'Ai, tell me no. Why is Kali Maa standing on Shiva?' asks my eight year old, again and again.
'I don't know, kiddo.'
'Search on Google.' he tells me.
'Ok. This is what they say on Google. Kali Maa was on a war with the demons, and she wouldn't listen to anyone, she was so angry, so Shiva lay on the ground just in front of her and she stepped on him and suddenly went, oh my God, and put her tongue out and stopped.'
'Oh. I see.' he said. 'But why did Shiva want her to stop fighting?'
'He is her husband, no? He has to look after her.'
'No, Shiva is Parvati's husband.' he corrects me.
'Same thing, kiddo. Parvati is Kali when she is angry, when she needs to be in the action. Two names, two avatars, same person.'
'I see,' he said.
But I wasn't too happy with this interpretation, and so I talked to a devotee from the Nithyananda ashram. And I got a lovely interpretation, presumably that of Swamiji himself.
'When a person gets enlightened, he is as good as dead. For all practical purposes, there is no ego left in him, no 'life' as we understand it. So Shiva's body here is a 'dead' enlightened person. And Kali Maa standing on him is the Goddess or Prakritti that functions 'through' him. '
I was thrilled with this thought until I tried telling the brat about it.
'When a person gets enlightened, ' I began...
'What is enlightened?' he asked.
'When a person becomes, no meets God, he kind of dies.'
'You mean a person dies and then meets God, no?'
'No, I don't mean that death, this is a different kind of death. I mean death of the ego.'
'Oh. What is the ego?'
'Umm. . . Well. . . Forget it, will you? '
Anyone out there knows how to answer these questions when an eight year old asks them?