Shubh Divali

Just a quick shout to say:

Shubh Divali!

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Om Srim Mahalakshmiyai Svaha

Om Srim Brzee

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May Light always overcome Darkness!

May Knowledge forever eradicate Ignorance!

May Bliss prevail in all beings!

May All Beings come to know Absolute Truth!

May we all return to the One True and Infinite God!

Blessings of Love, Peace & Light!

SKLADUM

 

 

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A Very Serious Accusation… Very Serious Discussion….

Look at the video below and then scroll down for my commentary.

COMMENTARY by SKLADUM

The first mention of my discussion is that this video takes a lot of courage, and no doubt Mr. Andrew Storm believes he knows what is being taught and done with regards to Kundalini Shakti, as experienced and witnessed by him.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. What is exhibited in this video concerning Kundalini Shakti is no doubt NOT Kundalini. If one reads the mentionings of Kundalini Shakti in all the Sacred Hindu Scriptures, one would see clearly that, alas, this is not Kundalini. The so called “Gurus” in this video are not Gurus either. A Guru is a person so far enlightened that, the closest way to describee him or her is to say that he/she is a Saint.

For example: Mahavatara Babaji endorses Christianity, promotes peace and virtue, does not impart spirits of the sort in this video and does not seek to Practise or have his followers practise Kundalini Shakti.

A true Guru does not care about the lesser workings of the body considered in Kundalini Shakti, does not care about twitches and drunken laughter, does not care about spreading movements far and wide, but cares about Stillness, True Peace, Real Virtue, Unveiling God, Revealing God to others by aiding others and spreading Love. Not false pretenses as exhibited in this video.

Granted the evidence here presented, I do not say the Mr Andrew Storm is at fault at all. The practices exhibited by both the Charismatic Movements herein mentioned and the Kundalini Movements are both false practices.

A desire for the reaching out to God is here replaced by a desire to “see” and to fancy and to bee a part of something more exciting. That exhilaration  placed with adrenaline and such bodily functions are not the work of Gurus. Gurus teach a person to re-become that soul, to move away from the affairs of the body and  the attachment of the world and find God. Not the foolishness exhibited in this video.

Furthermore, there is an intrinsic problem in all religions in the world. This problem is called “calling”  vs “choosing”. Many persons decide to become priests, pastors, bishops, pandits etc without having been called by God. What does that mean? It means that whether or not you are called to a spiritual life, especially that of a leader where it is then your God-give duty to shepherd people, is NOT YOUR DECISION! It belongs to GOD and GOD ONLY!

The problem is therefore two-fold. Firstly, the current leaders do not possess the spiritual acumen to know whether or not a future applicant has been called. Secondly, the future applicant may or may not ave been called, but may become a leader nonetheless.

In today’s world, it only takes a little bit of brain to become a spiritual leader. Am I the only person who thinks something is wrong with that? Spirituality and Religion have become separate because Religious Leaders are no longer all spiritual. Two things that are born from the same womb, now have different perspectives. One finds its way in books and politics of an organised faith. The other does not care for politics, for foolishness or for any position but does his/her duty to help people realise God.

Let us use a controversial example, Karol Wojtyla, better known as Pope John Paul II. Indeed, as head of the Roman Catholic Church he was a Religious Leader, but was he not also spiritual? Did he not essay to lead people closer to God? Was he not a man of Prayer and Devotion to God?

Thus the late Pope was both Religious and Spiritual. A Guru exercises the work of a Spiritual Leader, not a religious one. He is knowledgeable in all things, but does not boast of his knowledge. He chastises every wrong, but with the kindness and love of a soft heart that corrects these and makes them right.

‘Can one blind person guide another? Surely both will fall into a pit.’

Luke 6:39

Mr Storm, do not kill the man because his hand is rotten. Cut off the hand. The persons in these videos follow blind leaders and they are all blind! You have damned 1 billion people because of 100,000.

No doubt the behaviour exhibited by all in this video is the workings of unclean spirits, whatever they may be, but the practices therein do not speak for all of Hinduism and it definitely does not speak for Gurus, few of whom are ever spied photographically or otherwise.

The reward of the false is well known:

‘When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?” Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers!’

– Matthew 7:22-23

But I have one last thing to add:

‘Why not judge for yourselves what is upright?’

– Luke 12:57

 

Kali: the Most Powerful Cosmic Female

Kali, the embodiment of three-aspected cosmic act, which reveals in creation, preservation and annihilation, is the most mysterious divinity of Indian religious order, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Buddhist, Jain or any. She assures ‘abhaya’ – fearlessness, by her one hand and ‘varada’ – benevolence, by the other, both defining in perpetuity the ultimate disposition of her mind, but in contrast, the feeling that the goddess inspires by her appearance, plundering death with the naked sword carried in one of her other hands and feeding on blood gushing from the bodies of her kills, is of awe and terror. Instruments of destruction are her means of preservation, and from across the cremation ground, lit by burning pyres and echoing with shrieks of moaning jackals and goblins, and from over dismembered dead bodies – her chosen abode, routes her passage to life. The most sacred, Kali shares her habitation with vile wicked flesh-eating ‘pishachas’ – monsters, and rides a dead body. She is enamoured with Shiva but unites with Shiva’s ‘shava’ – the passive, enactive dead body, herself being its active agent. She delights in destruction and laughs but only to shake with terror all four directions, and the earth and the sky. A woman, Kali seeks to adorn herself but her ornaments are a garland or necklace of severed human heads, girdle of severed human arms, ear-rings of infants’ corpses, bracelets of snakes – all loathsome and horrible-looking. Such fusion of contradictions is the essence of Kali’s being, a mysticism which no other divinity is endowed with. Vashishtha Ganapati Muni has rightly said of her:

“All here is a mystery of contraries,
Darkness, a magic of self-hidden light,
Suffering, some secret rapture’s tragic mask,
And death, an instrument of perpetual life.”

Fusion of contraries – not just as two co-existents but as two essential aspects of the same, is what defines Kali, as also the cosmos which she manifests. As from the womb – darker than the ocean’s deepest recesses where even a ray of light does not reach, emerges life, so from the darkness is born the luminous light, and deeper the darkness, more lustrous the light. A realisation in contrast to suffering, delight is suffering’s glowing face – her child born by contrast. The tree is born when the seed explodes and its form is destroyed, that is, the life is death’s re-birth, and form, all its beauty and vigour, the deformation incarnate. This inter-related unity of contraries defines both, cosmos and Kali. The dark-hued Kali, who represents in her being darkness, suffering, death, deformation and ugly, is the most potent source of life, light, happiness and beauty – the positive aspect of the creation. She destroys to re-create, inflicts suffering so that the delight better reveals, and in her fearful form one has the means of overcoming all fears, not by escaping but by befriending them.

