Compassion on the Tantric Path

Compassion is an oft-overlooked yet vital part of the Hindu and Tantric path toward personal happiness and liberation. In the Devi Mahatmyam, the Gods praise Mahadevi (literally, the Great Goddess) in all Her forms with a famous and powerful hymn called the Devi Suktam. One of the verses from the hymn praises Her as compassion (daya):

ya devi sarvabhutesu dayarupena samsthita |
namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo namah ||

Devi Mahatmyam 5.65-67: To that Goddess who exists in all things as the form of compassion, I adore her, I adore her, I adore her, again and again!

The Goddess is compassion, She is manifested in all things as compassion. What does this mean in a real day-to-day sense?

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Mother Accepts All Sincere Worship

“When offerings are made in worship, with or without proper knowledge, I will receive them gladly, and also the fire offerings made in a similar way.”

Devi Mahatmyam 12.11

In this verse from the twelfth chapter of Devi Mahatmyam (also Chandi Path or simply the Chandi), the Goddess tells us that She accepts all worship, regardless of whether it is performed with proper knowledge. What is proper knowledge? The “right” mantras, the “right” procedures, the “right” pronunciation, the “right” gestures, the “right” understanding. There is another kind of “right” understanding, which is quite personal and flows from pure devotion.

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Kali: Mother of Time

KALI is the Mother of Time. One of the meanings of the word “Kala,” the root of Kali’s name, is “time.”

Time is something we can’t conquer as humans. No matter how strong, wealthy, or clever we are, time devours us in the end. It comes for us relentlessly, devouring our lives as children, as adults in middle age, and finally devours life itself in our old age when we die. But Kali devours time itself – She is beyond time.

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Mahiṣamārdinī Stotra

The Mahishamardini Stotra, from the Kulachudamani Tantra, is a beautiful hymn meant to be recited by the sadhaka (Tantric practitioner) to glorify Devi. In this hymn, the violent struggle represents the struggle within, the necessary battle with ahamkara, literally the “I-maker,” and often referred to simply as the ego. It is that function of the mind which creates the illusion of separateness. The ego is a wily creature, constantly taking on different forms, as the buffalo demon Mahishasura does in the mythology. But step for step, Chandi (Durga, Mahamaya, Mahadevi) transforms along with him, chasing right behind him and outwitting the demon at every turn, until she finally defeats him with a stroke of Her sword.

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