Kumari and the Bhairava [ Sep 2005 ]

Our great great grandfather Dattatreya is described as: "dattatreya hare krishna unmattanandadayaka digambara mune balapisaca jnanasagara
We should try to follow his example and return to innocence and Immortality.

Which throws additional light on why our beautiful lady is not older than 16 years.....

Sri vidya and Tantra contains a biological science concerned with the hormonal cycle and its change in puberty where chemical inhibitors are produced in the brain to allow our normal "serious" adult functioning.

The yound child the kumari and the bhairav are the oracles of the divine because in childhood the Amrit Hormone is still produced - thats why the first menstruation or ejaculation marks the fall from innocence being the outward sign of the biological change.

We need Yoga or sadhana to reprogram the body (and soul and mind ) to again return to that state of Sahaja (Spontaneous Naturalness)

Thanks for that insight especially on Kumari. Ive been doing a lot of thinking about Kumari. Somebody asked me about the significant of the Kumari Pooja [ see pics in our photo gallery] several days back. I wanted to go via the biological approach but my anatomy and physiology has gone rusty at this moment.

I decided to go back to the siva sutra which reads : IcchA Saktir umA KumAri

The eternal state is his whose mind has ascended by Yoga the Supreme BhairavatA [an aspect of Siva]. To that Yogin the energy of desire comes by degrees, that energy is called ParAbhattArikA {Supreme Queen]. She is known as the 'unmarried' [Kumari]. As Sport, she creates the universe from SadAsiva to the earth [36 tattvas]; hence she is kumAri. She destroys [mArayate] the ground [ku] of the great illusion [hence she is kumAri]. KumAri is enjoyer of everything. KumAri is not to be enjoyed by the Yogin who is the Bhairava himself, who can enjoy everything [except kumAri] as she is one with the enjoyer. KumAri is umA, she who has renouncedd all attachment and is chiefly devoted to the Lord. Such is the IcchAsakti in Yogins; this is the easy path discovered by the great teachers [anuttaradesikas]"

KumAri is umA, she who has renouncedd all attachment and is chiefly devoted to the Lord.

[above translated into english with introduction by Jaideva Singh. From the text of the Sutras and the commentary Vimarsini of KsemarAja]

If you look at the story of Kumari. When Punyakshi learned of the divine deception, her fury knew no bounds. She kicked over the pots of food prepared for her wedding celebration -- and they turned into the colored sands found on the southern shores of India to this day. Several demons offered to marry her instead and satisfy her longings, but she became enraged at their audacity and tore out their hearts. She then stood on the seashore beside her village, facing the sea, and vowed not to move until she was reunited with her Shiva at the end of time. The scholar Devdutt Patatnaik observes, "The cult of the virgin is popular in many parts of India. It is believed that when a woman does not enjoy the company of husband and children, her creative energy bottles up inside her and becomes destructive. This bottled energy is feared and hence worshiped."

As I see it, kumari is the Supreme Power that you seek to invoke in order to help you to remain focus in your sadhana. She remain fix to be united with Siva and no other, the other devas tried to persuade her, the demons tried to pacify her by offering to marry her, all are being torn into pieces by her.

Is SHE angry because she cannot get married? No I believe Her fury is towards those who think her love/devotion towards Siva is superficial. If your love is pure, it can never be replace by another.

She is the DEVI that breaks all illusion

Just like to play around with my rumpling thoughts:

Kumari : before menstruation : Creativity
Kali : during menstruation : Destruction
Bhairavi : after menstruation : Preservation.
Interesting though, when I refer to the Bhavaninama Sahasranastuti, Jankinath Kaul "kamal" remarked: Kumari is one who is the force of aspiration of the evolving soul. Like a full-bloomed virgin, spiritual practice is ever new and bestows youthful urges. Its is always rejuvenating and life-giving.

This remind me of a conversation :"…. in every way we are made of vibrations, each moment the atoms are created from the ultimate the spanda, the spanda goes on so with each spanda we change, we renew ourselves always thats a physical truth"

I am still contemplating on kurukulla and Varahi and the Bhavanupanishad and its biological and subtle body interpretation and practice contained as a part of srividya, my commentary on kumari is tainted by this.

The theme of the Virgin or childlike Goddess and God is highly loaded in every culture and every stage of history had a lot of approaches it is full of thousands of differing associations and verily a huge crystal ball to see a lot of different scenes in.

The anatomical or biological approach to spirituality has a problem it is offending to some devotees to associate their own biology with the deities. Because of that even now one can hardly speak openly about some ideas without hurting others (or being hurt by enraged others) many secrets have been lost already because of this lack of communication.

Since a huge orgasmic vibration has created this particular universe and even the greatest of saints had his origin in a smaller likewise vibration (except jesus of course *g* who is allegedly born by a virgin) one should consider the body not as something entirely evil and unsuitable for spiritual progress.

I was looking at the kumari from the viewpoint of the tantric or the worshipper not so much from that of the goddess and her associations or legends. So please allow me to discuss this first.

