Shri Brahma: "Brahman is one alone without a second. Remove this doubt, whether you or he (Purusa) is That One, the eternal Brahman."
The Trimurti's Journey to the Jeweled island
"Following the death of Madhu and Kaitabha, according to the Devi-Bhagavata, Vishnu and Brahma were resting on the cosmic ocean when the third member of the triumvirate, Siva, happened upon them. All at once the charming Devi appeared self-standing and independent (svastha) before them, who by contrast were dependent (avasthitan), reposing on the water. She ordered them to shake off their laziness, now that the two demons were slain, and to commence their cosmic work especially of creation and preservation. They protested that they were unable to begin, since there was only water all around and no other primal elements or raw materials with which to proceed. The Devi in response invited them into an aerial car, promising to show them a wonderful sight.
The divine car carried the gods up through various heavenly worlds, including their own celestial realms wherein they saw duplicates of themselves, thus raising doubts in their minds about their own supposed "reality." At last they reached the Ocean of Nectar, in which nestles the Jeweled Island. On the island they beheld from afar an auspicious couch, on which was seated a charming young lady. She was dressed in red clothing appropriated for lovemaking, while holding a goad and noose in two of her hands and indicating fearlessness and boon-giving with the other two. She was surrounded by various female companions and attendants (devis and shakis). Very different, then, are the denizens of the Jeweled Island from those of the White Island, where only men are found. Sakhis, not siddhas, are predominant in Mani-Dvipa.
The gods failed to recognize the handsome woman, and while they were pondering her identity, she appeared from a distance to possess one thousand eyes, hands, and faces. Then Visnu, seeing her sweetly smiling, remembered: "This is the Devi Bhagavati, the cause of all, the great knowledge and great illusion, the full Prakrti, eternal.... She it was whom I saw on the great ocean, when I was a baby resting on the fig-leaf for a cradle, sucking my toe ... while she gently rocked me and sung lullabies to me. I tell you, she is our mother."
The Trimurti wished to come closer, and as they approached her, she transformed them into beautiful young women. Needless to say, they were greatly astonished as the stared at each other. The Goddess, with a loving gaze, looked at the gods in their feminine forms, standing at her feet. They bowed to her and suddenly beheld the most wondrous thing reflected in a toenail of the Devi. Everything in the universe was contained in that nail: all the gods, rivers, mountains, and even Vishnu resting on the cosmic waters, Brahma on his navel-lotus, with Madhu and Kaitabha nearby.
Once again the gods were bewildered by the revelation of their magical doubles, forcing them to abandon all pride in their supposed uniqueness. Combined with the shock of their sexual transformation, they could only doubt the substantiality of their own existence, including their sexual identities. With the normal props of self-identity giving way, one truth became ever more clear: the Devi is The Mother of the universe. Clinging to this truth, the gods were able to remain as sakhis for a hundred years on the island paradise, enchanted by the various wonders and sports of the Devi and her other attendants.
The divine toenail-reflection of the Goddess is an arresting parallel to the revelations that Krsna provides for his mother in the bhagavata. There, Krsna reveals the universe inside his mouth. The Devi-bhagavata's nail-revelation seems a purposeful attempt to supersede Krsna's mouth-revelation, for the whole universe appears merely in the Devi's lowest and most humble part.
Returning to the story, we find that during the century the Trimurti spends on the auspicious isle, each offers a lengthy hymn of praise to the Devi. Visnu, among other things, eulogizes her as the supreme Sakti who displays the whole world to Purusa, who is powerless without her. Further, she is praised as the eternal ancient Praktri, out of compassion reveals to the ancient Purusa his true nature. Otherwise, deluded by tamas, he would imagine that he is the Lord and Master, without beginning, the intelligence of the world soul. Visnu also enquires, rhetorically, how many other universes and how many other Brahmas, Visnus, and Siva's exist. He ends his stotra with a plea for the Devi to grant him the illumination of jnana.
Siva in his praise repeats many of the ideas uttered by Visnu but adds a significant confession:
O Mother, grants us, who have been transformed into youthful women, constant service to your lotus feet. If we regained our manhood, deprived of your lotus feet, where should we find happiness, indeed? I have no desire to dwell in the worlds as their Lord, having regained manhood but losing your lotus feet. There is not the slightest such desire for me, having attained the form of a young woman in your presence. How can manhood lead to happiness, if it is unable to lead to the sight of your feet? Always let this glory of mine spread in the three worlds, O Mother, that I became acquainted with your lotus feet having received the form of a young woman.
