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pakhwajAn instrument that always reminds me of the mrdhangam.

It is either played solo or as the all important time and rhythm keeper of traditional performing arts.

The young Pakhwaj Player Pratap Awad who accompanied Sri.Bah’uddin Dagar during his sessions at the goa university shared with us the mythology of the instrument—

The divine designer Vishwakarma’s wife was enchanted by the gentle yet firm sound created by the rain drops dropping on the earth. Inspired by this Vishwakarma created the mrdangam, he shared with us of course various other mythology around this too. But this was truly inspiring.

The early  instrument was made of earth and wood. It eventually evolved to its form today.

It was a pleasure listen to this young boy who was so passionate in playing the instrument and sharing his knowledge with us. He particularly rendered a rendering of a Shiva stuthi with no musical accompaniment other than the Pakhwaj, the definition of the percussion was so wonderful that I actually wanted to go on stage and render the dance version of it.


Goa readers club input of Devsaar.


ImageRecently, an aunt told me some stories of a ghost / spirit that used to stay in the forests around some of the villages in Goa long ago when her mother was a young woman – my aunt is in her eighties now – I tried looking up this word devsaar / deosaar? But I couldn’t find any information on it – has anybody heard of these wood spirits? And what the name deosaar indicates?


Devsaar among catholics mean the devil or demon.  It is used in
doctrine and cathechism. However it might have been a word picked by
missionaries from Hindu philosophy to represent another force.  In
many villages they say among catholics that the devil resides in
certain trees especially on the boundaries of the village. The Hindus
too celebrate the feast as that  Rankondar or the village guardian who
walks round the village. They are also termed as  Ishwar with the
place or some connotation attached to them. At some places at
strategic  position there are crosses to which the  people hold a
litany. But sometimes the Vodil ( Senior ) men of the  place puts some
drink like feni which is supposed to be offered to the so termed devil
behind the cross, . For instance the senior fellow may loudly end by
calling on Voddavedlo Devnchar to take account of the misdeeds of an
enemy. Most of these things are hidden as they are frowned by the
Church authorities
Visit my web site http://www.ismilda,com
Carmo  .

‘Devchar’ or ‘devchaar’ is a devil or Satan for Catholics. But one has to be careful of this meaning as along the West coast there is also the local concept of ‘devchar’ [devacho achar] as the ‘guardian spirit‘ or ‘rakhondar’ who is a benevolent spirit and may appear in human form to help people in distress. This could be understood as ‘guardian angel’ [though there may be theological debates in such an interpretation].

Rap heal fernandes

S: I remember Dr William R da Silva, priest-sociologist but a very open one, saying once that the word “devchar” probably comes from “devacho-achar” (meaning, a manifestation of the deity… if not mistaken).

Frederick Norohna.

Along the coast of Karnataka, we have a similar concept called the Devva, sometimes they are also called Jakkini. the guardian spirit of  an area.

Ben Antao

Jaknni bandh is located in Navelim, Salcete. It refers to the bridge under which ranes used to hide and attack
Ben Antao
Jaknni bandh is located in Navelim, Salcete. It refers to the bridge under which ranes used to hide and attack
those walking on the road. This myth began in the 1700s and survived through word of mouth until I was growing up
in Margao in the 1940s.
Incidentally, I’ve used this bridge in my novel BLOOD & Nemesis (2005), about Goa’s freedom struggle from the
Portuguese rule. My protagonist Santan Barreto says Jai Hind at the bridge where the police cop Jovino Colaco
stood to halt the carreiras overloading passengers. The old bridge, now rebuilt, is on the main road coming into Margao from Chinchinim
just after the Dramapur exit.

symbols of wealth

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The mythologies talk of many symbolism. One thing struck me most was the triad of kamadhenu-chintamani and kalpataru.
Kamadhenu a cow that fulfilled all wishes. I think is the personification of animal wealth. It could address the need through the animal kingdom. It is one of the symbols of wealth and emerged along with Lakshmi when the ocean was churned. Kalpaturu the representation of the world of flora again emerged with Lakshmi the goddess of wealth. It is the benevolent forest wealth. Finally the chintamani or the wish fulfilling gem. The representation of abundance of mineral wealth. This again emerged with Lakshmi during the churning of the Ocean.


