Bhuvaneshwari, in the abstraction of space

Simply put, the concept of Bhuvaneshwari is a little hard to understand. In order to understand the meaning of Bhuvaneshwari, be it the version of the Vedas, Puranas or that which the Tantrik's believe; we need to first relate to her abstraction. And for this we need to drop our world, our noise, our petty problems and look a little further. 

As we now dive deeper into a slightly more difficult subject I would like to state first that Goddess Bhuvaneshwari looks like anything but a human being. She is Akasa, the vastness of space entwined with the glow of light that merges into it seamlessly. She is the extent of our perception of space and given that that is a variable, she translates to being the very illusion that is built by the limitation of our sight. 

In the larger scheme of spiritual knowledge, the great Vedic sears describe the Supreme in three distinct parts. 

Satyam Rtam Brhat

Satyam is the essential truth of the supreme. Its the core of the supreme.
Rtam is that state when this core truth translates to active creation.
Brhat is the vast consciousness that it requires to translate satyam to creation - the source of energy, the charge that is needed for this transition.
And Bhuvaneshwari is the form of this energy. 

In the Puranas, she is known as Aditi, the wife of Sage Kasyapa who is the mother of all the Gods. She is the Shakti of sage Kasyapa. And this brings a vast infinite concept into a finite realm, measurable in our world. 

Another beautiful example of this translation of the immeasurable to the measurable is the story of Vishnu in the Vamana avatar. He measures the immeasurable, creating almost an illusion out of the vastness of space in his three strides. The Tantriks call her Maya, the great mother who has the ability to clothe her infinite vastness into finite form. Maya is the measure to comprehend the vastness of the Supreme and that is why Maya becomes a breathing reality. 

Now look at this beautiful picture, Bhuvaneshwari is the vastness of the space while Kali is the time that measures it. Bhuvaneshwari orders the events and the circumstances while kali orders the timing and the sequence. Bhuvaneshwari is the space i.e. akasa while kali is the sound vibration entwined within it. Bhuvaneshwari sets the stage for the cosmic dance of Kali with the great Lord Nataraja and they dance to the beat of time in the stage of space-consciousness and all the worlds are assembled here to witness this play of time and consciousness in our lives. 

Bhuvaneshwari echoes the breathing reality of creation that is a manifestation of the space we see around us and we are a minuscule part of it. We are the tiny droplets of the supreme consciousness who believe we are individual and not part of the larger whole, the great supreme consciousness. Such is the power of super consciousness. 


Tripurasundari - Divine Love, the Perfect Union

Is love that simple? Love is probably the highest level of emotional intensity that we can reach and strangely it is also the most misunderstood. We cannot forget that the animal instinct within us is what converts that high intensity emotion into an uncontrollable physical need. But lets leave aside the physical need for a while and concentrate on the aspect and the depth of intense love. What is its nature? When do we know that we really feel it?

The Brahma Vidya actually reveals strange aspects of the world around us which is completely getting missed out in our race towards "apparent development". I mean, did you know that love manifests in animals, birds, plants and even a stone at various intensities? Do we even understand this poetry? The very emotion of love is that of no clinging, no possessiveness, no desire, it is pure union. The ancient sages define love as a divine delight, that we mortals are capable of and when Bhakti kicks in, it flows unadulterated and  unstoppable. It nudges the emotions of compassion, kindness, good will, affection in our hearts towards others, be it plant, animal or just stone. 

It makes sense because it triggers this emotion towards a higher form of Bhakti when we move towards image worship which is the basest form of divine love. Yes we are certainly capable of more, but image worship and the trigger to love without being possessive starts here. Its probably an introduction to a different kind of love, one that we are totally capable of and also one that we have least knowledge of. 

They say love is blind, yes it is because that high intensity emotion gets felt by just that one person when they experience it and no one else is subjected to that experience. Its unique to that individual. When they feel it, they experience beauty and grace, they experience Tripurasundari. 

The great Tantrik seers gave this experience a name, they gave it a form so that we could relate to this abstraction better. She is Kameshwari, the essence of love, she is Lalita, the graceful one, and she is Sundari, the gorgeous one. She is beauty par excellence. Remember, at any point, She is not a mere beautiful woman, She is the experience of love, metaphorically described as the most beautiful woman. When we experience that state of love even for a moment, we are in the state of bliss, Sat, chit, ananda - Truth, consciousness, bliss and we are affected completely in the physical, vital[breath] and mental world within our being. And given this experience is a combination of 3 experiences that elevate us into the three worlds or planes that exist beyond our earthly presence, she is described as the inverted triangle, the connection of these 3 potent desires given a mathematical form. Yes, very strange but Love and Math as far more intertwined than you and I can ever understand. 

The three fold state can be described as the three states of waking/dream/deep sleep, as iccha shakti/gyana shakti/kriya shakti*, her three personalities of Bala Tripurasundari [daughter], Tripurasundari [beautiful one], Tripurabhairavi [terrific one]*. Here is whats even more interesting about her iconography. She defines love as we see it, and she also defines love as it should be seen. The iconography of Tripurasundari depicts her carrying in her four hands, the noose, the goad, the sugarcane and 5 flower arrows. 

Lets dwell in the symbolism; the noose signifies Pasam, the desire leading to being bound to the people and things around one self. Once we are liberated from all those around us, we are truly free*. The goad describes the negative aspect of love, one that we are familiar with like wrath and possessiveness which forces us to act - karma. The sugarcane bow is the mind of man and the 5 flower arrows are the senses/tanmantras of sound, touch, form, relish, and flavor. The secret of this whole depiction is that all these aspects of ours need to surrender to her will. Hence she holds them in her hands and controls them while she is seated on the lap of Kameshwara. 

