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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Shiva’s Spectacular Gender Divide: 1/4

WWG-Small-TrilogyIn the Manhattan winter of 1992, I dreamed about writing an epic set in a mythical civilization ruled by Rudra-Siva, the great god of paradox, and infused with the beauty of Tantra. Somehow, I intuited that the Wild God himself would spark my dream into roaring life; believe it or not, this is what happened twenty years later, under the shadow of Arunachala, the hill considered by millions to be the form taken by Shiva in order to help seekers dissolve back into the immortal and blissful Self.

While researching this novel, I came upon an ancient saying in the Tantras that goes something like this: When Shiva set his seal upon this world, he cleaved it into male and female; when male and female come together in sacred union, Shiva blesses them with the bliss of Oneness. Whether depicted as Ardhaniswara (half-man, half-woman), or in his contrasting roles of ascetic and hedonist, I knew this union referred to more than the conventional man-woman nexus. Shiva’s point is clear: in order to be whole, male and female must unite, and this can take place either in a celibate who seeks to unite these polarities in his or her own being, or in the matrix created by a spiritual couple.

As an Indian woman born into a multi-tiered society, I began to mull over why all male-dominated cultures had turned into raging gender battlefields. Since each of us is bound to have a unique take on the often subterranean gender wars that have ruined the fabric of our existence, I can speak only for myself and the way I learned to “see.” My home was dysfunctional, as most homes over the planet are, whether on the surface or deep in the bowels of core relationships; the tacit understanding that men ruled the roost permeated our domestic atmosphere. A brilliant and charismatic man who enthralled our guests with his easy raconteuring, his rage could incinerate, while his scathing tongue could eviscerate. Despite his liberal attitude towards educating all his children, my father was the undisputed patriarch and none of us, least of all my dutiful mother, dared challenge him.

Kiri 16GB sd card 4418Our society was studded with double-standards that applied to every aspect of our lives, and yet most women seemed to have accepted their lot. Some were born docile and did not rebel against playing second, third or nth fiddle; others were born under a lucky star—their men were sympathetic and pliable and life was good; still others toed the line because they had no option: since they were not encouraged to fend for themselves, existence could be pure hell if they incurred male ire.

The Indian patriarchy, like all virulent cancers, has a gazillion ways of perpetuating itself. One major trap: every married woman is urged to have children as soon as possible. The pressure is so enormous that many sink into depression when this does not happen. (Read: May You Be The Mother Of A Hundred Sons, by Elisabeth Bumiller). And once children come, so does slavery; burdened by hungry mouths to feed, at the mercy of menfolk who hold firmly on to the family purse-strings, women have even less time to challenge the patriarchy. And God forbid a wife should dare to complain about an abusive husband! If you are one such, you risk being called a “shrew”, a bitch, or even a “ghodi” (horse, a fast and therefore bad woman) or even ostracized.

Featured Image -- 9585While my father wanted his children to become doctors and diplomats, he firmly believed in the institution of arranged marriage. This was ahated prospect that hung over my mutinous head like a sword of Damocles, and I’d grumble to my mother that there was little point in educating us if we were going to be shoved into marriage and forced to have one kid after another. “How can you decide who I should live with, sleep with, cook for the rest of my life?” “Be a good girl,” she’d warn. “If you’re lucky, your husband will let you do what you want. Love comes after, not before marriage.” The word “good” was thrown at us so often that I cringed to hear it. What about being an original, excellent, humane, exciting, creative, and liberal human being? As for bad girls, they were warned that the entire family would suffer on their account—after all, which decent family would permit their children to marry into a family that harbored a single bad seed? And so emotional blackmail was thrown into the simmering witches’ cauldron of double standards. (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!

If you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, please also check out my BOOKS and LINKS.

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Click the buttons below to SHARE if you liked this post.
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ESPECIALLY FOR MY READERS IN INDIA!

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.in (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: Pothi.com, which delivers great print quality at a great price.

Voila, here are the direct links:

Krishna’s Counsel – https://pothi.com/pothi/node/189597

Whip Of The Wild God – https://pothi.com/pothi/node/189598

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 – https://miraprabhu.wordpress.com/mira-prabhu-all-links/#indian

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!
2fbe52e3f0ca63e98c2e390f9906a6e8

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 – getbook.at/KcOnAmzn
Krishna’s Counsel on all eBook stores – books2read.com/mpKC
Whip of the Wild God on Amazon – getbook.at/WwgOnAmzn
Whip of the Wild God on all eBook stores – books2read.com/mpWWG

Note: Please do not order a print copy from Amazon.in (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 Amazon.com 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

THE DIRTY LITTLE SECRET

‘The Secret’—a ‘spiritual’ self-help documentary launched in Australia in 2006—hit the Western world with incredible impact, generating millions for its producers. I wrote the following article a year or so later but never published it. Today, although a thousand other scams have rushed in to take its place, the reasons why I reacted so negatively to it are still pertinent. The plethora of gross misinformation spreading across our planet has inspired me to write spiritual fiction, and all three of my novels in the MOKSHA TRILOGY (Whip of the Wild God, Krishna’s Counsel and Copper Moon Over Pataliputra—Whip is out and the other two novels are soon to be published) deal with the great eastern truths that helped me come to grips with reality.) So here goes….

