Raavan wasn’t interested in Sita – not in the slightest

It was a personal duel between me and my teacher. She did not view it as such. My high-school teacher most probably was not even thinking of me. She was just doing her job, setting a Physics paper for the final exams. I stayed up the whole night studying, preparing. Not out of tension, not because I wanted x marks. I viewed it as a personal duel between me and my teacher, and I was enjoying myself thoroughly. I was having fun. It was the only time when I did an all-nighter.

That is what Raavan wanted too — a good hard knock with a worthy opponent, and who better than his teacher. Raavan wasn’t having fun mindlessly. He chose to abduct Sita but he was not interested in Sita one iota bit. He was interested in Raam. The idea was to pull Raam into his den for a good meaty duel. Which super-capable warrior will not want a good hard knock with a worthy opponent? There wasn’t anyone else available, other than Raam.

Of course he would get mad at Vibhishan. “Tejo-vaddha” it is called, when someone tries to shake our resolve and focus — and Raavan would have none of it. This happens at times. We worry about safety, but fail to honor the spirit.

“This is not the proper thing to do. We will all perish. Raam is God incarnate.”, Vibhishan said. It makes sense from a conventional perspective, especially if you are operating from the conventional rules of right and wrong. This article is, however, about the other perspective. Raavan knew of the consequences well — erudite and an ardent devotee that of Shiv that he was. So what if this, that and the other will get destroyed. He didn’t give a hoot about the body getting destroyed. His spirit soared. That is what he wanted — a good hard knock with the one whom he not only worshiped, but who he had started thinking of as his buddy. He wanted light (Raam) to come and penetrate the very core of darkness, his belly. He wanted it.

There is deep satisfaction in being destroyed at the hands of the one’s love.

All this talk of victory of light over darkness is a half story. What victory is there to be had? They are equals and they love each other. They are langotiyaa-yaar (buddies from when they were in their nappies) — light and dark. They are wedded to each other (Kali and Shiv), one willing to lay itself down for the other. Till we eulogize only one and not the other, we are doing gross disservice to ourselves. For the light and the dark in us are both equally divine, equally wise, equally powerful — and equally desirable.

“He was evil. He was filled with pride. Dambh“, people say of Raavan. That sounds superficial to me. If you are the best, you are going to say you are the best. Our reality is not half divine half evil, satan and God at war with each other. Our reality is already fully-divine. We slash ourselves into half and say this is good, this is bad. It is self-hatred.

Here is a direct example of how we slash our self in half –
“Serve water with the right hand, serving water with the left is bad. Take money in the right hand, not the left,” so many children are taught this from a young age. For some weird reason half the body is good, and the other half is not so good?

My right hand weakens during MS attacks. During this time I fall back on my left hand, for eating, for writing, and various other tasks. In the process I have become somewhat ambidextrous and have learnt of the deep wisdom and power that resides in connecting with the ‘other’ hand. We do gross disservice to our self by splitting our self into good and evil, desirable and undesirable.

The way to ‘kill’ evil is to recognize there is no evil. All forces play an extremely crucial role in the scheme of things. What we consider evil, is something beautiful and divine in us seeking acknowledgement and acceptance. When we consider any aspect of our self as undesirable, as an individual, family or society, then that thing rises further taking on grotesque proportions.

The should, should-not teachings of dharma talk of shreyas (what is good for you), and preyas (what is dear to you and you would rather do), as contrary things. We learn that we must choose one over the other – that we should get over our desire to do what is preyas and choose the shreyas instead. This again is an incomplete perspective that causes a horrible split within. Our good lies exactly where our joy lies. Self-awareness makes us know what is truly dear and preyas to us, and how it can take us to what is good and shreyas for us. But we go about denying our self.

