Book Review – Sabarimala and Women: Giving Voice to the Wisdom of the Practitioners

Lord Sastha for Sinu Book Review 191121

At the MuldhArA: Lord Sastha with Purnakala and Pushkala, at Sori Muthaiyan Kovil (Image Courtesy: V. Aravind Subramanyam), Pp 56 of Digital Copy of the Book.

by Jayant Kalawar, November 21, 2019

Women and Sabarimala: The Science behind Restrictions. Sinu Joseph, Notion Press. First Published by Notion Press 2019, ISBN 978-1-64733-633-2 (The book is available directly from publisher at Notion Press and at Amazon India . It is also available on Kindle atAmazon.com. My review is based on a digital copy provided for review purposes).

The author, Sinu Joseph, opens up for us the amazingly beautiful complex weave of Sastha tradition (of which Sabarimala is an integral part) by taking us on a journey of six Sastha temples, across a geography of many hundreds of miles in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. When we go along with her on this pilgrimage, we get to sense of the process of subtle human connections with the Deities of each of the temples. Along the way, Sinu describes what that connection experience is like for those who identify themselves as female and how it is different from those who identify themselves as male.

Before embarking on the journey, the book gives us an orientation in the first two chapters. This may be especially helpful for those who, while born into Hindu families, may not have had the opportunity to understand the deeply thoughtful subtle framework of chakras, and their connections to the endocrinal system of the human body, that have been used to design this pilgrimage through these six temples, each with a uniquely powerful Deity residing in a specific temple architecture. The connection to the human endocrinal system lays open for us to see how the pilgrimage process generates different experiences in female and male bodies. Those who are already deep practitioners in the chakra based traditions may find the first chapter of the book to be a quick refresher (given there are multiple views of chakra framework within Hindu tradition, the one described in this book may be considered by some to be a beginners version). The second chapter (along with the preface) sets up the problem that arose when Sabarimala temple was viewed through the lens of modernity – the rest of the book being a response to the question: why are women between the ages of 10 and 50 not allowed to enter Sabarimala temple.

The pilgrimage of the six Sastha temples is described as journey from the muldhArA chakrA through swadisthAnA, maNipurA, anAhatA and vishuddhi chakrAs to the AjnA chakrA.  Reading the first two chapters makes the descriptions of each of the temple Deities and the experiences easy to grasp. Each description is helpfully divided into sections describing the journey of the author’s travel party to the temple, their experiences in the temple, the Deity, the Chaitanyam, the ChakrA significance.

As the pilgrimage gains momentum, the descriptions of experiences build upon themselves and one becomes more and more curious about what comes next. That is a hallmark of an accomplished story teller. To show us this particular complex weave of Hindu tradition with such story telling prowess wants me to read more of Sinu Joseph’s writings in the future, as she deepens her insights by continuing her sAdhanA.

In the last but one chapter Sinu brings the mystery to a close by making a compelling case, which she has been building all along.  We see how by the time we get to Sabarimala our endocrine systems may be activated through the pilgrimage and how this begins to impact male and female bodies differently. And especially how this may impact menstruating women differently.

The book ends with a conversation with women to begin exploring the answer to the question ‘but so, what should women who also want mukti do?”. I think such exploration is much needed to rejuvenate a knowledge base that would help us move towards a socially and culturally more balanced life.

The blessings of Lord Sastha flow into this book and upon its readers through the blessings of Shri V. Aravind Subramanyam, President, Shri Maha Sasthru Seva Sangam, Coimbatore, in his foreword to the book. I read it at the beginning and once again at the end of my reading. I highly recommend reading this book. May you be blessed by Lord Sastha.

Jayant Kalawar is the author of An Outsider Deconstructing European Enlightenment, in which he uses the Devi / ChakrA lens to describe Europe’s interaction with the world over the last 400 plus years.

 

To be human is to be….A view from the Devi Lens

Devi Cover for Outsider European Enlightenment Kindle 190506

WIth the Devi’s Blessings. Cover art by Jayant Kalawar 2018.

By Jayant Kalawar

When I wrote the essay Outsider Deconstructing European Enlightenment it was a way of describing what it means to be human, by telling a story of how some humans have done things with each other and with nature around them. Many of us call such descriptions history.

So these humans I describe have a quite a bit of potential to act in different ways. However, much of it has not been switched on (yet).  Most of these humans seem to be very good at utilizing some of their potential, for example: to survive, reproduce, acquire material things and consume them.

