SaramA: Hindu Mother of all Dogs

Dogs are honored creatures in many Hindu traditions.

Dogs are honored creatures in many Hindu traditions.

My name is SaramA.

I am a dog-god, and I sit at the right hand of Indra, Hindu king of all gods.

To know more about our relationship, you first must know more about Indra. This king of all gods is not born in the usual way, but is so special and pure that he comes out of the mouth of the Primordial God. This god of all gods is named Perusha. He takes special time and care fashioning Indra, making certain that when his progeny takes the throne, he has the ability to rule lightning, thunder, storms, and rivers.

Indra, with SaramA.

Indra, with SaramA.

Besides the gifts of ruling nature, Indra is also a great warrior.

Sadly, that is the easiest part of my story to tell. What I wish to relate comes from the Hindu sacred text called the Mahabharata, which is rich and colorful but very confusing at times. Tales about me have been rewritten so many times so that I cannot always remember my own history. I will be as clear as I can.

For the gods, day turning to night and night turning to day is an eternal struggle between two forces. The day-force is called Devas. It is all about light. The night-force does not have a name because it is stolen and we do not want to deify it by calling it a name. In any case, that force is only about the absence of light. We know that the sun’s rays are stolen by the night and that every morning, dawn has to rescue light from the darkness.

In our religion, the hoarding of the sun’s light by the darkness eventually became associated with merchants. The reason is that merchants were believed to hoard goods and money. These hoarders of the sun’s light (and possibly money and goods) are portrayed as envious demons named PaNis.

Every day, Indra wants to recover the rays of light. Here’s where it gets complicated. Somehow, these rays of light become referred to as cows. Maybe the writer of the Mahabharata believed that as a dog, I would be more adept at finding these cows than rays of light. So I was put on the scent of finding stolen cows.

Intrigued? Read more about SaramA and other fascinating dogs throughout history in "In the Company of Dogs"!