The Infinite Woman

The Infinite Woman, by Edison Marshall, is a book I first read as a teen.  It was one of my mother’s books, and at the time – and because she kept it hidden – I thought it some great mystery for me to discover.

I was not wrong.

When I was eleven years young I was introduced to Yoga by way of a book: The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, by Swami Vishnudevananda.  I still have the 1965 hardback copy with cover.   So it was then, at an early age, I became taken with Yoga.  Then, a scant two years later, discovering The Infinite Woman, my soul was awakened yet again.

How?

In my first introduction to Yoga, I was immediately and intimately attracted to Siva.  I quickly and whole-heartedly knew the teachings I found there, as laid out by Swami Sivananda Saraswati and the Divine Life Society.   Two years later I met Kali Ma, also in the pages of a book.  Where Siva had been my father, she became my mother.

And I met her through The Infinite Woman.  The author, Edison Marshall, was quite the man’s man during the 1950s: a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, a novelist, adventurer, and tiger hunter.  He wrote over 23 novels and short stories, and all of them can best be described as a mix between manly action/adventure and romance.

The book’s heroine is Lola Montaro, who casts a striking image on every page.  She is a true rogue .. glamorous and exotic, sensuous and mysterious, innocent yet complicated.  And she was my first non-Yoga introduction to Kali:

I walked hand in hand with Manu, until the moonlight showed us

the form and face of Kali under a stone cowl.

She was pit-black with four arms, each with a red-palmed hand;

her eyes were red, and her tongue and face

and breasts were stained with blood; her teeth were pointed fangs,

and around her neck was a string of skulls

and about her waist a girdle of twisted snakes.

-page 19

But before you think our heroine is simply the dream of a fanciful and lust filled author, think again, for she is based on the quite real and equally intriguing, Lola Montez.

The book is filled with chapters that conjured vast and mystifying images in my thirteen year young mind: India, The Novice, The Worldly, Krishna the Joyous, and The Dark Mother.  As the titles suggest, our heroine never forsakes Kali; from the moment she first embraced her as a child, discovering her dark terror at a cremation ground, until she watches her lover embrace death as he falls through darkness – laughing.

This book spurred me to find books on Kali at the local library, but such specialized books were too much to ask for.  There were plenty of books on Yoga – its history, practice, science and the like, to keep me busy – but none to fill in the gaps found in Lola’s adventures.  Especially any that would expound on her unswerving devotion to Her.

Not until I asked Her.

When I was 15, having exhausted my search – yet never tiring – I asked Kali to guide me, to “Show me your true form.”  And She did, via the Karpuradi Stotra, by Sir John Woodroffe (aka: Arthur Avalon).  Here, she is detailed in all the glory and gore that Edison Marshall described.  She is portrayed as the “forbidden thing”, as death personified, as the assimilating and transformative force of nature as experienced and lived by the fictional Lola.

From Her Panca Tattva dance upon the ashen grounds of cremation, to her fierce gaze and matted hair, to the fragrant Akanda flowers at her feet, and to the midnight mumblings of mad priests.  Her many faces are oceans apart, yet close as drops upon the soul.  She is vicious and gentle, slayer and creatrix, Mistress of the Five Elements and Mistress to Hara.  She is creator and destroyer, the object of meditation and the non-self, bringer of fear and boon .. even Time stands still before Her.

O Mother!  There are those who worship

many other devas than thyself,

thinking they grant greater boons.

But they are devoid of discrimination,

knowing nothing of what is real,

for they are separated from the truth.

So great my Bhakti, my desire for You,

that it controls my approach to You –

the Primordial One, She of the Present Moment –

who was before the beginning of the world.

You who enjoys the Great Bliss of Union –

the Union of Sivasakti, the Kundalini Sahasrara –

and who is worshiped by

Vishnu, Siva, Brahma and all other Devas,

for they worship You – Mother of All.