Just as the sun is depicted in all its brilliance as the light and symbolizes gyana, fire is depicted as energizing activity that is kriya. The moon is the symbol of desire, the sap of life, the basic bliss. The sahasrara chakra represents the seat of the mystic moon, the place of the illumined mind. It is the place where the mystic moon illumines the mind, where Kameshwari and Kameshwara are seated, in union, where the potency of pure love can be experienced. 

* Lalita sahasranam - iccha shakti gyana shakti kriyana shakti swarupini 

* Here Tripura Bhairavi is an interesting way of looking at it. If I feel divine love for you, I don't just love all the good things about you, I adour even the terrible side of you, all your inadequacies, all your imperfections, all your anger, I feel divine love for you in entirety.  Am not picking the good things and discarding the not so good things about you. I take your embodiment as a whole. 

* Like the Hanuman Chalisa quotes, "chootahi bandhi maha sukha hoye"


2013 Kedarnath deluge - When the Lord of Destruction speaks

I have been watching the news for a while, looking at the world scampering around to rescue people stuck in the mountains with no help to get away from the great deluge. I heard the news anchors asking those responsible to account for their inaction, questioning whether this catastrophe was man made, whether we had plundered the great Himalayan foothills and not thought hard enough about the consequences. I thought about all the staunch temple rules that get thrown on devotees when they trek so long to see a glimpse of the Great Lord. 

It brought in a few thoughts... few serious thoughts about how we the people, Hindus  view our faith. I am no one to teach it, but I am an observer...and as an observer I speak. 

The story of Baghirathi wishing for the Ganges to come down to earth and give us life giving water almost came to life here. She came down roaring, crashing through the mountains, bringing to life the power of this mythology but with a difference. Lord Shiva didn't stand in the way to hold down her power in his matted locks. This is the power of the river, brilliant, intense, wrecking every little piece of man made atrocity in its path sending home the powerful message, YOU are a miserable small entity of life on this planet so stay that way.

It strangely reminded me of the Titanic, a grand ship that was built to defy nature and and nature consumed it in minutes with no survivors. We dug into the very foundation of the mountains and hoped to have things standing when they actually fell into the storming river like a bunch of miserable unstable pack of cards. 

Then came the picture of Bhairava in my mind, the fierce form of Lord Shiva. As I watched the Times Now correspondent walk through the Kedarnath temple with his shoes on, flashing the camera at the main shrine which is strictly forbidden these days and closing his nose to the stench of decaying bodies around him, all I could visualize was Ughra Tandava. 
Clearly the Ughra Tandava is not a pretty dance, its energetic in a stage littered with the dead, displaying the wrath of the God, expressing his fury when we miserable creatures hinder the ways of nature. I almost heard his cackling laughter. I wondered, I could feel the pulse of his fury, I could realize the intensity of the picture of truth, I could see the face of death as strongly as I saw the face of life and I could relate to the true meaning of the Kala Bhairava. How many of us have the capacity to withstand and love and worship this form? Isn't he so much better within the cage of a picture frame rather than as a demonstration of his capability!

And then came the horror of another possible truth that the people are probably totally unaware of and don't have the time to worry about. Amarnath Linga has disappeared into the waters, and the Kedarnath Linga is neck deep inside a pile of quick sand to a depth of 9 feet [Times Now coverage]. Was this an attempt of the great God to disappear into the earth leaving us to perish in this world that is slowly getting cheated off the sacred emblems that protect it? Are the great Gods leaving us to our peril? Is this the start of the ending of the great Kali Yuga? We have evolved too and our instincts yell out about such a fate a little too loudly these days.

If this is the beginning of the end, its a grand picture to watch, to observe the power of nature as it unfolds. The common thought is why kill the innocent people? I have not lost anyone personally but my heart sinks in sorrow for those who perished. And yet, I wonder that if I had to die, wouldn't it be a great place and a great way to die, at the shrine of the Lord of Kedarnath? I rather die overnight in the deluge next to the sacred emblem and hope for salvation from this existence rather than lie rotting like a vegetable in some god forsaken hospital looking at people waiting for me to die. And if the people were washed away by the great deluge, maybe it was Karma that applied on them. End of the day, no one is innocent and everyone who lives today is a sinner small or big. And of course, the truth is inevitable... we are born and therefore we will die.  

And yet through all this hardship and survival, those who have been air lifted are just thanking their stars that while they went to Kedarnath and wished for petty things, the Lord of Destruction actually granted them another life. The only hope visible in this whole tragedy are the two sacred fresh Vilva leaves that continue to hold fort on the head of the sacred Linga of Kedarnath. Isn't it strange that the lightest and easily damageable Vilva leaf remains protected over the Lord's head while people lie dead around Him. 

The Lord has spoken, expressing his discontent and wiping off those who had to go. The great army of Yama swept through the Himalayan valley picking up all those who perished along with the waters. The Great Mother Ganges, blessed the parched earth with her life giving waters to those who survived. To the great Gods I bow and thank them for this powerful message, for this great spectacle of life and death playing on the stage of the Himalayan foot hills. 

Har Har Mahadev. 


Tara - Power of Sound, Navigator of My Ship

Salvation, super philosophies and renunciation are lovely concepts, but what do we mortals do when we are tied down mercilessly by problems that surround us and plague our minds such that concentrating on attaining salvation appears like a distant dream. This is the struggle of life, this is the hard truth of existence and we suffer it every moment with no sign of peace in our hearts. 

