Siva- the iconoclast

Siva is the archetype of destruction. Usually we think of destruction of Siva in cosmic dimensions- as in destroyer of the cosmos so that time and space can start again as part of the cyclical process. In my experience Siva is also the destroyer on a very personal level. He destroys paradigms, roles and comfort zones. Approach him with wariness because he does not offer comfort and the known as gifts.

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Padma Menon
Karanas—a practice celebrating mystery and ambivalence

In recent times, approaches to embodied traditions have increasingly become aligned to the ways in which we approach textual discourses. This means that we expect that they will yield to definitions and a certain stability of meaning and understanding. What if the very purpose of embodied ritual traditions were to create interactions of ambiguity and mystery?

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Padma Menon
Vairagya- the first step towards liberation

Vairagya is inadequately translated as detachment. However it means freedom from want, desire and need and all its consequences such as consuming, competition and hoarding. Vairagya is the foundation of any moksha practice in Indian traditions—without living this state, there is no moksha practice.

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Padma Menon
Practice as knowing

In Indian tradition, practice as knowing was a structured approach that had deliberate and specific relationships between practice and text and between practice and other ways of knowing including implicit aspects such as presence and relationship between teacher and student. The fact that texts cannot contain the practice is inevitable in a tradition which is founded upon the principle that the purpose of these practices is freedom from the chitta (mind and material reality) and all of its domains which includes words/language.

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Padma Menon
Shanta: the diminished self as the doorway

The notion of diminishing is the heart of Nirveda, the feeling constellation that is the foundation of Shanta. Diminishing is portrayed by the archetypes of Shanta in multiple ways—literally diminutive in stature, being a adolescent (child-like) and through taking on the role of a beggar.

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Padma Menon
The Shanta of Green Tara

Green Tara suggests that dynamic action in Shanta is that which is essential, effortless and light (playful). It’s power is not the power we recognise in our usual understanding. Like all aspects of Shanta, the power is subtle but far more transformational than power sourced from the fear-subsumed domains of the mind.

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Padma Menon
Shanta: Surrender as an empowered state of being

Acting in surrender is central to Shanta and all of the other bhavas go towards creating this feeling space. Surrender is an active, committed and empowered feeling space where choice is reclaimed in the midst of the inescapable realisation about the central experience of life as transitory and therefore of impermanence.

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Padma Menon
Shanta Rasa and its unique feeling constellation

Shanta is a Rasa that occupies a unique place in the Rasa theory of Indian dance theatre. Of all the Rasas, it is the space wherein the contemplative focus of emotional constellation is undilutedly the core of its expression. The beauty of Rasa dance is in embodying Shanta as a dynamic, feeling state—as different from meditative practices where this is an inward focused, still state of being.

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Padma Menon
Contemplating Saraswathi

Saraswathi is the gorgeous, enigmatic goddess in the Indian pantheon. The Saraswathi space is the heart of contemplation itself. It sets out the characteristics of the contemplative experience as one that is distinct from the experience of maya-based contexts. And the language of this domain is contemplative arts as it was practised traditionally in India.

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Padma Menon