As the 10th Goddess Kamalatmika completes the sequence of guiding wisdom offerings from the Mahavidyas - the great wisdom goddesses of Tantra philosophy. She is placed last as the culmination of final wisdom to be as David Frawley suggests "...the full unfoldment of the power of the Goddess into the material sphere".
The purpose of each individual Goddess, all of whom represent an aspect of Shakti, is to tingle some innate awareness, a hidden truth that hides in us, through their various archetypal energy or unique characteristics. Precisely how we resonate with their messages though is really up to us. We might connect deeply to their particular mythical story. The dramatic imagery that makes them so striking may stir something within us. Most frequentl once we journey with them and find out more their symbolism strikes a special note in our psychological make-up. The Goddess however in her many forms, does not need to reunite us with a lost part of ourselves - we can relate to her as something that exists outside of us. This might be as a particular force we understand or feel an affinity with or as an entity with a unique and distinct life - completely of its own making.
For a long time I've felt that there is something about a certain type of sky that when glimpsed suggests the close proximity of the sea - a sea tinged sky. Mother nature and the elements have always been important features in Goddess worshipping societies. In terms of the ancient texts, Shakti creates the world and then lives (or hides) within all forms which are in fact her creation. Like a lucid dream we can imagine a personality or presence within all of natures forms: a rock, a tree, a lake or even a sky that intimate some spirit or essence, a particular personality that we feel drawn to but is beyond that which our limited senses understand.
Kamalatmika closely resembles Lakshmi the eternal consort of Vishnu, the godhead who is the sustaining force of the Hindu Trinity. Her specific placement in the line up and her role in the context of the Mahavidyas however throws up many other interesting aspects, not limited to Lakshmi-esqueness, which can be investigated when cultivating a connection to her.
She is placed last deliberately as a means to bring us back to the beginning with a grand reveal as the bond between creator and creation is unfurled. In fact bonding or binding is one of her traits as she illumines the truth that there is beauty in ALL of creation if only we look deeply enough into it. This is essentially what the goddess alchemy is; to create, conceal and then reveal. By encouraging us to seek something deeper, something that connects and rings true with a level of uniformity, requires a decision to actually want to peek beneath the veil, delve deep and plunge into the essence of a thing. Why? Because it's only at the deepest level of investigation that we discover the same essence exists in all.
"This mighty energy is an equal and impartial mother. Brahman (the divine creative force) dwells equally in all existence, it is an illusion that the cosmos contains more awe than an ant-hill." Aurobindo (17th Century mystic and poet)
As with all of the Mahavidyas, Kamalatmika evokes questioning. As a serene deity she gently probes into how we divide and judge the world based upon quality and quantity and personal likes and dislikes by underlining the founding vedic principle that the 'Self' (true self, soul or divine spirit) is equal in all. She seeks to highlight that these judgements that limit, separate and cause suffering are made by the ego self and that it is the intellect which limits and separates in order to define, understand and shore up what appears challenging, different, sometimes even frightening.
As the manifesting force that creates form and then secrets itself inside, Shakti is the divine essence, the rasa, the very taste of everything. The ego self cannot recognise this because its vision is limited by separation. When the true self however witnesses itself in another and feels that connection as a flow of pure love unimpeded by the ego then there is no need for measurement based on pleasure and pain.
"As a man in the arms of his beloved is not aware of what is without and what is within, so a person in union with the Self is not aware of what is without and what is within..." Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
We may have many moments when we feel this sense of deeper connection to other beings, animals, places and objects. Think of how a sunset can make you feel, the laughter of a small child, walking through a bluebell wood or feeling the touch of a warm breeze on your skin.
Each time we are gifted that deeper relationship with creation's essence as sheer beauty, love, abundance, delight and bliss (all qualities associated with Lakshmi) we might unknowingly be being touched by the energy of Kamalatmika.