The Dasa Mahavidhyas step in to transform this painful grueling existence into a far simpler and peaceful one if we try to understand and realize their presence better. The Goddess who steps up at this hour of need among the great Mahavidhyas is Tara, the Mother who is known to transport us from the powerful shackles of trouble to a higher realm of peace. 

Mythology describes that during the churning of the ocean, when the Halahala overflowed and threatened to destroy the world, Lord Shiva had the presence of mind to consume the deadly poison that turned his throat blue. What is unknown is that Shakti in the form of Ma Tara calmed down his burning throat by feeding Him her life giving milk. This story gives a glimpse of the power of Lord Shiva to take control of the universal deluge into Himself to save all life and Ma Tara protects all living creatures from the ocean of poison through her power of creation. 

Here, the "ocean" or the "poison" or "halahala" can be interpreted as the depth of sorrow or fear our worldly problems bring with them, describing the nature of the problem to be humongous or as deep as the ocean or as noxious as poison. Ma Tara symbolizes that which saves us from all such harm. She takes up three forms, each of which symbolize a state of mind. 

She appears as Ughra Tara, in the fierce aspect similar to Kali who walks on corpses and collects all the ignorance of the three worlds into her cup made of the human cranium. Her vibrating war cries surge ahead and kill the pale noise of ignorance in one sweep. She appears as Nila Saraswati or the blue Goddess of sweet sound that flash bright as a lightening and destroy all the darkness around. She appears as Ekajata, representing the one who has channelized all her sound energies into one single goal of creation. Tara therefore is represented as the White Goddess, full of knowledge and full of purity who saves us from our own evils. 

Lets dive into the beauty of this representation. Tara is the Mother who is invoked to help one self reduce the noise within and better the quality of thought and purify the mind. Tara, represented as the guiding light who scales across the universe, is the protector who eases the dense cloud of illusion that surrounds the bhakta. She is the primordial sound Om, that which is necessary for creation and the one who purifies the sound that is generated from the being. Tara is the Goddess who is invoked when the bhakta has reached the lake of nectar and needs her boat, Tari, in order to cross the divine lake to reach the Seat of Lalita, the mansion of the Great Goddess who rules the Sri Chakra. 

The Dasa Mahavidhyas looks to be a step by step approach towards one's own spiritual progress where Tara represents the power to kill ignorance, and the power to purify the mind. Tara, turns into the navigator of universe within the spiritual mind when the bhakta completely surrenders to her. Bestowing the boon of sweet words, she helps the Bhakta to cross the lake of nectar to reach the Gates of the Goddess Lalita. Tara, the white Goddess, in her purity is the guiding principle that kills all ignorance and delivers us to a higher realm of peace. 


Brahma Vidhya - Kali, the First of the Dasa Mahavidyas.

I have been asked whether I have achieved mental peace with all my study and understanding of the faith. I probably have crossed that bridge and though I have not attained any greater spiritual height I have a very strong belief there is more to this path than just mental peace. In fact, the outside world doesn't really bother me as such... they are fine, ignorant and hopeless and cribbing about it is really no great help. Lets look at more interesting concepts. 

Lets assume we started out on the faith on the grounds of getting petty wishes fulfilled. Well, I have been there like everyone else but along the way I realized how inadequate my mind was to take on such a responsibility of wishing. I even got what I didn't want, things that I dreaded but thought of them unexpectantly not realizing it may just be granted. The Goddess fulfills every wish :) and therefore the bond with Her grows, not to receive boons which I have been careless about, but to understand Her build, Her make...respect Her, for She is the giver. 

Constant prayer [not like a parrot, or a mechanical habit but serious prayer] begins to make the mind think. Leaving aside all desires, all problems and all that potentially upsets my peace, I sat to wonder about who I really am and who She really is and what is this relationship really about. I came to realize that I had already defined my existance, within a limit of time, from when I started to get conscious about my surroundings to realizing the abstraction of the limitation of my life and the endless to do list I had created for myself. Now scrapping all that aside, I came to realize that fundamentally I am born, I will die and there is no changing that, it is inevitable. It made me wonder whether I had a greater purpose beyond this life, where this life was just a chapter and these people around me were just illusions tuning me towards a greater good by being themselves and providing related experiences. 

One truth is evident, "I" am the same mind with the same thought over so many years, but the body keeps changing and therefore I age creating an illusion of time. I, the abstract thinker is maturing with thought but that is not in sync with the abused body within which I live. And hence with the evolution of contemplation, with the discarding of unnecessary thoughts I come to realize that giving up this body and this existance in this apparent period in time will help me move to a higher realm of consciousness with greater realization towards my core purpose. I begin to agree with and accept death, I begin to realize what a fool I was sitting there and asking for petty things in my life, that just fed an illusionistic ego. I turned to prefer death for it just looked more challenging, more fun and more unknown. 

Death is not a denial of life, its a need to leave this one and proceed to the next. And as law of life would have it, experiences get enriched when I am reborn in another form, and not the same self that I am in currently. This weird cycle of discarding the body and constantly reappearing gives an illusion of endlessness of time, of the repeated devouring of the flesh which makes it appear terrible, painful and fearful. And this fear, that seems to follow us like a shadow makes us reduce to mere mortals. At some point we need to realize that death and fear should not go hand in hand in our realization, for thats what makes us mortal. When we accept death, fear dies, we have actually discarded the cycle of death itself.  

