Glorious Modern Art For An Ancient Hindu Hymnal

Friday Evening Devi-otional (A)Art(I) Posting

This is some truly excellent art which helps to illustrate evocatively a rather core series of principles to Shakta theology and cosmogony; which are also extolled in the course of my favourite of the RigVedic Hymnals – the renowned DeviSukta [RV X 125].

Note that it is the Hand of the Goddess which is where the Sun is in a Solar System – the center and heart and energizer of all, source ultimately and sustainer of all life. [This links to the mention in the first line of said Hymnal around supporting or holding aloft the Radiant Deities of the Sky; and also the similar supports offered in line 2. This, too, is likely part of what is meant by the mention in line 7 around bringing forth the Father – Tvastr (Varuna, Shiva) in this context, Chitra of the Sky]

Note also that the Goddess is ‘obscured’ somewhat via the black of night and the space between worlds as Her star-lit complexion [We would call this “Kaal” – and indeed, Kali is regarded as existing before all, around all, and shall exist after all, in just such a manner … the blackness which precedes, enfolds, surrounds, and then persists after the light is resting afore re-ignition]. [The invocation of Stars and Starlight also recall the associations of Wealth and transcendence via Soma to be found in line 2] [Interestingly, too, given the nature of the Dark – which is not, contrary to popular belief, merely ’empty’, a variant translation of line 4 features the reminder: “Even the non-perceivers of you dwell near me.”; and also suggests “overpower” as an additional sense to “pervade” when it comes to the “many areas” wherein Devi is to be Found – just as the Night is all-encompassing and over-powers all with Her cloak. Line 6 is also frequently translated as having Her “pervaded” Earth and Heaven.]

Note that the faculty of sight is represented in the Moons of the Pupils; both recalling ChandraGhanta, but also ChandraSekhar – and “Lewk” in PIE produces both “Light” and “Loka” , terms for the faculty of Sight and for a Realm, Rulership.

The Griffith Translation:

  1. I TRAVEL with the Rudras and the Vasus, with the Ādityas and All-Gods I wander.
    I hold aloft both Varuṇa and Mitra, Indra and Agni, and the Pair of Aśvins.
    2 I cherish and sustain high-swelling Soma, and Tvaṣṭar I support, Pūṣan, and Bhaga.
    I load with wealth the zealous sdcrificer who pours the juice and offers his oblation
    3 I am the Queen, the gatherer-up of treasures, most thoughtful, first of those who merit worship.
    Thus Gods have stablished me in many places with many homes to enter and abide in.
    4 Through me alone all eat the food that feeds them,—each man who sees, brewhes, hears the word outspoken
    They know it not, but yet they dwell beside me. Hear, one and all, the truth as I declare it.
    5 1, verily, myself announce and utter the word that Gods and men alike shall welcome.
    I make the man I love exceeding mighty, make him a sage, a Ṛṣi, and a Brahman.
    6 I bend the bow for Rudra that his arrow may strike and slay the hater of devotion.
    I rouse and order battle for the people, and I have penetrated Earth and Heaven.
    7 On the world’s summit I bring forth the Father: my home is in the waters, in the ocean.
    Thence I extend o’er all existing creatures, and touch even yonder heaven with my forehead.
    8 I breathe a strong breath like the wind and tempest, the while I hold together all existence.
    Beyond this wide earth and beyond the heavens I have become so mighty in my grandeur.”

A variant translation [Rao] of the last two lines runs thus:

“7. I bring forth the paternal (heaven – abode of the manes) upon the crown (brows) of (this Supreme Being); my genesis is from the waters (cosmic – the all pervading Entity); from thence, I pervade through all beings and reach this heaven with my body.

  1. I verily myself breathe forth like the wind, issuing out form to all the created worlds; beyond the heaven, beyond the world (I Exist eternally – beyond space & time) – so vast am I in my greatness.”

Although I am also quite partial to this much more recent academic rendition [Janasvami] :

“[7] I generate the father on the summit of this (sky). My source is in the waters, in the inner ocean. Thence, I spead among all living creatures, alongside the all-pervading, and with the vertex I touch that sky.

[8] I only breathe forth, like the wind, while holding together all living creatures. So great (vast) I have become possessing greatness that I am beyond heaven and this earth.”

I have taken a rather more in-depth look at the underlying theology of much of this in my last year’s article upon the Kushmanda NavaDurga Aspect as part of our NavRatri series.

And while it may have been a good idea to reproduce some of that material here, I am genuinely of the opinion that between the brief notations I’ve provided and accompanying translations, that the image, almost speaks for herself!

Jai Mata Di!

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