Monday, July 12, 2004

Extra Dosage of Bad Poetry

More bad Poetry from the stables of Jim.

Farewell to Chocolate Pie

Oh! My Sweet Chocolate Pie
Truely you gladden my eye!
When you beckoned my neigh-
Was is a tear, was it a sigh?
Chocolate Pie, did I cry?
Chocolate Pie, Chocolate Pie
Who is happier then I?
Dear Pie, I never lie
When you are there I really fly
Up above the world so high :)
But what's that - a nasty fly ?!
Shoo it off - are you shy?
Well, I say it, but don't know why?
Chocolate Pie - Bye Bye

(har har)

The following is a lame attempt at the parodification of the classic My Favourate things from the Movie Sound of Music. Truely it is said - Insomnia can lead you astray :). For the Original Click here.
Misc Dumb Things

Code-drops and sources, bug-fixes and releases
Bright fresh-graduates, dreams of going places
Char, interger and hash-maps and strings
These are a few of worlds misc dumb things

Pot-bellied dancers on the MTV Screen
Sonia's Hindi and Paswan's grin
Talks of reservation from the unworthy kings
These are a few of worlds misc dumb things

Unjust wars and prisoner abuses
Broken homes and destroyed houses
Spiced-up reports of WMD claims
These are a few of worlds misc dumb things

When reality bites
When the news stinks
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember worlds misc dumb things
And then I don't feel so bad

(Note: To enjoy this, it has to be sung in the proper tune. Only that releases the true hidden meaning ;)

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Shyama: The Dark Goddess

(Part 1: The Origin and Evolution)

One of my favourite Shyama Sangeet goes thus ...

Shyama Ma ki amaar kalo re, Shyama Ma ki amaar kalo.
(Is it indeed true my mother Shyama is the dark one..)
Loke bole Kali Kalo, Amaar mon to bole ne kalo
(People speak of her dark appearance, but my mind refuse to accept that)
Kalo rupe digambari, hridi padma koreche aalo...
(For it is her pure dark form that truely illumines my heart)

Shyama Kokhono Satho, Kokhono Peeto, Kokhono nilo-lohito re
(Shyama manisfests herself in a varity of colours)
Shyama Kokhono Purusha, Kokhono Prakriti, Kokhono Suno-rupa he
(Shyama is the unmanifest potential, the causal force and indeed the formless Brahaman)

Shyama or Ma Kali, in all her terrifying and awe-inspiring manifestation, represents to me, one of the most complex as well as sublime school of philosophical thoughts and theistic traditions of India. And arguably the most misunderstood and feared. Approaching Ma Kali is neither for the faint of heart nor the weak of mind. Unconcealed Truth is terrifying and so is Ma Kali. The complexity lies in the contradictions and paradox that she represents. The seamless integration of these same contradictions into a unified whole, akin to a peotical masterpiece makes her sublime and divine.

The following are my thoughts, formative, misinformed or at times downright incorrect. However, at this point of time, this is what I feel. Ma Kali represents existence itself, with its multiferous variety and cycles. A mind as incompetent as mine can't even begin to understand what has eluded the best and the brightest. Imagine a blind man standing in front of a ocean, aware that he stands in front of something vast and limitless, but lacks the faculty to see it magnificence. Welling from up within is a great desire to describe his perception. My preceptions of the Mother is infinitely worse than his would be. But for all that they are worth, I decided to summarize the thoughts that have set my mind abuzz.

The worship of Ma Kali is believed to have orginated in the pre-Aryan India and continues to the modern day. The evolution of the concept of Kali through the ages bears witness to progression of vedic and later vedantic thought process in the ancient times. In her radiant dark form Ma Kali was revered, in ancient India, as the protective but terrible mother goddess, the giver of life and death. An angry diety who demanded propitiation through ritualistic sacrifices. The pre-Aryan orgins are evident in her conceptualized form (dark colour, tribal costume, skull headed staff etc..) and rituals of worship (animal sacrifice etc.), prevalent even today in Bengal and parts of North-East, which are at some variance to the normal vedic ritualism though greatly influnced by the Vedas. As in many of the other ancient cultures such as those of the Celts, Creteans, and Aztecs that worshipped mother goddesses the sound curiously similar to Kali (CLICK HERE), it is concievable that in ancient India, the mother goddess, when happy, must have been associated with feritity and life and when angry, with desease, destructuction and death. Indeed, this concept appears to have been so powerful, that it not only stood up the sweeping tide of Aryan theism but actually influenced it very great extent. Interesting reading on the orgin of Ma Kali can be found here.

