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10.26.2008

Narad Ghat, Varanasi - path through the after life

I am just the thought, I am just the memory; I am just the energy that has departed from my body as the mortal world brings what’s left of me down to cremation. I am history, I do not exist, and all those moments I spent trying tirelessly to get a better standard of living looks futile, now that I have left it behind. As the mortal world wakes up to this mournful truth, what worth was my life to me?

In this world I have just come to, I descend the steps of transition beyond death, where Yama awaits, to lead the way ahead. I have left the world I knew, I no longer know where to go or what to do. I am pure energy as I watch; the final rights take place for my soul. This body I left now lies there lifeless, clothed in flowers and washed in the Ganges. What was the worth of my life to me?

They place me on the funeral pyre, the sky blends into twilight as the hymns rise to calm the aura around me. I can hear the jingling anklets of the Ganges as she sweeps by me, I can hear the hymns as they rise around me and I can feel Mata Annapurni as she picks me and lays me like a baby, in this new world, on her lap to set me free. The fire rises, the smoke climbs, I have begun my journey. I hear the sweet notes of the Mrityunjaya as Lord Shiva finally comes to me. I lay here, bathed in the last moments of worldly attention, the last gift of mankind to me, as I wonder what the worth of my life was to me.

I am the soul that watches on, I am the fire that eats into my being; I am the ash that is left of me. I feel the warm feet of Kali as they press me down calming me, one foot she places on my leg, the other she covers over my heart. In the raging fires, her sweet smile cools my soul. I offer my head, my balidaan to the mother, as my head she lovingly takes in her hand. Out there in the mortal world the crowd watches on as a bamboo is smashed over my head. The skull cracking noise, they set me free, I have left this world, but what worth was my mortal life to me?

This surging energy, this warmth of the Mother, as the guiding force of Yama, leads me on to the sweet smile of the Lord. I am one, I am none, I am and I am not. I am the smile you put up on your wall, I am that energy gone, I was and now I am not, yet what good was that life to me?

This state is not a world, not life, not anything you and I can define, this state is what the mind would reckon, this state is what they tried to reveal. This state is what you really are; this state is what you were always meant to be. This state is Shiva, this state is shakti, this state is energy, this state is beyond the limits of my mortal remains. This state is what I will be within the womb of my mortal mother when I re-enter this world called life. Yet, what was the worth of my previous life to me?

Shakti is the mortal carrier, Shiva the potent seed, dormant to be awoken when I re-enter. The union was sacred, the union was essential to lay the path for me. I am shakti, I am life, I am energy that awakens within this womb, life that we relate to, life that we witness, life for which we try to reach some form of immortality. And yet I wonder why I need another life, another tiring journey when I still don’t know the worth of the previous life to me.

I am soma, I am skanda, I am the pulse of immortality. I am the resultant energy of the universe, one that is born out of the union of Mahadeva Shiva and Parvati. I am amrita; I am the portion of immortality that wakes up again into a new life within the womb of my new mother. Karma has brought me back, karma pushes me to rebirth. I am born again, into another life, to elevate myself, to bring this down to equilibrium, to nothingness, to release myself for good, and rise and go to Kailasa, to go to Vaikunta, to the supreme energy that calls me home.

10.19.2008

Scindhia Ghat, life with the Ganges, Varanasi

I am like a temple, my being stays stuck in this mundane world of existence, my soul remains buried in this world of Karma, so deep that I can barely feel it. The gloomy world of darkness and ignorance surrounds me as the dim lights of enlightenment wash my being in the darkness. The waters of life flow by me, promising me a moment with divinity and I wait here for my chance. The world moves on, the reflection of it fall in the waters of time as it flows past in this darkness only to dissolve in its depths. I stay here, stuck to my world, along its banks wondering what life means at all.

As daylight strikes, the Lord awakens washing me in his divine light. He sets me sailing in this river of life, with winds of experiences guiding my way. As I toss around these waters, I slowly begin to plunge into the realm of divinity, a different life, a different experience, a different world from all that is around me. My soul wakes up to his presence, as he pulls me deeper into myself, into Himself. I slowly begin to sink into another world so far away from everything. The redness of my soul flies high, as it flutters in the winds of life. This is what the world sees, what’s deeper within, dives into another realm.

Rich with experience I slowly fade into oblivion, oblivion that I know, oblivion that no one observes. The waters rise and cover my being; time takes over and covers my soul. I feel overwhelmed with this change, I know am growing yet no one sees, that I have changed though I still remain where I have always been. Pure waters of divinity take over me, submerging me and washing me off my many sins, purifying my soul, the flag of which stays silent and low. The world outside witnesses a stony self, descending into nothingness, descend into the world beneath.

