Deyuvaaca - The Goddess Said...
In This Issue:
Vajrayogini: History & Worship
Why Donate?
Kali Puja: Devotion to Devi (This Sunday!)
Worshiping Vajrayogini: Healer, Savior, Goddess Divine
Our Community Welcomes You
Upcoming Events & Offerings
Kalli Rose Halvorson & Friends (This Saturday!)
One Mantra at a Time...
Infinite Admiration: Puja & Kundalini Kirtan
Contact Info

Vajrayogini: History & Worship

By: Nirmala Nataraj

The worship of the Great Mother spans history and culture. My own personal spiritual journey has similarly run the gamut from exploring the great earth religions and fertility cults of Europe to finding refuge in the Buddhist and Hindu temples that filled my early life. At the center of my own worship, the Great Mother has always been present-whether She has manifested as Ma, any one of the mighty goddesses of the western pantheon, or Vajrayogini.

Hindu and Buddhist iconography dotted the walls of my childhood home, and aside from Ma, one of the strongest spiritual images that remains in my memory is that of Vajrayogini (literally, "diamond female yogi" in Sanskrit), the female Buddha of wisdom and great bliss. Vajrayogini is considered the Queen of Dakinis ("sky dancers," or female Tantric enlightened beings), and it has been said that the Yoga Tantra practice of Vajrayogini enables anybody-especially those who are plagued by strong desires and attachment-to attain enlightenment rapidly, as the instruction of the practice comes directly from Her.

Vajrayogini's sadhana originated in India between the tenth and twelfth centuries and was followed by both Hindu and Buddhist practitioners. Tantrism itself is a method of psychospiritual advancement that was developed in India before the purported arrival of Indo-Europeans over three thousand years ago. With the pressures that were brought to bear on Indian religious life by the eighth-century Central Asian invaders, Tantric systems were maintained in the south of the subcontinent and also in Bengal, where they formed an important aspect of goddess worship in India.

Those Indian (and later, Tantric Buddhist) traditions have preserved these systems and the iconography of the goddess since ancient times, but it is not exactly known how old they are. Despite the similarities between Hindu Tantrism and Vajrayana (or Tantric, or Tibetan) Buddhism, there are also some fundamental differences. The purpose of Vajrayana Buddhist practice is to attain the perfect enlightenment of Buddha, whereas in the Hindu Tantric system, the basis is realizing the ten Mahavidyas, or aspects of Devi, as the highest forms of deities. Vajrayogini is inarguably the supreme deity of the Tantric Buddhist pantheon, and even Her divine consort, Heruka-Cakrasamvara (often depicted as a spear on the goddess's shoulder) doesn't come close to approaching Vajrayogini's metaphysical and iconographic importance.

She has no other counterpart in Buddhism, and is a wild spirit who dances ecstatically in the sky of sunyata, or the great emptiness that underlies all phenomena. The similarities between Vajrayogini and Kali are so obvious that many scholars suspect they are only slight variations of the Great Mother of Hinduism. Typically, Vajrayogini is blood-red in color, naked except for elaborate ornaments of human bone and a necklace of skulls (corresponding to the 16 vowels and 35 consonants of the Sanskrit alphabet). In Her right hand, She holds a flaying knife used to cut off attachments, and in Her left She carries a skull cup filled with mahasukha (the great bliss), which She pours out like wine to Her devotees. Perhaps another aspect that links Her to Kali is the fact that both goddesses are depicted as two of the ten Mahavidyas.

Among the Mahavidyas, Kali, Tara, and Chinnamasta have the most significance, especially in Tantric practice. In Buddhism, Vajrayogini is essentially the same entity as Chinnamasta (also known as Krodha Kali), and both goddesses appear in severed-head forms and other identical imagery...

Finish the article and learn more!... >>

Why Donate?

You are a force of transformation.
Your love of creation gets you out of bed
in the morning.
You align your spirituality and devotion
with personal and planetary healing.
You see spirituality as a source of
social justice.

By transforming yourself, you help transform the world.

Your contributions make all the difference as we work to keep spirituality and a unique spiritual expression of service viable in the world. At SHARANYA, our Goddess Temple survives because of you, because of your support. For all of the ways in which you love the Divine and make Her manifest, we are deeply grateful.

There are many ways for you to be a part of our mission and vision. You can come join with us for worship. You can be with us in community. We also have many ongoing projects fostered and facilitated by the generosity of our growing community to which you can contribute or make a tax-deductible donation. Read about our work and consider volunteering a special talent, skill, or making a tax-deductible offering today. Even if you can't be with us in person, you can always join our puja in spirit through a contribution of flowers or Maa or Shiva...