-verse 13

I pulled my copy of The Infinite Woman today, and laid it on the desk next to Hymns to the Goddess and Hymn to Kali.  I have been reading them all day .. lingering among memories that seem as rough and unhewn as Her temple stones; yet fresh as the violet bloomed Akanda .. and like its gentle wafting Buri’r Chul .. my soul is carried deftly towards Her.
Prem and Metta!
Yoginiji
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Wild Dash Mahavidhyas

Dash Mahavidhyas – Ten Great Revelations of the Divine Mother

Bhuvaneshwari – The presiding of Mani-dwipa (name of a place) as described in Devi Bhagawat is an embodiment of the Mantra ‘Hrillekha’ (HRIM), Shakti and Maha Laxmi and also a companion of Lord Shiva in all of his divine activities and is called Goddess Bhuvaneshwari.

Goddess Bhuvaneshwari is the preeminent and a nurturer of the whole humanity. Her appearance is Somber and her complexion is red. She blesses her devotee by making him fearless and also help him in the accomplishment of all the powers. In the scriptures her greatness has been described in detail.

Sodhashi – She is called Shodashi because she possesses all the sixteen Supernatural powers (Kala). Goddess Shodashi is the most enchanting beauty of all the ten great learnings. Shodashi, who has the mantra consisting of sixteen letters, has organs glowing like a rising sun. She has four hands and three eyes. She is seated on the lotus, which is placed on the body of Shiva who is lying in a peaceful posture. She has a noose, a hook, a bow and an arrow in each of her hands. Everyday to shower blessings on her devotees, her appearance is completely Somber & gentle and her heart is full of compassion. A devotee who takes her refuge achieves great divinity like the deities. In fact her splendors are indescribable. Even the Vedas are incapable of describing her greatness. Being pleased with her devotee she gives more than he demands.

Dhoomavati – There is a narration regarding goddess Dhoomavati that once goddess Parvati being tormented by great hunger requested Lord Shiva to satisfy her hunger. But Lord Shiva did not respond. When he did not respond even after her repeated request than she swallowed Lord Shiva himself. Smoke came out from her appearance. Lord Shiva told her that from now onwards her enchanting appearance of Bhagta would be known as ‘Dhooma or Dhoomavati’.

Goddess Dhoomavati’s appearance resembles that of an old woman terrifying, always tormented by great thirst and hunger and is considered to posses’ great powers

Tripura Sundari – The methods for the worship of Tripura-Bhairavi have been described in the sacred texts for the attainment of victory over the sensual desires and all round development.

Tripura-Bhairavi who is also called Kala-Bhairavi is the presiding goddess of this decaying-world. Her complexion is red like the thousands of rising-sun, wears silken apparel and has a garland of heads around her neck. Her lips are marked with blood. She has three eyes and possesses a moon in her crown. She has a garland in her hand and is an embodiment of knowledge, fearlessness and boons. There is a soft smile on her lips.

Chinnmastika (Phool Jogani Mata) – The tale about the manifestation of goddess Chhinnamasta is as follows, Once, goddess Bhagwati-Bhawani, went to have a bath in the river Mandakini, with her two companion Jaya and Vijaya.

After having their bath all of them became hungry. The complexion of goddess Bhagawati turned dark because of sheer hunger. Jaya and Vijaya asked for something to eat. Goddess Bhagawati told both of them to wait for some time. After sometime they demanded for food again. They were again told by goddess Bhagawati to wait. Unable to control their hunger Jaya and Vijaya said very politely to Bhagawati that “Mother, give food to her hungry children as soon as it is demanded.” Bhagavati was very pleased by their innocence, she severed her head by her own hand and held the severed head in her left hand, three streams of blood started to ooze out from the neck. All of them, satisfied their hunger by drinking the blood from the three streams of blood respectively. She is called Chhinnamasta because of her severed head.

Goddess Chinnamasta is a symbol of the perception of secrecy. She stands on the seat of white lotus. In her navel ‘Yoni Chakra’ are situated. The directions itself are her apparel. Her two companions symbolizes the two qualities of TARA (dark) and Raja (medium). She is alive even though her head is severed from her body.   This severed head is symbolic of introverted nature of accomplishment.

