FEMALE MYSTICS IN TRANSCENDENTAL BHAKTI - BENGAL PATTACHITRA STYLE ILLUSTRATIONS
Bhakti as a concept, is surrendering unquestioningly to the Divine. India, the land of spirituality, has always attracted people to seek divinity. Furthermore, the roots of Indian Feminism originated from the female mystics in Bhakti, who not only aimed at individual salvation and a mystical union with the Divine, but also towards socio-religious egalitarianism.
The ‘Female mystics in Transcendental Bhakti “ series brings you those women who embraced Bhakti to characterise themselves, break all societal rules and stereotypes and lived their lives as they preferred.
Perceive the emotions flowing through these elegant illustrations of “Female mystics in transcendental Bhakti” edition in Bengal Pattachitra style.
Radha’s love for Krishna is considered as the Divine love which is the highest form of Love. Radha and Krishna do not exist one without the other; they are only one. It has been established that she is the medium through which Krishna could be realized. Radha abandoned her body while listening to the tunes of the flute. Lord Krishna could not bear Radha's death and broke his flute as a symbolic ending of love.
Krishna and Radha represent the great lovers who were destined never to unite. Yet Radha pursued a revolutionary approach of sensual longing that became the cry of the soul for union with the Divine. Their love was perceived as true love that transcended custom and law.
Lal Ded or Lalleshwari who underwent spiritual awakening at the age of 16, abandoned her marital life and began roaming around in the company of sanyasis. She disrobed herself, token of leaving behind the unnecessary baggage of culture and clothing and looking forward to dwell upon the inner self.
She had the courage of enduring the oppressive structures of patriarchy and declining to play the traditional role of a submissive daughter-in-law. Taking up arms against social tyranny, she broke the shackles that bind a woman and claimed her right of making her own decisions.
Being the consort of Lord Ram and the first ever single mother, Sita holds a commanding position in Hindu mythology. She emerges as a righteous woman that even Agni, who has the power to reduce to ashes everything he touches, dare not touch or harm. Her refusal to perform a second agnipariksha and her consequent reversion to Mother Earth is not merely an act of self-obliteration, it is a significant and dignified rejection.
Her distinguished forbearance and self-effacing silence, though portrayed as weakness by many, turns out to be her ultimate emotional strength, far courageous than any decisive aggression.
Kanya Devi was the embodiment of Shakthi Herself in the form of an adolescent girl. Since Lord Shiva did not keep his promise to marry her on one particular day, she was totally disheartened and shattered, but her love for Him did not reduce. She stood on one leg and continued praying to Lord Shiva.
By the continuous penance for Lord Shiva over the years as a virgin, the emotional quotient of their relationship heightened. Kanya Devi offers us a wonderful vision of the universe as nothing but the blissful energy of an all-pervading consciousness.
Andal had a deep devotion that she asked to be married to Ranganathar, a form of Shri Vishnu. As a young woman, she fell in love with Lord Vishnu and refused to wed any mortal man. She discarded everything and everybody else and demanded His embrace and caress. She considered herself as His bride and wore the garland that was meant for the deity everyday.
Upon marrying Lord Vishnu, it is said that she reached the doors of the sanctum sanctorum and merged into gold, leaving no traces behind. She is worshipped for her unabashed desires and audacious devotion towards Lord Vishnu.
Vedavati was said to be an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, embodiment of Vedas and an epitome of beauty. She grew up as a young lady with the sole desire and purpose to marry Lord Vishnu and performed penances for it. A celestial voice pronounced that her wishes would be fulfilled only in her next avatar, yet her pervading desire to marry Lord Vishnu made her absorb in meditation.
Upon assault by a demon, she sheared off her hair and cursed him, jumped into bonfire and disappeared as celestial flowers. With sheer bravery, tenacity and her devotion to God, she created an autonomous space for herself.
Janabai as a five year old child, refused to leave the temple of Lord Vitthal , telling her parents that she wished to remain in the temple and devote herself to God. She then chose to serve poet Namdev, in the city of Pandharpur. In the course of time, Janabai finds in Vitthal her mother, father, child, friend, lover, and even domestic assistant who could help her with house chores.
Her principle was simply that everything was divine, and every being had value. She strongly believed that women were not lessened in any way from seeking a world beyond that which was dictated for them. By her service and devotion to God, she completely triumphed in effacing herself and completely merged in Him.
Akka Mahadevi was a 12th Century Indian poet and saint. One among the finest devotees of Lord Shiva, she gave up her social position for the company of the Divine and walked sky clad covered only in her long tresses. Her love and devotion for the Lord transcends the boundaries of wedded love, and is unbounded .
She was too absorbed in her Love for Lord Shiva and having seen the vanity of worldly life, she had abandoned any hope to reconcile with the worldly. Being an icon of courage, she struggled to bring forth the right of every soul to experience and delve into the Divine.
Parvati, the benevolent goddess, won Shiva’s affection only after undergoing severe ascetic discipline. She remained with only the need, the thought and love for Shiva , abandoning all other needs and attachments. She nourished herself solely on the beams of moonlight and water falling from the sky, no different from the way trees live in this world.
Parvati’s committed devotion is a paradigm of the predestined union between male and female played on the immense plane of supreme divinity. She is the soul of us all searching for god, which is but destined to meet and unite with Him.
Karaikkal Ammaiyar , one among the 63 Nayanmars, a Bhakti poet and saint, was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva since childhood. After certain circumstances her husband accepts her as a Goddess after which she shed her beauty to attain the demon form. She begins her pilgrimage to Mount Kailasa, walked on her hands to reach the Divine stating that her feet may make the sacred place impure.
She absolutely defied all patriarchal norms of beauty, taking a fearful and venerating image. She rejects a body that is socially validated as a form of commodification. She places no value in beauty or appearance as long as God can recognise her.
Meera, since her childhood manifested a deep devotion to Lord Krishna and considered herself as His bride. She refused to appreciate her husband or his family, seeing Kṛiṣhṇa as her true husband. It is said that the Lord finally absorbed her in Him .She portrayed Sri Krishna as a yogi and lover, and herself as a yogini ready to take her place by his side unto a spiritual marital bliss.
Her stories show a deep admiration and her devotion coupled with a recognition of the profundity of objection she faced and the subsequent suffering she encountered. Mirabai remains not only immensely popular as a saint but also both powerful and controversial as a commendable woman.
Sakhubai who was a great devotee of Panduranga Vittala, suffered much hardship since her childhood. Sakhubai bore all that patiently and her devotion and complete surrender to God Vittala gave her strength to bear the misery. Upon witnessing His shrine, she drank the nectar of His beauty, embraced him and her soul rested on His lotus feet. She was totally consumed and she became one with Lord Vittala.
Her life as a woman has been largely overlooked. She lived a life dedicated to the welfare of the people, for she blamed nobody for her sufferings and her devotion to Lord Vittala was total.
Were you able to dissolve into the powerful and surreal emotions which are brought out?
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