If you are able to contribute $25 or more,
we'll gladly send you a red "Jai Maa!" wristband to proudly wear in celebration of your devotion.

Thank you for your commitment to making spirituality a vehicle for social justice and life-affirming change. Thank you for helping the spread of Maa's love in the world. Jai Maa! Looking forward to seeing you at a puja, class, or commuity event soon!

* Can I make a donation for Maa's worship if I live outside the Bay Area or can't attend this month?

Jai Maa! Absolutely. Should you wish to contribute to the worship, know that we will call your name into circle so that your intention will be with Maa and held by community in sacred space. We can also mail you a flower from the ceremony to put on your altar if you desire. Just let us know with your donation and be sure to provide a current mailing address. Please contribute what you wish.

* I would like to offer flowers for Maa and Shiva. Can I do that?

That would be wonderful! Whether or not you can attend, offering flowers is a lovely way to share your devotion. Please contribute what you wish.

Donate Now >>

Kali Puja: Devotion to Devi (This Sunday!)

At SHARANYA, we are dedicated in our worship to Goddess Kali in Her myriad forms, including those as She is expressed through the world's various traditions that honor the Dark Goddess, the one who holds the wisdom of the full spectrum of human beingness. Ceremony is held in the Sha'can tradition and lead by Rashani (ordained clergy) with help from community. Our puja infuses methods and practices from East and West in order to create a sacred space for worship, deepening, and opening on the path of the bhakta, or devotee of the Divine. Learn more about what our ceremonies are like with this brief introduction.

What to bring... Offerings for the main altar are welcome. It is customary to bring flowers, fruit, wine, vegetarian offerings, or sweets and to refrain from wearing black to our public rituals. If you wish to wear a special color for Kali, we invite you to don red, a color associated with Her power in the phenomenal world as shakti, the activating force and the energy of creation. You are also invited to bring an object you would like to have blessed.

A sliding scale donation of $15-21 is suggested to cover the cost of the space, puja supplies and prasad (blessed food); however, no one is ever turned away for lack of funds, and any donation is graciously accepted--we appreciate so much the offerings you make to support our work and the community.

Note: Pujas are preceded by our teaching circle, Daughters of Kali.

An R.S.V.P. is requested if you would like to participate. All Kali Puja ceremonies begin at 5:30 p.m. No one is admitted after 5:45pm. Worship usually ends at 8:00pm and is followed by community time and sharing of prasad. Children are welcome, but no childcare is provided. Cushions and chairs are available (arrangements can be made for wheelchair access - kindly let us know in advance).

New! Temple Etiquette and Good Things to Know for Puja!

If you have been to a puja and wish to tell others about
your experience, we would love to have you share!
Please offer a testimonial here!

Not in the San Francisco Bay Area?

If you are not in the Bay Area or cannot attend events for any reason, please join one of our online communities and participate in learning more about Maa through Kali Vidya: A Wisdom School for Her Mysteries. Kali Vidya is offering a series of classes that you can work through independently or with your current worship circle.

Learn more about this and other offerings at our mandir... >>

Worshiping Vajrayogini: Healer, Savior, Goddess Divine

As might be expected, many of the practices and mantras that are associated with Vajrayogini are often considered secret, and traditional practitioners are uncomfortable with the breaking of that secrecy around these practices, as initiation rites in Vajrayana Buddhism, and in traditional Hindu Tantrism, are rigorous and require an enormous amount of spiritual commitment and fortitude from the devotee. Mystical experience is required in order to experience Buddha-nature prior to full enlightenment. A body of esoteric knowledge passed via lineages of transmission was accumulated over centuries to prepare Tantric students for the next stage. The knowledge is now more accessible, but, as with all wisdom, enlightenment is hardly an experience that can be transmitted by a teacher or set of books-it's one that can only be received.

The Vajravarahi Sadhana describes worship of Vajrayogini as a complex and exacting process. Typically, She is worshipped through visualization of offerings and recitation of verses. Devotees begin by visualizing a glowing red "VAM" in their hearts, as it is the seed-syllable of Vajrayogini in Her essential form. The syllable then quivers with energy, which draws down a mass of Buddhas from their dwelling place. These Buddhas (which include gurus, Buddhas, and Boddhisattvas) are then to be worshipped with ritual offerings such as flowers, incense, lamps, perfumed powders, and food (the upacaras, similar to the offerings made to Kali at Her temple in Dakshineswar). Worship can become even more elaborate, but it typically culminates in continuous repetition of an eight-part mantra.

