Devi – Mother of My Mind

Devi – Mother of My Mind

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Item Code: IHL826
Author: Suzanne Ironbiter
Publisher: Mapinlit Publishers
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 9781890206932
Pages: 190
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 260 gm
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I am full of conflicts. Was follows war. There is misery, there is arrogance. I give birth. I miscarry. I become asthmatic. I am constrained. My sister dies. My father dies, my mother dies. I am deep in loss. I am a taut wire. I begin meditation. I meditate on a symbol of wholeness, one that contains, without conflict service and freedom, life and death, light and dark, peace and anger: the Indian Goddess.

Ironbiter writers of ongoing conflict and ongoing need for refuge. Through introspection, she finds a deep, constant, unfailing presence in the Goddess’ forms. Poetic images and tantra yoga teachings of India and Tibet help her picture her mind’s fecundity, struggle, and abiding truths.

Rachel Fell McDermott writes in her introduction: “Although She breaks life down, making hope illusory, She is also time, change, and renewal. She is the Goddess, and Her daughters, too, evolve through dread events and slowly birth new insights. Such has happened to Suzanne Ironbiter…Her ultimate message is a call to vigilance and rebalancing of excess, while yet realizing that the Goddess contains everything against which She, the divine, Herself fights. This is wisdom indeed for our time, embedded, gem-like, in familiar stories that catch the eye by their unexpected sparkle.”

Suzanne Ironbiter has been a student of yoga and the traditions of India for more than forty years. She holds a doctorate in religion from Columbia University and teaches at Purchase College of the State University of New York. A previous edition of the first cycle of Devi inspired Mallika Sarabhai and Darpana Performance Group’s acclaimed dance-drama, The Journey Inward: Devi Mahatmya.

A Note on Devi’s World

Indo—Tibetan psychology tells me that truth shines for a moment when my mind enters an in—between time. If I have my mind well—trained and disciplined in meditation, it stays with this clarity and keeps it in focus. Otherwise, my mind begins generating a cycle of divine energies. Further scattering generates bewildering coil demon energies. Finally, my attention gravitates toward a particular birth in time.

According to Indian myths, we live in the darkness and bloodiness of the Kali Yuga, the violent last phase of a dying time cycle. As our physical, technical and cultural infrastructures break down and change, our individual and collective dramas intensify. Our work is to develop insight into the mythic drama driving our minds in time, in our histories and biographies, between illumination and destruction, clarity and chaos.

Indo—Tibetan prayers, rituals, philosophical sutras, and deity stories and images train and yoke the mind to focus toward a clear view of moral and spiritual reality and, through that focus, to be able to see things as they are in the world and in our minds. The process of clarification is slow, often repetitive with variations, sometimes with flashes of illumination, sometimes with bewildering obscuration, cycling for many lifetimes, or, in the case of this book, many rounds with temporary conclusions.


Although She breaks life down, making hope illusory She is also time, change, and renewal. She is the Goddess, and Her daughters, too, evolve through dread events and slowly birth new insights. Such has happened to Suzanne Ironbiter, who, since the first edition of Devi in 1987, has lost her husband, become increasingly alarmed by environmental degradation, and experienced the hatreds of nations after September 2001.

This timely second edition is prompted in part by Mallika Sarabhai’s acclaimed dance—drama, The journey Inward based on Ironbiter’s dramatic, personalized, feminized retelling of the Devi Mahatmya, the sixth—century Sanskrit narrative about the Goddess’s exploits (Part One of Devi in both first and second editions). In Durga: Demon—Slayer, Ironbiter internalizes the Goddess’s exploits, making Durga and Kali expressions of her own anger; the battle with the demon, in the second tale, is a symbolic manifestation of outrage against Mahisha, the spirit of craving. For years I have used this transformed Devi Mahatmya to great benefit in my undergraduate seminar, Hindu Goddesses, where students read how an ancient Indian text can inspire a modern Western woman to change. Sarabhai’s theatrical rendition, first performed in December 2001 in Ahmedabad as a protest against terrorism and the dangers of othering, proves, even more forcefully, that this internalized reading can galvanize fervour across the artificial boundaries of ethnicity.

Newly added to this second edition are several new sections. Mata Pita: Incarnations and Conversations, is a refashioning from a feminine, Goddess—centred perspective, of several familiar Hindu epic stories: Sati, Siva, and Daksa; Sita, Rama, and Ravana; the Mahabharata war; and Bhagirathi’s role in bringing the cleansing waters of the Ganges to earth. But unlike the personalized Durga of her earlier work, here Ironbiter’s Ma, or Devi, takes birth to fight corruption, the work of her “loud children,” in the external, historical world. For instance, Daksa is the smart, arrogant aggressor of t0day’s business monopolies, Ravana the Greedy poisons the earth and rapes her minerals, and the world that cries out for the balm of Ganga, is pierced by the sounds of saws, factories, dams, drills, and mines.