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Madana, Kadarpa,Kama-deva, Manmatha are all names for the Lord of love who is the son of Lakshmi and Vishnu. He is lord of delight.
Symbols: sugar cane, parrot, mango leaves, marigold flowers, honey, butterflies.
• Rides a parrot
• Has a bow made of sugarcane, and the string is a string of bees.
• Shoots five varieties of arrows to rouse the 5 senses.
• He is a makara dwaja. Makara is a mythical animal that is part fish, part goat, and part elephant.
• His spouses are Rati and Priti that is erotic love and romantic love.
Mudra :
Left hand shikara and right hand Katakamukha.
Om kamadevaya vidmahe, pushpabaanaya dimahi,tanno ananga prachodayat
Is the gayathri dedicated to Kamadev. This is to be recited at twilight from Vasanta Panchami to Holi.
When the demon Tarakasura got all power and conquered the Sathyaloka the abode of Lord Indra, he coveted Sachi the wife of Indra. The gods were told the son of Shiva and Parwati called Kartikeya would redeem them. But Shiva was so engrossed his meditation that it did not seem possible. So Kamadev was deputed to awaken desire in him. Kamadev with his spouse Rati went on the mission. Shiva was disturbed by this erotic awakening by the untimely spring created by Kamadev burns him down.
Kamadev unable to bear the heat tries to douse it in the river Kalindi which dries and turns black.
Rati the spouse of Kamadev is devastated. She is reassured that her husband would regain his body when Krishna weds Rukmini.
When the natyashatra explains Hasya rasa, this is one episode that is quoted. That is Shiva laughs when Kamadev burns. When heard it sounds cruel, but when analysed, Kamadev shoots his arrow at both Shiva and Parwati, resulting in Parwati’s emotions being stirred almost immediately, but despite Shiva burning Kamadev, he is a victim of the arrow and he is disturbed by Parwati, so though Kama is physically he wins in essence. It is not hasya or amusement here the hasya here is the paradox.
In the story of chitrangadha. We have Chitra the princess of Manipur who asks the help of Madana. Interestingly Madana tells her that his duty is to make men and women aware of their emotions at the right time. He gives Chitra the boon of femininity for a year.
Kamadev is essential to keep the circle of life going. But Kama does not mean only erotic or romantic love. Kama is also desire. Desire for all things. Which means even a sanyasin is a karmarthi for he desires moksha.
When we talk of the purusharthas we say dharma-artha-kama-moksha.

the myth of Mahabali

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Growing up in rural India with close emotional and cultural ties with Malabar the land of Maha Bali, the benevolent asura King who came up on the day of Onam and ruled the earth till deepavali. The legend was that goddess Lakshmi the goddess of wealth was enslaved by the King Bali’s goodness so lord Vishnu had to descend as Vamana the dwarf and retrieve her. Stories that Kitta-doddamma narrated to us at Malumatta my mother’s ancestral home. These would be accompanied with golibajje the traditional snack from coastal Karnataka, and of course the raagi malt a drink made of millet and milk.
Param-ajja my grandfather’s brother and patriarch of the family and our uncles would return from the fields, or their place of work at sundown, when the second round of golibajje would appear, and as Kitta-doddamma walked in to make these, he would snort, at her of course well assisted by the snuff that he used. A deck of cards would materialize and coffee this time round. Doddamma would refuse to give us coffee since we were kids, but ajja (grandpa) would look at benevolently, and say give the kids half cup coffee each. That was the first treat. These coffees were special as they were made of jaggary a sweetener extracted from sugarcane.
He would then tell us the real meaning behind the story of Deepavali. The essence of Bali, the sacrifice and de-romanticize the entire story. To him the tale of Bali was the sacred codification agricultural knowledge or truths handed down from one generation to the other. It was the lore that inspired the agricultural karma yogis the quality of Bali (sacrifice). A good harvest required sacrifice giving a part of oneself to nature, whether it was the seed which shed its skin the worm that contributed their organic components, the former who contributed his labour, the soil its nutrients, mother earth the Lakshmi who reside in the earth nurtured these to spring a rich crop. Bali was the contributor or the sacrificed that enslaved lakshmi with this goodness. To Paramajja Vaman of lesser importance.
To my maternal grandmother who had an urban upbringing and convent education the story of Bali symbolized something else. Bali to her inconsequential, but the concept of Vamana the dwarf’s feet enlarging enough to gulf the three world meant that any thought if dwelt upon too much could engulf your entire being and existence.
Today when I sit back and try to understand these myths I realize the shifting fortunes of devas and asuras are cyclic again area’s are not destroyed only put in their place. If Bali and goodness rose from the nether world above to the earth then balance is disturbed. Bali rises every year on onam, he oversees the nurturing of the crops then after harvest he returns to nether world on Balipadya. After which lakshmi or wealth enters the house on deepavali. Incidentally most major festivals are associated with the death of an asura. This is again because asuras are the keepers of sanjivini vidya or the knowledge of restoring life i.e. the rejuvenation of nature.
The saga of deepavali also involves the destruction of narakasura, — personification the slough created by the rains and harvest. Interestingly he can only be destroyed by his mother, the mother earth. Goa actually has this gathering of the slough making an effigy of Narakasura and then setting it flame. This takes care of the environment.

