Shiva’s Spectacular Gender Divide: 2/4

279dbfcf2cba52b1ecbc23c53cf96b95As I moved into my teen years, I sought out friends who equally dreaded being thrust into the marriage market—to be assessed in terms of dowry, fair complexions, domestic skills, and the ability to please husband and in-laws. (While the practice of dowry has been illegal for decades now, women are harassed, even burned to death, if their families are unable to satiate greedy in-laws. In some cases, a man marries, gets a good dowry, kills his bride in collusion with his mother, and gets away with it, either by bribing the cops or by faking a credible accident—whereupon he goes bride-hunting again.)

During summer holiday afternoons while the rest of my family was taking their siesta, I’d creep out to pay impromptu visits to my girlfriends in the hood. Inside their bedrooms, with the fan going full blast, we’d giggle and gossip as we gorged on sweets and savories. One family I befriended were Himachali Brahmins who had settled in Bangalore. The husband spent his time slumbering or seated cross-legged on the living room couch, perusing the papers or some crappy thriller. His wife was a good-looking and industrious woman, a Hindu fanatic and Sanskrit scholar who ran the household with iron efficiency and was tough on everyone but her indolent husband. All he had to do was crook a little finger—demanding chai or that she clean his ears or trim his finger and toenails—and she’d run to obey.

Unfortunately “Uncle” took a weird shine to me. One afternoon I dropped in on the family, unaware that the girls were away visiting relatives. Uncle opened the door, summoned me over to his couch and handed me a paperback novel. He pointed to a paragraph. “Read this out to me, please,” he ordered. Vain as I was, I began to read in a loud voice, showing off my perfect diction. It was a Harold Robbins book, and the section he’d chosen described the heroine being banged silly by the smoldering hero. Innocent as I then was, I still knew an older man asking a thirteen-year old to read soft porn to him was hideously wrong. In seconds, I was red-faced and stuttering. Uncle took a firm grasp of my arm to prevent me from escaping. I was doing so very well, he crooned; he was so enjoying my reading. Just then his wife entered the room. With a rude flick of a hand, he ordered that proud woman out. I wriggled out of his grasp, flung the book on the floor, and hurtled out into the hot afternoon, feeling an ugly mix of guilt and shame and rage.

9e4db9873c00799c674eaa9df76ed47aKnowing I’d be blamed, I was reluctant to confide what had happened to anyone in my family. Who asked you to go there in the first place? I could hear my mother shriek. Weren’t you supposed to be sleeping? WhatYou jumped over the wall again? You are utterly shameless and deserve everything you get! You see? Already I was aware that in the world I inhabited, the female of the species would be the eternal scapegoat. Had I complained, a variation of that old song would have been sung: “Don’t blame meShe was wearing a red dress, and so I raped her.”

On the street parallel to our home lived a Rajput family. Rajputs are a fierce and beautiful race, originators of Sati, the ancient and hideous practice of urging a wife to leap on to her husband’s funeral pyre—for what is a woman worth without a man, anyway? Better to burn baby burn, and get all the endless abuse to which a widow is subjected out of the way once and for all. Never mind that in thousands of cases the dead husband was a doddering old fart, and the wife a young girl led to marital slaughter by virtuous parents. Duty and honor were considered paramount, and a “good” woman was urged to end her life when her man was gone. Those who refused were drugged, thrown onto the funeral pyre, and drums were beaten loud and hard to drown out their shrieks.