In Tantra, this earth with all its life and all its death, is the Maha Shamshan, the Great Cremation ground, where every living thing has to go through death. Hence, to realize the workings of this phenomenon is to embrace the form of Kali, the Goddess of change and time. With every death and every birth, Ma Kali dances, reverberating the time and change concept, drilling it into our ignorant heads. She is the one, who takes away that life ruthlessly [it appears] and presents us another one. She chops our lives, She grants us boons, She gives what ever we want, but She takes just our life... and we don't seem to realize that asking for boons is no big deal, but getting out of this noise of life and death, this tireless journey is what the soul purpose of our existance is. Every life of ours echoes that question back to us, "Did I achieve getting out of the cycle in this life or not"? The answer, inevitably is No, for I never asked for the boon to get out of this cycle in the first place. I feared even asking that boon for every boon has a repercussion and I was never sure what this one would be.  

She is not just called Ma Kali, She is also called Dakshina Kalika, for she is so skillful in not just devouring this life of mine, she grants me the next based on her judgment of what works for me keeping my current state of evolution and realization in mind. She transforms me into another being, full and ready to evolve again, better and more beautiful this time. She is that which stays with me always, the pranic force, the breath which is always granted to me every time I am born and leaves every time I die only to come back after I am transformed, promising a better quality of existance, every time.   

Reference: The Ten Great Cosmic Powers - Shankaranarayanan


Remembering A Few Good Men

I intended to continue blogging on the Dasa Maha Vidhyas, but this is a small post to remember JC Joshi and Raja Deekshitar who have been a part of this blog and helped me continue with my contributions. I would like to pay homage to both of them, honor them and cherish their presence in my life.


We bank our entire existence n human relationships and the acceptance and approval we derive from them. We have a name for just about all the relationships we associate people with. Yet there is one other relationship which is yet to be defined.

This is a strange relationship, one where we don't know each other's past, future or present. One where we do not know their caste, language or family line. One where we do not know their standing in society, their profession or their presence on Facebook and Twitter. All these pieces of information or definitions that make up their earthly existence is not a key to build the relationship. In fact such information is better done without. What matters is their understanding of the faith, their understanding of the scriptures, their intellect and their level of realization of the supreme.

These relationships once set don't ever die for they are not fed by the human ego, instead they last longer because its mutual bhakti towards a single goal that binds the relationship together. I have had the luck to build such a relationship with a few people and am fortunate that I could relate to them in this way. The platform that brought us close is this blog and these thoughts that they agreed and disagreed with. It was also the base to help them think and write out their ideas of the supreme as well as their experiences.

J.C.Joshi [Joshi Uncle]

J. C. Joshi, as many would know him on this blog was a great writer and had a thought to add to almost all my posts. He has been a loyalist for the last 10+ years, and has religiously kept the blog alive even when i didnt post regularly. There have been occasions in the past where younger people have asked him to start his own blog, and have sometimes been rude to him and his comments. I realized at that point, how much Joshi uncle meant to me. He took the abuses with a smile though it left me mad with chilling anger. I have blocked such users, clearly indicating to them that they need to respect the elder folk on the site or they are not invited here. Joshi uncle attracted the likes of researchers from various American universities who was impressed with his knowledge on our faith. While his comments bloomed on the site blogs, I received several requests from lecturers wanting to touch base with him. A very endearing man, with simple love for his faith, Joshi uncle rode along this journey of making my blog worthwhile to other readers. I have had the good fortune to have been a part of his life in some form, affected his thought process and given a platform for him to display and share his intellect. Joshi uncle succumbed to cancer a few months back. We will never get to read more posts from him but his wealth of informaton in his comments on my blog will always be few good lessons that I shall cherish.

Raja Deekshitar

Raja Deekshitar chanced upon my blog and we got talking on email. A man, very well versed in scriptures and also part of the Deekshitar community that runs the Chidambaram temple, he has done a lot of research on the temple architecture and sculptural iconography. I have had the pleasure of visiting Chidambaram temple in his presence, and trust me it made a whole lot of difference. We were treated like family, allowed to view the Lord for as long as we wanted, the priests spoke to us like we knew them for years and darshan was fulfilling. What was even more fun was the conversations and discussions we had on the sculptures displaying Shiva iconography in the temple niches. Raja Deekshitar brought Chidambaram temple alive, giving a story and a purpose to every little carving on the wall and painting episodes from that past that now lie frozen in stone across the temple. A versatile man with a mind that wouldn't rest till it told the world that the concept of the Sphinx was as much a reality in Indian sculpture as it was in the Egyptian world. He took the trouble to educate people in the west and back home doing all he could to research, document and keep the faith alive. We lost Raja Deekshitar a year ago, but to say the least, his love for the temple and for Lord Shiva is everlasting.

I have wanted to share their achievements as people, to the world at large, to the world of intellects. I miss their presence on my blog.


The Ten Sacred Brahma Vidhyas

Hinduism believes in a world of devatas who live in various strata of the visible atmosphere, the lower Kshudra devatas who reside closer to earth to the Uccha Devatas who live in higher planes. The vedas tell us how to live right and well so that we can ascend this ladder and move to higher levels in our own spirital progress post death if we are lucky. 

While leading our earthly existance these lower deities bless us with cheap wishes and so called benefits that we may look for but then we miss the real matter, the cardinal deities who are of higher spiritual discipline who actually help us in our progress and are not just mere wish fulfilling lower deities. 

In order to get the right direction, move towards the supreme higher deities and achieve Brahman as described in the Upanishads one must take the help of the Brahma Vidhyas, a spiritual discipline that leads up to this superior existance. Brahma Vidhyas are better known as Siddha vidhyas or Dasamahavidhyas are ten great disciplines that enable a person to progress spiritually. They are represented pictorially as ten great Goddesses/mothers whose worship and realization takes the aspirant to the next level. 

