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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When I grew up in the 40’s and 50’s, certain jeweled ornaments worn around the neck were mainly called “lockets.” I don’t recall those pieces of memorabilia designated as “pendants.” They occupied a special sentimental place in your heart and upon your person. When you touched them, you would feel that special close contact with whomever’s picture was safely ensconced in such locket or pendant. In these lockets could be found locks of hair, pictures of your most beloved parent, sibling or other relative; or if you were especially lucky, a picture of a favorite saint. In the 1970’s I remember a friend of mine whose ashes were consecrated in a specially made locket which some of us wore around our necks to commemorate our special friendship with this man.

Nowadays deity pendants such as those displayed in Ma’s India, have similar purposes, but the picture of the beloved is on the outside for all to see. These deity pendants have multipurpose uses. Some deity pendants might be considered merely ornamental as with jewelry.

Some deity pendants are considered amulets for self-protection. The Kali Pendant Necklace is one such deity pendant. Consuming demons that represent the ego, one need not be afraid of anything with Kali.

Another deity pendant represented might be the Shiva Necklace (painted) beautifully encased in pewter. This powerful God sitting in deep meditation upon Mount Kailash sits firmly against evil and those who would distract him from a peaceful and solitary contemplation.

Another feminine deity pendant representative of a protective amulet would be the Durga Deity pendant. Durga is another representation of Kali but seen as less fierce to those who know nothing about her. In reality, she is as fierce as Kali but with a different visage to hide her true identity from those who might not take her seriously. Durga is the true Mother of all the goddesses and on her deity pendant is pictured standing supreme upon her lion above all others.

Some who wish to use the deity pendants as mere ornaments, might consider the Lakshmi Resin Deity Pendant and the Saraswati Resin Pendant, both stately in faux marble resin, although when one is a true student of the Hindu goddesses, one sees that although they are worshipped for prosperity and the arts, these goddesses are just as capable of fierceness and protection. One might also consider the colorful and feminine Painted Lakshmi Deity Pendant as another choice.

For those who wish to cultivate the attributes of Ganesh, may we suggest Ganesh Pendant Necklace in sterling silver as their deity pendant, a powerful invocation of the Great God Ganesh. Ganesh is the remover of obstacles and is the fierce representation of loyalty. When one chooses Ganesh as her protector in a deity pendant, it is as if a whole army has come to her aid.

And of course, for those who wish to call upon Ganesh’s equally as fierce trusted humble ally, there is the Hanuman Necklace (painted) deity pendant, showing this representation of humility and perseverance, beautifully and stylistically encased in pewter.

For those desiring to follow the feminine Christian path in choosing a deity pendant, there is the saintly St. Therese of Avila Necklace who in 1970 was finally honored for her work in founding a convent and order of nuns and the Guadalupe Pendant beautifully rendered in faux white resin marble.

Whatever deity pendant you choose, there can be no mistake if one follows the yearnings of the heart.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Describing the Mahavidyas in coherent fashion to a non-believer would be to ask them to believe the unbelievable. How did the practice of worship of these singular deities known as Mahavidyas, who terrify and enlighten the true seeker, arise? These ancient Hindu goddesses cavort around burial and cremation grounds, wear skulls around their necks, have disheveled hair, engage in bloody battles, deal with offal and blood and either subjugate or subordinate the male gods.

Kali, known as the Supreme Mahavidya, is often seen shown astride Shiva, while others like Mahavidya Sundari, sit on the body of Shiva which in turn rests upon a couch whose legs are four male deities. In our 11″ Resin Kali Statue, Kali, the fierce Mahavidya that she is, is seen with her foot placed directly and authoritatively on Shiva’s chest. This represents Shakti having power over Shiva, and in truth, the male gods would not exist in their true form without the power of Shakti. Tara, a beautiful representation of a Mahavidya, is known to be the Supreme Mother both in Tibetan and Hindu religiosity and as a Mahavidya, is acknowledged for her benevolence as well as her fierceness. See the beautiful representation of Tara in our 3 ¾” ivory-substitute Tara Statue. The Mahavidyas can indeed be seen as benevolent and also fearsome and horrific. The latter attributes are more generally known. One way of describing the Mahavidyas would be to see them as parts of a whole goddess or particular forms of the Divine Mother. The ten Mahavidyas are Kali, Tara, Tripur Sundari or Sodashi, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagala, Matangi and Kamala, each one displaying and portraying some terrifying aspect of the Mother. Each one of these Mahavidyas is a powerful force unto herself whose power and authority do not derive from association with male deities. Rather, it is their Shakti that allows the male gods to perform their functions.

