By Sharron Rose
I am deeply saddened by the passing of my Guruji, Sitara Devi. I had the honour of becoming her first American disciple and living with her in Mumbai while on a Professional Development Grant from The American Institute of Indian Studies in 1983-84. For me, in addition to being my Kathak Guru, she brought me into a deep experience and understanding of the beauty and power of the spiritual tradition of Hinduism and the Vedas and particularly the beauty, power and grace of the Divine Feminine. Her Shakti still reseonates through my life and art. The following is an excerpt from my book, The Path of the Priestess: A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine which brings the depth of her spiritual teachings to light.
One evening, as we sat together in her living room, I looked up to see a very powerful image of a beautiful Goddess with many arms who was dressed in red and seated gallantly astride a lion. “Please Guruji,” I asked, “tell me about the Goddess. She seems to be so important in your life. In the Jewish tradition of my birth, as well as the Christian religion that dominates the West, we are told that there is only one God and he is definitely male.”
Sitara closed her eyes for a moment and quieted her breath as if going into a deep meditative state. The atmosphere of the whole room seemed to change, The power and energy that flowed through Sitara was so strong that chills ran up my spine. She began to speak, her voice filled with passion. “There is a sacred current of light that flows throughout all of creation”, she explained. “It is the animating and nourishing force of life itself, the supreme all-illuminating power in every thing and every being. We call this light and energy Shakti, or the Great Goddess. As the creative power of Shiva, Shakti is the vital force in all beings; there is nothing in the world that is devoid of her presence. Shakti is life and gives life to all. She is bliss and gives bliss to all. Even though she is essentially one, in order for us to know her she manifests herself in many forms. She is the voice, light and energy of what you in the West call the Godhead. Many of our ancient texts known as the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and Tantras sing her praises. Watch carefully, and I will reveal her to you.”
After Sitara spoke these words she went through an almost unbelievable series of physical transformations before my astonished eyes. As she named each goddess and brought her to life, it seemed as if she could magically alter the shape and size of her body. Not only could she shape-shift in this remarkable manner but also it appeared that she had the ability to transform her very flesh, so that with her depiction of each successive goddess the small wrinkles around her eyes magically disappeared and she actually became a younger version of herself.
First Sitara manifested as the fierce and powerful goddess Durga, whose image adorned the wall. Riding astride a lion, Durga held in her many hands the weapons with which she destroyed the terrible demon Mahisha. The energy that exuded from Sitara was so compelling, her movements and gestures so powerful, that I could actually see these multiple hands as if they were real. In the blink of an eye, Sitara then transformed herself into the warm, sensuous Lakshmi, goddess of fertility and abundance. Light seemed to radiate outward from her body as her breasts appeared to swell and brim over with life-enhancing nectar. In one hand she held a lotus flower while sparkling gold coins poured out of the other hand. Sitara looked at me and laughed with delight as she became the youthful and serene Saraswati, goddess of music, singing softly to herself while playing her sacred instrument, the Vina. Finally Sitara transformed into Kali Ma, the great wrathful goddess who with her shining sword destroys egotism and ignorance. The skin of Sitara’s face tightened until her face began to resemble a skull. Her ancient all-knowing eyes were wild with fire, and her red tongue hung out of her mouth. A third eye suddenly appeared between her two eyes, as she looked at me with great ferocity. I gazed into its depths, and for a moment it was as if I was looking into the fiery core of creation itself. I was overcome with awe and amazement. This was a spectacle and energetic transmission of knowledge unlike anything that I had ever witnessed.
Sharron Rose is a true renaissance woman. She is a filmmaker, author, performer, teacher and much more. From 1983-1988, with the assistance of a Professional Development Grant from the American Institute of Indian Studies, and a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship, she began extensive research into the art, culture and spiritual traditions of North India. She became the first American disciple of early Bollywood film star and renowned classical Indian dancer, Sitara Devi
Through Sitara, Sharron was initiated into a sacred tradition of the ancient feminine yogic arts. Since that time, she has consistently sought out other remnants of these symbolic teachings in the ancient traditions of Egypt, Tibet, Kabbalah, Gnosticism and Shamanism. She is the author of the award-winning book, The Path to The Priestess – A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine published by Inner Traditions. Sharron is co-owner of the independent film production and distribution companies, Sacred Mysteries Productions and Sacred Mysteries Distribution for which she has produced numerous documentaries. She has just completed production on Sacred Mysteries first feature film, The Last Avatar which she produced and is supporting actor. The Last Avatar, written and directed by her husband, Jay Weidner tells the story of the emergence of Kalki Avatar and is a wake up call for a spiritual revolution. http://www.thelastavatarmovie.com