Monthly Archives: May 2014

From the Spalding Symposium: On the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata


In my second blog entry that seeks to compare approaches to the significant past, and future, in Hindu , Buddhist and Jain tradition, I will explore, briefly, the Brahminical epics: Vasiṣṭha, in the Rāmāyaṇa’s second book, provides the following account of the origin of the world in order to instruct his king, Rāma, in the necessity of primogeniture, which Pollock translates as follows:

2.102.2: “I want you now, master of the world, to learn from me the origin of this world. Everything was once just water, and within this water the earth was fashioned. The Sef-existent Brahmā then came into existence with the gods.

2.102.3: He then became a boar, raised up the treasure-laden earth, and created the whole moving world with the help of his accomplished sons.

2.102.4:  Brahmā the everlasting, the eternal and imperishable, arose from space. he begot Marīci, and Marīci a son named Kaśyapa.

2.102.5 Kaśyapa begot Vivasvan, the Sun. Manu is recorded as the sun of Vivasvan – he was the first lord of creatures – and the son of Manu was Ikṣvāku.


There follows a genealogical account of the generations of the solar lineage, which culminates in Rāma:

2.102.29: And you, known far and wide as Rāma, are his eldest son and heir. Assume , then, the kingship that is your own and show regard for the world, your Majesty.


This account presents a history of the universe that is theistic, catalyzed by Brahmā and based on the genealogical succession of royal authority. It makes no mention of the Vedas (which is not inappropriate given the context of the instruction: of a noted Brahmin sage instructing a prince, whose inheritance is being reluctantly set aside by his father, king Daśaratha). The Mahābhārata, in its twelfth book, offers us a little more detail with regard to the creative agency of Brahmā and the Vedas, which I translate as follows:

12.326.104: Hundreds and thousands of mahākalpas pass together with creations and dissolutions, O Indra of Kings. At the beginning of each creation, Brahmā the mighty creation-maker remembers.


A little later on in the same book, Brahmā makes it clear that creation is dependent on the Vedas. I translate a portion of his speech as follows:

12.335.29-30: The Vedas are my most excellent eyes, they are my ultimate strength. They are my great refuge. The Vedas are the highest brahma… Without the Vedas the world of my creation is in darkness. Without the Vedas, how would I dutifully act to create the worlds?


One cannot help but observe that there is a similar change in grammatical person in these two ślokas, as there was in the Buddhavaṃsa; the pivotal statement of the dependency of Brahmā, and thus all living beings, on the Vedas is narrated in the first person. In a text as multi-voiced as the Mahābhārata one cannot, of course, say this is part of a conspicuous pattern of usage. Nonetheless, Brahmā’s speech does, without doubt, add emphasis and drama here. What is clear is that saṃsāra is predicated on the agency of Brahmā and the presence of the Vedas. This cyclical understanding of cosmic time is then fleshed out by the idea of the mahāyuga and yuga, the eon and era respectively. The Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata, somewhat patchily, subscribe to the idea of their being four distinct eras in each eon (the well-known kṛta-, dvāpara-, treta- and kaliyugas, whose moral and religious character vary).

The Mahābhārata combines accounts of creation and, indeed, recreation with a vast amount of concrete genealogical detail and a dependency on prophecy, oath and curse to act as the engine of narrative progression. The genealogies – and associated kinship ideologies – of the Mahābhārata have been explored in great detail by my colleague at Cardiff University, Simon Brodbeck, in his The Mahābharata Patriline.  The brute fact of the genealogical emphasis of the two texts is sufficient for my purposes today.

The Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata are, in contrast, only lightly seasoned with transmigratory narrative.  In the Mahābhārata, the story of Ambā, the reason for Draupadī’s five husbands, the birth of Vidura and a few other isolated tales are all that we are provided with. In the Rāmāyaṇa there is even less in the way of rebirth stories: Kausalyā adduces an earlier birth to explain her misfortune and Sītā’s past life as Vedavatī is mentioned in the context of a prophecy of Rāvaṇa’s eventual demise. Although, there is sometimes mention of the transmigratory benefits of the hearing of the Rāmāyaṇa or Mahābhārata in the two texts (in their phalaśruti), these, as often as not, focus instead on healthy offspring and other more worldly benefits. Taken together it all amounts to little more than the cherry on a rum baba. This is notwithstanding the fact that rebirth is well-established in the – probably – largely contemporaneous Dharmasūtras. For example, the Āpastamba Dharmasūtra states, in Olivelle’s translation:

2.2.6: When a thief or a heinous sinner, whether he is a Brahmin, a Kṣatriya or a Vaiśya, completes his sojourn in the next world living in an interminable hell, he is born here again – a Brahmin as a Cāṇḍāla, a Kṣatriya as a Paulkasa, and a Vaiśya as a Vaiṇa. In like manner, others, when the fall from their castes as a result of singul acts, are born as outcastes in wombs that are the aftermath of their sins.