Beyond this environmental focus, the Goddess also pays special attention to the needs of women, for today’s Daksas continue to destroy my their daughters when they stand up to them, and even Sita, Ma Incarnate, knows that she will be vulnerable to men’s judgments, and disowned. In Paravac: Secret Voice and Mani.• The Jewel, Ironbiter comforts herself as it were, through the wisdom of the Goddess, who counsels her on living with and transforming her anguish at the death of her husband. In one of the most moving parts of the book, Ironbiter is told by Mother to harness her grief by learning from the sixteenth—century Rajput princess Meerabai, who sang to the Lord Krishna of the agony of her separation from him. Love in union, love in separation: tasting this oscillation is a way of experiencing Vac, the primal Voice that the famed philosopher Abhinavagupta and the grammarian Bhartrhari wrote about so many centuries ago.

Ironbiter’s ultimate message is a healing rereading of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra II.30 and a call to vigilance in the world, while yet realizing that Ma, the Goddess, is everything against which She, the divine, Herself fights. This is wisdom indeed for our time, embedded, gem—like, in familiar stories that catch the eye by their unexpected sparkle.


A Note on Devi’s World7
Foreword by Rachel Pell McDermott 8
Introduction to the First Cycle 10
Durga: Demonslaying 12
I. Goddess Durga Hard—to—Reach Slays Demons Madhu and Kaitabha 13
II. Chandika: Her Anger Slays Demon Mahisha’s Armies 16
III. Chandika: Her Outrage Slays Mahishasura 20
IV. Prayer to the Goddess 22
V. Bad Shumbha Sends His Wooer to Durga’s Woman Form, Ambika 24
VI. Ambika Slays Shumbha’s Chief Dhumralochana 27
VII. Kali: Her Blackness Slays Shumbha’s Servants 29
VIII. Kali and the Seven Mothers Slay Red-Semen Shumbha’s Champion 31
IX. Kali and Her Lion Slay Shumbha’s Brother 35
X. Durga Slays Bad King Shumbha 37
XI. Song to the Mother of the World 39
XII. The Goddess’ Promise 41
XIII. Uma’s Boon 44
Prajna: Discourses on Wisdom 46
I. Rafts in the River 47
II. The First Instruction: You Are Not Real 50
III. The Second Instruction; On Sound That Begins You 52
IV. The Third Instruction: The Pure Place 54
V. The Fourth Instruction: Nothing Is Ever Non-Existent 56
VI. The Fifth Instruction: You Are Not Pure 58
VII. The Sixth Instruction: You Are Alive 61
VIII. The Seventh Instruction: Nothing Is Good 63
IX. The Eighth Instruction: Pleasure Is Good For You 65
X. The Ninth Instruction: Perfection 67
XI. The Tenth Instruction: A Stream Out of Oceans 69
Shakti: Power Rises 71
I. The Seven Wise Women and My Linga—man 72
II. Kundali Awakes 77
III. Kundali Makes Love to the Corpse of Svayambhu 80
IV. Svayambhu Dances 83
V Our Cold Mountain Household 86
VI. Our Household Increases 89
VII. Kundali Explains Things to Svayambhu 92
VIII. What To Do With Svayambhu 94
IX. The End of the Man woman 96
Introduction to the Second Cycle 98
Mata Pita: Incarnations Sc Conversations 99
I. A Question Begins in the Subtle Fields of the Mythic Ante—Tempus 100
II. Ma Bridges to the Birth Fields106
III. The First Eccentric Conversation, with Thatnesses 112
IV. Ma Re-embodies from Her Dust and Ashes in the Earth Fields 115
V Pa Pauses Ma127
VI. Ma Manifests as a Voice and Survives Being a Battlefield 130
VII. Pa Makes Peace 137
VIII. I Bathe in Ma’s Rivers 142
IX. Pa Carries On 148
X. Ma Teaches Her Small Cosmos Long Path 150
Paravac: Secret Voice 153
I. The Song Mothers 154
II. The Four Teats of the Vac Cow160
III. Spanda in My Vac Veins 163
IV Refinement of Rapture 166
Mani: The jewel 168
I. Like a Meteor 169
II. The Horse Ritual 171
III. Reordering 172
Padma: One Lotus, Many Petals 173
Appendix: About the Indian Sources of the Poem 176
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