Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ancient Female Solidarity

From Retno K Djojo of the Jakarta Post:
The beautifully sculpted relief panels at Tegowangi also show that female solidarity in defending their cause was a force to be reckoned with.

It was someone no less than Prince Sadewa, one of the Pandawa brothers in the Mahabharata Hindu epic, who had a rude awakening to the presence of female solidarity when he was literally dragged by his mother, Goddess Kunti, to address the case of Goddess Durga.

Though initially reluctant on being taken to face the hideous Goddess Durga and her ogress-like handmaids, Sadewa willingly conducted a purification rite. The relief panels show Sadewa sitting cross-legged and in deep meditation to undo the wicked spell cast upon Durga and her handmaids by Lord Shiva.

Shiva, Durga's husband, had cast the spell on his wife in a fit of anger, rendering the beauty into something hideous. Realizing his mistake, he decreed that the spell could be undone with the help of Sadewa.The purification rite instantly restored beauty to Durga and her companions. Durga's honor was restored, and she became known in a new role as benevolent Goddess Uma. As token of gratitude she awarded Sadewa the title of Sudamala, which means "savior".

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