Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Fire under the ocean - A natural wonder


                         Fire under the ocean - A natural wonder

     Hindu mythology has many stories about the mysterious submarine fire that is hidden at the bottom of the sea. 
Puranas, epics and sanskrit literary works term this fire as ' Vadavanala or Vadavagni ' , vadava meaning ' mare ' and anala or agni denoting fire.
Vadavanala is a mare which breathes fire and stands on the ocean floor or it is fire found in the shape of a mare under the ocean. This submarine fire causes the sea water to evaporate and turn into mist, thus preventing the sea from overflowing on to the land. It is said that at the time of pralaya or deluge, vadavagni will stop doing this, causing the ocean to expand and submerge the earth. The fire of the submarine mare will burst forth in the form of volcanoes. Everything will be destroyed by lava and water. Thus there could be an interesting link between sea-level changes and mass extinction. Infact, oceans are the cause of both creation and destruction of the universe. Scriptures all over the world bear testimony to this fact.

Ancient wisdom is revealed through stories, symbols and rituals. The origin of fire-breathing mare is interesting. According to one story, Kamadeva, the cupid, the god of love, once tried to arouse desire in the mind of Shiva, the ascetic. Shiva opened his third eye, released a missile of fire anddestroyed the god of love and desire. The world cannot function without desire and love. Hence, Vishnu, the protector of the universe caught the fire of Shiva's third eye, turned into a mare and hid her under the sea. Thus the mare could be a symbol of fertility, movement and power.

According to Harivamsha purana, Aurva the grandson of the sage Bhrgu and the son of the sage Urva, gained great power by his austerities . He was requested by the gods to beget children to perpetuate his lineage. He agreed but warned them that his offspring would be so powerful that they would consume the world. So from his thigh he created a devouring fire which would have destroyed the world. But before that Brahma, the creator of the universe put the fire into the ocean as its habitation and water as its food, thus preventing the destruction of the world.

In the Mahabharata , a different version is seen. Aurva was the son of sage Chyavana. He wanted to take revenge upon the kings who persecuted brahmins. Even after the kings begged for forgiveness, Aurva continued to harbour his anger and hatred against the kings. His ancestors appeared before him and asked him to forgive his enemies. Aurva then discarded the flames of anger and hatred into the sea. Incidentally 'Arvan' means horse in sanskrit. So the fire and horse has relation.

This story may be a hint to the scientific fact. Most of the water in the deep ocean is extremely cold, almost close to freezing. There is another type of extreme environment found in the deep sea known as Hydrothermal vents. The water at the hydrothermal vents is very hot. It is heated by volcanic activity at tectonic spreading ridges. The hot water spews from holes in the crust called vents, looking like dark smoke because of dissolved chemicals it picked up from the underground. Certain types of Archaea and Eubacteria microbes are able to turn the chemicals from the hot water into the energy they need to survive. Many other types of living things including fish, shrimp, giant tubeworms, crabs and clams thrive in this environment as well. Underneath the earth geothermal current is present.
What a beautiful convergence of ancient wisdom and modern science !

1 comment:

Jaya said...

Amazing article Amma. Beautiful blend of ancient wisdom and science. Only you have wisdom to converge ancient knowledge to science...