As an introduction, they are ten outstanding personalities of the divine mother and are represented in the following forms:

Tripura Bhairavi

Each of these Goddess describes a principle of life that we need to know, digest, accept, realize and fulfill in order to move on in our spiritual progress. 

Now the big question maybe what do each of these great mothers represent. This moved into the sphere of abstraction where we define a few things for our own understanding. The supreme energy is all enveloping, all encompassing and stitched into the process of creation. With this is born the idea of time and space. Space is vast and can be understood by bringing in divisions. 

Hence as an entity, as a sadhaka we need to understand and realize that the space is defined by the 8 directions that surround us - North, North East, East, South East, South, South West, West, North West, above and below. Time is defined by every breath we take during our life time. In order to understand and realize this knowledge we have been given ten senses to realize the true potential with our consciousness - Skin, eyes, ears, tongue, nose, mouth, foot, hands, anus and genitals. 

Its this combination of time, space, sense that we attribute to the dasa mahavidhyas at the beginning of our spiritual progress. All of these attributes that we are familiar with bring us closer to our own consciousness and sharpen it ten fold to reach a higher realm. 

While our initial journey may not be in the direction of attain supreme salvation and our sadhana may be tuned towards just one of the ten mahavidhyas, as we progress in this path, it opens our mind to the other great Vidhyas in this path. As the sadhaka keeps worshipping the great Mother and leaves all his worldly problems in her hands, this relationship between the aspirant and the divine mother grows, so much so that the aspirant depends and believes in the Divine Mother for solutions to every one of their problems, even the trivial ones. This leads to an intimate relationship between the seeker and the Goddess so much so that they forget the goal they originally started off with.  

The seeker realizes the presence of the Goddess, their attitude changes and its visible to everyone around them. This journey leads us to higher realms that the mind understands and digests. And the real truth lies in the fact that it cannot be explained to anyone, it can only be realized by one self. This is the fun in spiritualism, the real intoxication that keeps us going disconnecting us from our present birth and all its attractions. All the mind starts working on is how to go from one strata to the next and progress to reach the supreme with the blessings of the divine mother and not about how to get petty wishes coming true during our earthly life. 

Photo cortesy:


Ma Kali - Keeper of My Soul

A garland of skulls
A horror to the ignorant
An echo that death is the only truth
How do I find love in this gory picture

In the darkness of the night
She roams in a blue hue
Her anklets breath sweet music
The shaky skulls roar the rhythm of the damaru

Her cackling laughter
Spelling out my doom
I give up my last breath in love
I am hers to consume 

She holds my soul
Protects it from all evil
Guides me through the darkness of death
To the land of immortals

I leave behind my head
On the bed of smokey ashes
In a picture on your wall
In a memory forgotten

A skull cap with sacred letters
A capsule of the primordial seed sound
A garland she proudly wears
To teach you bliss unknown 


Ma Kali - Consciousness of Time and Change

The sad story of Indian faith is largely influenced by the mimicing of the great acts of devotion by some superior soul mechanically and not emoting the same intensity of Bhakti that goes with the action. 

Many lambs, tender and young and scared, meet their peril at the foot of the Goddess at numerous shrines across Bengal and other states. It is the thoughtless murder of innocent animals that have nothing to do with the deep meaning of the embodiment of Kali Ma. Mythology says the Mother wants blood and in our world we know no better as to how to offer it. 

The Mother asks for our blood, now this doesn't mean we literally need to offer it. Ma Kali is an integral part of Brahma Vidya and she signifies the deep realization that life and death are just transition points. Her nature and terrific outlook defines the jolting presence of time, of change, and that to reincarnate into another form to progress in our spiritual journey, we need to discard this body. She brings the realization that death is nothing to be feared and that we as mortals need to get over that ignorance and realize the beauty of it. 

To attain higher spiritual realization we need to discard our fears. We need to get over our bias and perception. The shamshan ghat should look no different from a glamorous resort simply because it is so temporary. It doesn't take too long to convert a gorgeous resort into a burning ghat. Where is its permanence and why are we so enamoured by the apparent beauty of the location or why do we consider the cremation ground as forbidden land?

Ma Kali's presence is to teach us to get over our fear of death, not to drag an unwilling innocent lamb to its end. Now the fact that this is so not clear to anyone, uneducated or scholars alike, shows how ignorant we are capable of being. Are we waiting for someone to come and drag us to the book to learn it, or are we just happy living in some fool's paradise assuming we are doing a great job by cutting off the neck of an innocent lamb. 

Well if Bhakti would have it, its really not the lamb that would be out there. The true love for Ma Kali denotes that we want to get over the fear of death, we want to merge with her and that being a hanging skull on her garland is possibly a way of attaining salvation. Offering our own head to the goddess, is a greater and more daring offering to make, one out of love, one out of bhakti, one out of fearlessness. Now isnt that the true sign of getting over the fear of death by facing it head on? 

Unfortunately our outlook and our laws consider that suicide, but it just saddens me that killing a lesser being simply because its helpless is an act of spiritualism. How pathetic is it to draw a knife across a lambs neck when the texts actually describe the act of selflessness and high devotion to be the ultimate end of cutting off one's own neck. I am not propagating the act of cutting off one's own neck though historically that has really been the case and we have sculptural evidences all over the country to deliver that message.

Is it right or wrong, I dont know, but certainly killing an innocent lamb is not right. Ma Kali can be attained without killing, without the shedding of blood, Ramakrishna did it, Ramprasad Sen also did it. Why can't we take their examples and stop this slaughter, I mean somewhere we also need to do some thinking instead of just following the crowd. 

