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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger
The lines of this ecstatic poem refer to many aspects of the traditional representations of the Hindu goddess Kali.
Kali is the mother aspect of the Divine, beautiful, wild, and terrible. She is depicted dancing in ecstasy upon a battle field, slaying demons in her fierce bliss.
Her skin is black and she is naked, symbolic of the Eternal Void with which she clothes herself.
Thou wearest the moon upon Thy brow.
She wears the moon upon her brow (as does her husband, Shiva), symbolizing the open spiritual eye and spiritual illumination. The crescent moon has the additional metaphorical meaning of mastery over the feminine, cyclical aspect of manifest nature, the way it ebbs and flows, grows full and then diminishes.
Where didst Thou find Thy garland of heads
before the universe was made?
Kali wears a garland of severed heads, a shocking image, but one of deep significance. These are the heads of slain demons, each a spiritual impediment that she has removed. Further, each head, severed at the neck, represents a specific sound; collectively, the heads represent the sound of divine speech from which all creation is manifested.
Confoundress! With Thy flashing sword
Thoughtlessly Thou hast put to death
my virtue and my sin alike!
Kamalakanta's final line is a devotinal chiding of Mother Kali for destroying both his virtue and sin. In the deep spaces of bliss, when the ego identity has disappeared and thought has ceased, the tensions we associated with doing "good" or "bad" also disappear. This does not mean that one cannot distinguish between right and wrong, quite the opposite; one sees clearly for the first time. But there is no projection of "should" or "shouldn't." Instead, there is a profound sense of what simply is, and what is potential. The feeling of being caught in a tug-of-war between opposites and social compulsions vanishes. To the thinking mind, the mind chained to the ego, this is indeed confounding.
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2002 - 2011 by Ivan M. Granger.
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