Daksa's Feast

The following except is lifted from Kali Kaula by Jan Fries. Check it out on Amazon.

(Note: When transcribed, I put a bunch of h's in words like 'Shakti' and 'Shiva', which Fries omits. Also, I think I may have reworded two or three lines. Thus is the nature of transcription, every rendition just a bit less pure. Or a bit more. Whatevs.)

"In the time before time, the Supreme Shakti shed three forms.

Meet Saraswati, who became the wife of Brahma; Lakshmi, who became the mate of Vishnu; and Guari, the Golden One, the lover of Shiva.

Then, the usual thing happened. Every so often there is an Asura or a Danava who becomes too ambitious. Like the Devas, the demon folk have a desire for liberation, and sometimes, they take a spiritual discipline really seriously. This was the case with the Halahalas, a particularly ambitious group of Danavas. They went for extremes of tapas, they indulged in austerities, they exercised through day and night and eventually Brahma, the Creator, had to grant spiritual powers to them. (Which may not have been a very wise idea. . but Brahma was noted for this sort of thing -  no matter how often it gets the Devas into trouble.) The Halahalas said ‘Thank you!’ to Brahma for the new powers and left to conquer the universe. Soon they dominated the three worlds of heaven, earth, and underworld. They even stormed Mount Kailash, evicted Shiva and occupied the Vaikuntha regions in the deep. In sight of such calamities, Vishnu and Shiva prepared for war. Brahma would have none of this. He merely sat back and hoped the others would sort things out properly. And the other gods did – Vishnu went to battle accompanied by his heavenly troops, and so did Shiva, whose troops were not so heavenly. The war lasted 60,000 years. When the last Halahala was sent to flight, the gods, now tired, weary and somewhat beside themselves, returned to their spouses. They took off their armor, laid aside their weapons, had a bath and a good drink and began to boast. “We cut them down,” said Vishnu. “We destroyed them Utterly!” declared Shiva, “In all the worlds, none could stand against us!” Their wives, tired of hearing their boasting, said “None of you amount to anything without us! Who gave you the power to fight? Who granted strength, energy, and valor to you? Who could ever fight without Shakti? ” Vishnu and Shiva looked at each other and then their wives and said, “Come on, we did pretty well, didn’t we?” The goddesses broke out laughing, “Suuuuuure.. and now you’ll learn how to get on without us.”

And without a further word, Lakshmi and Guari disappeared.

Vishnu and Shiva remained speechless. Then they began to weep. They bewailed their losses, they lost their divine radiance, and they walked the world like madmen. Their power disappeared and so did their function in the universe. Seeing this, Brahma became very worried. He knew there would be another bunch of Danavas around before long, and he knew even better that he, on his own, had not a chance against them. In his fear he closed his eyes, introverted, and entered the sacred space of the heart. Within the all-creating cavern of truth, he learned that Parashakti was angry with the gods and that she had withdrawn her blessing from them. Brahma realized that this meant that he had to work for all three of them. With Vishnu mad and Shiva deluded, he had to work as a maintainer and destroyer.. not that he was very good at those jobs. The other gods were just as shaken. The primordial Daksa invited the deities, seers, and heavenly ascetics for a placation rite. They went to the slopes of the Himalaya and chanted ‘Hrim’ for 100,000 years until the supreme goddess appeared. Parashakti manifested in their hearts in the form of being, intelligence, and bliss. She held the noose and the elephant goad, her other two hands made the signs that dispel fear and grant boons. The gods and sages praised her, and finally she responded to their worries. “Listen”, the goddess who appeared in the form of Mahamaya said, “the madness of the gods will soon pass away. Lakshmi will reappear when the milk ocean is churned, she will be born together with the elixir of immortality. Gauri is soon to be reborn, and it will be in Daksa’s family.’ The assembly was delighted to hear this, most of all ancient Daksa, who had been a major god in Vedic times but whose importance had faded much over the years.

Now one inauspicious day, the seer Durvasa went to the river Jambu to meditate. He saw the supreme Shakti on the riverbank. Keeping his senses controlled (was the goddess naked?!) he recited her bija ‘Hrim’ and this pleased the goddess. She approached the seer and gave him a garland of jasmine, so sweet that numerous bees hovered around the blossoms. In his bliss, the seer put the garland on his head and went to visit Daksa. “What a marvelous garland this is,” said Daksa. “Would you like to have it?”, replied Durvasa, who was too generous for his own good. “Everything in the three worlds may be given to a devotee of Shakti.” “I will accept it gladly,” said Daksa. He took the blossom and put it on the pillow of his bed. That night, the jasmine smelled so sweetly that the old god could not sleep. Desire kept him awake, heat and longing. He rolled around on his couch, sleep evaded him, and finally he arose and had intercourse. Soon, Daksa’s wife gave birth to a daughter. The gods all showered blossoms from the skies, the sun shone brightly and the rivers began to flow again. The girl was named Sati, she was of the nature of the supreme Brahman and truth herself.  