Kalika – Goddess Kali holds the primary position among all the ten great learnings. There is a tale mentioned in the Kalika-Purana. Once the deities went to the Himalayas and eulogized the personifications of the illusions of the world (Mahamaya). According to the Purana this place was the hermitage of Sage Matang. Pleased by them, Bhagavati appeared in the form of Matang’s mistress and asked as to whom were they eulogizing.

Instantly a divine appearance manifested from the body of that mistress, which was as dark as a Mountain in complexion.This divine appearance herself answered on behalf of the deities that these deities are eulogizing me. Since the complexion of that divine appearance was black like a collyrium she was given the name of KALI.

Maatangi – Lord Shiva is also known as Matang. His Shakti (power) is called Matangi. Her complexion is dark and possesses a moon on her forehead. The three-eyed goddess is seated on the crown decorated with jewels. Her luster is like a blue lotus and is destroyer of the demons (forest) like a fire. In each of her four hands, she has a noose, a mace, an axe and a hook. She is a destroyer of the demons by enchanting them first with her beauty and a fulfiller of every desire of her devotees. She is worshipped for the attainment of great powers, power of speech, happiness in family life etc.

Kamala – Goddess Kamala is the personified energy of Lord Vishnu and a companion in all the divine activities of MahaVishnu. Her worship in reality is the worship of Shakti (Power) the root cause of the existence of this world. Without her blessings a man’s life becomes full of misfortune and miseries. Not only the humans but also the deities, the demons, the Gandharvas (Supernatural celestial beings) are eager to have her favors and blessings. She has her seat on the lotus flower and possesses a golden luster in her appearance. Four elephants as white as the snow of Himalayas surround her on four sides, holding vessels full of gold in their trunks. Goddess Kamala has four hands, there are lotus flowers in each of her two hands, and her two remaining hands are in the posture of giving boons and blessings She has a crown on her head and her apparel are silken. Her worship gives victory, splendors, wealth etc. On the spiritual ground, worship of all these ten great learnings is considered the means for attainment of salvation and almighty god.

Tara – Though Tara & Kali are same yet their complexions are different. Kali complexion is dark whereas Tara complexion is blue. Tara killed the demon ‘Hayagreeva’. She has Lord Shiva lying under her feet like a corpse. Her bluish complexion’s beauty is magnified manifold by her three eyes, which appear like a blue lotus flowers. In her four hands she has a scissors, a head (skull), a lotus flower and an axe. She wears tiger’s skin on her body, and has a necklace of skulls around her neck. She is considered to be very violent in nature, but her eagerness to shower blessings on the devotee is infallible too. So she is the most merciful. Tara or Ugratara is worshipped for the attainment of powers of speech, pleasures and even salvation. She is also worshipped for the destruction of enemies. Tara is worshipped in the night and is an another appearance of Shakti. She is considered to be the ruler and presider of miraculous effects and accomplishments.

Bagala (Bagalamukhi) – The worship of Baglamukhi who is also famous as ‘Pitambara Vidya’ (yellow Color is prominently used in her worship) for protection against the enemies and to defeat them, to get victory in the legal matters, to acquire wealth, to clear away the debts and to attain power of oratory etc. In her worship yellow clothes, garland made of turmeric; yellow seat and yellow flowers are used. She is the presiding goddess who has a desire of annihilating the demons in her individual form and carries on the destruction of commodities according to the wishes of the almighty God.

She has her abode amidst the ocean of ambrosia where her canopy decorated with diamonds is situated and her throne is decorated with the jewels. Her complexion is yellow, wears yellow apparels, ornaments and a garlands, which is also of yellow color. In her one hand is a tongue of an enemy and in the other hand she holds a mace.

There is a tale regarding her manifestation. In the ‘Satyuga’ period once the whole world was threatened by a terrific cyclone. Lord Vishnu being concerned about the safety of the whole humanity went near to Haridra (reservoir) situated in Saurashtra, to please Goddess Bhagawati by his penance.