Indeed, dharmaśāstric literature presents us with vast lists of the transmigratory consequences of wrong doings of various types. This does not translate into a transmigratory narrative ‘web’ of the Buddhist, or Jain, type, however. That is not to say we find no trace of existential angst in Brahminical narratives: the Mahābhārata is full of it. The final book of the Mahābhārata, for example, contains the following passionate denunciation of conditioned existence, which I translate as follows:

18. 47-50. Thousands of mothers and fathers and hundreds of sons and wives proceed enjoying the cycle of death and re-birth and some go beyond. There are thousands of occasions for delight and hundreds for fear and, day after day, the foolish invest in these, while the learned do not. With arms held aloft, I lament, but no one hears me! From Dharma come profit and pleasure; for what purpose does it not serve?  Dharma should never be abandoned: not for pleasure, nor on account of fear or ignorance. The soul is indeed the primary cause. Dharma is eternal, but joy and sorrow are not.  The jīva is eternal but the bondage of the soul will not be!

In the Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa, it seems that rebirth is – more or less – cosmologically and doctrinally integrated (though the details of this integration and where its philosophical loyalties lay are open to question and are the subject of much scholarly debate), but there is a distinct lack of narrative that capitalises on this.

What the Rāmāyaṇa mentions in passing, and the Mahābhārata deals with more fully, is the matter of divine incarnation. Rāma’s divine status is by no means emphasised in the Rāmāyaṇā, but it is mentioned (in, for example, books six and seven of the text). Kṛṣṇa’s divinity is more clearly established in the Mahābhārata (and I do not have time to rehearse the many references to it in, and outside of, the Bhagavadgītā here). Indeed, the Mahābhārata is perhaps more than anything else the story of divine incarnation; all of its major characters are deities that have taken birth to help in the project of the unburdening of the earth of a fractious warrior class (in a fashion that does not seem to sit well with the idea of ethicised  transmigration of either the Buddhist or Jain type). It is also the case that the heroes of the Mahābhārata, the Pāṇḍavas, are, of course, individually fathered by gods (in a process quite separate to their incarnation). The question of the stages of development of a fully fledged avatāra system (of sequential divine incarnation) is beyond the scope of the present paper (but has been cogently discussed by Hiltebeitel in the longer of the two recent books he has recently published on Dharma). The avatāra scheme is deserving of comparison with the patterns of incanration and intervention in Buddhist sources such as the Buddhavaṃsa, and Jain sources, which I will take up in other blog entries soon.

The Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata provide, then, an account of a longue durée of Indian cosmo-history that demonstrates a recurrent commitment to detailing the lineages of prominent kings and sages.  This is undertaken in parallel with a concern to present the gods (and God with a capital G on occasion) as capable of intervention in human life (by means of birth or manifestation or something that blends these two things). We thus have true pedigrees; of ritual specialists (Brahmins) and temporal leaders (Kṣatriyas) and an understanding of divine beings as capable of ‘cosmo-political’ intervention (as, for example, in the unburdening of the earth) and religious instruction (as is offered in the Bhagavad Gītā). However, putting it rather bluntly, the emergent understanding of divine incarnation seems to emphasise the political and social over the renunciative or at least seems to try to have its cake and eat it; Kṛṣṇa offers a teaching that encourages social action – even as one pursues mokṣa – and does so precisely as an intervention in an internecine royal conflict.

Both the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata demonstrate a lacklustre commitment to transmigratory narratives and constitute a social collective not karmically, but dharmically (by means of the inculcation of commitment to the recurrent necessity to confirm to a ritual and social ‘blueprint’ provided by the Vedas and their associated ancillary literature). They do this while simultaneously demonstrating an inconsistent commitment to a variety of religious philosophies (Vedāntic, Saṅkhyic etc.)  that are likely to have been the subject of śramaṇic influence – including, but not limited to, the ideologies of Buddhists and Jains.

