These tantric songs are excerpted from the forthcoming Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna, by Lex Hixon. Great Swan is a dramatic retelling of the life of Ramakrishna (1836-1886), a Hindu priest who devoted himself to the worship of the goddess Kali. For twelve years he engaged in several practices including Christian and Islamic, and eventually, through personal experience, realized the universal truth inherent in all religions. His teachings, transmitted informally and recorded by a disciple, are translated into English as The Gospel of Ramakrishna. It is this record, in addition to other eyewitness accounts, that Lex Hixon draws on to create a powerful contemporary portrait of Ramakrishna, known to nis disciples as Paramahamsa, or the Great Swan.

As part of his devotion to Kali, Ramakrishna often visited the image of the goddess at the temple of Kalighat in Calcutta. Mahakali, as she is called, is the protector of wisdom in both Hindu and Buddhist tantra—the experience of the energy of wisdom within the human body. Today when Tibetan lamas pass through Calcutta they visit this image and make offerings. The Kalighat statue’s original spiritual empowerment can be traced to the eleventh and twelfth century tantric Buddhist kingdom of Bengal. Although Hinduism long preceded Buddhism, recent scholarship suggests that Hindu tantra evolved from Buddhist tantra and not the other way around, as had been previously assumed.

The theme of these songs is the awakening to original enlightenment, the metameditation called mahamudrain Sanskrit, dzogchen in Tibetan, or shikantaza in Japanese Zen.

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