While we celebrate Diwali and the victory of light over darkness, it is important to remember to celebrate Kali too – the seat of the dense dark and the power it holds. The darkness in us, the times of challenge, depression, even delusion – hold immense power within, which can only be tapped when we go deep into that darkness. The trick is to carry the light of self-awareness in one palm and self-acceptance in the other. The dark night is silken beautiful – the literal dark night, as well as the metaphorical dark night in our life – both are silken beautiful. Go forth and experience it.

The night is the womb of power.

Image credit: http://www.vanamaliashram.org/TWELVEJYOTIRLINGAMS.html

A Different Durga For This Mahishasur

He just sat there receiving all the arrows I was unleashing at him.

“I don’t like you,” I said, in no uncertain terms.

I had been feeling such distaste, such dislike for him that I would not even look at him at the dining table. After a few days of receiving this treatment, he asked me directly, “Why are you avoiding me? Why are you not even looking at me?” That itself was an act of Durga. It’s not easy to approach a person who seems to wish you didn’t even exist.

He approached me, he didn’t confront me as an adversary. It’s not as if he was all calm, compassion and composure. He is human. However, he is also home to Durga, just as all humans are.

So here I was, sitting on the bed, resting my back against the wall, and there he was, sitting on the chair, a little distance away — and I wasn’t mincing words. I was saying exactly what came to my mind. He did not budge. He just sat there receiving all the arrows of pain I threw at him. Even in the middle of pain, even in the middle of saying all kinds of unkind things, I was grateful to him — for receiving all that I had to say that day, in that manner. It was a different kind of valor he demonstrated.

My brother runs one of the foremost forex risk management companies in India. Serve the country, unto Him our best, serve The Guru – these mantras power him every day. Productivity is on my brother’s mind and tongue almost all the time. You can often hear him talking of achievers who inspire him, “That person works so many hours a day! Amazing. How does he do it?”

I, on the other hand, find all this talk of productivity totally disenchanting. It prevents me from being productive. I need lots of easy breezy air to caress my mind, for me to produce something of worth. The actual produce, be it words or lines of code, may take only 15 minutes, but my mind needs to be fertilized by hours of just-be.

I was working for my brother those days, helping him with his website — and I was hating it. Also, my self-esteem was sobbing in the dungeons. I had been searching for what work to do, and again and again, as much as I tried, I failed. Frustrated with myself, and with my head hissing, “Achieve! Achieve!” every time I saw my brother go to office, I felt shitty. He was innocently doing his jig, but it made me feel lousy. “Perform!” my inside would say, “See, he is going to office. You are doing nothing.”

Eventually light dawned on my dark mind. I wrote this to Marie Forleo one day, who taught me to honor my strengths

Now over the last few months I’ve reached a place where I sit at my desk every day. In those morning hours when I’m at the writing desk, I feel so totally at home and me. I write, or I read — deriving pleasure from it in the same manner I used to when I was a child, when I did not have to make anything of myself. I know something worthwhile will come out of this.

Recognizing, accepting, and honoring my personality also helped me unravel some knots in my relationship with my brother. He is an action-oriented person successful in his business. That makes conventional sense in the world. I used to try to perform, in his manner and in the ways of other achievers, and it was a constant struggle. Now I know that the nature of my doing is different — slow, meditative, like a tree, where the bulk of action is happening invisibly.

In recognizing my strength, initially I was all virtuous, self-righteous, and indignant about it, thinking ‘This is the truly wise way to be’. I thought my brother is not adequately wise. Now I understand, that is his natural self – action-driven. There is no reason for me to be intimidated by action-driven people and by the achieve talk. I can be my way. He can be his way. I’m now able to accept him and his way to be, I’m able honor it, just like I wish myself to be honored.

I don’t know what that Durga did that evening, by not fighting back, by just receiving arrows from the depressed and frustrated Mahishasur in me — but he did something. Maybe he opened up just the slightest possibility for this Mahishasur to find her Durga within.

