The streets were super crowded when I got out at Rock Center, and I hadn’t been to the middle of the island in quite a while. I’d forgotten the magical array of people, sights, and sounds that attract so many from around the world to this great city. Including the yogis last weekend to the Yoga Journal Conference. The conference is a yoga party reunion for many, and a weekend crash course in all things yoga and yoga related. Then there’s the yoga ‘stuff’ – The Marketplace. I have a history in retail, so I’m attracted to the gathering of stuff for sale and display. The first thing you were greeted with in this years Marketplace was a free lululemon photoshoot. That’s right! You too can be a yoga model! It was quite awesome though, and supplied all that infectious lululemon spirit.
My favorite booth is always my favorite booth, and I am sure every time to visit. I go for darshan. It’s a sanskrit word that means ‘vision of the Divine’, and I pay homage to the 330 million with darshan at the murti booth with Manoj. Manoj mans the booth and has been a steadfast figure in the Anusara community for many years, and he brings this incredible selection of Hindu murtis (statues) on tour with John several times a year. They’re really amazing. Some are upwards of 3′ tall, some fit in the palm of your hand, and he’s got every size in between. Some of these versions of deity are rarely seen here in the US, and having gone to India in 2008 and visited a murti maker, Manoj truly does have some of the most unique offerings I’ve seen here. They’re not cheap mind you, but importing from India isn’t cheap.
I did make a new purchase this time – a meditating Hanuman. Exquisite. Sublime. His eyes half open in meditative state while he sits under a bodhi tree and his tail, which is none other than his shakti or creative readiness, is wrapped around his mace sitting by his side. He’s ready to leap into action at any moment, yet sits quiet, with only Love in his heart, and that is in the image of Ram. He’s really exquisite, and came to life for me 2 or 3 years ago when I first laid eyes on him. So I brought him home.
Manoj also had a gorgeous vision of Durga. She’s the goddess known as “difficult going” or “the one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress” (Wikipedia on that one). Upon seeing the one Durga he had this time I realized she is another of my ishta devata’s (your favorite deity). Then I heard Manoj tell a likely buyer of Durga’s tale. She is a svatantrya goddess with 8 arms (sometimes 10), born from the will of the other gods and goddesses when they needed help in destroying an asura (demon) wreaking havoc on the three worlds. Each of the gods endowed Durga with one of their weapons; Hanuman gave her his mace, Shiva gave his trident, Ganapati his noose, Indra a thunderbolt, and so on. She’s loaded, with none other than the very thing each of these gods do best. Lucky girl. But the best part of the story to me was what Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance and beauty, gave Durga. Lakshmi gave Durga her face. Her stunningly beautiful and content presence would then be the first thing the demon encountered. I envisioned her then like Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. Hot, and armed. Lara Croft is a mythological character herself, known for not just being hot and athletic, but willing to research the darkest and most ancient tombs and ruins. Yup, that’s Durga.
Embodying Durga or any deity means you meditate on them, and contemplate their energy. Deity worship is simply like understanding different aspects of the human condition, as they are archetypes of emotion. Durga is who you need when you’re challenged deeply by something , and need to conjure up your hidden abilities. Each of the god’s gifted weapons represent these kind of hidden aspects of our own abilities, and they are as close as your own fingertips.
She’s a svatantrya goddess which translates to mean “freely existing”, like, its always there on its own. Her charm as Lakshmi, which is always freely existing, is just as freely existing in each of us. We can’t just charm our problems away of course, but we can remember we’re more equipped to deal with them then we think. We become Lara Croft, and jump into the darkness with the tools to deal.