Light’s invocation is common to all religious orders and all divinities; in Kali’s invocation, the devotee stands face to face with darkness which aggregates death, destruction, suffering, fear and all negative aspects of the universe. Not its prey but a valiant warrior, the devotee seeks to overcome darkness and uncover all that it conceals – light, life, delight, even liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Kali assists him in his battle. She allows her devotee to win her grace and command thereby the total cosmic darkness – accessible or inaccessible, known or unknown, or unknowable, that she condenses into her being. Otherwise than thus condensed, the devotee could not apprehend and command its cosmic enormity. Kali is Tantrikas’ supreme deity, for in her they discover the instrument which enables them command diverse cosmic forces in one stroke. Kali’s ages-long popularity among ignorant primitive tribes is inspired, perhaps, by her power to reveal light out of darkness, something that they have within and without and in great abundance. Other way also, Kali assures light in perpetuity. Cyclically, a journey that takes off from the light terminates into darkness but that which takes off from the darkness is bound to land into the valleys of endless light.

Invoking and befriending the awful – the negative aspect of the creation, and warding off thereby evils and their influence, is a primitive cult still prevalent in world’s several ethnic groups and even classical traditions such as Buddhism that has a number of Kali-like awe-inspiring deities,

or Athenian tradition of Nemeses, the wrathful maidens inflicting retribution for a wrong and effecting purgation by way of wreaking ill-fate. Not with such cosmic width as has Kali, or for the attainment of such wide objectives as commanding cosmic elements, motifs like the Chinese dragon, memento mori, a skeleton form considered very auspicious by certain sections of Russian society, Islamic world’s semurga, grotesque and dreaded animal forms, ghost-masks… venerated world-over, all reveal man’s endeavour to befriend, or mitigate the influence of some or the other wrathful aspect of nature – the manifest cosmos.

ORIGIN OF KALI

Not merely her form, mysticism enshrouds Kali’s origin also. Among lines on which her origin has been traced three are more significant, though she transcends even those. She is sometimes seen as a transformation, or a form developed out of some of the Vedic deities alluded to in Brahmins and Upanishadas, mainly Ratridevi, the goddess of dark night, also named Maha-ratri, the Transcendental Night, and Nirtti, the cosmic dancer. Kali’s darker aspect is claimed to have developed out of Ratridevi’s darkness, and her dance, which she performed to destroy, to have its origin in the cosmic dance of Nirtti who too trampled over whatever fell under her feet. Mundaka Upanishada talks of seven tongues of Agni, the Fire-god, one of them operating in cremation ground and devouring the dead. Over-emphasising the factum of association of Kali and this tongue of Agni with cremation ground a few scholars have sought in Agni’s tongue the origin of Kali’s form.

Whatever variations in their versions, the Puranas perceive Kali as an aspect of Devi – Goddess, a divinity now almost completely merged with Durga. However, considering Kali’s status as a goddess within her own right, as well as her wide-spread worship-cult prevalent amongst various tribes and ethnic groups scattered far and wide in remote rural areas Kali seems to be an indigenous, and perhaps, pre-Vedic divinity. As suggests the term Kali, she appears to be the feminine aspect of Kala – Time, that being invincible, immeasurable and endless has been venerated as Mahakala – the Transcendental Time, represented in Indian metaphysical and religious tradition by Shiva. In Hindu religious terminology Mahakala is Shiva’s just another name. Like Shiva, some Indus terracotta icons seem to represent a ferocious female divinity that might be Kali or a form preceding her, and in all probabilities, Shiva’s feminine counterpart. Buddhism, a thought that opposed Vedic perception in most matters, inducted into its pantheon Mahakala and a ferocious female divinity in her various manifest forms, as Mahakala’s feminine counterpart. Obviously, Buddhism must have inducted her from a source other than the Vedic, as the Vedic it vehemently opposed. Invoked with great fervour on many occasions in the Mahabharata, more especially in Bhishma-Parva, just before Lord Krishna delivers his Gita sermon, Kali seems to be a well established divinity during the Epic days, that is, centuries before the Puranic era began. Though invoked as ‘Arya’, a term denotative of great reverence, Arjuna lauds her as tenebrous maiden garlanded with skulls, tawny, bronze-dark… and with epithets such as Mahakali, Bhadrakali, Chandi, Kapali …, the features yet relevant in Kali’s imagery. A number of literary texts : Kalidasa’s Kumarasambhava, Subandhu’s Vasavadatta, Banabhatta’s Kadambari, Bhavabhuti’s Malitimadhava, Somadeva’s Yashatilaka…, of the period from 2nd to 9th century, also allude to Kali, a fact denotative of her great popularity in realms other than religion. This Kali essentially transcends Vedic Ratridevi, Maharatri, Nritti or one of Agni’s seven tongues or a divine form grown out of any of them.

However, Kali cannot be attributed this or that mode of origin. Even if a goddess of indigenous origin and one of primitive tribes, she has far greater width and operativeness than the non-operative boon-giving primitive deities usually had. Unless her absolute ‘at homeness’ in the traditional Hindu line and her status in it are sacrificed she can not be treated as a mere tribal deity with indigenous origin. Alike, the tradition can not owe her as absolutely her own creation unless her status of being a goddess in her own right is compromised and she is reduced to what she is not. Whatever her origin, perhaps indigenous, Kali emerges in the tradition as its own with far greater thrust and reverence than it attributed to others. Not a mere epithet or aspect of another goddess, Kali has been conceived as the Shakti – Power of Kala – Time. Like Kala she pervades all things, manifest or unmanifest. Puranas perceive Kali as Durga’s personified wrath – her embodied fury, but in every case she is her real Shakti. Even her own fury, Durga summons Kali to accomplish what she herself fails to do. After Durga separates Kali from her being and Kali emerges with a form of her own – an independent being, she reigns supreme in entire Hindu pantheon as regards the power to destroy and defeat enemies.

Not merely Durga’s Shakti, Kali has been conceived also as Lord Shiva’s dynamic aspect. In a delightful equation, ‘a’, the main component of ‘Shava’ and ‘Kala’, negates what ‘i’, the main component of ‘Shiva’ and ‘Kali’, accomplishes. Shava is the lifeless body, whatever is left of the manifest universe when the Power of Time takes it under its control, and Kala is what reveals only in the manifest aspect of the universe, and thus, both are ‘timed’. When ‘i’, symbolic of the feminine energy which manifests as Kali, unites into their beings transforming Shava into Shiva and Kala into Kali, both emerge as ‘timeless’. In Shiva this universe is contained, and hence, in him, the transition from the ‘timed’ to the ‘timeless’ takes place. Kali, being the Power of Time, does not undergo this transition.

KALI IN PURANAS

Allusions to Kali occur in some early Puranas too, it is, however, the 5th-6th century Devi-Mahatmya, a part of the Markandeya Purana, which comes out with her more elaborate vision in regard to her origin, appearance, personality, power and exploits.