Articles directly related to this one:
1. Achieve! Achieve! But why?
2. Honoring Our Personality, Honoring Our Uniqueness

Image credit: pixabay.com

Honor Yourself First – or How To Be A Ninja Ganesha

In the ticketing system of Spice Jet, Indigo, Jet Airways, and yes Air India too, a passenger is “born” when a ticket is booked. A passenger “dies” when the passenger commits suicide (sorry, I meant when the passenger cancels the booking) , or when it is transported to another realm (city!) on the hallowed flight of the airline. Every passenger must have a name, age, seat assignment. This is the blueprint of a passenger defined in the ticketing system.

When you book a ticket, a specific passenger, with a specific name is born in the system. There is jubilation all around. You are encouraged to share the good news in the heaven of social media, so that divine fragrant flowers in the form of likes may be showered on the blessed airline and hapless passenger.

This is the method of software development called Object Oriented Programming. The essential attributes and behavior of objects of one kind are defined in a “class”, in a blueprint. As per that blueprint, objects are created in the system as required.

Ganesha is the blueprint of all us beings. Ganesha is the class definition.

The kiddo of the supreme feminine force and the supreme masculine force – that is us. We are the gana (beings), Ganesha is the blueprint of all ganas, of all beings. Lord of the ganas means class definition of the ganas.

Voracious appetite implies endless desires. The mouse as the vehicle implies we mostly do whatever we do, riding on our ego. A bloated tummy implies unprocessed and partially processed experiences, that we keep accumulating.

Hopeless as we may seem to be, we are the remover of all obstacles. Its defined in the blueprint. Ganesha is the remover of all obstacles implies you are the remover of all your obstacles.

How does a hapless ganesha, that we mostly are, become a Ninja Ganesha?

Simple. Honor Yourself First.

Ganesha, as the remover of all obstacles, is worshiped first in any undertaking. This implies that in any undertaking, right as its first step, honor yourself.

Entering into a marriage alliance? Honor yourself first. And do so right through the relationship.

About to become a mom-in-law? Honor yourself first.

Received that marriage invitation with Ganesha sitting prim in the middle? Honor yourself first. Don’t go if you don’t want to! 😉

Aah! “If you don’t want to… ” Do we even know what we want?

When we honor ourselves first, this is one of the first miracles to happen, precursor to a string of miracles. When we honor our self first, we become more self-aware. We learn to become aware of, and honor our thoughts and emotions. Thus we get some clarity, after some practice, on what we want. Miracle 1.

Then we state what we want, firmly, and without malice. Miracle 2.

Firmly, because we honor our self. Miracle 2a.

Without malice, because we honor our self. Our increased self-awareness teaches us that malice makes us feel shitty, and we don’t want that. Miracle 2b.

When we honor our self first, we hold our self and others to higher standards. When muck raises its head inside our brain, we learn to say a simple and firm “no” to it – but since we honor our self, we do not beat our self over the muck that raised its head. Instead, we appreciate our self for the increased awareness and for nipping the muck as soon as we could. When the other person behaves in a yucky manner, and we can do nothing about it except walk away, we simply walk away. We do not subject our self to keep experiencing the muck, because we honor our self. We say no to the muck but continue loving the person, for we know that loving the person makes us feel good. Holding malice in our heart makes us feel bad. Thus we learn to hate the sin, not the sinner.

When we honor our self first, we learn to live our joy. We do our duty, and we live our joy. In fact we learn that to live our joy is our first duty. Thus children receive joyous parents, who, along with parenting, live their joy too – parents who do not manufacture children as crutches of old age. Children learn to stick to their choices without resentment towards parents, for they understand that their parents are products of a different time, a different social mindset. Eventually, the parent and child become friends (on Facebook and otherwise).

When we honor our self first, we learn to state our needs explicitly and kindly to our partners, rather than just expecting to be understood. Our increased self-awareness increases our awareness of the underlying emotions of our partner too.