The Mahavidyas are also associated with magical powers. Matangi is said to be able to bestow upon the devotee all kinds of powers, especially the power by which whatever one says, comes true. Kali as the primary Mahavidya has a long association with bestowing magical powers. Chinnamasta has the power to destroy her enemies. Bagala is worshipped for having control over the planets. Therefore, the Mahavidyas are associated with granting a range of blessings and powers.

The discussion of the Mahavidyas without mentioning an association with Tantric worship would not be complete. In that context, the Mahavidyas are melded with sadhana, mental and psychic powers and heightened states of consciousness. David Kinsley in Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine gives an extraordinarily comprehensive picture of these ten Mahavidyas in all aspects. Each one of the Mahavidyas is fully described and wrought. Finally, the Mahavidyas are also associated with mantras, and the recitation of mantra is where their true power resides. When one calls upon any one of these fearsome goddesses, one must be careful of the awesome power, which they carry. When a devotee invokes the power of any one of these Mahavidyas, he or she comes “alive.” As you invoke the power of a particular Mahavidya, ask her to show you her benevolent as well as her fearsome form. Beware the powerful Mahavidyas!

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Who is this wonderful, fierce, Nubian black goddess who both inspires and instills fear into the human heart? The answer of course is the great goddess Kali. The next question is, from where does this fear of Kali arise. The fact that Kali is black, wears a string of heads around her neck, sticks out an enormous, bright red tongue, evinces a terrible gleam in her eyes, and lastly,  stands with her foot upon a compliant Shiva, would of course contribute to the traditional thoughts of Kali with foot on Shiva as being non-benevolent and fearsome.

Fear might also arise from her portrayal as Smashan Kali in the “cremation grounds” surrounded by dead bodies. In this rare representation, Kali’s left foot is always on Shiva. Of course, to the true devotee, Kali’s portrayal in these funerary grounds, symbolizes her presence in the heart of devotees who have killed their earthly desires and want supreme consciousness. She is also known as the “Adi Shakti,” fundamental power, or “Para Prakriti,” beyond nature.

When asked by some to show Kali’s true nature, Kali has complied and to the true devotee, has shown herself to be golden in color and radiantly beautiful. In fact, the great guru Ma Jaya has recounted this story Kali’s transformation herself in her many darshans and writings. Ma Jaya who is an extraordinary guru and devotee of Kali, speaks of and praises Kali for the true sacrifical goddess/warrior that Kali is, who works tirelessly on behalf of her devotees. Listen to Ma’s teachings on Kali on the CDs of her intensive Awakening the Ancient Feminine Warrior.

Many books have posed questions regarding the understanding of Kali as she relates to cross-cultural interpretation. Unfortunately, Hollywood has sometimes characterized Kali as a frightening and fearful goddess. For those devotees who have known well the power and compassion that Kali conveys, she is not the feared goddess, but the one to whom humble devotees pray to slay and abate their worst fears. In actuality, there has been a turnaround of thought regarding Kali in contemporary religious belief in that she is now considered to be a “benevolent” goddess. Some might even surmise that since the advent of television, showing frightful images of the world and war, that perhaps the great goddess Kali does not instill the same fear in people. She seems almost benign considering the horrific images with which people are now confronted. The many interpretations of Kali in regard to cross-cultural beliefs have been thoroughly discussed and examined by many authors. Encountering Kali In the Margins, At the Center, in the West by McDermott and Kripal will give you a full picture of the goddess.

