|| The Indian Concept of The Divine Mother ||
By Sri Swami Sivananda
(Navaratri Message delivered in 1953)
Since the dawn of civilisation, when primitive man lived in a matriarchal society, the worship of the Divine Mother has come into practice. Later on, as civilisation progressed, the matriarchal pattern gradually faded out, and the father became the head of the family unit, where he was treated as the man in authority and to whom every one looked for guidance and approval.
Consequently there was a change in the concept of God as such; the Fatherhood of God was established.
But Mother-worship persisted simultaneously, since this concept was psychologically more appealing to the devotee, the Mother being nearest in filial affection to the child.
Subsequently, a sympathetic harmony between the Motherhood and Fatherhood of God was developed by the Hindu religion; the people worshipped Sita and Rama, or Radha and Krishna, together.
The concept of the human mind is based on relative experience. Subjective idealism, therefore, in its initial stages, takes the AID of OBJECTIVE and RELATIVE analogies.
-God is neither limited to abstract or concrete concepts. --But it is easier to establish a conscious relationship with the Providence in terms of benevolent fatherhood or an affectionate, kindly motherhood ....than by the concept of an unfathomable void.
-God is devoid of qualities, in reality, ......but a relative superimposition of the positive ideals of goodness and virtue is essential for self-culture and spiritual progress of the aspirant.
A Mother is very kind to her child. You are freer with your mother than with anybody else. It is the mother who protects you, nourishes you, consoles you, cheers you and nurses you. She is your first preceptor. She sacrifices her all for the sake of her children. In the spiritual field also, the aspirant has very intimate relationship with the Divine Mother.
The Upasana or the worship of the Universal Mother leads to the attainment of the knowledge of the Self.
The Yaksha Prasna in KenOpanishad supports this view.
• Approach Her with an open heart.
• Lay bare your mind with frankness and humility.
• Let your thoughts be pure and sublime.
• Become as simple as a child. Pulverise your individual entity, the egoistic nature, cunningness, selfishness and crookedness.
• Make a total unreserved, ungrudging self-surrender to Her.
• Chant Her Mantras.
• Worship Her with faith and unflinching devotion.
Durga Puja or Navaratri IS THE MOST SUITABLE OCCASION for DOING ARE VERY SACRED to the Mother. Plunge yourself in Her worship.
It is an occasion symbolising the victory of the higher, divine forces over the lower, negative qualities that find their expression in injustice, oppression, aggrandisement, greed, selfishness, hatred and a host of other un-divine forces that add to the suffering of man.
Worship the Mother in all Her manifestations. She IS the CREATIVE ASPECT of the Absolute. She is symbolised as COSMIC ENERGY. Energy is the physical ultimate of all forms of matter and the sustaining force of the Spirit. Energy and Spirit are inseparable. They are essentially one.
• The five elements and their combinations are the external manifestations of the Mother.
• Intelligence, discrimination, psychic power and will are Her internal manifestations.
• Humanity is Her visible form. Service of humanity is, therefore, the worship of the Divine Mother.
• Feel that the Mother sees through your eyes, hears through your ears, and works through your hands. Feel that the body, mind,
• Prana, intellect and all their functions are Her manifestations. The one, universal life throbs in the heart of all. How can there be any room for hatred and selfishness, when by hating another you are but denying your own self.
• Drive deep this consciousness within your heart.
Always meditate and practise this ideal of divine oneness.
The Mother’s grace is boundless. Her mercy is illimitable. Her knowledge is infinite. Her power is immeasurable. Her glory is ineffable. Her splendour is indescribable. She gives you Bhukti (material prosperity) and Mukti (liberation) also. She is pleased with a little purity of heart.
The sacred Durga Puja is a very OPPORTUNE time for spiritual aspirants. Do not lose this glorious opportunity. Make a definite and sincere attempt to obtain the grace of the Mother. She will transform your entire life, and bless you with the milk of divine wisdom, spiritual insight and Kaivalya.
The Worship of the Divine Mother Devi is synonymous with Sakti or the Divine Power that manifests, sustains and transforms the universe as the one unifying force of Existence.
In fact, worship of Devi is not sectarian; it does not belong to any cult. By Devi or Sakti we mean the presupposition of all forms of existential power, the power of knowledge, of omniscience. These powers are the glorious attributes of God—you may call Him Vishnu or Siva or as you like. In other words, Sakti is the very possibility of the Absolute’s appearing as many, of God’s causing this universe.
