Tuesday, November 25, 2008

White Tara

Goddess Tara, a female Buddha and meditational deity, is arguably the most popular goddess in the Buddhist pantheon. She is considered to be the goddess of universal compassion who represents virtuous and enlightened activity.White Tara is, of course, white in colour. Her white colour indicates purity, but also indicates that she is Truth complete and undifferentiated.
White Tara (Sitatara) is associated with long life. Her mantra is often chanted with a particular person in mind. She’s another representation of compassion, and she’s pictured as being endowed with seven eyes (look at the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and her forehead) to symbolize the watchfulness of the compassionate mind.
When the 1000 White Taras are named the tone of the planet will shift from one of fear to one of compassion, of love. It is something like the Durga myth. When the world was on the brink and the Gods threw their hands up in surrender and called on Durga to save this world, Durga came. She cut away greed and avarice and restored harmony. The Gods asked her to stay and be our goddess but she said , "No, that wasn't the deal I signed onto, but if you need me again you can call on me". And so we are. We are calling her to cut away avarice and we are calling on White Tara to remove the fear, thus allowing this to happen, through compassion... through love.
Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuḥ Punya Jñānā Puṣtiṃ Kuru Svāhā

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kaala Bhairava

Lord Kaala Bhairava is that manifestation of Lord Shiva who oversees the march of time. Bhairava means "terrifying" and it is an adjective applied to Shiva in His fearful aspect. Seen as Siva Himself, Bhairava reveals the 64 Bhairava Agamas to Shakti (Bhairavi), which are the source of Kashmir Saiva philosophy. In Kashmir Saivism, Bhairava is said to be derived from bha (bharana; maintenance) + ra (ravana; withdrawal) + va (vamana; bring out or create). So, Bhairava is Shiva Himself, the supreme, who brings forth, sustains and withdraws creation back into Himself. From the Vijnanabhairava Tantra:
Understand that the spatial reality of Bhairava is present in everything, in every being, and be this reality. (verse 124)
Bhairava is one with your radiant consciousness; singing the name of Bhairava, one becomes Shiva. (verse 130)
O beloved, when the mind, intellect, energy and (the notion of) limited self vanish, then appears that wonderful Bhairava. (verse 138)
The Rudrayamala Tantra, quoted in a puja manual Bhairava Upasana, describes the worship of Vatuka Bhairava, or Bhairava as a small boy, and gives his mantra as 

hrim vatukaya apadudharanaya kuru kuru batukaya hrim

From the yogic point of view, if an individual applies the Bhairava Mudra, he or she looks both outwards and inwards at the same time and is one with Shiva-Shakti. Bhairava is terrible, terrifying, because He represents pure consciousness, before which the kleshas (obstacles) and conditioning of an ignorant human being crumble.

|| śrī kālabhairavāṣṭakaṁ ||
devarājasevyamānapāvanāṁghripaṅkajaṁ vyālayajñasūtraminduśekharaṁ kṛpākaram |
nāradādiyogivṛndavanditaṁ digaṁbaraṁ kāśikāpurādhināthakālabhairavaṁ bhaje || 1 ||

bhānukoṭibhāsvaraṁ bhavābdhitārakaṁ paraṁ nīlakaṇṭhamīpsitārthadāyakaṁ trilocanam |
kālakālamaṁbujākśamakśaśūlamakśaraṁ kāśikāpurādhināthakālabhairavaṁ bhaje || 2 ||

śūlaṭaṁkapāśadaṇḍapāṇimādikāraṇaṁ śyāmakāyamādidevamakśaraṁ nirāmayam |
bhīmavikramaṁ prabhuṁ vicitratāṇḍavapriyaṁ kāśikāpurādhināthakālabhairavaṁ bhaje || 3 ||

bhuktimuktidāyakaṁ praśastacāruvigrahaṁ bhaktavatsalaṁ sthitaṁ samastalokavigraham |
vinikvaṇanmanojñahemakiṅkiṇīlasatkaṭiṁ kāśikāpurādhināthakālabhairavaṁ bhaje || 4 ||

dharmasetupālakaṁ tvadharmamārganāśanaṁ karmapāśamocakaṁ suśarmadhāyakaṁ vibhum |
svarṇavarṇaśeṣapāśaśobhitāṁgamaṇḍalaṁ kāśikāpurādhināthakālabhairavaṁ bhaje || 5 ||

ratnapādukāprabhābhirāmapādayugmakaṁ nityamadvitīyamiṣṭadaivataṁ niraṁjanam |
mṛtyudarpanāśanaṁ karāladaṁṣṭramokśaṇaṁ kāśikāpurādhināthakālabhairavaṁ bhaje || 6 ||

