The Prints of Rajasthan
It was in Rajasthan that I became totally encapsulated by the dazzling, colourful, life-embracing fabrics I saw all around me. Whether it was the silk saris worn by Indian women, or the perfectly bound turbans adorned by gypsy men playing music and singing traditional songs on the street, there was something very special about the clothes, fabrics and textiles of the “colourful” Indian state of Rajasthan.
In particular, there was one textile pattern I saw again and again which caught my eye, and my heart. I called it the “dot, dot, dot” print and, although I was aware of it before I came to India, it was in Rajasthan that I witnessed it in a new, awe-inspiring way.
I began to seek deeper inspiration through these dots and the spaces in between: unearthing layers of cultural, cosmological and spiritual meaning within the beautiful dotted patterns of space and colour. Little did I know where these dots would lead me!
At this time, I had just finished my Yoga Teacher Training in Traditional Tantra and Hatha Yoga in Rishikesh and I was travelling through Mid and Northern India. During my teacher training, I had been exposed to much Hindu and Tantric philosophy, including that of the Ten Mahavidyas: The Ten Wisdom Goddesses.
These Goddesses are said to be different personalities or cosmic manifestations of the universal divine feminine energy Shakti, or Durga (Hindu deities have a tendency to have avatars and versions, so it can get complicated!
Ultimately we can understand these Goddess as energies existing both in the universe and also within ourselves; we may be able to identify goddess traits within our personalities and summon the goddess energies for strength, guidance and transformation in our lives.
It should be noted however that, even though there are many goddesses, difference is ultimately an illusion. All of the goddesses are aspects of Shakti: the divine feminine energy which the Universe is made from, and in turn Shakti relies on the masculine energy: pure consciousness or Shiva, to exist.
But, out of all the Hindu deities and goddesses I learnt about in India, it was the fourth Wisdom Goddess, Bhuvaneshvari, whom I felt personally drawn to.
Bhuvaneshvari is the Goddess of infinite space, expansion and potential. She offers us the space to grow and change, and for the universe to multiply and expand. Ultimately, she embodies the infinite possibilities of manifested Shakti in the universe: the limitless potential of what has, can, could and will be, in the realm of space. Bhuvaneshvari is space, the cosmic womb, but as Sally Kempton so aptly writes:
"You can't confine or define her simply as space, because Bhuvaneshwari is also layered into the physical world. The world is inside her body, and yet she is at the heart of everything as the space inside every atom"
2013: Awakening Shakti, pp. 302-304
On a personal level, I discovered her firstly through Yoga. She was my Yoga.