It is believed in Hinduism that everyone should choose their own deity. Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, is a particularly popular choice as he represents the continuous struggle to forego worldly attachments in exchange for finding the true, inner self – a lifelong practice many people struggle with (no pun intended). Each deity seeks to provide meaning and purpose for yet another common, moral, and beautiful struggle of human life. It is up to the individual to decide which deity speaks most strongly to his life, and then dedicate his practice accordingly. Now that’s what I call a beautiful religion.
Last Friday, my yoga teacher introduced me to a lesser known Hindu deity named Akhilandeshvari, or the Goddess of Never Not Broken. Akhilandeshvari had nearly disappeared from public knowledge until 2012, when she rose as the ‘Consummate Goddess’ in the Shift of the Ages, a modern era characterized by ‘the breaking down of everything.’ Interestingly, right around the same time my life seemed to shift into a new era also defined by recurring loss, pain, and instability.
I recently reached out to my yoga teacher regarding the frustration that’s been built up over the constant struggle that has defined my past few years. I began noticing unhealthy thought patterns and sought her advice in how to go about breaking them. On this particular Friday, my teacher sat before me, smack in between my mat and the altar, and shifted her eyes in my direction. The studio was crowded, but she seemed to look only at me. She offered a brief synopsis of Akhilandeshvari.
“This Goddess is overlooked far too often. She is the Goddess of Never Not Broken, or in other words, always broken.”
She serves as a constant reminder to embrace vulnerability as the potential to be broken. When something is destroyed – be it a mindset or a relationship – immense energy is released that gives us the potential to serve a limitless future. Akhilandeshvari teaches us to reject the refusal of our fear and vulnerability, and instead ‘go with the flow.’ In the deepest pain and endless moments of brokenness, we shine with radiant beauty.
The times that we are left in pieces, the times that our future vanishes before us, the times that all we’d come to know turns out to be a lie – in these times, the limitations inherent in our previous ‘definition’ of self are erased. When we are nothing, we can be anything.
So the goddess blesses the power of heartache, malfortune, loss, and trauma. For these are the passageways to liberation from the binds of our past wounds; these are the tunnels to freedom from the limitations of a pre-determined future. Only in the flux of being utterly broken, we are forced to find beauty and opportunity in change. This goddess is the exhale that comes just before the crash; she is the inhale that yields to the shambles.
It is normal to shy away from the pain of being broken, and to piece ourselves together as quickly as possible into a new version of ‘whole.’ But by re-defining ourselves as whole, we replace the broken chains with new chains; we are once again limited. Each new ‘whole’ is yet another illusion. And so Akhilandeshvari is never not broken. She is never whole, but always confused, always learning, always transforming, always embracing vulnerability. For vulnerability is the chance to be broken, and to be broken is to see the self in all its unbounded potential.
Last week I faced brokenness once again. At first, I didn’t see the beauty in it, only the sadness. In opening up to the two people in my life who’ve also come to know pain, their simple responses were monumental. My boyfriend told me, “You know what I love most about you? You’re the strongest person I know.” A few days later, my Grandma also reminded me what she loved most about me: “You’re a survivor, Nicole. You keep moving.” In my determination to overcome, I grew to see pain as something that needed to be defeated and, over the years, mastered the battle. But it seems Akhilandeshvari just may have convinced me to lower my fists and lift my eyes.