aṭṭahāsabhinnapadmajāṇḍakośasaṁtatiṁ dṛṣṭipāttanaṣṭapāpajālamugraśāsanam |
aṣṭasiddhidāyakaṁ kapālamālikādharaṁ kāśikāpurādhināthakālabhairavaṁ bhaje || 7 ||

bhūtasaṁghanāyakaṁ viśālakīrtidāyakaṁ kāśivāsalokapuṇyapāpaśodhakaṁ vibhum |
nītimārgakovidaṁ purātanaṁ jagatpatiṁ kāśikāpurādhināthakālabhairavaṁ bhaje || 8 ||

kālabhairavāṣṭakaṁ paṭhaṁti ye manoharaṁ jñānamuktisādhanaṁ vicitrapuṇyavardhanam |
śokamohadainyalobhakopatāpanāśanaṁ prayānti kālabhairavāṁghrisannidhiṁ narā dhruvam ||

|| iti śrīmachaṁkarācāryaviracitaṁ śrī kālabhairavāṣṭakaṁ saṁpūrṇam ||

Om Hraam Hreem Hroom Hrime Hroum Ksham
Kshetrapaalaaya Kaala Bhairavaaya Namaha


Friday, November 14, 2008

Prakasha & Vimarsha

In Tantric Metaphysics, the Original Absolute or Ultimate Reality, called Paramashiva ("Supreme Godhead") or Parasamvit ("Supreme Consciousness") is described as Prakasha. This is the Absolute Reality as pure, static, nondual Consciousness. And just as Shiva is Prakasha, so Shakti - the dynamic self-expression of the Absolute - is Vimarsha. Vimarsha is the self-contemplation of Prakasha, it is Prakasha reflecting Itself, surveying Itself, Experiencing Itself. As one Shakta Tantric text, the Kamakala Vilasa, puts it, "Vimarsha is the mirror in which Prakasha reviews itself" (Shankaranarayanan, Sri Cakra)
Thus the Godhead, which is of the nature of Prakasha, transcendentally and non-dualistically experiences (Vimarsha) Its own intrinsic nature. This is the state of Shiva and Shakti, Prakasha and Vimarsha, in total identity and union, the Ground of Being, Infinite Consciousness. Through Vimarsha, the Absolute emerges from Its original Latency, to become Self-Conscious (Vimarsha) of Its own Infinity and Its own Infinite attributes.
All Creation and all existence comes about through Vimarsha, through the Absolute experiencing Itself.
At the level of the Unmanifest Absolute (Parabrahman, Parasamvit, etc), Shiva and Shakti, Prakasha and Vimarsha, abide in total identity and union. Parabrahman is eternal and unchanging; the Quiescent Absolute Light and Truth which is beyond Light and Dark, Truth and Falsehood.
The Sufi Jili, a disciple of the great Ibn Arabi, spoke of stages of unfoldment within the Godhead Itself, in which the original simple Essence, the "Dark mist" (al-`Ama), develops consciousness and qualities by passing through various stages of manifestation, which modify Its original simplicity.
The "Dark mist" (al-`Ama), the Unmanifest
Abstract Oneness (Ahadiyya)
He-ness (Huwiyya) and I-ness (Aniyya)
Unity in plurality (Wahidiyya)
are all transcendent stages of Divine being. From Wahidiyya arise Mercifulness and Lordship, which pertain to God's relation with his Creation. And Sri Aurobindo states that the Supermind has three "poises" which are outlined as follows:
"...The first founds the inalienable unity of things, the second modifies that unity so as to support the manifestation of the Many in One and the One in Many; the third further modifies it so as support the evolution of a diversified individuality which, by the action of Ignorance, becomes...at a lower level the illusion of the separate ego..."
The Sufi Jili gives a visionary account in which the Ruh or Divine Spirit conversed with him regarding its origin and its nature, saying: "I am the child whose father is its son and the wine whose vine is its jar....I met the mothers who bore me and I asked them in marriage..."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mono- and Poly-theism

In the major religious traditions of humankind god is always used in the singular. In Judeo-Christian thought as in Plato as well in Islam, we find explicit affirmation of there being but one God. This firm belief in a single god is referred to as monotheism. On the other hand, there are (and have been)religious systems which freely recognize a variety of gods. In ancient Egypt,Persia, and Greece, for example, many different gods were worshipped. We call this belief polytheism.

In the vision of Hinduism there are no simple answers to complex questions. If we ask the Hindu tradition, which of the two views, a single god or many gods is correct, the answer would be, both: There is but one god, and there are also many.

Confusing as such an answer might seem, a little reflec-tion will show that it carries much meaning if we recognize that God is not an object or an entity that is to be spotted at some place and time, but an inherent feature of the cosmos that is to be grasped as an inner experience. We may approach the question through an analogy.

