Fall 1993 • Vol. XV No. 4 Nonfiction |

The Beheaded

Once the world has reached a state of stability, it continues to exist, depending for its sustenance on destruction, on burning, on devouring. The cosmic sacrifice expresses this constant process, and the ritual sacrifices performed by man have for their purpose a conscious co-operation with the cosmic life; this is the purpose of rites in all religions, and ritual is always a form of sacrifice. . . . the power of the sacrifice is shown in the Beheaded . . . ALAIN DANIELOU, Hindu Polytheism All afternoon my eyes have returned, again and again, to a picture of the god Karttika, Siva's son. Delicately drawn in spider-fine pencil on a sheet of two-holed notebook paper, the god seems to stand on--or float slightly above--a platform of snowy mountains. He is clothed only in a saffron-colored loincloth. One hand grasps a spear, the other is held palm outward, as if to signal STOP, as if to push something away. This is a mudra, sacred sign language. a blessing, the granting of

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