Now Lakshmi, youngest of three daughters born to this family, committed the mortal sin of falling in love with the attractive son of a local Muslim building contractor. Traditionally speaking, the Rajputs and the Muslims are arch enemies; so, when some spiteful gossip leaked the information to Lakshmi’s parents, her father, an important man in the community, went bonkers: Lakshmi was pulled out of college, given a whipping, and placed under house arrest. Shocked, a bunch of us neighborhood kids held a pow-pow to which we invited Shaukat, her grieving lover. Since I was considered the bravest, it was decided that I would find out what was going on. Next morning we waited until her father’s car drove out of their house. Armed with a letter from her swain hidden in my bag, I walked in through her gate and rang the house bell. Her mother, a darkly pretty woman from a village near Jaipur who spoke no English, opened the door, probably thinking I was a salesman. I pushed past her and raced up the stairs to find Lakshmi, who had spied me entering the gate through her window, standing at the door to her bedroom. Quickly I slipped her the love letter and tried valiantly to control my tears—for in the space of days, her eyes were swollen with crying and her lovely face was covered with pimples. In a low dramatic voice I delivered Shaukat’s romantic oath—that he would rescue her and make her his bride. The light that shone through her stark misery made me want to cry even more.

e5a9d684e0fb9c4db5f10eaa9cae51c9Like Rajput heroines of yore, Lakshmi was amazingly resilient. She managed to convince her father—in truth, a kind man who simply could not break free of the old ways—that she had “reformed”. Then, three years later, exactly a day past her twenty-first birthday, she simply disappeared from the house, leaving behind all the expensive gifts her parents had given her. A note sat on her bed: “You gave me everything material,” it read in true Bollywood style, “but not my heart’s desire.” Her father drove frantically over to Shaukat’s house. “Where’s that bastard?” he screamed in Hindi at the servant woman who stood by their gate. The old thing spat a stream of red betel juice over the wall. “Gone,” she announced with a shrug. “Nobody here. All gone Shaukat marriage.” More than a decade later, on my annual vacation from Manhattan, I bumped into Lakshmi’s brother on Commercial Street. “How are things with Lakshmi? I asked anxiously. “Fine,” he replied with a grin. “They have three kids—two boys and a girl. Dad relented and invited them home after their third baby. Now both our families are friends.” A fairy-tale ending? Yes, but then Lakshmi was patient and cunning and Shaukat never gave up—and perhaps the Muslims wanted to teach the proud Rajputs a lesson. Most such situations would have ended in depression, murder or suicide. (To be continued in the next post).

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who destroys all that blocks us from knowing we are the immortal and blissful Self!

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9e1a511e7a9166a72e30bd913768d213Growing up in south India at a time when the West was not as accessible as it is to Indians today, my first glimmerings of the wild life I (delusionally) believed all Americans and Europeans led was via the thrillers of writers like James Hadley Chase. Yes, I read Agatha Christie too, and more sedate authors, but it was the paperback thrillers I found most addictive, for they spoke of hippies and drugs and scarlet women pouting at bad guys and getting murdered—and of course there was always the unwary bystander or canny detective who got dragged willy-nilly into the spicy stew.

Oh, how exciting it was to get one of those books in my greedy hands and to devour it at a single stretch! There were times I’d read a book a day, and since it wasn’t easy to find this kind of material lying around then, I’d woo anyone who had a home library and was willing to share his/her hoard with me.

It was my brother-in-law, an academic and professor, who dourly pointed out to me the effects that reading what he called ‘trash’ would have on my impressionable mind. It’s a hard addiction to break, he warned, and when you need to digest serious stuff, you won’t be able to. I dismissed his warnings since I was doing very well in academics myself, and believed, with all the raw arrogance of youth, that I knew better than preachy fuddy-duddies how to separate study from fun. Continue reading


d234450d3d62a8926e9c9bca1ac39318Freud opened the minds of millions of Westerners to the hidden codes that determine our behavior. I read his work from time to time as a young woman, and one particular novel I plunged into as a teenager particularly fascinated me since it reduced his teachings to the primal urges of sex and death.

Now, in the Eastern view, these powerful drives stem from the lowest chakra in the human system, known as the root chakra or mooladhara. Yes, it is critically important to understand the root chakra, because our mooladhara drives us to create a life based solely on surviving and thriving in the relative world. If we do not realize this, we are condemned to spin senselessly around in the vicious cycle of samsara for eons, never realizing we are far more than our material body, mind, emotions or possessions.

