There’s a film on YouTube that I listen to from time to time. It is a recitation of the 1008 names of Lakshmi.
Everyone gets a name-check – Durga, Kali, even Tara: See Video >
The myriad attributes of the Goddess of all manifestation are listed in an act of vocal worship. Tucked away somewhere around 100 names in is Mohini, translated as ‘She who bewitches’ here >
The inclusion of Mohini is interesting. In the West, bewitchment is seen as something sinister, dangerous, generally not a good thing to be happening (save for the heady experience of being in love, perhaps). Yet here is the Goddess of bewitchment, listed as an attribute of one of the biggest names in the composite of Shakti. What’s going on?
What is the nature of bewitchment? For me, notions of web-weaving, distraction, temptation and flattery come to mind. It’s not much of a leap to get from there to unpleasant thoughts of people’s naivety and gullibility being exploited, to the advantage of the bewitcher, needless to say. But, as we have seen, a certain amount of separation from the truth, from reality, is an everyday part of life. Sometimes, being economical with the truth of one’s own reality is the best way to enhance, or at least not damage, the well-being of others. Why tell someone the trousers they’re wearing are too short with those boots and that you think they look silly, when they are clearly loving their look? Let them enjoy it!
Maybe this is where Mohini begins to have significance. We all experience reality in different ways, filtering the information coming into us through our emotional, psychological, socioeconomic and experiential frameworks, which are unique to each and every one of us. One person’s brilliant night out is another’s chaotic, drunken nightmare. A rainy Sunday afternoon is one person’s cosy time on the sofa reading the papers and another’s lonely drabness while they wait to get back to work on Monday morning just so they can talk to someone. Both are real, both are true, and at the same time false when set against the other.
Perhaps the presence of Mohini in the 1008 names of Lakshmi is an acknowledgement of the incredible bendiness of reality from perspective to perspective. The practice of daily mantra chanting, pranayama and meditation is, in my experience, the best way to ensure that the infinite potential of reality is navigated in as productive a way as possible, for the benefit of as many as possible. Knowing when to tell the truth, when to lie and when to keep your mouth shut is certainly helpful.
What seems to be and yet is not, is a lie – what seems not to be and yet is, is a secret – and for better or worse, life is full of secrets and lies. I guess Mohini, as the Goddess of Bewitchment, is the aspect of Shakti that deals with this – the quirk of human nature that makes us incapable of seeing into each other’s minds.
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha