethiopian rift (Fig 12 bottom right). This depression (Afar triple junction) is thought to be a part of the tectonic triple junction of ridges from Red Sea, Gulf of Eden and the East African rift (Afar triple junction) slowly (1-2 centimetres per year) rifting apart. There also happens to be three distinct ring-like features in the Google map of Arab desert!!

Following this interpretation of the triple union rift of Africa where earlier sea-bed features were ignored (at my peril solely, perhaps) I (not we) extended it to the rifts (fig 13 left) in the south Indian region (Fig 13 middle) and obtained a land mass (Fig 13 right) that could have separated from the African supercontinent after giant asteroid impact(s) and excluded the continental shelf. It has been comforting to note that Hetu Sheth of IIT, Mumbai, has made an attempt to discredit the Mantle plume model for the continental flood basalt (CFB) for the Deccan Trap. One of his objections is that there is little evidence for the Deccan plateau being abnormally hot for 1 million years as required by the mantle plume model. Instead the time scale is thought to be at least 8 million years.

Usual fits (Fig 14, top left) of Gondwanaland begins with attractive arguments that much of the fracture would resemble the football-like (or fullerene-like) truncated icosahedron. This geometry places severe constraints on all other fits since a single specified line or junction anticipates all other junctions. Such a model requires the application of a uniform stress field before the fracture which really implies that the “… supercontinent drove its own breakup” (see J. Sears, University of Montana, USA). It also implies that the supercontinent was in a critical state prior to its break-up such that a relatively (emphasis on “relatively”) “small” external perturbation could have induced the “self-driven” break-up.

The nearly circular outcrop of Deccan plateau (Fig 13 left), supporting a mantle plume model that has a spherical plume head, could as well be due to the effect of a non-plume, plate tectonic model that follows the formation of a circular impact crater because of the impact of a giant asteroid. It seemed to me that impact of a giant group of asteroids (or a series of asteroids) fragmented Gondwana to give rise to the continental rifting usually associated with end of the cretaceous period ~65 million years ago.

The separation of the Deccan plateau and Madgascar could have been brought about by impactors which created circular features of Fig 12, bottom left, which extended present day Africa. For example, the perimeter of the circle in red (Fig 12, bottom left) may be related to the boundary (Fig 14 top right) in blue of the Deccan Trap. A smaller (~ 18km raius) circular “rift-like-valley” is also seen near Bhimashankar (Fig 6, top right)

I have shown a different tight fit (Fig 14 top right) of the Gondwanaland in which the relative position of Madagascar and India are very different from that used earlier (Fig 14 top left). I have also re-drawn the coast-line along the contours of what looks like ridges in Africa and Madagscar, and have ignored continental shelf contours (don’t ask me why, because the blog would become too long; I have no problem in giving un-refereed answers).

Finally, the bottom left and right of Fig 14 shows the two points from where fragmentation could have taken place If Bhimashankar (or Harishchandragad) is associated with the region on Deccan the corresponding place should be somewhere near Mehezangulu in Tanzania. It so happens that the terrain is similar. It also so happens that this place is not far away (50-100 kms) from the Mijikenda Kaya sacred forests in Kenya which has rare plants, animals and birds just as sacred forests of Bhimashankar is reputed to have.

So! Where, Why and What is Shiva.

We may thus look upon Shiva as both Creator and Destroyer as examined in an earlier blog (Shiva’s Dance and the Stock Market: Creative Destruction” 26 Oct 2008). He/she or Ardhanareshwari is the Destroyer of Gondwanaland and Creator of the fractured Modern Earth.

Was the churning of the seas in the violent landscape of Chad?

Was Shiva ever in Africa?

Among the Meru people of Kenya, there is a god called Murungu who “… is a Spirit God, the supreme being, the almighty, all-seer, all giver, master of life and death, creator of all things and of man.” (From TuLu research 208 on Murudeshwara). He is said to be an “exact counterpart” of the Dravidian Murugan who is also identified as Shiva by them because of their association of Siva with red colour (chevvai). Murungu delivered the Meru people from the captivity of the red people. Both Murungu and Murugan have phallic aspects of worship.
Just as pre-vedic Hindu beliefs, Meru people believe in a transition after death to the “living dead” and moves to the “spirit” or “shama” (Shaman) stage when no one remembers him/her.

Is that why we have our ceremonies where we recall our forefathers?

We don’t die? We just make a transition?

And how do we do that?
After we had immersed Rangada’s ashes we took out his favorite collection of Tagore’s verses. When cousin Shanta opened the book the first poem she saw was the one below.

It could roughly transliterate as below (although I am stll to get the appropriate phrase for prosadbani
Have earned my leave, say bon voyage, brother---
My respects I give to all ere I part.
I return back the keys to the door; No longer do I claim a home;
Bid me well your hearty adieus.
For many long days was I with you;
I have given some, I have taken much more;
Dawn’s gone; the night has come; the candle in my coner blows out—
My call has come; I set out that's why.

Ashutosh, like Shiva, lived in those lines; he perhaps guided us as "living dead".

Can we ever fail to remember any of our dear departed?

After posting this blog I saw a simulation of asteroid impact which is impressive. It is at