To embody the Goddess in a Kumari or imagining her as before Menstruation sets in, protects the devotees and the vajracharyas (Kumari Pujaris in Nepal) from possible destrucive influences. Why? Because in the body of the Kumari the energies of Shiva /Shakti are self containend because she has not menstruated and is in nearer to the original unity of the embryo.

The fetus is in constant samadhi, the white and the red inherited energy received from Father and mother (shiva-Shakti) are in still in a unified state of one Bindu only.

To achive that state of unity again as an adult is the aim of some sadhanas

After the umbilical cord has been cut and the feet touch the ground the bindu splits, the bodily shiva energy begins to move upward being fiery and the female downward being of the nature of water, but in the child the energys did not yet separete completly the Amrit is still produced and the psychic channels are still unobstructed, Of course there are no deep rooted musular tension to block the blood lymph and prana pathways.

All these poisons are present later in life. There are sdhanas also to remove or transform these Poisons.

Menstruation or ejaculation mark the beginning of the complete outward turning of the main subtle and bodily energies. (including a complete outward turning of the sense organs-which are "retracted" later in sadhana also to regain the energies) (see bhavanupanishad and the Immortal NavNaths shielding these 9 openings)

The menstruation and ejaculation is also a psychological turning point and it is accompanied by several hormonal changes resulting in an irritable and unstable state of mind.

That why it is way more dangerous to incorporate and install a deity representing primal complete Innocence in an adult body with its tensions and frustrations, and only in an adult body with the energies obstructed and blocked kumari energy can issue poisons not perfumes.

Like it is said in the Bhavanupanishad We have a sri yantra in the body. But before sadhana,figurativly speaking its triangles are shifted apart with the male energy at the top of the body and the female energies sunk below, sadhana tries to rearrange them again returning back to the foetal unity and transform our mind/body to innocence and completeness.

To remind I am still talking about the little goddesses and gods of the body so please I hope nobody is offended.

These Explanations perfectly fit the Shiva Sutra and its commentary.Ichha Shakti being primal mind intent in the act of creation the universe and in Nath Sampradya(and most probably also Kashmir Shaivaism) Iccha Shakti is the mixed Bindu- Sun-located in the Heart center, opposed to Jnana Shakti as Moon and the male Energy in the brain and Kriya Shakti the female energy and Fire in the navel respectively muladhara in some traditions. Something complete in itself cannot be enjoyed but only enjoys. No attachment because she contains everything and is inwardly turnend.

Mary Ann
Would/wouldn't a boy be as representative as you say the Kumari is, since there is the same combination of Shakti/Shiva prior to puberty? Are there also *similar* rituals that involve boy children? If there are such rituals involving boy children, how are those rituals different? Why not a boy, if boys do not hold such positions?

Boys do hold such a position the Boy embodies Bhairava a form of Shiva.

The 3 Phases of Life Youth adult and old though I would propose this order: youth creation stage, Adult Preservation stage, old age Dissolution stage.

Since the devi is the Moon the waxing 15 Nityas of Tripura represent the creative cycle while the Dissolution cycle can be represented by Kali with her 15 Nityas of the Waning Moon. There is a tradition in Nath Sampradaya which is following this rule for Sadhana with Jwalamukhi representing the full Moon.

In this respect this article sheds some further light:http://shivashakti.com/nitya.htm

I want to draw your attention to the fact elaborated in the Article that it is iccha shakti who is the primal force moving the Sriyantra in the Wheel of the Tithis (kalachakra)

The practical applications of the theory are numerous especially since the moon with his 15 Kalas acts as a transmitter and amplifier of planetary (12 Kalas of surya =zodiac signs and planets) and star energies (27 Nakshatras) which can be transmitted through the Nityas and can manifest in the physical and subtle Body modified according to the powers of each Moon Phase (Nitya)

I think these might be the mechanics of an inner process which involves uniting and melting with all the energies (shaktis) in ones own body/energetic frame and ultimately rest in unity with the center of the galaxy. This maybe is what is meant by independence from the cycle of birth and death.

Maybe thats why this path calls for a vira, because it is near madness to even think of the possibility to achieve this while being trapped in a body only lasting such a short span of time.

NMadasamy wrote : This remind me of a conversation :"…. in every way we are made of vibrations, each moment the atoms are created from the ultimate the spanda, the spanda goes on so with each spanda we change, we renew ourselves always thats a physical truth"

Yes that quote is fitting well with the topic

Mary Ann
I think it would also be beneficial for the roles to be interchangeable between male and female, rather than one always representing Bhairava, one always representing Kumari. This would be in keeping with Ardhanarashwari/a, it would seem.

It would also be good if they allowed the male and female positions to interchange rather than always have them represent what they do, since each contains all.

What makes women different from man [1] women menstruate [2] women have the womb. The most powerful symbol of shakti is the yoni.