Shri Vidya (Baglamukhi) appeared before him, manifesting from the water of Haridra wearing yellow apparels. She controlled the powerful current of the threatening flood and destructive nature.

Goddess Bagla helps the almighty god by punishing and controlling those negative powers that try to trespass the natural flow, She controls our speech knowledge and movement. She is capable of giving powers (Siddhis) and fulfilling all the wishes of her devotee like a ‘Kalpa-Taru’.

[ Text from: http://www.shridusmahavidhya.com/ ]

 

Jai Ma! Kali Ma!

Wild Downtime

Yes .. its been a while since my last post, and that’s a good thing.  The Internet becomes too much when one dreams of sending posts.  Which I started to do, so decided to walk away from the box of white light.

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And so what has the Wild Yogini been doing since last she posted?

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Lots!

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I have been Yoga Walking and Yoga Running.  I visited my dear ‘sister and brother’ and my bright and beautiful godchildren.  I have walked the streets of Little Five Points and chatted with poets and junkies, Rastas and ministers, radical grandmothers and “gothic surfer vampire chicks”.  I have cried and prayed for Mother Ocean.  I have pondered the spiritual opportunity that 2012 brings.  I’ve been exploring the world of Superfoods .. and digging the trip.  I have smoked with shamans, walked barefoot for nine miles, laughed with friends, had late night phone calls discussing ‘Wyrd Consciousness’, and mused over “Yoga Moguls” and newage pundits who shave their eyebrows to sell books.

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I have attended the funeral of a young man, met with facebook friends over lunch, pondered why people seek reconciliation only after death appears in their life, chewed on Allan Watts Nothingness, and dreamt of dancing with Nagas on the edge of white sands and clear waters.  I have harvested wild berries, wild mushrooms and wild flowers – placing them in my mouth like prayers in a puja. I have explained the nuisances of Zen and Dhyana, comforted dogs during lightning storms, contemplated divine madness, harvested and brewed a tea of nine herbs, thought of several impossible things everyday, and Yoga danced.

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Have allowed myself to be angry at those who mistreat senior family members, had visions of Shri Sai Baba and rich green tea with Kali Ma, reconnected with friends long thought lost, and watched a tv show.  I have wondered at the profound depth within the eyes of an Autistic child, read Emerson until the sun rose, discussed human slavery with an open-hearted friend, meditated for two days on Unity Consciousness, mulled over Linkin Park’s lyrics, chanted the hymns of Hildegard von Bingen, smoked the Tree of Life, had tea with a 50+ devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda, sprouted wild brown rice, discovered and brushed smooth a callus from  Kailash, and wondered over the difference of being hot and having a hot flash.

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In short, changed my perspective and watched the world change around me.

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Wild Jai Kali Ma!

“Dive”, says Kali, “Into the waters of the heart.

“The sea is not empty of treasures.

If you return emptyhanded at first – dive with renewed resolve

Into My Realm.”

So many precious stones lie about in these waters;

Ramprasad says, dive deep, gather the treasures yourself.

-Ramprasad Sen (Bengali mystic, song to Ma Kali)

Kali is first among the ten Great Wisdoms.

Seated in the cave of the heart,

She brings about spiritual and material transformation,

Burning away impurities and cutting through delusion.

“Resuming after dissolution your own nature – dark and formless –

You alone remain as One, ineffable and inconceivable.

You are the beginning of all, Creator, Protector and Destroyer that You are.

Taking the form of the Void, in the robe of darkness wrapped,

Who art Thou, Mother .. seated alone in the shrine of samadhi?

From the lotus of Thy fear-scattering feet flash the lightnings of love.

Thy spirit-face shines forth with laughter wild and loud.”

-Kali Bhajan

Feeling so into killing everything in my path.

Cutting off heads with my sword with one hand,

collecting them to adorn my neck with the other.

Crashing through all worlds on a rampage,

scattering all darkness upon the path.

None can stop me!  Not even Shiv himself.  He too falls at my wrath.

And in that .. the destruction of destruction .. I wake up, smile coyly,

stick out my tongue and say: “Oooops!  My bad!”