Ancient men gazed sky-wards to give a meaning to their earth-bound beilef, faiths and religions. Hindu sages observed the rhythmic cycles of nature; the rising and setting sun, waning of the moon, the changing of seasons, dance of tides etc. In the shifting fertility of women, man sensed the unending transformation of life. Women represent worldly life, children, family, responsibilities etc. Hindus had no reason to reject women or relegate them to the cheap seats while a select few males get to sit in monasteries to write out philosophy.
In Hindu thoughts, there had to be a Cosmic life-giver, lover, comforter and finally a destroyer. So according to ancient tradition, as in other faiths, God is the Father and Mother of all creation but Mother was given a special status. In this paradigm Hindus had the option of worldly life and fleeting pleasures with awareness and transcend it through realization. Such as attitude, especially in the bhakti path, allowed Mother Goddess worship flourish.
Mother Divine is Mother Maha Shakti; the primordial energy of God. She is the Mother of our souls. Both Vedic and Tantrik traditions linked Mother Goddess to samsara, the manifest cycle of birth and rebirth, the material world and the realm of eternal change. We are transient beings in Her creation. As Shakti, Mother was supreme universal energy. As Shree, she was the supreme domesticated goddess of fortune. We are all participating in Her perennial game of good and bad. So as Maya, she was the supreme unfathomable delusion of existence. The whole of creation is a moving scene. So She was Prakriti, Mother Nature responsible for earthly existence. From Her came the material pleasures of kama and arta. In all, Mother is the divine game and divine power which sparks within us as God.
Anything created cannot last forever. So She comes in the form of Maha Kali, the destroyer of negativity and spiritual ignorance. Nothing can escape time; it dissolves everything. Even time will dissolve in Her, hence She is Kala. Maha Shakti was also extended by the awesome goddesses of the Tantrik tradition, Goddess Tripurasundari and Her Mahavidya manifestations. As Mahadevi, She is the Great Goddess identified with Durga, Parvathi, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. As Adi Parashakti, the Eternally Limitless Power, She is recognized as Para Brahman. Thus Her Supreme Female Energy has various divine forms and expressions of God’s divine and infinite transcendental reality.
As the Great Mother, she assigns the Trimurthis. “I am Adi Parashakti, goddess Bhuvaneshvari. I am the owner of this universe. I am the Absolute Reality. I am dynamic in feminine form and static in masculine form. You are three parts of me. You all are my partial expansions. You have appeared to govern the universe under my jurisdiction. You are the masculine form of Absolute Reality, while I am the feminine form of that Reality. I am beyond form, beyond everything, and all the powers of God are contained within me. You will admit that I am the Eternally Limitless Power. I shall now assign each of you a task. She then commanded: Brahma! You will be generator of the universe; the Goddess Sharada is your Shakti, my form by which I will be recognized as the goddess of wisdom and the primeval. Lord Brahma, this goddess will be with you when you create the universe.
Lord of Lords, Narayana! You are the Supreme, Immortal Spirit. You are formless, yet you take form. I assign you to be the preserver of the universe. You will take a different incarnation in order to save this universe's inhabitants. Oh Narayana! You are the Supreme of all the deities with form. You have created Lord Brahma, and Brahma will further create thirty-three-thousand other gods and goddesses. My Great Power, Goddess Mahakali , has been born from your mystic sleep. You are the Paramatman. Your consort will be Goddess Shri, who is none other than the incarnation of my light, as without light, one can neither see nor be seen. When life evolves, you will take the form of Vishnu, the one who will perform the task of observing and preserving this universe.
Oh Lord Rudra, the Greatest God, you are the personification of time, which is above all. You will perform the task of destroying and regenerating this universe. When you are formless, time stands still. It is due to my power that you become dynamic and are capable of bringing about the destruction and regeneration of this universe. Your consort is goddess Mahakali, but due to meditation, you will be able to surpass all of my forms. It is then that I will incarnate from your left half in my manifested form, This form will be my truest manifested form. Lord Shiva, she will perform the task of destroying evil and will be your consort” – Devi Bhagavata Purana.
So in all, while Siva and Vishnu were associated with unmanifest reality, pure consciousness or the pure soul seeking out moksha and dharma, Mother Maha Shakti stood at the other end of the metaphysical spectrum. Siva and Vishnu represented spiritual reality and Mother represented material reality. But they were one entity, as Ardhanarisvara in Shaivite thoughts. In Her highest reality, She is the Shiva and Shakti. Mother Divine is the Goodess of Enlightenment – Sat-cit-ananda. But illusions delude humans from realizing this Truth. Thus She is also Moksha Maya, the illusion that brings about enlightenment. Mother Maha Shakti is ever loving. Hari Om
by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi