Genesis: Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India: 4/4

WWG-Small-TrilogyAs a child in south India, I saw a man douse himself with kerosene, set himself on fire and walk past the gate of our home. I still don’t know why he did what he did; servants were buzzing about it for weeks afterward, but I could not bear to hear the details. What could be so terrible that a man would set his own body ablaze? That Burning Man never left my consciousness, for he had staggered past our home defiantly and I don’t recall hearing him scream.

Pain comes in a range of gross and subtle flavors. Some are cursed with having to endure physical pain. My own suffering has mostly been emotional; to escape from the sometimes relentless inner torment of my earlier days, I confess I would do almost anything. Unfortunately, no sage manifested to warn me that no one succeeds in escaping suffering; like an ominous shadow, the pain demon haunts you, growing obese as it squeezes all the joy out of existence. The only remedy is to turn around and confront the bully head-on—and keep watching until it slinks away in shame.

Today I have come to accept that all fear is essentially an illusion. In fact, folks in the Twelve Step program have an acronym for fear–False Evidence Appearing Real. And indeed, that is what our fears are—insubstantial and petty tyrants who drain us of the one thing they do not have: prana, or vital energy. While my threshold for pain continues to be abysmally low, I now have a variety of constructive tools to dissolve it—mainly, yoga, meditation and the wisdom of the ancients. The Wild God continues to whip me, because I have set my personal goal high. The difference is that now I know why I, and all beings, must suffer—before gold can shine, it must go through trials by fire.

8c3b451325db273f2b072ce821f5d310Another reason I wrote Whip was to deal with a subject more or less taboo in my community of origin: sex. I grew up with a mother who flushed at the mere mention of the “s” word and talk of bodily functions evoked in her an intense discomfort. Her father had died when she was five, and she’d been brought up by her mother, a young widow who, by our custom, was neither allowed to remarry, nor work outside of home. While my little mother was given the best of material things, she lacked a close bond with her own grieving mother. So she reached out to the nuns at her school who warned her that men in general spelled trouble. Beautiful and melancholy, she was forcibly married off as a teenager and proceeded to bear many children. She did an astounding job of nurturing us, but I could always see the bewildered little girl whose life had drastically changed the day she lost her father.

One result of never being properly mothered herself was that my mother did not know how to deal with her growing daughters; we were forbidden to speak of natural things, and censored in almost every way. One day at school a friend mentioned to me that she’d asked her Oxford-educated mother how babies were made. Her mother had casually picked up a sketch pad, sketched the male and female organs, and explained the nature of conception and birth to her nine-year old daughter. Listening, I had grown rigid with envy; my mother’s prudishness, I felt sure, had installed shame and embarrassment in all her children about this most natural of functions.

I wrote Whip to remedy this great flaw in my own psyche—and hopefully to shed some light on the blocks and neuroses of others. As I continued to research Tantric and eastern philosophy in general, I began to appreciate its exalted teachings on sacred union. How wrong the world has gone in cheapening this most important root energy! However, yogis, shamans and other seekers appear to have redressed the balance, for at least they acknowledge sexual energy as critical to spiritual growth, whether one is celibate or not. And while Tantra is still often regarded as a hedonistic practice, the truth is that many celebrated Tantrics (such as the Dalai Lama) are highly disciplined, ethical, and celibate.

Sadly enough, in India, where energy teachings once flourished—I speak of Kundalini, or the serpent fire, which sages claim lies coiled three-and-a-half times at the base of the human spine—investigating primal energy as a tool for spiritual transformation is still not something one can speak frankly about. Tantra urges man and woman to view each other as divine and equal; by fusing their energies, they experience godhead. Where, I ask you, is the sin in this?