When we honor our self first, we learn to honor our body and our mind. We know when to seek a doctor’s help before it is too late. When our mind is buzzing with thoughts and emotions, we have no qualms in seeking professional counseling help, for we know it will help to talk to a stranger who has no relationship investment with us.

When we honor our self first, however shitty life may be, we know we are beautiful and we deserve a beautiful life. We know such a life must be there, ready for us – because we are beautiful. We seek that life by seeking external and internal well being. We do not wallow in victimhood. We learn to let go of pseudo-virtues and the plethora of ‘should’s that have been thrust upon us, for we now honor our own internal guide that speaks to us through our thoughts and emotions. We start keeping our friend and guide as permanent partner of our enterprise – it’s just easier that way. When caught in a bind, we know that we have mommy Durga, or daddy Shiva to turn to – or whichever form of the cool dude we may look up to.

“When we honor ourselves first, obstacles undo themselves automagically!” says Bejan Daruwalla Ganesha!

Image credit: Whoa.in

Serve Him Poison

It is not just that He can drink poison, He actually loves drinking poison.

Some people say He likes drinking bhaang (a drink made with cannabis, milk and other goodies). It is not easy carrying bhaang but so many of us live with it churning inside us – crazy unpredictable see-saws of exultation and despair.

My counselor found it tough to be the recipient of it once (the bhaang I was struggling to carry). She wrote, “It is a challenge for me to evaluate, living so far apart from you. I don’t have eyesight to look at you. But it seems to me that through your letters I feel intense mood swings. Have you ever considered that you may be bi-polar?”

I knew whatever I was writing to her were reflections of the churning happening inside. Samudra-manthan literally.

समुद्र मन्थन हो रहा है
कभी अमृत तो विष कभी
मन मेरा उगल रहा है
I wrote in my diary.

It was natural for my counselor to wonder what is happening with this wonky gal writing intense emails to her from the other side of the globe. Emails that were sometimes dark and dank, sometimes soulful and filled with light, all in the span of hours and days. A good counselor is a wonderful and crucial gift. It is a wise thing to do, to seek help of a professional counselor. I have to write about that one day… but coming back to The One who can carry bhaang and the poison that samudra-manthan generates –

Give your pitcher of crazy to Him. “Here, it’s all yours”. Even if you think you are a cool dude who can carry his drink, share a bit yaar!

Actually, sharing a bit does not work. He wants it all. You can’t do things half-way by giving only some of your crazy to Him. You’ve got to give it all to Him to carry. If you want Him in your party you can’t be the cool dude. He is the cool dude.

The flavor of bhaang He likes best is poison. The muckiest muck, the darkest pain killing you drop by drop. Give it to Him. He’ll slurp it up.

Here is a shot I served Him once –

Anger. That is the only word, only thought, only feeling in me right now – what do you want me to write?
You are lucky that you do not have a body – else I would have kicked you hard right now.
You do not keep your promises. You are a liar. A fibber. You stink.
And I could go on and on and on and it is not making any difference to you – not one iota bit.
I do not want to ask you for anything.

He smiled the faintest smile. I felt better.

So bring it on. Serve Him whatever poison you have. The stash you’ve been carefully hiding for oh so long. Using paper as the bowl to serve in, pen as the ladle to serve with, is one way that works well.

देखा सुन्दर पंखुड़ियाँ ही, देखो मेरा कीचड़ भी
कैसी खाई में ये छिपा है, मन का मैल है गहरा जी
खुद को देखूं, डर लगता है, दानव देता पहरा जी
किसका डर है, कैसा डर है, कुछ भी मैं ना जानूं जी
भटकी फिरती इधर उधर मैं, ठौर किधर ना जानूं जी
जग सुधरे, क्या मतलब इसका, मैं खुद ही न सुधरी जी
बेल-पत्र ही चाहो तुम या, लोगे तुम क्या कीचड़ भी?

