A TALE OF HONOURING
“This will be a three day ritual initiation,
A rite of passage from the equinox
moving into nature’s introversion
We will ritualsticly
honour the mensturation of the Goddess
For three nights
We will work with the very fuel
of the Tantric journey, that is: Desire.
The unconscious bindings
are mirrored in the physical and psychic worlds,
by the object of desire
Kamakhya is the Goddess of desire
She is at the essence of all desires
Those who seek the Goddess,
undertake Tantric pilgrimage
across landscapes both inner and outer
to receive the blessing of Kamakhya.”
The story of Kamakhya goes that there was once a king who worshiped the Goddess Adiparashakti. She represents the originalpure feminine essence. Adi means origin, Para means beyond, and Shakti means Goddess or power.
By his yogic austerity the king was able to call forth the Goddess who granted him a wish. He wished that she would take birth in human form as his own daughter.
Adiparashakti agreed to this on the condition that she be honoured in whatever she did. She said that if she were ever insulted by him then she would take up her spiritual form and abandon him.
This symbolism reveals how the Feminine must be honoured and allowed her freedom if she is to give her blessing and being, and if she ever be dishonoured then she no longer can exist, it shows how the Feminine must stand for itself and can only give her presence where it is received in its entirety.
The Tantric quest is the seeking to nurture the ground, so that it’s a fertile place for Shakti to grow and bloom.
The birth of Adipatashakti on earth represents the manifestation of the feminine on the earth plane. In time the daughter was born and named Sati. Being the manifestation of the Goddess she sought union with a God and she only found this manifest in one rare man. This man was Shiva, who was her equal opposite
However Shiva was ascetic, reclusive and remote. He was too austere and beyond any interest in human affairs.
Adiparashakti had come down from the spiritual world to the human manifest level, Shiva stood in the human world but travelled far beyond into the spiritual dimensions. They were opposite poles..
Nothing that Sati could do would grab Shiva’s attention.
Shiva lived in the mountains, occupying a small cave from where he was transported to the realms beyond the human during his states of Samadhi.
As a human Shiva was cold and disinterested, but Sati had as her mission to bring the masculine divine quality to earth to join her in the dance of Shakti and Shiva.
And indeed the Tandav dance did begin through her efforts to unite, as we shall soon see.
Once Sati entered Shiva’s cave with her full femininity on display, but the austere sage did not shift from his concentration.
Shiva’s Yog was so concentrated that he was far away from human sentiments.
Sati hatched a plan and summoned Kama, the raw force (and god) of Desire.
Kama swept into the cave, certain to arouse the interest and passion of the ascetic Shiva.
Usually the mere fragrance exuded by Kama would be sufficient to arouse desire in the most ardent ascetic, but Shiva was so far beyond the human, he perpetually dwelt in Adiparaparush (the great soul beyond). So Kama resorted to his sugarcane bow and magical arrows and shot Shiva with five of them.
Kama’s arrows represent the desire of the 5 terrestrial Chakras of the body. The upper two centres in the head are the abode of Shiva and are portals beyond the terrestrial world. Each of the 5 bodily arrows is represented a flower.
The first arrow that Kama shot Shiva with was a Lotus and represents the Base Chakra. Having struck Shiva in the Mooladar Chakra it had no effect.
The second arrow was the Asoka flower, the tree of which is sacred to Kamakhya. It is a fragrance connected to the second chakra, the Shaktistan Chakra, and Kama shot the arrow straight in Shiva’s lingam, but again it had no effect.
The third flower was a Mango flower, representing the desire of the Solar Plexus. Yet shooting Shiva in the Manipurchakra did nothing to awaken Shiva from his Samhadi.
Next Kama shot the Jasmine flower straight into the Heart Chakra, which again caused not any reaction in Shiva.
Kama drew out the Blue Lotus flower and aimed it at Shiva’s throat. The Blue Lotus had never failed to arouse desires, but it failed on Shiva.
Having failed for the first time ever, Kama’s two wives stepped up to the task. Rati and Priti, each one representing pleasure and longing.
Caressing Shivas half naked body Rati was surprised she could not get a reaction out of the ascetic yogi. So Priti stepped forward and put the palm of her left hand across Shivas heart.
The longing found its way into Shiva’s Heart Chakra.
In the space between the beats the longing entered inside Shiva’s heart.
This brought Shiva out of his Samadhi for a short moment, during which he opened his third eye and cast a burning gaze upon Kama, burning him to a crisp in flames of rage, and reducing him to ashes.
Kama (desire) was no more and creation was in peril, yet Shiva refused to concern himself with such matters.
Sati wept tears, believing she would never know union, and wandered why she had ever come down to the manifested plane from her Adiparashakti form.
Shiva proved cold as ice in the Himalayan abode upon his seat of snow. Yet, as he heard the tears of Adiparashakti (the essence of woman beyond the visible) he began to melt from his immovable Samadhi and the Adiparaparush awoke on the earth plane to find Union with Adiparashakti.
The meeting and union of opposites is finally expressed and all was brought to fulfilment.
Sati implored Shiva to restore Kama to life for the longing without desire is the deepest form of sorrow: the state of Pardesi meaning the ultimate lostness.
Shiva promises it to be done and in due course and it is.
But first he must suffer the curse of Pardesi himself, as we shall soon see.
The one who longs with no object of desire.
