Looking for a lady with fangs and a moustache
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I am in Patan, Nepal, to find a goddess named Dakini. When the seeker is ready, the seer will show up. This is a phrase I have grown up with. The phrase applies to a teacher — when the student is ready, the guru appears or a dakini, in my case. My mother is part of an ancient Hindu lineage that is linked to goddess worship. Mudra, mandala and mantra — the triumvirate as it were — is at the root of this goddess cult. One of the most powerful Sanskrit texts in this lineage is called the Lalita Sahasranamam , or the thousand names of the playful goddess Lalita.
It includes a phrase that talks about the goddess as a dakini, someone who leads you to wisdom. I have chanted this 1,passage text countless times by rote. But what is a dakini? It is a broad statement, so broad as to be quite meaningless to me. Tall and erect, in monk-red robes and quick gait, Rinpoche is a Buddhist Lama akin to guru, meaning high priest or teacher.
Born in Bhutan, he currently lives in India and travels the world giving lectures and teaching students. He is the author of two books and has shot four award-winning films that have been screened at Cannes, Venice, Locarno, Tribeca, Busan and other film festivals.
His latest film , Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Moustache , is about a sceptic seeking a dakini who will literally grant him life, which is why the Rinpoche and members of a global crew are in Patan. The ancient name for Patan is Lalita-pura: the abode of the goddess Lalita. In Patan, goddesses are everywhere. Like an addict obsessed with crack or a musician who hears drumbeats, I see them everywhere.
There is Chinnamasta: the goddess of contradictions, who severs her head and dances nude on a copulating couple. There are yoginis and mahavidyas: goddesses who offer knowledge. Tiny shrines on streets have pyramid-like mounds with serpent-like hoods: the coiled kundalini rising through the chakras. People pause to pray. They offer flowers and bow down in solitude. They take red kumkum powder and smear it on their forehead. They channel the dakini, perhaps. Dakinis are female goddesses, forest nymphs, spirits and witch-like deities.
The Patan Museum has exhibits — bronze sculptures — of her in coital embrace with her male counterpart, Heruka or Chakra Samhara, a wrathful god who breaks through the tenets of time and leads the faithful towards wisdom. Whimsical, moody, magnanimous, the dakini is muse and mother, lover and loner, terrifying and sensuous, epitomising the paradoxes that suffuse the goddess cult in India and Nepal.
The Shaktas, as the goddess worshippers are called, embrace what Carl Jung calls the shadow, the darker sides of personality.
Nepal is a hotbed of this lineage. The two faiths that percolate this mountainous land — Hinduism and Buddhism — exchange ideas and concepts seamlessly. The dakini is one such example: a feisty, flirty, flighty, fierce goddess who lays claim on Kathmandu valley. This notion of the dakini as muse is easy to intuit but hard to articulate.
Dakini worship revels in dreams and contradictions, and eschews the rational for the emotional, all of which are also part of the Jungian psychology I studied in university. That is the real life.
The moment reasoning creeps in, your life will become square, like a Starbucks coffee. Then it is franchised. Religion began in this liminal space of magic realism. Eastern faiths, primarily Hinduism and Buddhism, continue these practices, mostly in the tantric sect. Things seem close yet so far. That is why the tantric lineage is called the left-handed path because left hand is the lower hand. Like many Indians, I grew up hearing the word tantra all the time. It had many meanings.
The temple priests in Kerala were called tantris and philosophic concepts were called tantra. My mother belongs to the Shakta faith: people who worship the Shakti — the female principle. Goddess worship in both Hinduism and Buddhism involves visualisation. You visualise your body as being the home of the Vajrayogini, your surroundings as being the mandalas of the goddess and the world as being the pure land of the dakini.
These pure lands are not necessarily literal, but metaphorical advances achieved through meditation, visualisation and practice. Entire books are devoted to practices that initiates can use to discover or rekindle their inner dakini. He is right on top but missing it all the time. So, you need a master to shift your focus. We [masters] need to have lots of tricks to help students.
This left-handed lineage can be practiced quite literally, by forcing yourself to use your left gaze, left hand and left leg. This involves a certain kind of openness of course, difficult for those of us who peer into smartphones while walking the streets. In order to give a gift to someone with feminine energy, you must see her first. Or take a chance. As luck would have it, I get a chance to do just this. One afternoon, I am conscripted as an extra for a shot.
I must sit in a coffee shop with another extra — a Nepalese woman and drink coffee while the hero of the film walks by, peering into the coffee shop as he searches for his dakini. Over the course of 15 takes and retakes, I chat desultorily with the woman. Her name, I learn, is Babita and she is a shopkeeper. After the shot, she invites me down to her shop.
On an impulse — a little nervously — I unclasp the bead bracelet that I am wearing and clasp it on her wrist. That would be too cheesy. Babita, however, puts a different reason for my gesture: Dasain, the annual festival that celebrates the goddess.