The Science of Shiva – My Favorite Thin Spiritual Book

कहें न तुमसे तुम्हारी बात तो किससे कहें हम?

Shivji is one heck of a cool dude. You see, I have a teenage crush on Shivji that endures. So when he says, “O Beloved, put attention neither on pleasure or pain but between these, I feel this warm glow all inside.

He’s addressing me as beloved! Oh how nice!

What are you talking about Vani??

My favorite thin (ultra-thin) spiritual book. It’s called “Vigyaan Bhairav”, which means “Science of Shiva”.

The original is in Sanskrit, but hold on, don’t go away yet. We aren’t going to get all high brow, scholarly and stuff. In fact it’s because of its utter simplicity that I love this book – and there are many kind and sweet ways that it is accessible to us without having to bother about the Sanskrit.

Shakti (Durga, Parvati, The Supreme Feminine Force) poses a question –

“O Shiva, what is your reality?
What is this wonder-filled universe?
Who centers this universal wheel?
How may we enter it fully, above space and time, names and descriptions?”

Essentially she is asking him to spill the beans. She is asking him to tell us “the theory of everything”, the one final answer to all questions anyone may ever have.

And then Shiva answers –

He gives 112 short simple ways whereby we may know the answer ourselves by experiencing it. In short, his answer just boils down to this –

Be aware. Experience completely. Receive fully.

He does not directly answer the question ‘What is your reality? Who centers the universal wheel?’ – for if we just heard that, bereft of experience it would just be information and theory to us. He tells us ways in which we can enter his reality, ways in which we can arrive at the center of the universal wheel – above space and time, names and descriptions – and thereby we can directly reach the answer experientially. Nowhere in the book does he say, “I center the universal wheel. This is my reality. Worship me (or anyone or anything for that matter)”. I told you, he’s a cool dude.


Observe. That is the bedrock of science. Observe as much as you can, as minutely as clearly as you can. On a personal level that converts to – be aware, experience completely. Be as acutely aware, of as much in you, around you, as you can.

Scientists use various instruments to observe – be it the grand Hadron Collider at CERN or the hapless rickety Voltmeter in the school lab. We too have been bestowed with superb instruments to observe with. The grandest, big daddy of them all being – our mind. And a plethora of other superb instruments too – eyes, ears, skin…

We just have to tune our instruments and use it completely. When we do that, we directly reach the reality of what is Shiva, along with resolutions to life problems required enroute.

To solve a problem, we have to know the problem. To know the problem, we have to observe the problem. And that applies to whatever hassle we may be experiencing. And even if everything is hunky dory and you are filled with wonder at our wondrous universe and want to know what drives it all – the ultimate question of science, “the theory of everything” – Shiva tells us how you can straight away, bang on, arrive at it. At the center of it all. Not only do you get to know the theory of everything, you get to directly connect with everything, you get to become everything.

It all boils down to tuning our instruments and using it. One simple way that Shivji gives to tune our big daddy instrument, our mind, is – be aware of your breath.

The first four verses of his answer are all different ways of saying, be aware of your breath. Here is the first –

1. Radiant one, this experience may dawn between two breaths. After breath comes in (down) and just before turning up (out) – the beneficence.

Whenever I do that, whenever I choose to become aware of my breath, I feel a sense of calm. Ok, relative calm. Things do not feel as overwhelming. I feel his presence. Be aware of your breath.

Imagine a rickety voltmeter gone rogue, jumping all over the lab. That’s what our mind is like most of the time. What kind of an answer to anything will we get using that instrument? What kind of problem solving will it manage to do? Even if someone is blaring the answer we seek at top volume, we won’t be able to hear it. Cause the voltmeter (which has a radio transmission receiver built into it) won’t be able to receive any radio transmission. We gotta tune the radio.

A way to do it – be aware of your breath.

Dear reader, I invite you – pause a second, become aware of your breathing – no need to close your eyes, take on a posture or any such thing – be aware of the movement in your chest, or your tummy – whichever moves more. Just five breaths. In and out.

