Saturday, May 24, 2008

Summons From The Goddess

As I probed my psyche with Darshan, I felt an increasing attraction towards Durga, the Mother Goddess, which soon took the form of an obsession. My mind embarked on a voyage of its own and logic became the tool of a specific chain of thought. I reasoned that I had been brought up In Solan, a town associated with Durga, and had a devotional heart in my childhood. Till the age of fourteen, I was devoted to God .On attaining the age of 14, two decisive changes confronted my impressionable mind- I had to leave my then beloved town, Solan when my family shifted to Punjab, and I fell deeply in one-sided love with Priyanka, the newcomer in class ninth. Both had profound effect on my consequent years, and were deeply inter-related. My love for Priyanka wouldn’t have become an obsession, and wouldn’t probably have been retained for so long and with such deep passion, had it not been for the physical distance which separated me from her, and let me create a mental image of her, which was at variance with her mundane reality. The thing which struck me was that I became an agnostic and started doubting the existence of God just after I fell deeply in love with Priyanka. I reasoned that I had transported the devotion that I earlier felt for an abstract deity to a girl when sexuality awakened in me. This had been facilitated by the physical distance that separated me from her for the next seven years and the almost zero interaction which I had had with her. The other theory that exploded in me was a bit more intriguing. It had to do with striking a balance between the male and female dimensions of my psyche. I reasoned that in Solan, the feminine archetype has a strong presence. The feminine is associated with the unconscious or the natural while the masculine is the conscious and the artificial or manmade. The mountains are natural, hence feminine. Besides Himachal is dotted with shrines glorifying the Goddess. Solan ( Shoolini/Durga), Shimla ( Shyamala/Kali), Chandigarh( close to my hometown, though not in Himachal/ Chandi), Mansa devi and many others. Crowning them all is Vasihno devi, the shrine of my ritualistic birth through the mannat in which my parents had asked the Goddess to give them a son, whom they had promised to bring back to Her soon after birth. This was a promise which they had never fulfilled while I had attained the age of 22. I further reasoned that my psychological distress had started on migrating to Punjab. I theorized that Punjab has strong masculine cultural vibrations with the female aspects grossly sidelined. Considering that it is the state with one of the worst sex-ratios in India and no natural landscape (tilled fields with excessive spray of insecticides are anything but natural) and a patriarchial dominant religion ( Sikhism with ten male Gurus and monotheism with no worship of the absolute in feminine terms) and a long history of political turmoil and general violence ( masculine activities), the feminine dimension of my psyche was suppressed. I also felt that Himachal was the domain of the Goddess while Punjab was the territory of the masculine Sikh gurus. ( It must be appreciated that this chain of thoughts is relevant only to understand my state of mind and has no meaning otherwise and is inherently flawed for being divisive and reductionist, if not outright incorrect. Sikhism mentions the God as being both the father and the mother and Punjab has a very sizeable Hindu population.) I felt the feminine dimension of my psyche, personified as the Goddess was punishing me for leaving her domain of influence ( Himachal) and stopping her worship upon migrating to Punjab through the masochistic thought-pattern that so disturbed me and yet seemed insurmountable.In Himachal I had worshipped God in male idiom ( Shiva or a male saint) and had seen Solan as my mother, thus balancing my internal gender energies. This balance was broken in Punjab where I was already in the presence of a strong male cultural sphere but was unable to give the female energy any outlet. This I thought had resulted in masochistic fantasies. However, it must be noted that masochistic fantasies were present in me from early childhood when I was very much in Solan. Freud was right when he talked about childhood sexuality because I clearly remember erection at an age close to five when a group of girls from my primary class were dominating a boy in a recess game.I was capable of sexual arousal through normal fantasies but masochism was, and has remained till date, the dominant theme in my sex-related imagination. However physical pain or vulgarity of any kind always disgusted me. The thing that aroused me was the idea of a beautiful woman whom I loved so much as to be her devoted slave and who was ultimately benevolent to me as a deity though initially testing my devotion.What struck me in those days of introspection was the remarkable similarity between my thought-pattern and the rituals of Goddess worship in the Indian Shakta tradition. Before probing the train of thought further, I must clarify the difference between Shakta tradition and masochism and pinpoint my exact position. The Shakta school of Indian mysticism sees the primodial Devi or Shakti, as the supreme conscious bliss of pure being, complete in Herself and without and absolutely independent of any male consort. It can be said that in Shakta tradition, it is the devotee who provides the male element( presuming that he is male) and doesn’t delegate it to any divinity. Male consorts play a role in vaishnava/shaiva theology where the goddess appears as the active energy of her inert consort ( eg Parvati for Shiva, Lakshmi for Vishnu and so on). The views of Shakta and Vaishnava/Shaiva traditions are irreconcilable in the position given to Devi. The Devi is supreme is Shakta tradition and it is with this school that I am concerned. In the Shakta tradition, the aim of the devotee is to worship the Goddess and be a recipient of Her benevolent grace before ultimately merging into Her infinite bliss of pure being. Though usually devotees look towards the Goddess as their Cosmic or Personal