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Saturday, October 23, 2004

prelude & fugue on Durga

this is a longer story (sorry!) but since today is the Dassara, or Vijaya Dashini, the Victory Day of Mother Divine in a fierce form defeating the demons, I thought I'd post it here in this wonderful and auspicious time.

Hampi, as I mentioned before, is an ancient ruined city that is home to literally thousands of abandoned temples, on an incredible river called the Tungabhadra. the river is like a small version of the Ganga (Ganges), is it Mother Divine flowing there. In its hey-day in the mid-1500s, in the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi was the center of the South Indian empire, the capitol of what was the WEALTHIEST empire in the world at that time. there are unbelievable accounts, written by Portuguese traders at the time, about the phenomenal wealth and majesty of Hampi -- they described cart traffic (traders in spices, gold, gems, silks, etc.) literally being bumped to bumper along the road from Goa to Hampi (Goa is on the coast, Hampi is considerably inland), and how the market streets of Hampi were filled with vendors selling PILES of high-quality emeralds, rubies, diamonds, etc.

the king of Hampi at the absolute height of its wealth, a 20-year period in the mid-1500s -- and at the time of its utter destruction by the Delhi sultanate, the Muslim fighters literally spent 6 MONTHS sacking and pillaging Hampi -- was a extraordinary character named Krishna Devaraya. he was as much a saint as he was a king, and surrounded himself with the greatest saints and spiritual masters of his day -- from every tradition, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, etc. interestingly enough, Krishna Devaraya's stronghold, another fort, was a little village called Penukonda.

Penukonda just 'happens' to be where Swami Kaleshwara built his ashram. I live in Penukonda.

some people in the ashram here speculate that Kaleshwara WAS Devaraya, in that lifetime. I think the jury's still out on that. but there's a definite connection between Devaraya and Kaleshwara, and between the knowledge and teachings that Kaleshwara is now bringing into the world.

anyway, just to give you an introduction to the ancient quality and the former history and the current power of Hampi.

in April of 2001, Jonathan and I spent more than a month in Hampi, meditating by the river every day, long hours, and exploring the powerful temples scattered all around the landscape there.

the following excerpt from a letter is from that time.


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