The yoni does not know any distinction between husband, brothers, sons ,relations and caste. The yoni is govern by one: The act of creation. Any seed you plant it grows into life. That is the power of the yoni, in its ability to cause social instability. In any form of Shakti Worship, the worship of DEVI in a human body is the most powerful.
br> Perhaps we should go back to our basic and ask the question : What is Tantra?
Mary Ann
Yes, and per Ardhanarashwari/a, woman resides in man's body, and man resides in woman's body. Why only honor woman in woman's body, and man in man's body? Why not emphasize the loving Devi in men (eg Amma's Universal Motherhood), and the woman who is able in the world, not only to give birth physically, but to give birth to activities, ideas, etc. that benefit humanity.

If you look within and beyond the physical aspect, there is no different between man and woman, spiritually. That is why it is said at thehighest level : Brahman there is no gender. No man and no woman. That is when you have achieve the highest spiritual level, there is no distinciton.

But how many of us are still stuck in this physical level. That is what we are made of and we are able to identify with. Women and Men are physically different, that is the fact of life. Women have the womb and men don't. The Womb is the sacred symbol of fertility since the ancient times. The life giving force and energy. The earth islike the womb too. Why do they call the earth as Mother? If you explore biologically too, the womb is closely associated with the production of the hormones. That is why some women who have undergo total hysterectomy [ total removal of the womb ] they need hormones to maintain their feminity. Once they stop the hormones, they become more like man and create a lot of neurological imbalances such as depression etc. It is the womb in close association with the hormone production in the brain, that gives rise to the development of breast. Breast are Laksmi actually because it a nourisher. It nourishes a child thirst.

You try to dress a woman into a man, or a man into a women, it does not hide the fact that she is still SHE and He is stil HE. Playing dressing up does not change the whole fact of life. It does not turn a man into women.

As one move upward spiritually, physical and gender has no place. You move gradually. Just like a child we grow and develop. how can you try to run when you can't even stand and walk properly? That is why a lot of people fall, because they do not accept the reality of it that we have to move gradually and not just like some super sonic jet. They know their goal : to become Ardhanarashwari/a, but when you concentrate on the goal without trying to perfect your processes, your goal just become a goal.

You look up at the mountain, you see Ardhanarashwari/a sitting smiling at you calling you to come to them, but you can't reach it, because you are stuck. You choose not to look/accept at the Earth that support your leg and body, no wonder many of us falls.
br> "the woman who is able in the world, not only to give birth physically, but to give birth to activities, ideas, etc. that benefit humanity."

Perhaps you should read the Lalitha Sahasranama again. It tells you the attributes of Lalitha herself. She give birth to all : activities, ideas , humanity etc.

Len Rosenberg
Nora, Mary Ann is obsessed with the idea of androgyny. And I must agree that the Soul has no gender, and that we are souls incarnating for innumerable times into various bodies both male and female. It is mind-expanding to play with the exchange of gender-roles, which are superimposed by our individual societies.

But while we are incarnated, we have been dealt a body which (usually) has one gender or another. Very few of us are actually Ardhanarishvaras. And most societies get very edgy when people try to blurr the distinctions between genders. (Witness the stupid Defense of Marriage legislation going on in the USA!)

I await the brouhaha that will ensue when science discovers a means for cloned fetuses to be nurtured inside a man's body. Until that time, it may be argued that the only activity that the genders can't share is childbirth.

The good people of Nepal are unlikely to agree with Mary Ann: Why, yes, let's have young boys portray Kumari sometimes, and have young girls portray Bhairava!
,br> I'd be much more concerned that ALL women (in Nepal, or elsewhere) be treated with respect and allowed to earn an honest living, without being abused by fathers, husbands, sons or brothers. When rights are equal, we can address the blurring of societal gender roles.

kalipadma108 wrote: But while we are incarnated, we have been dealt a body which (usually) has one gender or another. Very few of us are actually Ardhanarishvaras.

Len,Do you have specific examples of such ardha-narishwaras, or are you alluding that all realized people are essentially ardha-narishwara?

Mary Ann
Len, your first paragraph below sounds like an argument for S&M. Everyone of us is the Ardhanarashwari/a, from my understanding of the deity's symbolism. I feel that until the female is accepted within the male, and the male accepted within the female, the outer respect you say you want for women in the world cannot happen. When the gender roles stay static in rituals and in society, it does not further the recognition and acceptance of the fullness of human qualities in each human being, but continues projections outward onto the genders that hinder growth, that cause rigidity, or armoring, to use a Reichian term.

Devi Bhakta
I would simply ask that everyone refrain from ridiculing one another as a method of argument. I respect the participants in this debate, and have no desire to play the heavy and start moderating discussions that touch only tangentially on the topic of this group.

Unexciting and unimaginative as it may seem, this is simply a spiritual forum. In Shaktism, all of these deities you're discussing are not considered as mere symbols or archetypes to use for our own psychological or societal objectives. They are real -- "realer," one could argue, than any human being, because they are eternal rather than transient energy manifestations -- and, if we let them, they will obligingly help us to expand beyond the limits of our physical egos, bodies and minds.

That is the purpose of sadhana, after all!