The Devi-Mahatmya comprises independent ‘Dhyana’ on Mahakali and uses Kali’s names, such as Bhadrakali, Kalika, Chandika… as epithets of Devi in its different parts; these are, however, two episodes that give to her fuller exposure in regard to her origin, role and other things. One of them relates to Chanda and Munda, the ferocious demons she kills, and other, to Rakta-bija.

Defeated and thrown out of Devaloka – their abode, by demons Shumbha and Nishumbha, erstwhile generals of Mahisha, gods lauded Devi and invoked her to come to their rescue and free their abode from the notorious demons. Devi, bathing in river Ganga as Parvati, heard gods’ laudation and asked herself who they were lauding, and when she so questioned, from her own being sprang up a female form – a bewitching beauty that had unique lustre, teemed in great youthfulness, and was richly bejeweled and brilliantly costumed. She replied that it was her they lauded. She then proceeded to the region which demons of Shumbha’s army swarmed and sat under a tree all alone. Hearing of her from a messenger Shumbha intensely desired to marry her and sent to her his proposal. However, the divine maiden sent back his messenger with words that she would marry only such one who defeated her in a battle. Thinking that a young maiden with no arms in hands was hardly a challenge, Shumbha sent a small contingent to fight and capture her. The Goddess defeated and destroyed it and one after the other all contingents that followed. Finally, with a huge army of demons under the command of their generals Chanda and Munda Shumbha and Nishumbha themselves came to fight the Goddess. Seeing Chanda and Munda advancing towards her the Goddess blazed with fury. As the Devi-Mahatmya has it:

“From the knitted brows of her forehead’s surface
immediately came forth Kali,
with her dreadful face, carrying sword and noose,
she carried a strange skull-topped staff,
and wore a garland of human heads,
she was shrouded in a tiger skin, and looked utterly gruesome
with her emaciated skin,
her widely gaping mouth, terrifying with its lolling tongue,
with sunken, reddened eyes
and a mouth that filled the directions with roars.”

The Goddess asked Kali to destroy demons’ army, Chanda and Munda in particular, on which Kali inflicted great destruction all around, danced on the corpses, killed Chanda and Munda and as trophies of war brought to the Goddess their severed heads. The Goddess attributed to Kali the epithet of Chamunda – destroyer of Chanda and Munda. Deaths of Chanda and Munda greatly infuriated Shumbha and Nishumbha and with all demons at their command, which included the demon Rakta-bija and others of his clan, they attacked the Goddess and surrounded her along Kali from all sides. To face their massive number the Goddess summoned Sapta-Matrikas – Seven Mothers, Brahmani, Maheshwari, Kumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narsimhi and Aindri, the powers of all major gods, Brahma, Shiva, Skanda, Vishnu and Indra.

A fierce battle ensued but what upset the Goddess most was the multiplication of Rakta-bija who had a boon to the effect that a new Rakta-bija demon would rise from wherever a drop of his blood fell. Finally, the Goddess called Kali to drink the blood of Rakta-bija before it fell on the earth. With a gaped mouth devouring hosts of demons and a tongue extended into all directions and moving faster than did the demon Kali consumed every drop of blood oozing from the wounds of Rakta-bija.

Not Devi-Mahatmya alone, almost all Puranas, Agni and Garuda in particular, venerate Kali as the goddess who assures success in war and eliminates enemies.

Skanda Purana links Kali’s origin to Parvati. Initially Parvati had dark complexion for which Shiva used to tease her every now and then. One day on being addressed twice as Kali – black-complexioned, Parvati deserted Shiva. She said that she would not return unless she got rid of her black complexion. After Parvati left, Shiva felt very lonely. Taking advantage of her absence and Shiva’s loneliness a demon named Adi, who was looking for an opportunity to kill Shiva and avenge his father’s death, disguised as Parvati and managed to enter into Shiva’s chamber. It took some time but Shiva identified the demon, and soon killed him. Meanwhile by rigorous penance and with Brahma’s help Parvati was able to cast off her outer black sheath and from inside emerged her golden form. Now Gauri – golden-hued, she came back to Shiva. Gods, looking for a female form to kill Mahisha, transformed with their lustre this black sheath of Parvati into Kali and after she had accomplished gods’ errand Parvati banished her to the region beyond Vindhya Mountain. Here she became known as Katyayani.

The Linga Purana contains yet another episode responsible for Kali’s origin. A demon named Daruka had a boon that no other than a woman would kill him. In view of reports of his atrocities reaching him, Shiva one day asked Parvati to kill him. Thereupon Parvati entered into the body of Shiva and from the poison contained in his throat transformed herself and re-appeared as Kali. She gathered an army of flesh-eating Pishachas and with their help destroyed Daruka. The Skanda Purana further expands the legend. Kali did not stop destruction even after killing Daruka. Intoxicated by consuming poison and demon’s blood Kali, uncontrollable as she was, went crazy and by her destructive activities endangered cosmic equilibrium. Finally, Shiva transformed himself as one of Kali’s own forms and sucked from Kali’s breasts all poison after which she became quiet.

Though in a different context, an identical tradition prevails in South India. After defeating Shumbha and Nishumbha Kali retired to a forest with her retinue of fierce companions and began terrorizing surroundings and its inhabitants. A Shiva’s devotee went to him with petition to get the forest free of Kali’s terror. When Kali refused to oblige Shiva claiming that it was her domain, Shiva asked her to compete him in dance to which Kali agreed, though unable, or perhaps unwilling, to reach Shiva’s energy level she got defeated and left.

Though insignificantly, Kali’s origin has been linked also with Sati, Shiva’s first consort, and Sita, consort of Lord Rama. Insulted by her father Daksha the infuriated Sati rubbed her nose in anger and there appeared Kali. After conquering Ravana Rama was returning to Ayodhya. On his way, it is said, he confronted a monster that so much terrified Rama that in fear his blood froze. Thereupon Sita transformed herself as Kali and defeated it.

KALI : APPEARANCE AND PERSONALITY

Numerous are Kali’s manifestations; however, her external appearance, both in texts as well as art, basic nature and overall personality do not vary much. In her usual form the black-hued Kali is a terrible awe-inspiring divinity frightening all by her appearance. Except that some of her body parts are covered by her ornaments, she is invariably naked. An emaciated figure with long disheveled hair and gruesome face, Kali has been conceived with any number of arms from two to eighteen, and sometimes even twenty or more, though her more usual form being four-armed. The four arms are interpreted as symbolising her ability to operate into and command all four directions, that is, the cosmos in aggregate. She has long sharp fangs, alike long ugly nails, a fire-emitting third eye on her forehead, a lolling tongue and blood-smeared mouth, which, when expanded, not only swallows hordes of demons but its lower part extends to ocean’s depth and upper, beyond the sky. When required to lick blood falling from a fleeing demon’s body she extends her tongue to any length and turns it faster than the wind in whichever direction the blood falls.

