And Mirabai Sang the Blues…1 of 3

Meerabai_painting-wikimedia-commons-orgSix hundred years or so ago in the fabled land of Rajasthan, Home of Kings, Princess Mira blossomed under the benevolent guidance of her grandfather. Many versions of her amazing life in 14th century India abound; this particular retelling is not to please the historian or the scholar, for I am neither, but merely to give you a sweet taste of the soul of an exceptional female who transformed both her inner and outer worlds.

Mira was exquisitely lovely, talented and intelligent; her life was a sparkling tapestry of everything a young royal could dream of. Aware of her unusual potential, her grandfather encouraged Mira to immerse herself not just in the scriptures and in the art of making superb music, but also to acquire the skills of archery, fencing, horseback-riding and chariot-driving, for that was a time of frequent war.

At fourteen, Mira was persuaded to marry Rana Kumbha of Mewar, who adored Mira not just for her beauty but for her passionate love of god. Mira could well have lived out her life as just another of India’s pampered royals; instead her unflinching passion for the Blue God in the face of the hostility she faced from her in-laws—for refusing to abandon Krishna for the family deity Goddess Durga, for befriending holy men, and for proclaiming the Blue God as her true husband—gradually metamorphosed her into a mighty exponent of Prema Bhakti (Divine Love). Today, six centuries after her death, Mirabai is famed as an inspired poet-saint whose tender odes to Krishna have endeared her for all time to the Indian masses. Continue reading

Shiva’s Spectacular Gender Divide – Part 2/6

patriarchy-1I grew up in a more or less traditional home in south India, dysfunctional as most homes all over the planet inevitably are, whether on the surface or deep in the bowels of core relationships. The tacit understanding that men ruled the roost certainly permeated our domestic atmosphere.

Despite his liberal attitude towards educating all his children, my father was the undisputed patriarch. None of us—least of all my dutiful and submissive mother—dared challenge even his most ridiculous orders. A brilliant and charismatic man who could enthrall a roomful of guests with his easy raconteuring, my father’s rage could incinerate, while his scathing tongue could eviscerate—and so we obeyed him without demur, at least on the shifting surface of things. Continue reading