If the Buddhavamṣa is a sutta becoming an epic story (of a rather triumphalist type), then the epics are perhaps the product of a piecemeal and rather reluctant transformation in the opposite direction.

Spalding Symposium (Again)

Over the next few blog entries, I will present selected materials from my recent paper at the Spalding Symposium. In my research, I have started to compare mytho-historical schemata across the three traditions. This sounds rather grandiose, but what I am really considering is the overarching approach to the significant past (and often the anticipated future) – such as we find it – in each of the three traditions. This is more of a macro-analytic approach to our subject matter, which is intended to compliment some of our more micro-analytic character and genre comparisons (for example, Naomi’s recent work on the ‘Janakas’ and my work on king-sage dialogues). It will become apparent, however, by the end of this sequence of blogs, that this in no way reduces the necessity for close engagement with individual texts. It just requires that I ‘step back’ from the material to consider recurrent features in the approach to the past in Brahminical, Jain and Buddhist sources. This is something that I sought to do, if only for the Mahābhārata tradition, in my monograph, Religion, Narrative and Public Imagination in South Asia (Routledge 2012).

It is a Buddhist text that I wish to focus on presently: the Buddhavaṃsa. This is an important text, if one is interested in, what the Buddhologist Steven Collin’s has termed, the ‘Pāli imaginaire’, or, as Naomi and I are, the relationship between competing narrative accounts of the nature and purpose of the human subject, the universe and preferred religious ideology in Sanskrit, Pāli and the Prākrits.

The Buddhavaṃsa, or  ‘the chronicle of buddhas’, tells of the spiritual progress of Gotama Buddha, and specifically his progress towards ‘bodhisattahood’,  in his various lives under the dispensations of various previous buddhas. It is thus a history of the Buddha and of buddhas . The Buddhavaṃsa is considered to be a ‘late’ addition to the Pāli canon and forms part of the Khuddaka Nikāya, which itself, of course, forms part of the Suttapiṭaka of the Tipiṭaka.

The Buddhavaṃsa recounts, in a formulaic and truncated fashion, the lives of 25 buddhas: from Dīpaṅkara to Gotama. To this, it adds a justificatory prologue, as well as an introductory account of the birth of a brahmin by the name of Sumedha,  the future Śākyamuni, who resolves to become a Buddha, and two final sections: one a brief summary of the succession of buddhas (including some that come before Dīpaṅkara and one that comes after Gotama) and the other a brief disquisition on the distribution of Gotama’s relics. Sumedha means ‘nourishing’, which nicely reflects the concern of the Bodhisatta-to-be for the enlightenment of all beings, but it also means – and this is – one suspects – because Buddhist sources are unable to resist a dig at the Vedic yajña –  ‘good sacrifice’ and ‘good offering’, thereby underscoring – none too subtly – the superiority of the bodhisatta path to that of the Vedic ritual system.

The text opens with an extraordinary image: that of a jewelled footbridge across the ten thousand worlds. Its supporting pillars are sunk into the summit of each of the Mt. Sumeru’s of the many worlds: Jayawickrama translates the description of this footbridge as follows:

1.13. The Conqueror created a Walk spanning the ten-thousand; all golden were the sides of that Walk which was made of jewels.

1.14. The junction of (each pair of) beams was symmetrical, the floor-boards covered with gold; all golden were the railings, well-fashioned on both sides.

This golden footbridge was created at the behest of Brahmā and is the subject of much approbation by all classes of beings, from the devas to the nāgas and kiṇṇaras. It is difficult to imagine a more perfect evocation of Buddhist omniscience: a vantage point from which all may be observed, but only by fixing one’s attention upon something in particular (a thought that occurred to me on the basis of the characterisation of Buddhist omniscience in chapter six of Naomi’s new book, Narrating Karma and Rebirth, where she states, ‘The Buddha claims to know everything, but only one thing at a time.’ p.181). It is equally a powerful image of  the cosmic reach of a transcendent ideology (a bridge spanning ten thousand Mt. Sumerus is hardly what one could call understated). Notwithstanding all this cosmic bluster and fanfare, even as the Buddha is described as travelling along his golden-walkway, the narrative is brought firmly down to earth. Jayawickrama translates (as he will throughout the analyses that follow):

1.74. Sāriputta, of great wisdom proficient in concentration and meditation, attained to the perfection of wisdom, asked the leader of the world:

1.75. “Of what kind, great hero, supreme among men, was your resolve? At what time, wise one, was supreme Awakening aspired by you?

