That which endures......

That which endures... I have two instances to offer.

One from the south of India - of mantras and bird song. Frits Staal, while studying the mantras of Vedic rituals made the startling observation that they are proto-language in origin

"in Vedic ritual, as in mantra recitation, the function of language is phonetic and syntactic, not semantic. This implies that neither ritual, nor mantras, should be regarded as a kind of language; for the primary semantic distinction, that between meaningful and meaningless, which is basic to language in all its uses, is absent from ritual and mantras."

"I also drew a further conclusion: syntax in language has a ritual origin, and language developed from syntactic structures to which meanings were added subsequently"

"..comparing it to bird songs, it was found that the patterns were similar and such patterns were not found any where else..."

And one from the north - of toys which endured in Harappa

Archaeologist Elke Rogersdotter, who was investigating the Bronze Age civilization at Harappa, has an interesting observation. Every 10th item found is related to play: dice, gaming pieces etc.

Repetitive patterns have been discerned in the spatial distribution, which may indicate specific locations where games were played.
“The marked quantity of play-related finds and the structured distribution shows that playing was already an important part of people’s everyday lives more than 4,000 years ago,” says Elke.

“The reason that play and game-related artefacts often end up ignored or being reinterpreted at archaeological excavations is probably down to scientific thinking’s incongruity with the irrational phenomenon of games and play,” believes Elke.“The objective of determining the social significance of the actual games therefore, in turn, challenges established ways of thinking. It is an instrument we can use to come up with interpretations that are closer to the individual person. We may gain other, more socially-embedded, approaches for a difficult-to-interpret settlement.”[Play was important - even 4,000 years ago]



You bring two fascinating examples of enduring legacy, S.A.M. Thank you for posting them.

The origins of language and the means by which we communicate are significant, IMO, as it amazes me how frequently misunderstandings seem to arise in spite of all the communication mediums and devices now available to us.

'Play' is one of the most effective teaching mediums available, and it does not surprise me that this was known even to the ancients. Even in observing animals, much of their 'play' seems to develop the skills they will require in later life.
One more related to play, which was fascinating to me and may be of interest to you?

A game of moksha patamu on cloth - used to teach Hindu dharma [religion, way of life] to children


The game was created by the 13th century poet saint Gyandev. The ladders in the game represented virtues and the snakes indicated vices. The game was played with cowrie shells and dices. Later through time, the game underwent several modifications but the meaning is the same i.e good deeds take us to heaven and evil to a cycle of re-births. There are certain references which take the game back to 2nd century BC.

In the original game square 12 was faith, 51 was Reliability, 57 was Generosity, 76 was Knowledge, and 78 was Asceticism. These were the squares were the ladder was found. Square 41 was for Disobedience, 44 for Arrogance, 49 for Vulgarity, 52 for Theft, 58 for Lying, 62 for Drunkenness, 69 for Debt, 84 for Anger, 92 for Greed, 95 for Pride, 73 for Murder and 99 for Lust. These were the squares were the snake was found. The Square 100 represented Nirvana or Moksha.

Also known as ‘paramapadam’, there are a hundred squares on a board; the ladders take you up, the snakes bring you down. The difference here is that the squares are illustrated. The top of the ladder depicts a God, or one of the various heavens (kailasa, vaikuntha, brahmaloka) and so on, while the bottom describes a good quality. Conversely, each snake’s head is a negative quality or an asura (demon). As the game progresses, the various karma and samskara, good deeds and bad, take you up and down the board. Interspersed are plants, people and animals.

The game serves a dual purpose: entertainment, as well as dos and don’ts, divine reward and punishment, ethical values and morality. The final goal leads to Vaikuntha or heaven, depicted by Vishnu surrounded by his devotees, or Kailasa with Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Skanda, and their devotees.

other "boards" of the same game


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Moksha patamu, better known to myself in it's Canadian variant, Snakes and Ladders.