Mother, the relation of a devotee and the Goddess is by no means limited to any particular idiom. Any relation with the Goddess can be conceived. She can be seen as supreme bliss or infinite consciousness in purely abstract terms or as a beloved, friend, teacher, majestic empress, sister or any other relation which suits the individual temperament of the devotee. Depending upon the psychospiritual stage of development of the devotee, the relation can also be negative in idiom, for example an enemy of the Goddess whom she conquers or a slave whom She controls utterly. Even if the devotee visualizes himself as the slave of the Goddess, she would still be benevolent and merciful to him in the end and guarantee his spiritual salvation through her benevolent grace. However, in the initial, lower stages, She can be cruel and wrathful to destroy his ego and other gross afflicitions. Its similar to a mother punishing her young child to improve his character or a female teacher chastising her male pupil to make him learn. As the lower stage is transcended, the relation takes positive idiom of love and grace until ultimately, all strands of relation are transcended and infinite bliss beyond manifestation as Goddess- devotee attained. Masochism, deriving its name from Leopold Masoch, who authored ‘ Venus In Furs’ about being enslaved and humiliated by a beautiful woman was earlier classified as a paraphilia but is now considered normal though atypical. Its relation with tantra is that of a glowworm and the sun at best and dust and effulgence at worst. vulgarized masochism has nothing to do with tantra. In its refined form, it has minor similarity with lower-end beginning tantrik rituals. Yet in essence, the two differ widely. Masochism may have more in common with ‘yoginis’ , specifically referring to evil female nymphomaniacal spirits who deter and obstruct sadhakas. It is thus highly dangerous, probably much more than normal sexual desire which has a gross evolutionary purpose to serve.
Here I am giving an example where a masochistic theme is used in a lower-end tantrik ritual.
"Another type of stri puja, or a preparatory phase for it, has been mentioned by Benjamin Walker. Here the man to be initiated has to play the part of a domestic servant in a woman's household, slowly progressing toward an intimate relationship with her.
At first he sleeps in the same room with her, but on the floor, while she sleeps on the bed. After two weeks he joins her in bed, but at her feet; then beside her, but clothed. Then he lies beside her nude, fondling and caressing her. Then he has intercourse with her, but without emission. Benjamin Walker. Tantrism. page 51
This ritual technique for building up erotic tension has been used as the plot for a beautifully written story, Moonjewel, by William Kotzwinkle. (source)."
On further probe, the other thing which struck me was my unease at being a Sikh in a Hindu majority state. I was always psychologically a Hindu, but having worn the visible external symbol of Sikhism ( unshorn hair) till the age of fourteen ( when I had my hair cut, superficially to make myself attractive to Priyanka, but primarily to free myself from the identity-badge of Sikhism and to integrate myself to the wider canvas of Hinduism) I was subjected to taunting and both overt and covert discrimination by my classmates and at times, even by teachers. The devastating effect which it had on my psyche is significant because a very deep-rooted desire in me was to become acceptable to the Hindu society, which I thought I could do, only as a Hindu. The lenghts to which I went for this were considerable ( for e.g. even supporting extremist Hindu ideology and referring to the teaching about Sikh gurus in ‘History of Punjab’ class as discrimnatory towards Hindus as they shouldn’t be forced to read about the gurus of another religion!) . It could be said that my reaction to being discriminated against for my visible Sikh identity as a child was to cling to Hinduism the moment I shed it. My feelings in this direction were so deep that at times I feel I subconsciously wanted to fall in love with and marry a Hindu girl to become more of a Hindu.
In this light , my obsession with Priyanka and burning desire to marry her inspite of her having no emotions for me can be described as an attempt to integrate psychological loose-ends from my childhood. Priyanka, to me was always the angel who manifested as the newcomer in ninth . To win her affections seemed the ultimate prize. My heart had been sealed at the age of thirteen and I never felt any emotional attachment to any other girl save Priyanka. Looking from minority/majority perspective, it is significant that she is a Brahmana, ritually, the highest caste of Hinduism. She seemed to me, then, as the prize of Solan, the town I grew up in, and even her lack of affection for me made her all the more attractive for being an unachieved trophy. This of course was subconscious and not something that I admitted to myself or overtly knew. However because of my deeply introspective nature, it was never too far from the surface. Yet, even if valid, it was true only on the mundane sphere and my passionate love for Priyanka was much more than mere caste-gymnastics.
As I became aware of this apsect of my thought-pattern, I discussed it at length with Mathew, the cultural studies faculty at MICA. I also told my father about my neurotic attachment towards Hinduism and even an antipathy for Sikhism. He told me he himself found Hinduism deeper at mystic level but had never felt any antipathy towards Sikhism. That was the point when my mother told me that she had dreamt of a temple of the Goddess from which the Goddess Herself emerged and handed her an infant a few days before my birth. This came as a revelation to me and affected me deeply. In itself it was a minor detail{ my mother had dreamt of a gurudwara( sikh temple) and Guru Nanak a few days before she gave birth to my younger brother ; a professor related her dreams with cultural psycholgy and the archetype of maternity}. However the way the pieces joined together to make the picture was remarkable. This, then were the links.

