Inanna, the paradox … Inanna, the whole …

Rassouli..LightDance

Artist: Freydoon Rassouli*

‘…the very being of this goddess infuses and vivifies all nature and natural processes. She is the divine in matter. As such, she sustains the ebb and flow, the relentless paradoxical reality of the natural world. She exists between blessing and curse, light and dark, plenty and want, goodness and malevolence, life and death. Harsh as her reality may seem, it is the Real every living being must encounter. And she is thedivine in matter. Implicit in her presence is a divine plan, a sacred order and meaning. Enigmatic as the plan may be, it is inferred by Inanna’s careful attention to the workings of the world and the people in it. ….

We can think of Inanna, with her complex mix of characteristics, as an attempt to bring together the seemingly chaotic forces of the universe into one unifying, and therefore orienting personification.

She embraced the full continuum of authority from the darkest to the most brilliant. A creature of earth as well as heaven, she reflected paradoxical human nature.’

— Betty De Shong Meador, Inanna: the Queen of Heaven and Earth

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For more beautiful images from this artist, visit  http://www.rassouli.com

Images of Her 3

‘The simplest and most profound meaning of the image of the Goddess is the legitimacy and goodness of female power, the female body, and female will. The image of the Goddess is transformative because the image of God as male has been deeply internalized in western culture.’ — Carol P. Christ, Rebirth of the Goddess: finding meaning in feminist spirituality, page 8.

Artist: Alexi Francis

Artist: Alexi Francis

 

 

Ganga – the Purest One

In Sanskrit literature, Ganga has been portrayed in her most magnificent form. She has 108 names in Sanskrit including Jahnavi and Bhagirathi. She is also described as flowing in three streams and hence referred to as Tripathaga (one that moves in three paths) or Trisrota (one that has three streams).[1] She is an extraordinary beauty, but she is also powerful and unpredictable. She is independent minded and does not always move within the traditional boundaries of behaviour. She is the giver of life and at the same time taker of life. Her benevolence can change the lives of millions of people for the good, while her contempt can turn into a population’s worst nightmare.

Artist: Eric Zener

Artist: Eric Zener

One of her very well-known Sanskrit hymns says –

O Divine Ganga, the One revered by the gods,

The Saviour of the three worlds by your liquid restless touch.

The Immaculate One who resides on the head of Shiva,

Let my mind dwell on your lotus-like feet.

O Bhagirathi, the One who bestows happiness,

The power of your holy waters is exalted by the wise,

Your glory and grace is not fully within the grasp of my limited intelligence,

Protect me, Merciful Mother, from my own ignorance. (My own translation)

Ganga’s touch is experienced by the devotee like the touch of a divine Mother – loving, graceful and life-giving. By washing away everything that is harmful (spiritually and physically), she gives the ultimate gift to her children – the ultimate comfort of knowing one is taken care for, that one’s mistakes, and misdeeds have been forgiven.

She was also immortalised in the collection of poems named ‘Ganga Lahari’ (Waves of Ganga) written by a seventeenth century poet, Jagannatha. I have found the English translation of only one of his verses –

‘I come to you as a child to his mother.

I come as an orphan to you, moist with love.

I come without refuge to you, giver of sacred rest.

I come a fallen man to you, uplifter of all.

I come undone by disease to you, the perfect physician.

I come, my heart dry with thirst, to you, ocean of sweet wine.

Do with me whatever you will.’


[1] Ashok Chandra Shukla and Vandana Asthana, Ganga: A Water Marvel (Ashish Publishing House, 1995) page 44

Images of Her 2

When we make our images, they reflect both the deep past of our souls and the future we want to create. The goddess’s images — they are everywhere, in everywoman, in the crowds and loneliness of our planet…….. let us give shape to our dreams and recognise her image around us.

Image

Artist: Danny O’Connor

Return to You

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Artist: Duy Huynh

The goddess who I know from the start

the one who keeps me to her dew-fragranced heart

the one who takes me in her mighty nimble arms

the one who shows me the way to my sun…

the one who gave me life in death

who stood by me when I ran for shade

who was by my side when I looked over the cliff,

you took the risk for me.

you were always there.. I know this now…

I walked a long way before I returned to you,

my way wound and wound before I understood thee.

You were always there, my love, inside of me,

why did I take such a time to see you though?

I don’t know whenever I think back now

on what ways was I wandering out,

why didn’t I see my mother was there,

all the time offering me her strength and care.

How many winded roads did I walk on and on?

