I first encountered the idea of a yogini at the Chausath Yogini temple in Orissa. It is a mysterious space, a shrine with 64 yoginis in sculpture, and no roof overhead this circular temple. It is a space which is powerful and not many are brave enough to come there in the dark. I loved the yoginis, their many forms, sometimes with animal heads and qualities, decorated and bejeweled, a symphony of energies of the universe. A strange connection and attraction existed between us.
A Yogini is said to be a ‘woman in union with the Self’. Someone once asked me if I think there is a yogini within me? It is like asking if I am the particulars that define me or the universal that cannot be defined? It is through spiritual practices that the yogini within soars outward. She cannot be engaged with through conscious effort, she flowers when she intends to. The soaring and blossoming of the spirit, a richness of the self, which signals the Yogini within as she travels light years.
It is with Odissi that I first experienced time-travel, light years of travel and back in few moments of time. A need to go back every day to a deeper world, the flight of the yogini, her spiritual forest where jewels sparkle on every tree. Every time she travelled, she found another gem of life, sometimes earthly, sometimes alokik. Like all travels, after all such moments there is a return home to the temple in the heart where the Yogini resides, rich, resplendent and all lit-up. In her garba griha, the inner sanctum, all spaces are fragrant, pious and blossoming with inner flowers.
When I was younger I needed a few hours of riyaaz everyday and after riyaaz my mind disconnected to engage with domestic duties. It seemed an odd kind of disconnect, a switch on and off. Our Odissi Guru, late Surendra Nath Jena had said that the important thing was to do all our householder tasks, but keep the mind one with God. As a mother of two babies, I wondered if it was actually possible?
Part of the beautiful process of dancing Odissi rhythms has been its systematic work on my soul. Vedic Chanting connected my past, present and future with this journey. And learning music has unlocked many locks further. Opening up to the energies of the universe, I find the Yogini within. As I connected with my own divinity, many energies of the universe connected with me over time. Today, as my spiritual dialogue deepens, yet floats like a wispy cloud, or a child at play, I see so much beauty in utter simplicity and spontaneity in every thread woven into the quilt of nature.