1.) My parents took a mannat from Vaishno Devi before my birth.
2.) My mother dreamt that the Goddess herself handed over an infant to her a few days before my birth.
3.) My mother has shown psychic abilities in other instances. For example she saw my father’s face before meeting him and came to know of her mother’s death and my father’s serious accident beforehand through intuition.
4.) I was born with deep devotion towards a feminine figure of awesome majesty which was corrupted into slight masochism. This I related with a punishment for not worshipping Durga and my parents’ not fulfilling the mannat by taking me to the shrine after birth.

To this, I added Priyanka. In Indian devotional religion, there is a practice known as ‘nyasa’. It refers to descension of divinity in a mundane object for a while for the purpose of worship. After the worship is complete, the divine consciousness leaves the mundane object. . I felt I had performed a nyasa on Priyanka – that she was the idol through which I was always worshipping Durga! My extreme devotion to her, but without any carnal desire, indeed an inability to think about her in carnal terms and belief in her as the source of infinite love and joy all indicate that I was looking for the great Goddess in a mere girl who had all the frailties of an ordinary human being. This was also supported by -
1.) My talking about the unfulfilled mannat to Vaishno Devi to Priyanka, she being the only person with whom I discussed it.
2.) My becoming religious again on meeting her after seven years. ( The divinity was expanding from her source-body.)
3.) My deep desire to starve myself to death in the Shoolini ( Durga) temple in Solan when I couldn’t contact Priyanka for many weeks.
4.) My dream in which Priyanka was Ganga, the personification of spiritual purity (inspite of her being just a beautiful girl with normal shortcomings).
5.)I told Priyanka that I remembered her instead of God whenever I had any trouble. I told her she was the God whom I worshipped. To this , she protested she was too human. ( To love somebody and not to see God in her is to taste but the brim of the cup. The beloved is God and love is the origin of God.) I messaged her that I would find God for her. She gave me back my mysticism, just as she had taken it from me.
If the great Goddess can be worshipped in a stone idol, she can much more be seen in a human idol through nyasa, especially when there is impenetrable physical distance between the woman and the devotee ( as was the case with me for seven years). ). As I found out while studying Indian Cultural history ,( A Cultural History Of India, edited by AL Basham) later, this concept was specifically used by and theorized upon by Bengali tantriks. Chandidas, the fourteenth century Bengali devotee, is the first great name in Bengali bhakti literature. He held that the only way to salvation is the love of God, and that this love must be based on an earthly passion for a particular person. This passion, however needs to be sublimated, and therefore the beloved should be an inaccessible woman, for instance, a married woman, or even better, a woman who doesn’t respond to the devotions of the seeker. This failure to find a response on the gross plane would soon sublimate the love to divine plane. Besides it’s the foundation of the metamorphosis of worldly love ( Ishq-i-zamini) to spiritual love (ishq-i-haqiqi) in sufism. Consider that Rumi , the doyen of mystics, considered Majnun the greatest of all mystics. He said it was divine rapture which made Majnun kiss the dog of Laila, his earthly beloved.
It shouldn't be assumed that I went through all this convoluted mental logic through some effort. It was more like bursts of insight. What had seemed hazy yesterday seemed clear like sunlight today.Now as these thoughts sunk into me, I felt an immensely powerful pull from Durga. Every cell in my body felt the great Goddess of the shrine of Vaishno Devi was calling me. It seemed She would pluck out my soul from my body. I had to go and merge into my Goddess. I tried resisting but all effort was futile.

