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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

Don’t Try This at Home —Violent Reintegration

Handelman and Shulman (1997) tell us that Andhaka/Bhrngin is the unavoidable and logical outcome of the dice game. Shiva’s eyes represent the sun and the moon, and while Parvati was only playing by covering his eyes for what to them was only a moment, this results in the dark night of cosmic dissolution, an act of occlusion, being blocked from seeing out, not a turning inward. Andhaka represents a demon version and ultra-masculinized blind male that comes from Shiva separating from himself and these gaps congealing and hardening. Anhdaka is thus a part of Shiva externalized, essentially Shiva loses part of himself, which becomes Andhaka.


From play, a gap in god occurs as the concrete congealed being Andhaka. The entire world is nothing but the hardening contours of certain ultimately intradivine gaps, which in the process of being externalized, congeal or cool into recognizable and semi-autonomous beings. Above all, this is the meaning when Hindus speak of maya, the artifice or even illusion of perceived reality. Essentially everything comes from Shiva turning himself inside out, or playing himself out, externalizing himself. (Handelman and Shulman, 1997). Because one of Shiva’s representations is the linga or phallus, I think we can at this point safely quote comic Lenny Bruce: “we’re all the same schmuck!” (Fosse, 1974), although this phrase now takes on a truly cosmic meaning.


These externalizations of the god become rigid, impoverished, and stiff, thus fluidity and movement are reduced. At the end of this myth, in various interpretations, we see the completion of the cycle through violence that leads to expansion of consciousness, compassion, and the reuniting of Shiva with his son, or the reabsorption by the goddess’s catching and then drinking her son’s blood to keep the destructive regeneration from continuing. The “Andhaka outcome” is a violent reinternalization of this piece of Shiva's being. In a way, Andhaka is destructively sucked back in. Sometimes the Nataraja is associated with this part of the myth, the destructive energy reaching a climax in the dance, but more often the dance is situated in the myth of the Pine Forest, which will be discussed below.

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