India & The land of Gods’

This is indeed one popular phrase I  heard growing up in India and being a proud Indian. There is so much still unknown to me about the rich heritage and golden mythological past of my country that I surrender not to defend this idea. And it would be also wrong on my part if I completely dismissed this notion too. You may think I am biased. Well, we all are fond of our cultural, mythological and religious past and they have silently become a foundation for our beliefs and value system.

As kids while we are introduced to identify different forms of deities of God’s and Goddesses, we find that out of the millions mentioned in the reigious texts, more or less each one of them have their own symbolic animal pet, AKA -Vahans’. Some of the most popular godly forms like Shiva can be identified with two of his characteristic representatives – the snake around his neck and the bull by his side. While Parvati, his spouse and the lady who is all about power,  is portrayed as one who proudly rides on the back of a lion and some times even a tiger, therefore known as Sheravali (Sher-the big cat & vali- owner). Their mythological children- Lord Ganesha on the other hand represents wisdom via hard-work and he chose his animal as the rat, Karthikeya chose his favorite one as the majestic proud Peacock; Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth chose the wise Owl and Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge was given a Swan as her representing candidate. Goddess Kali, is also one of the most well known goddess worshiped across the whole of India and with a number of beliefs. Kali receives her name signifying time and also meaning dark.A Goddess whom I personally feel is so popularly misunderstood and publicized as being blood thirsty and being associated to the power for black magic.

I will certainly not be the perfect person to assess and proclaim that I understand all the philosophies in the name of my religion. What confuses me today is the disparity of what I learnt and what I see now!

Religion, sadly has become the softest target for any grieving or accomplished heart. When there is no end to ritualistic traditions in the marathon to please deities whom we address as our Gods’, there seems to be a path that misleads us, from what might have been the primary reason for bringing ‘religion’ into existence in the first place. Not only has it been about the convenience of the preachers, it has also converted us from being ‘believers’ into  fearfully blind followers. Today, there is anything and everything that can practically happen in the name of GOD.

Every year, crores of money are spent in creative idol making. From the tiniest one to the sky reaching ones, the limits are boundless and so are the celebrations. You spend your hard earned money, your deep vested prayers and solemn beliefs in your desired idolized form and in the next 15 days you may find the very same modest idols lying by the road sides, adjacent to the venue of celebration or near the river bank simply forgotten to be immersed. Witnessing such callousness in respect for ‘the once upon a time’ beautifully hand crafted and royally adorned Gods and Goddesses, now leaning against some old banyan tree in a half ripped stage, I feel is the complete reflection of most of the things prevalent in our society – Use and Throw.

In the recent couple of weeks, when there have articles and undercover investigations flooding over the media about how India is not only one but THE LARGEST market responsible for supplying cows legally and illegally traded to countries all over the world, the concept of treating cows as holy, one that belongs to God, or even considered as being a mother, seems so disgustingly hypocritical. Where does the theory of “the land of the God’s” vanish when the ‘holy cows’ are brutally culled for trade and meat, snakes blinded, goats slaughtered at the alter of Goddess Kali as rituals embarking sacrifices, tigers and lions poached and all the rest when the list goes endless? A particular God has a designated time for celebration and follows it is the speechless art of innocent animal torture being executed, in the name of it.

 A reality, where people who preach and proclaim religion in broad day light actively engage in the game of death by dusk forces me to think if this so-called religion has failed to teach about conscience or was it just the preparation of another shield to make an abundance of illicit wealth and defend the shades of derogated humanity ?  

I feel so disturbed today by the thought of the systems that have brought us nowhere but to a stage where we are compelled to question our own credentials. This tug-of-war, to choose to be one that humanity requires and one that is ruled by the definitive minds is nothing, but challenging. Some hear it and some of us don’t.Celebrations of any festivity now, seems to be appearing farce. After all, I am in a dilemma to choose between  what I learnt and what I am exposed to today. All I know is I may not be a doctorate to understand the nitty-gritty of religion, but surely I am sane and can use my judgement to understand that our belief system tagged with what we identify as God, needs no blood of its child of any kind and in any form,as a souvenir of sacrifice for the sake of wish fulfillments.

Pic source: Google
P.S: Apologies if any sentiments have been hurt but am helpless to comprehend what we are hurting instead.

By Virtue of her Radiance

Day 8 of Navrtari ~ Goddess Mahagauri

Ancient legends and mythology narrates fascinating stories of  the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. For the 8th incarnation of Goddess Durga’s, “Mahagauri” avatar, there are interesting stories that reveal her this image.

