Anywhere is the Center of the World
Black Elk (Holy man of the Oglala Sioux)
Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath was the hoop of the world. I while I stood there I saw more than I can tell you and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together as one being.
And I say the sacred hoop of my people was one of the many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy...
But anywhere is the center of the world.
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by Nirguna dasi
Reposted Feburary 16, 2004
February 16th, 2004 is Shivaratri. Vaishnavas and Vrajavasis celebrate by seeking Lord Shiva's blessings and worship him in his form as a gopi at the ancient temple of Gopishwara in Vrindavan.
"It is said, vaishnavanam yatha sambhu: Lord Shiva is the best of devotees of Lord Krishna. In Vrindavan there is Lord Shiva's temple called Gopishwara. The gopis used to worship not only Lord Shiva but Katyayani (Durga) as well, but their aim was to attain the favour of Lord Krishna. A devotee of Lord Krishna does not disrespect Lord Shiva, but worships Lord Shiva as the most exalted devotee of Lord Krishna. Consequently, whenever a devotee worships Lord Shiva he prays to Lord Shiva to achieve the favour of Krishna and he does not request material profit." (Purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 4. 24.30.)
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur offered these prayers wriiten for Gopishwara Mahadev when he visited the Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneshwar on June 22nd, 1922:
Vrindavanvani-pate jaya soma somaIt is related that Lord Shiva desiring to witness the Rasa Lila is stopped from crossing the Yamuna by goddess Vrinda. Shiva protests this refusal of entry, saying he is a great devotee of Krishna and should be allowed to participate in His most wonderful pastime with the Gopis.
prema prayaccha nirupadhi namo namas te "O Shiva, O gatekeeper of Vrindavan! O you who are accompanied by Uma (Parvati)! O you who carry the moon in your hair! O lord worshiped by Sananda-kumar, Sanat-Kumar and Narada Muni! O Gopishwar, the worshipable deity of the gopis! Desiring that you bestow upon me love for the divine couple, Sri Sri Radha Madhava, who perform joyous pastimes in Vraja, I offer my obeisances unto you again and again." (Srila Vishwanatha Chakravarti's Sri Sankalpa-kalpadrum, cited in vol. 7 of Sri Krishna Kathamritam)
Vrinda devi's rejoinder is firm: "Krishna is the only male in the rasa-lila."
Lord Shiva, not to be outdone, submerges himself in Yamunadevi, non-different from love of Krishna, and emerges as a gopi. Now qualified as feminine, he gains an exclusive inside view into the Rasa play of Krishna and the gopis. The other Gods, including Brahma, may only witness and shower flowers from outside the realm of Vamsivata on Yamuna shore.
The Deity of Gopishwar Mahadev, worshipped in a small temple near Vamsivata, is a lingam -- one of four important Shiva-linga shrines in Vraja. Each night the lingam is transformed as he assumes the semblance of a gopi's face, replete with nose ring and other feminine ornaments in a most colourful attire The ensemble is different every day of the year. Lord Shiva resides forever in Vrindavan as Gopishwara Mahadeva, the dearest devotee of Krishna, and thus participates in all the Lord's unending Lila. [Photos courtesy of Robyn Beech from the book on Sri Sri Radha Ramanji and Vrindavan Dham: Celebrating Krishna (Copyright Sri Chaitanya Prema Samasthana, Gambhira, Sri Radha-ramana. Vrindavan)]
Watermelon label, 1940s.
Derogatory comics from 1911 were printed in various American Newspapers.
Chef and Mammy Figures are found frequently at flea markets all across the United States.
Vaishnavanam Yatha Sambhu
Shiva Ratri is always a well attended event and this year was no exception. I estimate 600 people came and went during the three hour festivities. There was an mix of 30 per cent Indians and 70 per cent Westerners. I noticed not only Western college age kids, but maybe ten per cent of the audience older grandparents age, many of whom stayed the whole time.
This reproduction of a 1900 minstrel show poster, originally published by the Strobridge Litho Co., shows the blackface transformation from white to "black".