Tantric beliefs extend Kali’s role so far as to be considered the “ultimate reality” or Brahman. Now this might suprirse those who think of Brahma, the ultimate creator, as male. Of course, in the pantheon of Hindu spirituality, the sex of the gods and goddesses might well be considered as being androygymous, for they are not limited by contemporary thought as to what consittutes male and female attributes. The Hindu pantheon with male and female deities stand equal with each other as to power and invincibility. In fact, Kali, is a warrior goddess, capable of intense destruction, similar to that of the male god Rudra. Any one of the goddesses such as Kali are also capable of destuction of anything that stands in the way of the progression or well-being of their devotees. As seen in the colorful Kali Batik on the left, she  is also considered foremost amongst the Mahavidyas, those ten awe-ful Tantric goddesses. Today, again in contemporary thought, Kali is also known as the goddess of time and change. It is felt that when Kali comes into your life, you are instantly thrust into the moment. To be in the moment is to stand outside of time. If one is brave enough to stand before the spiritual assault of Kali and allow the ego to be slain, one allows oneself to be stripped of the past and thrust into the moment. In that moment of Kali, one achieves one’s true power. This is the liberation for which all devotees long. To the Spiritual Aspirant, may Kali grant your true desires for liberation. Om Namah Kali! Ki Jai!

Visit the complete Ma’s India website for more books, statues, jewelry and wall art of Kali.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

When one thinks of a mother, one usually thinks of one’s birth mother. Sometimes through death or separation, we do not have our mothers in physical form. At these times, a yearning and longing for a mother arises. This yearning or keening for a mother sometimes takes a more universal form. For some it takes form through the worshipping of Mother Earth or Gaia, as she is called. What is it about this Mother Earth that so tantalizing fulfills a longing for some for the Mother in form? Perhaps it is the fertility that she expresses through the mountains, rivers, oceans, trees and all their various expressions. Or is it the feeling of being nurtured and protected as one breathes in the essence of the Mother as she is expressed through bountiful nature. In human form, she is known to us as Mother, Auntie, Good Friend or Goddess whom we might worship in her myriad forms. With our good female friends whom we might unconsciously resonate with as surrogate mothers, we sometimes are able to fulfill that longing. Unfortunately sometimes, these surrogate mothers might disappoint us and we feel untethered once again. It is during those times that one might reach out to the Goddess or the Universal Mother as expressed through the Goddess as consolation.

Those of us brought up in the Christian tradition have sought the Mother through Mother Mary. She is the sublime essence of motherhood. She is the gentle, seemingly submissive mother until of course she shows her bravery and fortitude when her son is taken from her; then she has historically become a representation of steadfastness and perseverance and we pray to her for courage and sustainment.

The Mothers White, Green and Black Tara are other representations of the Mother. A Buddhist goddess especially popular in Tibet, the name “Tara” represents “she who saves.” She is a goddess of universal compassion and represents virtuous and enlightened action. It is told that her compassion can be stronger than a mother’s love for her children.

Of course the Hindu lineage has a total proliferation of Goddesses. The Mothers Durga and Kali are more fierce representations of the Mother. Even though these two goddesses have been frightening to those to whom she has appeared, there are even more frightening countenances to perceive in the form of the Mahavidyas. 

When one loses one’s own outer covering and ego as it were, these forms somehow do not terrify. It is good to remember that the ego is the only thing that becomes terrified of these goddesses. When we can acknowledge and claim our simplicity, we can see beyond the terrifying aspect of the Mother and become reconciled and fed by her kindness and gentleness. How interesting it is that the horrific Mother only appears to the ego.

A mythological representation of the Mother is Isis, a Goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and matron of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, the downtrodden, as well as responding to the prayers of the wealthy. She was also the Goddess of motherhood and fertility.

