One of the constant reminders of the Devi to us is to see her in everyone. There is a beautiful saying by Goswami Tulsidas.

Tulsi ya sansar mein sabse miliye dhay,

Na jane kis vesh mein narayan mil jaye.

(O Tulsi, meet everyone with respect and affection in this world

You never know in whose guise the divine may come to you.)

A sister-like friend once gave me a beautiful insight: there is a divine layer to every person. It is difficult to see it sometimes. Make sure that you at least try.

Implementing this advice makes us more compassionate. One does not get disgruntled when met by people who fail to reciprocate kindness or try to take advantage. You know that the same divine resides in the other being; he/she has not woken up to it yet.

Just as the sun shines indiscriminately on one and all, every single being is worthy of love and grace. Invariably, our conditioning bars us from seeing the divine in so-called “lowly places.” In some songs of Gitanjali, Rabindranath notes that God has abandoned the temple. He is not residing in grand structures but working laboriously in the fields in dirty, dusty clothes. 

It’s easy to see Devi on the altar, but how about the many women we meet every day? During the lockdown, a Mumbai-based artist, Uday Mohite, created a series of sketches of women in various professions (cleanliness workers, farmers, doctors, animal rescuers, etc.). The sketches were unique in their depiction of all these women as devis.

Https://webneel. Com/digital-illustrations-covid-warriors-udhay-mohite
Https://webneel. Com/digital-illustrations-covid-warriors-udhay-mohite

You can check out all the images and more information about the artist at the following link.

I get jolted out of my comfort zone ever so often with the divine mother and Swami reminding me to be mindful in my interactions. During the last Nava Durga Sadhana, my husband’s ninety-six-year-old grandmother, got severely ill.  A viral fever left her with a wheeze, which can be very dangerous at her age. She was put on oxygen, and there were frequent checks and tests to assess and combat the infection. Usually, she is very active and manages to go to the washroom. In the hospital, though, she was given a urinary catheter. I kept talking to keep her morale high. She is a person of sunny temperament; one really does not need to try hard with her. Prod her a little, and she cooperates despite the tiredness of her age and body. At night I would keep a watch on her breathing. At one point, my attention rested on the bulging urinary bag. All at once, it was painful and repulsive. I kept wondering how difficult it would be to remove it. Sometimes, I would look at it deliberately to normalize my reaction but to no avail. In the morning, a young girl came to help change Grandma’s clothes and sheets. I pointed to the catheter and the bag.

“Oh, don’t worry, I will clean that.” And she did, without a trace of revulsion. It was, as if, the most normal thing to do. I stood there like a fixture, gaping at my inability to overcome the binaries of dirty and pure. One may argue that it was the girl’s job. But think about it, do we even provide sanitary work the dignity it deserves, forget the monetary compensation? I thanked her profusely and asked her name. “I am Laxmi,” she smiled. “Call me whenever you need.” Nature had reminded me. Yet again.

I have miles to go.

Today’s bhajan, by Hindustani music doyen Srimati Prabha Atre, celebrates the Navadurgas. With the deepest gratitude, I dedicate it all to Devis, the warriors, and the caretakers.

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