The Dilemma

After many earth- days, Nishabda came down to gross sphere. His spirit re-entered his gross body and his breathing started again. His heart started beating again. He was lost in immense bliss that opened pores in his skull for hours before he gradually became aware of his physical body. He rubbed the soles of his feet for a while and then looked around. Night was falling when he swam back to the shore. He was still sitting on the shore as the sun rose in the east. He was lost in contemplation, though not connected to the primal wave of consciousness, when Anahata came, a picture of youth on his white horse, Shvetank, the eater of wind. Anahata softly patted Nishabda on his shoulder. He shook him slightly on not getting any response. Nishabda looked at his friend with a slight smile. “Why have you come to disturb an ascetic with your worldly filth?”
“This is no time for jokes. I am in mortal danger. None but you can save me.” Anahata had a perplexed expression on his young face.
“So, you have picked up a fight with your own guru and want me to intervene? What has it to do with me? What are the delusions of life and death to a yogi? Whether the body breathes or mingles into dust, its all the same to me. Fight a good fight before you die. That’s what you Kshatriyas are fooled into believing when they teach you their so called dharma. Why isn’t your mind at peace if the battle is righteous?” Nishabda was still smiling as he chided his visitor.
“So, you already know everything. Then you must help me out of this quandary. I cannot fight him for he is dearer than life itself, nor do I have any hope of winning. You must convince him that I mean him no ill-will and don’t want to fight him.” Anahata was trembling as he spoke.
“The child doesn’t leave the womb to re-enter it, nor does the apple again touch the tree from where it has fallen down. The karma that you have set in motion must be fulfilled. The fight is sure to happen. Neither I nor you can stop what has already happened and is just being replayed on the earth sphere. To live, you must kill him. Whoever challenges you to a mortal combat is an enemy, and death is the only homage that an enemy deserves.”
“He is my revered preceptor, dearer than life itself. And I don’t have even an iota of a chance to stand against him. You must intervene to stop this senseless combat.” The brave Anahata was in tears.
“Tell me the whole thing. Not that I don’t know it, but your words would better reflect your perspective.”
“ It all began on that moonlit night, when I was strolling by the side of the river.”

