The Path of the Mother

Savitri L. Bess, Author
Savitri L. Bess, Author Wellspring/Ballantine $14.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-345-42347-4
Reviewed on: 06/05/2000
Release date: 06/01/2000
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-307-55895-4
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This disjointed book aims to illuminate the ""path of the Mother,"" a journey to the divine feminine that is based largely in Hindu traditions with a smattering of Goddess threads from other religions. Bess, a therapist and artist who began practicing yoga nearly three decades ago, deepened her understanding of Eastern spirituality when she discovered Ammachi, an Indian guru (b. 1953) who is regarded as an incarnation of the divine Mother by thousands of followers in India and America. Bess describes Ammachi's preternatural spiritual gifts (she walked and talked at six months and composed devotional songs and prayers as a toddler) with the adoration of a disciple, so readers desiring more balanced biographical information are left hanging. The narrative then becomes confusing, as Bess introduces other 20th-century women gurus (one, nicknamed Amma, has a life story confoundingly similar to Ammachi's). Bess discusses the many contradictory goddess-incarnations of the Mother, who appears as a sexual seductress in Kundalini Shakti, a destructive force in Kali and a source of wealth and beauty in Lakshmi. The diffuse book is rescued somewhat by its practical focus on meditation, chanting, prayer, altar-building and other activities of bhakti yoga, guiding Western readers through the basics of daily Hindu spirituality. While the book fills a void in providing insight into Hindu goddess traditions and contemporary Indian women saints, such rich material deserves more careful study. (May)
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