Monday, January 09, 2006

yoni worship

The Series:

feminism in indian culture
the origins of a tradition
shakthi worship and philosophy
yoni worship

* * *
in a culture of such reverence for the feminine, you bet you can find at least a small cult to salute the yoni!

the yoni yantra, basically a triangle, represents the mother goddess, and indicates the cosmic womb, and hence the source of life. the yoni is considered the doorway to understanding the mysteries of the universe. in ritualism, this gets represented as sculptures of the goddess lying with her legs spread, or standing with her feet apart so that worshippers may stand at the yonic entrance and symbolically drink the yoni tattva (her menstrual blood) to assimilate it as the sublime essence of the world.

the goddess with her yoni shown for worship, and a lotus budding from her neck to signify creation

the yoni tantra divides the yoni into 10 parts, each of which is considered a manifestation of the divine feminine (devi). also, (interestingly!) in shaktha philosophy, menstrual blood is considered sacred, and menstruating women are revered. during her periods, a woman's body consciousness being keener, she experiences a drawing in of energy and feelings to a deeper level of consciousness. it is believed that during her periods, the different rhythms that set in in her body are more closely related to those of nature. since the body is considered a microcosm of the universe, understanding and praying to the feminine is a way of understanding and revering the divine.

the yoni is often compared to a lotus. just as the flower remains pristine despite the water and mosses surrounding it, the yoni is believed to be pure, no matter how many times it menstruates or engages in intercourse. also, as water represents consciousness, and the flower (yoni) is rooted in consciousness, it is said to support all life and creation. while this is a slightly off-beat view, popular religion also depicts several gods and goddesses as being seated on lotuses.

radha and krishna seated on a lotus

* * *

what ive written of the tantric and shaktha schools is the bare essentials of their philosophy. imho, they started out with a good concept but later got carried away, so im sticking to what appeals and makes sense to me!

also since i dont want to get into religion proper, fascinating as they are, im skipping the kali and durga female archetypes and the fantastic tales about them (with much regret!). but please do read that mookerjee book - 'tis the nicest ive come across so far on this subject... especially if youre a woman, gosh, its awesome reading! :D



Anonymous sloganmurugan said...

Beyond Yoni worship, this book I happened to read was very nice:
Devi: Tales of the Goddess

1:35 am  
Blogger ~River~ said...

First, let me tell you that I'm pleased to have found your blog. Feminist blogs in India are rare things, but I'm sure you know that already. ;)

These posts on Mookerjee's book are very interesting. However, since I come from a place known for its Shaktism (Assam), I wonder if this book does not present too rosy a picture about "feminism in our culture". There is a lot of similar stuff
written about the Kamakhya temple and its 'glorious' feminist traditions. You should ask the women in Assam. The taboos relating to menstruation are innumerable. My younger sister and I had to accept them as kids. (In fact, my sister was annoyed enough to write an MPhil and then a PhD on menstrual taboos in Assam). The "reverence" for the menstruating woman is shown by letting her sleep on the floor, not allowing her to go out, not allowing her to touch objects/people until she is ritually 'purified' on the third day and so on and so forth.

The above is a personal example. (The personal is political, isn't it? :)) What concerns me more is the danger of essentialising 'the feminine' within the nurturing/natural/maternal/biological stereotype. We, feminists, have to be careful about the things we support. To me, worshipping the female body is as risky as condemning it. You never know when the two can meet.

Cheers and keep writing!

4:04 am  
Blogger m. said...

@ slogan murugan: thanks for recco, will keep an eye open for that one :)

@ river: yello! welcome, and well met :D yes, i did read about the kamakhya temple and the traditions that prevail in the north... as i said, i think tantric and shaktha philosophy started with good concepts, but (some along the way)went way off track.
'tis a wise word of caution you speak - just like socialism and capitalism mouth opposing politics and end up oppressing people the same way, some of these so called pro-feminine cults behave remarkably like patriarchy!
respecting the feminine is something that helps me deal with and make sense of a lot of stuff - so that gets carried over to my politics i guess... yup, personal is absolutely political!:)
PS: sounds like you & your sister are doing interesting stuff - niish!

4:58 am  
Blogger KoPoS said...

Great post, eM!

2:01 am  
Blogger annie said...

good stuff :) linking to u

3:39 am  
Blogger m. said...

@ kopos: thanks

@ annie : honoured! :)

3:55 am  
Anonymous IndianPad said...

I am glad I found your blog and that's a great post! My initial reaction was that you were gassing in this series but as I read on I found myself agreeing with most of the post. I have a new found respect for the 'yoni' :)

9:44 am  
Blogger death said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:40 am  
Blogger death said...

hee hee. Anything out of human understanding has to be supernatural naa!!!

you must be an aQuarian :D

6:40 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:32 pm  
Blogger m. said...

indianpad: hahahahaha! *getting a grip and trying to look serious* thanks... im glad you *grin!* appreciated the post...

death: i must musnt i. unfortunately reality cramped my style!

anon: thanks :)

12:56 am  
Blogger Jake said...

aiyo what is this feminism, yoni voni. too much vetti i say.

* ducking for cover *

9:10 am  
Blogger m. said...

spake the man who shamelessly copied my yahoo status. hmmm.
*picking a copy of the second sex. testing weight. swinging an arm...*

9:36 am  
Blogger Eroteme said...

Nice post. I enjoyed reading about the tantra practices which I had once read when I was a teen and ran away with my eyes wide open. Years made me realise the truth in them and am glad you wrote about them too... :-)

2:04 am  
Blogger m. said...

er... glad you liked the post, but i must hastily disclaim having written about tantric practices - i didnt i didnt!! :)) 'twas maybe the basics of the philosophy from which the tantric rituals evolved, but theyre a huge and totally different affair by themselves...

3:09 am  
Blogger the wannabe indian punkster said...

Menstruration and the menstural taboos are quite shocking in Tamilnadu as well. The only good factor was that, I was raised in Chennai so I escaped all the ritual "cleansing" and I was raised by very liberal(I think they're normal, but Indian society might find them excessively liberal:P)parents who actually laughed at a lot of these taboos placed by society in the name of "hygiene". My take on the menstural taboos are a set of ridiculous rules hastily made by some men who did not understand the female body in the first place.:)

12:34 pm  
Blogger m. said...

megha: what i find very sad, is that earlier women and men celebrated the feminine and respected womenkind. we've just become such a patriarchal society, that we're all deeply conditioned to hate anything female or associated with being female.

4:53 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am keen to nkow about

how the young men and women are educated about saexual education in india

is there a particular system for that who are the people involvesd in it how they go ahead with it

do the VEDAs or religious scriptures of you indians have any thing worthe on how to find a date and trhe art of haveing love relationship not exactly marrige

i would like to know about it

if any one could asend me some info regarding it ,or provide info about from where i could get info about it

mail it to me


my mail id

12:49 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems ancient people are wiser than modern people. They realized the sacredness of Women and treated them as Goddesses. Yoni should be worshipped as it is the most feminine part of a Woman. Lets hope the good old days will come back again.

10:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's right because the great historian Sildenafil Citrate has said this totally true because it represents the mother goddess, also he's an excellent philosopher.

10:10 am  

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