Friday, May 23, 2008


Nishabda looked at the vast expanse of the roaring ocean. His beautiful eyes shone like twin suns, illuminating the universes through their brilliance. The prince was alone on the shore. A distant island of the color of emerald beckoned him. He swam across the shark-infested waters with effortless grace. He found a cave in the island and sat down for his meditation. He knew it won’t be his final merger into cosmic spirit. He had the imprints of karma which would weave waking dreams for a few more earth days. As he sat, firm in his posture, his consciousness rose like a current, up from the sole of his feet, towards the crown of his skull. An expanding, audible current of consciousness engulfed his body and gradually started a spiral, ascending motion, benumbing his feet, calves, thighs and abdominal region. Effulgence appeared when his body had gone numb till the navel. The rising consciousness gave him raptures of incredible bliss in the skull and the effulgence became prominent. Gradually, his entire body went numb till his eyebrows. All his consciousness became centered in the skull. His heartbeat and breath stopped and the mouth of God opened in his medulla. Cosmic consciousness supported his physical body through waves of energy that charged his backbone. He had broken the barrier of breath. Breath had been plucked out of his gross body. He became dead to his body and awake to the great effulgence, the white light that blazed like thousand suns. With the sound of a giant thunder, cosmic consciousness met his individuated being at the point where all the nerves of his brain met, and he left his body, though still connected to it with a silver chord of light. The subtle body of Nishabda traveled through increasingly blessed realms of light and sound, of ineffable beauty and joy. Transcending the last subtle sphere, his subtle body was dissolved and the causal sheath engulfed him. Supreme bliss of being merged him into Her ever-new joy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bliss Of Pure Being

The aim of anahata nada meditation is to free consciousness from the bodily cage and progress to increasingly expanding spheres of consciousness until spirit finds its primeval identity as infinite bliss beyond creation. The premise from which this meditational practice springs forth is that consciousness has a wave like character and can be perceived as an audible vibration, reverberating in the skull ( specifically at the point between and slightly above the middle of the two eyebrows) and leading to effulgence. In the Koran, Muhammad experienced a reverberating bell-like vibration before Gabriel revealed the law of God to him. All Indian mystic texts ask the seeker to meditate on Om, which they equate with God. Meditation is not a bodily, intellectual or egoistic endeavour. Rather, meditation begins after the confining walls of body, intellect and ego are transcended.

The female reveals the male.

Ever wondered why that xx/xy chromosome creates this dividing wall of gender? The subtle sphere of fertility creates two distinct frameworks for the individuation of consciousness. The opposite reveals its opposite. The male cannot know himself without exploring the female. Nor can the female see herself except through the mirror of the male. Primal consciousness is ever-free of attributes and has no gender or sex. However the visarga which divides everything with its fangs of duality creates the eternal division of sexes.. The female is the mirror through which the male can know himself better and vice versa. You cannot see your own face except through a reflection. You need the other to know what you look like! Indeed when there is no other, there is no I either. Freud talked about the infantile desire to make love to the parent of the opposite sex and consequent jealousy towards the same sex parent. He named it ‘Oedipus complex’ in boys and ‘Electra complex’ in girls. Many have derided him as a mere weaver of fables but some of his theories sprang from deep insight, though limited and only into baser human instincts. Even the Tibetan book of living and dying ( Somgyal Rinpoche) talks about the individuated soul’s ( or ideational body since Buddhism doesn’t talk of a soul per se) longing for the parent of the opposite sex and jealousy for that of same before entering the zygote and determining its sex. Jung went a step further through his archetypes of anima and animus but failed miserably when he blatantly misinterpreted the biblical ‘logos’ or ‘word’ as the male logical faculty. It was the worst misinterpretation of Bible. The logos is the primordial vibration of pure consciousness from which all that exists springs forth.
To return to our topic, pure consciousness is vast, infinite and neither one nor many or fractional. Infinite are the attributes that appear in its sphere of conscious joy without ever having any being. Pure bliss appears to touch myriads of opposites to explore its endless majesty. It is female to know the male,night to know the day, ugliness to know beauty and humble to know the mighty. Yet they are all only momentary appearances. It is what it always was and shall ever be- beyond time and space. Infinite joy of ever-new being.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What then is anahata?