Eastern mystics and sages authoritatively inform us that our true and immortal nature is existence-awareness and bliss (sat-chit-ananda). The way to knowing this can be beyond arduous and can encompass striving for eons. But once this sinks in, then we are definitely on the inner road to peace and bliss. Continue reading

The Destructive Dance of Monkey Mind

6d683d43b8fae0a1465e0c51199d5190-1Last night something happened that disturbed my mind. Unable to sleep, I stayed awake until the wee hours, reading an illuminating book a friend had given me containing the reminiscences of those fortunate enough to have had personal contact with Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.

I woke up feeling bedraggled—but the sun was shining through many windows, and doggies and humans would soon be calling for my attention, so I rose. I did my morning practice of diving into the Self and was able to dispassionately view the antics of my mind—as if I was a wise old grandfather indulgently watching his rambunctious grandson mess up the living room. Simply being watched with love stopped my mind from spinning into even more chaos—and then bliss arose in a strong wave.

FB_IMG_1472401603075As Gautama Buddha said so beautifully over two thousand years ago, sometimes the mind is like a drunken wild elephant in rut. Somehow we must stop it from ruining the beauty of our lives, and each of us must find our own way— fortunately, magically, the way is always there, glittering with promise beneath the muck of the dreary highway of the unexamined life.

It may take eons to learn how to halt the charging mind, but it is possible. Those few able to stop the mind permanently evolve into sages, rishis, seers, jnanis and enjoy a permanent state of peace and bliss. This of course is the ultimate goal of Atma-Vichara—and practiced regularly, Atma-Vichara (Ramana’s Direct Path) really does possess the power to destroy the wrong thinking that manufactures all our suffering.

Kiri 16GB sd card 6390Greetings from Arunachala, the sacred mountain believed to be God Shiva Himself, who promises to destroy every bit of cheap tinsel that covers the shining gold of who we truly are!

Samsara is a Fickle Beast!

Kiri 16GB sd card 3273‘Samsara’ is a Sanskrit word that approximates to ‘relative reality.’ When Buddha gave us his first noble truth: life is suffering, it was this level of reality he was referring to, simply, the ups and downs of a life lived in duality. It is his fourth truth that points the way out of suffering, and thank Ultimate Consciousness, I say, that there is indeed a highway that can lead us permanently out of this mess!

I’m writing this because I’ve been hit by a series of minor calamities (that’s probably an oxymoron, but never mind.) One dog who refuses since to eat and won’t tell me why, ha ha ha, my other dog who is totally nutso and terrified of most humans, and, out of the blue, a sciatica attack from hell, most likely due to the fact that I’ve been working way too long on the computer. It flared up last night, and this morning I could barely get out of bed. Thank god for my Ayurvedic doc, who came over right away and did some wonderful healing work. Continue reading

Serpent Ring And The Magic of Acceptance

Kiri 16GB sd card 5294I met a wild looking sadhu on the way up to Skand Ashram many moons ago, and noticed that he wore incredible jewelry, all in the shape of serpents, and fashioned of copper and gold.

He told me a jeweler in a town far away had made it for him. I asked if he could make me a ring, and he agreed. I gave him an advance and the ring came as promised—a golden serpent coiled like the kundalini with a small ruby for an eye.

I have grown to love this ring for it represents my passion for the serpent fire (Kundalini)—which is nothing less than the energy of primal mind that fuels the process of enlightenment. Nothing but this fiery energy can halt the power of my chaotic mind, and I use a kundalini practice as a base for Atma-Vichara, Self-Investigation or the Direct Path, as taught by Ramana Maharshi. Continue reading


a0154d1588c1b8135252fc3d01e0e9faSeveral friends living in India have written to me saying they would so appreciate being able to buy my novels (Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of tantra in Ancient India and Krishna’s Counsel, the first two books in The Moksha Trilogy) in India. Well, it gives me great pleasure to announce that this is now possible!