As the world sinks into its misery, the sun sets behind the clouds, and twilight sets in, the blue hue of the night sky falls over me, the glow of the moon brightens my life for the world to see, this miracle. Life has a new meaning; it has new aim, aim that no one knows, an aim that I can see. It’s an aim that means nothing except that I value it, an aim that I have for myself, that is not predefined by life as we see it. It is an aim that dissolves my worldly fears in front of me, an aim that creates a dialog between the Lord and me, an aim that will finally set me free. The world appears different, with this new perspective that changes everything even while I still stay there on the side, rooted to this world but slowly drifting away.

Time overwhelms, life overflows, and the world is submerged in a whirlpool of thought and maya. I fade slowly, my life, me, away from all this misery. My reality is so different, so free, so wild and so pure. The waters of divinity envelop my being, taking my soul, taking me. I shall depart, yet my soul remains deep, worshiping and experiencing pure love, pure divinity. The Ganges comes forth, sways over me, her beautiful veil she wraps around me, submerging me slowly in her beauty. My life goes by, my glow within brightens, the redness of which is all that is left for the world to see. In this flood of life, in this flood of experience, my soul departs and sets me free.

Click on the photos above to enlarge.
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The Scindhia Ghat, slants the way it does as the foundation sank, a situation very similar to the leaning tower of Piza.

The story goes: Quoting Laurent, Designldg on flickr.com
"There is a legend saying that the man who had this temple constructed, followed the orders of his mother. After its construction he went back to her and told her then that this way he paid everything she did for him. His mother became furious and said that nothing could ever pay a mother's love and she decided to curse the temple which started to bend."

Related links:
Manikarnika Ghat: Where life meets the world beyond
Enlightenment on the streets of Varanasi
Potency of Lord Shiva
Varanasi – Along the Ganges
Dip in the sacred river.
Photo courtesy: Flickr.com - Special thanks to
Laurent.
Other credits:
mAshr00m, nathanlambert and others

10.12.2008

Worship at Shiva temple: Ahilyabai Ghat, Varanasi

It is another busy day, as bustling crowds offer flowers and coconut, seeking the Lords blessings to bring less trouble and more happiness into their mundane lives… is this all that the Lord is meant to be here for?

I can’t help but think that the initial thought of the Lord being a lot more than just a wish fulfilling tree came from the background of my education back at school. I was taught; Love the Lord for what he is and not for what he is capable of giving you. I applied it into my life and it has worked wonders. I was also reminded of the dohas of Kabir that I was taught in school.

Kabir’s doha goes has follows:

Dukh Mein Simran Sab Kare, Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye
Jo Sukh Mein Simran Kare, Tau Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye

There is such simple truth in these words and that experience is so beautiful.

Back at the Ahilyabai Ghat, Varanasi, the bustling crowd stepped in one after another to catch a glimpse of the divinity within. This extreme emotion of momentary spiritual bliss had but a hurdle to cross. What stood in front was a priest who had not had the best day so far, and had all the plans to destroy any sense of spiritual high that came close to God.

How sad was his state as he observed it to be a mundane job, for being a priest entitles him to the highest communion with the Lord and such disconnection from the Lord as well as his duty only brings sorrow to the masses that come to share this high emotion of spiritualism.

The lost look, the sheer disgust towards his apathy and the crashing of one’s high emotions can only be a disheartening experience to all those who step into this little chamber. Noise, rush, corruption, apathy and complete disillusionment towards the world of the divine only draws people into a miserable experience within the sanctum of the Lord Himself. What they end up perceiving then is just a stone idol graciously decked up and presented for world viewing.

What they miss is quite something else.

Within this chamber is present another world altogether, so beautiful that one needs a pure heart that is devoid of a wish list, to see that the Lord there is not just seated on his throne, he is there in graceful dance protecting us from all evil.

A closer look brings one’s attention to His divine dialog with Kali, who emerges from the darkness into the light that covers his glowing body. As the parasol hangs over him and the bell resounds in the mind of the bhakta, one witnesses this chemistry between two of the most potent forms of divinity.

This is the world of Bhairava and Kali, this is the world of Urdhva Nataraja and Kali. This is the beauty of the terrific chemistry between two energy driven forms that dance in perfect union with each other, in bharatanatya so graceful within this chamber, as they compete with each other on the excellence of this art.

It is another world that lives within this chamber, one of music, one of grace, one of chemistry and divine transcendental love. How then can the Lord be reduced to a wish fulfilling tree?

As the sun glows on the surface of the Urdhva linga and reflects in the expressive eyes of Kali, who is ever ready to break out her niche and burst forth into dance… why then are we affected by the moods of the priests?