Sakti and Sakta are one; the Power and the one who possesses the Power cannot be separated; God and Sakti are like fire and heat of fire.
Devi-worship or Sakti-worship is THEREFORE WORSIP of GOD'S GLORY, of God’s greatness and supremacy. It is adoration of the Almighty.
It is unfortunate that Devi is misunderstood as a blood-thirsty Hindu-Goddess. No, Devi is not the property of the Hindu alone. Devi does not belong to any religion. Devi is the conscious power of the Deva. Let this never be forgotten. The words Devi, Sakti etc. and the ideas of the different forms connected with these names are concessions given to the limi tations of human knowledge, human compre hension.
Bhagavan Sri Krishna says in the Gita, ‘This is only My lower nature Sakti; beyond this is my higher nature, the Original Sakti, the life-principle which sustains this entire universe’.
The Upanishad says, —The Para Sakti, the Supreme Power of this God, is heard of in various ways; this Power is the nature of God manifesting as knowledge, strength and activity.
Truly speaking all beings of the universe are Sakti worshippers, for there is none who does not love and long for power in some form or other. Physicists and scientists have proved now that everything is pure imperishable energy. This energy is only a form of Divine-Sakti which exists in every form of existence.
Since Sakti cannot be worshipped in its essential nature, it is worshipped as CONCEIVED of in its MANIFESTATIONS viz., creation, preservation and destruction.
Sakti, in relation to these three functions, is Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Kaali.
These, as is evident, are not three distinct Devis, but the one formless Devi worshipped in three different forms.
Durga Puja or Navaratri is the festive occasion of the ‘nine-day-worship of Maha-Kaali, Maha-Lakshmi and Maha-Sarasvati’, the Divinity of the Universe adored in three ways.
• Sarasvati is cosmic Intelligence, cosmic Consciousness, cosmic Knowledge. Worship of Sarasvati is necessary for Buddhi-Suddhi, Viveka-Vichara-Sakti, Jnana, self-illumination.
• Lakshmi does not mean mere material wealth like gold, cattle etc. All kinds of prosperity, glory, magnificence, joy, exaltation, greatness, come under the grace of Goddess Lakshmi. Sri Appayya Dikshitar calls even final Liberation as ‘Moksha-Samrajya Lakshmi’. Hence worship of Lakshmi means the worship of Divinity, the power that dissolves multiplicity in unity. The worship of Devi is therefore the explanation of the entire process of spiritual Sadhana in all its aspects.
• During Durga Puja or Navaratri observe strict Anushtana and purify your inner spiritual nature. This is the most auspicious time in the year for Mother- Worship.
• Read Saptasati or Devi Mahatmya and Lalita Sahasranama.
• Do Japa of the Mantra of Devi.
• Perform formal worship with purity, sincerity and absolute devotion.
• Cry for the Darshan of Mother Devi.
-The Divine Mother will bless you with the knowledge, the peace and the joy that know no end.
-May the Divine Mother Durga establish righteousness or Dharma in the World!
-May She destroy all dark hostile forces that disturb the peace of the world!
-May She remove all sorts of epidemics and famine from the land!
-May She bring supreme peace, prosperity and undying bliss to all Her children of this world!
-May She transmute the Asuras or the demons or people with diabolical tendencies into Sattvic men!
-May She annihilate the Asuric tendencies, such as lust, anger, pride, hypocrisy, etc. in human beings, which represent Madhu Kaitabha, Mahisha, Sumbha and Nisumbha!
-May She give the milk of divine wisdom to Her children and lift them up to the magnanimous heights of divine splendour and glory, the imperishable state of Kaivalya and eternal sunshine!
सर्वस्य बुद्धिरूपेण जनस्य हृदि संस्थिते ।
स्वर्गापवर्गदे देवि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥६॥
Sarvasya Buddhi-Ruupenna Janasya Hrdi Samsthite |
Svargaapavarga-De Devi Naaraayanni Namo[ah-A]stu Te //
(Salutations to You O Narayani) Who Abide in the Heart of All Beings in the Form of Intelligence ...
And Grants Enjoyment and Liberation; O Devi; Salutations to You O Narayani.
- from the desk of Usha Swarup