Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Depictions and Contradictions

Durga Puja just passed. It has always been a time for celebration in my life. As until now, the festival denoted a long trip back home. However that was not to be this time around. So the festivities were carried out largely in Mumbai and i must thank my Bong-o-bondhus :D for the same. After a delicious traditional meal, when we laid back chatting, an interesting topic came into foray for discussing and delving upon, the origin of Mata Durga !!

I wasnt an expert on hindu mythology, but knew my ramayanas and mahabharatas wid elan though !!! The stories we listen to during our growing years remain with us somehow and that forms a base for all answers we ask at later stages in life. Thats what i found out, after the discussion, which was healthy, though took a wild turn midway and some heat to go with !! There were two schools of thought. It all started with one statement. My friend said that Durga is Lord Shiva's wife. I disagreed with him. My point was Durga was actually derived from a divine source, long since the hindu's have identified and worshipped as "Shakti" or energy, to complete a particular task (killing Mahishasur the demon God), and she was the divine answer to all the prayers of Devas (the immortal Gods).

However somehow it is also allusioned that she was a fiercer form of Parvati, Shiva's original wife (Wikipedia mentions it and i disagree). My arguement was, keeping Shakti above all, Durga and Parvati might be considered as two tangents drawn from a single point, but they arent one alike. They are parallels, and a third and more fiercer depiction is Goddess Kali, who is denoted with Destruction, Time and the eternal Change phenomena. Now would you consider all the three to be one self ??? Is the answer, "Yes", because the source is the same??

My friend brought in a different facet now.

He said the whole transition and dual self can be compared to the Spiderman-Peter Parker's contrast. You will have to say, Spiderman is Mary Jane's boyfriend. Isnt it ?? They are the same person, end of the day.

I begged to differ. Peter Parker knows when he is Spiderman and Spiderman knows he is originally Peter Parker. Firstly this situation is that of the same person doing two roles. My justification is about completely different entities (Parvati, Durga, Kali) bound only by a single source - Shakti !!! Even if i am to overlook that, a change of form is a change in the person itself !!

Hence there is no recollection of any event or activity concerning another life (also refer to the schizophrenic effect of Niki Sanders in the earlier episodes of "Heroes").

There was a big justification awaiting to counter this idea of mine. My friend sure had decided to hit the nail at the right spot.

He asked me to recollect the most famous image of kali. I did (am putting the image below, for a clearer idea).
He said the image mentions the time when Kali went berserk with killing, and nobody could stop her. Finally the Devas pleaded with Lord Shiva to stop her as he was her husband. Shiva lay dead on her way, and Kali has her tongue coming coming out, because of surprise and coyness for having stepped on her husband's body (an act of sacrilege according to Hindu customs).
This was truly what was told to us as a part of the regular dosage of childhood mythologies, and i even believed in the same. However there were more points to contradict the same too.
The blood red tongue, which has resulted from Kali drinking the blood of demons, protrudes more than one would do as a result of coyness or an acceptance of surprise while commiting a mistake. In ancient texts references are drawn out for this position - mudra, as mentioned, that Kali here, gives a true depiction of the "Khachari Mudra", a stance which defies time (Kaal) and Space (Shiva himself). Hence, she protrudes her tongue not as a sign of surprise but because of her tremendous confidence in her self. She commands respect and fear and with this act wants to signify the importance of her supreme being. Allusions are also pointed towards this sign denoting death of the human individual ego.
The discussion ended though the topic is still debatable. I believe even now, Hindu Mythology is open ended. Finite conclusions can be drawn but alternate suggestions can never be negated.
A final touch to the topic, would be quoting Ramprasad Sen, a Kali devotee, in a poem where he mentions the complete contradiction of Kali's image to that of a mother, as she is nothing like what a mother should be expected to be:
"Can mercy be found in the heart of her who was born of the stone? [a reference to Kali as the daughter of Himalaya]
Were she not merciless, would she kick the breast of her lord?
Men call you merciful, but there is no trace of mercy in you, Mother.
You have cut off the heads of the children of others, and these you wear as a garland around your neck.
It matters not how much I call you "Mother, Mother." You hear me, but you will not listen."


  1. ahem ahem
    nice write,,, again echoing ur blog i dont agree with wiki and to the fact that maa durga is the wife of lord shiva.,,
    and nice touch at the end.

    p.s. Niki Sanders I ask you!!!!

  2. geez...thanks Sanket...point taken!!

    P.S - Niki Sanders !!!! Amazing naa?