Siva's confession represents a radical revaluation of the traditional, ascetic interpretation of sexual transformation. For Siva, whose primary symbol is linga, it is a remarkable confession indeed. He views his transformation into a woman not as something negative, but as a gift of the Goddess herself. It is a foretaste of liberation, at least of that variety known as sarupya, in which one assumes the form of a supreme deity, in this case, the form of the Goddess. It is femaleness that allows Siva and the other gods to approach the Devi and worship her in the spirit of true devotion. And like the gift of the divine eye, it allows them to gain insight into her manifold nature.
Part of the insight concerns the real gender of the Goddess. The uncertainty of the gods about their own sexual identity is reflected in doubts about the sexual identity of the Devi. These doubts are nicely expressed in Brahma's eulogy of the Goddess;
Some knowledgeable men say that the inactive Lord observes your extended play, and the he, the supreme male (purusa) is superior to you in this universe. There is no third that can be discovered. Yet I am troubled in my heart by an apparent inconsistency, for there is the Veda-saying, which cannot be discounted: "That which is Brahman is one alone without a second." Remove this doubt, whether you or he [Purusa] are [that one]... Tell me fully, are you a man, or a woman? Thus knowing the supreme power, I shall be liberated from the ocean of existence.
Brahma's initial puzzlement over whether the ultimate reality is male or female-Purusa or Praktri to use the standard Samkhyan terminology-dissolves into doubt as to whether the Devi is male or female. For he already realizes, thanks to the prior display of her magical powers, that she is the ultimate.
The Devi gives the following reply:
Always there is oneness rather than difference between him and me. That one is I and I am he. Difference is due to error. He who knows our subtle inner nature is wise, and he shall be liberated from samsara without doubt. "One alone without a second," verily that is the eternal Brahman. That becomes dual at the time of creation... After the creation ends, I am neither a woman, a man, nor a eunuch.
The Devi's transcendence of gender is here explained in a cosmogonic context, her androgynous sexuality manifesting itself only in creation. But as the Devi Gita makes clear, even during the time of creation, her supreme form of consciousness remains without gender. While sexuality permeates the universe and is ultimately bound u with the cosmogonic process, it is not absolute. While it is not unreal, it is not fully substantial either, a lesson more readily comprehended by the gods once they experienced the nonsubstantiality of their own sexual identity.
The Goddess concludes her upadesa in Mani-Dvepa by offering to the gods their respective Saktis/consorts (the Maha-devis), with whose help the Trimurti will be able to carry out their cosmic chores. After receiving their wives, the three gods go off some distance and are transformed back into males. The gods climb into their aerial car and descend from the Jeweled Island, landing on the great ocean where Madhu and Kaitabha were slain. They soon commence their cosmic duties."
The Triumph of the Goddess
Cheever Mackenzie Brown, Sri Satguru Publications,India; New Ed edition (March 1992) pp. 206-9
"At the climax of the Devi bhagavata, Brahma concludes his eulogy with a question to the goddess: 'I am troubled in my heart by an apparent inconsistency, for the Veda says, "Brahman is one alone without a second." Remove this doubt, whether you or he (Purusa) is That One, the eternal Brahman.' The Devi replies, 'Always there is oneness rather than difference between him and me. That one is I and I am he. The difference is due to error. He who knows our subtle inner nature is wise and he shall be liberated from Samsara without doubt.'"
"In the Devi bhagavata, the Great Goddess is triumphant against the demonic forces threatening cosmic/social order. The composers of the Devi bhagavata examined and reinterpreted the traditions assembled in the Devi Mahatmya, in the process translating Devi from a particular martial and erotic goddess to the world mother of infinite compassion. In this text 'many ancient themes, motifs, and myths from older masculine theologies were taken over and incorporated into a thoroughly 'feminized' theological framework', writes Mackenzie Brown. The Devi bhagavata was to be a Maha-Purana for the Saktas' model after the famous Vaisnava-Krsnaite Bhagvad Gita.
In the Devi bhagavata an original motif develops: on those who would partake of her Darsana at close hand, Devi bestows the gift of femaleness. Sexual transformation is a popular theme in Hindu literature and folklore. Most Hindu stories of sexual transformation reflect a traditional cultural view that the female state is an inferior one. The Devi bhagavata gives its own version of sexual transformation:
After the destruction of all the demons, Devi sees Brahma, Vishnu and Siva resting on the great ocean and asks them to commence their cosmic work as the demons are slain. When they complain that there is no raw material available to work with, she invites the gods into her chariot. The divine aerial car carries the gods to the Ocean of Nectar, in which nestles the Jewelled Island, Manidvipa. Here the gods behold a woman dressed in red clothing appropriate for lovemaking, while holding a goad and a noose in two of her hands and making a gesture of fearlessness and boon-giving with the other two. She is surrounded by various female companions and attendants (devis and Sakhis.)