The text is thus committed to a double opening; the first is that of  the bejewelled walkway, surrounded by a panoply of divine beings, the second is that of Vulture peak, in which the Buddha is surrounded by his chief disciples. The two contexts are upheld simultaneously; on the one hand, it is Brahmā’s request for the Buddha to teach that is the stimulus for the Buddhavaṃsa, on the other hand, it is the request of Sāriputta for specific instruction. Indeed, the divine walkway itself finds a mundane reflection in the walk constructed by Sumedha in his hermitage (the word for both being caṅkama). This simultaneity of worlds, and of scales, reflects a commitment to divine and human contexts of explanation, which is not such a prominent feature of, for example, the Dīghanikāya, even though it also tells of former buddhas,  for example in the Mahāpadāna Sutta. It is a prominent feature of the Mahābhārata, however, as I shall show in blogs to come. The opening of the Buddhavamṣa makes it distinctive; in it, sutta-style discourse maintains a vestigial grip on an emergent epic of transmigratory progress toward ‘bodhisattahood’.

Just as there is an initial movement between divine and human realms, so too is there an opening vacillation between third and first person narrative in the Buddhavaṃsa. Sarah Shaw has commented on the movement between third and first person verbal constructions in accounts of the life of the Buddha ( in her ‘And that was I: How the Buddha Himself Creates a Path between Biography and Autobiography’ in Linda Covill et al eds. Lives Lived, Lives Imagined: Biography in the Buddhist Tradition). The situation in the Buddhavaṃsa  is complicated:  the opening of the Buddhavaṃsa, as well as much of its basic narrative content,  is told in the third person (e.g. 1.17. All the devas, gathered together, showering down (the verb is okiranti) on the walk deva-like Mandārava flowers, lotuses and flowers of the Coral tree’). However, the resolve to build the golden walkway, is expressed in the first person:

1.5. Come, I will display (dassayissāmi) the unsurpassed power of a Buddha; in the zenith I will create (māpayissāmi) a walk adorned with jewels.

First person constructions, which express the agency of he-who-will-be Gotama Buddha, dominate the Buddhavaṃsa at critical moments, namely at moments of cosmic insight, spiritual resolution and transmigratory selfidentification. Thus the bejewelled walkway, as a structure of ‘actualised’ cosmic insight must be anchored directly to the agency of the Buddha, even if the shift is somewhat grammatically abrupt. Similarly, when the Brahmin Sumedha is introduced, as a (and please excuse my Sanskritisation) mahāmantrin, a vedavid and an aitihasika, amongst other things, he is described in the third person (I note, in passing – at least in this paper –  the eternality of the Vedas and the Brahmin in the Pāli imaginaire). In the verse that immediately follows this characterisation, however, which is a moment of cosmic insight, there is, again, a shift to the first person. The Buddha says:

2.7. Sitting in seclusion I thought thus then: “Again-becoming is anguish, also the breaking up of the physical frame.

This is immediately followed by a spiritual resolution, which is, once again, in the first person. The Buddha says:

2.8 Liable to birth, liable to ageing, liable to disease am I then; I will seek the peace that is unageing, undying and secure.”

This is again the case when the Gotama Buddha identifies himself in a former birth. The following example is drawn from the period of Koṇḍañña Buddha. He says:

3.9. I at that time was a warrior-noble named Vijitāvin. I held sway from end to end of the sea.

The first person is also used for moments when , the Buddha-to-be, makes offerings to the Buddhas of the past. The following example is drawn from the period of Piyadassin Buddha. He says:

14.9. When I heard his dhamma I conceived belief. With a hundred thousand crores I constructed a park for the Order.

The Buddha thus personally engages in exemplary acts of idealised giving, which are rendered in what we might refer to as the ’emphatic first person’. On reading this sort of account one feels vertiginous; as people gave to the Buddha so the Buddha gave to other Buddhas, who – presumably – gave to other Buddhas. History, as presented in the Buddhavaṃsa is thus fractal. There are intervals of time that are without Buddhas, of course, but even here the Buddhavaṃsa has words of solace (which share a trope or two with the Jains). It states:

2.74. As men crossing a river but, failing of the ford to the bank opposite, taking a ford  lower down, cross the great river.