The confluence of these two powerful schools of thought appears most markedly in Bengal and Assam. As a child I have grown up hearing my father, a Vaishnav, singing bhajans of both Krishna and Kali with equal devotion. My mother's daily puja includes rendering of hymns to Krishna, Kali and Shiva. It is possible that just as anthropoligically the east of the country is a genetic melting pot of so many different races, we also have inherited the collective traditions of all the differnt groups. This phenomenon in itself is quite unique, for history rarely sees such peaceful co-existence of different schools of powerful thoughts in a people.

Anyway, coming back to the story of evolution it appears that the early vedic representation of Kali are rather dark and closer to orginal tribal conception. In Mahabharata Kali is said to have been depicted as a grim reaper, goddess of death. Maybe these were early attempts at assimilation of this decidedly resolute deity into the vedic pantheon. By Puranic ages, (around 400-500 BC) however all this changes and Kali gradually comes to occupy her rightful place as the divine Mother. In this process Kali goes through being an aspect of Shakti or Durga to being her manifestation. The most notable fact in this process of re-defination of Kali, was that her basic form or what she stood for was not altered, instead the unique symobolism of Kali is integrated in its entireity into the Vedic philosophy, which itself emerges stronger and richer by the addition. Shakti was theorized in the Vedic school as the primordial causal force behind the cycle of creation and was personified as the pristine and protective Uma or Durga. In Kali, Shaktism appears to have found the necessary aspects of destructiveness and dissolution that are necessary for completing the circle of creation. A large number Hymns were written to her glory that sang of her great deeds as the destroyer of evil and of her awesome personality. Many of these have stood the test of time. Even today, my mother chants Chanda-Munda Bade-devi, Raktabeeja benashini.., during her prayers. These hymns also formed the basis of Kali's conceptualization as a form - a divine and fierce avanger, dark in colour, wearing humar skulls around are neck and severed arms around her waist. She is standing in a challenging posture on the prostrate body of her husband Shiva. Kali cannot exist without him, and Shiva can't reveal himself without her. She is the manifestation of Shiva's power, energy. Though it is said that the form in which she is worshiped in contemporary times was conceptualized only sometime in the mid to late 16th century, by Krsnananda Agamavagisa, a Bengali mystic. An interesting account of this can be found here. Her form are varied and many, for as personfication of Shakti or the causal force behind the cycle of creation, there is no part of existence that is not santified by her grace. Even the greatest of advaitins, Adi Shankarachraya in his famous composition sang "Gatis-tvam, Gatis-tavm, tvam eka, Bhavani". (I take refuse in you, I take refuse in you, You are the One, Ma Bhavani)

It was however in the philosophical expositions of the vendantic mysticism, in realms of gyana, yoga and tantra that Ma Kali blossomed and bestowed her choicest blessings. Here she became Kali, the cause of Time, the consort of Maha Kala (Shiva). Her form is the personification of unconcealed truth, the destroyer of ignorance. Her dark form and black colour is a testament to her immutability in the world of changes. Even as all colours and hues of the universe (or multiverse) merge back into her, she remain black as a fathomless mystery. Her raised hand signifies abhaya (destruction of fear) to those that approach her as mother. She is the force behind the Kundalini of the yogi and the universal conciousness that the tantric seeks amidts the burning bodies in the cremention ground.

Sri Ramakrishna's conceptualization of Ma Bhavatari in Dakhshineswar, to my ignornant mind, is the pinnacle of Shaktism. Ma Bhavatari's aspect of the causal force, of the univeral teacher, indeed her aspect of divinity ceases to be important. What remains is her inherent nature as the Universal Mother. Just cry out her name once, to the exclusion of everything else, as if in that instant nothing else mattered and she is bound to come to you, claimed takhur. And come to him, She did. This realization of truth, purely through the means of unalloyed love, is the goal of Bhakti, Gyana, Yoga, Tantra and whatever else. That's all that matters for there is nothing beyond or besides Ma Kali.