Her names means "she who wears the waters as a robe". All life it said to emanate from water and water is the element connected to the subtle energy centre aligned with our creativity - the svadhisthana chakra, translating as 'ones own abode'. Our first sense of self arises here. The Puranas (Hindu religious texts) depict Lakshmi rising from the the milky ocean after it is churned by the gods and demons to bring forth amrita - the nectar of immortality. The Vedic rishis and seers considered the vast oceans as creative consciousness itself. (We can think of consciousness as awareness). Likewise the lotus flower, a ubiquitous symbol of creative consciousness grows in water. The lotus flower responds to nature, opening and blooming in the light of the sun and closing its petals at dusk, and its roots bind themselves deeply into the dense mud of the earth - day to day life here on earth. Like many flowers it has numerous parts symbolic of how consciousness tends to unfold in stages. The Puranas say that Brahma (the lord of creation) is born from a lotus that grows out of Vishnu's navel as he reclines in repose on the thousand headed serpent Ananta, a creature who provides a soft bed for the sustaining force but at the same time supports the world harnessing the qualities of softness and strength or steadiness and ease - qualities we seek in our asana practice!
Kamalatmika's striking imagery shows her standing on a lotus - as though unfolding or ripening from the centre. From two hands drape delicate lotus blooms, her other two hands ward off fear and offer boons. She is draped in diaphanous red silk (the colour of creation) which swathes her lithe sensuous body like soulfully alive waves - her complexion is golden - radiant as the sun which shines from every pore of her skin. Four white elephants lustrate her from pots filled with life giving water which rolls off her skin and clothing just like the water which beads and does not wet the lotus flower symbolising that life cannot inflict pain or suffering on the soul.
When we sadhana (embark on a spritual practice) with each goddess we are enriched by their unique offerings only if they deem us worthy. As in life, the more commitment you give to something, the deeper you investigate it and the more earnestly you approach the journey the greater the rewards. Kamalatmika's sadhana is exacting and therefore her presence can often be fleeting but with continued practice we can sustain her presence, invite her to remain a little longer by our side. This then enables us to fully appreciate the real beauty in all forms for longer, to imbibe her bliss and taste the rasa of everything. In those extended moments we realise that:
"The world's senseless beauty mirrors God's delight
That rapture's smile is secret everywhere;
It flows in the wind's breath, in the tree's sap
Its hued magnificence blooms in leaves and flowers."
And so the circle completes. Both Kama, the God of love and the root word Ka which displays itself in Kali, the 1st mahavidya and goddess of time and transformation, are written into her title and Latmika bears such striking similarity to Lakshmi that the similarity suffuses into an intimate embrace. Kamalatmika's connection to pleasure and delight, experienced through her relationship to the Svadhisthana chakra, has a truly special yogic feel about it. Embracing fulfilment of material and physical desire can be very much a part of spiritual unfolding. Sensing and relating to true beauty consciously feels very close to a spiritual encounter. Pure love without the conditioning of the ego intellect, repeatedly experienced through differing scenarios opens up a path towards greater insight into the very essence that connects everything. On a day to day basis it helps us to see beyond the mere surface of a thing; a dislike, a disagreement, a wrongness or a judgment, something that affronts the senses or causes a reaction - even a self judgment that arises perhaps from a place of lack.
In the journey from head to heart Kamalatmika opens our awareness to appreciate all of creations' beauty; to tap into divine beauty that exists within, and then with tongue reaching upwards to truly taste the amrita of life. 'She dissolves into creation with the first steps of Kali's dance and the first notes of Tara's song. Her sweet laughter saturates every subatomic particle, shape and form as it arises. Her fragrance infuses all forms having escaped the separation of creation from the creator that is induced by Chinnamasta's sword. Like a necklace strung with different beads her unmistakable presence weaves through infinite forms to bind them. She remains untouched and innocent as she is drenched by forms and vibrations of countless suns, moons, planets and beings.' 1
If you have enjoyed reading my blogs about the goddesses and would like to experience a yoga class themed around their archetypal energies then do join me every Wednesday 10am - 11am. These classes are online at the moment but when possible will return to the Clevedon Studio. We connect with a new goddess (sometimes a god) every 4 weeks or so. These classes are richly infused with mantra, mudra and kriya along with traditional asana and pranayama designed to evoke an aspect or quality of the deity and investigate with curiosity how their essence can influence our practice and our lives. Classes are suitable for all levels of practitioner, to book please click here
Vedanta Society - The Mahavidyas: The Powers of Consciousness Conceptualised
Shakti Rising - Kaivatha M Chinnayan 1
Yoni Shakti - Uma Dunsmore Tuli
The Ten Great Cosmic Powers - S Shankaranarayanan
Inner Tantric Yoga - David Frawley