Sweet people; do not let the illusions of life deceive you, the Lord lives among us, he is within us and we need to realize he is right there to be awoken. Once he takes his seat within the conscious throne of our mind, the world within the sanctum appears like a lamp lit stage where the Lord dances casting shadows gracefully along the walls as we dive into this ocean of love and music as he dances in union with Kali.

This sanctum is a fusion of two worlds, one that we physically live in and try to cope with and the other is what we create within our minds, where we would want to live all the time, that is where Lord Shiva and Kali descend and perform the blissful dance of creation.

Related topics:
When the priest becomes a lady
Potency of Lord Shiva – Part 2
Varanasi – Along the Ganges
A magical dance with Chidambaram Nataraja

Expression in Abhinaya, the art of Bharata.

Photo courtesy: Special thanks to Laurent (designldg on Flickr.com) for allowing me to use her photograph in my blog.

10.04.2008

Sri Chakra-from yantra to temple ground plans

The garbha griha of the Kamakshi Amman temple is the seat of love and life giving energy. What appears to the naked eye is a flower decked Goddess center stage, with lamps around her as the Arti lights up her glowing face in sandal wood on stone.

What is not visible to the eye is the energy that is resplendent around her. What makes up this beauty, this aura that shines around this idol? At the foot of the goddess, the idol of which is a representation of her supreme force, is the peetha that contains the Sri chakra. This chakra surrounded by the eight devis who reside within their small niches, are present there because they belong to this realm. Without their presence the Sri Chakra is quite incomplete.

The peetha itself brings alive the presence of Shiva, the Sri chakra being the foundation on which he resides. Within the Sri Chakra, four entrance gateways lead to the center of this chakra, all meeting at the central circle with 8 and 16 petals each is housing a goddess attendant from the Devi’s pantheon. 24 Goddesses reside here, each with a potent beeja mantra as they take their seats directionally around the center of this mandala. Having worshipped and pleased the 32 devis on the outside and given them offerings divine, the heart proceeds inside into a network of triangles. Devi Kosha, the seat of her presence, the potency of her being, the energy of her nature as the Goddess of love who married Lord Shiva, is intertwined within these triangles.

This is not a geometrical representation as much as it is a definition of intercourse, meeting of two energies, two pranas into a union. This union that is so pure, so beautiful, so intense and energizing, it is the seat of all creation. This union, that we give a moralistic garment to and restrict our own minds into a confused state of self control and a sense of disrespect, is actually beyond these equations altogether.

In the oil lamp light, in the mystic interior of this chamber dressed in vermillion, this peetha draws us back into its center, the core at which reside on the seat of all creation Lord Shiva and Shakti in the form of Somaskanda. The peetha inside which the Sri Chakra yantra is installed is a metaphorical representation of a Shiva linga peetha within the Garbha Griha of Kamakshi Amman, the loving consort of Lord Shiva. Such a divine couple, such potency to their presence, the Sri Chakra is representation of the Shiva Linga in a different way. It is not depicted in the traditional form of being divided into its various parts (Rudra bhaga, Vishnu Bhaga and Shiva Bhaga) but it represents the union of the divine parent.

Bindu, the core energy center brings alive this new world where Lord Shiva and Devi reside at its seat surrounded by devis blooming into lotus petals dancing around the divine couple, each invoked by the recitation of their respective beeja mantras. They reside there in Lalitasana, Padmasana or in Tribhanga, bringing to the mind a remote but definite similarity with the Chaunsat Yogini shrines far away at Ranipur Jharial, Hirapur and Bheraghat. These temples belong to remote villages in Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, but what stands out most is the very same ground plan as within the peetha of Kamakshi Amman shrine. These are roofless open temples (hypaethral temple) with 64 goddesses called Yoginis, who are lesser representations of the 32 goddess residing within the various petals of the Sri Chakra yantra. They transform the yogini shrines of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh into living Sri Chakra ground plans on whose blue print these tribal temples have been built.

In parallel, the beauty of these Goddesses comes alive at Ranipur, where even Kamakshi is represented as one of the leading goddesses dancing in the presence of Ajaikapada Bhairava and Swachchanda Bhairava, both representations of the fierce aspect of Shiva in amorous pleasure. This depiction is clearly brought out by the depiction of both in Urdhvalinga – erect phallic state. Kamakshi dances with a parrot at her feet, the parrot being the vahana (vehicle) of Kama, the Lord of love. This is brought out by the Kaula system of tantric tradition, where Shakti is Kula and Shiva is Akula , the union of both being Kaula – a sacred set of traditional rituals invoking Shiva and Shakti into one’s sadhana.


Related links:
Potency of Sri Chakra Yantra
Chaunsat yogini temple, Bheraghat Jabalpur
Lajja Gauri and the Tree of Life
Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, Bhubhaneshwar
64 Yoginis dance with Bhairava