Now, if someone finds these deities to be useful symbols and archetypes in other fields of interest and inquiry, that is fine -- but it is not Shakti Sadhana; it is not what this group is about. It is, I would venture, a bit akin to using a brand-new, state-of-the- art computer as a doorstop rather than turning it on and seeing what its potentials really are. That is not to say I condemn someone who uses a new PC as a doorstop; it holds doors open just fine. My only question is, why not put it to the use it was intended for? Why limit the unlimitable by trying to hold it within the confines of our limited reality? It defeats the whole purpose!

Again, the raison d'etre of this group is to discuss sadhana, as pedestrian and bourgeoise as that may seem to some. I would ask that our discussions address that goal. And I would even dare suggest that, if we let the deities perform as they wish rather than as we wish them too, our more earthbound conflicts, confusions and concerns will begin falling into place with twice the efficiency and half the effort.

Then again, I might be full of sacred cow manure. You never know. Take it or leave it, as you wish ...

Dear Menon:

I think you misunderstood the context of Len's comment. I believe he was making a lighthearted point about the absurdity of holding these conversations strictly at the level of the physical kosha: "Very few of us are actually Ardhanarishvaras" thus suggesting that "very few of us are actually born as physical hermaphrodites."

Your second question, however, hits the nail on the head: "Are you alluding that all realized people are essentially ardha-narishwara?" Indeed they are -- which is really the point of my previous post as well, for what it's worth.

Yes I agree to talk only about the physical body is misleading.

It is traditional teaching in some if not all tantric lineages I know that the subtle koshas are subject to change as much as the physical body the so called higher bodies are not at all higher in a sense of better or more refined they are as much subject to change as the physical body they age and wither, and do also desintegrate just a somewaht later (after death) than the physical body and that they are therefore all to be treated alike (as of an impermanent nature)

All the koshas and worlds perceived as subtle or physical are in the same distance from the axis of the wheel (the goal of sadhana)

In fact in my opinion the very Essence of Kaula Knowledge is non dual.The existence of a difference or duality betwenn spiritual and physical is perceived in mainstream religion that postpones enlightment after death.

The aim of tantra is to attain while living in this very body not after death.

The teaching of all the Siddhas beginning with Matsyendranth up to today was centered around this physical body and all the other bodies and their identification with the deities and their powers and their ultimate transmogrification into Immortality in a body melted in unity aand hardened by sadhana that cannot be destroyed by fire water or any other element and even withstands the final conflageration at the end of the Kalpa. (the techinques used are hatha Yoga, Inner and outer Alchemy, use of erotic energies, meditation yantras mantras and medicines)Kaula vidya is a Science that is as much physical as subtle but is definetly nondual (it also establishes no duality betweenn physical and subtle levels)As long as this duality is perceived the interesting part of the sadhana cannot begin

Mary Ann
For me, Sadhana is how I live my life, not just a separate "spiritual" pursuit. I was quoting something I read of Amma's regarding what the Ardharashwari/a symbolizes. In her Awakening Universal Motherhood booklet, she says (and I paraphrase, though I may already have quoted this in an earlier post) that ancient Indian sages knew that human beings are both male and female and that is what the Ardhanarashara/i symbolizes, or represents, something like that.

NMadasamy Quote “Mahamuni asked : What is not tantra? How nice. I shall allow others to take up this question from the MahaMuni. Anybody daring enough?

Where angels fear to tread, fools do!! I am one of the latter and a clown too.

What is not tantra?

From an esoteric perspective of a shaktha, it is difficult to define what is not than what is.

"Japo jalpa: shilpam sakalamapi mudthravirachana gathi:
pradhakshinya kramaNa mudhravirachana mashanaath yahuthi vidhi: Pranama: samvesha: sookamakila-mathmarpaNadhrusha saparyaayasthva bhavathu yanme vilasadheem"

SL verse 27, whose translation is given on the homepage of SS. In essence, at all occasions, a sadhaka's spoken words are mantra (of worship of HER), gestures = mudhras, walk = pradhakshinam, whatever the sadhaka does, is a mode of worship to HER.

(Fully plagerized text from Basuranandanatha's definition: http://shaktisadhana.org/shaktatantra.html)
"The greatest beauty of Tantra is that once the student becomes a full fledged practitioner, s/he will no longer be governed by the normal rules of Karma. Outwardly s/he will be leading a normal existence -- but inwardly s/he will be leading a very balanced life, so that all actions are properly identified and hence s/he will not be bound by the Karmic link and s/he will always be free from the Karma of all his actions, because s/he has the right attitude. The Karmic bond is snapped once for all once the student becomes a real Tantric. S/he is no longer bound by the mundane differentiations of GOOD and BAD. The dualities in life cease to have any role!!"

By the above definitions, it is difficult to say what is NOT tantra. As the text encompasses all - tantra is the way a sadhaka lives and is not something one does only in the puja.

