I walked up to her home deep within the temple walls through the crowds of people gathering there. I was oblivious to the noise, of the chattering people, of the fuming priests who believed they owned her home more than she did. I was oblivious to the swelling savagery of uncouth human behavior as people were herded in and out of the temple. And ironically I was looking for my peace here, within this din somewhere.
I wondered as I saw the mass of people sticking close like ants in a line, falling over each other trying to get a glimpse of her divine form. They converged at the door of the shrine like ants attack a half dead prey, trying to get their share of the divine rays of grace that emitted from the chamber within. And the Brahmin priest cracked his caustic verbal whip as he shooed the crowds away.
I felt sad for these people, they were desperate for love, they were frustrated with their lives and that’s probably what brought them to her doorstep. But how would they seek her grace when they didn’t realize that all she asked in return was undivided love and faith from them through the passage of silence which was too much to give. Was just a glimpse of the divine mother enough before they went back to their hell holes?
I was certain I didn’t want to be part of this. I was certain I wanted to keep my mind on her form; I was excited deep down waiting for my glimpse as I had wade past the priests to get my turn. This ambiance was a cauldron of swelling emotions, of herded people asking for more, of priests who treated them with utmost disrespect. But I wondered...didn’t they really ask for it? How else were they supposed to control a seething crowd that just wouldn’t listen, just wouldn't move and wanted that extra moment with the Goddess?
I waited my time till I was called, silent and calm for the one thing I didn’t want was a priest or a security guard yelling at me. I was here to meet her, not them, and I had to seek their permission to enter her home but when I approached the Mother with love, the whole ambiance transformed.
She called me in, picked me from the noisy crowd and gave me a seat in front of her as the priest gestured me about. We sat face to face, our eyes met, she smiled at me and I melted in my love unable to hold my emotions for long. My heart yelled out, “Take me mother, when will you come to take me...how much longer do I wait?” The priest broke the conversation asking me to give my offerings, and I held out all that I had. I was jostling between two worlds, that of the din around me and this beautiful conversation we were having in silence.
The flames flickered wild as they lit up her dim room, wet in water as she prepared for her bath. She was bare, her pure self-unveiled for me to get a glimpse as she smiled back at me. I was treated like a guest; she was gentle and kind oozing love and beauty as I felt the energies envelop me. I let my emotions flow as my hands shook, closing my eyes for a few seconds as I felt my body energized with her presence. I said nothing, I thought nothing, I felt everything I could and I let my pent up emotions flow. It was a river of love, between her and me. I gave whatever I could, I gave my being, I gave my heart, I gave my thoughts, I gave my love... I gave everything that was humanly possible to give. And she took it all with grace. No priest came between us then, no Maya knocked back at me. I was in her silent world for a short while.
It was time to leave, I had a desire to see them bathe her and she granted me that wish and more. What was supposed to have otherwise ended as a darshan, continued as she gave me a pomegranate tossed into my hand by the priest. She gave me a seat far away from the maddening crowd to sit and worship her. High on a platform, far from the herd, in isolation and silence... I watched her being bathed. I witnessed her many forms as the priest took the divine light around her.
Four forms remained etched in my mind, the first was her in her pure bare state being readied for her bath, the second was when she was ash clad and the whiteness pronounced her features, the third was when milk and curd rolled down her being pronouncing her curved body and the fourth was when she was dressed like a bride. Each form depicted a different facet of herself - stark consciousness, freedom from attachment, vibrant purity, divine love.
She filled my eyes with her form, she filled my heart with her love, she filled my mind with silence, she filled my consciousness with her beeja mantra and I filled her with my pent up emotions. We merged in silence, in divine embrace...maybe that is what I call grace.
I was called back into the chamber, she asked for me again and I was only too glad to see her up close. She is life size, real and enigmatic. I presented her my gift for her to touch with her grace and I quietly wore it round my neck, her grace enveloping my heart like an armour of love. She blessed me with abundant kumkum that reddened my hands, and I realized one truth then.
Tara Ma and Kamakshi Amman were one and the same form. They both treated me to abhishekam, she allowed me to bathe her ughra form, while I witnessed her soumya roopam getting bathed. She colored my hands in alta red when I touched her ughra form and in kumkum when I felt her soumya presence. She hugged me close in her ughra form and spoke to me in silence in her soumya form. She energized me as I shook emotionally almost breaking into tears in both forms. She gave me two hours in Tarapith, she gave me two hours in Kanchipuram. She made the priests call me in; she made them treat me with respect. She made both the priests at Tarapith and at Kanchipuram give me their visiting cards and an open invitation to come back any time, she opened the gates to unlimited access into her divine home.
She sent me back into samsara fulfilled with love, she sent me back to the world, blessed. It was a fantastic year with the Goddess.
I truly felt Atithi Devo Bhava.