I recently read about a Hindu goddess called Akhilandra who is thought powerful because she is broken. I like this, mostly because it is in complete opposition to “our” modern American cultural beliefs and philosophies that seem to constantly remind us, women especially, that broken equates with defeat, failure or weakness. Her name in Sanskrit literally means never not broken, yet she is revered and honored because, her super-power if you will, is being able to constantly put herself back together again. This touched me when I read it because one of the ways I most regularly describe myself and my life and my time on this planet is that I am a work in progress, and I’ve often felt like I have failed, because the progressing and the working seems to be ongoing, like I never get “done,” yet here is a goddess who is honored highly for just this…rebuilding and re-imagining, constantly.
It is not unusual for me to often feel like peace will simply evade me forever, the continuous loop of fixing, failing, fixing, failing…but reading about Akhilandra made me think that it’s not the end of the world really, ( and honestly, we all know it NEVER is ) because, for every failure, when I felt so doomed or discouraged, however briefly or lengthy the sadness held, it was just a new starting point for something next. Sometimes the next was better and sometimes it wasn’t, but nothing was ever the same. This goddess reconfigures reality as needed, any time…At the start, at the end, some random middle, wherever and whatever… She takes all the broken bits and aches and tears, and reworks them fully knowing she will likely do it again sometime in the future…Yet, in all the images I found on the internet of her, she’s not sobbing in a heap of woe, wearing the same yoga pants she’s had on for days and eating Pringles right out of the pantry and Ben and Jerry’s right out of the freezer. NO! She is depicted wearing colorful exquisite sarees and riding, get this, a crocodile! Talk about girl-power!!
I follow no religion and don’t have too many firm beliefs but I do believe this; things can always be worse, and we can always try to do better. I like that in Hinduism there is a goddess for pretty much any need you might have. There is Parvati, the gentle goddess of love, there is Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, there is Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, and it seems that if something ails you or hurts you or troubles you, yes, they’ve got a goddess for that. My friends who are Christian will tell me that this is what God does for them, any need they might have, they put their trust in their faith and let God handle it. They will also tell me that their God will love me, whole or broken. That idea comforts me too.
I thought too about how many times I have comforted my broken daughter, or a broken friend, and how many times my mother and my friends, did the same for me. I’ve felt power in the healing of love, both coming to me and moving through me. If Akhilandra has a theme song, it would not surprise me one bit to find it’s Beth Orton’s version of Ooh Child, or maybe Closer To Fine by the Indigo Girls. As flawed and broken as I have felt in life, when I have needed energy to comfort someone I care for, somehow all my broken bits meld together and suddenly I am the healer, the fixer, and not the one in need of healing or fixing. Maybe Akhilandra’s energy is all encompassing in its brokenness and wholeness both, it’s love above all else after all.
I know some women who feel broken right now. Some feel broken by the men they thought really loved them and on whom they thought they could depend. Some feel broken by the constant charlatan-like chant and chatter in between their own ears, self-defeating and self harming always. Some feel broken by the jobs they thought they really wanted or careers they thought were worth pursuing. Some feel broken by their own bodies with angry cells clustering together and revolting against them, trying to beat them down. Some feel broken by their desires for food, alcohol, shoes, vacations, all trying to fill their feelings of emptiness, yet none ever succeeding in quashing the hunger pains. I hope any of those women who might read this will reference some pages of the Vedas or the Bhagavad Gita and feel some of this goddess power. I like that whatever I believe, or you believe, is what ultimately gets us through the night. I like thinking that there are entire religions and principles that give us peace with our thoughts, strength and power, and forgiveness for our failings, and I guess most importantly, the confidence we need to believe we can always try again. I like thinking that every time I stumble I can dust myself off and regroup. I like thinking that there is a cool chick wearing bright cloths, scarves, and a sari and steering a crocodile, ready to swoop me up anytime I fall.