Durga – The Fractal Icon – Part I


It is not my real intention nor do I possess all the scholarship to write what my desire projects onto my mind. This probably happens with all our projects that we undertake in our life. In spite of admonitions that sound from the learned of all ages and all geographies for young and inexperienced, young men like me share a common perversion of believing that the world becomes new as soon as he or she sees or says it. If all the beauties and ideas of the world can be imagined to be inside the kernel of an onion, youth of all ages go on adding or peeling the scale thinking that they will penetrate the kernel. Age moderates, youth does what it itself is suffering from, the urge to penetrate.

            To penetrate at the deepest core of the sense of “what we are”, all ages have marshaled whatever resources they had or they believed they possess. Our age is no exception and none will. Every age knows instinctively that it is going to pass its “to be” stage and will soon enter the “being” state.  Time slips, its most intense moments will be more continuous in feeling and observation as Time window becomes broader and broader.  Like a coastline shines with all its minor and major irregularities in the ground but from an aircraft, it becomes more or less a gray line drawn by a blue mirror. Same with ideas also. The more intense and novel they seem in contemporary times, the more universal and regular they seem while perspective becomes broader and broader, wider and wider in time and space. This is one of the dear delights of an authentic scholar. For interested readers like you and me, this realization at times that we are all connected (and not meshed or lumped) in some great design which in spite of our incapacity or error in understanding lies in front of us, always. But how do we express these feelings? How can we start an intimate dialogue with ourselves? How can we be universal in the core and unique in the fringe? How can we exchange this token of meaning with each other? Because without this process of exchange, our expressions will be boring, our currency of meaning will be circulated in a closed domain, it will be recognized so much that forgery is imminent. To prevent counterfeit and to retain its universal scope of circulation, every age does something very identical and functionally same – it creates icons, nurtures them, goes on adding new meanings over layers and finally annihilates the icon.

The final product of this whole process in one sense is nothingness (like de-layering an onion continuously) and in another, in its exact de-polarized pole – Being. The process or the karma part of this de-construction has an additional bonus that in doing the process comes a dynamic and creative set of rules. These rules of Self-Dialogues are codified, standardized for ease of codification and reference. They are not final and nor infallible as we all find every new icon in the form of a Spiritual Giant breaks those codes by the same passion his disciples will try to put them onto the next age for reasons not only for the love of the Master. Spiritual History of Mankind, in short, is this journey at individual and collective level. But my intention is not to frame a linear and vectored journey from Being to Nothingness. They are not point-ideas. They are realizations where the references are broken, changed or singularized. All spiritual texts speak of this singularity – like a salt-doll melting into the ocean, the dream of a sleepless man, two birds on a branch and others. It is like a small set, which became conscious and asked, moving slowly and slowly towards its superset – “How do I relate to you?”  Or a small cloud moves nearby a bigger one, examines its closely and while it looks at itself it sees that it is nothing but a fractal icon of the bigger, broader cloud. Just a click on the fractal icon, like a program opens in front of us, old or new, human consciousness is that entity which working on those fractal icons reveals whole new connections.  A fractal icon has the property of convolution, i.e. a mechanism of expression by which a whole banyan tree manifests from a seed. It is the soul of a something, which it hides, protects, expresses, and creates, or all of them together. 

            Mother Goddess Durga as Fractal Icon:


            In representing Mother Goddess Durga as an icon, the mind of a Bengali Hindu connected itself with that thread of multi-dimensional Hinduism whose greatest achievement is to discover, design and keep a creative growing space of an individual with the Cosmos over a channel of intimacy.  We may fail to appreciate all the great religious texts, we may find the theological debates of greatest order quite inconsequential but we all feel what is intimate with us. And intimacy is never accidental. It comes after preparation and practice. It also requires a very receptive mind and a sense that is not clouded by pressurized gaseous Reason. Intimacy is a thing that offers us choices – like a mother; father, brother, sister or a lover. Direct individual relationship.  In choosing Ja Devi Sarbha-Bhuteshu Shakthi-Bhute Sanatani as Mother-Relation, as a heir of our ancestors, we are fortunate to have an relation that is intimacy of existential Nature. Mother for any higher species is that sublimity personified through which Existence manifests thorough Us. It is inside a mother’s womb, in its cosmic darkness full of amniotic fluid, we feel what we feel. We are indebted to her not only for giving us birth but also for the opportunity of giving the choice to rediscover ourselves. Bengal’s Mother is the same cosmic mother; only she is a concentrated being where Bengal’s landscape has found a voice.  She is the Mother whom we worship during Puja as well as the mother eternal. In her form is formlessness written by the alphabet of absurdity and we will try to see, how and for that we need to see beyond the icon, de-crystallizing the fractals that constitute the Nothingness she conceals and also the Being she is radiating.

            The Tantras – Hindu, Buddhists alike talk about shakthi and minus the mathematical structure, it is same as quantum physics’ quanta as far as its potency of abstraction is concerned.  Now, Tantras interpretation of the Existence is bi-polarized and synthetic. Shiva and Shakthi are the dual poles of existence and they are like Fire and its power to burn, Snake and its serpentine movement. While Time is not there, so vanishes Causality and this makes the dualities vanish. At that instant, you are the Source, including your “I-ness” that knows that you are the Source. All Devis of Hindu pantheons, in principle are fractal images of Shakthi. Sri Sri Chandi went a step further and said –

  • ·        Streeia sakala samasta jagat-su

[She is the quintessence of all women form in the Universe]

            There is a beautiful incident where the Goddess materialized from Herself, Eight Matrikas, namely – Bramhani, Barahi, Oindri, Nri-singhi, Vaishnavi, Maheswari, Koumari and Shiva-Duti, while the Mother was in the fight. The Asur complained of this discrimation of eight fighting with one. With a smile, the matrikas converged onto Mother-Goddess again. The Cosmic periphery finding its Core again.

There is another Myth that gives a geographical intimacy to the fractal icons of the Mother Goddess – the 51 shakthi-pithas in India. We all have heard this Myth some time or other. Lord Shiva, sad and enraged, with his wife’s dead body on his shoulder passing on, the chakra cutting the body into pieces, making each point a place of worship.  On the map of this subcontinent, it is an enterprise in itself to map the points and reconcile their position along with the movement of the enraged husband, with the known laws of momentum and mechanics.  This myth, apart from its factual value carries the germ of a sub-continental spatial unity. A pilgrim needs to visit those places and in this travel, he will visit this whole vast land.

In BOOK-II, we will continue our discussions and will venture into the world-view of Tantra, its synthetic as well as organic world-view, its hierarchical model of gradual unveiling which is not only fascinating in its imageries but has a close parallel with our way of modeling a complex system.


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