While exact methods of worshipping the goddess are veiled in Tantric secrecy, it is also possible to worship Vajrayogini as Tara. This beautiful goddess is also strikingly similar in appearance to Kali. While Kali is black, Tara is blue (although She is a goddess who appears in different colors, such as the compassionate Green Tara and the volatile Red Tara). Both wear a necklace of severed human heads and a girdle of arms, and both sport lolling tongues with blood oozing from their mouths. Essentially, they are manifestations of each other, and Tara is often called Kalika, Mahakali, and Bhadrakali. However, Tara is often thought to be the more approachable manifestation of the Goddess. Tara Herself first appeared in India and is one of the most popular Buddhist deities in Tibet; Her mantra is second only to Avalokiteshvara's...

Listen to the mantra >>

Our Community Welcomes You

Come sing and worship with us!

Interested in lending your love of Maa, your creativity, your inspiration to Kali Puja?
Feel free to bring us your ideas and energy. We have many ways for you to become immediately and directly involved in a vibrant and growing spiritual community, and look forward to your unique expression of joy in Her name. We welcome your suggestions too; your experience, expertise, and desire can inform many of the ways we do Her work in the world!

Click here to learn more about joining in the celebration of Her through SHARANYA...and be with us in cyberspace if you're not able to join us in person. Get timely updates, notifications of events, and your mantra of the day by being part of our online world:

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And of course, stay in touch with us in all the old-fashioned ways too! Were you forwarded this newsletter by a friend?

Click here to receive your own newsletter! >>

Upcoming Events & Offerings

Monthly Calendar


SHARANYA's Kali Puja (1/25) Open to everyone. Come join us in worship of the Divine Mother, Goddess Kali Maa, by all Her names! RSVP requested (and you can donate online to help support our regular public ceremonies and Goddess Temple project). See puja information in this newsletter for additional details.

Amavasya (1/26) 7-9pm New Moon - Evening of dhyana (meditation), spiritual teachings, and/or ceremony. Location: Terra's Temple in Oakland. RSVP requested.)


Devoted to Mahadevi (The Great Goddess) - (2/5) (Open class... >>)

Infinite Admiration: A Relationship Puja & Kundalini Kirtan (2/6) 7-9pm Our interpersonal puja will close with tantric kirtan guided by Stuart Sovatsky's 35 years of intensive yogic worship of Mother Kundalini... For more information and to RSVP... >>

Purnima (2/9) 7-9pm Full Moon - Evening of dhyana (meditation), spiritual teachings, and/or ceremony (Closed community celebration; extended spiritual family and guests welcome. Location: Terra's Temple in Oakland. RSVP requested.)

PantheaCon (2/14) 11pm SHARANYA's annual P-Con Kali Puja Experience! Come join the fun as we celebrate Kali Maa through mantra, ritual, chant, and devotion. (San Jose at the Doubletree Hotel)

Devoted to Mahadevi (The Great Goddess): Class Three (2/19) (Open class... >>)

Amavasya (2/24) New Moon - Evening of dhyana (meditation), spiritual teachings, and/or ceremony.

SHARANYA's Kali Puja (2/22) Open to everyone. Come join us in worship of the Divine Mother, Goddess Kali Maa, by all Her names!

And join us in the creation of ritual, art, poetry, and other forms of Magick and inspiration!We look forward to being with you in person, on line and in spirit in glorious 2009. 

May the blessings of the Goddess be forever in your heart!

Learn more about the tradition that inspires our worship... >>

Kalli Rose Halvorson & Friends (This Saturday!)

January 24, 2009 - 6:30 - 9:00pm
(SHARANYA's Sanctuary in San Francisco)

Please join us as the year of the Earth Rat draws to a close, under a fragrant balsamic Moon redolent with the subtle, fragile, delicate chi of death, dissolution, and rebirth. The Taoist astronomy for this SHARANYA benefit offers a perfect context for storytelling, prayer, mantra, song, and kirtan (call and response chanting) celebrating Kali and Shiva's grace during Kalli Rose's current health opportunity, a process held by Maa's embrace of fearlessness, blessing, initiation, and sacrifice. A potential legal and social justice action that could help to remove the curses on Goddess may also garner support this evening. This gathering will be Kalli Rose's final Bay Area offering before moving "into the green" of Oregon.

Kalli Rose is a lifelong lover of music, seership, and feminist spirituality. Her work as an astrological shaman has been inspired by the tantric union of Kali and Shiva since 2000. She has been an avowed tantric Buddhist under the guidance of Kali Ma (Tröma Rinpoche) since 2005.