The white actors who portrayed these characters spoke an ersatz, exaggerated form of Black Vernacular English. These characters were stupid and silly at best, grotesque and alien at worst. The blackface makeup and illustrations on programs and sheet music depicted them with huge eyeballs, overly wide noses, and thick-lipped mouths that hung open or grinned foolishly; one character expressed his love for a woman with "lips so large a lover could not kiss them all at once". They had huge feet and preferred "possum" and "coon" to more civilized fare. Minstrel characters were often described in animalistic terms, with "wool" instead of hair, "bleating" like sheep, and having "darky cubs" instead of children. Other ludicrous claims were that blacks had to drink ink when they got sick "to restore their color" and that they had to file their hair rather than cut it. They were inherently musical, dancing and frolicking through the night with no need for sleep.
Slave characters in general came to be low-comedy types with names that matched the instruments they played: Brudder Tambo (or simply Tambo) for the tambourine and Brudder Bones (or Bones) for the bone castanets or bones. These endmen (for their position in the minstrel semicircle) were ignorant and poorly spoken, being conned, electrocuted, or run over in various sketches. They happily shared their stupidity; one slave character said that to get to China, one had only to go up in a balloon and wait for the world to rotate below.
Highly musical and unable to sit still, they constantly contorted their bodies wildly while singing.
Tambo and Bones's simple-mindedness and lack of sophistication were highlighted by pairing them with a straight manmaster of ceremonies called the interlocutor. This character, although usually in blackface, spoke in aristocratic English and used a much larger vocabulary. The humor of these exchanges came from the misunderstandings on the part of the endmen when talking to the interlocutor:
Interlocutor: I'm astonished at you, Why, the idea of a man of your mental calibre talking about such sordid matters, right after listening to such a beautiful song! Have you no sentiment left? Tambo: No, I haven't got a cent left. Tambo and Bones were favorites of the audience, and their repartee with the interlocutor was for many the best part of the show.
There was an element of laughing with them for the audience, as they frequently made light of the interlocutor's grandiose ways.
The interlocutor was responsible for beginning and ending each segment of the show.
To this end, he had to be able to gauge the mood of the audience and know when it was time to move on.
Accordingly, the actor who played the role was paid very well in comparison to other non-featured performers.
As a result, the genre played an important role in shaping perceptions of and prejudices about blacks generally and African Americans in particular.
..."White minstrel shows featured white performers pretending to be blacks, playing their versions of black music and speaking ersatzblack dialects..."
Some social commentators have stated that blackface provided an outlet for whites' fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar, and a socially acceptable way of expressing their feelings and fears about race and control. Writes Eric Lott in Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class, "The black mask offered a way to play with the collective fears of a degraded and threatening—and male—Other while at the same time maintaining some symbolic control over them."
American humorist and author Mark Twain reminisced near the end of his life about the shows he had seen in his youth:
..."the real nigger-show—the genuine nigger-show, the extravagant nigger-show—the show which to me had no peer and whose peer has not yet arrived, in my experience.... if I could have the nigger-show back again, in its pristine purity and perfection, I should have but little further use for opera. It seems to me that to the elevated mind and the sensitive spirit the hand-organ and the nigger-show are a standard and a summit to whose rarefied altitude the other forms of musical art may not hope to reach."Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple - Utah Krishnas
NITAAI Yoga ( Nityaananda Gauraanga Hare Krishna Naama Bhakti Yoga ) Society
Blackface - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Minstrel show - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Peace be upon you
Appearance: The particular species of beetle represented in the numerous ancient Egyptian amulets and works of art was commonly the large sacred scarab (Scarabaeus sacer). This beetle was famous for his habit of rolling balls of dung along the ground and depositing them in its burrows. The female would lay her eggs in the ball of dung. When they hatched, the larvae would use the ball for food. When the dung was consumed the young beetles would emerge from the hole.
Millions of amulets and stamp seals of stone or faience were fashioned in Egypt depicted the scarab beetle.
Meaning: It seemed to the ancient Egyptians that the young scarab beetles emerged spontaneously from the burrow were they were born. Therefore they were worshipped as "Khepera", which means "he was came forth." This creative aspect of the scarab was associated with the creator god Atum.
The ray-like antenna on the beetle's head and its practice of dung-rolling caused the beetle to also carry solar symbolism. The scarab-beetle god Khepera was believed to push the setting sun along the sky in the same manner as the bettle with his ball of dung. In many artifacts, the scarab is depicted pushing the sun along its course in the sky.
During and following the New Kingdom, scarab amulets were often placed over the heart of the mummified deceased. These "heart scarabs" (such as the one pictured above) were meant to be weighed against the feather of truth during the final judgement. The amulets were often inscribed with a spell from the Book of the Dead which entreated the heart to, "do not stand as a witness against me."
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