Shankara's SL must be taken with a pinch of salt for a fledgling sadhaka. Not because it is in doubt, but because Shankara is, for lack of a better word, an expert in HER worship. He is the second great guru, next to Shiva himself. What he had described is true only for the people on the "same page." No doubt there must be a few out there, who are on the "same page" as Shankara in terms of realization. But, most are still somewhere on that path, but not quite there yet.

Basurananda states the same but in more colloquial terms. In Basurananda's definition, a few key phrases are noticeable. "...once the student becomes a full fledged practitioner" and "....once the student becomes a real Tantric," are the riders in the contract!!

How does one know that (s)he is a real tantric? That is a bit difficult as self-evaluation not always is neutral, until one becomes a full tantric. If one becomes a full tantric, there will be no need for self-evaluation. A perfect catch-22.

So until that state of mind (and sadhana) is achieved, what is not tantra is what makes one feel bad afterwards or even when thinking of doing something.

So when one is driving and someone cuts in front, saying "@#$^#$# jerk" is not a mantra to worship HER. Or when someone provokes you (this is a general reference, not "you" as in second person singular), must not give into the temptation to retort. Or hate someone because (s)he is a jerk. Or go and glutton on some delicious meal, because whatever a sadhaka eats is performing yagnam to HER. Or because one is a tantric, can do whatever within the capabilities of one's siddhis, because of non-bonding karma.

As Shankara says, "Even if a man is a non-performer in the bed, once he becomes YOUR devotee, young maidens will come running to him," does not mean that when a fledgeling sadhaka attracts members of opposite gender, should look for ways for "shiva-shakthi union" ;-).

Tantra as a way of life is filled with several tests. Somehow, the seven cardinal sins (of Christianity) comes to my mind. Pride, greed, wrath, sloth, gluttony, lust and envy (not necessarily in that order) might be the ones a sadhaka need to be aware of during his/her days of life in this World. These encompass basic negative human emotions. Anything (or action/inaction) of a sadhaka which associates itself to the above 7, might not be tantra. Only human emotion allowed for a sadhaka is unconditional love. So until then, all one can do is to train oneself and pray, "Bhavani tvam daase" and hope (is a shakta allowed to ask for something for him/herself?) that SHE allows you to become HER as SHE took over the full (body) of Shiva - a la Shankara Bagavatpaadha.

Mary Ann
I would venture to guess that The New Gilligan's Island is NOT Tantra, but I'm certain I'm wrong, come to think of it. And even THAT is Tantra

Len Rosenberg
If Gilligan is the Captain's First Mate and "li'l buddy," does that make him Shakti to the Captain's Shiva?

I'm envisioning a devotional statue of Gilligan sitting demurely on the Captain's knee...

But Shakti Sadhana should never be approached as if it were a "three hour tour."

Mary Ann
I'm seeing Bob Denver on Alan Hale's knee (I can only envision the ORIGINAL cast - they're the TRUE Tantrics) but Bob Denver is sitting sideways and leaning over in the posture of The Thinker. This probably has something to do with the fact that Bob Denver (quite recently deceased, like within the past 2 weeks or so) was on the Dobie Gillis show, and The Thinker was featured at the beginning of that show (if memory serves me, and it may not - that was actually a bit before my time).

buttercookie61@y...> wrote: For me, Sadhana is how I live my life, not just a separate "spiritual" pursuit.

I believe there is no different from where we are. Personally I believe Sadhana does not confine to the pooja room. Our relationship with the people around us : the family, the neighbours are all part of our sadhana. If you hurt your husband, you are hurting DEVI. You hurt your daughter, its DEVI you're hurting. Our whole environment and its people around us becomes DEVI. But eventually we still need to go back to personal level, because our association with DEVI is private.

"I was quoting something I read of Amma's regarding what the Ardharashwari/a symbolizes. In her Awakening Universal Motherhood booklet, she says (and I paraphrase, though I may already have quoted this in an earlier post) that ancient Indian sages knew that human beings are both male and female and that is what the Ardhanarashara/i symbolizes, or represents, something like that."

I believe I never disagree Amma's interpretation of the Ardhanarashara/i. She comes from a different tradition. Take example the Thousand Names of the Divine Mother text. For Amma devotees, the book is the best and the ultimate. But for many especially the Kualas there are more. We never dispute what the sages says too.

But Lets us go back to the main topic, where this whole thread started of. I mentioned about the Kumari Pooja, about the worshipping of the girl/ pre puberty. And this whole issue gets diverted to the physical aspect of the male and female. You asked: why female and not the male. I have detail the rationale for it. That is why we are called the Shaktas. We worship the Divine Feminine. Look at the introduction of our group page "Some conceive of her as the Shakti (Supreme Energy) of Shiva (Supreme Consciousness); others worship her as Brahman Itself, holding that all other forms of Divinity are but her diverse manifestations"

But please remember that the kumari pooja is not the only pooja as prescribed in the Shakta Tradition.