One of the aspects of the Mother who have resided amongst us in flesh is that of Sarada Devi, the wife and spiritual counterpart of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a 19th century mystic of Bengal. Sarada Devi is addressed as Holy Mother by the followers of the Ramakrishna monastic order and were regarded by them as their own mother. After the guru’s passing, they looked to Sarada Devi for advice and encouragement. Then of course there is the Mother as reflected in Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, the guru of Kashi Ashram. A Kali devotee, Ma is known for her frankness and candor and ability to slice through unworthiness and illusion. She is also revered by her many devotees for her compassion and kindness.

Our prayer for this day is to ask the Mother to receive you into her abundant arms, to cherish and comfort you throughout your days, and to bind you to her essence so that you too may hold and comfort as mother all those who need you. Jai Ma!

For books, audio, video and statues of the Mother, visit Ma’s India Spiritual Gifts.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Hindu goddess Kali is one of the most misunderstood of the Hindu pantheon by Westerners. Christians believe in a God who is all good and a devil who is the embodiment of evil, while Hindus believe in a Universal Power that is beyond good and bad. The goddess Kali is the complete picture of Universal Power: she is Mother, the benign (who creates and nourishes), and Mother, the terrible (who kills and destroys).

Kali’s name comes from the Sanskrit word ‘kala’ which means time. Kali is the power of time, which devours all and, when you go beyond time, reaches the place of limitless peace and joy (Kali as Maharati).

How do you know whether they are looking at a benign or a terrible Kali? Hindus distinguish between the Mothers by which hand is holding the sword and the position of her feet. Dakshina Kali (benign) steps out with her right foot and holds the sword in her left hand, while Smashan Kali (fearful or cremation ground Kali) holds the sword in her right hand and steps out with her left foot. When Kali stands upon the reclining form of Shiva (her spouse), she is known as Bhavatarini, the redeemer of the universe.

Why would a person choose to pray to a Kali of the cremation grounds? Tantric philosophy holds that practicing one’s spiritual disciplines in a cremation ground brings success quickly. If you sit next to corpses or other images of death it is easier to reach a place of non-duality much faster than people who block out the unpleasant aspects of life. The ghastly images help you drop attachment to the body. As such, Kali destroys ignorance.

Kali also maintains the world order and blesses devotees who strive toward knowledge of God. As Shyama Kali (a tender aspect), the goddess is worshipped in Hindu households, where she dispenses boons and dispels fear. Raksha Kali, the Protectress, is called upon in times of drought, flood, earthquake, epidemics or famine.

Kali’s complexion is black, while her husband’s is white. Shiva is covered in ash, while Kali has sucked all darkness into herself. Kali stands upon her husband because she cannot exist without Shiva, and he cannot reveal himself without Kali.

Kali’s luxuriant hair is disheveled. One interpretation holds her hair symbolizes her boundless freedom, while another says each hair is an individual soul and all souls have their roots in Kali. Her protruding tongue also has different interpretations: some see it as a symbol of coyness because she has stepped on her husband, while others view it as activity being held in check by spirituality. Kali has four arms, which together encompass all duality: one set promises fearlessness and boons (the good side) while the other holds a bloody sword and freshly severed human head (the bad side). She is naked (dressed only in space or sky-clad) except for a garland of 50 skulls and a girdle of human arms cut off at the elbow. Kali’s girdle of arms symbolize all work – including the potential for work and the results of work. The skulls around her throat represent the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and the original sound from which the universe was created.

Sri Ramakrishna, the poet of the Mother Kali, spoke about Kali’s different forms. Over 30 forms of this Mother are mentioned in the Tantras. Ma’s India carries a number of different depictions of Mother Kali made from Ganga clay, brass, or resin. You are sure to find a Mother that will enhance your spiritual practices in our store.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Journaling is the practice of writing within a journal one’s deepest thoughts and feelings. One can gain a clearer perspective of one’s life as she reads her journal. It is at best an intimate and in-depth overview of one’s life; for the spiritual person, who works at becoming more detached and loving, when journaling, it is easier to see how progress is made over a long time. From a health perspective, journaling is a wonderful way to relieve stress as well as one releases old thoughts and feelings from one’s psyche.

