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8.23.2010

The silent Tara of the night - Tarapith

 

She walks the earth
The silent Goddess,
Mother of the cremation ground
Mother to the Lord himself
The blue hued one
In the moonless night
Her anklets resound
Sweet notes of a damsel
Mystical in her form
Fierce and powerful within

Ma Tara, the real,
the powerful, the mystical,
I bow to you in all reverence.

Local legends believe that the third eye of Goddess Sati hit the earth at Tarapith, but strangely this shrine didn't make it to the list of 51 shakti peethas. Tarapith might not be as well known beyond the shores of Bengal but within this region there are still loud cries of ancient tantricism brimming with life. Shrouded in the dense mysticism of ancient tantric practices lies a small temple to the north of Bengal. Believed to be graced by the heavens to have the third eye of Sati fall on its earth, this little temple came into existence based on a few obscure events. 

Insulted at the great sacrifice of Daksha, Sati entered the fires of death to perish in the very flames of purity that emanated from her. This event shook the universe for it left Lord Shiva, infuriated by the act of Daksha. He scaled the landscape wailing over the death of his beloved, carrying her corpse along with him, never to let go. Lord Vishnu took the final step and sent his discus to destroy what remained of her. With dizzying speed it cut through the air, tearing the dead flesh of the Goddess, she fell, scattering herself across the sacred earth of bholoka, on prithvi at 51 divine locations. Here fell her third eye, the power of enlightenment, the power of life, the essence of all siddhas...Tara pith came brimming to life, completely magical, intoxicating, powerful...

Vermilion defines her world, kumkum marks her presence. She had descended into this world dressed in the deep hues of vermilion, adorned in hibiscus and her favorite meal is flesh and blood. She is the the silent energy that wakes up in the night and dances in the cremation ground among the dead, among the fires. Tara, she has such a pleasant name, such a potent form and yet such a deadly look, so fierce that she could destroy all evil in a single glance. She walks the earth in silence, she is the prime resident of the cremation ground. She came alive as a mother to rid Lord Shiva off the poison he consumed to save the universe. She suckled him as a new born and nourished him with cool milk, and she empowered him with life.

Her long tresses flow down, covering her very being. In her heart she carries the Great Lord of the universe as a baby. She is fierce in appearance with disheveled hair and yet she has such warmth towards him as an infant. Tara, also known as Shamshan tara resides at Tara pith, the only sacred temple that makes the cremation ground its sacred home. While the fires turn all that is impure to dust, isn't it strange that the only way to enlightenment, the synonym of pure faith and salvation is in the unknown and unthinkable path of vama marga.

The sweetness of the Mahavidyas, the potency of feminine power coupled with the mysterious presence of the sacred goddesses who are the essence of all consciousness - shakti is not just energy, she is a mysterious world far more powerful than what meets the eye. She rises in the night, her meal is flesh and bone, her thirst is quenched by liquor, her garden is the burning ground, her ornaments are the limbs of the departed, her blinding truth is the strength to overcome death, her weapon is that which kills all fears. And this is visible in the lifestyle of all those who live by her side.

They are the living tantrics who have no home, nor fear nor food. They live on what the burning ghats offer them. They live with this stark reality all the time, death is a common site and sadhana is a regular part of their lives. Tarapith is the host of this wilderness, a shrine where there is little room for you and me. Here is a zone, where fewer thoughts reside, illusions of life silently die and immortality is defined not by progeny but the reality of one's own consciousness.

In the dense haze of this ignorance do I thirst to know the true form of the Goddess that awakens the mysteries of the night. The moon shines out and in its pleasant light does she shine, Oh the blue hued goddess hungry again for her drop of blood. Oh Tara Devi, do reveal to me the sacred yet secretive path that attracts me to you. May I see beauty even in your terrific being, may I see light in your twinkling deep blue eyes. May i feel your presence in the crackling flames of the cremation grounds by the night, may I breath this potent air refreshed with your presence. I bow to you oh Mother, to your beauty and to your fury, to your feminine potency, to your dazzling form, bathe me with your light, with your presence, with your life.

||Ghora roope mahamaaye sarvashatruvashamkari
Bhaktebhyo varade devi traahi maam sharanaagatham||

11 comments:

YOSEE said...

Its a totally strange world to us not used to Tantrik way of communion with the Mother.

William Dalrymple has written a detailed report about the life of a seeker in Tarapith.

JC said...

‘Tara’ means a ‘star’ in English. And a star, literally is a ‘ball of fire’ that has Hydrogen in its core that continues to undergo chain reaction such that Hydrogen gas in its core gets converted into inert Helium gas, which helps provide an inert external cover to the extremely hot Hydrogen gas in the nucleus. And the process also results in release of great amounts of heat that make us sweat even when we are millions of kilometers away on earth from our Sun, an average star…

Thanks to the present day knowledge about our universe, (though science is still in its infancy as lot remains to be known about it yet, ie, a dark and infinite void in space that is filled with innumerable galaxies (of innumerable stars and other heavenly bodies each), believed to have started from a ‘Big Bang, one can perhaps visualize to a certain extent the beginning of creation from Astrophysicists today when they tell us how a massive star towards the end of its existence as a star gets transformed in to a Black Hole in space…And which thus can help imagine the significance of Tarapith or seat of the (original) Star responsible for the coming into existence of our universe, a formless dot like source of energy…

JC said...