The Bible calls it 'the Word' that existed before the creation of universes and was the creative force for everything that came into the realm of manifestation. Indeed, the Gospel of John, in the new testament, identifies it with God. The Vedas and Upanishadas call it Om , nada, shabda, mukhya prana ( the chief vital energy) and udgitha ( sound from above). Sufis and Muslim mystics call it 'qalma' or 'bang-i-illahi' ( voice of God). Nanak calls it 'shabad' or 'satnam' ( the true name). Greek mystics call it 'logos'. Elsewhere, it is referred as 'the comforter' and 'the Tao'. The anahata means 'the unstruck' Nada means sound or 'audible vibration.' The literal meaning of 'anahata nada' is the unstruck vibration.' All physical sounds are prouced by striking two objects against each other. For example air strikes the vocal chords to produce speech and drums are beaten by hand. Different from all physical sounds is the unstruck melody of divinity which is acausal and not the result of any gross(physical), subtle(mental) or causal action. A phrase which would enlighten its meaning a bit is 'audible wave of consciousness.It is the bridge between individuated consciousness and 'pure bliss of being.' Practice of 'anahata nada', otherwise known as 'Surat shabda yoga' ( union of individuated consciousness and audible life stream ) and 'yoga of sound and light' begins when the meditator can clearly hear the inner sound current which appears as an audible vibration somewhat resembling buzzing bees, flute, harp, gong-bells and a roaring ocean in progressively expanding spheres of consciousness.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Individuation Of Consciousness

Think of this moment, a moment of waking existence with arbitrary sensory stimuli and random thoughts. Think of the entity that experiences and is beyond what it experiences. Who am I - shorn of chance accretions like name, gender, occupation, race and socio-economic standing? If I am a product of my experiences, it naturaly follows I am a constant flux. But doesn't something pervade this flow of events. The first question is what made me take on individuated existence in a particular moment and at a particular place in the vastness of eternity? Had I been born c. 643 bc in Egypt, I could have been a pharaoh but as it happened I opened my eyes in the 'democratic' chaos of India in 1983. Was it arbitrary? Why wasn't I born a female or say an alien. Why wasn't I an American or say a Bantu? Why wasn't I born in a distant galaxy or in a different universe? Why wasn't i born as a galaxy or as the whole universe rather than a peck of biology on the infinite astronomy? I could have been the whole universe instead of a mere man. And I could have been infinite consciousness rather than merely an individuated sentient being.But the primary question is why at all was it necessary for me to be at all? Existence could have done without me and I could have surely done without existence. I could have done without myself and without ' the other' in relation to which I exist.It seems I was flung into this chaos without any desire on my part. Suppose you open your eyes one fine morning and find yourself a being of bliss with beautiful ideas floating amidst you. Could you have chosen that state of existence? And what about being born as a lump of bones and flesh with a particular band of sensory stimuli to befuddle your nascent mind and to finally program it into constructing a particular cognitive framework and giving it the label of " reality". My reality is surely not your reality nor is the reality of a President the reality of a labourer. And reality changes every moment. But does the knower change with the known? One problem is that analogical thinking is a mental trap and using dissimilar objects or events to explain something is flawed. When somebody says Samadhi is like a river merging into an ocean nothing is known because neither water nor flow has anything to do with expansion of human consciousness. But is the phrase " expansion of human consciousness" any better. Unfortunately not because consciousness isn't a word. Indeed nothing is a word and every word is a mere metaphor for something entire different, nay a label, even less potent than a metaphor which derives from supposed resemblance. The first thing required is liberation from internal language. By internal language I mean verbal thoughts. To say something is beautiful is not to experience beauty for that which can be experienced can never be decsribed but merely indicated. Language is fine so far the experiences described have some bearing to the common stock of human memory or when the mind is equipped to comprehend the experience but a fatal error when that which happens on the cessation of mind or atleast the cessation of individuated mind is to be described. Indeed its a fatal error to describe it at all. And that's what I am going to commit in the hope that the error may inspire a genuine enquiry for the truth that caused it.

Shower Of Bliss

Awareness existed but I was nowhere. Pure consciousness had risen with all delusions swept away. I had this beatific experience two years back. It all began in 2004. I was then in Chandigarh and madly in love. Once while reclining in a coach, I suddenly felt a surge of ineffable, almost unbearable bliss rising up my body and a delicious feeling flooded my being. Consciousness was subtle and profound and beautiful. I felt like God. I thought it was love.Spiritual ecstasy is impossible to elucidate. Those who experience it know it. It is the profoundest consciousness of the highest bliss, the greatest happiness that exists, the supreme flowering of being. It begins with loss of body consciousness and expansion of consciousness beyond, way beyond the trap of individuality.

