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God as Divine Mother

God as Divine Mother

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Published by Harsha

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Published by: Harsha on Sep 22, 2011
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Orissa Review * October - 2004
God, the Supreme Being, is as muchworshipped as the Divine Mother as He isworshipped as the Divine Father. The DivineMother is synonymous with Shakti, the DivinePower that manifests, sustains and transformsthe universe as the unifying force of existence.The Divine Mother exists in all beings asintelligence, mercy and beauty. She is theembodiment of the all-existential power. Allthese powers are the glorious attributes of theSupreme Being whois the main source of this creation. So Deviworship is theworship of God'sglory; His greatnessand supremacy overthe universe.Devi worshipdoes not belong to anyparticular cult. DeviMata is worshippedby one and all irrespective of any distinction.Truly speaking, all beings of the universe areShakti worshippers, for there is none in thisworld who does not love power in some formor other. Scientists have proved that everythingon the earth is the manifestation of a pureimperishable energy. This energy is nothingother than the manifestation of the DivineShakti, which exists in every form of ourexistence. Since this Shakti can not beworshipped in its essential nature, it isworshipped through various manifestations asthe symbols of creation, preservation anddestruction. Shakti in relation to thesemanifestations is worshipped as Saraswati,Lakshmi and Kali. Although they arerepresented as three distinct images, they arevirtually one andworship of one form isadored as the worshipof the other forms.The concept of Deviworship is not of recent origin. It was invogue in the ancientpast. Reference toDevi worship asGoddess Durga ismade in the Rig Veda,and the great epic, the Mahabharat. The hymnsdevoted to Devi worship in the Rig Veda, extolthe Devi Mother as Devi Durga, theembodiment of the supreme Divine Power. Inthe Mahabharat, She is adored as the sister of Lord Krishna. In the Kanopanishad, Sheappears as Goddess Uma, the Divine consort
God as Divine Mother
 Durgamadhab Dash
Orissa Review * October - 2004
of Lord Siva. Yudhisthir worshipped DeviMata for relief from sufferings during theirexile. Lord Krishna advised Arjun to pray toDevi Mata before the commencement of theMahabharat war. The glory and the aura of theDivine Mother is devotedly sung in the DeviMahatmya - the Sapta Sati- which in spiritualvalues is equal to the Bhagvatgita. The Goddessas the Divine Mother is every year worshippedin a nine-day festival, popularly known asNavaratri Puja during the first nine days of thebright fortnight in the month of Aswin. Thisperiod falls in September-October in theEnglish calendar. The adoration of the Deviduring this period is glorified as the mysticalworship of the Shakti. This is also known asShakti Puja, which is the worship of theinherent power of the Supreme Divine. Thisvirtually transcends the inherent ritualism of the Veda-Samhitas and Purans.In the Devi Mahatmya, the Devi isdescribed in different forms with revelationsin Her primordial qualities, called Tamas,Rajas, and Sattva. These three forms areequated with the manifestations of the UniversalPowers of Action (Kriya), Desire (Iccha) andKnowledge (Jnana). In Her first form, it is said,She woke-up Lord Vishnu from His cosmicsleep to encounter the Asuras (demons), Madhuand Kaithava who had risen in the cosmicocean. In Her second form, she met the forcesof the demon, Mahisasura and slew him withHer superb divine forces. In Her third form,she killed the Asuras, Sumbha and Nisumbhawith their forces and brought peace to gods inheaven and solace to mankind on the earth.Thus as described in the DeviMahatmya, the Devi in Her monotheistic divineform was blended with the divine glee of allthe 'Devas' and She combated the evil forcesand fought themoff one afteranother withHer resplendentdivine prowess.She played allthe parts in Herdistinct role asa warriorqueen. Thegoddess, thoughdescribed asyoung, beautifuland caring wassavage-like inHer intent andpurpose, whilethrowingherself in tovarious battles.The term,'Devi' in Hinduism is an elastic esotericideology. Although it refers to a femalegoddess, as described in the Devi Mahatmya,She is adored as the Divine Mother of the entireuniverse. The forms like Durga, Chandi,Mahalaxmi, Maha Saraswati and so on are butHer various divine forms. Each form of theDevi has a distinctive role meant for a definitepurpose. Each form in this sense is alsoidentified as the Ultimate Reality of theuniverse. In the Devi Mahatmya, "Durga' forinstance is described and adored as one aspectof the Divine Mother. She is the consort of LordShiva. She is generally represented with tenarms, seated on a lion and some times on atiger. She is worshipped as the protector of the universe destroying the demons of ignorance and giving blessings of divine loveand knowledge. Kali is another aspect of theDivine Mother. She is another form of the
Dasabhuja Durga from Konark (now in British Museum, London)
Orissa Review * October - 2004
consort of LordShiva. She isalways shownas standing onthe chest of Lord Shiva.Around Herwaist, Shewears a garlandof human hands.Similarlyaround Herneck, she wearsa garland of human heads.She has fourarms; the lowerleft hand holds a human head. She holds asaber in Her upper right hand. She offers boonsto Her divine children with the other upperhand. She makes a sign that dispels fear. Shedeals out death as She creates and preserveswith Her primordial prowess. Kali's role hasa definite purpose. She deals out death as Shecreates and preserves our life. She alsodestroys ignorance and gives blessings andliberation to those who earnestly seek it. WhileLord Shiva represents the Absolute, Kalirepresents the dynamic or the relative aspectof the Supreme Reality.Each form of the Divine Mother is thusan embodiment of the Supreme Divinity. Oneform may appear different from the other. Butin spirit, each such form is a mystery of reproduction of life springing from nothing,verily the Supreme Primordial Prakriti. Everymystic who has experienced godhead,personally, intensely and unmistakably wouldassure us that the experience of every such formis as real as any other form of the SupremeReality.Ramakrishna Paramahansa called theDivine Mother by more than a dozen names asif to demonstrate to the world that theparticulars of any dogma and tradition are allbut meaningless expositions compared with thevision of Mahamaya who may be Kali at onetime and Durga at another. But the Mother inany form is indeed that monotheistic deity whocreates the universe and holds it within Herbeing and yet resides within the living beingsand objects. Be that as it may, behind the veilsof the myriad deities in human forms andpersonalities, there is formless God who is onefor the entire universe and known as Brahman,the Satchidananda in the linking of Existence(Sat), Knowledge (Chit) and Anand (Bliss).Descriptions of the Shakti and theBrahman are exactly the same except on oneparticular point. While the Brahman is infinite,the Shakti is ever changing as a vibrant forceof the Brahman. This vibrant force is the causeof the creation of the universe. In this sense theBrahman and the Shakti are inexplicablyinterrelated. The two are thus one like fire andits power to burn.According to the Eastern IndianCosmology, the Devi's creative force bringsout and develops this universe. The saidcreative force also draws back in to itself thewhole of the universe on to the blissfulunchanging being of the Brahman, only to spewout again after an age (Yuga) in the cosmic gameof evolution and dissolution. This is what isknown as the process of expansion andcontraction of our creation. The expansion isakin to evolution of the universe and thecontraction is equal to dissolution of theuniverse. All this happens due to thepersonification of the primal energy of theDevi. This is known as the Maya Shakti of theBrahman. We worship the same Maya Shakti
Mahisamardini Durga (now inPhiladelphia Museum of Art)

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