After the long endless years of penance to become Lord Shiva’s wife in Her role as Goddess Brahmacharini and as the slayer of the demon, in her form of Goddess Katyayani and Kaalratri, Goddess Parvati/Durga was exhausted and her complexion was fatigued, pale and somewhat dark.  On a private gathering, post the victorious war that slayed the demons, Lord Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu on this note, seemed to have casually and lovingly teased Goddess Durga, for her apparent dullness and this certainly did not interest the lady and made her upset.

But how could Lord Shiva be at comfort when his precious beloved wife wasn’t at ease and was all dull? With the sensibility of a loving Husband, Lord Shiva is believed to have then washed the body of his wife, Goddess Parvati with the water of the Holy Ganga and she regained her sparkling and radiant beauty back.

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“Mahagauri”, meaning extremely fair, radiant, peaceful and calm is also the ‘wish-fulfilling’ avatar of the Mother Goddess that is worshiped on the 8th day of the Holy Navratri.

Because of her white and fair complexion, she is compared to the conch, the moon and the white flower of Kunda. Symbolically, the night blooming jasmine is also her favorite flower.

She wears a simple white sari, is depicted with 4 arms and rides a white bull. One of her right hand is in a posture that alleviates fear and with the other she holds a trident whereas she holds a small drum in one of her left hand and the other remains in a blessing posture for her devotees. In this form, She now personifies herself again as the happy wife of Lord Shiva and the composed and peaceful Mother figure.

It is believed that “Goddess Mahagauri” is the absolute goddess of kindness and mortality. She purifies the soul of those of her devotees and her earthly children, by forgiving their sins and help them get rid of materialistic vices and misery by leading them to path of contentment and self-realization.

♥ Happy Navratri ♥

P.S: The innocent chirpy girl in white and the happy bull/cow is sure to bring a smile from the Heaven above. Thanks a bunch Suchita for this extraordinarily cute feature image for this blog.

Other Pic: The Web

The Mystery of the Dark

Day 7 of Navratri ~ “Goddess Kaalratri”

One of the fiercest from of Goddess Durga is her “Kaalratri” form. Her dark complexion, bountiful hair, a shining necklace and four hands -two left hands holding a torch and a cleaver and the other two right hands, in postures of blessing and protecting, riding on the back of a donkey, is her characteristic appearance. Worshiped on the seventh day of the Navratri– the Hindu festival that celebrates Mother Goddess in her nine forms over these 9 nights and 10 days.

After the warrior form of “Katyayani”, “Kaalratri” is yet another fearless form of the Hindu Goddess. Not to misjudge or misinterpret her intense and dark appearance, this avatar of the Hindu Deity, embodies this image to destroy all demon entities, negative energies and unholy spirits.

In her this Kaalratri form, Goddess Parvati/Durga is said to have defeated the demons named Shumbha and Nishumbha, riding a powerful donkey.

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Her this darkness is symbolic of “Time”, meaning “kaal” and also meaning black, acknowledging it being created long before light itself. This dark or black complexion also signifies Her as the destroyer of ignorance and helps her devotees attain salvation by freeing them from the oblivion of the cycle of birth and death. Also many Hindus claim to believe that, for the welfare of the creation and her children, the Mother Goddess had absorbed into Her, all ignorance, negativity and sorrows that turned her complexion black.

Irrespective of her intense appearance, she always bears blessings and good luck for the welfare of her devotees and her children while removing the darkness of fear and worry from their lives.

In other words, She is just like any mother, who acquires yet another form to combat the darkness of fear, worries and ignorance from the life of her beloved children. Although she embodies an angry or even in some cases a blood thirsty image, there is no way that can interfere with the absolute reason and intention of her love and well-being for her children.

” May this Navratri, eradicate darkness in all forms, from our lives.”

♥ Happy Navratri ♥

P.S: This feature image is an extremely loving portrayal in contrast to the conventional angry image of “Goddess Kaalratri”. Thank you Suchita for letting me feature your illustration in my blog.

Other pic source: The web

 

The Warrior Princess

Day 6 of Navrarti – “Katyayani Devi”

It is on the 6th day of the Navratri festival – the grand celebration of the evolution of the Hindu Goddess Durga, when the worship of “Goddess Katyayani”is observed.

According to legends, She was born to a saint called Katyayana and thus was derived her name. The “Katyayani” form of the Goddess Durga, marks her personality as the fearless warrior and is depicted with a variety of swords and weapons to slay the evil.

hm56As per the Hindu Mythology, when the gods and saints were distressed and tormented by the demon “Mahisasura”, they made an appeal to the Super Gods for some respite. The audacity of “Mahisahura” had become so profound, that it enraged the patience of the Gods. The fury of Brahma(the creator), Vishnu(the preserver), Shiva (the destroyer) and of other godly spirits, erupted such dense flames from their eyes, that it is believed to have formed a mountain of radiance. It is from this light, said to be equivalent to the brightness of 1000 suns, that the true spirit and purpose of this avatar of Goddess Durga, as “Katyayani” was evolved.

