Thirteenth Night: Sarvamangala “All Auspicious”
Sarvamangala’s eyes are soft, like the sun and the moon, and she holds vara mudra, for receptivity, in one hand, and the medicinal citrus fruit in the other. The disc of the sun sits behind her, and she is surrounded by the gods Surya, Agni, and Soma.
In this moment, Sarvamangala moves away from the binds of mundane reality, and is able to see deep into time and space. She’s dropped most of her weapons now: she doesn’t need them weighing her down. She is said to be able to confer the state of kechari, which is the feeling of moving freely under the vault of the sky.
Surya is the god of the sun, Agni is the god of fire, and Soma is the god of a psychoactive substance, also called soma (probably a mushroom) that was used in religious rituals to bring people into an altered state. Soma is also associated deeply with the moon. As modern science explores psychoactive drugs and their effects on the brain, we can see that the altered state induced by some drugs can also be seen with other kinds of practices, including deep meditation, yoga and breathing practices, and, sometimes, the afterbliss of sex.
Thirteen is, of course, a lucky number, and Sarvamangala confers upon us a celebration, a touch of lightness in the dark. Many spiritual practices are oriented around practices that help us get free of the suffering of this mortal coil. In Rajanaka Tantra, however, we acknowledge that we are not bound beings trying to get free, but rather free beings trying to get bound. We’ll get free again when we die: for now, we have the lucky accident of being bound to a body and a consciousness. Our practices help us to have the complex experience of being in a body and find connection as separate beings with as much richness as possible.
Sarvamangala reminds us, however, that we are free by nature, and that we have chosen most of the things we are bound to: our cities, our relationships, our stuff, even our yoga and spirituality practices. If we can loosen our knots and float freely under the vault of the sky for a while, we may remember that we have agency over which binds we choose to snuggle up with, and which it’s time to cut free of, when we return to solid ground. Suffering: she says, you don’t have to do it.
Our luck is about to change.
Sit with your palms facing up in your lap, first finger tucked into the thumb (jnana mudra, for cosmic intelligence) and focus your attention on the space of your third eye. Everytime you inhale, imagine your body expanding into space, your skin softening as you become larger and more transparent. Imagine a huge blue sky, so big you can’t see the edges of it. Remember a time when you watched clouds as a child, laying back on the earth and watching the huge blue sky. As thoughts appear, imagine them like these clouds, puffing away, moving freely in the vault of the sky.
What suffering have you chosen to bind yourself to? What if you said, “I don’t have to do this anymore.” What would change?