From the additional fact communicated by the astronomers that one star is born each year in our Milky Way Galaxy, the above can perhaps help one to visualise how stars continue to come into existence from to time and some heavier ones among those later get transformed in to Black Holes or holes within the infinite space, or the biggest hole, ie, the universal void that continues to expand indefinitely since its apparent coming into existence (with a bang!)…And thus the added information of the Yogis, of human form being the model of the universe, utilizing 9 numbers black holes (one in the centre and the rest 8 numbers around it, as reflected in 9 grahas generally found in Hindu Temples)

JC said...

Of course, one should not forget that Hindus called the universe/ earth as Maya or illusion and Shiva being called Bhootnath teh Lord of the Past,,, that can perhaps be visuallised better with teh halp of the make-believe world of cinema where one sees films recorded in the past...

Benu said...

Human form was realised made up of nine formless black holes, ie, nine 'ghosts' whose properties are believably reflected by the selected nine members of the solar system...

Thus human form was seen to comprise one super spirit that encompassed eight other spirits, two of which were considered involved, the most evolved considered bein Earth & Moon,,, thus leaving behind 6 ghosts, three helpful and three harmful... The body in the present form, therefore, believably thus needing reinforcement to take care of the three harmful ones (Shiva's Trishool), that is three weak grahas needing to be determined from the recorded time of appearance, or birth, of the individual that is generally represented by the horoscope...The approach for achieving the goal could either be with use of mantra (sound energy), tantra (spirits) or yantra (external instruments, such as gemstones etc)...

JC Joshi

abhilash warrier said...

After many posts, this post has that potency which your earliest posts on Shiva carried and conveyed.

There was an unlocked passion that filled me when I read it. I loved it.

Your poem on the goddess was exhilarating.

JC said...

Yes, words are like mantras that become effective if properly used!

It being the house to the ancient most civilisation that’s continuing from the indefinite past, even today a ‘foreigner’ - or even an inexperienced and ignorant, though curious, ‘Indian by birth’ - cannot miss to see different practices being carried forth since time immemorial in ‘India’…

Tantricism is one out of many among those practices that are seen ritually performed in one small pocket or the other of the country (where modern, ‘western’, influence is yet to reach, say like rain-shadow areas, which result in existence of a dry region that is closely attached to a green region) and whose basics are not known in the ‘present’ from the modern view-point because of passage of long time and presence also of many alternative practices, as in the field of, say, medicine, or even in the apparent adoption of a large variety of deities or images that are worshipped all over the country at the same time (believably adopted at some advanced stage of acquiring knowledge through realization of all by the majority as ‘images’ of the one and only God)...

JC said...

As 'I' said earlier, it is known that words are addressed to different persons (with or without forms), for example in the Gita words are addressed to the entire world population. And, all might not get equally influenced by those. But, certainly there would be characters (who might be called believers) who might try to follow the advice therein, But, no one in the prewent really knows what was the intended purpose of those in the ultimate analysis. For one finds many other words available through spoken words from different sources that are more effective than the written ones, as the underlined idea(s) need to be explained by some Guru(s)...Tantricism, or for that matter any other practice, is likely to be misused as the fundamentals of the various practices adopted at a certain time period are not clearly known,,, and even in the past might have been misused deliberately because of selfish interests for there exists duality and multiplicity at teh same time, anytime in the world...

JC said...

It is well known that the ancient 'Indians', at a certain period of time, were advanced astronomers, or/ rather Yogis who, like the present day scientists, apparently not only attempted to reach the Absolute Truth (the one and only all-knowing unborn and unending formless creator, Shiva/ Kali, or Krishna), but appear to have realised it by reaching zero, or near xero thoughts with the realisation that It (or He/ She) is related with zero time and space...

However, it was also realised that the 'Supreme being', or Bhootnath the Lord of Ghosts or the Past, continues from time immemorial to review its own past, its rise from zero to infinity, ie, the unending physical form reflected by the solar system (Mahashiva), or Earth (Shiva), in physical form as its true model...

The ancient Indians, based on realisation of the truth (Satyam Shivam Sunderam), represented the basic energy, ie, Kali in the form of a Black-bodied female with a protruding red coloured tongue that indicates the rising sun, within the dark void, having its origin in the 'East' (where the sun rises),,, and hence the continued worship of Ma (the Creator), in the present day Bengal since time immemorial...

JC said...

Although the Absolute Truth was realised as zero, during the unending period of time when the rise of Shiva from zero to infinity or fall back from the peak to the origin is reviewed, the wise ancient Indians believed that phenomenon as the truth that remained unchanged, such as rising in the east of the sun...

As a scientific fact known today, our galaxy is a mature one for although it is thin at the edges (where it houses our solar system), like every other galaxy that starts as a thin plate in the beginning, but it is nearing a spherical shape in the middle (in the equatorial zone) as a sign of its maturity (and similarly, our earth is believed to have been small in the beginning that has bulged in the middle with the passage of time...And, although our sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the relative movement of the sun and earth is such that north and south directions of the earth too are covered by life-giving sunlight during each year (for six months each)...

Priyaranjan said...

Excellent Article...filled with love for mother