Sati grew up and soon she was old enough to wed Shiva. The very thought made Daksa mad. He did not want to give up his daughter, he did not want the incarnate goddess to leave his house, and least of all he did not want her married to a god who walked nude, smoked dope, and practiced austerities on mountains and in jungles where no sane person would ever wish to dwell. Shiva the Impure, the skull-carrier, the mad dancer at the edge of reality. Daksha hated Shiva, he hated the thought that his daughter would leave him, but essentially he could do nothing against it. So, in spite of much angry debate, Shiva was invited to Daksa’s court. There, the ash-smeared god of ascetics married beautiful Sati, then the two left and made their home on the highest mountains. Some say that their lovemaking took another 100,000 years.

One day, Sati learned that her father was giving a great feast. All the gods were invited, the Gandharvas would sing, the Apsarases would dance, and there would be drinking, joy and merrymaking. Every important deity was invited except for Shiva and herself. Now, Sati was not at all happy about being left out. She was still angry that her father had made such an issue out of her marriage, and was angrier yet that he was slighting her husband and herself. “I shall go to that feast,” Sati declared, “whether we are invited or not!”

“Is it worth it?” replied Shiva, who felt much happier in the jungle than in High Society. “Why don’t we just stay home and have a nice time?”

“We shall go!” shouted Sati, “And if you wont come I’ll go there on my own! I’ll show my father just what I think of him!”

“You’ll get into trouble,” predicted Shiva, “with your temper, there is bound to be trouble for all concerned.”

“I will go,” Sati declared, “whether you like it or not.”

And so it happened. It was a bad day indeed, when Sati came to her father’s house, her face red with rage. Daksa had been expecting something like this. When he heard that his daughter had come, he refused to greet and honor her. It turned out to be a fatal mistake.

In her rage, Sati transformed into Kali. She cursed her father, the feast, and the offerings, and burned herself in yogic fire. She closed the nine gates of her body, her mind turned into fire, her body collapsed and her spirit, liberated, soured elsewhere. Then Shiva arrived on the scene. Seeing his wife dead, a flood of rage surged through him, manifesting demons, vampires, and evil spirits. Screeching with glee, they came over the hallowed ground. See Shiva on the rampage! The guests scream as the offerings are ruined, burned, trampled, obliterated, defiled, and demons dance between the dishes. With one blow, Shiva decapitated the father of his bride. He took the head of a sacrificial goat and stuck it on Daksa’s neck, so that to this day, Daksa is obliged to look like the goat he really was. Then the sacrifice was destroyed, destroyed utterly, and nothing remained as it was. And Shiva lifted the body of his wife. Carrying her corpse, he stumbled from the site of havoc and devastation, and returned into the solitude of the mountains.

Great evil befell the world. Like one who is mindless, speechless, and mad, Shiva walked in loneliness, the dead limbs of his mate on his shoulders. Between the frozen pinnacles of the highest mountains, along the ice crusted rims of the greatest rivers, and in the darkness of the mountain forest, between pine and spruce and rhododendron. Wherever he walked, his tears fell, and yet he found no place to rest the body of his wife.

Soon the gods became worried. With Shiva gone, what would happen to them all? Gods have obligations, they have to listen to the prayers of their worshipers, they have to receive sacrifices and grant luck and success to those whose karman is ripe. They to support the order of the world, and keep the demonic Asuras under control. Vishnu by himself was not up to the job, and Brahma could offer little help. So, the gods approached Shiva and asked him to leave the body of his wife. Alas, Shiva was so overcome by grief that he could not understand. He did not want to see that his wife was dead and rotting. He did not care about his worshipers, about cosmic order, nor did he listen to the Devas.