The Dream Of Passion

Humans search for the elusive entity beyond the mundane concrete reality. To exist and not to transcend reality is to die by slowly merging into an endless void. The seed must be buried if the flower is to bloom even if spring has too short a run. But only the infinite can sate the human soul and it requires the sacrifice of individuality, the final illusion that binds consciousness in the mortal coil. To love is to lose the binding ego and have a glimpse of the vastness of eternity where neither right nor wrong exist and meaning is transcended as a mental construct. Mere physical attraction can pave the way for a deeply transcedental experience which is beyond the ordinary. This is my story - incomplete, fragmented but authentic.When I first had a glimpse of it, I was in a bus and it was night. A current of bliss seemed to rise through my body and consciousness became unbearably soft and delicious. Existence was a thin layer beyond which an ocean of bliss beckoned. The doors were opening. But it was some time before I realised it. As a child I was afraid of dying. I remember lying on the bed awake at night, aged hardly six, thinking of my impending death or that of my father. I was in perfect health but had become conscious of my mortality and death seemed profoundly disconcerting. I asked my father how real death was and if there was an escape. Thus began my journey into myself, the journey to find that which transcends mortality, that which lies beyond gross physical existence.

Cosmic Beloved - I

I feel great resistance as I write this. Should I discuss such deeply personal experiences on a public platform? Wouldn’t they confound instead of enlightening? Have I myself gained anything from my experiences? However a long period of lying has created a sense of guilt in me. Now I want to come out with the truth- for the sake of the few who would care for it- even if it is absurd or deeply disturbing.
As I was undergoing preliminary sessions with Shah, I told him about the deep hold the feminine had on my psyche. I had masochistic fantasies about a dominant woman who had complete authority over me from a very young age. Suddenly a flash of insight exploded in my mind. It was more like a primordial craving. Was the worship of the mother goddess an answer to my suppressed fantasies? I had always dreamt of a beautiful ( at times divine, at times vulgar)woman, whom I wanted to worship, before whom I wanted to prostrate. Wasn’t worshipping Durga the antidote to my fantasies? At that time, I was still an agnostic. I wanted to worship Durga only to fulfill my masochistic fantasies. I felt part of my neurosis may have had to do with suppression of the masochistic dimension of my personality. I also discussed it with RK, the consumer behavior faculty. He told me the feminine has been part of every religious tradition, whether in overt or covert forms. There have been systems of religion where the mother is the prime parent, the source... We talk of Mother Earth. And in Egypt we have the Mother Heavens, the Goddess Nut, who is represented as the whole heavenly sphere. While Hinduism is the only major religion wherein the mother goddess is worshipped on such a large scale (Her presence is specially marked in Bengal and Himachal), she is present even in Abrahamic religions. She is the Virgin Mary in Christianity and Fatima in Islam. Besides her suppression in mainstream Islam is more than made up by Sufism where she is the eternal beloved for whom the mystic yearns. Rumi considered Majnun the greatest of all mystics. Kabalistic Judaism too has strong associations with the feminine divine. I formulated a rough hypothesis for my condition.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


In the song without words, I Am That.

Reality is as imagined as imagination is real.

Humility is the first lesson. Love is the last.

Every co-incidence is divine incidence.

A friend is the one who takes you one step further in sadhana ( spiritual practice).

See the Great in the tiny, not the tiny in the Great.

I am constrained by existence.

My body has no language.

Tangibility, reliability, consciousness, kindness and equity are the five guides.

Nothing is a vice for the truly wise.

In Her Praise

Most revered, most benevolent, awe- inspiring, source of creation, origin of beauty, lap of love, giver of wisdom, most patient, capricious, most terrible, fear-provoking, mysterious mother goddess.I lie supine in front of thee and pray, kiss thine feet and pray, love thee and pray.My Goddess,Thou are the seed of creation, the mysterious, the unknown, the unmanifest, the vast, benign and terrible at whims and unknown, unknowable in your divine essence, giver of wisdom, courage and vitality, ever-patient, ever-enduring, picture of forgiveness.Thou gave birth and ruleth in the initial epochs but the conscious fragments of existence have created a turmoil in your vast mystery and thou has benevolently let them do that. But your pain has been great and if more is inflicted, thou will rise and in your wrath annihilate humanity. I am your child, mother goddess. Take me in your benevolent lap and let me sleep or do whatever you want from me. Be benevolent and take me in your eternal lap of divine love.Nature is the unbridled, the vast, the unconscious, the unexpressable, the ineffable, the everlasting and to express thee in words in futile but verse, beauty and grace suit thee more than prose, ugliness and wrath. In you are manifest the extremes. Thou are benevolent or cruel or benevolently cruel, benevolent if submitted to and cruel if risen against. The mother goddess, ever present in nature as extreme, unbridled, everlasting, supreme energy is all-encompassing and sustainer complete in Herself

