This Madhubani drawing is one of my more popular pins on my Pinterest board, Madhubani Folk Art. When I clicked through to find its source, I landed on Google Search and its brief description said, the goddess Devi or Kala. Or, did the person mean Kali? Because Kala would have meant she is the goddess of time. So who is she really?
Well, whether goddess Devi, Kala, or Kali, there has to be reason for it being so popular to be re-pinned and seen so many times. And I believe it’s because we hold her as a symbol of the highest spiritual attainment for us ladies. But the men, too, if you remember Sri Ramakrishna who would beg for mother Kali to show herself to him. However, I have always found mother Kali and the usual representation of her rather scary, as can be seen in the picture below.
What about goddess Kala who is said to be the 7th incarnation of goddess Durga? Well, here she is and she is even more fiercesome!
Let’s go to mother Gayatri, the supreme goddess of all the goddesses. “She who is Gayatri of the Gayatri Mantra” which I hear often on one of my CDs – The Gayantri Mantra.
She is often depicted with 10 arms and holds in each hand the distinct 10 implements. Often I have seen just a conch shell on the upper right and a lotus on the upper left as in the picture below whom I call The Lovely Devi, in a post I have written about her. To me anyway, this lovely little picture probably represents the female energy, Shakti, on account of the chakras depicted. In which case, it points to kundalini yoga, the ultimate goal of every serious yogic practice, the rising of the kundalini.
If we return to our popular goddess again, we can see that the artist have drawn her with what seems like a black tiger skin cape or could that be her long flowing black hair similar to The Lovely Devi? Yes, more and more this may very well be a picture of the goddess Devi. She who is also the wife of Shiva in the form of Parvati.
It seems the beauty of Parvati is indeed something to behold when an entire tome, the Soundarya Lahiri, extols her beauty and more. This is said to be a rare text on the esoteric art of mantra, yantra and tantra that was passed on directly from Shiva to Adi Shankara. There’s a story about how Nandi took away half of the text and Adi Shankara was tasked to fill in the missing verses. This rare text is supposed to contain secrets to immortality and to ending the cycles of rebirths.
Parvati also represents something else that is super important to those of us on the yogic path. There is only one supreme goal in our yoga sadhana and that is self-realisation. What is self-realisation? Well, I have written an article here about the true goal of yoga. Actually, when I first saw this unique picture at a crafts fair in Delhi, something in me said buy the picture because it represents the true secret of yoga. And indeed it is the true secret of yoga.
Well, be it mother Devi, Kala, Kali, Gayatri or Parvati, they are all one in the HIndu pantheon of goddesses but representing different aspects. Much to my surprise I have also found in my research that the Chinese worships and calls Devi Maa the Great Mother Goddess. She should not be mistaken as the goddess Guan Yin.
And here she is, after a long search, our popular goddess is none other than Lakshmi. The implements she holds are exactly what we see in the Madhubani drawing – two stalks of lotuses in her upper hands to the left and right of her head; her lower right hand in abhaya mudra, sprinkling coins and bestowing wealth while in her lower left hand, a pot of nectar or amrita kumbha that can liberate one from the cycles of births and deaths. There are at least 8 different variations of the goddess but she mainly symbolises well-being associated with wealth. And so our search comes to an end.
Our popular goddess
Finally, here is my own drawing inspired by our popular goddess. I have inserted to the side of the drawing, a popular sloka dedicated to Devi Maa, she who is the mother of all goddesses from whom all goddesses are derived.
~ ॐ ~