Bagalamukhi means ‘She whose face has the power to captivate and control.’ According to legends, she uses her beauty and voluptuous body as a weapon to ward off evil. The other translation of her name is ‘The Crane-Headed One’ implying a bird associated with deceit. The crane is known to swallow its pray whole. There is an allegorical legend in which Bagala deceived and swallowed Lord Shiva as a whole. She is also the ego-smashing Goddess and liberating one from maya or illusions. There are writings to the extent that the ‘crane’ interpretation is a corruption.
Bagalamukhi is on the one level a beautiful Goddess despite her ferocity. She uses trickery and illusion to unmask deeper truths. She is also, positively, the goddess of black magic, of poisons. She rules over the subtle perception which make us feel at a distance the death or misery of those we know. She enables one to conquer the tongue – 'sthambaya jihwa' and also the mind – 'keelaya buddhi' vinasa so that one attains supreme knowledge.This is used against ‘all bad people’ – 'sarva dhustanam'. It has to be conceded that nearly all of us carry an element of dhusta. Controlling the tongue is easier said than done, Hence the phrase ‘sarva dhustanam’ would include any person who is praying of his dhusta. We can all ask for forgiveness for our frailties. It is here that Goddess Bagalamukhi is prayed to for blessings. Mother Matrika Devi is the Mother of all speech. As such Bagala can be said to be the Bhairava manifestation to use her powers to overcome hostile forces and dissolve them.
DEPICTION: The Kamakhya Temple is dedicated to different forms of the Mother Goddess more precisely the Dasa Mahavidya. It is also an important pilgrimage spot for those embarking on Tantric worship. Goddess Bagala’s sacred color is yellow. Indeed her temples are also painted with vivid and shocking yellow, as in Kamakhya Temple. She is therefore called Peethambri. She bears the gadha or mace which is an attribute of Lord Krishna. Hence Krishna is called Peethambar and Gadadhari.
Bhaktas dress in yellow wearing malas made from turmeric beads. At the famous Kamakhya, Mother Balga is offered yellow flowers. Indeed, Bagala puja is a secret affair. Bagala sits on a yellowish golden throne. This is in the midst of an ocean of nectar. Yellow lotuses are found in abundant. As Dwi-bhuja or two handed, she holds a club in her right hand while the left pulls the demon’s tongue. This symbolizes ‘Stambhana’ or the power to paralyse the enemy’s power of speech. In this Bagala shares the Mahavidyas who have special powers respectively.
MYTHOLOGY: Somehow, in our mythologies, demons seem to be getting their boons quite generously, which is misused. Then someone has to go out and kill them...! Bagala's common imagery is based on similar mythology. She is shown holding the tongue of the demon Madan. According to legends, Madan undertook austerities and won the boon of ‘vak siddhi’ or magical powers of the fruition of speech in that anything he uttered simply materialised. He misused it and began murdering people. People prayed to Bagala and the goddess confronted him, She grabbed his tongue and stops his rampage by stopping him from speaking. However she relented when the demon prayed to him.
TANTRA: Bagalamukhi is one of the Goddesses of Power. Her pujas are performed according to Tantrik rituals. These rituals are often secretive. According to Balamughi Rahasya, she is known as Valaga Mukhi. This simply means that she is the remover of bad effects of other mantras. This is the view in Bagalasuktham in the Atharva Veda. This is extreme element in Tantra. The name was twisted to maintain secrecy. Valaga became Balaga and later as Bagala. This is name changes are quite typical in various tantric texts.
In the Hindu pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, fulfillment of a particular desire is related to a particular energy. There are related tantra, yantra and sadhana which are highly specialized. Yantra and Tantra gives relief from the effect of other mantras. Mantra is compared to Brahmasthra the ultimate weapon. Thus Bagala is also known as Brahmashtra Vidayai or Brahmastra Roopini.
This implies that Mother turns things in the opposite direction. Thus speech is turned to silence; knowledge into ignorance; power to impotence and defeat into victory. In time each thing becomes its opposite. Goddess Bagala is the secret presence of these opposites whereby each thing is dissolved back to the Unborn status.
MAHAVIDYAS: Dasa Maha Vidya temples are based on Mantras. Vedic and Tantric tradition was not based on Idol or Deity worship. By and large, Vedic rituals were based on Homam and Mantras. Correspondingly Tantra worship had Yantra and Mantra. The mantras were representative of deities. Later Shilpa Sashtra gave the Dhyana Slokas and idols were made by sculptors according to the slokas. Over time Mahavidya goddesses and their manifestations took a stable shape with their attributes. It is said the rishis who wrote the Dhynana Slokas had visions of the deity. For instance, Rishi Mathanga is said to have seen and prayed Mother Mathangi.
Bagalamukhi is said to be the invincible Mahavidya whose powers are manifested in sixteen ways. These are also considered as divine weapons to subdue the most formidable foes. 1.Mangla 2.Stambhini 3.Jiribhni 4.Mohini 5.Vasya 6.Bala 7.Achala 8.Bhudhra 9.Kalmasa 10.Dhatri 11.Kalna 12.Kalakarshini 13.Bhramika 14.Mandgamana 15.Bhogastha. 16.Bhavika.
GOSSIP AND ENEMIES: Bagalamukhi is said to rule magic for the suppression of an enemy's gossip. So this is not to be interpreted negatively as in black magic. That would be wrong. In the social context we are bound to have misunderstanding with others. In the absence of compromise some end up as bitter enemies. They start having their own inner mandates. They could be silent but they are planning something ahead. Their words have double or inner meanings. Mother Bagala pegs their tongue and paralyses it. The enemy is said to gasp for words.
Speech and words can mean many things. They are deceitful. Mother’s power of speech renders others silent. Many pray to Bagalamukhi to help them with court cases, legal matters, and to defeat their enemies. The mantra ‘Mama sathrun seegram maraya maraya’ meaning ‘kill my enemies quickly’ implies that the enemies’ tongue be immobilized. Hence the mantra is said to litigation in courts where the opposition counsel’s tongue ought to be ‘tied.’ But let there be a reminder that mantra is a twin bladed knife and one is best advised to seek a Tantric master before embarking on such route.
In the previous post ‘Mind your own business’ we discussed the power of the tongue and the nasty habit of gossiping. Bhaktas appeal to Bagalamukhi when they are victimized by gossip mongers. Bagala stops verbal attacks, threats from gossips. But then one has to set his or her own example in not engaging in gossip before invoking the Mother.
GAYATRI MANTRA: Om Bagalambayai Vidmahe, Brahmasthra Vidyayai deemahi, Thannah stambini praochandhayat
Om hleem bagalamukhi namah.