Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Amit Shankar Saha writes

Where I Come From 
Where I come from 
is a moth eaten memory,
a torn piece of sepia smell
snuggled in a Jewish bakery,
a faint taste of demented voice
folded within eight and seventy,
and a stale breath of a river
where every year my goddess disappears.
Image result for drowning goddess paintings
--Talyaa Liera


  1. "Eight and seventy" is a price (in this case 8 rupees and 70 paise), but 78 has a number of interesting connotations. It is the atomic number (the quantity of protons in the nucleus) of platinum, the most ductile of pure metals (ductility is the ability to deform under tensile -- pulling -- stress; maleability is the ability to deform under compression). According to French psychoanalyst René Allendy, it represents the individual karmic liberation, reached due to the general current of evolution. A standard divinitory tarot deck has 79 blades (the 56 suit cards called the Minor Arcana and the 22 cards called the Major Arcana, or 21 trumps plus the Fool). It has a number of mathematical qualities: It is a sphenic number (positive integers that are the product of 3 distinct prime numbers, in this case 2x3x13); it is an abundant number (meaning the sum of its proper divisors is greater than the number itself) since it has an aliquot sum of 90 (1+2+3+6+13+26+39); it is a semiperfect number (equal to the sum of all or some of its divosors, 39+26+13), the basis of the "rule of 78s," devised in Indiana as a simple calculation of low rates of interest for small amounts for short periods of time that provides a higher rate of return if the loan is paid off early (the interest in the 1st month would be 12/78, in the 2nd month 11/78, and so on until the 12th month, 1/78), and, as a sum of the numbers 1-12 it is interpreted as the motor number of the whole Cosmos, before and after the manifestation; it is a triangular number since it can be pictured as an equilateral triangle (in this case 12 on each side, so 78 would be the number of gifts presented in the English Christmas carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" [Round Folk Song Index number 68]. The lyric first appeared as "The Twelve Days of Christmas sung at King Pepin's Ball" in a 1780 children's book, "Mirth without Mischief" but the tune it is usually associated with is derived from a 1909 arrangement of a traditional folk melody by Frederic Austin. The song was based on the tradition of Twelvetide, 12 days beginning on Christmas on which increasingly grand gifts were given). In the 1870s Sophus Lie, a 19th-century Norwegian mathematician, discovered that continuous transformation groups could be better understood by linearizing them to visualize vector fields (the assignment of a vector to each point in a subset of space); in the 1920s Herman Weyl used Lie's work on group theory to study quantum mechanics. Any Lie group gives rise to a Lie algebra that enables the study of that particular group. The exceptional Lie group E6 has a dimension of 78.

  2. In name numerology 78 is the purest and the most noble: 7+8=15, which reduces to 6 (1+5). The digit the number is reduced to always has more force or capacity than the digits of the number being reduced. Six (the number for Venus) is the luckiest number because it changes the nature of 7 and 8 (78) in the same way that a virtuous son born to bad parents makes them good, or a good son makes his poor parents rich. The other Venus name numbers indicate that their bearers will fall into the trap of sensuality and enjoyments when success is attained, but 78s retain all their virtues. They also grant the talents of poetry and oratory. But, though 78 is based on the number 6, it also contains the essences of 7 and 8. Seven mainly denotes the spiritual facet of existence along with human psychic skills; it has the forces of spiritual beginning, enlargement, and complete understanding, along with intelligence and profound insight, fortitude and dogged determination, intuitive capabilities, religious studies, and an excellent destiny. Eight has the characteristics of karmic philosophy dealing with principles of action and reaction, materialization of riches and affluence, and discrimination and making right decisions, as well as willpower and persistence, personal clout, benevolence and acceptance, steadiness, reliability, and tolerance. Carl Jung associated 8 with with the unconscious that continually folds into itself like a snake that bites its tail. In Feng Shui 8 symbolizes wealth and success, though to the Greeks it represented defectiveness or bad luck.