Kali is the significance of time and change and the reality of death marks that change. All we need to do is accept it and get over our fear of dying one day. I can't understand how it is related to killing a lamb in big numbers on a Saturday at the Ma Kali temple? The idea of Kali is spiritual and intellectual and is not related to the ghastly act of bloodshed. 

Buddha taught Ahimsa, so did Shankara. How can we see love when there is so much pain and horror in the eyes of the lamb? 


A Lost Heart in the Land of Ma Kali

A hollow emptiness descended on my mind and heart as I stared at the setting sun over the sacred Ganges in the holy land of Dakshineswar. Pigeons fluttered around the temple roof that was a sad but modern attempt on copying ancient Bengal temple architecture. I was a little more prepared this time not just to visit the Kali Ma shrine there and look at her up close but to also go around and see the Panchavati and if my luck would have it, the sacred tantrik sadhana spot. 

Great men have walked this earth, Ramakrishna and Ram Prasad to name a few and they all felt the growing presence of Ma Kali in the air. Yet, as I closed my eyes and breathed in the air under the Panchavati and filled my lungs as best as I could, I still felt nothing. No Ramakrishna, no Kali Ma, no Tara Ma, no body. The place, the spot, the Divinity and the air is all the same and yet I don't even get a glimpse of the Goddess, not a shread of it, what am I really missing?

My immediate answer was potentially Bhakti, an emotion or a logical reasoning that I feel, a sense of familiarity with the Goddess and a budding relationship which I have not yet taken for granted. But is it Bhakti that I lacked or is it tantrik sadhana that I severely lacked that didn't allow me even near her door. I dont think Sadhana would have solved my problem entirely, end of the day just mechanical ritual doesn't get us spiritual bliss though when it is coupled with Bhakti, one can feel the rising spiritual heat in the body. 

Their world and our world are so different and the only visible connect between the two worlds are the idols of the blue skinned Goddess that dot the Kolkata landscape in brick walls or tiled rooms, in bright electrically lit chambers or in the dark. Shivji and Ma, both live here as Shamshan Bhairava or Shamshan Kali but when I step into their world, I just step into a land with air and people lost in a peculiar belief but I want to feel a part of it, there hangs a deep feeling of hollow emptiness inside me that says, I just have to try a lot harder.

Frustration takes me to the doors of Kalighat, where the Mother rises violently in her spark of mad fury stepping over the pale body of Shivji, or at least I would like to believe that He is there under all those sarees that drape her. Bright orange hue lights up her forehead and her blood red ferocious eyes look up closely at me. Lets not mention the lousy priests or the noise or the sickeningly dirty floors, but here in all the bright light, soot covered silver parasols and candid groups of cockroaches that crawl over her hibiscous covered shouders, she lashes out with a bright orange dripping silver sickle, dancing in vigorous madness yet all frozen in stone, in time, in belief.

The fire burns on, the arti of the day culminates and I still stare blankly at her wondering, Mother, did I even try hard enough to connect with you? I can only stare, I can only wait and hope that Ma will reveal herself to me... some day... some time... some place. 


The Power of the Spoken Word

"Tat tvam asi"

That thou art, or who we are, is possibly the most mysterious line ever. Our knowledge about the world, the universe, the people around definitely supersedes the knowledge we have about ourselves. Yes we know who we are on paper, our definition arises from how we have imagined ourselves to be, a part of a lineage, a caste/creed, a language/state, an occupation, by our achievements if any of credibility, or by a scandal. Today, this is how we define ourselves reducing the meaning of "Tat tvam asi" to just a profound noise which has no meaning in our lives, leave alone an impact. 

So who am I really? Does the phrase "Tat tvam asi" have more meaning than what I am as a definition? Can the thought of "Tat tvam asi" transform my existing character into something more tangible and capable if i attempt to contemplate on it long hours to really figure out? The closest proximity we can feel with aatman is when we are able to hear the primordial sound OM within ourselves. If we block our ears and close all the other orifices, we come in touch with a faint vibration within ourselves. In fact while swimming when the ears are below water, its the perfect way to sense it. It mutes out all the other sounds and what remains is just a resonating sound within us. Its similar to the sound we can hear in a shell picked up from the sea shore. It just drives home the point that we have a source of sound within us and its not our vocal cords. 

Here is the irony of the story. The scriptures, the sacred texts, the spiritual path, all of them indicate oneness with this sound. All indicate that we need to silence ourselves and try to listen to the powers within us and channelize them. In the earlier yugas, the external noise was far less, and communication was a profound levels. People didn’t need to talk much, the power of the word was so strong that once uttered it couldn't be taken back. Elitist languages like Sanskrit had multifold natures, its nature is not just to communicate but more to empower. They were single sentences but their value was tenfold purely for the limited usage. 

And since communication was so limited, the need to communicate [like we do today] was not over used, the power of the word grew. Sound has been given a lot of value in Hinduism, from the sweetness of words falling into reality and being heard and imbibed as an experience of Ma Saraswati being seated on one's tongue purifying words as they roll out of a devotee's mouth to the pain being felt when one is rolled over the double edged sword of an angry rishi's curse. There was so much meaning to praises and curses in the previous yugas. 

I just look at a day go by, with social media and television yelling out, there is enough noise to deafen our minds with the atrocities around us. The biggest difference between kali yuga and earlier yugas possibly was the lack of noise in earlier eras. Lack of noise directly translates to the power of sound. The unfortunate reality of these times is that there is so much noise that it has lost its value. But in our land of noise and din, where a moment's silence is hard to get, where a said word or promise doesn’t mean anything and can easily be broken, where responsible people take the path or lies and mislead people, where we have a crumbling society that stands on the grounds of deceit and indecency, where respect is defined by money power and not intellect... who am I now? 

