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Showing posts with label bali peeth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bali peeth. Show all posts

1.25.2011

Nalhati - Shakti Peetha up close

Far away in remote northern Bengal, lost in the rural landscape is a small shrine to the Mother. While the representation is that of Kali Ma, the potency of the shrine hints at the ancient Shakti Peetha of Ma Sati. Indeed, not too far away from the sacred Siddha Peeth of Tarapith is the sacred shrine of Ma Nalhateshwari, at Nalhati. 


Nalhati, buried in her potency, is a small temple surrounded by a village. The main temple of Nalhati rests atop a small hill and within it, draped in hibiscus flowers and red sindur is the sacred rock of power. The name of Nalhati comes from the word "Nal" which refers to the great Mother's throat that fell here when Sati's body was destroyed by Vishnu's discus. Hence this temple houses the form of Ma Nalhateshwari.

The charm of Nalhati is the peace and the sheer lack of corruption. The priests are simple and do not mind devotees taking photographs of the Great Mother's shrine. There is Tantrik presence at this shrine for everything hints towards Kali Ma and Shiva Bhairava. The Bali peeth at the foot of this temple stands in powerful silence and in brilliant red demanding more blood for the Mother.

But what would the landscape of Nalhati have looked like in the ancient days. How could anyone have identified the potency of this sacred earth? Nalhati appears to  have been shrouded in dense jungle along the river side and at the peak of this low hill stands this rock, possibly the fossil of the Great Ma's throat. Reflecting back on the appearance of this shrine, it is a wondrous thought that apparently a stone could command such power.

When we stand at the entrance of the main shrine, its the discovery of this form that moves the heart first. Closer observation brings in the familiarity of the rules and the iconography. The red color, the long hair, the red dress that always makes the mother look like a new bride, the Trishul and the hibiscus flowers at her divine silver feet, all these  proclaim the written laws for the Goddess in the sacred text. And hence the worship is defined, that this rock should be decorated as the head of the Goddess is the rule applied, that she was most probably in ughra form brings on the features of Kali Ma. The fire rises into the air and arti is performed, the divine vision to see the Mother is granted in the light of the flames. 


While these are the familiar rules that are asserted on this stone, while the acts of divine worship are performed to seek her blessings in the method known to us, while fire and water create the sacred path to the feeble offerings we make in half hearts, how does a simple devotee touch the potency of this great shrine when we stand up so close to it in its presence?

Why do we take it for granted that the only method to get access to the divine are "acts" of worship and our mind and heart hardly have a role to play in it because the larger looming presence of time [Kala] defines the limit of our stay in her presence? While I turn my head again to the door, descending the steps of this hill, I just wondered what I really achieved after coming this far. Is this enough or if life, rules, time and family would allow, could I have stayed here longer? And if I did, how would it have made a difference to me if I had to take a dive into my spiritual self?

What am I missing that makes this trip fulfilling in the perspective of having met the divine Mother, but leaves a lacunae in my heart for hardly having spent any time with her? The divine Mother at Nalhati, Tarapith and Kalighat are as close as we can get to the sacred rock that governs the spiritual world we live in. And yet, as we rubbish away all the noise and corruption, and watch her in silence... am quite speechless thinking what next?

As the divine flames rise and the bells ring in my heart, reverberating within the hollow of my inner self, Oh Ma, I ask for forgiveness towards my shattering ignorance of not being able to recognize your potent presence.