Biologists can be pretty annoying when they’re trying hard to come up with cutesy names. I mean did you guys really have to name a gene required for mammalian development sonic hedgehog after the Sega icon? I mean what comes next? A gene influencing cranial tensile strength named after a pudgy Nintendo chap?
But you know what really bugs me? It is this lame idea that you can stick the suffix -ome to any and every collection of biological objects to create a new field of study which you can tout as the corresponding –omics. I’ve got no beef with the common ones like genomics, which is the total of genes in a particular set or proteomics, which is the sum of all the proteins in a given set. But as I’ve mentioned before, there are just so many –omic neologisms created each month that to compile the complete set of all these fields, an omeome (if you will), would be a daunting task. It would also be pointless, but that is not my point.
You know what would be useful? A collection of all the names of each of the Hindu deities complied into a universally-accessible database.
Confused? Hear me out for a bit.
This is what I envisage as the Hariome Project – an online database which would provide an easy way check the different names and relationships of various mythological entities.
For example, in the hariome, I’d be able to find out more about the original Hari through a search-engine which would direct me to the Vishnu portal. I’d be able to navigate through nodes for each of the ten avatars of Vishnu. If I clicked on the Krishna node on this portal, I’d get to see a network map with all 108 popular names. If I clicked on the Buddha node, another incarnation of Vishnu, I’d be able surf through all of his incarnations from the Jataka tales and other sources.
This type of tool would be useful, because it really can get pretty confusing. Durga is an incarnation of the mother goddess, but according to some sources so are her daughters Saraswati and Lakshmi. What we need is a comprehensive set of ontologies.
Of course there will be versioning issues and regional disputes (Ma Sherawali v. Debi Durga immediately comes to mind). And you’ll need some serious computing muscle to create a seamless database with the 330 million gods with their various manifestations.
But implementation isn’t my concern. I only come up with ideas.
© Text: Anirban