Monday, March 3, 2008

Kamakshi Amman in the Soundarya Lahari

Kamakshi Amman, Kanchipuram - Year 1951

In the calm of the night, when the world sleeps, the breeze brings with it the fragrance of fresh water lilies in full bloom. With the moon’s reflection dancing around these full bloom lilies, it is the blissful moment of the night to be imbibed within the soul. The tranquility of the breeze in the leaves, the shimmering waves of the water as the moon shines through, dotted with lilies letting loose their fragrance is for the world to catch a glimpse of this inner beauty. The brightness of the sun by day parallels the calm of the moon by night as time moves from the sunshine to the moonlight across the brow of the Mother Goddess Kamakshi.

Such are the words that describe so beautifully the form of the Mother in the Soundarya Lahari. An ocean of beauty, far deeper than the star lit clear sky by night glowing in the presence of the moon. Within the chamber that houses the Goddess one can feel this silence of the night, this fragrance in the air. The darkness of the inner chamber, lit up with the lamps that bring the glow to her face, the Mother sits within, calm and compassionate to her children, her lotus eyes in partial bloom which is just truly divine.

The Mother was first captured on canvas by Artist Silpi in the year 1951. As the Artist meditated on the Mother, he asked for fewer flowers to cover her form so that he could capture her in greater detail. He describes her seated on her lotus seat, her feet covered in sacred kumkum powder, a different form of turmeric that is offered to the Goddess and later adorns the foreheads of her devotees. Kamakshi Amman, in her calm form is decorated with jewelry taken from the temple treasury. Her idol made of black stone, adds beauty to her face with the glow of red on her forehead depicting her third eye, one that she too possesses apart from her divine lord Shiva.

In front of her lies the sacred Sri Chakra yantra within its yoni peetha surrounded by 8 Goddesses, 3 to 4 of whom are captured here. The chamber is lit up with oil lamps that bring out the sacredness of her form, while the incense adds fragrance to her room. The brass bell is rung occasionally to present the Mother with the light, the flame of the arti that light up her divine face for the world to see. The brass pot with the spoon contains sacred water for her children to take, as a blessing of the Mother. The floor covered with offerings of flowers and kumkum bring peace to the mind when the ocean of beauty glides through.

Kamakshi Amman, Kanchipuram - Year 1963

Artist Silpi had this chamber and the Goddess dressed with a difference in the year 1963, a form that is not always in our luck to see. Every element that adorned the Mother during a festival was pulled out of the temple treasury. The utsav murti is grandly decorated in these treasures, so much so that much of the Mother gets hidden among the shower of flowers that are offered to her. Within the chamber, the Artist observed every piece of jewelry that adorned the Mother. The pearls that adorns her neck, is described in the Soundarya Lahari as those found within the skull of elephants, in this case from the head of Gajasura, the elephant demon that Lord Shiva vanquished. She holds the silver sugarcane in one hand, and an intricately designed veena covered with precious stones in the other. The Goddess has been captured as she would be adorned on Vijaya Dasami day during Navaratri. During this time she takes the form of Saraswati and therefore holds the Veena. A parasol covered her head on this day, clearly painted for the benefit of the devotees, by the artist.

Brass lamps give way to silver, few flowers cover her divine beauty and her third eye glows on in red, while she displays compassion on her face. This form of the Goddess is unknown to the world at large; it is a glimpse we get if we are lucky enough to visit her shrine. It is through the paintings of this gifted painter, that we realize his silent sensitivity towards bringing this divine form of the Mother to the world. It is bringing alive the ocean of beauty of the Soundarya Lahari, through is paintings for those who have never set eyes on this form of the Mother.

Also read:
Shakti worship during Navaratri

For reproduced hard copies of these pictures, please contact me through email.

Photo courtesy: Mr.Mahalimgam, son of Artist Silpi
© Silpi, these pictures should not be reproduced on the internet.