When the first time I encounter the Kumari Pooja, during Navarathri. As parent, we felt blessed when the main priest approached us to get the permission, for our daughter to be the kumari during the one of the navarathri. In Nageshwari temple here in KL, kumari pooja, sumangali and suvasini pooja perform practically every night [for 9 nights] during navarathri. That particular night [when my daughter became the kumari] when it was my turn to seek blessing, I stood there not sure what to do. I'm being told "you do not prostrate before anybody but your Guru and Devi". I just bowed my head slightly as my `daughter' blessed and places the kumkum etc over my head. Later my guru told me "you should prostrate before HER, because at that particular moment, that young girl is not your daughter, but a KUMARI, The Devi herself manifested."

When I mention about this Kumari pooja to several friends in Singapore, they wants to perform the pooja but don't know what is the significant and rationale for the pooja. The same with reciting the mantras. You not only have to recite it correctly, but to understand the meaning, the significant and the visualization that comes with it, only then the Mantra comes alive.

There are many poojas. The Cakra/khadgamala pooja, the sumangali pooja etc. There are many, and Kumari Pooja is one of the many. Is it for everybody? No. It is not. For some, they may benefit from the Pooja while others may have no effect at all, perhaps they don't need it at all. Just like any other ritual, as I see it, its one of the tools, we use to get ourselves near to DEVIHOOD.

Like Sex too. How often people are being deluded to think and associate SEX and DEVI. When you mention Devi as Lover immediately they think about SEX and DEVI.

One guy gave me an example "it's like beer advertisement. It's the association. Like Carlsberg beer. They associate a sexy girl with the beer. In the end you buy the beer and not the sexy girl. The add company is using a motivator to induce a person to drink beer. Like Shakti using sex to create a more profound love. I also think that love is also a motivator. At a very high stage even love disappears. Shakti will loose its association. So does love, it will be neither good nor evil, male not female, love nor hate. All association will be lost. But it is a powerful motivator. It will be there until the very high stage in spirituality. If you associate good thing with Devi (food, music, or anything nice with Devi with Devi it will create a positive association with Devi). Not necessary Sex. Sex is an illusion. But look what happens, the beer sales go up. It was a subliminal motivator. Maybe it can be applied to spirituality as well. A powerful motivator until you looses the association and concentrate only on spirituality. This theory is from the theory of classical conditioning"

But as I'm told Sex is one of the tools, not the motivator. That is how all this Tantric Sex gets all blown out into proportion. When you talk about Tantric immediately people associated it with Sex. Why because SEX sells. You want to sell a car, to get attention from people esp. men; you put a sexy lady there. You want to sell beer, you put a scantly dress lady up there, you are sure to get the attention. It's more of an exploitation of Men's weakness.

Len Rosenberg
Your daughter acted as the Kumari for a Kumari Puja? I've read that in Nepal, the girls who portray the Kumari are seen as unlucky for men, and frequently they cannot get married. I hope your daughter will not be so treated!

Janardana Dasa
I also heard that as well, amongst a few other things.

sankara menon
Thats only in the Nepali tradition.

Mary Ann
Nora: Interesting to bow to your daughter as Kumari. It reminds me of that painting I put a link on board to recently, Messenger in the Wind, and the 4th grade girl's interpretation of the painting: Humans need to treat their babies better.

At first, I interpreted the painting only as a sign to be aware of certain energies and not disrespect them. That is, to recognize powerful energy (electrical) lines, not to disregard out of blind hope or wishing things were a certain way, thinking that you can magically make a difference without a true understanding of the energy lines. To act without understanding or awareness could cause pain, shock, injury, even death. So, I saw the angel above the power lines as saying: Don't hurt each other with your power, and avoid those who would.

However, this week, it occurred to me to interpret it as crossing power lines. The angel in the painting has a message that she is carrying across power lines - meaning that the usual power structure, such as in parent-child relationships, teacher-student relations, employer-employee relations, etc. needs to be flexible enough to allow for the child's awareness to be respected and recognized as knowledge in its own right, which can also teach the parent. Just as students often teach the teacher - if the teacher is not trapped in their ego with incorrect notions about power. Same with employers/employees - if people don't buy into ego trips about position, they will recognize and utilize talent, ideas, etc. for the benefit of all in the company (and the world) rather than treat people badly and exploit, etc.

I am saying that Devi can be worhsipped in male form, and Shiva in female form, and that doing this would be beneficial because it would help people let go of wrong ideas about form. As Len pointed out, wrong ideas about form create biases that make it illegal for two people who are not physically one man and one woman to marry. And not only can they not marry, there is so much bias against them in life, and imagine if your very love center was not free. You can imagine this because that center of love isn't free until power lines can be safely crossed, information recognized and respected, a la Messenger in the Wind.

Why would Kumari be seen as not beneficial to men? Some mistaken notion about power, perhaps -- that the Kumari can symbolize moving out of false ideas about power and into true ones, and yes, this move would change traditional concepts of marriage, and traditional ways of understanding what or how something is "beneficial."

buttercookie wrote:Nora: Interesting to bow to your daughter as Kumari. I am saying that Devi can be worhsipped in male form, and Shiva in female form, and that doing this would be beneficial because it would help people let go of wrong ideas about form"

Read again : I am told, at that particular moment in time, she is not your daughter but a Kumari.

kalipadma108 wrote: Your daughter acted as the Kumari for a Kumari Puja? I've read that in Nepal, the girls who portray the Kumari are seen as unlucky for men, and frequently they cannot get married. I hope your daughter will not be so treated!