There are various ways the story can be told, but the basic detail is that Sati brought Shiva to her father who could not accept this wild untamed creature who stood outside of royal convention – a yogi half naked with matted hair and a mysterious unfathomable aura that intimidated the King.
A fight ensued and Sati felt deeply insulted by her father who became possessed by anger and broke the promise of honouring his daughter.
True to her promise of staying only if honoured, Adiparashakti departed and left her physical form. The body of Sati fell to the flames and into the ritual fire that was meant to mark the divine marriage.
As the Goddess departed she cursed the fire and the masculine element of light to never be able to show the way alone. She returned to the original void that is the dark womb of the Goddess from whence she came.
This curse reveals how the masculine fire element should not burn so bright as to make the Feminine invisible or incinerated.
Interestingly, the chief mode of worship amongst the Male lineages in orthodox Indian religion has been the ritual fire. For the Tantrics, orthodox convention means very little and many orthodox taboos are traversed in giving honour and balance to the Feminine within Tantric lines.
The story could end there but the longing of Shiva had been aroused and he became maddened by the events. He took Sati’s burned body and wouldn’t let go of it. He becomes a lost wanderer roaming in longing endlessly. Full longing with no place for his desire, Shiva went half mad with rage and begun the dance of Tandav.
The Dance of Tandav, comprises 108 yogic moves that when put together become a dance. They are very vigorous dynamic moves practiced carefully and secretly by tantrics.
Rudra is the howling, raging form of Shiva. the Rudra Tandav is a Hatha Yog practice that brings latent subconscious anger into motion. Tantrics dance it at the time of Kamakhya Puja.
Shiva’s rage was so great it left his body as he tore out his jatta (matted hair) from whence two fierce forms rose and wreaked further destruction: Bhadra Kali and Veer Bhadra. These represent ‘rage’ and ‘pain’ so deep that they tear the soul apart. Together they form the male and female destructive forces known as Manobadra. They are the pinnacle of destructive polarities within the soul.
When the situation goes so far as to bring Manobadra forth, there is little hope for balance, for they both seek the Mana Pralaya, which means the utter annihilation and dissolution of life.
Veera Bhadra sliced off the head of Sati’s father and Bhadra Kali sunkher teeth into it and consumed it with several crunches.
The gaze of the Manobhadra fell on the body and caused the headless father to run amok in the worst state of suffering a soul can ever know.
Shiva danced so long that he became Bhairav, his most terrifying form. The dance of destruction was near to consuming all of creation and there seemed to be no way back.
The rotting body of Sati was flung around the mountains, parts of it falling on 108 places. These 108 places are the Shakti Peeths where there temples of the Goddess can now be found.
Orthodox tradition recognises only 51 of these temples, but the Tantrics know of the lesser known ones which compromise 108 in all. They are places of power that relate to points of magnetism on the earth plane. One can experience profundities by simply being there.
Some of the Shakti Peeths are dangerous to go to if unprepared, as the magnetism and energy there can overstimulate the system. The spirits at these places can be very strong and require ritual to prepare for or the guidance of a siddha.
Hence the secrecy surrounding many of these temples.
The main Kamakhya Tempe is a Shakti Peeth, where the Yoni and womb of the Goddess Sati landed as Shiva danced the Tandava.
The Kamakhya Tempe closes its doors with the first days of the darkening halfbof the year and honours the Feminine rhythm of nature.
It closes for the three days in a year that are the bleeding of Kamakhya. This is the menstruation of nature after the longest day of solstice bleeds into darkening nights, the lengthening nights become the menstrual flow of nature. The temple is in the hands of priests as the orthodox religion is high class and male driven
Tantric legend says that one day it will go to the hands of women shamans and be reversed so as to open in the night time hours instead of the day.
The temple seems small but it is very deep and extends far underground with many secret chambers. Little is known about this side of the temple and those priests who work rituals there are able to obtain siddhi (powers) such as to extend the life beyond the standard measure as the influx of energy is profound in the temple.
There is a stone yoni upon which a natural spring pours.
It is said that the water turns to blood at the time of the menstruation of the Kamakhya festival.
The river surrounding the temple known as the Brahmaputra river magically turns red for the three days that the temple is closed. It is said to be the menses of Kamakhya.
And so the Story continues, Shiva’s Tandav was so extreme that it broke the boundaries of the physical world and tore the fabric of reality, taking its destructive hunger into the spiritual worlds. Shiva was burning and becoming himself the accursed fire. His suffering and rage were beyond measure. As the dance continued for endless ages the headless father in his torture pleaded to Adiparashakti for her mercy for breaking his oath as a father. His suffering was so great but he could not even scream it out.
Adiparashakti watched from beyond the veils. She still longed for Union as it was in her nature, being the force of nature, that she was. She therefore took birth once again as Pharbhati, the daughter and sacred light of the mountains, and in the coldest regions she prayed intensely that she could ground the full Adiparashakti force upon the Earth-plane.
Fearlessly she went to the crazed Shiva and sat upon his lingam and in her ice coldness she appeased the fire of suffering. The story then found completion as the polarities between and beyond the manifest, unified in all ways.
Kama was brought back to life as Shiva had promised. Desire and longing united and healed the soul. Some even say the headless father was redheaded. Others say he can still be seen running amok and headless.
Through the Union of Shiva and Adiparashakti, order was restored.
The Manobhadra melted away as Love grew.
The Garden bloomed once more with magical flowers.