2.75. Even so, all of us, if we miss (the words of) this conqueror, in the distant future we will be face to face with this one.

However, while these may be words of comfort for those seeking merit. The dizzying repetition of elements in the Buddhavaṃsa’s highly schematic account of the Buddhas that were (and will be) might also be an implicit teaching on taṇhā, or thirst – something I will return to shortly. The pattern of alternation between third and first persons constructions is altered when we come to the life of Gotama Buddha, which is narrated entirely in the first person. This reflects the fact that (a) he is the narrator of the lives of the previous Buddhas and (b) the transmigratory journey of the Buddhavaṃsa is complete: we have travelled with the Buddha-to-be, from his birth as Sumedha to that as Gotama Buddha. The other 24 buddhas are integrated with, but finally external to, the multi-life history of the ‘karmic continuity’ that would become Gotama Buddha.

The text thus establishes a longue durée of Buddhist cosmo-history, which centres both on the presence and authority of the buddhas of the past and the spiritual progress of the most recent buddha,  Lord Gotama. The closing two chapters of the work emphasise both the chronology so established (including its extension into the future) and the lingering presence of Gotama Buddha in his relics, which are distributed across India. Even as this history is established as important (for anyone from a future bodhisatta to someone of more limited spiritual ambition) a kenotic refrain runs through the text: nanu rittā sabbasaṅkhārā, which Jayawikrama translates – in decidedly non-Buddhist-hybrid-English – as, ‘Are not all constructions void?’, but which one might translate, less elegantly, but perhaps more dogmatically as, ‘Are not all conditioned things empty?’ In this way, the ‘shaggy dog’ story of the lives of former and future buddhas is offset by the recurrent achievement of a definitive end to the personal story of a dedicated minority (who thirst no longer).  Genealogy plays only a minor role in all this; John Strong has shown that, across Buddhist literature, although the Buddha’s okkhaka (Ikṣvāku) lineage is acknowledged, the Buddha terminates his own lineage, by ordaining his son, and, indeed the Śākyas are eventually exterminated.

As Naomi has persuasively argued in her Jātaka Stories in Theravāda Buddhism: Narrating the Bodhisatta Path  (2010), the Buddhavaṃsa  forms part of a – what she terms – ‘biographical web’, in which – and here she builds on the work of John Strong and Steven Collins – the longitudinal expansion of biography over many lifetimes is combined with a latitudinal expansion of a vast number of, potentially and actually, interrelated lives (as for example is the case for Sumedha in the Buddhavaṃsa, as he benefits from association with successive buddhas on his journey to buddhahood, as Gotama Buddha). This web is established in a variety of Buddhist narrative texts. Alice Collett and Jonathan Walters have explored the phenomenon of co-transmigration, which further complicates this notional ‘web’.  It is important to bear in mind that the Buddhavaṃsa nonetheless also presents a teaching lineage of Buddhas that are not explicitly connected to one another other than in their authoritative status. The  bright thread of Sumedha’s journey to Buddhahood runs right through the text, of course, and the Jātaka offer us hundreds of further tales, but the Buddhavaṃsa is, it should not be forgotten, a teaching pedigree as well as something of a multi-life Bildungsroman.

Jonathan Walters in his ‘Stūpa, Story and Empire: Constructions of the Buddha Biography in Early Post-Aśokan India’ (1997) speaks of a ‘cosmic society’ that emerges in these sources, which he associates with the consolidation of the stūpa cult in the period. Certainly, in the Buddhavaṃsa , as we have heard, what Naomi terms the ‘full stop’ of Nirvāṇa for Gotama Buddha is followed by a summary chronology of the buddhas from Dīpaṅkara to Metteyya (Skt. Maitreya) and a short account of the distribution of the relics of Gotama Buddha. The relics are thus placed in a position of emphasis in the text; they are – along with the buddhavācana itself (another ‘relic’ of sorts) –  the current point of  (ritual) access to the exemplary power of the Buddha, which is historically located in an overarching chronology that reaches from the eon-distant past to the end of the current age – the bhaddakappa (Skt. bhadra-kalpa) – and, presumably, beyond. However, it is not the specifics of relic-cult that interest me at present (though the development of, and anxiety surrounding, tangible representations of empowered beings is common to all three traditions around the commencement of the common era, it seems), it is the establishment of religious authority, a community of followers and a cohesive chronology, which the Buddhavaṃsa does compellingly well. We might characterise the mytho-history (and future) so constructed as karmic, biographical and interventionist.    In my next post, I will compare this approach to that of the Brahminical Sanskrit epics.

