ON BHAJAN POWER

Another context where the female sādhus exercise agency and power is their devotional song, bhajan, performances. Most of the female sādhus consider bhajan singing to be a powerful vehicle for receiving sacred knowledge and experiencing the divine directly; it may even catalyse their divine visions. Further, bhajan singing is understood to effect religious power for the female sādhus. Gangagiri often says, ‘My bhajans are my power.’ This statement indicates her perception that bhajans function as a performative medium by which means sādhus express bhakti to God. Gangagiri’s comment suggests that her bhakti is the basis of her own power and authority.
Female agency is explicitly linked to devotional practice by these female sādhus. By comparison, the male sādhus rarely discussed bhajan singing as a means for meeting God and rarely considered nirguṇī bhakti to be the basis of their own power and authority.

Found in ‘My bhajans are my power’: Performing Nirguṇī Bhakti through Devotional Song, from: ‘Crossing Over the Ocean of Existence’: Performing ‘Mysticism’ and Exerting Power by Female Sādhus in Rajasthan, by Antoinette E. DeNapoli.

Source: The Journal of Hindu Studies 2010

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

ON THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF TRINATH WORSHIP

Chandra Kali was at the time living in the house of his father-in-law. He was thinking of introducing the worship of a common god, who might be worshipped by all classes, rich and poor, Brahman and Chandal, and by all creeds, Saktas, Baishnavas, and Shaivas, and the idea occurred to him of having the present worship at which ordinary and inexpensive things, such as ganja, oil, and betel-leaf, were alone to be used. Trinath (from Sanskrit Tri, three, and Nath, lord) is represented to be Brahma, Bishnu and Shiva, the Hindu Trinity in one. Being a ganja-smoker himself Ananda Kali may have also thought that by introducing the worship he would be able to save the ganja-smokers from disrepute, as then ganja could be consumed in the name of a god and under colour of doing a religious or pious act.

Religious aspect of the worship

The following translation of the Introduction to the Trinath Mela Panchali gives some idea of the subject :

“The universe consists of the earth, the heaven, and the nether world, and Trinath is the lord of these three worlds. There was an incarnation of God in the form of Gour (Chaitanya), who delivered· the sinners by preaching the name of Hari, but the Lord was not satisfied with this, and became concerned for the created, and soon he became incarnate again. Brahma, Bishnu and Shiva, gods in three forms, manifested themselves in one form. The one God, the Lord of the universe, seeing the miseries of mankind, came to their deliverance. Ananda (Ananda Chandra Kali, the originator) declares that the true and sincere worshippers of Trinath are sure to obtain salvation. Brahma, Bishnu, and Shiva met together and expressed their desire, to come to this world in one form to receive worship.

He is a truly pious man who worships Trinath, and blessings are showered on the worshipper. The worship should be made in a form in which the rich and the poor may equally join and may perform it easily. Only three things, each worth one pice, are required for this puja (form of worship). The things which please all must be selected. The offering should consist of siddhi (ganja), pan (betel-leaf), and oil, each worth one piece.

The votaries should assemble at night and worship with flowers. The ganja should be washed in the manner in which people wash ganja for smoking. The worshipper must fill three chillums with equal quantities of ganja, observing due awe and reverence. When all, the worshippers are assembled the lamp should be lit with three wicks, and the praises of Tri- should be sung. As long as the wicks burn, the god should be worshipped and his praises chanted. The god should be reverentially bowed to at the close of the puja. When the reading of the Panchali is finished, those that will not show respect to the Prasad (the offering which has been accepted by the god), i.e., chillum of ganja, shall be consigned to eternal hell, and the sincere worshippers shall go to heaven.”

From APPENDIX, NOTE BY BABU ABHIILAS CHANDRA MUKERJI, SECOND INSPECTOR OF EXCISE, BENGAL, ON THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF TRINATH WORSHIP IN EASTERN BENGAL, REPORT OF THE INDIAN HEMP DRUGS COMMISSION, 1893-94.