Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Uma Haimavati

Once upon a time, it is said, long before history was recorded, there lived a young female ascetic. We know very little of that young woman, except what we can surmise through writings in ancient books of lore that were recorded many centuries, perhaps millennia, after she walked on this earth. Perhaps not knowing her familial identity, texts of ancient lore have called her Parvati (Daughter of the Mountain) or Haimavati (Daughter of the Himalayas) after the mountains where she is thought to have lived and meditated.

Otherwise known as Uma, there is a real possibility that this young female ascetic was a historic figure from many millennia ago. While the name Uma can signify golden light, it is according to sacred knowledge, a restructuring of the holy syllable AUM. In certain schools of thought, AUM is Shakti representing the three conditions of the self and the phenomenal world, and the half-syllable of silence that follows is Shiva, the unconditioned, the Fourth (Turiya). By her very name, therefore, Uma Haimavati has been identified with Shakti, the Mother of all existence. Little surprise then that in Her form as Parvati, the Divine Mother attains and unites with Her Beloved, the Divine Father!

Though we know very little about the ascetic Uma, we can conjecture that if and when she lived, she was a sage of extraordinary spiritual accomplishment. In the extant canon of the holy Veda, we find Uma Haimavati's name mentioned in a narration contained within the Kena Upanishad (III.12-IV.1). Here, when the Deities of the earth (Agni), atmosphere (Vayu) and heaven (Indra) seek and fail to understand the Supreme Brahman, they find a beautiful, radiant figure of Uma who enlightens them. By the time of the composition of the Kena Upanishad, one can surmise that Uma was already a sage of great renown.

Had her great teachings been recorded, they would without doubt have been identical to those found in the Devi Gita of the Devi Bhagavatam, a puranic text that was realized in Bengal in the first millennium of the common era.

Brahman (is) free from all passions and parts
(Manifest externally) as the highest Golden Sheath (Hiranyagarbha).
That is pure, That is the highest of Lights,
It is that which the knowers of Atman know.
He is even in the centre of our Sun and illumining all planets.
The Sun does not shine there in His Presence nor the Moon and the stars
Nor lightning, and much less does this fire shine there.
When He shines, everything shines after Him;
By His Light all this becomes manifest.
The eternally Free is verily this Brahman only.
He is in the west, in the north and the south, in the zenith and the nadir.
The Brahman alone is; it is He who pervades all directions.
This Brahman alone is it who pervades,
This Brahman alone is the Fullness.
This Brahman is the highest.
Srimad Devi Bhagavatam,
Book 7 (Devi Gita):36:12-14

Before Radha or Mira, before Andal or Janabai, before Mahadevi Akka or Lalleshvari, before Karikal Ammaiyar or Rup Bhavani, perhaps even before Vag Ambhrini and Gargi Vacaknavi, there was the immortal yogini, Uma Haimavati, the foremost of female ascetics and the teacher of the Supreme Eternal.

Aum Namah Shivaya.
Agnideva © 2011. All rights reserved. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Great Realizations

As if struck by lightning, great realizations in this world occur suddenly, in a rapid flash. Without rhyme or reason, realizations descend upon us, but not without having dwelt upon the subject for many-a-year. So it is said that great scientists of our world as with the great philosophers came upon their grand conclusions in just such moments. While we presently live in a dichotomous world – one which separates out science from spirituality, intuition from evidence, realized truths from demonstrable truths – in the realm of consciousness the two are not, and have never been, separate or mutually exclusive. But, why is it that the great men and women have come upon answers to queries greater than themselves merely by thought and simple observations that defy all others?

In the grand Shaiva-Shakta traditions of Sanatana Dharma all of reality exists, so to speak, but in thought. There is no reality without thought and no thought without reality. Is it possible to have a knower without something to know? Conversely, is it possible to have something to know without a knower? Reality is but a word to describe consciousness and its activity. What activity? Self-reflective activity. What self? The Self-Divine. When we go into deep thought, whether scientific or spiritual, or meditative states, we too are tapping into that activity, of which we are but a part. It is this self-reflective activity that gives birth to both the knower and the known. It is She who is called Shiva’s Shakti, the Mother of the Universe. Knowing Her, we come to know all things, as She is the nature of all things, all phenomenon, all conditioned reality.

Is it then surprising that all great thinkers of this world have come upon timeless truths about the phenomenal or spiritual world, as their goal may be? It is so surprising then that truths of the world are simple and intuitive? Every time a great being uncovers a profound mathematical equation describing the universe or unveils a hidden grand theory of physics, cosmic or subatomic, he or she is but ushering humanity into a deeper level of the spiritual. Shakti is especially strong among the scientifically-minded!

Unto the feet of the Divine Mother, who is but Shiva, we offer our hearts, minds and souls. 

Aum Namah Shivaya.
Agnideva © 2011. All rights reserved. 

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