Renuka Mata Darshan
The Mother Renuka in Mahurgarh is a head. A glimmering orange sindhur moonrock egg, head. Way too naïve to be benign. Almost cartoon-like, something I would never expect, I felt like I had come into the presence of the dark side of Howdy-Doody. Did I say dark? The inner recesses of the sanctum sanctorum was dark, lit only by flickering butter lamps making the thick stone walls black with grease. The space suggested by the confining black walls lacked definition. Enigma is black, as is the Mother Renuka before she is covered in a surface of orange vermillion and mustard seed oil. Her eyes (windows of the soul) are an attachment, black onyx with painted white ringed corneas. The only natural mark on the great Egg-Stone, the Mother’s signature, is an opening into the stone, Her mouth. For, among the Mothers, what issues from their wombs exits from their mouths. The world is born from the Mouth of the Mother, and it retreats into Her Mouth. Her Names are fifty-one, a reflection of the fifty-one syllables, worn around her neck in a garland.
Was she ammonite? Did she have a fossilized kundalini snake coiled in a circle, inside of her blackness, frozen forever in potential, resembling the Matrix of the World? Constantly pushed and jostled by the ever surging crowd of devotees, I looked around. Could these raven haired tribal women awash to their toes in primitive silver ornaments be having thoughts like these, I wondered. How could they, as they held each other’s skirts forming an unbroken chain, and sought proximity to the Stone with a Mouth? Pulled by some force. And then, from time to time, one would break the chain, scream and shake and rip out her hair and collapse with a painful sounding thud on the stone floor, writhing in trance.
It was obvious that she was most likely possessed by a not-so-benign spirit. Otherwise, why all the thrashing about? The screaming and the violence. The look of terror in their faces. Thank gods Hari Puri Baba wasn’t like that. I’d have hated to make such a fool of myself in front of all those nice people. It was enough just to stand out as a foreigner.
Not that I was securely in my body at that moment. Bells clanged, mantras intoned by priests echoed off the black walls, women broke their bangles, smeared their vermilion third eyes, and screamed, and everyone shouted out sacred slogans, praises of The Mother. Hari Puri Baba wiggled inside of me. Be good, I said to myself, meaning that body-mind shell that also had my baba as an occupant. .
“Did you have darshan of both mothers?” the priest asked me on my return to Dattatreya’s dhuni. He referred to both Anasuya, the mother of Dattatreya, as well as Renuka. I had gone to the Mother Anasuya’s Temple after visiting Renuka.
I hadn’t been aware that the Renuka Temple, on that twin hill facing us, is considered one of the most powerful shakti-piths in all India and a magnet for worshippers of the Goddess in one of her most powerful forms. Many who came were tantriks. I was told that the temple was considered by many to be one of Three in Maharashtra.
Dattatreya is thought by many to be Lord of Tantra, and Renuka is among the most worshipped Goddesses by tantriks. Many of the tantras and tantrik texts are attributed to Dattatreya, who is certainly not the property of any one sect. Many of the different sects of tantriks and yogis attribute their origins to Dattatreya.