Thursday, December 13, 2012


I took an online course on Yoga last year given by Dr. Douglas Brooks; while in Tokyo I am re-listening to these lectures, and rereading some of the notes that accompanied them.

There is, I think, an obvious parallel between the goddess traditions and Tantric yoga practices of India's deep south and the householder-yogi "living in plain sight" as personified by Pattabhi Jois — Jois was a yogi who, rather than renounce, retreat, or withdraw from the world, fulfilled his dharma in it.

(He would be horrified to have his name associated with anything Tantric-related.)

Topic: Evolution of the Goddess tradition as it moves into the deep South; teachings of mantra

Kali expands into Sri Kula—goddesses who are Saumya ["beautiful"]

As Shiva and Kali move into the deep South, their appearances change:

Kali moves beyond the protective, horrific, and fierce

She takes on roles as princess, lover, wife, partner, consort, queen (Rajarajeshvari—queen of kings)

Kaliʼs ferocity is transformed into Bala
Bala—young child
Sumangali—wife, lover, mother
Lalita—the lovely one
Tripurasundari—presides over all triads

In the South, Kaliʼs blood is re-assimilated as the potency of power:
1. In the Kumari goddesses—in the fulfillment of the recursive energies creativity and fertility
2. In the Sumangali goddesses—potency of the self in most self-fulfilling form
3. In the Jyestha (the post-menstrual, wise woman)—subsumes everypossibility, takes on the matriarchal role

Rather than posit the tantric path as outside the boundaries of a Dharmic society, the saumya goddesses invite us to the possibility to see the transcendent within the life of the everyday life of the householder.