Navaratri — the worship of the mother goddess.

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Ganesh chaturti, Mahalaya, followed by Navaratri.

The nine nights, these are dedicated to the worship of the mother goddess.

Navaratri or nine nights of ritualistic worship.  The vasanta Navaratri, the jyeshta Navaratri and shared Navaratri are three major navaratri’s.

Vasanta navaratri  in spring was first celebrated by the ancestor of Ram to beget progeny

The jyeshta Navaratri or the Ganga Navaratri when Ganga the river goddess is honored.

Sharad Navaratri that honors the mother goddess in all her forms.

Mother goddess, is the personification of nature. The is Adi maya the invincible. She is both the bride and the warrior at the same time, on one she establishes a home, nurtures, romances and provides food on the other she is unfretted protector of the people who surrender to her, she rides a lion, and destroyers her challengers.

With respect to Brahma we have the creative energy that manifests as sharada, saraswati, shatarupa. As shatarupa she takes on the infinite forms, as saraswati she is the embodiment of knowledge, answering the primordial question “who am I “as sharada, she is dedication and discipline. Riding a white heron the symbol of concentration, a string of memory beads, and no jewels, and holds a lute she is difficult to acquire once she is realized she is a companion for life.

The bejeweled opulent companion of Vishnu Lakshmi, daughter of Varuna the water she is embodiment of tangible wealth. She is fickle as she is fortune.  Her symbols are all the symbols of prosperity, dressed in a red sari, a pot overflowing with grain and gold the goddess represents pleasure, prosperity and power that culture harvests out of nature. She is elusive, whimsical and difficult to hold on. She is always with her twin Jyeshta lakshmi or Alakshmi the goddess of misfortune, poverty strife and struggle she demands acknowledgement.

Gauri the, known as pratyaksha maheshwari or visible goddess she is Annapurna the giver of food. Secure in Shiva’s lap she is everything that Kali is not. Usually represented as fair, married woman, in a green sari, with green bangles wearing a string of fragrant flowers. She is mother goddess domesticated.

Ganga the personification of human energy she was so powerful, that Shiva himself could not sustainer, she drew the heat of Shiva’s Tapas and flow down as a river. The matted hair of Shiva here symbolizes discipline unless disciplined the life sustaining quality can overwhelm.

Radha the embodiment of romance, surrender and unconventionality. She is the vayu prana of the Krishna avatar, once Krishna leaves vrindavan for Mathura he ceases to be venugopal. Radha a married woman, older than Krishna their romance defies the social norms.  Scholars would like to justify it as the eternal need of the jivatma (soul-Radha) to merge with the parmatma (the divine).Radha is the acknowledgement of inner desires that are denied, repressed or sublimated despite which they still exist.