In her more usual iconography Kali carries in one of her four hands an unsheathed sword – her instrument to overcome enemies and command evils, in another, a severed demon head, and other two are held in postures denotative of abhaya and varada – fearlessness and benevolence. Sometimes, the severed head is replaced with a skull-bowl filled with blood.

Abhaya is the essence of Kali’s entire being. One of the permanent dispositions of her mind, ‘abhaya’ is her assurance against all fears which, embodied in her, are rendered inoperative or to operate only as commanded. Denotative of her boundless power to destroy, Kali’s frightening aspect is her power to dispel evil and wicked, and in this the freedom from fear is re-assured. Kali’s usual place is a battlefield where all around lay scattered pools of blood, headless torsos, severed heads, arms and other body-parts. When not in battlefield, Kali roams around cremation ground where reigns death’s silence except when yelling winds, groans of wailing jackals or sound of fluttering wings of vultures tearing corpses lying around break it. Its abyssal darkness, which flames of pyres occasionally lit, is what suits Kali most. In battlefield or otherwise, she walks on foot. Except rarely when she borrows or forcibly takes Durga’s lion or Shiva’s Nandi, Kali does not use a mount, an animal or whatever, either to ride or to assist her in her battle. She dances to destroy and under her dancing feet lay the corpse of destruction. Standing or seated, she has under her a sprawling ithyphallic corpse, not lotuses, the favourite seat of most other deities. She stands upon nonexistence – the corpse of the ruined universe, but which nonetheless contains the seed of new birth.

In her imagery while the corpse represents non-existence or ruined universe, Kali’s figure engaged in union either with Shiva or his Shava symbolise continuum of creative process. The manifest universe is what veils Time but when Kali, the Power of Time, has destroyed the manifest universe, that veil is lifted and Time, and correspondingly Kali, the Power of Time, is rendered naked, a phenomenon that Kali’s naked form denotes.

By nature, Kali is always hungry and never sated. She laughs so loud that all three worlds shake with terror. She dances madly not merely trampling upon corpses but also on the live cosmos reducing it to non-existence. She crushes, breaks, tramples upon and burns her enemies or those of her devotees. Kali is not only a deity of independent nature but is also indomitable, or rather all dominating. She is Shiva-like powerful, unconventional and more at home when dwelling on society’s margins. Aspects of nobility or elite life-mode are not her style of life. She is Shiva’s consort or companion but not Parvati-like meek and humble. Herself wild and destructive, she incites Shiva to resort to wild, dangerous and destructive behaviour threatening stability of cosmos. Every moment a warrior, Kali does not miss any opportunity of war; She is one of Shiva’s warriors in his battle against Tripura.

KALI’S FORMS

Far more than in texts, a huge body of Kali’s mythology has evolved in Kali-related tradition. Apart that a rough-cut crude image of Kali painted in black, and the tongue, in blood-red, occupies a corner in every hamlet, even with a dozen hutments, it also abounds in tales of her mysterious powers, both inflicting damage and protecting from harm. More significant is her presence in Indian art where she underlines many important Hindu themes. What sometimes occur in texts as mere epithets of Kali are in Indian arts her well established forms. Mahakali, Bhadrakali, Dakshina Kali, Guhyakali, Shmashana Kali, Bhairavi, Tripura-Bhairavi, Chamunda… are some of her more popular forms in texts as well as art.

In her Mahakali form, an equivalent to Mahakala, the all-powerful aspect of Shiva, who devours time and effects dissolution, Kali is Mahakala’s feminine transform. In her form as Mahakali she presides over the Great Dissolution which Shiva in the form of Shava symbolises. In art, Kali invariably enshrines it. Initially, as Mahakali her role was confined to demon-slaying. In Puranas, while still representing dissolution, destruction, death and decay, she more emphatically personified in her being horror, awe and loathsomeness. She still slew demons but mostly when summoned and in subordination. In her form as Chamunda – the slayer of Chanda and Munda, she was most ferocious multi-armed demon-killer. She carried in her hands most deadly weapons and in her eyes a lustre that burnt her enemies.

As Shmashana Kali, a form more popular in Tantrism, Kali haunts cremation ground amidst burning pyres – the interim domain in between this and the next world and where death and dissolution reign.

As Tripura-Bhairavi, consort of death, Kali is conceived with a form wearing a large necklace of human bodies, a shorter one of skulls, a girdle of severed hands, and ear-rings of the corpses of infants. Around her lie a greater number of corpses and feed on them wily jackals and vile vultures. Sometimes in loincloth, Tripura-Bhairavi is more often covered in elephant skin and carries other Shaivite attributes.

Elaborately jeweled Dakshina Kali also wears a long necklace of severed heads, a girdle of unusually small severed arms and a couple of corpses as ear-rings, but instead of being gruesome her figure comprises smooth perfectly proportioned fully exposed youthful limbs. She stands on the body of a supine ithyphallic Shiva stretched out on an already burning pyre in cremation ground where scavenging birds hover and jackals roam. Dakshina Kali carries in one of her hands a sword, in another, a human head, and other two are held in abhaya and varada. Bhadra Kali, the auspicious one, Kali’s majestic, benign, benevolent and mild form, has been conceived with arms varying in number usually two to four. She often carries two bowls, one for wine and other for blood. Kali’s form that gods, even Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, worship is invariably her Bhadra Kali form. The delightful one, she joyously drinks, dances and sings.

Guhyakali, literally meaning ‘Secret Kali’, is Kali’s esoteric aspect, which only those well versed in the Kali tradition know.

In the related ‘Dhyana’ – the form that reveals when meditating on her, snakes constitute a significant part of her attire and adornment. Her necklace, sacred thread, girdle, all are made of serpents, and the thousand hooded serpent Ananta makes her umbrella. Apart, her form assimilates other Shaivite attributes to include crescent on her forehead. In visual representation, instead of snakes’ pre-eminence, Guhyakali is identified by the Kali-yantra invariably represented along with.

KALI IN YOGA AND TANTRA

Kali has quite significant place in Yoga and Tantra, though in Yoga her status is not that high as in Tantra. Kundalini-sadhana, kindling of Kundalini – dormant energy seen as black serpent that lies coiled and asleep in the inner body, is the prevalent practice in both but it is the very basis of Yoga. The Yoga perceives Kali as Kundalini Shakti. Kali is thus the basis of Yoga, though beyond such equation it does not involve Kali any further. Tantra seeks its accomplishment in Ten Mahavidyas – the Great Wisdoms, Kali, being the foremost among them, is the most significant deity of Tantra.

Kali’s disruptive behaviour, unkempt appearance, confronting activities and involvement with death and defilement are what better suit Tantra, especially the Vamachara Tantrism. Kali’s form that contains in an unclean or even unholy body-frame the highest spiritual sanctity helps Tantrika to overcome the conventional notion of clean and unclean, sacred and profane and other dualistic concepts that lead to incorrect nature of reality. Yogini-Tantra, Kamakhya Tantra and Nirvana-Tantra venerate Kali as the supreme divinity and Nirvana-Tantra perceives Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as arising from Kali as arise bubbles from the sea.