  3. Biblical numerologists use a different system of values. Seven is made up of 4 (the perfect world) and 3 (divine perfection) and is the number of spiritual perfection. Music is based on 7 notes (do re mi fa so la ti), since the 8th note is just a higher or lower octave. If light is passed through a prism then it splits into 7 colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). There are 7 basic crystal systems. The periodic table has 7 levels of periodicity. There are 7 bones in our face, neck, and ankel, and 7 holes in our head. The number 7 occurs 287 times in the Bible (287= 7X41), while "7th" occurs 98 times (98=7X14), and "sevenfold" 7 times. Not only are these all multiples of seven, but 287+98+7=392, eight times the square of 7. The creation was complete (perfect) day; the word "created" is used 7 times in connection with God’s work. Abraham’s blessing was a sevenfold blessing. There are 7 authors of the "Psalms" (David, the sons of Korah, Asaph, Heman the Ezrahite, Ethan the Ezrahite, Moses, and Solomon), and 7 "men of god" in the Old Testament. The high priest sprinkled blood on the mercy seat 7 times on the Day of Atonement, thus denoting completeness in God's redemptive works. The menora has 7 candlesticks. In the "Book of Revelation" God's blessings are promised 7 times in the "Book of Revelation." The mystery of God is completed in the 7th vial of the 7th trumpet of the 7th seal. The "Gospel of Matthew" has 7 parables, and the "Gospel of John" 7 miracles and 7 gifts (His flesh, His life, His example, His comfort, His peace, His words, His glory). Field were left fallow every 7 years. Hell traditionally had 7 levels.
    The number 8 in the Bible signifies Resurrection and Regeneration. It is the number of a new beginning. Since 7 signifies an end to something, 7+1 is the beginning of something new, such as a new week. The historic Christian church enered into the Covenant on the 8th day. God commanded that circumcision, the sign of the covenant, be performed on the 8th day. Noah was a member of the 8th generation, and 8 humans were preserved on the ark. God made 8 covenants with Abraham, 7 before Isaac was offered up, andan 8th when he had been received "in a figure" from the dead. Elijah performed 8 miracles. The Bible recounted 8 resurrections. The Feast of Tabenacles lasted 8 days. Jesus (whose personal number was 8) rose on the 1st day of the next week from the day he was crucified. Adding the letter values of "Jesus" in Greek obtains 888. "Revelation" has 888 words in its original Greek. All the Dominical names of Jesus are marked by a multiple of 8 according to the laws of Gematria: Christ, 1480 (185x8); Messiah, 656 (82x8), Lord, 800 (8x100), Our Lord, 1768 (8x221), Saviour, 1408 (82x 32), Emmanuel, 25600, (83x50), Son, 880 (8x110).
    The number 6 is the number of man, the number of imperfection; Adam was created on the 6th day, but so was the serpent (which is referred to by six names: Nachash, ak-shoov, ephah, tsiph-ohnee, Tanneen, Saraph). The Sixth Commandment was "Thou shalt not kill." 7-1=6 illustrates that man falls short of spiritual perfection; 4+2 is man’s world plus man’s enmity with God, while 5+1 is God’s grace plus perversion or corruption.

  4. After worshiping Durga, the Bengali avatar of Kali, with extreme fervor during the Navratri ("nine nights") festival, which marks the beginning of autumn, Hindus drown her statues in the Hooghly river, the local name of the Ganga. Durga embodies shakti, the divine feminine force that governs all cosmic creation, existence, and change. Shiva, Vishnu,Brahma and the other gods created her with 10 arms, each bearing a lethal weapon, to vanquish the demon Mahishasura. She is thus the compassionate savior of all of the gods and the universe. She exists in a complete state of self-sufficiency (her name means "the impenetrable" or "the inaccessible." Every autumn she enters Kolkata with her four children, Kartikeya, Ganesha, Saraswati, and Lakshmi, leaving Shiva her husband behind on Mt. Kailash, and then resides in a pandal, a canopy-covered area made of bamboo and cloth. On each day of the festival, 9 different forms of shakti are worshipped, but most intensely on the last five days, a time of personal introspection and bodily purification; many celebrants avoid meat, alcohol, onions, and grains. On the tenth day, Durga's victory over evil is celebrated as Vijayadashami, and after a festive procession she is reunited with Shiva, symbolized by her immersion in the river. The festival, Durga Puja, commemorates Rama's invocation of the goddess before going to war with the buffalo-demon Ravana. (In North India, the feastival also commemorates Rama's vistory over the demon Ravana as described in the "Ramayana.") The grand worship of Durga began in the late 1500s, when the zamindars of Dinajpur and Malda began the practice, but the autumn festivals were begun by raja Kangshanarayan of Taherpur or Bhabananda Mazumdar of Nadiya in 1606. It started to become a public spectacle in 1757 when Nabakrishna Deb allowed Robert Clive to celebrate victory over Siraj-ud-Daulah, the nawab of Bengal, at his own palace, the Shovabazar Rajbari. Originally the domain of rich families hosting ostentatious services, in 1790, 12 friends collected neighborhood subscriptions for a joint celebration in Guptipara. Raja Harinath of Cossimbazar initiated the proceedings in Kolkata in 1832. The sarbojanin (community puja "invoving all") was established in 1910 by the sanatan Dharmotsahini Sabha, with full public contribution, public control, and public participation. Thousands of Durga images are created, and the pandals are elaborately decorated. Most of the images are now made locally and commercially, but a kumor (artisan) used to be summoned for elsewhere and lodged for the months it took to complete them. Sunil Gangopadhyay recalled his childhood experience : "Every morning the kumor started his work, we children gathered around him and gaped in awe as he gradually turned a fistful of straw and a huge mass of clay into a perfectly formed, larger-than-life figure. And then came the most intriguing part -- the painting of the third eye of the Goddess. The artisan would sit in meditation sometimes for hours and then suddenly in one swift stroke of his paint brush, it would be done."

  5. Thank you very much for these well-researched commentaries accompanying my poem. These are brilliant work of enhancing the depth of the poem. I must add a bit more since this will help readers who would want to know more that the Jewish bakery called Nahoun's is very much a heritage bakery of Kolkata located in New Market and the year 1978, which is my birth year, marks the end of a turbulent era of Naxalism of the 70s in Kolkata and a shift in political allegiance towards the left at that time by the population of Bengal.

  6. The image is so very appropriate for this poem with Bengal being the land of mother goddess and the metaphor of my goddess opens up the poem to various interpretations.


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