Thursday, June 12, 2008

learnings from my knowledge-hole

This:is Chinnamasta. The one who has cut off her own head and is feeding the two yoginis — as well as her own severed head — with the streams of blood coming from her neck. She is kneeling on Kama, the god of sexual desire, and his wife Rati, who are supposed to be getting it on, though I don't see how the position in this image could possibly work. (Rati should be on top, too, by the way.) All of this is going on in a cremation ground, and they are surrounded by jackals (inauspicious animals), a cow (a sacred animal), and a tiger (symbolic of the power of the material world). And everyone is totally naked. And the yoginis appear to be holding begging-bowls made of scalps.

In other words, my friends, Chinnamasta is Bad. Ass. Apparently she's mainly worshiped by Tantric sadhus hoping to achieve siddhis (supernatural powers which, according to Tantric belief, one obtains once one has achieved liberation/enlightenment) by heroically facing her and the terrifying realities which she embodies in order to harness the power of death so that they can transcend it. This is probably done by meditating on her in the middle of the night in a cremation ground and trying not to shit their pants.

Kali is pretty awesome, too.
She's the great devourer, who eats demons, demands blood sacrifices (devotees have occasionally sacrificed themselves by cutting off their own heads), and at the end of each cycle of creation consumes the entire cosmos. Not quite as hardcore as cutting off your own head and drinking the blood spurting from your own neck, but still — not too shabby.

So. What I learned this quarter: Hinduism is generally kind of bitchin'. If it wasn't for all the woman-hating*, it is one religion I might actually be able to get down with.

* * *

Completely unrelated: OMFG baby lion cam!!!!!!

*and the believing in god(s) thing

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