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The Temple Gate

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Her red sari is luminous. By the setting sun over the Narmada River, I see her approach. Golden light dances upon the soft waters, there is a pervading calm and peace. Water is gently lapping upon the banks, birdsong drifts, the echoing call of a boatman from downstream are all floating upon this ancient world. She walks beside the banks of the river toward me, and my eyes burn at her beauty. This vision is stunning. Her blue eyes, her gentleness, and joy, the red silk catching shards of light. I am undone. It is all over now Devi’s radiant and euphoric light. I have prayed for this moment for a lifetime. I join my palms in pranams. Enter, the Devi into my life.

She is staying at the Goshala ashram, where I have just arrived with my young son, Bodhi. Located on ten acres of land sloping toward the banks of the Narmada, the mighty sacred river of central India. It is said that when the Ganga, polluted by the burdens of millions who bath in her daily, seeks restoration she bathes as a black cow, in the pure waters of the Narmada River. The ashram is dedicated to the sadhana of Light. Agni, celebrated in the Vedas as the sacred fire, for the transformation of the world through practices of fire ceremony. It seems even more extraordinary we three are the only guests at the Goshala Ashram this week. So we experience the devotion, beauty, and elegance of ashram life with daily routines of ceremonial fires, in this sweet and sacred chamber of the Goddess.

The nearest town Maheshwar lies downstream adorned with temples and elegant ghats beside the Narmada River. Maybe we have a connection to Devi Mahilya Bai, the 16th-century liberal ruler of Maheshwar, who was honored as a great leader, sacred feminist, sadhak, and visionary. Her reign of peace is celebrated to this day across India. The meeting seems so unlikely as to be orchestrated. What magic will this union bring into the world? Slow is the new fast, so here upon the timeless grace of the Narmada, we dance around an eternal moment of meeting without the intrusions of the worlds we have traveled from.

Sunrise and sunset are portals into the lightmind of the Sacred. The rishis of the Vedas understood these transition moments as pure transformative energy. The goshala rhythms cycle around the sadhana of light and mantra. The form of these practices is structured around agnihotra, a traditional Vedic practice; with fire made in a copper pyramid, cow dung, offerings of ghee, rice, and mantra at the exact moment of sunrise and sunset. We enter the dreaming of nature, the rhythms of creation, bringing healing to the biosphere, to our relationships, to our vision of the world.

We spend mornings and evenings upon a terrace shaded by hibiscus and bougainvillea flowers Then one night under the arches of the kitchen balcony, the rising moon glazing the fields below us in silver, I hold her close, and feel her breath upon my neck. We are circling around each other like two celestial stars, a supernova in the making.

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