Since the Tiger-on-the-hill story hit town I have awaited a solid sunny block in the monsoon to return after some years to the story’s exciting origins – PachamaKovil, a temple dedicated to Sri Durga, the goddess representing the inherent dynamic energy through which the supreme consciousness manifests itself. Since her vehicle is a Tiger, the boy who reported sighting a Tiger on the hill nearby this temple had no difficulty attracting ears although twenty policemen were reported to have been engaged to scour the area for signs . . . Tiger-pads, paw prints?! The locals laughed off the cops, what would they know?
Although unsure how the Tiger story and the local propensity to ignore distinctions between myth and reality could be taken to relate to KaliYuga, I anticipated a pleasurable return to a much loved, very beautiful sacred precinct up a little on the north-east slopes. But I was in for a shock.
Instead of being dominated by formidable rows of fierce Rishis, the previously magnificent entrance courtyard is filled with cows and cow shit – deep shit, I should say nobody bothers much cleaning it; stuff like iron barricades and bamboo is stored here and there, statues either broken and in need of repair or very indecently repaired some time back.
For many years this was the sweetest, quietest, most nourishing little tank on the hill-round route . . . .
KaliYuga is rampant here. A group of beefy rough men were hanging about in the temple Mandapam, I had no inclination to squeeze past them to enter the shrine.
It wasn’t possible to enter the tank through the courtyard so I asked a pujari whether I could go to see it. Another man pushed forward to indicate The Manager. “Manager!” Shrines have Managers!?
The only entry to the little tank was from outside, up a slushy bank overflowing from the messy pumping apparatus, past an ugly mass-cooking area.
Only Goddesses drink blood. Curious fact that.
At a bus-stand somewhere during my early India years a gentleman observed the magnificence of divine creativity by asking me: Who would have thought that an elephant’s head would be so beautiful on a human body!?
Now with hindsight let me offer this quote as a talisman for the sub-conscious substratum of this culture, from where the confidence in this world bubbles out as the fundamental happiness of our true nature.
And there is a curious postscript to this meme since a person of high authority at a medical conference in Mumbai yesterday was reported to claim that ancient Indians were so proficient in genetic engineering as to have produced baby Kama external to his mother’s womb – in a test-tube which the epic Mahabharata omitted to mention – and not only that but also: an operation using plastic surgery transplanted the elephant’s head on to the headless body of the son Lord Siva so rudely murdered!
So you see in advanced KaliYuga, renouned role models can rip the magic right out of Myth! The idea that Lord Siva had a team of surgeons on hand to deal with the beginning of the brilliantly complex and meaningful Ganapati is almost cute it is so dreadful! However there is a more savage distortion here in that although the colonial British in their ignorance greatly disparaged India’s long history of refined civilisation, more recently this perspective is entirely discredited until now everyone knows that our past was illustriously dignified, including anthropological evidence that long before the modern scientific tradition began in the occidental world, Indian equivalents of sophisticated operations were performed. The claim publicised today unfortunately overturns this contingency and replaces it with a cheap trick that defeats it’s own purpose,
To make a particularly Australian observation here: in advanced KaliYuga it seems quite common even for heads to state to come out with claims so dreadful as to be almost cute.
There is an affinity in me for the local propensity to dismiss distinction between myth and reality you see, even though I entered Arunachalam forty years ago as a research student in Philosophy with all the inherited hubris of my conditioning requiring an arduous effort to get my head around such a statement as this bus-stand gem above.
After some time my perceptions changed to value the prime significance of my humanity as a myth-maker; myth-making is what I do. Every morning I awake to re-create my myth of myself and the world – as do you; all the livelong day I wander about refining it. I articulate it within my head, to my friends and everyone else particularly online. Online I am finally interested in global affairs since there are themes now emerging in the mature KaliYuga that ring true to me, the myths we create convivially become more vibrant, more relevant, more meaningful to me as I mature and as my KaliYuga world guides me towards healing. Nevertheless, I do search for the most reliably objective reportage. I am also as acutely conscious as capable of the primacy and integrity of my own sub-conscious orientation even though my petty monkey mind holds the microphone and is connected to the loudspeaker.
Anyone listening? Sling me a metaphor!
From where we stand in human form there is Introspection and Outrospection; either way is myth since the agent is the petty mind. Historically the Advaita-Vedanta tradition has the catch-phrase Not-two-and-not-one; this mirrors the binomial reality yet the emphasis tends to lean heavily on the side of Siva and Introspection rather than Shakti and Outrospection. While being what you are, being clear about what you are not is taken to be a universal life-task.
Introspection can involve a great variety of functions however I want to focus on that of aligning oneself with the most fundamental reality. That is: that apart from knowing that I am, I in fact know nothing: I am constantly now facing the great unknown. It is a Herculean task to remain focussed on, surrendering and open to this ever-present fact: meditation is anything but easy, but the great KaliYuga myth is that the effort required to keep in practice is more rewarding in this Age of Iron then ever before.
At the same time in the very recent emergence of KaliYuga we are confronted with a predicament that is forcing us to engage in Outraspection and confront the Anthropocine era in which our reckless refusal to co-operate with natural processes and to respect as primary the Rights of Pachamamma could sufficiently erode the balance of our global ecosystem as to render our planet uninhabitable to life as we know it.
All coins have two sides.