I am not talking about the tawdry manner in which sex is extolled, say, in Bollywood; nor the plethora of dirty jokes “sophisticated” Indian men and women bandy about; nor do I speak of the millions of modern Indians who, forced into unfulfilling arranged marriages, seek external consolation. I address instead the honor and respect one can give to one’s own true nature. In the ancient teachings, it is said that when Shiva set his seal on the world, he cleaved it into male and female; so when male and female re-unite in the most sacred of ways, they re-experience the state of Shiva, which is sat-chit-ananda, absolute existence-consciousness and bliss, or organic cosmic wholeness.

Bhagavan RamanaTo my critical eye, both Indian men and women—from the illiterate poor to the wealthy western-educated lot—have long lost their connection to this sacred wisdom. As a result, the balance between the sexes has gone radically awry and old female stereotypes of the sainted virgin versus the painted whore with nothing in-between persists. In general, there appears to be little room for pure friendship and respect between the sexes, the kind that can grow into a healthy, harmonious, symbiotic relationship. Perhaps this stream of consciousness ramble might explain why I nurtured Whip through many incarnations and personal ups and downs for close to twenty years. In the end, after going through hell and back, my protagonist finally awakens her own indwelling divinity; and that is what we all must do, at some point or the other in our infinite lives—for it is our birthright and our dharma. (To be continued in the next post).

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who vows to help us clear up the wreckage of our relative lives, so we can rest in the peace and bliss of our immortal Self!

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Genesis: Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India: 3/4

WWG-Small-TrilogySometime in the mid 90s, I put together a collection of short stories. The protagonist of each tale is an Indian woman who faces a terrible dilemma and solves it with amazing panache. I titled the collection: Sacrifice to the Black Goddess, in honor of the Dark Goddess Kali. My literary agent at the time showed it to Manhattan publishers and the universal verdict was that I had promise, but that I should first write a novel. And so the idea of writing something big and important began to stir within me.

Then, in the winter of 1993, I met James Kelleher, a brilliant vedic astrologer based in Los Gatos, California. He saw a novel looming in my chart and said it was my dharma to bring it into the world. He gave me the exact year I would finish it and ended by warning me that, although I’d have endless problems trying to publish it, I should persevere. Now writing a short story or essay had always been easy for me, but giving birth to a novel is a different kettle of fish. Being cursed with an impatient nature, I had so far never been able to stick to a complex project. While I had excelled all through school and college, my pattern was to get bored and dance away to the next activity. I realized only one thing could sustain me through writing a full-length novel—a topic that consumed me. I found this in the radical philosophy of Tantra, which stunned me with its liberating, profound and authentic teachings.

What is Tantra? Etymologically, it can be traced to the fusion of two Sanskrit words: tanoti and trayati, which roughly transliterate into the explosion of consciousness. The simplest definition I have found for it is “the transmutation of darkness into light.” But what is darkness, and what is light? Darkness pertains to operating on the level of beast: angry, jealous, greedy, lustful, and driven by fear; light refers to the highest point of evolution—as pure being, consciousness and bliss.

Kiri 16GB sd card 6243-1The ascent of consciousness is from muladhara, the root chakra—heavy with the fiery energy of the Kundalini—all the way up the invisible chakras to the sahasrara, or thousand-petaled lotus of higher consciousness, hovering slightly above the crown of the skull—when the individual ego dissolves back into cosmic intelligence. Simply put, when male and female reunite, two become one; this wholeness dissolves the individual ego that causes all our suffering and can lead to a permanent state of bliss. This can be accomplished either singly (for every human possesses both male and female energies) or as a committed couple. It can take decades before one is ready to take on a mate—a fact which flies in the face of contemporary thinking that Tantra encourages sexual license and excess. Without a strong grounding in ethics and yoga, seeking liberation as a couple simply cannot work.

By this time, I had also trained as a hatha yoga teacher. My guru blew my mind by teaching me the essence of the Bhagavad Gita. To think I’d grown up in India and never known I’d been parking my lazy bottom on a treasure trove of wisdom! And now an American sadhu was tossing me sparkling jewels from my own ancient culture! I’d wasted my time in south India belting out Janis Joplin, smoking ciggies, and trying to be oh so cool in the western way…oh, dear me, the many ironies of life!

