It is Friday – Devi’s Day – And so therefore, Devi-otional (A)Art(i) posting !
Absolutely beautiful rendering by Shuvankar Biswas – which does that rarest of things … takes the established theological/iconographic/mythological conceptry and brings it together to create something which seems ‘new’ yet resonates with the effortless weight of ages!
What do I mean by this? Well consider Devi’s Tongue. At first, we should presume that this is Devi Kali – and that the prominency of the Tongue is the mark of embarrassment following Her slaying of Shiva; or the darting Tongue which successfully intercepted all the Raktabija [‘Blood-Seed’] demons.
Except if we look a little closer – we behold something else rather remarkable. The Tongue has ‘bled into’ the Flame, in its whirl – and which thence projects back out and around the Devi in the formulaic representation for the Universe [c.f the Ring of Fire about Mahadev in the Nataraja iconographic schema], even looping around back into what might appear similar to the Vyomakesha [‘Heaven-Hair’ – but more upon that, some other time].
Why is this occurrent? Well, I am not the artist … I am but a theologian – but it instantly recalled to me the lesser-known Vedic conceptry around fire in the mouth as an instrument of cosmic creation.
It is this Fire which speaks, empowers, and resonates out as the Fire of Creation – the Empowered Speech, the Arka, the Seven Tongues of Flame – in just the manner that the Universe is held to be congealed fire likewise.
There is prominent presentation in various Upanishads [the Brihadaranyaka is the one which springs to mind from my previous work] of the Spider ‘spinning’ yet in a sense also ‘speaking’ the universe into being, as a further metaphoric expression of the typology (which goes further well with the Indra’s Web conceptry, especially given the role of Karma in the latter terms). Except where that is more concerned with the nature of the self existing within the bounds of a universe we have thusly created – and is fittingly juxtaposed with the imagery of the bonfire upon the side of the river for the noon-day sacrifices …
… What we are visually encountering here is a far grander and more expansive vision.
To Speak of the Seven Tongues of Flame accorded to Agni, Brihaspati – these are the vehicles, the vectors, the streams from Beyond and Above [‘Orlog’, Rta-as-Brahman, and in this case, with especial deference to the wondrous theology of Sayana .. Devi Herself – AdiParaShakti] with which Vak is expressed , with which She influences the shape and course of our creation. Indeed, which in a veery real sense, She is our universe [c.f my earlier work upon Maya Devi as well].
It is intriguing to note that one of these Seven Tongues of Agni is also called Kali – although here, as we can see, it is more that the Agni is the tongue of Kali likewise. And Agni, as we all know [or should, by now!] is Shiva.
Yes, usually when we encounter the long tongue of Kali Devi , we are either expecting the act of Destruction [which is nevertheless still present and represented via the Black Hole in the situation of Her Third Eye ‘midst Her Mighty Brow – resonating with how, for instance, Lord Shiva’s Third Eye is an ultimate and all-consuming force of destruction, also in Fire .. if He chooses for it to be] , or we are expecting the tangible gesture of Contrition – of embarrassment.
We shall leave aside the question as to whether Cosmogenesis is supposed to be an “embarrassing” act or one which mandates the request for Forgiveness and militates an expression of overt ‘contrition’.
What we are clearly seeing here is something even a-priori to a certain Indo-European mythic, theological typology: that of the ‘Song-Smith of the Cosmos’.
We are familiar, of course, with Vishvakarman / Tvastr , and Slavic Svarog –
Great Gods Who ‘Sing’ the Cosmos into being, and are also regarded as utilizers of the Fire to fashion the Universe into continued existence in the first instance (and then some!).
However, considering that we also have the Vedic (and other) attestations for Devi Uber Alles and A Priori to the Sky Father deific
… and everything else for that matter …
… well, that would therefore imply that the Cosmic Artificer that is the Sky Father, is working with already produced materials as a ‘finisher’ more than as their ultimate source.
And that Ultimate Source?
Why, you’re looking at Her !
Jai Mata DI !