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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

The Lila of the Goddess

McLean (1995) explains that the lila of the Goddess has been described like the game: playful but unpredictable, and yet the consequences of Her game can have momentous significance. McLean notes three major features of the Goddess’s lila: 1) she deludes the inhabitants of all three worlds, 2) it is a kind of game on Her part and 3) She appears to be quite mad, because the unpredictability of Her maya, which can take on a frightening nature. She seems to toy with Her creation, and we are held by Her maya. Ramprasad, a devotee of the Goddess, composed a song about Her where the game is kite-flying:


Mother Syama flies kites (in the marketplace of the world).
They are mind-kites, floating in the winds of hope, held by the strings of maya.
The frames are made from bones and sinews, covered in exquisite workmanship with her own attributes,
Their strings are coated with the glue of worldliness so their cutting edge is keen.
Of a hundred thousand of them only one or two break free, and you Mother laugh and clap your hands.
Prasad says, “they fly away on the southerly wind.
Over the sea of the world to freedom on the other side. (McLean, 1995, p. 89)

This poem is about the salvation of individuals, and most do not make it and are not saved because they are helplessly held or deluded by Her maya, and She claps and laughs about this—oh great! Ramakrishna, commenting on this poem notes “She is full of play. This world is Her lila. She is willful, full of joy” (McLean, p. 89). She completely deludes most people and is a magician, a trickster, and hides behind a show of magic and pretence, sometimes adopting the form of other deities. Like the other gods, She is ambiguous by nature and is on par with Vishnu or Shiva and may even be more powerful.


Keep this poem and the Goddess in the back of your mind when we explore Mary Poppins (Stevenson, 1964) in the Kaleidoscope of Culture.



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