From Workshop in Patna (not a part of the MATRIKA workshops
Sung and discussed by Sahodri Devi (Deithini Village)
Phoolmanti Devi (Mathiapur Village)
Songs affirming the female body, female experience of biological and expressive creativity, female desire and needs, women’s well being and values of responsive caring for the physical needs of others while asserting one’s own needs; multiple nature of the goddess.
Songs – Sohar
In which month did I get married?
In which month was my gauna done?
In which month did I go to my husband’s bed?
My body has become heavy.
I got married in Phagun.
My gauna was done in Agehan.
I went to my husband’s bed in Savan
My body has become heavy.
When I see arhad dal I feel nauseous.
When I see roti I feel like vomiting.
I don’t even like the taste of pan.
I feel like eating the mud roof tiles.
On a branch of the neem tree
Mayas’ jula is hanging.
The seven sisters are swinging
And singing a song.
While singing the sisters feel thirsty
And go to the gardener’s wife.
O sleeping malin, please wake up
And give us a drop of water.
How can I give water to all of you sisters,
I have your baby in my lap.
Oh malin, take this golden cradle
And make your baby sleep in this.
Oh mayas, the golden cradle will break
And the baby will fall to the floor.
As your child is falling
We will catch her.
Mayas, in which bucket,
With what rope,
In which pot,
Should I get pure water for you?
In a golden bucket,
With a silken rope,
In a silver pot,
You will fetch pure water.
Just as the malin has given us this blessing,
May your daughter and daughter-in-law
Receive our blessings.
My daughter-in-law is in her maike.
My daughter is in her sasural.
Why are you giving these blessings?
May your daughter-in-law live well.
May your daughter live well…wherever they are.
That is why we are giving these blessings.
They explain that this song is sung at Maya ka puja –thanking the goddess on any happy occasion.
When a child gets pox they burn incense, clean the house, put neem leaves around. For 5 days or 2 ½ days all prayers and offerings early in the morning are put in a mud tile and taken into a field – placed where no one will step in them. They say there are seven types of pox and that’s why they pray to the seven sisters.
My interpretation of this song must be contextutalized by the workshop in which I heard it.
I am struck by the mirroring between the parallel between the mayas’ activity and the women’s activity; both the goddesses and the women are singing. Identities of goddesses and women, in terms of expressive and joyous action are collapsed.
Time, rhythm the mayas are swinging in a jula, strung from a neem tree. Not just mythic or historical time, but time is marked by the processes and needs of the body; the female body. In this case the thirst, the desire for water of the mayas.
I would suggest that the malin is responsive to the bodily desire (and timings) of the mayas, just as the dai is responsive to the needs (and timings) of the woman in labour. Water, blessings
Maya means attachment, compassion, affection
Within family life this word is used (like Mamta)
In philosophical sense maya is illusion, often Hindus say “moha maya ki jal”, and the aim of religious practice is to escape this trap of affection. Many have never heard maya said in a positive way!
Female infanticide – in Bihar, where female infanticide has begun to be practiced by the dais, I recorded the above song – where blessings are bestowed by the Satto Mayas upon the daughter and daughter-in-law – that they may live well.
In the urban elite discourse, female infanticide is seen as a barbaric and primitive practice – a part of traditional ignorance and immorality. And yet the dais sing songs which valorise the well being of the daughter and daughter-in-law. This tends to substantiate the contention that it is modernization and not tradition, in this area, which leads to infanticide. Modernization and caste (not midwifery) are responsible for this extreme gender bias. The NGO acknowledged that this was a Rajput and Brahmin practice (dowry and infanticide) and that only now it is trickling down to lower castes.
Ironically, the women whom I’ve talked to seem to identify with maya, in its negative sense – illusion, temptress, dangerous and seductive sexuality. Men, perhaps identify maya with nurturing, attractive and wise corporeality, physicality of women as mothers/wives/sexual partners/affectionate sisters/wise embodied older women and cherish these human embodiments of maya.
Maya linked with Maiya (mother). Women singers are negotiating and making statements. In singing these words the sounds are blurred. As a singer I would play with a blurring of these sounds.
Maya means choosing incarnation – willing acceptance of embodiment, can learn these lessons only in a body.
Last canto of the Gita Govinda voice of a woman who has been loved and loved, voice of the self (ungendered), lovingly known non-duality, now accepts the separation of the body (?) the experience of life (?) clarification. Just before this part woman says don’t come to me with lies. She is hurt and unhappy, jealousy (maya has been played out – there is no distance). She has an angry resignation – don’t talk to me. Krishna says and asks for forgiveness, as a mark of that forgiveness says “place your lotus feet on my head”. She says with your hands cooler than sandalwood braid my hair (her braid has come undone). Apply my kajal (her kajal has been smeared). She delights in her own body in this act of recomposure and entry in to the world again.
Kabir I know that maya is a thing (feminine) the great deceitful one???
Attachment, moh maya, entrapment, Therighat, songs of the sisters, stuff of ideology rejection of attachment, turn away from the bond with the child to renunciation. Interpretation? Who writes and inscribes these ideas – passes them on? Packed with ideology, also creates (?) options alternatives for women. Problem is how do we read this stuff. Are they misogynist? Yes. Were they ideological? We have no way of knowing – problem of interpretation. Gautama the Buddha as kshatriya – warrior – approach of the practitioner (as that scientist Buddhist said?) or liberation theology interpretation of questioning emerging caste, gender and state power hierarchies. Uma Chak.
Vidya – ramana maharishi answered no I’m not an advaitin. What is is beyond the duality of duality and non/duality – the only way to know this is to live through it.
Notion of completeness, non-duality, birth (childbirth) notion of life as flawed and limited.
I can’t be myself and Janet – but by being myself in life, etc enjoying maya, I do play with myself as finite, limited, -- whether in suffering or in joy. I am also you, can only see that if I’m born. Birth pains, there is pain, it is purposeful, carries within itself a different connotation than headache.
With maya moksha in Gita Govinda, Kabir, fluidity, no boundaries or hierarchies. This is also not, strictly speaking, conflicting or competing oppositional forces, but rather complementary and interpenetrating oppositions: embodiment and the other realms – can be accessed through aesthetic, narrative traditions – in philosophy and religion more delineated as hierarchical.