Making Friends with a Hindu Goddess
I recently read an article by Julie JC Peters that had a profound impact on me, entitled: Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea (the permission this title brings provides an instant sense of relief)
You know, that feeling of turning into pure mush.
Sobbing in a way that would make your mom cry and want to rock you in her arms.
Tears pouring down your face, curled up in fetal position, wondering how you’ll go on.
(insert the “Oh, I know what THAT’S like” feeling here)
Reading this article will forever change how I label these pile-on-the-floor experiences (because God knows I have them) all due to the Hindu Goddess Akhilandeshvari (Akhilanda). I believe she may have just become my new BGFF (Best Goddess Friend Forever)
“Ishvari” in Sanskrit means “goddess” or “female power,” and the “Akhilanda” means essentially “never not broken.” In other words, The Always Broken Goddess. Sanskrit is a tricky and amazing language, and I love that the double negative here means that she is broken right down to her name.
But this isn’t the kind of broken that indicates weakness and terror.
It’s the kind of broken that tears apart all the stuff that gets us stuck in toxic routines, repeating the same relationships and habits over and over, rather than diving into the scary process of trying something new and unfathomable.
Akhilanda derives her power from being broken: in flux, pulling herself apart, living in different, constant selves at the same time, from never becoming a whole that has limitations.
The thing about going through sudden or scary or sad transitions (like a breakup) is that one of the things you lose is your future: your expectations of what the story of your life so far was going to become. When you lose that partner or that job or that person, your future, dissolves in front of you.
And of course, this is terrifying.
But look, Akhilanda says, now you get to make a choice. In pieces, in a pile on the floor, with no idea how to go forward, your expectations of the future are meaningless. Your stories about the past do not apply. You are in flux, you are changing, you are flowing in a new way, and this is an incredibly powerful opportunity to become new again: to choose how you want to put yourself back together. Confusion can be an incredible teacher—how could you ever learn if you already had it all figured out?
This goddess has another interesting attribute, which is, of course, her ride: a crocodile.
Crocodiles are interesting in two ways: Firstly, Stoneberg explains that the crocodile represents our reptilian brain, which is where we feel fear. Secondly, the predatory power of a crocodile is not located in their huge jaws, but rather that they pluck their prey from the banks of the river, take it into the water, and spin it until it is disoriented. They whirl that prey like a dervish seeking God, they use the power of spin rather than brute force to feed themselves.
By riding on this spinning, predatory, fearsome creature, Akhilanda refuses to reject her fear, nor does she let it control her. She rides on it. She gets on this animal that lives inside the river, inside the flow. She takes her fear down to the river and uses its power to navigate the waves, and spins in the never not broken water. Akhilanda shows us that this is beautiful.
So the next time you’re in a pile, on the bedroom floor in a million pieces, not knowing where to turn or how to go on, remember our home girl Akhilanda.
Embrace Her. Embody Her.
Ride that crocodile like it’s nobody’s business.
Then pick up each and every broken part of yourself and decide what kind of masterpiece puzzle you’ll create. It’s completely your choice.
Can you see the opportunity that comes from a state of brokenness?
What kind of puzzle will YOU create?