To the Tantrika, Kali’s black is symbolic of disintegration; as all colours disappear in black, so merge into her all names and forms. Density of blackness – massive, compact and unmixed, represents Pure Consciousness. Kali as Digambari, garbed in space – in her nakedness, free from all covering of illusion, defines to the Tantrika the journey from the unreal to the real. In full breasted Kali, symbolic of her ceaseless motherhood, the Tantrika discovers her power to preserve. Her disheveled hair – elokeshi, are symbolic of the curtain of death which surrounds life with mystery. In her garland of fifty-two human heads, each representing one of the fifty-two letters of Sanskrit alphabets, the Tantrika perceives repository of power and knowledge. The girdle of hands, the principal instrument to work, reveals her power with which the cosmos operates and in her three eyes, its three-aspected activity – creation, preservation and destruction. Both Kali and Tantra are epitome of unity of apparent dualism. As her terrifying image, the negative aspect of her being and thus of the cosmos, is the creative life-force, the source of creation, so in Tantra-sadhana, the journey takes off from the ‘material’ to the apex – the ultimate.

This article by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. February 2009

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Vishnu: Cosmic Magnification of the Divine Being

Lord Vishnu, the central figure of the Brahmanical Gods-Trio and the most widely worshipped divinity of Indian masses, far beyond a sanctum-deity or temple-idol, manifests cosmos scaling it from its beginning to end and every inch of its space. In him is contained the creation, its expanse, action, inaction, matter, spirit, dynamism, inertia, growth, stagnation, virtues, vices, order, chaos, light, darkness, evolution, dissolution, life, its termination, illusions, all that exists, has ever existed or shall ever exist, as also that which is beyond existence. A personalised God, Vishnu is essentially the vision of abstraction. Not so much the manifest cosmos, he manifests its unseen, unmanifest inner source by which it evolves out of the debris of dissolution, by which it sustains, by which it again dissolves. He manifests the cycle, composition and decomposition, every transformation, and every form and non-form.

Not an overseer presiding over the cycle from beyond, Vishnu is the cycle’s inherent part. Two myths, often perceived as mutually contradicting, one of his emergence as a child on a fig leaf afloat the post-deluge oceanic waters, and the other, perceiving him as reclining on serpent Shesh in Kshirasagara, are symbolic extension of this cosmic process of which Vishnu is the axis.

As the former myth has it, after the Great Deluge subsides, all around are dark unfathomable waters with immeasurable expanse. Vishnu, just a child, emerges afloat on a fig leaf, something symbolic of nothingness, or comprising just a nominal support. The myth discovers Vishnu in child, as the child alone has possibilities of growing, the essence of Vishnu’s being. It sets him in darkness and over immeasurable seas, as it is only the darkness that contains the light in its womb and might release it, and, it is the immeasurable out of which the measured spaces are carved. Vishnu is not the creator but he only grows and expands and there-from emerge the manifest and the unmanifest worlds.

And, then there is the other myth. Vishnu, now fully grown-up, reclines in Kshirasagara – the ocean of milk, on the coils of serpent Shesh unfurling its hoods over him. Now Shri or Lakshmi, his spouse, is in attendance and from his navel rises the lotus.

Atop the lotus emerges Brahma with water-pot in one hand, Veda in another, rosary in the third, and the fourth being held in varada – the posture of benevolence, a total transformation of the myth which perceives Vishnu as child. The dark waters of the child Vishnu’s myth transform into the grown-up Vishnu’s ocean of milk abounding in unique radiance. The light pervades the darkness. Out of the immeasurable expanse are carved the measured length and width which the serpent Shesh, symbolic of life and representing the earth, manifests. Vishnu lying on it and holding it canopy-like above him pervades it. Lotus, symbolic of three cosmic regions – the earth, the sky and the ocean, is Vishnu’s offshoot, and so is Brahma emerging to define them in terms of creation. Brahma defined life, which the water contained in the pot symbolised; good and benevolence which pre-empted the course of life and regulated the creation; jnana – knowledge, which Veda in his hand symbolised; and, devotion, which the rosary in his other hand represented. Shri, Vishnu’s spouse, manifests his will to let it sustain and lead it to abundance.

Conjointly, the two myths illustrate the Vaishnava theory of Vishnu’s emergence and growth.

As the scriptural tradition has it, after every 60 crore, 18 lac, 34 thousand and 752 years of human calendar Vishnu disappears and then there is desolation and deep eternal silence for 30 crore, 9 lacs, 17 thousand and 376 years before he re-emerges and grows, and along with emerges the entire creation – the manifest as also the unmanifest. In Vedic perception Vishnu is a continuum, and in Puranic, a plurality. The term ‘vishnu’ is not an incidental catch for his name. ‘Vish’, the Sanskrit root out of which the term ‘vishnu’ developed, means ‘vyapana’, that is, to expand and pervade. Thus, Vishnu is one whose ultimate nature is ‘vyapana’. Hence, Vishnu is not a mere sanctum deity or worshippers’ idol but also a deep cosmo-metaphysical principle that defines on one hand the principle of evolution, and on the other, manifests the Rig-Vedic theory of God’s oneness and unity of the cosmos. Some scholars contemplate ‘vish’ as suggestive of one who is ‘incessantly in act’. Incessant is only the growth. Hence growth alone is the incessant act. Vishnu, who is the growth, and thus the incessant act and the essential nature of all things, is inherent in all things, manifest or unmanifest, and is their life. When Vishnu withdraws, the cosmos drops and perishes like the dead mass. It is thus that in the Great Trinity – the three aspected manifestation of the Formless God, Vishnu represents sustenance or preservation, and is the core of cosmic order.

VISHNU IN VEDIC LITERATURE

The Vedas abound in strange mysticism and such mysticism is far deeper in case of Vishnu. The Rig-Veda assigns to Vishnu a status secondary to other gods, specially, Indra – the god of rains, Varuna – the god of oceans, Agni – the god of fire, Surya – the Sun-god, among others. Just five of the Rig-Vedic Suktas – hymns, are devoted to Vishnu, and in these too, he has not been attributed the status of an independent being. The Suktas do not recount any of his exploits, nor his role. The Rig-Veda perceives him just as another form of Surya assisting Indra – obviously a deity subsidiary to both. However, it is in such Rig-Vedic perception that the real mystique of Vishnu’s being lies. While the other Rig-Vedic gods, such as Surya or Agni, seek to deify nature’s corresponding entities, or represent, as do Varuna or Indra, some tangible aspect of nature, or even Brahman – the Creator, Vak – Speech, or Ushas – Dawn, representing some aspect of cosmic activity, Vishnu is a god by conception with no specificity of any kind. He has not been linked with any aspect of the universe, manifest or unmanifest. The Rig-Veda conceives him as a youth with as massive a build as pervaded the entire cosmos. It perceives Ushas also as a youthful maid with unique lustre but nonetheless it also links her with one of time-cycle’s phenomenal phases, which is the sun-rise.