Consider music. Is there such a thing as music ? The answer clearly is yes, but only to those who have heard music. A person born deaf may deny the existence of music or at best agree with a hearing person who tells him so. But no one can intellectually grasp music: It is to be experienced, not defined. Now let us ask: Is there one music or many ? Music is one, but its expressions are countless. What is more, at least for most of us, we can only know music through its many expressions. Perhaps, at the highest level, one may be able to grasp music as such without reference to any particular piece. This, roughly, is the Hindu view of god. There is but one god, but its manifestations are many. And god is best experienced through one or more of its multiple manifestations.

It is possible to enjoy a variety of music and yet be fond of one particular piece more than any other. If we were to ask an avid music lover which is the most im-portant or enjoyable piece of music, she could very well say, "The one I am istening to at a given moment." For each piece has its own charm and beauty,and while one is in the joys of listening to a particular piece, all others recede into silence. So too, in the Hindu mode, of the many manifestations of god, the one that is being adored is the most important at the moment. Others may, at other times, take on the primary role.

In the Hindu attitude to the Divine, the one God is manifest in many different forms of co-equal importance, yet with one of them taking on major significance to an individual in a given context. Furthermore, just as every music lover may have his or her own favorite piece, a Hindu (or Hindu family) may have a favorite divine form; that is, One Who is worshipped regularly as one's own hereditarily adopted deity. Such a godhead is called an ishta-devata or chosen god. And we are told, pratim?rathamo pr?han?the m?is the first step in worship.

Monotheism is a grand vision, if the term only implied belief in a single God. Sadly, it often includes a constraining corollary: "That One God is the God which I worship." It is no small irony of history that there have been more bloody confrontations between monotheistic religions and among sects within monotheistic religions than between any of them and a polytheistic one: not a happy commentary on Middle-Eastern monotheism.

Theologians and leaders of all religions would do well to consider Hinduism's view on this matter. There is a precious aphorism in the Rig Veda which says it all:

ekam sat; vipra bahuda vadanti

Truth is one; the learned call it by different names.

The word sat means truth, essence, and also God. God is essentially the ultimate truth, the quintessence of the Cosmic Whole. In the Hindu framework, by truth one means that which is real, and by real one means that which is eternal, and not subject to transformation or decay. Thus, God is the only Reality with a capital R. Reality with a small r is the passing and perishing panorama that we experience every waking hour.

Quintessential Truth, however, is infinite, and it can be grasped only in parts and only parts of it can be grasped by the human mind. So every description of the Divine, whether from revelation or through speculation, whether from reading or by reflection, can only be partial. So we all proclaim it in many different ways. One is not right and the other wrong in this matter. Like the six blind men who wanted to know about the elephant, we all obtain a glimpse of the Ultimate. Truth about the Ultimate is like the glitter of a gem, it shines in different ways when viewed from different angles. For the enlightened heart and mind, God can be seen in the star of David as in the Cross, in the Crescent inspired by the Koran as in the abstract sound of the sacred Om.

Monday, November 3, 2008


This love legend has the Chenab river as the central motif and the water of the river plays the role of bringing together the lovers and then parting them forever.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in his famous qawwali sung of Sohni as the one who lost her all for love. As the tale goes, Sohni, a potter’s daughter in Gujarat and an artist in her own right, baked the most beautiful pots ever. Mahiwal, the prince of Bukharo, came to Gujarat and saw the pots made by Sohni and led from the pots to Sohni, he fell in love with her. Sohni too gave her heart away to the prince charming. The social order would not accept this love for a man from afar and so to be near her, he became a buffalo herd, thus the name Mahiwal.

However, Sohni was married off to someone else but the lovers continued to meet. Sohni would swim past midnight with an earthen pitcher for support to meet her Mahiwal on the other side of the Chenab. He would await her arrival with a fire lit outside his hut. However, her sister-in-law discovered this secret rendezvous and one ill-fated night replaced the earthen pitcher with a half-baked one. Sohni was drowned in the Chenab and her corpse reached her lover.

The legend of Sohni-Mahiwal first captured the imagination of poets like Fazal Shah and Qadir Yaar who are considered the "Sohni specialists", just as Waris Shah and Damodar are the specialists of the saga of Heer.

Qadir Yaar (1802-1892) wrote of the love of Sohni in the Sufi strains where Ishq Majazi (human love) is considered a shortcut to Ishq Haqiqi (love for God) poignantly penned the last night of the qissa of Sohni thus:

Across the Chenab his hut beckoned her

Like a lamp flickering on a grave

On that stormy night the breath of the

Chenab was torn, clouds screamed

To test Sohni, God created this night

Cold, violent and strangely rain-drenched

Speaking Allah’s name she lifts her pot

Knowing intuitively it is half-baked…