Ambubachi: Celebrating the Menstruation of Mother Earth

It’s difficult to make your way through the bustling crowds at the normally serene Kamakhya temple in Assam during Ambubachi Mela. MAA’s energy is wild and potent, and She is alive in the palpable energy that pulses through the throngs of Her devotees gathered outside Her temple. Almost every square inch of the grounds is covered with crimson-clad devotees who sing, chant, meditate and shout their devotion to the Divine Mother, positioning themselves just outside Her most holy shrine during the time of Her annual menstruation.

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Ambubachi at Sri Sri Kamakhya Temple: Religious and Socio-Cultural Aspects

In the month of Ashara (Sanskrit: Ashadha, Hindi: Ashadh), when the Sun is in the house of Mithuna Rasi and steps into the first pada of the constellation Adra, after Mrigasira, the period of Ambubachi commences and continues until the fourth day. Mother Earth is said to enter the period of menstruation in this time.

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Who is Kali?

Kali is often spoken of as the goddess of destruction, or of time, and there is truth to these descriptions, mythologically and linguistically speaking. While these simplified terms can be helpful when trying to apply the mythological stories and lessons of Kali psychologically to whatever we might be facing in life, ultimately these are just very simple ways of speaking and thinking about her, and don’t even begin to scratch the surface.

So I want to urge you for a moment to stop thinking about Kali as the sword-wielding, black-skinned goddess wearing a skirt of severed arms and a garland of heads. Just for a moment, let’s think about her differently.

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The importance of pure devotion

Devotion, along with humility and compassion, is one of the greatest tools and biggest allies on the Tantric path. The Manthanabhairavatantra Siddhakhandah declares:

Devotion (is of three kinds, namely, devotion) to the Transmission, devotion to the teacher, and devotion here to the teaching itself. Devotion is power and the Transmission is transmitted by power. Speech is transmitted from the Transmission and the Command operates by Speech. Devotion is liberation that beholds the end of the Transmental.

– MBT, SKh 4:36-7. Translated by M. Dyczkowski.

There is a lot going on in this statement – but what I want to focus on is the necessity of devotion on the Tantric path.

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Bhadrakali and the Tantric Path of Transformation (Kalikapurana)

“In the earlier age, during the period of Svayambhuva, in the beginning of Krtayuga, the goddess who is known as Mahamaya, Yoganidra, Jagaddhatri, and Jaganmayi, assuming a mighty figure with sixteen arms, renowned by the name Bhadrakali (appeared) on the northern shore of the Milk Ocean with a view to destroy Mahishasura and with a desire to do good to the world. Continue reading »

Sarasvati: Celebrating She Who Continuously Flows

Sarasvati Puja is the day that celebrates the Mother of knowledge, learning, music, the arts, and language. Sarasvati (or Saraswati) is literally “she who continuously flows,” and as Vak is the the divine voice that created the universe in the Rg Veda, the ultimate power of divine speech itself. Sarasvati was also a divine river of the Vedas that provided food, water, and sustenance. Her esoteric form is Matangi, the Mahavidya of inner knowledge and hidden wisdom. As the Mother of speech and language, she is the mother of all mantras, as she created language as a vehicle for divine power.

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