Ma’s India is carrying some journals that by their covers are reflective of what the spiritual aspirant is looking for by journaling. One can also see that journaling becomes a spiritual discipline similar to doing japa or chanting. It is a meditative tool designed to bring the aspirant into a quiet, reflective space within himself or herself. Scientific research has shown that journaling in fact by engaging both the right and left-brains enabled people to release previous traumas in their lives by the integration of the experience.

In the Om Journal, journaling focuses one’s mind on the eternal sound of Om, the sound that reverberates throughout the cosmos, hence enabling one- pointedness. This Om Journal encourages anyone as they perform journaling to perhaps write Rams in a singular, methodical fashion promoting focus and clarity, invaluable aids to facilitate deep meditation.

The Kali Journal can be for anyone desirous of journaling under the influence of Kali with a mind to destroying any attachments with which they may be struggling. This Goddess Kali so brightly rendered on the cover becomes the protector of their thoughts as they do their journaling. Quotes are inserted every 16 pages to further the inspiration of the journaler.

Finally, with the Ganesh Journal with its wonderful picture of hand-painted Ganesh on its cover, as one continues journaling, one may think of removing the obstacles in one’s life by focusing on clearing one’s mind of any impediments to spiritual growth while under the aegis of the great God Ganesh.

The Om and Ganesh journals are on hand-made paper and are eco-friendly.

May you use these journals as your companions to the wonderful path of self-discovery.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

It would be mundane to suggest that this extraordinary book In a World of Gods and Goddesses should be consigned to a coffee table as opposed to being part of a museum. Yet this large 17 x 17 book of spiritual art by Indra Sharma can certainly grace any surface that bears it. Indra Sharma has for decades painted scenes from sacred events of Hindu mythology as well as myriad forms of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses within the Hindu pantheon. His paintings of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses have been described as both prayer and puja. To see these Gods and Goddesses in brilliant color in this book is similar to visiting a renowned museum of art. The text by James H. Bae is a brilliant exposition and combination of Hindu lore, mythology and religion of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. We are treated to the many pieces of art of Mr. Sharma that have long been available to the Indian population in forms of books, calendars, treatises, religious art. Vishnu, Shiva, Hanuman, Ganesh, and Kali are but a few of the various Hindu Gods and Goddesses rendered in individual pages that might even be removed from the book for separate suitable framing. A true treasure trove of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

Considered by some to be an aspect of Kali, this Durga Statue stands in her own power amongst Hindu Gods and Goddesses as an embodiment of the creative feminine force of Shakti. She represents beauty, compassion and fierceness as shown by her ten arms carrying weapons while maintaining a meditative smile and practicing her mudras. Always depicted within the Hindu pantheon of Gods and Goddesses as the goddess riding a lion or a tiger, Durga shows through her fearlessness, her mastery over humanity’s lower nature and her conquering, by her purity, the evil of mankind. This 9-inch brass Durga statue with amazing detail can sit upon any puja and be that Hindu God and Goddess that protects from any evil that might beset the true devotee.

Known to be the most beloved and gentle representation of love within the Hindu Gods and Goddesses is our sweet Krishna known to appear to all the Gopis in the form in which they found most desirable. In the mythology of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, he shows himself to be both fierce and loveable within the same incarnation. From assuming different forms in dance and protecting cowherd villagers from an angry manifestation of rain by the God Indra, these youthful stories of Krishna in Krishna, Lord of Love told by James Bae, we are treated us to an enchantment of stories about love and devotion of the great God Krishna. Wonderful for children’s bedtime stories.

There are many renditions of Kali within representations of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. She is shown as black and fierce, shiny and pale, and many shades of fierce from subdued to passion. Here we see a Krishna like influence of Kali through the blue color and perhaps we may even liken her to a Kali Shyama representation. We see this 11-inch light Blue-Skinned Kali Statue standing on Shiva, showing her confidence, bravery and power as Shakti subduing and consuming the great God Shiva. When one witnesses this Goddess, one can evoke one’s own mastery over evil in the world.

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