Thursday, June 14, 2007

Kali Girl

When Peleg and I visited Nepal 10 years ago, a guide pointed out a second story window above the main square in Kathmandu. If we were lucky, he told us, and we never were lucky in this way, we might catch a glimpse of the goddess who lived in the palace apartment behind that window. Every decade or so, astrologers recognize a young girl as a reincarnation of Kali. She lives as the goddess until she reaches puberty at which time she returns to ordinary mortal life, and the incarnation of Kali proceeds to a new young girl.

Kali is the Hindu diety who is the destroying aspect of the divine mother, Durga. A far cry from the young girls she inhabits, Kali is pictured as a ferocious spirit, trampling the Lord Shiva under her feet, her body festooned with a necklace of 50 human skulls, and an enormous tongue protruding from her mouth. But Kali is not an evil figure. Her ferociousness is meant to symbolize her attack on the illusions of existence that seperate us from spiritual wholeness. She is the form of the mother that will do whatever is required, even acts of violence, in order to save her children.

For a 40th birthday present last week Peleg and I made a candelabra for a girlfriend consisting of 5 candles representing the 4 decades she has lived and the one she is about to start. We labeled the first candle, "little girl" and the last candle, "goddess."

One of the little girls who is a goddess in Nepal (apparently each city has their own) is visitng Washington this week. She told Neela Banerjee of the New York Times, "There's nothing I don't like about being a goddess." She isn't asked to perform miracles or dispense spiritual wisdom, just to accept worship and confer blessings. This girl, Sajani of Baktapur is even allowed to go to school, unlike the more isolated goddess girl of Kathmandu. Sanjani says, When I'm not a goddess anymore, no one will treat me as well as they treat me now." May we treat everyone, and be treated, as the gods and goddesses we all are. Namaste

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