Being aware of just five breaths, in and out, being aware of just one breath, has tremendous power.

Then Shivji, in Vigyaan Bhairav, gives some further ways to arrive at the center of the universal wheel, above space and time. Here are some that I particularly like. It all boils down to – Use your instruments! See! Listen! When eating something, taste it completely. When having sex, experience it so completely that the fire burns in you forever. Feeling like a rag doll? Well experience that completely.

16. In the beginning and gradual refinement of the sound of any letter, awake.

17. While listening to stringed instruments, hear their composite central sound; thus omnipresence.

22. Consider any area of your present form as limitlessly spacious.

27. When in worldly activity, keep attentive between two breaths, and so practicing, in a few days be born anew.

37. Look lovingly on some object. Do not go on to another object. Here, in the middle of this object – the blessing.

41. While being caressed, sweet princess, enter the caressing as everlasting life.

43. At the start of sexual union, keep attentive in the beginning, and so continuing, avoid the embers in the end.

45. Ever remembering union, without embrace, the transformation.

46. On joyously seeing a long-absent friend, permeate this joy.

47. When eating or drinking, become the taste of the food or drink, and be filled.

50. At the point of sleep when sleep has not yet come and external wakefulness vanishes, at this point being is revealed.

51. In summer when you see the entire sky, endlessly clear, enter such clarity.

52. Lie down as dead. Engaged in wrath, stay so. Or stare without moving an eyelash. Or suck something and become the sucking.

59. Simply by looking into the blue sky beyond clouds, the serenity.

62. In rain during a black night, enter that blackness as the form of forms.

67. Feel yourself pervading all directions, far, near.

79. Toss attachment for body aside, realizing I am everywhere. One who is everywhere is joyous.

82. Feel the consciousness of each person as your own consciousness. So, leaving aside concern for self, become each being.

91. Wherever your mind is wandering, internally or externally, this.

92. When vividly aware through some particular sense, keep in the awareness.

96. Devotion frees.

98. The purity of other teachings is as impurity to us. In reality know nothing as pure or impure.

100. Be the unsame same to friend as to stranger, in honor and dishonor.

101. When the mood against someone or for someone arises, do not place it on the person in question, but remain centered.

104. Wherever your attention alights, at this very point, experience.

108. Here is a sphere of change, change, change. Through change consume change.

109. As a hen mothers her chicks, mother particular knowings, particular doings, in reality.

110. Since, in truth, bondage and freedom are relative, these words are only for those terrified with the universe.
This universe is a reflection of minds. As you see many suns in water from one sun, so see bondage and liberation.

112. Beloved, at this moment let mind, knowing, breath, form, be included.



Did you sense a deep silence and wide expanse in those words?

There is tremendous transformative power in receiving our experiences completely. As we do it (even if just sometimes) over time it creates a shift, a transformation within. We start seeing the same things that have been in our life all along, in subtle but significantly different ways. There is power shining everywhere and every once in a while we are able to connect to it. A wide expanse opens up and our mind gets transformed in unimaginably gorgeous ways. We feel unlimited. We become unlimited.

Then, in the original Sanskrit, at the end of all his answers, Durga “कण्ठे लग्ना” – i.e. filled with gratitude, she embraces him, she hugs him tight.

That is exactly what happens. We are overcome by gratitude.

That sure is what happens to me. उनके बस गले लग जाना, ज़ोर से – और क्या चाह सकती हूँ मैं?

विस्तृत होकर मन मुस्काया
छा जाती नभ सी यह काया
मैं बस वाणी – मन भरमाया
मैं तो हूँ ब्रह्माण्ड समाया

Zen Flesh Zen BonesDear reader, the excerpts that I have shared with you here are from the book Zen Flesh Zen Bones which consists of four parts (it is not 4 parts as in 4 printed separate books – there are 4 parts within this one book Zen Flesh Zen Bones).

