This is a continuation of the article series on Bagalamukhi. To read the first article, click here.
Ask yourself the question, ‘who am I, really?’. Beneath your clothes, without your job, without everything you habitually use to construct your self-image, what is in the space that’s left? Have you ever touched the aspect of your awareness that is unchanging? To touch this is the beginning of spiritual knowledge and this spiritual knowledge goes by the name Bagalamukhi, one of the ten Wisdom Goddesses (the Maha Vidyas), considered to be the weapon of Brahma.
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Why is Bagalamukhi known as the weapon of Brahma? Because spiritual knowledge is powerful. The more we bring our mind back to the question, ‘who am I’, the better able we are to cut through the superficial, through everything that distances us from our Self.
To this end, Bagalamukhi has an interesting quality for it is through spiritual knowledge that we come to realise that everything dissolves into its opposite. At some point, sound merges with, and becomes, silence. Defeat becomes victory, knowledge becomes ignorance, power becomes weakness, and visa versa. Our job is to find the still place between these dualities. When we can see that hidden within each thing is its opposite, we are no longer misled by the appearance of things. Bagalamukhi shows us that everything in manifestation passes cyclically through the state that defines both it, and its opposite. Such is the nature of the cosmos.
Bagalamukhi’s location within the body
Within the body, this mid-way point is thought to live in the soft palate. The soft palate is the mid-way point between senses (specifically, the eyes, ears, nose and tongue). The soft palate is also closely related to the functioning of the third eye and so Bagalamukhi is related to the functioning of ajna chakra. By concentrating on the soft palate we gain control over our senses and the pranas.
Also, as the heart center is the central point for prana and drawing subtle-energy into the heart brings prana to a perfectly still place (giving us control over our energy and, therefore, control over our entire existence), Bagalamukhi is also associated with anahata chakra.
The iconography of the goddess Bagalamukhi
Bagalamukhi is another of the terrifying forms of the goddess. In her left hand she holds her opponent’s tongue. Her opponent is a demon and in the iconography of the yogic tradition, demons are generally considered to be the personification of our ego. That Bagalamukhi is holding the demon’s tongue speaks to the fact that she has put a stop to the ego’s attachment to gossip, negative self-talk, and an image-focused mind.
With her right hand she strikes the demon on the head with a club. Again, representing Bagalamukhi’s ability to stun.
Covered in yellow garments, adorned with yellow jewels (a crescent moon on her head), surrounded by yellow flowers, she sits on a golden throne. Yellow is a cleansing colour (made using the spice, turmeric) and so, this colour, as it relates to Bagalamukhi, tells us that she has a bright, cleansing energy. Yellow signifies the radiance of knowledge that overcomes the darkness of self-image and ego.
Working with Bagalamukhi’s energy
Hatha Yoga is particularly helpful when it comes to establishing a relationship with Bagalamukhi’s energy because, through the deeper practices of Hatha Yoga we gain mastery over the movement of subtle energy within the body. When we are able to arrest the movement of subtle energy (prana) using pranayama and other practices, we have truly mastered the energies of the universe.
Dharana (concentration), too, can be used to cultivate Bagalamukhi’s energy. When fix our attention, at will, on any object, over time, we become so completely absorbed by it that there is no separation between the seer and the seen. The pinnacle of dharana occurs when it is directed toward our own Self (not to be confused with the self). We do this by meditating on the third eye or the heart or through mantra.
One practical way to cultivate Bagalamukhi’s energy is to remember, as often as possible, that we are spiritual beings having a human experience (and not the other way around). Those moments of remembrance are accompanied by a complete cessation of thought, a suspension of the ego, they quite literally stun us with the immensity of the realization.
The key mantra for Bagalamukhi is the seed syllable: hlrim. The extended ‘la’ sound, which is added to the mantra ‘hrim’ gives the mantra the power to halt things in their tracks.