I did not realize that this was an ancient game from India, although the teaching aspects are readily comprehensible and the game makes more sense when the lessons are stated rather than just the random chance of either landing on a snake or a ladder.

The game is a central metaphor of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. The narrator describes the game thusly:

All games have morals; and the game of Snakes and Ladders captures, as no other activity can hope to do, the eternal truth that for every ladder you hope to climb, a snake is waiting just around the corner, and for every snake a ladder will compensate. But it's more than that; no mere carrot-and-stick affair; because implicit in the game is unchanging twoness of things, the duality of up against down, good against evil; the solid rationality of ladders balances the occult sinuosities of the serpent; in the opposition of staircase and cobra we can see, metaphorically, all conceivable oppositions, Alpha against Omega, father against mother.

A short but interesting video of less than 2 1/2 minutes duration. It is really quite fascinating to contemplate the efforts that have been made in the building of artifacts that have survived long past their civilizations of origin.

The Terracotta Army are the funerary statues of Warriors and Horses of Qin Shi Huang the First Emperor of China, who died more than 2,000 years ago. The terracotta figures, dating from 210 BC, were uncovered by peasants who were digging a well in 1974 in Lintong County of Shanxi Province, China near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. The statues of the infantry soldiers range between 5 foot 8 inches and 6 foot 2 inches; the commanders are 6 and half feet tall. The lower half of the kiln-fired ceramic bodies were made of solid terracotta clay, the upper half hollow. It is evident that the statues were vividly painted including a color called Chinese purple; although most of that paint has flown, traces of it may be seen on some of the statues. More than 80 million people have visited Qin terra cotta warriors and horses in past three decades. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The statues are fascinating. I was privileged to view an excellent selection of their exhibition in Atlanta a few years ago and once again in Mumbai this year. What I find most fascinating, is the character of the Emperor himself. He fashioned two sets of these soldiers, above ground to represent earth and below ground to represent the after life and construction on the statues began soon after his coronation [IIRC he was thirteen at the time] and continued for the next 50 years until his death at sixty something. He wanted to ensure a superior mausoleum for himself in his lifetime. The collection is quite extensive with underground pools and animals, chariots, generals, infantry, cavalry, musicians and what not. Its simply magnificient.
if i was rich,that place would defiantly be on the top of my 'to visit' list.(pyramids would be fairly low on that list..)

<edit> wow..i had no clue about the history of snakes and ladders..very interesting..
The Kumbh Mela [Kumbha is a Sanskrit word for Pitcher (actually a roundish pot with no handles), sometimes referred to as the Kalasha. It is also a zodiac sign in Indian astrology for Aquarius, the sign under which the festival is celebrated, while Mela means 'a gathering' or 'a meet', or simply a fair.]

Kumbh Mela (Devanagari: कुम्भ मेला) is a mass Hindu pilgrimage in which Hindus gather at the Ganges river.

The normal Kumbh Mela is celebrated every 3 years, the Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is celebrated every six years at Haridwar and Prayag,[1] the Purna (complete) Kumbh takes place every twelve years,[2] at four places (Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik). The Maha (great) Kumbh Mela which comes after 12 'Purna Kumbh Melas', or 144 years, is held at Allahabad.[2][3][4]

The last Ardh Kumbh Mela was held over a period of 45 days beginning in January 2007, more than 70 million Hindu pilgrims took part in the Ardh Kumbh Mela at Prayag, and on January 15, the most auspicious day of the festival of Makar Sankranti, more than 5 million participated.[5]

The previous Maha Kumbh Mela, held in 2001, was attended by around 60 million people, making it at the time the largest gathering anywhere in the world in recorded history.[6][7][8][9]


The Nagas can usually be seen in a group only during this event. They are an ascetic tribe and do not normally live in society