That leaves out the potential for courage to be compassionate, to connect with all species on Earth and the Earth itself and to explore and connect with cosmic spiritual vibrations. Such potentials, in most humans, remain untapped. In my essay I talk about how each of these seven potentials (yes, if you go back and count you will see there are seven) are channeled through seven chakrAs.  which I posit makes for being human, when you see humans through the Devi Lens (all that in the essay).

What switches on these potentials? The culture you live in and how you are nurtured plays a big role in throwing these switches on and off. It’s this cultural driver that I focus on in my Outsider essay, to show how it switches on some of our potentials and lets others remain dormant.

In current usage in our digital world, we all live in now, I think it is better to call this driver memetic complex, rather than culture. New memes are produced and old ones are morphed or die every day now in this relatively new digital age. So unlike the past, we have a real chance to develop many memetic complexes (is that the right plural? – but you get the point) that may switch on the entire range of potentials in humans.

I think there are two more drivers for switching on potentials in humans.

One of those drivers I think is the natural environment we interact with, including through breathing, consuming and generally our physical living conditions. I want to explore how this driver actually works within us at the cellular level, through gene expressions and protein pathways. I have barely begun learning about this. But at the moment, my sankalpA is to write my next essay on how natural environment and genetics drive the switching of human potentials on and off. It took me about 3 years to write and self-publish the Outsider essay, after almost 15 years of reading and research (not knowing where it would take me, if at all). So, I have no sense of what may emerge and when that may end up being an essay about this cellular / endocrine driver and how it is tied to the chakrAs. But the general broad intention is present.

The other driver is personal practices, sAdhanA leading to upAsanA. You will notice I am not translating when I drop Sanskrit words into what I write here. It is easy to find meanings with Google search these days. If you are really interested you will do so and in the process perhaps get more and more comfortable with living in a global memetic complex! That one is so personal that I am not sure it could even be an essay. Perhaps a short memoir, some distant time in the future, when some sense emerges that there is something worthwhile to share.

Notice the use of emerging. Rather than aspiring.

If you do download and read my Outsider essay on Kindle, I hope you write and post your comment here. Especially how it made you think differently about what it is to be human and how we go about doing things in this world.

An Outsider Deconstructing European Enlightenment

Devi Cover for Outsider European Enlightenment Kindle 190506

WIth the Devi’s Blessings. Cover art by Jayant Kalawar 2018.

I recently published this essay on Amazon Kindle. Here is a brief summary:

From an outsider’s perspective, European Enlightenment was a brilliant social innovation, which emerged in the 17th century, as a response to the brutally destructive intra-religious wars in Europe. It led to the formation of national governments, financial markets and rapid growth of a certain kind of science and technology. However by the 21st century, that innovation, through its runaway success, has had unintended global consequences of ecocide, fratricide and suicide, particularly impacting those outside of the European sphere. This 60 page essay takes you briefly through the 3000 year history of monotheism in the West, before focusing on the 17th century and the path that has led to the current global systemic crises. The outsider, using the framework of his Devi traditions, offers a compass of hope, to navigate out of the global dystopian scenario charted by European Enlightenment, towards compassion, connection and immersion.

There are quite a few pages open to browse here:

An Outsider Deconstructing European Enlightenment

You may decide to download after browsing.

I am opening this page to comments and discussions. The comments posted on this page so far are quite insightful. You may want to browse through them as well. And please consider posting your comment here as well.

 

 

A Remembering, A SmaRaNA of Shri GaneshA September 12th-13th 2018

Celebrating Ganesha Chaturthi September 13th 2018

Aum Shri GaNeshAya NamahA, Celebrating the Divya PurushA, evening of September 12th 2018, ChinmayA Mission, Cranbury, New Jersey (photo by jayant kalawar)

by jayant kalawar

He is the master of GaNas, categories.

We categorize the cosmos, slice and dice it.

So our limited cognitive ability can digest

What the senses deliver to us.

 

Our categories become our obstacles.

What they exclude makes for our ignorance, Avidya.

He removes these obstacles that make us ignorant, Vigna-hArA.

 

He is Buddhi-dAtA.

He blesses the SAdhakA,

Who strives to explore beyond ignorance,

With intellect, Buddhi.

 

He is Moksha-dAtA.

He shows the path to MokshA

To the SAdhakA who uses his intellect

To explore beyond the sensory world.

 

He is with us always.

We forget to remember

And connect with Him

So that He can guide us.

