i have had the great fortune to visit the United States for the very first time to be with my saṅgha, and, during my trip, i had the opportunity to visit UMMA. i was mesmerised by its South Asian collection! not only are the sculptures magnificent in their precision and beauty, but their descriptive texts are poetry. attaching excerpts below.
1. Durgā on her lion mount
“In caves and temples, in metal and stone, artists captured the ferocious energy of the Goddess as revealed in her heroic victory [over Mahiṣāsura]. Here, her quiet grace signifies her boundless strength. Her round breasts and belly push forth from beneath her skin, indicating the distinctly feminine force behind her awesome capacities.”
“She is boar-headed, and her rear hands would have held signature weapons. She has taut, youthful flesh and full breasts, signifying fecundity. Her crossed legs form a cradle, offering a tender sanctuary.”
4. Śiva as Bhairava
“Śiva’s sensuous pose and levity communicate liberation as a result of contemplating death in lone wanderings through vast cemeteries.”
5. Pot-bellied Ganeśa, endearing and gentle
“There is an intimate relationship between the God’s body and his sculptural surroundings: two arms are embedded in the plane behind him, while two project forward, echoing the curved bell of his hips. A garland unites the planes of carving in an elliptical halo, framing his body for the gaze of his devotees.”
“Here, he is shown in his role as the divine ascetic or yogi, unclad but for an animal skin about his loins, with matted hair piled high on his head.”
8. Viṣṇu as Varaha
“The body of Viṣṇu’s boar-headed incarnation, Varaha, forges a diagonal bolt through this sculpture. His right foot is planted decisively at the corner of its projecting base; his left is flexed for leverage on a lotus pedestal. Against these rooting forces, his body surges upward, culminating in an acutely raised snout”.
days of sweetness, study, laughter & wonder spent in retreat in Detroit! days of belonging, of returning home.
finally… an ode to the Siri Jyoti Pūjā! it is difficult to imagine a more beautiful way to spend my first day in the United States than by attending the Siri Jyoti Pūjā (“the wealth of light”, pūjā designed by Śrī Amṛtananda Natha Sarasvatī), conducted by my beloved teacher. ❤️♥️❤️ to have offered my poetry to Devī & Nārāyaṇa within this pūjā has been most precious… overflowing!
“to sing and dance through the Śrī Cakra”… (Śrī Vidyā Trust)
The Siri Jyoti Pūjā, which translates as “wealth of light”, is an exceedingly auspicious ritual designed by Śrī Amṛtananda Natha Sarasvatī, affectionately known as Guruji. The Pūjā is described by the Śrī Vidyā Trust of Devipuram as a group ritual that is performed to the Śrīcakra, which opens one to the immense benefits of performing the cakra pūjā within: “Doing this enables us to enjoy life, sing, and dance through it.”