But that is in Nepal. I think [ based on the historical information about this Kumari legend ], the Kumari as we are talking here is different than the Nepalese Kumari.

This whole idea of unlucky and lucky to me its just a state of mind. I as a mother personally felt blessed when my daughter being approach. Because to us she is also Devi send. Dont we all consider our children as divine blessings. So how can it be unlucky, if the children represents the divine itself.

Back to my daughter, after the whole ceremony, she is no different. She is still the child we love, the child that have bring a lot of joy and happiness. She even forgot about that short moment when she is the kumari. As if that never happen before. Interesting isnt it. Perhaps that is what they meant by this innocent and purity. The mind does not hang on to this idea " hey! I became the kumari that day, and as such I am special and so, I should be treated special". If any of you think, I have influence my daughter to take that role. My answer is No. My husband and me did not force our daughter. We explain to her what the whole thing is all about, and she happily agreed telling us "today I will be a Kumari. I am Amman". That is what I called : The innocence of a pure mind : The Kumari.

Janardana Dasa
I am not trying to come out of left field, nor really trying to take a dig at you; this is just a thought:

Respectfully, I think that you are making this a little more complicated than what it actually is. This is simply an age old tradition of worship that we are describing here. We have to be careful not to fall into the "Western orientalist" scholar mode of trying to transpose/impose Western views, thinking, symbolism and interpretation on the sacred as expressed through the eternal Vedas. This type of thought (Vedic/Puranic) is something that is totally foreign to, and beyond the ken of normal western thinking.

It is interesting to note that it is only in the Hindu religion that people even really do this where it is widely accepted and tolerated. The Mohammedans don't speculate about the sacred like that as expressed in the Koran, nor do the Buddhist believers as of late (vis a vis their new found political power-Dali Lama et al; and the Christians and Jews surely don't hardly much entertain complicated speculation about what they hold as sacred) without some kind of uproar. But the Hindus always grin and bear it under the guise of tolerance and such.

Since the "Orientalist" scholars Max Muller, Julius Jolly, et al., this kind of stuff (interpretative speculation) has been going on, and has somewhat convoluted and biased the western mind and such about the Hindu religion and rituals in general, by imposition of psuedo-sexual or freudian symbolism (i.e. Emory University's Dr John Courtright and his Ganesha sex symbolism; Jeffrey Kripal's sexually blasphemous work about Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, "Kali's Child", as examples).

There is an emerging trend away from this, as Hindus or "practitioners of SANATANA DHARMA" become more aware of how the "western scholarly" world has been painting them since the British Raj. Observe how in the universities all of the Bhuddist, Muslim, Jewish and Christian Scholars are just that: Bhuddist, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian. They therefore can somewhat steer their religion's image and present a PROPER UNDERSTANDING of it to those that are not that, lest there be an uproar. But, on the flipside to say that a person has no voice or understanding about a religion because they are not that, is ALSO presumptious and is not the answer either. Just a thought and observation.

Mary Ann
Well, I was attempting to experience something transformative from contemplating the Kumari ritual and from Nora having shared her experience - and I succeeded, for me. But I can see that my post certainly did not speak to or for all others here at Shakti Sadhana. But that's why there's more than one member of the group, and more than one voice in the world - so we can all speak and post!

I am not familiar with any of the authors or scholars you refer to, so I don't think I'm falling into the particular trap you describe, though I do know what you mean. But there ARE western scholars that question western religions. People like Matthew Fox, for example. Here's a little blurb:

"Matthew Fox is author of 26 books including "Original Blessing," "The Reinvention of Work," "Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet," "One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths," "A Spirituality Named Compassion" and his most recent "A New Reformation!." He was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years. He holds a doctorate (received summa cum laude) in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris.

Seeking to establish a pedagogy that was friendly to learning spirituality, he established an Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality that operated for seven years at Mundelein College in Chicago and twelve years at Holy Names College in Oakland. For ten of those years at Holy Names College Cardinal Ratzinger, as chief Inquisitor and head of the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith (called the Office of the Holy Inquisition until 1965), tried to shut the program down. Ratzinger silenced Fox for one year in 1988 and forced him to step down as director. Three years later he expelled Fox from the Order and then had the program terminated at Holy Names College."

I'm not a "follower" of Matthew Fox's, but I have been impressed by what I have learned of his work.

I don't have your perspective, being a different person from a different place; I have my perspective. But I don't agree that there is such a huge gap between East and West. Why Amma and Deepak Chopra speak to me is that they each recognize and celebrate what we have in common from East to West, rather than focusing on that which keeps us apart. BTW I believe Amma's spiritual practice is called SANATANA DHARMA, though Amma is non-denominational and welcomes all.