When the gods see her, Vishnu recognizes her as the Devi Bhagavati, and remembers that 'she gently rocked me and sung lullabies to me. She is our mother.' As the three gods approach her she transforms them into beautiful young women. They bow to her and behold the most wondrous thing reflected in her toe nail. Everything in the universe is contained in that nail. With the shock of their sexual transformation, they doubt the substantiality of their own existence, including their sexual identities. They remain as sakhis for a hundred years on the island paradise.
During their stay on the auspicious isle, each god offers a lengthy hymn of praise to Devi. Vishnu eulogizes her as the supreme Sakti and ancient Prakriti; Siva repeats many of the ideas uttered by Vishnu and adds, 'O Mother, grant us, who have been transformed into youthful women, constant service to your lotus feet.... how can manhood lead to happiness, if it is unable to lead to the sight of your feet?' Siva's confession, comments Brown, represents a radical revaluation of the traditional, disapproving ascetic interpretation of sexual transformation. Siva views his transformation into a woman not as something negative but as a gift for the Goddess herself.
At the climax of the Devi bhagavata, Brahma concludes his eulogy with a question to the goddess: 'I am troubled in my heart by an apparent inconsistency, for the Veda says, "Brahman is one alone without a second." Remove this doubt, whether you or he (Purusa) is That One, the eternal Brahman.' The Devi replies, 'Always there is oneness rather than difference between him and me. That one is I and I am he. The difference is due to error. He who knows our subtle inner nature is wise and he shall be liberated from Samsara without doubt.'
Finally, Devi offers to the three gods Brahma, Vishnu and Siva their respective consorts, Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. The gods, now turned back into males with their female Saktis beside them, are stronger than before. The three divine couples descend on the great ocean, and commence their cosmic duties.
Like earlier goddess scriptures, the Devi bhagavata creates a paradoxical tension in its image of the goddess. She is both beautiful and grotesque, both maternal and martial. Brown points out that the bhagavata text places her terrifying nature in a context that allows her gentler side to become paramount. The text also establishes the ultimate nature of Devi which is characterized as being beyond sexual qualities and distinctions. Her transcendence is linked to her glory and her supreme form is consciousness without gender. As consciousness she is pure light and thus identical to the highest Brahman. The affirmation of the oneness of transcendence and immanence constitutes the very essence of the divine mother. Devi places emphasis on the salvific potential of the householder stage of life, and gives full legitimization to bhukti (worldly enjoyment) and mukti (release)."
Images of Indian Goddesses: Myths, Meanings, and Models
Madhu Bazaz Wangu, Abhinav Pubns (October 2003) pp. 95-6
Devi: "In the course of many births does knowledge arise ... Therefore with the total commitment seek to acquire knowledge."
"The Goddess once more proclaims the superiority of knowledge, utilizing various Upanisadic motifs to develop two interrelated themes. First, she argues that knowledge of Brahman (that is, of herself as pure consciousness) is most readily attained here in this world. Since Brahman is our true nature, realization of it is not dependent on the death of the body, or departure of vital breaths. Such a person has "Become "Brahman in this very life, and is free from rebirth. As the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad says, referring to one who is free from desire: "[That person's] vital breaths do not depart; being Brahman, one attains Brahman." And the Mundaka Upanisad adds: "One who knows Brahman becomes Brahman." This describes the state of the jivanmukta, who does not die when Brahman is realized. It is merely a realization of what one already has, or is, like remembering a gold necklace around one's neck that one has forgotten. Dying without the realization of Brahman generally leads to other worlds, such as that of the ancestors, where Brahman is less easily recognized. Here the Goddess draws upon the Katha Upanisad, which likens the perception of the ultimate while in the body to seek a clear image in a mirror, but if one has passed to the world of ancestors, it is like seeing a dream image, and in the world of the Gandharvas, like seeing a distorted image in water."
[The Goddess explains the relation between devotion and knowledge.]
7.28. Knowledge is proclaimed as the final goal of devotion,
And of dispassion as well, for both devotion and dispassion are fulfilled when knowledge rise.
7.29. Even when devotion is fully accomplished, O Mountain, if one's past karmic influences are not favorable,
A person may fail to realize knowledge of me and so will depart to the Jeweled Island.