How can we explain the profound meaning of Tat Tvam Asi to our children in this age of madness, in this living hell? 

The sure result of the damage excessive sound has made to the environment is in the reduced effect of it. Great mantras, once said delivered on the powers assigned to them, but in today's word, mere recital 108 times fetches no results. In the ancient times, bhava mattered, love and pure bhakti were easy to identify with and the resultant mantras bloomed within the person making them super human and God like, but today, with a lot of bhakti thrown in, and severe repetitions yields results, but it is slow, and leaves us wondering about the effects of its powers. People don’t have the patience to wait that long, and in an era of immediate results, we are destroying what was once a great faith that had the endurance to fight the effects of time. Today, that same belief is questioned and without a miracle, nothing will work anymore. 


Dreaming of the Divine

I have wished several times that the Lord appears in my dreams and blesses me, that He teaches me divine lessons in my hours of deep slumber when my body lies dead in the state of shavasana and my consciousness fades into oblivion. I attempted helping myself by either reciting sacred mantras before going to bed or just thinking and dreaming of the various temples I have visited. 

Out of several attempts few of them proved to be really fruitful. No, am not boasting of any divine activity within my mind's limits, none really. But yes, some dreams stuck on like droplets of marit in my otherwise crowded head bursting with noisy thoughts. I still love to live in that limbo, repeat those vision I saw and feel a little better that maybe the Lord actually heard my wishes. 

Am one for temples, as this very blog speaks. Any temple, anywhere is of great interest. But there is a difference between the way I view and read temples in reality verses those that tend to appear in my dreams. Lets leave the noise, people and corruption out. There is a feeling of bliss every time I visit a Shiva temple, to see the various forms that the Shiva Linga can adorn. The Linga decorated at Ukhimath, with a mustache is similar to the Linga decorated at the entrance of Lingaraja temple in Bhuvaneshwar, and yet the ambiance of the two temples were starkly different. That of Lingaraja was in a shrine much smaller in dimensions, and there was a chill within the chamber. That at Ukhimath was within a room with painted walls and covered in silks and flowers lending a much warmer look in a way more colder location. That at Rudraprayag was chilling cold and wet but it gave me the best experience in bleak winter, as I was allowed to sit right next to it and do abhishekam right in the middle of the day - I must add, the priest was being very kind. The Linga at Rameshwaram was a little too far, and the jyothir linga was barely visible and I must add, that the Linga at Thiruvannamalai's Virupaksha cave near Skandashram is made of pure ash. It is a beautiful cave with a dome like cieling and seats for anyone who chooses to meditate in sync with the samadhi of Virupaksha Deva. 

In all these temples or shrines the heart looks for the divine, and the anticipation is quenched at the glimpse of the shrine and as the eyes soak in the view, this image is embedded in the mind for good. The feeling is shortlived and the overpowering presence of "time" in our lives governs exactly how long this experience is going to last. The other aspect of a new place gives various images for the mind to absorb sometimes diluting the purpose of the visit. 

In the dream state, the temple hopping is a different experience. There is no concept of time, but the mind is anyway playing a game with us. The visions I have had are not out of the world, I just feel transported to another location which the mind chooses to give a geographical name or leaves it as a nameless shrine. Somehow, in these experiences, the name and geography of the temple doesnt seem to matter, there is no concept of time except for the waking state when ever it strikes and wipes these visions away. And the shrines appear with a deep sense of mystery, that there is something more to look for. Interestingly they break all the rules of temple architecture. In a recent dream, I found myself in a dark chamber, more like a hall so to speak which had pillars and was dark. I could barely move but from where I stood I could clearly count five Shiva lingas though small and barely making it to a foot off the ground. Yet they were bright, the three lines of ash, the chandan and the kumkum looked bright to the minds eye. There was a sense of wetness though I never saw the floor. There were small flames though I never saw the lamps, and I was alone standing there still searching trying to get a better view. This shrine seemed to break all the rules, all the rules that I had read up and expected my mind to exercise within the dreams views. But here in this picture, all the rules I have learned were broken, all the theories didnt apply and I had no connection with anyone. All there was in this level of consciousness was the Lord in His many forms and my vision of His being.

Sitting back in reality, and while I negotiate with my mind watching every thought as they go by and wondering whether they should be entertained, these visions of the divine just help feel better that there are some visions we just dont have to worry about but feel glad we even got a sight of them, that the mind is capable of imagining the Lord in forms that I have not yet discovered. 

All said and done, I value these dreams for the experience of mystery, for the spiritual tease it offers me, for the hope that I am being blessed with a vision of the Lord and of course for every new shrine I get to see, real or imaginary. It is so strange that something as static as the Shiva Linga can make a seeker so interested over such a long period of time. Its the emotion that matters, the need to want to know and the need to discover the core of the Lord. And somewhere along that line, the rules of ritual slowly begin to fade away.  


The Beauty of Idol Worship

I have heard it too often; way too often as to why do Hindu's have a concept called idol worship that governs the fundamental principle of their faith. Frankly, I have been questioned and mocked at by people of other faiths and nationalities who simply don’t understand the basics of idol worship. 

We fall into this trap very often simply because we don’t have an answer to give them, one that will shut them up for good. I have been contemplating this thought for a very long time and what shows up as answers are realizations over a period of time. Idol worship means different things at different points in our lives based on our spiritual maturity. And as this rises, idol worship starts to look way more interesting that it was. 

