Days and Nights of the Devi

The triumvirate of creation, sustenance and destruction in the form of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh is common enough knowledge but they are inert without Para Shakti. In her creative aspect, she is inspired artitstry; in her nourishment avatar, she is the womb of the world; in her destructive form, she is ruthlessly savage. All destruction is but creation waiting to be born.

This morning, I had a glimpse of the elements as an expression of the devi principle.

Earth is the fertile field on which life is born and sustained. Bhoomi devi is also the savage goddess who makes the earth quake and erupt liquid fire that eventually transforms the geoscape.

As water, she is the ocean on which Vishnu sleeps until the moment of creation is ready to spring alive. She is also the waters of the womb nestling new life just as in her fury, she is pralaya.

As Fire, she is the union of egg and sperm that sparks life even as she nestles in the warmth of a mother’s embrace. She is also the pyre which chars the shell of a spent body.

She hastens the seasons to create their winds even as they soothe or agitate the body. In her rages, she is the hurricane that hurtles through life.

Space implodes in her black holes even as stars are born and planets wobble in their steady orbits.

She is Mahamaya even as she expresses in such sensory life. It’s hard to wrap around the thought of the illusory nature of the human embodiment even as it evolves in mystical ways into Pure Consciousness.

These days of the Devi have been one of heaviness of the heart and I didn’t expect to have her darshan. But, I did. In unexpected ways, both in human form and in clay. It’s such an irony that this period has also seen a rise of #metoo in my land. On one hand, we worship the feminine energy and on the other, our girls and women are violated as they have been since the beginning of creation. It’s Maha Ashtami today and as I looked at the avatars of the Devi in the neighbourhood, I couldn’t help but recall Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I rise’.

The neighbourhood community Devi.

With all the rage of suppressed voices and mockery of those who have never known the paralysis of silence, one thing that is lost is the now. That’s all we have and sometimes it comes as a prescription from an old teacher- one setuband sarvangasana a day. Sometimes, the very thing you tell yourself has to be heard through another voice.

I have zero expectations as I assume the shape of the asana and wonder if I’m imagining things even as I watch the wobbliness of Prithvi and the lopsidedness of Ap as it flows on one side. Agni is burning inwards and vayu is blocked in a triangular circuit while Akash is closed to me. Is it possible to actually sense these things when one has been out of regular practice? I don’t know what to believe and so just watch the unruly mind as the body goes through the motions of rest.

Language of the Eyes

I’m waiting at the Eye Clinic as Amma undergoes cataract surgery. The place is quite spartan, done entirely in white with green highlights in the form of plants. Some indoor and a little balcony which was more lush. The doctor’s cabin overlooks part of the lawn and has a stone Buddha sitting in padmasana. There is a standee in the waiting lounge that promises many benefits of the surgery, like being able to read the newspaper, watching television etc. Everyday activities for many people. Incidentally, I don’t read the newspaper nor do I watch television. I read a considerable bit on the screen and in a physical form as well besides typing on my screens. It got me wondering about what would I do/ feel if my vision failed me and I couldn’t indulge in reading or writing. Milton came to mind almost immediately. His magnum opus was composed as a blind man. So, what do we really use to see and what is it that we see?

Recently, my younger daughter and I were at a park for an art workshop and the participants were encouraged to draw on the theme of nature. The first exercise was to sketch and colour the leaves of the plants that appealed to them. This second one was their own interpretation. Little K chose an eye and it was interesting for me. Her reasoning was simple, without eyes how can I appreciate nature.

As an organ of perception, it is associated with the fire element. Form without substance. When we die, the light is extinguished. The phrase is very expressive and points to an early understanding of who and what we really are. I find it fascinating how the elements exit the body on death. The last breath signifies the completion of it’s departure. Where does the last exhalation take place? As long as there is life, the panchabhutas are present in the workings of the body and mind. The last breath, the last sight, the last swallow – where does it all dissolve? Perhaps, the secrets lie in savasana…
Most people find thinking or speaking about death, morbid. I find contemplating it makes me more alive, present to the marvel that life is. How can one not appreciate the brilliance in design of the human body and mind? 

Hari Om

Prithvi, Ap, Tej, Vayu, Akash

The elements in the foot- an interpretation by little K

Much of yog is hidden in plain sight. It’s the mirror that needs cleaning.

As a teen, I was drawn to the  elements and considered myself a pagan. It was an unconscious affinity towards the building blocks of the universe. Little did I know then that I just needed to follow those instincts. It took many turns and twists into confusion before retracing the journey to rediscovery.

There is much to experience and be. Increasingly, I find that asana and japa are tools to master, hone and refine the ability to experience. Most of the time, there is the sense of old knowledge that is lurking just below the surface. Underlying all this is the firm belief that more will be revealed. Until then, “tadasana in all asanas” as our teacher says.

Hari Om