Join us for this benefit offering by an amazing spirit, teacher, singer, poet and lover of the Divine! Make a donation (sliding scale $21 - $41; no one turned away for lack of funds) to reserve your place; or, to get additional information, contact us.


Sacred Sound: An Introduction to Sanskrit

Want to learn more about sacred sound and the mantras we use in our Kali Puja? Interested in getting more Sanskrit
under your belt to help deepen your spiritual practice?

Beginning this Sunday (January 25th at 11am), SHARANYA will again be offering introductory Sanskrit classes for those who wish to learn the devotional language of Devi Kali Maa. The focus is on learning pronunciation, vocabulary, transliteration, and basic grammar in order to facilitate your worship and deeper understandings of the mantras you use and yoga poses you hold. Those wishing to go still deeper over time can explore readings of the scriptures in devanagari, the language of the gods.

Classes meet once a month at 11:00am - always on the day of puja and prior to Daughters of Kali. First course is six sessions of 75 minutes each, at the end of which you will be able to:
  • Pronounce the alphabet correctly
  • Pronounce your favorite mantras correctly
  • Read simple mantras and slokas
  • Write simple mantras and slokas properly
  • Transliterate basic text
  • Understand basic meanings of offered devotional prayers
Cost is $45. Join us in San Francisco if you can (RSVP to and stay tuned for additional offerings through Kali Vidya, our on-line mystery school!

Learn more and RSVP... >>

One Mantra at a Time...

"One Mantra at a Time" is your commitment to engaged spirituality. Do the work of social justice in the world by making a commitment to honor your spiritual growth and development so that you may both be and do the work of life-affirming transformation from a place that's more deeply connected to your essence, authenticity, passion, compassion and inspiration. Join SHARANYA in making spirituality, your own unique connection to the Divine, the impetus for getting out there and doing something in the world that makes a difference...not because someone tells us to, but because we are compelled and motivated to from a place of connection to our inner yearning, to our inner knowing of what's possible when we act and create from our hearts, that place of balance, justice, and truth that lies within each one of us.

Our goal is to gather a world-wide network of change agents committed to engaged spirituality (no matter what that life-affirming spirituality may be called) and the work of social justice. By committing to "One Mantra at a Time," you are agreeing to do your spiritual homework...doing the stuff of spirituality so that you can be a better catalyst for change, more capable of alleviating the various crises of our world.

To help support your efforts and what's most meaningful to you, SHARANYA is offering a daily mantra (sacred sound or saying, prayer or intention). The mantra will, if nothing else, be a gentle reminder to breathe from your heart when engaging the day. In this way we seek to support your efforts to be the beautiful being you are, with the powerful ideas you have, in a time and place that's increasingly ready to receive the good you have to share.

Visit us for the mantra of the day and other updates at SHARANYA Mandir via Twitter. You may also wish to join us for social action through engaged spirituality online here.

Want to know more about our work in the world? Answers to some of your most FAQs... >>

Infinite Admiration: Puja & Kundalini Kirtan

February 6, 2009 (Friday) 7-9pm
(SHARANYA's Sanctuary in San Francisco)

For 25 years, Stuart Sovatsky has been transforming thousands of troubled relationships and leading Infinite Admiration Relationship Pujas throughout the US, Europe, India and Russia that led to the Dalai Lama's Office endorsing his 40-country "World is One Family" Congress in India.

Our interpersonal puja (worship ceremony) employs simple story-sharing taken into a meditative intimacy to reveal deeply empowering reverberations of admiration rarely, if ever, experienced. This is the place where 'needs' get met, if only we stay devoted with our heartful attention to get there. This conversational puja will bestow its blessing equally upon singles and couples and is the basis of Stuart's success in conflict transformations in marriages, families and organizations.

We will close with tantric kirtan guided by Stuart's 35 years of intensive yogic worship of Mother Kundalini that prompted Silvia Nakkach to call him "one of two or three deepest kirtan leaders in the US" and Tantra scholar, Jim Ryan, to state, "Stuart is the John Coltrane of Sanskrit chanting."

Come celebrate, learn, explore, and sing with us! Make a donation (sliding scale $21 - $41; no one turned away for lack of funds) to reserve your place;
or, to get additional information, contact us.

Learn more and RSVP >>


For all of us who are willing to travel the path...



SHARANYA: The Maa Batakali Cultural Mission, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit Devi Mandir (Goddess Temple). All donations are tax-deductible. For more information about upcoming events, please visit or email All are welcome!

Jai Maa!


SHARANYA: The Maa Batakali Cultural Mission, Inc. • 2063 42nd Avenue • San Francisco • CA • 94116

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