Home > Personal Choices, Thinkism > Durga around my neck.

Durga around my neck.


I find Hindu mythology regarding female dieties to be absolutely fascinating. I have my own interpretation of it, and don’t really care if it matches the “popular” or “correct” view.

Durga

This is the image on a pendant that I wear. I bought it on October 17 [2009] from a stall at the Swami Narayan Mandir — I’d gone there to cover the Diwali celebrations… but that is not what I want to write about. The issue is, ever since then, almost everyone has asked me why I wear this pendant.

I get this most often from my parents, of course, who fear for my “eternal salvation”. They’re Muslims; I was brought up in a liberal, but Muslim, household, and while my parents don’t force their choices down my throat (thankfully), they do bug me about the pendant every day. Others who are also aware of my views about organised religion have not refrained either from asking me why I wear this pendant. So here goes.

I don’t wear the pendant for religious reasons. I wear it as a political statement. For one, Hindus are marginalised in Pakwatan. Secondly, I find Hindu mythology regarding female dieties to be absolutely fascinating. I have my own interpretation of it, and don’t really care if it matches the “popular” or “correct” view.

In my opinion, all goddesses in Hindu mythology portray specific aspects of the feminine. Saraswati (my personal favourite) is knowledge, culture, wisdom incarnate; Sita (my least favourite) is the dutiful wife; Kali is the destroyer; Laxmi is the bringer of fortune; Durga is the warrior goddess; and so on.

I don’t quite like the materialism attached to Laxmi — I wonder sometimes if this belief is what gave birth to the concept of Jahez (dowry). I’m not a fan of the “dutifulness” associated with Sita either.

Saraswati gets her name from a river that once flowed parallel to the Indus. Between them, the two rivers gave birth to the ancient Sindhu-Saraswati (Harappan / Indus) civilisation, where art, knowledge, music and language flourished. The river was also said to have healing properties, similar to those attributed to the latter-day Ganga (Ganges). All of these attributes are embodied in Saraswati Mata.

Durga, on the other hand, is the warrior — the fighter; slayer of Mahish Asura, the demon who had defeated the trinity of gods; liberator of her people. According to wikipedia, she is an embodiment of creative feminine force, and fierce compassion; and exists in a state of svātantrya (dependence on the universe and nothing and nobody else, i.e., self-sufficiency). She “manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion.”

All of these are qualities which I admire; my pendant therefore displays my belief in the power of the feminine — the fact that contrary to “popular” beliefs, women can be self-sufficient; they can be fighters; they are liberators. Those who underestimate the power of women need to learn a lesson from Mahish Asura:

Upon initially encountering Durga, Mahishasura underestimated her. “How can a woman kill me? I am Mahish Asura — the one who has defeated the trinity of gods!”

Durga roared with laughter. After a prolonged battle, she laughed again, before cutting Mahish Asura’s head off with her Khorgo.

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  1. Cecil
    November 6, 2009 at 21:48

    Very nicely put. You tell it lik it is, girl.

  1. November 7, 2009 at 07:24

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