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Swami Ishatmananda

MAA DURGA : The Symbol of Unity in Diversity


Swami Ishatmananda Ramakrishna Mission Durga Puja, held in autumn every year, has become a national festival in India. People, forgetting all differences, join in this celebration. As mother never makes any difference among her children, similarly in the Puja of Devi Durga all classes of people without any distinction of caste, creed, color, language participate. In fact, the real essence of Hinduism is expressed through Maa Durga. Veda, which means Knowledge, is the foundation of Hinduism. There are two types of knowledge Mundane and Spiritual (Para Vidya and Apara Vidya). Veda is the container of both these knowledge. We all are aware of Mundane or worldly knowledge but almost all of us are ignorant about spiritual knowledge. Why ? Because spiritual knowledge is very very subtle and, moreover, it is subjective knowledge. The Guru, the scriptures, temples etc. can only help us but we have to realize the Truth ourselves.

The highest Truth the man has ever realized discovered is the Atman, the Self, the Brahman. No word can express If because It is beyond time, space & causation. This can only be felt, understand, realized through pure mine. And mind can only be purified through truthfulness, austerity, unselfishness and love for all beings. A pure soul realizes that this universe with its millions of verities, names & forms are nothing but Brahman, Paramatma. Everything have been created, sustaining and will dissolve in Brahman. There is no distinction, there is no high or low. This knowledge of unity in diversity, this realization of oneness in called true religion. In the words of Swami Vivekanandaji Religion is Realization. This is the core of Hindu religion.

The Rishis of the old formulated different methods to make ordinary people aware about this great truth of oneness, hidden unity in manifested diversity. The conception of Maa Durga is a wonderful method to bring all together. The remarkable Page 1 of 4

Swami Ishatmananda

story of Goddess Durga is Mahisasura, the buffalo-demon vanquished the Gods in heaven and reigned as the sovereign lord. The Gods on being ousted from heaven, made Brahma the leader of the team of their deputation to Vishnu and Siva for getting out of the clutches of their feisty foe, the dreaded demon. The Gods told tales of their untold troubles and tribulations and woes. On hearing this, Vishnu and Siva became extremely angry. Then started emanating from the divine tabernacles of Vishnu and Siva an enormous energy as dazzlingly bright as flash of lighting. Thereafter, the glowing energy of Brahma, Indra and other Gods mingled with the incandescent energy of Vishnu and Siva and developed and conglomerated into a rotund mass of a spherical object like a burning mountain. From out of that blazing bolus of immeasurably magnum size came into being a paragon of beauty in the form of a female called Candika or Sri Sri Durga. The word Durga means redeemer of Sorrow.

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Swami Ishatmananda

Creation of Durga symbolizes unity, unity of different Gods, Faiths, Paths. This subtle knowledge, this abstract idea is depicted in the image of Maa Durga. The clay which is used to make the image of Maa Durga comes from the door steps of a Brahmin, a King and a Prostitute. The brahmin is the symbol of high caste, the symbol of Sattva. The king represents khsatriya caste and Raja. The prostitute is the symbol of low caste and Tama. This shows that the Divine Mother is present equally in high and low, upper caste and lower caste. There is no difference for Divine Mother. Her ten hands is the symbol of Omnipresent God She is everywhere. The different armaments in her hands depicts the fact that she is all-powerful. The intelligent hindu, through symbol teaches that the divinity is present even in animals & birds. The lion & the rat with image of Goddess Durga symbolizes the whole gamut of animals similarly the peacock & the owl symbolizes the whole range of birds. The Divine Mother is present even in these creatures. The divinity is also present in the reptiles that is symbolized by the snake she is holding and the small plantain tree covered with different varieties of creepers signifies that the divinity is present in the plants and trees. The truth which has been expressed in Upanishads Isha Varsam Idam Sarvam. (The whole universe is covered by God); in Gita Sarvatha pani padam tat, Sarvatha akshi Shira Mukham etc., (All varieties of manifestation is the expression of one God); is crystallized in the image of Goddess Durga.

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Swami Ishatmananda

How to invoke Her blessings ? By destroying the lower tendencies Anger, Lust, Greed, Selfishness etc., which symbolizes the Asura. The moment the Asura which is hidden within our mind is slained or removed, then the wealth & prosperity (Laxmi), success & fame (Ganesha), knowledge and culture (Saraswati), manliness & leadership (Karthikeya) will be achieved.

When Maa Durga is pleased, the life becomes blissful. That is the reason the devout people never forget before every work to utter the holy name, Durga ! Durga !! Durga !!!

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