The Rig-Veda does not do so in case of Vishnu. It does not link him with any specific aspect of nature, the tangible in the least, or assigns to him any specific role or phenomenalism.

Thus, unlike any other god of Vedic Order, Vishnu, even if a subsidiary god, is more or less an abstract concept, not corresponding to an aspect of materially or visually existing world. He is the only divinity whom the Rig-Veda seeks to personalise. The Rig-Veda uses for him terms like ‘urugaya’ – someone with long strides, ‘urukrama’ – someone with wide steps, ‘tri-pada’ – someone with three steps, that is, it perceives Vishnu as a massive-bodied youth capable of covering the entire space, width-wise and length-wise, in just three steps. At another place the Rig-Veda acclaims that he spans the entire universe with three strides, with two of which he covers the visible space, and with the third, which the Rig-Veda designates as ‘Parama-pada’, the space to which human eye does not have access. Thus, whatever the Rig-Vedic perception, Vishnu pervades all spaces, the ‘seen’ and the ‘unseen’. The Vedas perceived some unmanifest levels also of other gods, especially of Agni that exists on a plane to which the human mind does not have access. But, such super-existence apart, the Rig-Veda weaves the veil of mysticism only around Vishnu, not barring the human mind from reaching it but rather allowing it to lift the veil and develop its own concept of him.

VISHNU IN LATER VEDIC LITERATURE

Vishnu Trivikrama (Vamana Incarnation)
Hence, it is not strange that in later Vedic literature – Samhitas, Brahmins and Upanishads, this subsidiary god of the Rig-Veda emerges as the most powerful divinity of the Vedic pantheon. The Shatpatha Brahman (14.1.1) illustrates through a myth how Vishnu attained such superior position. Once all gods performed a yajna stipulating that whoever accomplished it first would have supremacy over all other gods. Vishnu did it and was worshipped by all as the supreme of all gods. Tetreya Aranyaka (5.1. 1-7) gives to the myth of his supremacy a different dimension. It narrates that once Vishnu’s bow broke and with it broke his head. This broken head, with enormous lustre, took the form of the sun. Later, Ashwins – a class of celestial beings, re-planted this broken head on his torso. Thereafter Vishnu emerged as the supreme master of all three worlds. Shatpatha and Etareya Brahmans (1.2.5 and 6.15) recount further how Vishnu rescued all gods from demons and emerged as their natural superior. Once demons defeated gods and occupied their habitation, the world. The demons began breaking the land in fragments. This endangered its very existence. Gods approached Vishnu for setting the world free from demons. Vishnu transformed into a dwarf – Vamana, and went to the demon king. He asked the demon king for a piece of land measuring just three steps. When the prayer was granted, Vishnu magnified his form into cosmic dimensions so much so that in three steps he measured not merely the three worlds but also the Vedas and Vak, that is, all known and spoken. The Puranas modified the legend a little. The Vamana, a Brahmin, spanned in his cosmic magnification all three worlds in two steps and with the third pushed the demon king into the nether world. The Puranas designated this form of Vishnu as Vishnu-kranta, Tri-Vikram or Vikranta. This is one of his most widely represented forms in early sculptures.

Whatever Vishnu’s form in these later texts, the Rig-Veda contained the initial roots of such forms. Except Vishnu, all other gods that the Vedas personalized represented one of the manifest forms of nature, the sun, fire, wind, rain etc. Such personalization was unnatural and unconvincing, for one might perceive some kind of divinity in these forms of nature but not the face of man in any of them. On the contrary, personalization of Vishnu was more natural and convincing; obviously because the Vedas did not ever identify him with an otherwise manifest form. Rather, a concept of mind as he was, the Vedas, the Rig-Veda in particular, chose to visualise him in a human form. The Rig-Vedic mysticism begins from here. It talks of Vishnu as one would talk of a man but at the same time allows him to walk out of the man’s frame and vests in him unique divinity. As for Vishnu, he sometimes appears to be, but at other time, one beyond being, one beyond the entire manifest world.

This shift from the abstract or a nature-manifesting solar deity to one perceived anthropomorphically was effected partly out of the efforts of concretizing the Rig-Vedic mysticism and partly being necessitated by the Vedic worship-cult involving yajna as an essential aspect of day’s routine that had become by now quite methodical.

An anthropomorphic deity was better suited for presiding over such yajnas. This seems to have effected the shift from the solar god to a yajna-deity. Subordinated to Vishnu other Vedic gods did not have their prior status. They were sometimes yet personalised but either as subsidiary deities or as Dikpalas – guardians of directions, etc. Vishnu, other than Rudra-Shiva, was the only major personal god of this era and ever after. Rudra-Shiva was a god with wrathful nature worshipped mostly for preventing him from inflicting his wrath. The massive-bodied Vishnu was contrarily all-pervading and protective. Hence, in Vedic cult he soon had an enormous presence and with it the Vedic worship had two separate sects, the Shaivites and the Vaishnavite.

VISHNU’S PURANIC TRANSFORMATION AND ICONOGRAPHIC VISION IN INDIAN ART

The Puranas pursued broadly the same line as the later Vedic texts in regard to Vishnu’s form and status in the pantheon. However, while the Vedic mysticism was still the dominant spirit of later Vedic texts it was largely missing in Puranas. Instead, in Puranas he emerged with far greater divine aura combined with such personal attributes – invincibility, stateliness, anatomy of a warrior, appearance and grace of a king, which made him more the supreme commander of the world rather than an abstract principle manifest. Hundreds of hymns in these Puranic texts lauded not merely his appearance – a robust build, oceanic blue complexion and figural distinction, or divinity, magnificence, or lustre but also his brilliant costume, precious jewels, special crown, and celestial flowers that he wore. Despite that he was perceived as possessing great majesty such as should the Lord of the world in command of all cosmic regions and all elements and a multi-armed anatomy, these texts brought to mind such personalized picture of Vishnu as of one’s next-door neighbour. Thus, the supreme monarch but with great personal touch Vishnu emerged as the foremost guardian and protector. This Vishnu was both, the benevolent boon-giver and the supreme deity of yajna as also the slayer of demons and the protector of the earth and its inhabitants. The Devi Bhagavata acclaims Vishnu to have fought a thousand battles against ‘asuras’ – demons. Not merely the supreme divinity, this Vishnu was also the supreme model of life manifesting both, the highest principles of faith and the brightest colours of culture.

This Puranic personalization of Vishnu gives to Indian art – sculpture and painting, a uniform, elaborate and well defined iconography. His anatomy and other aspects apart, Puranas also associated with him some attributes, body-postures and gestures of hands, all revealing some kind of symbolism or some of his related mythical contexts. The two of his postures are more usual; one as standing, and other as reclining. His standing posture with a forward thrust has Vedic connotations. It is the Rig-Vedic form of Vishnu as revealed in epithets like ‘urugaya’, ‘urukrama’ or ‘tri-patha’, already discussed before. This is the most usual form of Vishnu’s sanctum idols or votive iconography.