Words From Trance

We are all constrained by existence. Some learn to love their shackles and take for reality what is an illusion. Just as awakening is a natural suppressed impulse in sleep, so is the final awakening a natural impulse in the existential dream. The dreams of gods make the reality of humans.In the beginning of things, there was but one, neither sleeping nor dreaming or awakened, nor in a stupor, neither beautiful nor ugly nor of common looks, neither water, nor air, ether, earth or fire, neither element nor compound, atom or molecule or quark, neither male nor female nor sexless. Unawakened ordinary human existence is nought but the dream of sleeping forces. Geete is true and so is the granth, Koran and bible though suited to different climes, races and dispositions. Destiny and nature create the stupor and everything becomes hazy.What a divine game ! What a divine game!When the female and the male originated, the female became the origin and male the course, female became the seed and male the plant, female became the cloud and male the rain, female became the energy and male the manifestation of that energy. Female became the unconscious and male the conscious.

Roar Of The Goddess

Shakta Tantra, the worship of the divine in feminine idiom, is deeply embedded in India. The Mother Goddess is worshipped in various manifestations, some of them saumya ( soft or benevolent) like Saraswati ( goddess of learning and speech; esoterically anahata nada or inner vibration of consciousness) and Lakshmi ( goddess of harmony, health and prosperity; esoterically- spiritual bliss); and other ugra ( wrathful) like Durga ( the inaccessible; primordial infinite unmanifest), Kali ( the black one, symbolic of all-devouring time and death; esoterically- the sublimation of ego necessary for absorption into infinite bliss of pure being ) and Chandi (goddess of war; symbol of destruction of evil- esoterically, the sublimation of gross/ material consciousness).
The Goddess has always dominated my consciousness. Who knows which soul would she make her throne? Ineffable are Her ways, infinite Her manifestations. I am the first of the two children of my parents and was born two and a half years after their marriage. My parents had gone to Vaishno Devi, a shrine of the Mother Goddess where the benevolent and the wrathful synchronize, to take a mannat ( asking for a boon with the promise of doing a devotional act after it is fulfilled) for the birth of a son. They had promised to bring the son granted by the Goddess back to Her shrine soon after birth. Shortly before my birth, my mother dreamt that she was in a shrine of the Goddess. The Goddess materialized from the idol and bestowed a child into Her arms. I was born on shastama ashwin navratri, the sixth of the nine nights in autumn dedicated to the worship of the Mother Goddess. I spent the first fourteen days of my life in Solan, a town that derives its name from Shoolini (the spear- holder), another name for Durga. The Goddess pervades the mountains of my childhood. Shimla is named after Shyamala, another name for Kali, Solan after Shoolini, Kalka after Kali and Chandigarh after Chandi. Chandimandir and Mansa devi are important shrines dedicated to the Goddess close to Solan. Besides Himachal is dotted with Jwalaji (Goddess of flames), Chintpurni ( soother of worries), Chamunda Devi and Naina Devi ( the eyes of the Goddess), all famous shrines where She is revered. Kurukshetra, which is close, has a Shaktipeeth, the seat of the Power, where the esoteric foot of Parvati is worshipped. And crowning them all is Vaishno Devi, the shrine of my birth. Ironically, I have visited Vaishno devi only once, and that too twenty two years after my birth.
During the preliminary sessions ( they never went beyond preliminaries) with Darshan Shah, the psychodynamic psychotherapist in Ahmedabad that I introduced in another post, I soon delved on the unique relation I have had with the feminine element in my psyche.