Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dr. Beck Attends Veerashaiva Samaja Meeting in Mississauga

Veerashaiva Samaja of North America Meeting in Mississauga, May 14, 2012

Organizer Vijay Aivalli addresses the audience.
Brenda gave a presentation to about 30 families at a local Catholic school in Mississauga on Mother’s Day at a meeting of the Veerashaiva Samaja of North America. She decided to show a video version of one part of The Legend of Ponnivala called "Gateway to Heaven"; a shortened 30-minute excerpt taken from Series One, Episodes 12 and 13. She chose this because it tells the story of Tamarai’s twenty one year pilgrimage to Lord Shiva’s Council Chambers high in the Himalayas. There she obtains the grant of three very special children from the great Lord himself. She also returns to Ponnivala with a pot of magical water that bestows this wonderful gift of fertility with everyone in the kingdom. All the beings in Ponnivala “capable of drinking water” get pregnant from this moistening after a long spell of barrenness.

Musical prayer to Guru Basavanna
Brenda thought it would be an especially appropriate sub-story to share on Mother’s Day. The video was well received and many people told her how much they had enjoyed the presentation and her brief comments afterwards. In her comments she stressed the correspondence between Arjuna as he prays to Shiva asking for a great weapon of war (the Pashupata) in the Mahabharata and Tamarai who stands in exactly the same spot to ask for sons! One can almost say that Arjuna shows up in this story as a female! And that instead of being given a weapon for fighting war she is gifted three children. These are her “weapon” one might say, as they allow her family line to continue to rule. Her sons will protect her family in the future and her daughter will lend them her magical power.

Yes, the women in this epic are very strong--it is a lovely and very different Mahabharata, a great legend reworked and reinterpreted through a regional lens.

Dr. Beck receives a certificate of appreciation from
event organizer Vijay Aivalli.
Vijay Aivalli was a key organizer of the event. Vijay spoke to the crowd and also presented Brenda with a certificate of appreciation and a small gift. Brenda’s talk was followed by an excellent musical prayer session addressed to Guru Basavanna a 12th century teacher, statesman and social reformer from Karnataka. The crowd was mostly made up of Kannada speakers. The scholarly author Teri Degler also spoke about the life of the female Kannada Shaiva saint Mahadevi Akka towards the end of the evening. Her talk paired nicely with Brenda’s kick-off video. The two presentations blended well together and helped to accentuate the female focus of this Mother’s Day Veerashaiva celebration. The evening ended with an excellent feast made up of authentic Kannada foods.

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