Tuesday, 19 June 2012

"Mine The Darkness"

The Inspiration For Our Upcoming LightHouse Tours

The old lighthouse at Mamallapuram always meant something special to me, having brought to me face to face with my past life for the first time. It was atop this lighthouse in 1974, looking out on the streams and fields, the rocks and backwaters, that I visioned myself as an ancient princess gazing over the land that she held in trust. Most of all, the green squares of rice fields spoke to me, mirrored back my feelings that this was a rich and nurtured land, rich with mystery and the potential for spiritual awakening.

I've also been up to the new lighthouse in 1974 and taken in with a sweep, what felt like all of Tamil Nadu. But the old one keeps calling me back to share secrets held within the folds of its womb, the Mahishasuramardini Cave. "I will reveal all to the ones who trust me" the steps whisper, as I place foot after foot with reverence on their tilts and twists, struggling to keep balance.

Kim has called them the “priceless sacred caves where Vishnu sleeps and Durga battles.”

This single thought from Kim wrapped up for me her understanding of the mysterious paradox that is India. Think now of the lighthouse balanced on the shoulders of these deities, beaming this wisdom to whoever is tuned in.

As the new lighthouse sends its million watt beacon in a grand sweep over the bay, the old one quietly whispers wisdom to the ones who climb the ancient steps to gaze out
at the sheet of turquoise stretched like a girdle all around. From here you feel you can touch all of the ocean, commune with it rather than survey its grandeur.There is intimacy.

This link speaks of lighthouse tourism as the next big thing in India.
We have a chance to come in with our unique CTT perspective and I eagerly look forward to reader feedback here. This will help us customize our Cyber Yaatras as well as the LightHouse Packages we planning to offer in 2013 spring in the Mamallapuram region.

The old lighthouse is a protected monument so I hope they preserve the sanctity of the surroundings. It wouldn't do to have recreational activities in the vicinity! But it would be an even more pressing need to crack down on the graffitti once and for all. Again I was appalled at the crude etchings on and around The Butterball. I thought there was far too little surveillance at such an important site.

Just came across this article "Mamallapuram: monument of neglect" in The Hindu. Worth a read.

The way they carve and deface these precious monuments makes me cry. I've noticed that monuments for which there isn't an entry charge are quite neglected. It would be a great idea to tax all those picnickers and useless underemployed couples and their ill-bred spawn who go there for "timepass."

And it would be a great idea for the so called “guides” to educate the rifraf on the need to respect, indeed revere these irreplaceable sites.

Kim's reactions to her Lighthouse Trip

"I think one thing that moves me about these two wonderful carvings in the old lighthouse cave is their grand statement on power. Vishnu's seems at first glance to be a passive power; he sleeps while his attendants repel the demon that is threatening him. And Durga's seems to be an active power; she herself battles the buffalo demon, personification of the evil which threatens us all.

Some might say that these two carvings turn gender power stereotypes on their heads, as it is the male manifestation of God who is passive, the female who is active. But I think there are more subtle messages to be found here.

I love it that Lord Vishnu's power is so trusting. He seems completely calm and at peace in his sleep. His serenity is deeply sensual and full of sexual potential, the potential of creation gathering within him as he rests. His arms are languid and relaxed, one fallen idly to his side. He knows his attendants can repel any danger which might threaten him in the midst of his creative meditation. He has nothing to fear, no need to act.

Durga's power on the other hand seems to spring from an intuitive knowledge of when to act. Her carving is filled with energy and engagement; there is dramatic motion and sweeping form all around her.

There must be a relationship between her aggressive outward contest, and Vishnu's peaceful inward trust; between her active initiative, and his passive delegation of power. Each knows how to respond to the moment.

As you know I found Vishnu's sleeping form in the Shore Temple nearby even more powerful. I love it that it was carved from bedrock, that the temple itself was raised over him only afterwards. Somehow his bedrock form seems to symbolize how elemental his creative sleep is, and again, how sensual. Here in this carving, he's stripped of all his outward manifestations of power...no mace, no conch, no couch. He's bare and alone, yet wholly at peace and empowered in his bareness. He helps me understand that indeed, nothingness is everything."