Saturday, April 22, 2017

Frog as a Symbol of Metamorphosis

Recently I read an article by Leigh Melander, Phd., a Joseph Campbell scholar on the symbolism of the frog in various cultures and mythologies signifying fertility, fortune, resurrection, and magic. She opens the article with what she experienced in the Catskill Mountain in New York state of how the Spring Peppers, a little green frog native to these regions, sing the very first warm night of Spring.
I experience this every monsoon in Chennai, India of how the tiny frogs come out with the onset of the very first heavy monsoon shower and continue their chorus throughout the night.
The few examples she had brought out were the following:
“Egyptian mythology, the Frog Goddess Heqet is a creator of life as the force that brings life into the womb, mirroring the regenerative life of the Nile as it blew past its banks each spring, bringing with it not only water and rich soil, but thousands of spring frogs. She was the patron of midwives, who called themselves ‘Servants of Heqet’ and protector of women giving birth, who often wore amulets of her as they went into labour.  But not simply a fertility and birth goddess, Heqet became a symbol of resurrection as she breathed life into Horus at the moment of his birth and his father Osiris’ death at the hand of his brother in the central myth cycle of Egyptian culture.” [1]
We can all recall the fairy tales which we read as children of the Frog price and the princess. In this story we read how the kiss of the princess transform the frog into a handsome prince. This story is a mythological episode to convey how the Divine Sophia or wisdom develops an intimate relationship with a lower nature of created manifestation resulting in a metamorphosis  into higher consciousness level.
An important point that we need to note is the capacity to hibernate till the right ambiance is available. It is the withdrawal from worldly sustenance and attachments into a deeply tranquil state, a near death state of the physical, which ensures the survival of these species. This world in which we live is the crucible where the spiritual sustenance that we need is poured. If we do not wait for the right nourishment of the soul but fully engage in activities to cling on to physical sustenance and life, we miss the moment of the arrival of true sustenance.
The new element which I wanted to bring to the reader’s attention is the deeper significance of the frog in Vedic writings.
“THEY who lay quiet for a year, the Brahmans who fulfil their vows, The Frogs have lifted up their voice, the voice Parjanya hath inspired.” [2]
“SING forth and laud Parjanya, son of Heaven, who sends the gift of rain. May he provide our pasturage. Parjanya is the God who forms in kine, in mares, in plants of earth, And womankind, the germ of life. Offer and pour into his mouth oblation rich in savoury juice: May he for ever give us food.”[3]
Life giving water is the symbol of universal consciousness in many spiritual traditions. The letter ‘Mem’ in Hebrew spiritual tradition is water, the waters of wisdom, knowledge, the Torah. Representing both waters and manifestation, it is the ability to dive deep into the wisdom. It is said that in every person is the thirst for the words of the Creator, which are the waters of life. As the frog awaits the arrival of heavenly water so also every manifested creation longs for the touch of the waters of wisdom.
This water of wisdom is the Divine consciousness which is creative force in the elevation of our consciousness to the higher domain.
One of the greatest spiritual significance of the frog can be seen in the naming of the sixth most important of the 108 Upanishads as ‘Mandukya Upanishad’. Mandukya in Sanskrit means ‘Frog’ or ‘arousal’. This Upanishad is the shortest and comprises of only twelve verses. This Upanishad forms the basis of Advaita philosophy of Adi Sankara.
“We are told [in Mandukya Upanishad] how, "the syllable Om is verily all that exists. Under it is included all the past, the present and the future, as well as that which transcends time. Verily all this is Brahman. The Atman is Brahman. This Atman is four-footed. The first foot is the Vaisvanara, who enjoys gross things, in the state of wakefulness. The second foot is the Taijasa, who enjoys exquisite things in the state of dream. The third is the Prajna who enjoys bliss in the state of deep sleep. The fourth is Atman, who is alone without a second, calm, holy and tranquil". This passage has been verily the basis upon which all the later systems of Vedantic philosophy have come to be built.” [4]                
So when we hear the frogs croak in unison, let us feel our heart resonate longing for the Divine Wisdom to drench our being.
Love to you all



[1] MythBlast: Life, Resurrection, and the Mythic Teachings of Frogs ………… Leigh Melander, Ph.D.
[2] Rigveda 7.103 verse 1
[3] Rig Veda Hymn to Parjanya
[4] RD Ranade, “A Constructive Survey of Upanishadic Philosophy”, Chapter 1, pages 35-36

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