My on-board explorations and articulations are just me tuning my koshas, getting them to work together better.

Janardana Dasa
I understand, as you are correct in that AMMACHI practices true SANTANA DHARMA. Technically speaking there is no such thing as HINDUISM per se. The term Hinduism always denotes in the mind of Westerners and most Indians a religious phenomena only associated with India; this idea is not true. Hence, Sanatana Dharma, its proper name, is indeed preferable, as it denotes a WORLDWIDE PHENOMENA. Many Indians don't realize that by not using Sanatana Dharma, and by using the term Hinduism, they are limiting their religion to such a local scale, (i.e. india and the diaspora, Fiji, et al.) and are indeed limiting the greatness of their religion. It is about time that Hinduism stops being the door mat of the worlds religions and take on the much tougher attitude of the other world religions. I really feel its starting to happen now.

Christians don't limit Christianity to the Holy Land, Mohammadens don't limit Islam to Saudi Arabia! Actually, Muslims will always dive at the chance to export Islamic culture and Arabic to any place that is receptive! Interesting to note that In many parts of Nigeria they are following Arabic culture to the T! Why shouldn't "HINDUS" think the same way?

I also know about Matthew Fox and his Liberation Theology. Sorry to stray from the subject, just some musings.

For those interested in or curious about the Nepali tradition--I ran across this nicely detailed essay yesterday. It includes some interesting quotes from former (Nepali) Kumaris.


Len Rosenberg
The Nepali Kumari tradition sets off a whole lot of alarms for me. The lack of education offered to these girls is appalling. I am a devotee of Saraswati; one would hope that the Kumaris were given an exposure to great literature, music and theater while they reigned-- apparently not.

I had an aquaintance who sold beautiful custom made bronze murthies that he commissioned from Newari artisans. I was surprised to learn that the Newaris refused to make murthies of Kali Ma; my friend said they were afraid of Kali, and would not keep her image anywhere.

Neglecting Saraswati, and fearful of Kali? I need to have a word with these Newari Hindus!

(The Kumaris are dressed in, and painted with red colors -- sacred to Lakshmi and Durga. If the Newaris more honored Saraswati and Kali, I suppose that the girls would also be allowed to wear white and black.)

sankara menon
buttercookie61 wrote:I think it would also be beneficial for the roles to be interchangeable between male and female, rather than one always representing Bhairava, one always representing Kumari. This would be in keeping with Ardhanarashwari/a, it would seem.

In what way "benificial" please?? what is the purpose thats supposed to be achieved by this interchange. I am confused :( Can you elaborate on the benifits achieved by this?

Mary Ann

Beneficial because it would mean that men would begin to experience the other half of their own beings, instead of projecting that onto women, and then attempting to control women externally through religious rites and rules, denial of educational opportunities, political maneuvering, rape, even standards of beauty. I think both women and men have been locked in traditions in their relations with each other, and their views of themselves, that are not beneficial to humanity or to the planet.

To supplement my answer, I would like to offer the following words from Amma's booklet The Awakening of Universal Motherhood. I hope this explains what I mean well enough for you, Kochu. Let me know if you still do not understand my meaning.

"Men normally believe in muscle power. On a superficial level they see women as their mothers, wives, sisters. But there is no need to hide the fact that, on a deeper level, men still have a great deal of resistance to properly understanding, accepting, and recognizing women and the feminine aspect of life."

"There is a man in the inner depths of every woman, and a woman in the inner depths of every man. This truth dawned in the meditation of the great saints and seers eons ago. This is what the Ardhanariswara (half God and half Goddess) concept in the Hindu faith signifies. Whether you are a woman or a man, your real humanity will come to light only when the feminine and masculine qualities within you are balanced.

Men have also suffered greatly as a result of the exile of the feminine principle from the world. Because of the oppression of women and the suppression of the feminine aspect within men, men's lives have become fragmented, often painful. Men, too, have to awaken to their feminine qualities. They have to develop empathy and understanding in their attitude towards women, and in the way they relate to the world."

"The rules and superstitious beliefs that degrade women continue to prevail in most countries. The primitive customs invented by men in the past to exploit and to subjugate women remain alive to this day. Women and their minds have become entangled in the cobweb of those customs. They have been hypnotized by their own minds. ...

Look at an elephant. It can uproot huge trees with its trunk. When an elephant living in captivity is still a baby, it is tied to a tree with a strong rope or chain. Because it is the nature of elephants to roam free, the baby elephant instinctively tries with all its might to break the rope. But it isn't strong enough to do so. Realizing its efforts are of no use, it finally gives up and stops struggling. Later, when the elephant is fully grown, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope. It could then easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it doesn't make the slightest attempt to break free."

"Anyone--man or woman--who has the courage to overcome the limitations of the mind can attain the state of universal motherhood. The love of awakened motherhood is the love and compassion felt not only towards one's own children, but towards all people, animals and plants, rocks and rivers--a love extended to al of nature, all beings. ... This love...is Divine Love--and that is God."

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