Shakti: The Power Within — The Accidental Ally

“I will look after you and I will look after anybody you say needs to be looked after, any way you say. I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.” ― Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom

I was born on a hot August day arriving 13 mins before midnight after an arduous 32 hours of labor. My mother endured a great deal of pain and delivered all 9lbs 11 ounces of me naturally, without an epidural. That in itself should qualify her for the Nobel peace prize. I love my mom. She is an inspiration for me in so many ways and has set the bar really high for me. As part of our family tradition, I was given 5 Indian names. One was my given name, Gayatri, named after the Goddess of the Universe. The second was, the fierce mother goddess also referred to as Shakti.

Shakti means:

the female principle of divine energy, especially when personified as the supreme deity.

For years, I wished for a different name. Names like Kajol, Pooja, Dia, Priya all appealed to me because they were short, palatable, modern Indian names, and not conservative, ancient like my name. It took me many years to finally get to a point where I could rediscover the meaning of these names and most importantly rediscover what they have meant for me in the context of my life experiences. Over the years, I have come to realize that I could not have asked for better names.

This morning my children woke me up to wish me a very Happy Mother’s Day. Each handed me a handwritten letter. My 13 yr old daughter wrote, “You light up every room and make everyone around you smile”. She continues to write, “ ….most of all, thanks for teaching me how to stand up for what I believe in, have an opinion about everything. This quote reminded me of you. “

“Be the change you wish to seek in the world” — Mahatma Gandhi

I was crying tears of joy. My 10 yr old son had a different perspective, he quoted the Beatles “I want to hold your hand” with a sweet note saying “I hope you have a great time today and we will go on walks and play outside, or maybe even look at the stars at night.”

I thought to myself, “Wow, I did ok. I really did ok. I am a good mother and that’s awesome!”

The last few days have been rough. I have been thinking about the mother who lost her son to a hate crime and every mother who has lost their child. What must Ahmaud’s mom be feeling today? I cannot imagine the anger and agony she must be feeling. Durga, the goddess stands for ‘Shakti’ the power within and the power that runs the universe. She embodies all the great qualities of a nurturing mother but turns into a warrior when called upon to fight evil and injustice. In Hindu mythology, the story of Goddess Durga is one of my favorites. The short version is that Mahishasura was a power-hungry, immoral, evil demon who believed that no one in the world could do him harm. When he started wreaking havoc with his power, Goddess Durga was tasked with putting an end to it. She fought him for 15 days during which he kept changing his shape to become different animals tricking her each time she was close to slaying him. Finally, when he turns into a buffalo is when she slays him to free the world of evil.

Mother’s are like Goddess Durga. We are nurturing and life-giving but can also turn into warriors to fight evil and injustice in any shape or form. In today’s world, we need more women to manifest their inner Shakti to fight demons in our heads that keep us from realizing our true potential. We need to fight the demons outside our heads who tell us every day what we can and cannot do, the voices who try to silence us when we speak up, the voices who tell us we should not be aiming high, and the forces that take from us what is ours against our will.

I remembered a story I loved as a child. It was the story of the Sparrow and Crow. It goes like this. One night there was a rough storm. Crow lost his nest to the torrential monsoon rain. He knocked on Sparrow’s nest, “Sister Sparrow, Open the door and let me in. I promise to be kind to your babies. I only want shelter for one night”. Generous Sister Sparrow lets the crow in for the night but she worries that her generosity might bring harm to her children. As they sleep by the fireplace in the night, she senses a strange movement waking up to find the crow about to swallow her babies. She grabs a hot rod from the fireplace, blinds the crow in both eyes forcing him to flee. Such is the power of a mother. She can be nurturing and generous at one moment but turn into a fierce warrior protecting her children the next. This story was my all-time favorite. I almost always felt a delightful cheer coming out of me for Sister Sparrow and her bravery. Never once questioning how she got to be like that, it was what I always expected of mothers. Those were the role models I grew up with. The women who silently got things done behind the scenes, never once stopping to look for praise or appreciation or reward, always sacrificing their wishes for that of others, suffering pain through childbirth and illnesses, working endlessly round the clock, and always showing up with love, affection, generosity for those around them. I expected to be nothing less of a woman like my role models. This is the kind of woman I aspired to be and for the most part, continue to aspire to be today.

It’s mother’s day today and I couldn’t think of a more auspicious occasion to launch my new website, “The Accidental Ally” dedicated to build, nurture and grow the community of people who dare to be different, who believe in service before self, who have a strong bias for action, who are relentless in pursuing their passion even in the face of rejection and failure.

I dedicated my work on Accessibility to the human spirit which I believe is what will save humankind from total destruction.

And there is no greater embodiment of the human spirit than SHAKTI, the MOTHER!

Originally published at on May 10, 2020.

Believer in ‘Karma yoga’ ..the yoga of action. Work in service to others, with kindness & compassion. Lifelong learner, passionate about life!