Our introduction to our Gods is through pictures; we relate to them and believe in their existence through these pictures. Unlike all other faiths which originated or finally got established by a successful seeker like Buddha, Mahavira, Prophet Muhammad or Christ, ours is one of a kind where the Gods existed and lived way before we even showed up. Hence, the question arises about whether our Gods really exist. And our answer is doubtlessly "Of course they do". That picture is currently our only proof that they do... but seriously, are we looking for proof at all? 

The first rule we need to learn, which may not be explicitly taught is, don’t look for proof. Just believe, and it will come by. And so we all believe. While on one side almost all of us are inducted into the western system of education which basically states that we should believe only that which we can sense [touch/taste/see/hear/feel] our hearts still yell out in love for that cute elephant God Ganesha, who is not just a God, he is hybrid as well and mostly none of us have experienced him yet. That makes our case a little tougher to the outside world to digest. No worries. 

In our search, and if our search is strong enough the outside world that questions us slowly starts to fade away. We graduate as well, from pictures of Gods and Goddesses in costumes that we don’t wear anymore to energies that have certain characteristics. Our growth curve starts from pictures and as our worship intensifies it moves towards idols/statues which graduates towards yantras and transcends into sacred emblems of worship till finally we don’t need any of it and we just reach a state where the mind itself has been tamed well to be the idol of our worship. [Note, all these elements are available to us and we are aware of them all the time, but when it comes to understanding their presence consciously, its a different ball game]

How does this work? It is the mastery of our consciousness that helps us grow up and ascend this ladder of faith. It would have taken us at least 20 years to get to looking at that picture carefully and ask why that God or Goddess is depicted that way. This is the first sign of curiosity and awareness that we develop in this field. We want to know, we seriously want to know. If we have asked that question there is a good chance, we didn’t get the answer simply because, in most cases, mom and dad didnt ask the question themselves and they now don’t have an answer. At this point the decision is either to give up or hunt. Almost all of us give up and very few take to hunting. The next question is about where we look. This is when we want the Guru, and we are given the line, "Oh the Guru will come to you when you are ready" How are we ever going to be ready when we don’t even know where to start? The point is the fact that we are curious enough is a sign of readiness. 

Realizing very quickly that the [human] Guru is not going to make it to our door step in a hurry, and that curious God/Goddess still hangs within the frame staring at us every day, the next logical step is to pick up a book and get reading and all the associated mythologies, mantras and stories come flowing down to us like a reservoir just broke open. This is the next stage which when complete possibly takes us in the direction of the idols. Idols, the default location to get to see them with the new acquired Bhakti is at the temple, the one single location where they are treated as real, given a bath, dressed, anointed, and offered food and offering from devotees. The temple march is the next possible solution. Tanked up with mythology in the mind, the temple next door suddenly starts to make a lot of sense. We identify with all the being in there, with the many forms of Shiva and Vishnu, with the ganas, gandharvas, kinnaras flying about the sky in the paintings hanging in the temple hallways. We get into the mad hunt for the Holy One, visiting temple after temple, looking at the same God, in a new avatar. This journey is fun, total and complete fun. I still have not gotten out of it. Despite the corruption of the priests and the dirty maintenance and long queues and loud noise the temple is still good fun. 

They say, dont look for God outside, because he is within us. Yes, He/She truly is inside of us, but to realize that we do need to go outside. The temple visits give us new emotional experiences and the various forms we have seen begin to raise new questions. What is this deity all about? Now we come to a new set of book, the actual shlokas, the actual bija mantras the root logic of their existence. Here is a mix of Tantra, Mantra and yantra. This is a level of abstraction, one that is slightly hard to understand but fantastic to realize. This science shakes the apple cart. It makes us realize a few things, like Ravana was not so evil as he is painted out to be, like Kali drinks the blood of evil souls after death, like Shiva canbe discovered in the cremation ground, like death is another state, not something to be scared of. That things happen to us in life might not be something we judge as good, but they are good because they teach us something more about ourselves. And then of course... tat tvam asi...  

This stage is long and might take more than a life time to figure out. This stage can also be coupled with the emblems of worship namely, banalingas, and/or shalagramas. This is stepping into the complex zone, its the zone of Panchayatna puja. By this time we are in sync with most of the philosophies, we understand where we stand in the hierarchy of beings and we know where we need to go. But are we equipped - possibly no. On the face of it, the banalingas and shalagramas look like stones, but no, they are not just stones, they are sacred emblems, energy rich naturally and pure. They need stricter rules in the homes that they reside in. Stricter rules are the definition of a disciplined life alias orthodox. These are self energized stones as opposed to the stone idols in the temple which are manually energized through elaborate ritual. This is why they are stronger, more potent and require that much more care and love. 

Till now our worship has visibly been external but our maturity has been completely internal. We reach a stage where we follow no one [human avatar of sorts, Gurus] but we cave into ourselves and detach from the world outside and get into dialog with our spiritual Guru. Now its all about ourselves, our mind and our heart towards our Guru. With the combination of logic and emotion and sustained practice we reach the doors of spiritual experience. Idol worship is a catalyst to reach this state and once we are there, we get the divine vision to see the real form of the same deity in the picture frame, in the temple idol.   

This is the state we all aspire to reach, where we can get a glimpse of the deity as we had seen in the temple, and in the pictures. With Divya Dristi, and acquired spiritualism, we now reach the gates of heaven and now a trip to the temple reinforces the same form, the same love, the same bhakti that we have matured and grown into appreciating. What we see there is no longer an Idol; it is the very presence of the divine. Ganesha and Hanuman appear in orange red skin, Bhairava appears with yellow flames surrounding him, and Kali appears with deep blue hue to bless us. Our idols only re-created this truth, to reinforce this concept, this belief that if we try hard enough we can be blessed with the divine vision to set eyes on them in real consciousness.