The other posture relates to the myth representing him reclining on the coils of serpent Shesh in the ocean of milk. In this form he is Nara, the cosmic ocean which spread everywhere before the creation of the universe. As he moves over these waters of cosmic oceans he is Narayana, ‘one who moves in water’.

His seated postures are rare except sometimes as in his manifestation as Yoga-Narayana, or in shrines like one at Badrinatha.

His Tri-Vikram form, representing him with one of his legs shot into the sky or onto the face of the demon king Bali, a representation of the myth of spanning the universe in three strides, has also been sculpted on temples’ walls.

Lintels of early Vishnu temples and sometimes even Shaiva, usually carry the image of Vishnu riding his mount Garuda. In Dasavatara panels on the door-frames of early temples too the Garudaruda – Garuda-mounted Vishnu, is usually the central figure.

He has been usually conceived with four arms, but sometimes also with six or eight carrying in them various attributes – a conch, lotus, mace, goad, disc, rod, sword, bow among others. Conch was a later addition, which was included in his attributes after his incarnation as Krishna he eliminated Shakhasura – the demon seeking refuge in a conch. The usual gestures of his hands are abhaya – fearlessness, and varada – benevolence. He has been conceived and represented as blue complexioned wearing a yellow antariya – unstitched length of textile, and rich lustrous jewels. His towering gems-studded crown and a garland of fresh Parijata flowers of celestial origin, worn down to ankles, are other exclusive features of his iconography and hence of his identity.

In his cosmic magnification – Vishva-rupa, Vishnu has a different set of iconography. Vishva-rupa is only Vishnu’s transform. Brahma did not have such magnification. Himself being the cosmos Vishva-rupa was irrelevant in Shiva’s context. As the creation sustains and prevails in Vishnu, his form is required to magnify to assimilate in it the vision of the world.

VISHNU’S INCARNATIONS AND TRANSFORMS

Vishnu was initially a cosmic presence without a manifest form or appearance. Hence, the seers, right from the Vedic days to the days of Puranas, wove around him, on one hand, a form of his own, and on the other, discovered in any being, a man or animal, which they found containing Vishnu-like dimensional width and magnanimity, a transform of Vishnu or his incarnation. Transformation is a shift from one form to the other in the same birth, while incarnation is a form attained in other birth. Ordinarily, transform and incarnation are two different things but in Vaishnava context both are largely identical. Vishnu enters into another form but without subjecting himself to birth and death. In some of the beings, such as the mythical Matsya – Great Fish, Kurma – Tortoise, or Varaha – Boar, popularly revered as his incarnations, Vishnu had merely an elemental presence. They were only his ‘anshavataras’ – part-incarnations, each performing one divine act having cosmic magnitude. Narsimha and Vamana, his two other incarnations, were perhaps more decisively only his transforms. Their related myths in the Shatpatha Brahman represent just their emergence, neither their birth nor parentage. Mysticism enshrouded the events of births also of his other incarnations, Parasurama, Rama, Krishna, Balarama, or Buddha. They had parents, babyhood, growth, manhood and a full life and a chain of events but their related myths, ambiguous as they are at least in regard to the circumstances of their births, incline to suggest that their emergence was hardly the outcome of a biological process.

Though the multiplicity of his incarnated forms, ranging from animals to man, suggestive of Vishnu’s elemental presence in all things, has undertones of Rig-Vedic mysticism, the proper incarnation cult has its beginning in Brahmans. At least three forms, Vamana who redeemed the world from the demon Bali, Matsya, the great fish that rescued Manu from high tides of the Great Deluge, and Varaha, boar, that dragged back the earth from deep waters and rescued her, occur in these later Vedic texts.

The Mahabharata identifies Vishnu as Krishna when he shows his cosmic form to Arjuna. However, it is in Puranas that the theory of incarnations fully explodes. Each of Vishnu-related Puranas comes out with its own list of his incarnations, totaling in thousands. However, these are two sets that have greater unanimity. According to one tradition the number of his incarnations is twenty-four, while under another, it is ten. His Dasavatara – ten incarnations, comprise the theme of Indian art – sculptures, at least since Gupta period in fifth-sixth century. These ten incarnations are Matsya, Kurma, Varah, Narsimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Balarama and Kalki.

The Vishnu Purana and some other texts acclaim Buddha, not Balarama, as his ninth incarnation. According to many texts, Kalki, the tenth incarnation, has to incarnate in Kaliyuga, the present eon. Around the end of this eon righteousness would turn into unrighteousness, light, into darkness, good, into evil, virtues, into vices, believers, into profanes, community of man, into thieves and evil doers, and the faith in God would be lost. Then Kalki would emerge riding the horse Devadatta – one given by gods, and with this the Kaliyuga would end.

However as Venkateshvara, Vishnu has at least one such form which is not his incarnation.

Vishnu’s south Indian devotees consider Venkateshvara as Vishnu’s proto-form. Even if this position is unacceptable, Venkateshvara, a manifestation of Vishnu, might be termed as his transform or re-emergence. Vishnu is believed to have abandoned Baikuntha and migrated to Tirumala, a hill-range in south India having serpent Shesh-like form and hence designated as Sheshachala.

The related myth is variously narrated. However, the one in the Padma Purana is better known. As it has it, gods once fell into a dispute for settling which they deputed sage Bhragu. For seeking their guidance Bhragu went to Great Trio. Shiva, engaged in amorous act with Parvati, did not pay attention to him. Brahma behaved almost rudely, but Bhragu lost his temper when he found Vishnu asleep. The angry sage hit him on his chest with his leg, which left on it the impression of his foot that as Shrivatsa adds another element in his iconography. Vishnu, instead of punishing the sage, only apologised for being asleep. Lakshmi who was lying on his side felt insulted and in fury abandoned Vishnu and his Baikuntha. Unable to bear separation Vishnu also left Baikuntha and migrated to Tirumala hill on the earth. After eons of repentance and yearning one day Vishnu realised that like a lotus Lakshmi was sprouting within him and thus the two were re-united. Tirumala is thus Vishnu’s only abode where he permanently settled after he had abandoned Baikuntha, his heavenly abode. His presence here is considered thus full and absolute.

VISHNU’S EXPLOITS

Except that he is one who spans the earth, known and unknown spaces in three steps, the Rig-Veda does not recount any of his exploits. With his transformation as the god of yajna his role widens in later Vedic texts. Now also as Vamana, Matsya and Varaha he indulges in more personalised kind of acts. In Puranas his form is almost concretised and so his exploits against demons, Hayagriva, Madhu and Kaitabha, Andhaka, Vritrasura, Nemi, Sumali, Malyavan among others. He fights against mighty demons Madhu and Kaitabha for ages before he is able to kill them.