Its a very old ritual festival with origins in the time of myth

The first written evidence of the Kumbha Mela can be found in the accounts of Chinese traveler, Huan Tsang or Xuanzang (602 - 664 A.D.) who visited India in 629 -645 CE, during the reign of King Harshavardhana.[13][14][15] However, the observance dates back many centuries to ancient India's Vedic period, where the river festivals first started getting organised. In Hindu mythology, its origin is found in one of the popular creation myths, the Samudra manthan episode (Churning of the ocean of milk), mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana.[16]

The account goes that the Gods had lost their strength, and to regain it, they thought of churning the Ksheera Sagara (primordial ocean of milk) for amrita (the nectar of immortality). This required them to make a temporary agreement with their arch enemies, the demons or Asuras, to work together with a promise of sharing the nectar equally thereafter.[17] However, when the Kumbha (urn) containing the amrita appeared, a fight ensued. For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for the pot of amrita. It is believed that during the battle, Lord Vishnu flew away with the Kumbha of elixir spilling drops of amrita at four places: Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik.[18]
strange indeed . It is like other religiousness was born from a lot of that . Did you see some similarities ? Strange that serpent at the bottom of the sea . Sea serpents . More Poseidon type stuff.
There are a number of similarities between the various creation myths of cultures around the globe, and they all make for an interesting read.

The evidence of the here and now is of even greater interest to me as our interpretation is constantly expanding as new bits of evidence come to light.

The following story is not new, but it is new to me and I cheerfully take ownership of the detail that the oldest known rocks on the planet to date, are on Canadian soil. We may be barely dry behind the ears as a nation, but we are standing on bedrock, a solid foundation.


An expanse of bedrock along Hudson Bay, Canada, may be a chunk of crust that formed not long after the solar system was born nearly five billion years ago, according to a new study.

The finding could push back the age of the most ancient remnant of stable crust on Earth by about 300 million years.

Previous research had dated rocks in northwestern Canada to 4.03 billion years ago, and tiny crystals of the mineral zircon in Western Australia are known to be upward of 4.38 billion years old.
Love and Hate

Love and Hate are enduring aspects of the dual nature of the human condition, and yet what, precisely, is there to love, or to hate, about the fact that one has the experience of being in this world?

Life's sole purpose would seem to be to endure and prolong the experience of life, while enabling another generation to follow.

Toward this end, not every individual of every species is required to propagate, yet all contribute to the process in some manner.

Our tendency would seem to be to 'love' those experiences which aid our cause and to 'hate' those circumstances and others who would impede or challenge our will in this matter.

It is an interesting observation that when one learns to deal with a challenge successfully, one's feeling of antipathy toward that challenge diminishes. Hate CAN be mitigated in some things.

The line between love and hate is a thin one at best, and our response to any circumstance will be dependent on a multitude of variables at the time.

We generally 'love' to have the option of choices and 'hate' when that option is placed beyond our reach or others make choices without our involvement.

Was there ever a thing more enduring than change, thogh the phases of change may be of short duration?

The wheel of the seasons is ever in motion, etching a path that is recorded in the memory of each and reflected in the gaze which we return upon the mirror.

Superficially we change and presumably we gain in experience, yet somewhere there is a glimpse of a thing which remains the same.

What do you think will be the most enduring development from your life to date?

The ability to learn and adapt. Without the ability to either learn or adapt humans would have never survived through all of these years. I believe that by understanding what humans need to do in order to survive they persevere. That requires humans to cooperate together in order to work together in order to keep progress happening and life continuing onward.:)
One from the south of India - of mantras and bird song. Frits Staal, while studying the mantras of Vedic rituals made the startling observation that they are proto-language in origin

Thanks SAM. That's a tidbit of knowledge that will probably endure in my mind until I die.
The ability to learn and adapt. Without the ability to either learn or adapt humans would have never survived through all of these years. I believe that by understanding what humans need to do in order to survive they persevere. That requires humans to cooperate together in order to work together in order to keep progress happening and life continuing onward.:)

An excellent observation and contribution to this thread, Cosmic. Our species is incredibly curious and we put a considerable amount of our energy into both work and play that challenges us. :)