Placing her foot on a mustachioed human head, Kali is nature in her aggression, unbound raw and wild. She is the darkest recess of unconscious that can overwhelm culture; there can be a collapse of social structure if discipline gives away to desire.  The mustachioed human head represents the human ego, which needs validation and approval from the external world.

Lajja Gauri as the art historians call her is very popularly seen both in folk art and tantric art. She is not really identifiable by scriptures. A picture of contradiction. The image depicts absence of face suggesting shyness and exposed genital contradicts this.  This can be translated to the impersonal i.e. without head, fertile and pleasure giving make the mother goddess a beloved and a mother.

The indigenous Gramadevata is created by drawing eyes and palms to certain naturally occurring rocks that are responsive. The open eyes symbolizing her sensitivity of to the devotees need, the upturned palm reassuring and blessing the down turned palm giving. The tangible energy varies from place to place. The most popular one being the vaishnoo Devi at Jammu.

Gauri Durga Kali
  • Dressed in green
  • Maternal
  • Hair bound
  • Vegetarian
  • Wears symbols of marriage
  • Holds no weapon
  • Offers food
  • Dressed in red
  • Bridal
  • Unbound hair
  • Accepts all offerings
  • Wears bridal jewels
  • Holds defensive weapons.
  • Does not offer food
  • Naked
  • Carnal
  • Disheveled
  • Demands blood
  • Covered with human head.
  • Holds offensive weapons
  • Does not offer food

The mother goddess, Maheshwari—Adi maya-Adishakti is infinite and impermanent she directs the jiva to realize the divine within, nurtures the jiva’s journey to self discovery.  But the journey of self discovery tries to control the fertility of nature that she personifies, she strikes violently.

The totem of Ganapati

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Ganapati is a God from the rig Veda, where he is seen as the “Gana” or clan

The modern ganapati can be explained as the totem of the farmers Bain, the elephant, snake and rat.

But as we decode the mythology. We come with various amazing discoveries.

Most of us are familiar with the Shiva purana story that revolves round the birth of vinayka, who is called so because he was born without the intervention of Shiva. Yet he is able rouse the jealous and anger within the self contained hermit. Shiva turns violent and beheads the boy. But seeing the wailing Gauri he revives her using the head of Airavata the elephant that belonged to Indra.

This recreation of Vinayaka, becomes symbolic as the head is placed by the god and body is created by the goddess.  The body created by the goddess symbolizes rasa material abundance, while, the head revived by the Hermit god represents spiritual energy. Thus ganesha becomes the union of the soul   with substance a balance of material delight with spiritual bliss.

 Ganesha the son of gauri is worshiped with lakshmi (material abundance) and saraswati (wisdom) he becomes the god of thresholds, between Yoga and bhoga, discipline and indulgence, monastic order and fertility rites. The God sitting between the past and future removing all obstacles. Ensuring the realization of every dream.

This is why even the head that used to revive him has to come from the Airavata, the elephant (abundance) associated with the rain god Indra. When the clouds are cut off, do we find the mother earth emerging draping herself with the green sari of harvest, and her son who removes all obstacles emerges with her.  The elephant also symbolises the large wisdom reserve that ganapati has, the large reserve of knowledge that is collected by the large ears.

Mythology has riddhi(material abundance) and siddhi(spiritual essence)) as his spouses. Sometimes siddi is referred to as Buddhi (inner wisdom). His offspring’s being shubh (good) Lab (profit) and daughter Santoshi (contentment).

The tantric traditions talk of the path of realizing the truth through shakti. The flowering  of the kundalini in stages till the union of Shiva and Shakti occurs. The Ganapati, sits as the lord of the muladhara or the first chakra preventing Shiva’s entry into Parwati’s cave.

Analysing the sons of Shiva Parwati.


  • Masculine, virile
  • Associated with power symbols, lance, peacock,ash(detachment)
  • Associated with army and weapons
  • Commands the devas
  • Yet worshiped to beget children.

  • fat and fertile
  • associated with feminine symbols like water, banana leaf, serpent
  • associated with wealth and wisdom.
  • Scribe of the scholars (Vyasa)
  • Yet worshiped to destroy obstacles.

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