Hail the Goddess: Those Devi Days

Dashing up the light blue carpeted staircase up and around to the main house temple, my sari sash flowing behind me acting as a kind of makeshift cape. The resounding...

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Hail the Goddess: Those Devi Days

Dashing up the light blue carpeted staircase up and around to the main house temple, my sari sash flowing behind me acting as a kind of makeshift cape. The resounding rhythmic sound of the group chanting bellowing out from the crowded room, out of the temple windows, drew me in. That and of course Guru ji himself. 

 

The thing is in those days, it was hard to see where Durga stopped and Guru ji began. 

They were one.

 

“OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA… OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA … OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA … OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA … OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA … OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA … OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA … OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA …. OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA …..OMMMMMMMMMMM”

 

Walking into the room, my usual sheepish late, I stooped slightly, and looked at Guru ji then hand to heart bowed towards him and stepped inside surveying the room. There were many people crowded in around him, around the glittering altar resplendent with the image of the cosmic mother. Lit candles reflected off the platform mirror underneath. Incense danced and curled up into the space, scenting the air with sweet sandalwood. It calmed the mind.

 

As I settled into my seat for the duration, Guru ji continued leading the chanting in his commanding and soothing voice:

 

 

“OMMMMMMMMMMM …OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA… OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA … OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA … OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA … OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA … OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA … OM NAMAS CANDIKAYAI SVAHA …OMMMMMMMMMMM”

 

 

When there was quiet, he said, “Feel, mother is not separate from you. No. Mother is first Guru. Cosmic Mother acts as a force of protection. Don’t believe anybody, but feel.”

 

Then the call and response fashion of chanting began again. Guru ji leading the group and they responding.

 

“OMMMMMMMMMMM OM DUM DURGAYAI SVAHA… OM DUM DURGAYAI SVAHA… OM DUM DURGAYAI SVAHA… OM DUM DURGAYAI SVAHA… OM DUM DURGAYAI SVAHA… OM DUM DURGAYAI SVAHA… OM DUM DURGAYAI SVAHA… OM DUM DURGAYAI SVAHA… OM DUM DURGAYAI SVAHA… OMMMMMMMMMMM.”

 

 

Chanting with the group, everything vibrating: The room, vocal chords, and space, suddenly we became prana… and the realization rose, we have always been prana.

 

The mantra I started chanting was now chanting me. I closed my eyes and let the mantra melt me into energy itself then as the chanting continued, and with the grace of my guru, slowly I dissolved into ether, silence, vast nothingness for a time.

 

Immense peace spread out within me and I lingered there in the timeless realm.

 

After the powerful chanting, we sat in silent meditation a while. The residue of the chanting working on us more and more.

 

If you’d asked any of us, I’m certain we would’ve each told you that we knew we were being given something special to be in his presence, to chant to Durga with him and to be guided by his grace.

 

It wasn’t that he was so great and we were nothing. No megalomania was on display. 

 

It was the beautiful experience of mysticism in action and trust placed in someone worthy, who cared for others on a profound level, who elevated everyone in his vicinity, and if you were lucky, you got to stay awhile nearby and absorb his wisdom.

 

Such is the memory of those days.

 

©2023 Luminous Shabda & Manorama

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