9159ab7fd715aa61603466cadef10395In the summer of 2008, I lived in a delightful suburb located a twenty-minute drive from the White House in Washington D.C. A string of disappointments had driven me into a chasm of despair. Despite the spiritual tools I’d acquired over the decades, my state of consciousness had sunk into such a quicksand of self-doubt that I expected the bathroom mirror to crack every time I peered cautiously into it. At night, as breezes ruffled the branches of the majestic old trees surrounding that beautiful home, I would hear the fat lady screech, and know I was trapped within another dark night of the soul.

I called my friend Meredith who had moved to Taos, New Mexico. “I’ve got the perfect remedy for you, hon!” she cried when I mumbled the shameful details of my depression. “Watch The Secret! It will change everything for you!” Continue reading

BRAHMA’S DREAM & KRISHNA’S COUNSEL

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.

FB_IMG_1459874344775I grew up in a traditional south Indian world whose cruel inequities I struggled to make sense of. Nothing quenched my hunger for truth until I stumbled upon the teachings on karma, reincarnation and suchlike. Gradually I taught myself to see with new eyes and began to experience the glimmerings on inner peace.

I was obsessed with unraveling the answer to one striking paradox: how could India, a country so rich in the philosophy of Oneness, also support a caste system that militated against this knowing? This is a BIG question and it took immense effort to find answers that satisfied me. A major turning point was learning about what eastern sages refer to as the Two Great Truths. (Here’s a post you might enjoy: https://miraprabhu.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/two-great-truths-absolute-and-relative-reality-real-and-unreal/).   

It was the answers to my ten thousand questions combined with intriguing myths and stories that led me to write Krishna’s Counsel, the second novel in my Moksha Trilogy. Pia, my protagonist, is a rebellious and hypersensitive girl who grows up in 60s south India and is just as confused by her environment as I was. Continue reading

TRUE CONFESSION & KRISHNA’S COUNSEL

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.

994912da914e1e24f959f1934c116265True confession—I LOATHE self-promo with a passion! I don’t enjoy nagging and equally shy away from those who badger others to get what they want. If you too were born with a thin skin, I bet you would empathize. Being hypersensitive and hyper-empathetic is not always an asset in a world where external success often hinges on chest-thumping and being pushy.

Anyway, years ago I decided to write in order to channel my turbulent energies. You see, as I studied the nature of both absolute and relative reality, millions of thoughts kept bubbling up from the seething cauldron of my unconscious into my conscious mind, and yet I feared no one person would have the patience to really listen to me. So I melded my love for verbal self-expression with my passion for mysticism and decided to write a series of novels whose theme is enlightenment—and The Moksha Trilogy was born. (https://miraprabhu.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/a-trilogy-of-light-mishi-bellamy-artiste-extraordinaire/) Continue reading

The Ego is Not Your Amigo – Part 2 of 2

Harish Johari

Harish Johari

I first began to consciously pursue the destruction of my own troublesome ego when I lived in hectic Manhattan. At the time, I had just begun to plot a novel based on eastern philosophy (Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India), and was engrossed in learning everything I could about Tantra and mysticism.

In the process, I met folks who tended to interpret Tantra mainly as a license to enjoy indiscriminate sex. My view was different: mainly from delving into the treasure trove of eastern philosophy at the New York Public Library, I had discovered that, etymologically speaking, the word Tantra derives from two Sanskrit words: tanoti and trayati—meaning: the explosion of consciousness. How one performs this magic is up to the individual; while couple-hood can certainly become a means of liberation, celibate tantrics often evolve fastersimply because they are relieved of having to cope with the eccentricities of an ego-driven partner. Continue reading

The Ego Is Not Your Amigo – Part 1 of 2

Arunachala

Arunachala

One twilit Sunday evening, a friend and I embarked on the 14-kilometre Giripradakshina trek. In  this specific case, Giripradakshina refers to the ancient practice of circumambulating the sacred hill Arunachala—which rises majestic from the center of the intriguing ancient temple town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, south India.

Taking off from Ramana Ashram, we made our way through a segment of crazy busy highway until we reached the serpentine tree-shaded mountain path (Girivalam) road populated with varying types of sadhu—from the often belligerent itinerant hoping to escape a tricky mundane situation by donning the orange robe that bestows instant spiritual status and garners support from many quarters—to the true renunciate of radiant countenance. Continue reading