Lancaster University paper on the gods

by Naomi

Last week I visited Lancaster, to give a paper at the University in the School of Politics, Philosophy and Religion. I used the occasion as an opportunity to return to my work on the characterization of the gods in Buddhist and Jain narrative, which I had set aside at the end of last year. My paper, entitled ‘Indian Gods in Buddhist and Jain Narrative: Strategies of Subordination’, used the examples of Brahmā in Buddhism, Viṣṇu’s epic avatāras in Jainism, and Indra across Buddhist and Jain narrative, to explore the various strategies used to cleanse or subordinate Indian gods when including them in śramaṇic narratives. In particular I highlighted five discernable strategies: multiplication, making mortal, subordination to spiritually advanced humans, cleansing of problematic characteristics, and explanations for origins of worship.

The questions and conversations that followed my paper were immensely helpful, not to mention enjoyable. The areas that prompted discussion included:

Why is Indra always green in Southeast Asian depictions? Ian Harris suggested it might be the result of an association between Indra and his emerald palace, or with the emerald Buddha. I will have to look into this further.

Is it right to talk about these characters as “gods”? I insist on calling them gods as part of my agenda of rebalancing a scholarly and general perception that Buddhism and Jainism have no gods. Perhaps using the term “divinity” would soften the implications, and make it clear that we are not talking about god(s) in the same sense as in theistic traditions. Since the term deva comes from the same root as deity and divinity, this is certainly an option. However, I feel it sounds a little weak, and also makes it difficult to differentiate within Buddhism, for example, between the gods of the higher heavens (eg Brahmā), or the sense-sphere heavens (eg Indra) or the very earthly deities, which I tend to refer to under the general heading of “spirit deities” following DeCaroli (in his book Haunting the Buddha, OUP 2004). As always, we are haunted by our terms!

Is it appropriate to use the term “subordination”, when in fact the gods are integrated and often complementary? I suppose my response here is that in relation to their position in what becomes Hindu tradition, the gods are indeed subordinated, shown as inferior to Buddhas and Jinas and other soteriologically advanced human beings. But I don’t mean to imply that gods cannot still have an important role alongside these humans.

Does the exchange work both ways? Might “Hindu” texts be responding to Buddhist characterisations of the gods as well as the reverse? This really set me thinking, and my immediate response is yes, in all likelihood, and especially in the Epics, which suggest, for example, influence from / awareness of Buddhist Jātaka literature. But I will be giving this question a lot more thought. Thanks Brian!

What are the political implications of these narratives? This was a tricky one, especially given the paucity of evidence for the political climate during the formative period of Buddhism and Jainism. Perhaps in a sense Indra, as king of the gods, does have a role as some sort of ideal king, and his characterization in each of the traditions may therefore tell us something about political ideals. Again, I will have to give this some more thought.

Does this research suggest that the boundaries between “Buddhism” “Jainism” and “Hinduism” are actually problematic? Can we simply follow the character or the story, without reference to the –ism? A similar question came up in January, when James and I gave a paper here in Edinburgh. The answer, I suppose, is that while our research explicitly aims to cross between traditions, we are in the process re-enforcing the boundaries between the –isms by exploring how narrative elements are used in specifically Buddhist or Jain or Hindu ways. In particular, one of our key questions is about how narrative is used to explore notions of self and other, and certainly my work on the gods suggests that these characters were played with by Buddhist and Jain authors and storytellers in order to establish what is different about their own tradition. So while it is important to look across the traditions, the boundaries do not in fact disappear – far from it.

I am very grateful for the excellent hospitality of the Lancaster folk, and I look forward to working more on the gods with all these comments and questions in mind.