How many sad moments I kept trudging along?

How many times I thought about the things that didn’t matter?

How much time did I need to see you were there?

Mother, the merciful, the loving, the forever one,

Mother, who created me and my world,

I ask you to always be in my thoughts,

to never let me forget your will is my lot,

to let me stand strong just like you have always done,

to be a warrior in life’s many twist and turns,

to stand tall on my legs,

to live in your grace,

to roar to be heard,

to smile when its hard,

to accept all that is sad and bad,

as parts of all that is good and glad.

To understand life is all that is true,

the dark, light, day and night,

And I will have to make it through.

There are no shortcuts

There are no winding ways

Everything is exactly how it was made.

My life will be smooth and effortless and worth

Only if I know you are there in my heart.

Mother, make me strong as your lean and strong hands

Mother, give me love in my heart for everyone,

Never let me hate even the one who hurt me bad…

Let me always understand, let me always see,

Let me be at ease, let me just be.

Let me never lose my humility, my hope,

Let me always live in your dreams as your own.

Let me know how you are the start and ending dot

Let me see what’s true and all that is not.

Images of Her 1

‘The symbol of Goddess has much to offer women who are struggling to be rid of the “powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations” of devaluation of female power, denigration of the female body, distrust of female will, and denial of the women’s bonds and heritage that have been engendered by patriarchal religion. As women struggle to create a new culture in which women’s power, bodies, will, and bonds are celebrated, it is natural that the Goddess would reemerge as symbol of the newfound beauty, strength, and power of women.’ — Carol P. Christ

Artist: Catalina Lira

Artist: Catalina Lira

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For more artworks by Catalina Lira, visit http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/catalina-lira.html

Saraswati – Awesome Voice of Thunder, Voice of Heaven…

In the Hindu pantheon, Saraswati (or Sarasvati), referred to as the Mother, is the goddess of knowledge and wisdom; of learning; of words and expression. Only her blessings can give one the gift of language and knowledge. She is a peaceful aspect of Adya Shakti, the Primal Mother, the Ancient Creatress. In her currently worshipped form, Saraswati holds the symbols of learning in her hands (including a musical instrument, Veena, and the Vedas), wears white and rides a white swan. She is also often depicted with a peacock.

Modern popular depiction of Ma Sarawati

Modern popular depiction of Ma Sarawati

In the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, she is a celestial river – one of the seven sister rivers (sapta-sindhu). She is ‘horrendous in her vehemence … her impact knows no end, roaring, she moves on … [the] daughter of lightning, the voice of thunder …she… rules over all intuition.’[1] 

‘Sarasvati, a flowing onrush of creative power, is a form of the great goddess. She pours out from the source, full-fledged. She is the ineluctable impetus of creative intuition, awesome voice of thunder, the voice of Heaven. She is all movement, the vehement river of creative thought.’[2]

Her slightly different manifestation is the Vedic goddess Vak or Vac (literally, word or speech). In Sanskrit, Vak literally means ‘speech.’ Called the ‘Mother of the Vedas (the most ancient Hindu scriptures),’ Vak is also described as fierce and commanding; she strides and carries with her the other gods; wind is her breath. And most surprisingly she is described as the mother of her own father.

‘…she is the Great Goddess, exceeding axis of the cosmos, creator of the Father in Heaven, her own father, up on high. … “The heavenly oceans flowed from her and then the Word, the Aksara, the creative syllable”’[3]

'The Commander' by Freydoon Rassouli*

Artist: Freydoon Rassouli*

In the Rig Veda, Vak declares –

‘I am the sovereign power (over all the worlds … and the first among those to whom sacrificial homage is to be offered; the gods in all places worship but me, who am diverse and permeate everything. … I pervade heaven and earth. I give birth to the infinite expanse overspreading the earth.’ [4]

She is celebrated and worshipped all over modern India in homes, schools, colleges and universities. Saraswati’s blessings is still sought after by every seeker of knowledge and wisdom.


[1] Stella Kramrisch, ‘The Indian Great Goddess’ (1975) 14 History of Religions, pages 235, 246
[2] same as above
[3] same as above, page 247
[4] Kartikeya C Patel, ‘Women, Earth and the Goddess: A Shakta-Hindu interpretation of Embodied Religion’ (1994) 9 Hypatia, pages 69, 75
* Title of featured artwork: ‘The Commander’ by Freydoon Rassouli. For more paintings by Rassouli, visit www.rassouli.com