Saturday, December 27, 2014

Conception/Perception of MAA KAALI !!!

During the recent ongoing discussion member Petrus had stated that it is the contemporary Indians who are not comfortable with Ma having blood on her palms or around her mouth and then James Curcio was talking about Sex and Death.

I think there is a lot of difference in the conception/perception of MAA KAALI in the eyes of the Westerners, Indians, devotees and non-Devotees. Last year when I was interviewed for  Deutschlandfunk radio station, I realized how different the perceptions were.

The Devatas are conceptions of Rishis/Enlightened people. The sculptural details of Murtis are from Dhyana slokas. The Dyana sloka is written by a person who has attained Mukti through the particular Dhyana. It is the conception of the person who has done the Dhyana.For example: Ugrapratyangira Devi is the form conceived by Sage Angiras and Prathyangiras. The name is derived from Prathyangiras. The deity is also known as Atharvana Bhadra Kali.

The popular Dakshina Kali image (Dakshineswar temple) was conceived by  Krishnananda Agamavagisha the author of Tantra Sara. It is of a recent origin. The Dhyna sloka (karala vadanam, Muktha kesim ....) was written later.

The Kali images of South Indian temples which are much older show her with Thamshtra. She is Chamunda Kali. Of course there are images which are similar to the one at Dakshineswar. But they are of a recent origin. The images in Kalighat and Tarapeth are totally different from other images.
Now paintings and lithographs do not strictly follow Dhyana slokas. Most of the images of Kali in books are from paintings and lithographs where the creator uses his imagination.

Every individual conceives GOD in his/her own way. You ask a six year old child about how it thinks GOD is like. Most probably it will be a super image of its own mother. It is said “For a small Child Mother is GOD”.

Recently I saw an English movie with a Girl called Mary as the heroine. GOD appears in that. The hero asks him whether he is GOD. GOD replies that "I am Mary's conception of GOD."

Your conception depends on your upbringing, tendencies, notions and what not. Your Vasanas.

Basic Conceptions:

1. Most of us are brought up in an atmosphere where we fear GOD. The term God fearing is used as an adjective. Children are told உம்மாச்சி கண்ணைக் குத்தும். (GOD will punish you)

We needed the concept of a punishing GOD when we did not have any formal judicial system. To maintain Law and order. Even today most of the Village deities are perceived this way. We hear how Karuppnnaswami punishes people who have committed crimes. You hear often of சாமி குற்றம். (God's Sin)

More than this many of us believe that GOD is waiting to punish us. We talk about putting the fear of GOD into someone. This is a fallacy. There is a story in the Purana about a thief plucking Bilva leaves on Sivaratri night to keep awake and dropping them in a Sivalinga about which he was not aware. He attains Moksha.

2. GOD is love, compassion, happiness (Daya, Karuna, Ananda) personified. GOD is waiting for an opportunity to reward you for your good actions.

Your basic conception of GOD depends on which one of the basic conceptions you choose. The punishing wrathful GOD or the Kind and Compassionate GOD.

There is also a tendency to categorize Deities as Sattvic, Rajasaic, and Tamasic and again as Soumya and Ugra. But these categorizations according to the Gunas does not apply to the Supreme God as GOD is above the three Gunas. We call MAA as Thrigunathmikai. GOD is omnipotent and omniscient. Other wise GOD is not GOD.

This categorizations depend on our Vasanas. For example Maa Kali is seen by most of the Tamil Brahmins as Ugra whereas in Bengal she is seen as the Universal Mother. Most of the Tamil Brahmins who are in Bengal see her as Karunamoyi, Dayamoyi and Anandamoyi. In Tamil Nadu Maa Kali is worshipped by many communities. In fact the Tamils are the only community in India where a Male is named Kali or Kaliappan. Sri Ramkrishna considered Lalitha as a Ugra Devata.

These classifications are based on our own conceptions/misconceptions and not on facts.

Your conception of God would depend on which of the models you have chosen.

Just to quote some examples.

We all know that Lord Krishna is called Shyam because of his colour. You could call it Mega varna, but still he was not fair in color. But you find many images specially in North India which show him as fair. In most TV serials also he is fair. Why? Because of our deep rooted color prejudice. Again he is always clean shaved. How come the only two kings in India who were clean shaved are Rama and Krishna? Siva is also clean shaved. You call him Smasana Vasa and Jadadhari.

Why do we associate a clean shave with Sattva and a moustache with non Sattva? In which case all our seers were not Sattvic.

Again Maa Kali's description in Dhyana Slokas is totally different from what is depicted. In Bengal she is seen as a Beautiful young woman. This is not the description of the Dhyana sloka. Bhadra Kali is considered by many South Indians to be a benign form of Kali. They will be shocked if they read the Dhyana Sloka.

It is of absolutely no consequence how GOD is represented. The question is "Are you able to relate to GOD in this form? Does it fit with your conception?"

Once I had shown the image of MAA from one of the temples in Tamil Nadu dressed in Madisar saree to a friend of my mine who is a Devi Bhakta from Kerala. He immediately remarked that he is not able to relate to her in this dress. Many South Indian visitors to temples in North and Eastern India are not able to relate because of the peculiarity of the images. The Bengalis in Chennai prefer to visit the Kali temple in Mambalam rather than the Kali temple in Annanagar, because the image in Mambalam is Bengali style. The Keralites in Kolkata have a Guruvayurappan temple though there is a Krishna shrine in almost every nook and corner of Kolkata.

Your conception of GOD will again depend on what you think of GOD. As a

1. King

2. Mother

3. Child

4. Lover

These are called Bhavas.

Suppose you are a Sakti worshipper. But which form of Sakti? Kali, Bhuvaneswari, Lalita, Mariamman or any of the other innumerable forms? Lalitha Tripurasundari, Kamakshi, RajaRajeswari, Bhuvaneswari are all forms of Sakthi. Whom do you choose. When you choose Vishnu, is it Rama, Krishna or Narayana and even after choosing Krishna is it Balakrishna (Unnikrishnan), Brindavan Krishna (Radhe Shyam) or Dwarakadhisa (Krishna as a King)? You have a huge variety of choices.

Please think about this and post about your conception of GOD. Which form? And if possible Why? This is Sathsang. Make you think of GOD. It would also help us understand the basics of devotion and different Hindu practices.

No conception is wrong. No conception is superior to others. Hinduism allows everyone to have his/her own conception of GOD.

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