Entries in Eliot (1)


Contemplating Sandy Through Eliot and the Devi

How to describe Hurricane Sandy? Surreal. Out of this world. Fierce. Awesome. Magnificent. Those are only some of the words that can even begin to describe Hurricane Sandy, as she made her presence felt on October 29th in New Jersey. The panoramic purple and blue skies with thick swirling clouds and broad streaks of lightning with electric blowing up in the background every once in a while adding a light and sound response was right out of a science fiction movie about an alien planet. The Devi came down and made her presence felt! I was in tears of adoration as I witnessed the dance.

And through all the sound and dance, there was a deep stillness on that night of Sandy. For all the chatter of human sounds had ceased for the time being. I do not know how to describe this better than T.S. Eliot :

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.

And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.


Perhaps Eliot is echoing a contemplative jewel from the Lalita-Sahasranam, the thousand names of the Devi, where each name is a contemplative jewel:


Unmesha Nimisha Utpanna Vipanna BhuvanaLiH (281st of the thousand names)


With every blink of the eyes of the Devi an entire Universe is created and destroyed.

 Sandy came and went, as if in a blink of an eye.

 Long commentaries and discourses are written on each of these verses. We can add to that. Or use any one of them as a launching pad for our own personal daily contemplative journey.

At an intellectual level I know the Devi is formless and therefore genderless. But my experiencing mind cannot comprehend the abstraction and hankers after a form. Thus the thousand names of the Devi describe forms each with magnificent enigmatic attributes that lead me on to deeper contemplation about the Devi’s formlessness. T.S. Eliot, who reached out for the formless abstraction in his poetry, was deeply influenced by Indian traditions, as has been documented by Cleo Kearns, PhD.

Jayant Kalawar is the author of The Advaita Life Practice, available at Amazon.