Aum Shri GaneshAya NamahA.

 

Above is a paraphrased summary of my interpretation of a short talk by Swami ShantAnandA at Chinmaya Mission, Cranbury, NJ on the evening of September 12th 20h18.

August 2018: Mars Receding, Venus Distant

Durga MAtA by Photo by Soumik Dey on Unsplash 180807

ॐ श्री मात्रे नमः (Photo by Soumik Dey on Unsplash)

The heat waves and the wild fires that seem to have gripped many areas in the last few weeks may begin to recede, as Mars begins to move out of the Rahu-Ketu field August 7the. Time to step back and assess the impact of Mars transit through the Rahu-Ketu field, acting out in different areas of your lives in June and July. Take some time by yourself to scan your physical and emotional health and that of your loved ones. We have a breather here – to calm down and heal. Those of you who have continually been connected with MA DurgA would have sensed the protection and blessings and a sense of calm, even as the fires raged, emotional and physical, in various shapes and forms, all around us.

In August 2018, Venus will be most distant from Earth. It will be seen in the sky to be transiting the zodiac of Virgo. A milder form of confusion (unlike the raging storms of Mars) is likely between August 8th and 17th, with peaks around August 10th to 13th. We may see this manifested in the social and political arenas and in turn inducing volatility in financial markets. Fashion and luxury goods sectors may be particularly impacted. The inclination, for many of us, may be towards being more analytical and less emotional – and thus out of balance in situations which require emotions to play.

Usual caveat applies: the experience may be in different areas of life for each ascendant sign and intensity depends on particular ascendant degrees. Those who continually connect with the Devi are blessed with strength and calm to better navigate through the squalls and storms of life.

July 2018: Venus may provide respite, from turbulent Mars, for some.

Venus in Leo - Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash - 180704

Venus in Leo in July Balances the Turbulence of Mars for some of us (Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash)

By Jayant Kalawar

Venus will be energized as it transits through the cluster of nakshatrAs (constellations) that make up SimhA lagnA (Leo ascendant) from the evening of July 4th to the early morning hours of August 1st. This will provide a welcome cushion for those with lagnA (ascendant) birth signs of Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Libra and Scorpio. The rest of us (those with Leo, Virgo, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces) may have to manage by keeping a low profile and very patient.

Mars, as of this writing on July 4th, is beginning to close in and will fully immerse into the turbulent field of Rahu-Ketu between July 12th and 29th. Expect more of the events such as freak storms, volcanic eruptions, as well as strong emotional expressions of frustration and anger, within us and amongst us, that we saw during the previous Mars immersion in the first two weeks of June. This transit of Mars will be experienced by most of us with varying degrees of intensity, depending on how much we practice focused awareness, enabling us to channel and sublimate out (not suppressing for future eruptions!) the turbulent energies, which trigger memories of past angers and frustrations, leading us to actions which we later regret.

Practicing focused awareness makes us observe the churn of emotional energies arising with the waxing and waning of planetary energies. When we are accomplished in this practice, we can watch them trigger our own particular memories, which become thoughts that we take to be all too real. We then act upon this reality of our mind. It takes a long time, many births perhaps, for this practice of focused awareness to be rooted, become one of our limbs in the subtle space. There are many techniques one can use, and many paths one can take, to climb this mountain. It helps to have a seasoned coach, at least to get ready and started on this climb, at the base camp of this mountain!

(c) Jayant Kalawar and 21BanyanTree.com

I use Systems Approach to Vedic Astrology as propounded by Professor V.K. Choudhry in my use of Jyotisha as one of the range of modalities in my coaching practice.

Devi’s Magic: Do you want to Play?

Devi's Magic Photo by Madhu Shesharam on Unsplash 180526

Magic: Sun shining through in my heart (Photo of Antelope Canyon by Madhu Shesharam on Unsplash)

The first few seconds

Every morning

Floating in spandanA

Pulsations

 

And then

Insistent clamor rising

You are different from the cosmos

You are man

You are father

You are debtor

 

Things to do

Dollar to earn

Scripts to act out

Atomized

 

In modernity

Bouncing around in anxieties

Chasing goals passionately

Round and Round

Breathlessly

 

Clouds of despair

Thunder of anger

Lightning bolts of hurt

Tears of sorrow

Winds Lashing

 

I chant my DurgA MantrA

Poof

Clouds are gone

Sun shines through

In my heart

Re-connecting

 

Magic

In the infinite game

Do you want to play?!