This, a very simple, extremely pared down translation of Vigyaan Bhairav is the last, 4th part of Zen Flesh Zen Bones titled “Centering”. 18 printed pages. That’s all.

There are other ways in which Vigyaan Bhairav is accessible to you too. There is a version available from Bihar School of Yoga / Bihar Yoga Bharati where the original Sanskrit is given with short explanations in English after each shloka. Osho Rajneesh has written a commentary on Vigyaan Bhairav where he has extensively expanded on each of the 112 shlokas and ways of going beyond space and time that Shivji gives. I have cursorily glanced at both these versions. Both are very nice. There are others too.

Book of Secrets - Osho
Vijnana Bhairav - Lakshmanjoo

Personally, I am satisfied with these 18 pages in Zen Flesh Zen Bones and do not feel the need to delve into other more scholarly discourses. I really like the way the authors of Zen Flesh Zen Bones (with the help of a teacher Lakshmanjoo, in Kashmir), have pared down the verses to bare minimum words. It makes the spirit of the message that much more accessible to me. It enables me to stay near silence, near him – unentangled with words and form.

The Science of Shiva – Observe. Experience. Receive fully.

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Image credit: Shiv Shakti by Updendra Ratra

Calling The Dark Night, on the City Diwali

Oh! Dear Night Sky
Moonless Black
Come back, come into my life
Hold me in your dense dark womb
Nourish me with your naked wisdom
My heart cries out for you today

My eyes are chained
to frenzied light
Ears drum with screams
of celebration
Oh! Night Sky embrace me now
in your Silence
that I may sink into you

I shall bring but just one lamp
of my heart
As my offering to you
May it join your many stars
Friends I have not seen for long
Friends who showed me
the vastness to which I belong

Now I’m cut away from land
And I’m cut away from you o Sky
In a “Flat” all dimensions
Have been squashed out
Dried powder of rituals remain
Yet your memory too remains

Kali come to me today
I no longer gasp with fear
At the thought of seeing your face
I have met you inside me
I have seen you inside out
I’ve partaken from your bowl
I seek your power once again
In the midst of frenzied lights,
blaring sounds,
that today, more so resound
Show your beauty that’s been forgotten
been forsaken

You shall prevail, that I know
More that we shall fail to see
the gift of the dark
it will not go
Now in you I rest this call
Come take me, once for all
The one you love, you know I do too.

~ vani murarka

Experiencing Durga in Others

It is easy to be judgmental of the world and people around us. Often we have strong opinions – this is what he/she should do/think. Well then, so here we are. another very fertile opportunity.


In the last post, I talked of an opportunity to experience the force and movement of Durga within ourselves. Here is a wonderful opportunity to experience Durga in others.

There is a line in the “yaa devee sarvabhooteshu …” Devee Stotra

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु भ्रान्तिरूपेण संस्थिता।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥
(yaa devee sarva bhooteshu bhraanti roopeNa sansthitaa
namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo nama(h))

To that devi who is present in all beings in the form of ‘bhraanti’
salutations again and again.

भ्रान्ति (bhraanti) means misguidedness, misunderstanding, delusion.

This mental state exists, at some time or the other, in all of us. However, by the very definition of it, we are unable to see it in ourself. At least until we come out of the delusion, and even then we may not realize and accept that earlier we were deluded.

However, it is easy to be judgmental of the world and people around us. Often we have strong opinions – this is what he/she should do/think. At times, it is to the extent of feeling exasperated – “This guy has lost it!”. We experience it in personal relationships, professional interactions, national policies, religious behaviors, social mindsets …

Well then, so here we are. another very fertile opportunity.

Whenever we perceive delusion, misunderstanding, misguidedness, in our fellow being or society at large, it is an opportunity to know that we are perceiving Durga and experience it in its fullness. The dance of Durga. The play of Durga. The power of Durga. Anytime you see delusion, it is just Durga in one of Her myriad hues.