The upshot of buying that little book at Ananda Ashram was that I now I had a title for my book: Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India. The Wild God was Rudra, who had metamorphosed into Shiva over the centuries. The theme would be the philosophy and practice of both celibate and Red Tantra, which entranced my mercurial mind. This being the pre-internet age, I began to make regular trips to the New York Public Library in order to research this vast subject. As I ploughed through their impressive stash of material, a plot began to coalesce. Ishvari—a teenage girl born in a village situated on the fringes of a city based on the Indus Valley Civilization—became my fiery protagonist. (The Indus Valley is important to me because some scholars say that my ancestors, the Saraswat Brahmins, were its original settlers and had practiced Tantra.)

d234450d3d62a8926e9c9bca1ac39318What becomes of fierce, beautiful and brilliant Ishvari? Guided by the advice of the royal astrologer, the Envoy of the Maharaja of Melukhha whisks her away to be trained for seven years by tantric monks. Despite her simmering anger against her mother, the lecherous priest and greedy landlord of her village, her ability to dazzle causes her to be elected to the role of High Tantrika. And so she is sent to serve as spiritual consort to Takshak, the corrupt and powerful monarch of Melukhha. But the stars in her almond eyes quickly dim when she realizes she is no more than a gorgeous bird trapped in the proverbial golden cage. Unable to deal with her emotions when her royal lover abandons her for an alien sorceress, she rebels in the worst of ways—and so brings down the wrath of the monarch on all who have cherished her. It is then that the teachings she has secretly spurned rise up again within her. The agony she experiences during her flight and the decades that follow awaken within her the great roaring kundalini fire….and she is set firmly again on the path to moksha or liberation. (To be continued in the next post).

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who vows to help us clear up the wreckage of our relative lives, so we can rest in the peace and bliss of our immortal Self!

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Genesis: Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India – 2/4

WWG-Small-TrilogySolace came in the form of hatha yoga, meditation and studying Eastern philosophy. Someone gave me Robert Svoboda’s Aghora—crude, intense, richHis chapter on karma made one thing crystal clear—that none of us are victims in the big picture. Our experiences are only the result of our own past karma, eons of thinking, speaking and acting in certain ways. Now I felt sure that the half-a-million dollars or more that I’d lost by leaving my marriage was the result of the karmic pendulum swinging back at me. Had I retaliated, as several feminist friends exhorted me to do, I suspected this pendulum would have swung back and knocked me down for the count.

Back to Ananda Ashram: my companion and I waded towards the bookstore through mounds of sparkling snow. I wanted a memento of our trip, so I bought the thinnest book I could find, hoping it was also the least expensive. When I got back to Manhattan, I devoured The Brilliant Function of Pain by Dr. Milton Ward in one fell swoop. Its premise is simple: that pain can be our best friend, for it warns us when we are in danger and forces us to flower into our full potential. Those who cannot feel pain die quickly; imagine you are burning to death and cannot feel a thing! Yes, that book was more than worth its weight in gold, for it also spoke of a little known myth about Shiva, the mesmerizing god of paradox and the Destroyer in the current Indian pantheon. It claims that Shiva lashes souls who have strayed with a psychic whip that unleashes excruciating pain. Why? Because while humans can tolerate high levels of discomfort, we cannot endure agony; lashed by Shiva’s whip, we are forced to spiritually ascend.

I had no illusions about myself; even as a rebellious teen, I had always flirted with both darkness and light. I knew I was composed of two equally powerful selves—hedonist and ascetic. Sometimes the dark side completely took over, throwing its black cloak over me and suffocating me until I longed for extinction. But when I had worked out the angst, light would suffuse my world with fresh radiance. So the concept of Shiva’s whip made perfect sense to me.