Recently we had an unsettling experience with (Amazon’s affiliate in India) concerning print quality. This has not yet been cleared up. As a result, we warned readers not to purchase print books via that link. However please note that their e-versions are fine. Subsequently my friend did some research and came up with a self-publishing site based in India:, which delivers great print quality at a great price.

Voila, here are the direct links:

Krishna’s Counsel –

Whip Of The Wild God –

So, if you live in India and love Eastern spiritual fiction, do check out these books and spread the word…the following link contains all links (print & ebook) specifically for Indian readers –

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a mountain of fire that burns all that blocks us from knowing that we are the immortal and blissful Self!

7 Micro Windows into Krishna’s Counsel

51yxbpvna9lKRISHNA’S COUNSEL goes alive internationally today, September 3rd 2016!!! Here are the links, not just for this second novel in the Moksha Trilogy, but for the first, WHIP OF THE WILD GOD: A NOVEL OF TANTRA IN ANCIENT INDIA, which I recently took it into my head to burnish to a shimmering gold: 

Krishna’s Counsel on Amazon –
Krishna’s Counsel on all eBook stores –
Whip of the Wild God on Amazon –
Whip of the Wild God on all eBook stores –

Note: Please do not order a print copy from (Indian site) as there have been some print issues reported.

These memes below were designed by my dear friend, Atul Mehta, using quotes I selected from Krishna’s Counsel. The strikingly beautiful cover is the work of Mishi Bellamy, artiste extraordinaire (see here). Continue reading

I am no coward, O Krishna,” Arjuna muttered in despair…

14138969_521298861409469_33203630_oAlmost twenty years ago, my Manhattan-based literary agent planted in my consciousness the seed of a contemporary novel—and so began to flower the saga of a brilliant and rebellious Indian girl who grows up in 60s south India, and, against all odds, metamorphoses into a Spiritual Warrior when she is forced to go into mortal combat against a ruthless serial killer.

I wrote Krishna’s Counsel in bits and pieces as I traversed the globe, seeking the perfect womb within which to complete my creative and spiritual work. I put the seal on this second novel in the shadow of the sacred hill Arunachala, symbol of the pure consciousness which is the substratum of our true nature.

Thanks to our impulsive foray into Kindle Scout, you have all heard way too much about this “Mystical Novel of Obsession & Illumination”; if I had the sorcery to turn back the clock, I might have done things differently—and yet, as Lord Krishna himself might inform us with a twinkle in his divine eye, nothing is an accident and all events have far deeper purpose than we can conceive of at the time they happen.

Anyway, Krishna’s Counsel is finally making her international debut…and except for the print edition (POD) which will become available on on SEPTEMBER 3, 2016, all the e-book versions are ready for pre-order. Oh, and for those of you who enjoyed my first novel, Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India, or would like to read it now, please know that I decided to give her a final polish…and now Whip too is frolicking out in this mad, mad world, garbed in resplendent attire. Continue reading


NOTE: The Kindle Scout campaign for Krishna’s Counsel is over. No further nominations shall be accepted. A Big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who nominated.

9c6cabcd493c356f45a11a6cebdc5685Well, so this is the last day you can NOMINATE my mystical novel Krishna’s Counsel for inclusion on the Kindle Scout list, so, if you haven’t already done so, please do!

Even as I make this request, I’m watching a pattern rise up from subterranean depths—only this time I’m watching it with amused curiosity. And why is this? Because, many years ago a brilliant Tantrik guru (Harish Johari) gave me a piece of advice: He said that all I had to do to penetrate the great mystery of who I AM beyond body and mind was to keep watching the insidious antics of my egoic self or mini-me. Just following his perceptive advice has gifted me with an increasing ability to simply witness life as it flows. Continue reading