The myth of annihilation of Madhu and Kaitabha appeared first in the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata. Later, with a few variations, it appeared in the Devi Bhagavata Purana. As goes the myth, after the Great Deluge Mahavishnu lay asleep on the water’s surface. Long after from his navel grew a lotus, out of which subsequently emerged Brahma. Staying in the lotus he engaged himself in meditation and in reciting Vedas. Meanwhile some ear-wax emitted from the ears of Mahavishnu and from it were born two demons, named Madhu and Kaitabha. According to the Mahabharata, Madhu and Kaitabha were born from two drops of water that Mahavishnu had created in the lotus. One of the two drops was sweet like Madhu -honey, and hence, Madhu, the name of the demon born of it. He stood for Tamas – darkness, one of the three attributes of cosmos. The other drop was hard. From this drop was born Kaitabha representing Rajas – activity.

Born and grown up in water Madhu and Kaitabha had exceptional power to walk on water’s surface and under it, which had made them arrogant and proud. They wondered how this big flood came into being. One day, Devi appeared and taught them the ‘Vagbija mantra’ – hymn of the origin of logos. Reciting the hymn they performed Devi’s worship for a thousand years. Appeased by their worship Devi appeared and told them to ask whatever they desired. They wished that they should die in the manner they chose. The wish was granted. Their arrogance now multiplied. One day, they stole Brahma’s Vedas and with them hid in the nether world. Brahma went after them but tortured and frightened by them came back. He went to Mahavishnu and sought his help in restoring Vedas. Mahavishnu went to Madhu and Kaitabha but they refused to return the scriptures. Mahavishnu raised arms against them but it yielded no result. Under a strategy, when one fought with him the other rested and thus they tired Mahavishnu who was battling non-stopped. It continued for a thousand years. Finally, Devi appeared and revealed that they would not be killed unless they themselves disclosed the manner by which they could be killed. Mahavishnu feigned to give up arms and lauded the demons for their great valour. He told that he would grant them anything they wished. As anticipated, the demons laughed and said that they were superior to him and hence he should ask them whatever he wanted from them. Mahavishnu instantly said that he wished to kill them and asked them to grant this wish. With no other option left, they granted his wish but with the condition that he could kill them but not inside the water. Mahavishnu instantly expanded his thighs so far that like earth they reached above water. The demons expanded their bodies many more times leaving waters far below. Vishnu expanded his thighs further, caught hold of the demons, held them on his thighs and cut their throats with his disc.

Mahavishnu likewise eliminated Hayagriva, the son of Kashyapaprajapati by his demon wife Denu, for torturing good people and destroying their yajnas, Anthaka, the notorious minister of the demon king Mahisha, Vratasura, the son of Prajapati Twasta born of his wrath, Sumali, the son of Patalaravana, Malyavan, the son of demon Sukesha and brother of Mali and Sumali, Nemi, the head of the demons of Nemi clan, and Rahu, the notorious planet. Rahu was cut into two parts by Mahavishnu with his disc. As the related myth has it, the incessantly warring gods and demons once reached an accord under which they agreed to churn ocean and discover nectar that the ocean contained. After the nectar was found in the course of churning the demons rushed to snatch it. Fearing that the world would be destroyed if it fell into the hands of demons, gods were reluctant to let it pass into their hands. And hence, a fearful battle ensued for its custody. When arms did not yield result, Vishnu resorted to other options. He transformed himself into Mohini, the temptress. All demons rushed to obtain her. Meanwhile gods disappeared with the pot of nectar, and just after them, Mohini. They reached Baikuntha and to bar entry of any demon put the Sun and the Moon on guard. However, Rahu in disguise succeeded in entering. But, on being detected by Moon Mahavishnu discharged on him his disc and cut him into two pieces.

This article by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet.

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A possible reason Vishnu came to be recognised as the most powerful deity in the Hindu cosmos is that His existence is perceived in reality as a cosmic concept located at the very heart of the geocentric universe. Thus His role became enhanced through millenia of observation that He was the central pivot of All celestial movement, around whom All movement in the Universe happened in eternal cycles. Vishnu is perceived to be the invisible, unmoved mover of All that Is.

Unmoved because He is anchored by the Pole Star through His foot to the axis of the Divine Milk Churn that is the leg He pivots on ( mirrored in the Sufi mystics dance). Vishnu’s movement is the abstract vectorial sum of the Precession of the Equinoxes. Leaning because He is inclined at the angle of the ecliptic to the Sun ( thus the Pole star changes with each age of the Zodiac), His other leg thrust up at an angle in the face of the demi-gods, pointing to the Avatar that rules the Age of the Zodiacal cycle, while describing the eternal cyclic path of the ecliptic the planets must follow and the vernal equinox.

The serpent protecting Him with ten heads symbolises the serpentine paths of the demi-gods ( planets, sun & moon ) as they follow the eternal cycles created by His cosmic dance. (In older depictions the serpent has only 7 or 5 heads. eg., the Buddha Naga). His 3 steps are the birth, life and death of All Life brought into existence through His eternal Heavenly cycles. Death being the step in time no man can traverse within a given lifetime.

Vishnu has no face because He is the invisible force behind the visible, behind even the greatest Gods such as Usha. His power, size and especially His invisibility are mirrored in the West by the faceless Judaic ‘God of the Shadows’, who holds mankinds destiny in His palm and also has one foot on earth. Vishnu’s dance causes All to rotate with Him, churning the Cosmic Ocean, the Earth and the Celestial Heavens. He is the force that turns the Heavenly Milk Churn churning out the Milky Way. His All powerful rhythm conquers even the errant heavenly bodies of comets and asteroids. He presides over the Universe as Shaiva in the Shaiva-Lingam where He is worshipped as the phallic source of the Milk of Life that leaves the lip of the Lingam to give birth to the Milky Way. The Lingam’s Lip symbolises the path to the Heavens that opens at each Vernal Equinox. The Vernal Equinox ( aka Easter ) is universally revered with annual divine fertility rites as the time that the souls of the departed can escape the realm of the earth ( Buddhist Samsara ) to ascend to and be united with their god(s) in the Heavens.

Shaiva is depicted spinning on one leg, similarly to Vishnu in the Dance of Maiya. Krisna and Seth, the gods of light and darkness, are depicted hauling on the divine 7 headed serpent that entwines the Heavenly Milk Churn, causing it to rotate and churn out the Milky Way in the Heavens. Are they alternate depictions of Shaiva and Vishnu’s role in Hindu cosmology? This model makes it seem likely. The demarcation between Vishnu the ‘invisible spin axis and unmoved mover of All that Is’ and Shaiva ‘the mysterious serpentine movement of the planets that is the Cycle of the Zodiac’ appears to reside between Vishnu’s invisibility and Shaiva’s phenomenality.

– Noel Ingham
12th Jul 2009

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