Shesha & the Lord Shiva
❧ in which Moe is enraged by the theological tactics of the Hindu merchant next door ❧
As if to mock him, Shesha put up a new image of Lord Shiva on the sidewalk in front of his shop. The young girls just stared at it, while Shesha explained to them that Shiva's symbol was the lingam, and that some lingams were wider than Marduk's beard. Soon there was a line-up in front of Shesha's shop, and people started disappearing behind a blue curtain at the back. Only later did they slink out of the shop, with the tips of their hats touching their noses.
Shesha became downright arrogant, mocking the claims Moe made in his recent article The Boat on the Hill. Shesha scoffed at puny hills like Sinai. He pointed out that even Moe's beloved Ararat was more than one Sinai's height lower than Chhogori, itself hundreds of cubits beneath the great mother of them all, Chomolungma. He then repeated Moe's observation that Shiva's icy abode lay at the centre of the six great mountain ranges -- adding that Shiva was also the undefeated god of war, the master of deepest meditation, and the most skilful lover in the universe. Battle-hardened, ascetic, erotic, Shiva’s powers were greater than any god’s -- even the wise Ea, his magical son Marduk, or the fiery Shamash.
Shesha’s new statue portrayed Shiva with his arm around Parvati’s upper waist. His hand cupped her breast, and his middle finger just barely touched her nipple.
Moe’s customers crossed the street in droves.
Beneath the awning and next to his best Kashmiri produce, Shesha put up an enormous image of his namesake, the snake-god Shesha, hovering over Vishnu, with Lakshmi at his side.
Below it Shesha carved into the grey stone two lines which he translated from a famous Sanskrit story: Shesha, foremost manifestation of Lord Vishnu; / Origin of all divine incarnations in this material world. These lines had been sung to him by his grandmother over his bed from the time he was an infant to his twelfth birthday, at which time he left Jhukar to join his rich uncle in the plundered city of Mohenjodaro. It was there he met Dhargda, his Dravidian beauty. What did it matter if she was dark as Kali’s nipple? That she was not high-born? That she didn’t know how to do puja in front of Lord Vishnu?
Karshnaz, the Persian merchant next door, was not to be outdone by this brazen display of Indian mythology. He immediately imported an even larger statue of Shiva, with a giant penis standing erect beneath the spread legs of Parvati. His brother Zardosht (or Zarathustra in his native Avestan language) went so far as to import a panel of apsaras. Dancing heavenly nymphs!
Fornicating nymphs and stone idols! Moe was sure they were lesbian apsaras, corrupt and evil as the men he had seen fondling each other in the backstreet of Sidamu. What had all his attempts at cross-cultural mythology come to? Thinking back to his article in The Holy Mountain, he began to see that the Mesopotamian mountains and the Indian mountains weren’t the same at all. It was all a sham, this good will and reaching out to foreigners!
The final straw came when Zardosht bought an enormous stone image of Shiva, half-man and half-woman.
Moe couldn't keep track of the strange types that went through the blue curtain after that.
Enraged, he went to the front of his shop and tore down the statue of his meditating Shiva. He gouged the inscription from the grey stone. In its place, he chiselled in deep and angry grooves: Climb your own mountain, Zardosht! And take your apples tarts with you!
Next: Golden Calves