Prior to creating this unrest, Mahisasura, on the other hand, through his devotion and thousand of years of meditation, had won the hearts of the Gods and had his wish, never to be destroyed or killed by any man, granted. This grant of wish had filled Mahisasura , with so much pride and arrogance that

Blinded by pride, the demon had created a rampage of destruction and an endless series of assault on the weak and the innocent. Troubled by this prolonged menace, it was then that sufferers had to make a plea to the Holy Spirits to seek rescue and resolve and the Gods’ then realized the blunder, they had done by granting Mahisasura, his wish to be indestructible.

The only way left then, was him being defeated not by a man but by a woman. This need of the hour, led to creation of the Goddess Durga /Adishakti (the supreme power/being)/ Mahashakti (one with Immense Power) or simply , Shakti (beholder of power) and this avatar of the goddess warrior also came to be known as Goddess Katyayani.

goddess-durga-da21_lRising from the flames of fury, Goddess Durga emerged with three eyes, black hair and ten hands. Shiva gifted her the trident, Vishnu gave Her the discus, Brahma gave a rosemary, a water pot a sheild and a sword, Varuna (the Hindu God of the water & ocean) gave shankha or the conch shell, Agni (Hindu God of Fire) gave a dart, Vayu (the Hindu God of the winds) bestowed Her with a bow, Surya (the Sun God) an assortment of arrows, Indra(God of the Rains) – a thunderbolt, Kuvera (the lord of wealth) gifted her with the Gada or the mace, and Visvakarma (the lord of the community of metal smiths, gold smiths & carpenters) granted Her with a battle-axe and other necessary weapons needed to slay the demon.

Adorned by the Holy Gods’, Goddess Katyayni was now all set, armored and enhanced with weapons and accessories, bravely riding on the back of her Lion vehicle, ready for her quest to start war and kill the demon Mahisasura.

This is how, the purpose of the birth of “Goddess Katyayani”~ the warrior princess was solely to defeat the demon, “Mahisasura”. On this 6th day of the nine nights and 10 days of the Navratri festival, Hinduism praises and worships the Mother Goddess of Power , to have acquired the warrior embodiment to save the world from evil and let the power of Truth and Virtue always prevail.

“Shubha Navratri”

Feature Image Source: An amazing artist, illustrator and my friend Suchita
Other: From the web

You are my world!

Day 5 of Navratri ~ “Skandamata”

“Skandamata” is the fifth avatar of Goddess Durga being celebrated during the rejoice of Her nine nights of valor and love, in the form of Navratri. Evolving from the stages of Shailaputri (as a daughter), Brahmacharini (as a student, lover & worshiper), Chandraghanta (as a wife), Kushmanda (the creator), She is now a Mother – “Skandamata”.

This name is extracted from the name of her son, “Karthikeya”- also known as “Skanda” and “Mata” meaning mother, thereby addressing her as Karthikeya’s beloved mother.

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The Skandamata avatar of the Goddess, radiates the universal adoration of a mother for her son/child. It demonstrates the bonding and love between Her (now as a mother) and Her Son, Karthikeya or Skanda, who comfortably sits on her lap, cherishing the priceless moments of His mother’s benevolence.

Depicted with four hands, the Skandamata carries lotus flowers in her two hands, holds her son on her lap with one and the fourth hand remains in a blessing mudra or posture and as a sign of protection to her devotees, against all hardships and danger. Even here, She bravely rides a lion, as her vehicle and is praised for her valor and strength. Some texts also portray Her, as seated on a lotus flower and likewise, also refers Her as Goddess Padmasana (Padma- lotus & Asana- being seated).

Being rejoiced and celebrated in the spirit of Motherhood, Goddess Skandamata, is not seen carrying any weapons in Her this avatar,but lotus flowers instead that exhibits her tenderness as a mother. Although, her riding on the back of a lion is symbolic of her bravery and courage, but the love that emits as she protectively holds her first son on her lap, is  extremely compassionate and delicately reveals or declares the undisputed affection and love every mother shares with her child.

P.S: Would you agree any less with me if I’d mention of the unspoken joy and excitement that a child can only enjoy with his or her mother? I simply adore “Master Karthikeya” holding a lollipop and being exhilarated in His mother’s company. Thank you, for the feature image Suchita. ♥

 Other Pic Source: Web