So the gods made a cunning plan. As Shiva walked every day, the carcass of Sati on his back, Vishnu sat in ambush. Whenever the god of the dance was overcome by tears, Vishnu hurled his cakra. The discus swept through the air faster than a speeding arrow, faster than a ray of light, and cut a limb from Sati’s corpse. So Shiva walked, but every day his load became lighter. Day after day he made his circuit through India, and every day a limb of the goddess fell and was forgotten. The face of Sati fell as Kasi, the yoni and Kamarupa, each part of the goddess became a place of worship, a seat of power, and a place of pilgrimage where intelligence manifests. Eventually Shiva’s step became firm and his faze cleared again. He saw the wide land of India beneath his feet, the majestic snow mountains in the north, the ochre deserts to the west, the jungles and swamps in the east, and the sparkling blue ocean to the south, where islands lie like emeralds and whales sport in the waves. Shiva stopped and considered. The spell had broken, Sati was gone, but everywhere in the land, sacred places had appeared. Wherever a limb of Sati had fallen, a pitha was inviting pilgrims, locals, and ascetics to worship the goddess who had become all of India. It is said that 108 sacred seats were born of the limbs of Sati, but to those who have eyes to see, the goddess extends all over the land. Sati, far from dead, had become the fullness of the world.

Eternities passed. Dynasties began and ended, great kingdoms arose and were forgotten again, Asuras and Devas fought, and life continued much as ever. Shiva, well used to loneliness, often went into the great mountains to enjoy the cold, fresh air, the sparkling diamond beauty of the snowfields and the gentle growth of swaying birches in heights where few men walk. Here, in the land of musk deer, mountain goat, and snow leopard, the god of ascetics found his peace of mind. Whenever he could, Shiva went to his beloved heights to forget the world and himself. Now the Himalayas have a king, the lord of the mountains, Himavat. He is the ruler of the heights and the generous giver of waters. From his court, the great rivers run, rivers that offer life and nourishment to the dwellers of the plains. And Himavat had a daughter, her name was Parvati, she of the Mountains, and unlike most gods and goddesses, she enjoyed long walks through lonely mountain valleys and peaks. One day Parvati chanced upon Shiva. The lord of ascetics sat on a tiger skin, nude apart from the beads and serpents wrapped around his throat and arms, his half closed eyes unseeing and empty with the wisdom of the void. Parvati saw Shiva and felt her mind come apart. Long, long ago, she had been Gauri, Then Sati, and the memory of that life burst into her mind like the avalanches sweeping down the slopes in summer. Shyly, she approached Shiva, and spoke to him. Shiva, however, was way out of his mind and did not hear her. Parvati spoke again, she came closer, she touched the ascetic, and still she could not break his trance. Like a pillar of stone, Shiva remained unmoved, Inattentive, with the war away expression of a being who has turned inwards. Parvati, however, would not give up. She sent a call, a prayer to Kama, the god of lust, love, and desire, the ancient being who had brought forth creation. Kama appeared instantly and laughed. Here sat the lord of ascetics, in total oblivion for the fate ordained by karman. What a target! This was just the sort of fun that Kama craved. Swiftly, he lifted his bow of flowers. He aimed the arrows of the senses. He muttered a mantra and shot.

At this instant,  Shiva awoke. His third eye of absolute reality opened, the eye that destroys ignorance, delusion, and glamour. The fire of truth incinerated bow and arrows, his gaze touched Kama, and Kama said, ‘Ouch!’ and disintegrated. Like a fine shower of ashes, the god of desire and lust fell to the ground and was no more.

Then Shiva saw Sati, and as their eyes met, remembrance returned. They saw, and in that timeless moment, the world held its breath. Then the other gods appeared. Gods are usually curious, and when something unusual happens, they like to be around, if only for laughs. The sight of Shiva and Parvati embracing, yes, that was good news. But what was this? What was this miserable pile of ashes on the ground? The gods saw, and tears began to seep from their eyes. Here were the ashes of desire, of lust and love. Gone was the god whose never-ending charm had kept the universe in motion. Rati, his wife, came to her senses first. “You killed him!” she shouted at Shiva.

“Sorry, I did not see who he was,” replied the god of Ascetics, “it was just an accident..”

“Well, go and resurrect him, then!” replied Rati, and so did the other gods, who were mightily scared of a dull, boring world without desire and lust. Shiva shrugged. Focusing his glance on the pile of ashes, he allowed illusion to return to the world. And Kama arose, reborn of of the ashes of disenchantment and the gaze of the all-seeing one. From Shiva’s eyes, Kama was reborn, vibrant with life and glad to embrace the worlds again. And Kama laughed. Of all the gods, he knew best what was to come. Shiva looked at Parvati, and Parvati at Shiva, their eyes met and desire arose between them. When the gods left, the two were still embracing. They had eternity to unite."

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Kali-Kaula-Manual-T...