Friday, 1 August 2014

THE MAHAVIDYAS: MATANGI MA, THE SADHANA HELPER




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There are many holy souls born into pure lines of Shakti worship, initiated by honourable Gurus, and issued essentially with a backstage pass to Ma's fabulous celestial temple through their birth and lineage. That is as it should be. But what about the rest of us? This rag-tag, mismatched army of seekers, born across the globe, born in different faiths, cultures and religious traditions, well... we all want to see Ma as well. But we find ourselves outside the gates and walls of the temple wanting to get in. And for this, we need some help from the inside.

Matangi Mata or Raja Matangi is, by tradition, one of the ten Mahavidyas or aspects of the Goddess as seen by Shiva, the unmanifest Mahapurusha as he gazes out to creation. She is, of course, the great Shakti Herself as much as any Mahavidya and is worshipped as such.

But She also has a special role as Mantrini, the Counsellor, the intercessor and steward of Raja Rajeshvari, Queen of Queens. This role gives Her a unique benefit to those outside the gates - that is most of us. Because She can speak for us, She can hear our pleas.

Why? Because Matangi (pronounced Maatangi not Mataangi), rules last of four particular stages of speech or utterance, Vaikharee, which involves both the outward expressed act of speaking and its explanation. Some say that She also represents the middle part of speech. She lives in the throat chakra.

This links Her with Saraswati, but a Tantric version, much wilder and less orthodox. Like all Tantric Mahavidya Goddesses She is essentially free and beyond conventions. Her hunger is for negativity in the soul of the seeker, which She eats and transforms into its pure energy, which in turn is then expressed outwardly in speech. It is as if her energy can take a person who is foul-mouthed, swears and curses, gobbles his food and has bad breath into a person who can swing the sweetest songs of devotion. Thus there is a fearlessness about Her, an ability like a capable and strong mother to take the dirtiest child, dump them in a bath, and not worry about spoiling her dress.

There is some complex cosmology behind this basic truth, but She as Mantrini is the one who can win for you the blessings of Lalita Parameshwari, the supreme Queen of Queens. She shares the Queen's regal power and splendour. But She talks to you. She gets you ready for the audience with the Queen of Heaven. She tidies you up. She teaches. She transforms. She puts a wild song in your heart. She gives you words to utter which spontaneously spring forth and contain great power.

She can also confer the most astonishing abilities to speak, to sing, to create, to weave words and understand the web of words in all its subtleties. This power is known as vagvilasa, sweetness and fluency in speech and great orators have it, like Martin Luther King, Barack Obama or John F Kennedy.

But it is important to realise too, that the power of the word is earth-shattering in its most fundamental reality.  it is "thunder speech" covered by the lips and encircled by the lips. It is tamed by confining this path into speech. The confinement, the taming, is what turns a raging torrent of the Word into the sweetest, purest water. Matangi Mata might tame us, but She is not tame herself.

Her support is also vital for all music and all musicians. She plays us as if we were a veena or tamboura, with our sushumna, or subtle central nerve hidden in the physical sheath of the spinal cord, as the instrument. In this way She opens our ears to hidden realms and sounds. She literally puts a song in our hearts.

Those She favours need to create! Therefore all musicians, poets, artists will be linked to Her in subtle ways.

Iconography

Matangi's worship is easy worship, if you are called to Her. Her iconography is easy to spot, because (like the famous Goddess Meenakshi) the colour of emerald, with three eyes, wearing a crescent moon on her head, holding a hammer, noose, goad and shield in her four hands. Like Lalita she sometimes has a parrot and is therefore keera kara, with a parrot in her hand.

She rules the northwest direction.

She also is associated with low caste or casteless humanity, which in Kali Yuga includes a lot of us. This is the the reason why She is associated with "ucchista" or partially-eaten, rejected food. She is also Shyamalaa, the black object, the pure sound before it is expressed.

Mantra

The most wonderful and merciful benefit of Mata Matangi is that you can worship Her and use Her mantra without the need for initiation. She will also accept food that is not complete, or botched pujas.  Thus she is a way in, for those desirous of Shakta worship.

Her seed mantra is Aim, (Aeeem) like Saraswati.
Hroum is another.

Her mantra is expressed slightly differently by different authorities, but this can be safely used:

Om Hrim Aim Shrim 
Namo Bhagavati
Ucchishta Chandali 
Sri Matangeshwari
Sarvajanavashankari 
Svaha

Now some people being very timid, lacking common sense and always desirous of being told what to do immediately then want to badger the blogger with all sorts of questions about when to use, how long for, when to start, what procedures etc etc. This kind of thing is yet again that fatal sadhana enemy "Well, if someone tells me what to do, then I will do," but with a secret thought "Ah, well, if THEY tell me, I can cheat a little because its not my own thoughts on the matter." For goodness sake, be a little brave and grown up about it.

If you want to be a stickler for procedure, why then I suggest you pick an auspicious day in the Panchang, fast the day before, keep celibate for the week before, lay your desire to use this mantra before your puja, say your prayers. Then simply use it, as a statement for Japa which you repeat over and over. No doubt you will then ask, well for how long. Now that, my dear seeker, is up to you. But real sadhana only begins when you make your own efforts and stop waiting for instructions. Just do it!! And if you fail, then that's your own affair, not anyone else's.

Take on board the following advice from the Dasbodh of Shri Samartha Ramdas:

One should have constant remembrance of God.
The name of God should be repeated continuously.
One should not be without the name of God at anytime
Whether in a state of happiness, sorrow, distress, worry or joy.

Out of a thousand names of God
If even one name is remembered
One's life becomes fulfilled.
One who remembers God
becomes sacred and godliness itself.

Get the point? The idea of reciting one name is that you flood your life with it. Instead of stuffing your mind with thoughts of lust, self-pity, fancy, greed, delusion, fill it with sacred. This really is not difficult to grasp! If, even with this simple advice, you still dither about what name to use and when... then the joys and triumphs of sadhana will pass you by. 


Personal experience

I had very little awareness of Matangi for most of my life until one time in meditation a ferocious energetic force burst out in my inner awareness and I heard the name repeated many times over... Matangi, Matangi, Matangi. I did not know the name.  So I wondered who or what she was. This presence was extremely wild and strong.

Since then, I can see how important She actually has been throughout my life without my being aware of it. I write for a living, speak in public a lot. I play and create music. I paint. I love words. So Matangi and me have had a relationship without me knowing about it! I also "get" the whole principle of a counsellor, a minister, an intercessor. Perhaps you do, too. We humans are aware intensely of our own impurity when approached celestial realms, and I can never imagine ever being pure enough to sit in the halls of Mahalakshmi. But this minister has an ability to interact with us. She is merciful. She brings many blessings.

She also produced a fantastic joyful miracle. And this is all about music: I first learned to play the guitar when I  was 19 years old, but was always drawn to play it unusually, mostly ragas, for which the guitar is not wholly suited. Then up popped the bouzouki, an instrument with 8 strings, beautiful to play, the essence of joyous music making. It landed in my lap with a little miracle as well - a very expense instrument sold at a third of its value because its outer packaging was a little torn! This bouzouki, which I play every day, is a little slice of Gandharva heaven, and I thank Mother Matangi for it, absolutely.

Contemplate her after you read this. Has She been secretly blessing your life all this while? It may be so.