Bangles and bracelets are as popular as chocolates and flowers in the West — perhaps the reason why Babita accepted my gift as a matter of course. In Buddhist legend, a dakini reveals herself in the most innocuous and surprising of places. Through a variety of practices, including worshipping the elements of water and fire, through mantras and rituals, an evolved practitioner can make a connection with a dakini.
Her grace can make things happen in a jiffy. Most scholars say that dakini worship is the shortest path to spiritual evolution. The Kumari is not a dakini, although she could be. The three erstwhile kingdoms of Nepal each have a Kumari or young goddess. It is traditional to take gifts for the Kumari, so we stop by and buy some Horlicks, a drink. We are ushered into an anteroom where we sit cross-legged and wait. She is five years old.
I offer her my gift. For a few seconds, the Kumari is preoccupied with opening the lid of the bottle. She plays with it, turning it up and down. I bend and prostrate — touching the ground with my forehead as Hindus are wont to do at temples.
On cue, the Kumari puts some vermilion powder on my forehead. Manoj, the man who brought me, also bows to her, offers her some cash and leans forward as she applies powder on his forehead. He prostrates himself before her again and she sits still, with dignity, accepting our reverence as a matter of course. I am told that for a girl to be chosen as a Kumari, she must have certain facial features and marks, that she should exhibit composure in large crowds and have a certain feminine energy in her.
There it is again, this phrase. Unexplainable perhaps, but easily felt. Am I getting sensitised — getting better at spotting a dakini? That night, the whole town gathers near Durbar Square for the Nava Durga dance, the nine forms of the goddess. Predictably, given that these are ancient rituals, the dancing goddesses are all men. Somehow, although I am a feminist who strongly supports the MeToo movement, this channelling of female energy by men pleases me.
A crowd gathers to propitiate the goddesses. They walk down the long line of colourful masked figures, offering cash, fruits and flowers, touching their palms together in reverence. On impulse, I do the same. Emboldened, I try to say it with feeling. I try to keep an open mind to feel the feminine energy swirling around me. I cannot spot a dakini but at least I know that she is there. Suddenly, Babita appears within the crowd. And then it dawns on me.
I have seen her twice in two days in the most innocuous of places. I have been searching all over from a stranger with good feminine energy.
‘You’re my queen for ever and ever’: My search for goddess Dakini in Nepal in the age of #MeToo
It was an international film being shot in Nepal and I had the opportunity to be on the sets of this unique film directed by renowned director , a Buddhist teacher, Rinpoche Khyentse Norbu. It was a sunny day at Patan in Nepal and we were walking down towards the Sankhamul Bridge from our beautiful boutique hotel. The lanes burst alive with crafts and craftsmen.
Account Options Sign in. My library Help Advanced Book Search. Marcienne Martin. This book explores the new language of the Internet which offers a middle ground between expressiveness and speed.
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When the first movie of this increasingly ridiculous saga began, Mr. Now that Mr. Less artful but more concussive than its immediate predecessor, this latest outing finds Mr. Wick being clocked by strangers every time he enters a room, stalked by his biggest fans, and so desperate for someone who will treat him like an actual human being that he travels all the way to the Sahara Desert to find them. No movie has ever expressed the fight for anonymity with such viscerally literal force. Still, the gist of the plot is pretty simple: John Wick kills a lot of people. Like, a lot of people.
In our increasingly mechanized and automated world that frowns on superstition and mysticism, this story shows how vitally relevant our disappearing ancient wisdom and traditional beliefs still are. In particular, the film focuses on the age-old Himalayan respect for and celebration of feminine energy as the most supreme aspect of being. This energy is personified in tantric Buddhism by dakinis who may appear as mysterious living beings who give or take away our life force and guide or ruin our lives. While only realized adepts like the character of O. Though he disparages superstition, Tenzin is suddenly tormented by peculiar and recurring dreams and images that signal his imminent death.
When an ambitious, sceptical young entrepreneur faces strange portents of impending death, he is thrust into a mystical world of ancient wisdom and traditional beliefs that points to a special woman as his only hope for life. His desperate search for that woman brings him face to face with his own neuroses and attachments, and with the speed, frenzy, distraction and rational limitations of modern life. And yet that very desperation also brings an awakening that reveals the age-old Himalayan respect for and celebration of the power of feminine energy that is increasingly relevant to our own volatile era. That story is interwoven with sub-plots that both depict the painful ways in which our personal fixations and preoccupations can short-circuit genuine communication, and also infuse a warmth, tenderness, undertone of mystery, and subtle humour into all the characters and their interactions.
Looking For A Lady With Fangs And A Moustache
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I am in Patan, Nepal, to find a goddess named Dakini. When the seeker is ready, the seer will show up. This is a phrase I have grown up with. The phrase applies to a teacher — when the student is ready, the guru appears or a dakini, in my case. My mother is part of an ancient Hindu lineage that is linked to goddess worship. Mudra, mandala and mantra — the triumvirate as it were — is at the root of this goddess cult. One of the most powerful Sanskrit texts in this lineage is called the Lalita Sahasranamam , or the thousand names of the playful goddess Lalita. It includes a phrase that talks about the goddess as a dakini, someone who leads you to wisdom.