That same Durga who is the embodiment of power and energry of all of the Universe, who is all that is beautiful, divine, comforting – nurturing love, compassion, prosperity, fulfillment. That supreme feminine force is present in all beings in the form of delusion too.

Seeing delusion in someone as the force of Durga at play, enables us to pause a moment and perhaps reconsider the person. We may still not agree with his/her mindset, but we can consider the person at least with a tad bit of softness, a hint of compassion, knowing that it is a force that is at play within us too. At the very least our mind can acquire a tinge of curiosity towards all that is going inside that person.

We, and the people around us, we all have the nurturing motherly instinct, compassion, awareness (all things nice, positive, desirable too) but we tend to focus on the negative more. The negative too is a form of the divine and we can turn our tendency to focus on the negative into an asset.

Any emotion, any feeling, it is She. Positive or negative is irrelevant. All change, it is She.

Image credit: Reaching for the Sky by Carol Herzer

Experiencing Durga Within

So here is an opportunity. Here is a way to actually experience Durga within. It is an opportunity specially because this feeling is so intensely personal and because when it occurs we experience it as a distinct sharp tinge. …

There is a line in the “yaa devee sarvabhooteshu …” Devee Stotra

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु लज्जारूपेण संस्थिता|
(yaa devee sarva bhooteshu lajjaa roopena sansthitaa)
That devi who is present in all beings in the form of ‘lajjaa’.

Lajjaa? Now that is interesting!

So what is Lajjaa?

Lajjaa seems to get associated with “लाज”, “नारी की लाज” (naaree kee laaj) – a woman’s honor that supposedly gets taken away say when she is raped, or feminine modesty, mostly associated just with her physical parts and her social reputation. Or it may be conventionally viewed as sweet bashfulness, shyness, blushing of a woman, often in a romantic sense. However, that is just a tiny tiny part of lajjaa.

Lajjaa essentially conveys a sense of shame, disrepute, disgrace – in any context. Bashfulness, reserve, modesty, these are also words used to translate the sense of lajjaa, because they are attempts to avoid shame, disrepute, disgrace. So when something undesirable occurs, people exclaim, “tumne aisaa kiyaa? kitnee lajjaa kee baat hai!”.

To me, the best explanation of the word lajjaa is – feeling embarrassed.

That feeling of embarrassment can be anywhere in a whole range of intensities. The mild: feeling somewhat silly. The stronger: feeling stupid. The very intense: feeling shame.

And it is in sarv bhooteshu (all beings) – i.e. all of us, all humans – man, woman and all other gender variations possible. In fact all beings, not just humans. So it has nothing to do specifically with women. Embarrassment is a feeling that we have all experienced and would prefer to avoid. It is because we want to avoid this feeling that we are hesitant to ask questions for example.

At times it is mild, and depending on our level of awareness, we do not explicitly recognize it as such but just feel a sense of discomfort. There is a slight internal squirming. At times it is so strong, it feels like a stab in the chest. We are unable to ignore it and are distressed.

That feeling, that stab of embarrassment, mild or forceful, is She. The supreme feminine force. And She exists in everyone. Sarv bhooteshu.

So here is an opportunity. Here is a way to actually experience Durga within. It is an opportunity specially because this feeling is so intensely personal and because when it occurs we experience it as a distinct sharp tinge. Also, we tend to be better at focusing on the negative within us than positive, so might as well use that tendency.

The next time you experience any tinge of embarrassment, experience it fully. Feel it completely, in all its textures. How it invades and gradually unwillingly departs. You will be directly experiencing Durga inside you!

Durga, that is, Shakti – power, energy, force. Emotional energy is the core driving force of our actions and there is energy, power, force in our so-called negative emotions too, if we connect to it. It can be a powerful exhilarating experience.

Image credit: Inner Eye Moon by Carol Herzer.