FB_IMG_1494089545295I have since confirmed that pain does indeed open the petals of the human heart. If we don’t know what it is to suffer—to be alone for long stretches of time; to lose loved ones in tragic accidents; to be frightened out of our wits and broke in an expensive city; to be dangerously ill and friendless—how can we possibly empathize with others who also suffer? To understand all, as the old saying goes, is to forgive all. Why forgive? Because when we investigate the underlying fabric of reasons why people think, speak and act as they do, we begin to realize that in essence we are no different; that insidious sense of separation begins to dissolve and we become One. Indeed it is when we first comprehend the brilliant function of pain that we can finally move forward, with grace and confidence. (To be continued in the next post).

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who vows to help us clear up the wreckage of our relative lives, so we can rest in the peace and bliss of our immortal 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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Whip of the Wild God – Audiobook released – Free promo-codes available

CLICK TO LISTEN SAMPLE
Audible, the planet’s top audiobook seller, has just accepted my narration of Whip, the first novel in the Moksha Trilogy. Hurray!!! Getting this done was a lengthy and complex operation, especially since I had just had dental surgery and a vital nerve in my mouth was affected, and there is no way on earth that I could have done it without the excellent support of three good friends. Advaita is Not Two!!!

What’s more, ACX has sent me complimentary Audible.com PROMO-CODES to start spreading the word. If you would like a FREE COPY (please respond quickly as there are not that many codes), use the CONTACT option of the blog to let me know. Or, if you have my address, send me an email. You can also contact me via Facebook. FYI, my fave way of communicating is email, since I tend to miss messages on other media. Please be aware that in samsara there is no free lunch, or free anything for that matter! In this case, I would like you to be genuinely interested in hearing me read Whip out loud and get to the job quickly, and then be equally willing to post a great review on Audible.com or Amazon.com. If not, you can buy it later and enjoy it at your own convenience, but now we need those reviews!

These are the instructions ACX sent me which I think you should read before making a decision:

These promotional codes work only on Audible.com.

  1. Go to my book’s page on Audible.com: www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Whip-of-the-Wild-God-A-Novel-of-Tantra-in-Ancient-India-Audiobook/B0747TF61Z
  2. Add the audiobook to your cart.
  3. If you are prompted to sign in, please create a new Audible.com account or log in. Otherwise, proceed by clicking “Do you have a promotional code?” beneath the cover artwork of the audiobook.
  4. Enter the promo code, and click “Apply Code.”
  5. A credit for the audiobook will be added to your account. Click the box next to “1 Credit” and click the “Update” button to apply the credit to the purchase.
  6. After you select “1 Credit” and click “Update” to modify your shopping cart, the price for the audiobook will change to $0.00. You may proceed through the checkout by clicking “Next Step” and “Complete Purchase” on the subsequent page.

Greetings from Arunachala. Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who destroys all that blocks us to realizing our highest spiritual and creative potential even as he leads us to merge with the glorious Self!

Brian Feinblum’s Interview with Mira Prabhu

e86345da08c09d1879f0e7eda3a5e911What inspired you to write your book?

Krishna’s Counsel is the second of a trilogy of novels whose theme is moksha(Sanskrit word for ‘liberation from suffering’). (Please see here). My first novel, Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India, is set in a civilization reminiscent of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, and my third, Copper Moon Over Pataliputra, is set in 300 BCE. I intended to stick with historical/mystical fiction, but way back in 1999, my Manhattan-based literary agent suggested I write a contemporary novel about an Indian woman who had moved from East to West. Nothing happened until many years later when I found myself marooned in a guest house in Rishikesh in northern India: a wild festival raged all around me, keeping me captive in my suite, and so I decided to sink my teeth into something that would engage my monkey mind; in six months, I had written the first draft of Krishna’s Counsel. Continue reading

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!
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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

THAT INFURIATING PATTERN FROM HELL!!!

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