7.30. Going there, that person encounters enjoyments of all kinds, though remaining indifferent,
And in the end attains complete knowledge of my essence that is pure consciousness, O Mountain.
7.31. Thereby the person is forever liberated; liberation arises from knowledge and from nothing else.
In this section the Goddess makes a clear distinction between the limits and goals of devotion and knowledge. The highest reach of devotion, in and of itself, is the supreme heaven. Attainment of this blissful realm of the Jeweled Island constitutes the form of liberation known as salokya and is largely adventitious, as demonstrated by the fact that the devotee residing there remains uninterested in its pleasures. Yet it is not without some real benefit, as it is a stepping stone to the Ultimate, for there one attains the knowledge that brings mergence...
[The Goddess affirms that knowledge may be attained in this world and explains the relation of knowledge to dispassion.]
7.31. [cont.] One who attains knowledge here in this world, realizing the inner Self abiding in the heart,
7.32. Who is absorbed in my pure consciousness, loses not the vital breaths.
Being Brahman, the person who knows Brahman attains Brahman.
7.33. An object may vanish through ignorance, like gold forgotten on one's neck;
Through knowledge that destroys the ignorance, one may recover the desired object.
7.34. My essence is different from the known and the unknown, O Highest Mountain.
As in a mirror, so is that essence reflected clearly within the embodied Self; as in water, so is it reflected indistinctly in the world of ancestors.
7.35. Just as the distinction between shadow and light is clear, just so
Is the knowledge, dispersing any sense of duality, that arises in my world.
7.36. One who is dispassionate at death but who lacks knowledge
Will ever dwell in the world of Brahma for an entire eon.
7.37. That person will be reborn in a virtuous and dignified family,
And after practicing spiritual discipline, will thereby attain knowledge.
The Goddess once more proclaims the superiority of knowledge, utilizing various Upanisadic motifs to develop two interrelated themes. First, she argues that knowledge of Brahman (that is, of herself as pure consciousness) is most readily attained here in this world. Since Brahman is our true nature, realization of it is not dependent on the death of the body, or departure of vital breaths. Such a person has "Become" Brahman in this very life, and is free from rebirth. As the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad says, referring to one who is free from desire: "[That person's] vital breaths do not depart; being Brahman, one attains Brahman." And the Mundaka Upanisad adds: "One who knows Brahman becomes Brahman." This describes the state of the jivanmukta, who does not die when Brahman is realized. It is merely a realization of what one already has, or is, like remembering a gold necklace around one's neck that one has forgotten. Dying without the realization of Brahman generally leads to other worlds, such as that of the ancestors, where Brahman is less easily recognized. Here the Goddess draws upon the Katha Upanisad, which likens the perception of the ultimate while in the body to seek a clear image in a mirror, but if one has passed to the world of ancestors, it is like seeing a dream image, and in the world of the Gandharvas, like seeing a distorted image in water.
Second, there is one exceptional postmortem destination for the not-yet-realized which does not produce clear knowledge. According to the Katha Upanisad passage just referred to, that destination is the world of Brahma. There one sees the Ultimate distinctly, like perceiving the difference between shadow and light. The Goddess, however, departing from the Katha, asserts that the world of Brahma, attained by dispassion, does not lead to knowledge, at least not directly, but only to rebirth. While such rebirth is meritorious, having all the advantages necessary to gain final knowledge, it is still a spiritual detour. For the Devi, the one exceptional heavenly world, from which there is no rebirth, is her own Jeweled Island, where nondual knowledge arises spontaneously.
While the Goddess clearly exalts knowledge over dispassion, she implicitly elevates devotion over dispassion as well. As the preceding section (7.28-31ab) indicates, devotion leads to the highest celestial realm (see Jeweled Island), beyond the world of Brahma. Both devotion and dispassion have knowledge as their final goal, but devotion, unlike dispassion, dispenses the need for rebirth in the mundane realm...
[The Goddess advises Himalaya that a life spent without seeking knowledge is wasted.]
7.38. In the course of many births does knowledge arise, O King, not in one;
Therefore with the total commitment seek to acquire knowledge.
7.39. Otherwise, it is a great loss, as this human birth is hard to attain.
Even if one is born a Brahman, access to the Vedas is hard to gain.
7.40. Realizing the six virtues beginning with tranquility, achieving success in yoga as well,
And finding an excellent teacher, all these are hard to attain in life,
7.41. As are keen senses and sanctification of the body.
By merit gained in several births, one comes to desire liberation.
7.42. Even after attaining the fruits of spiritual discipline, the person who
Does not strive after knowledge squanders the opportunity provided by birth.
Rare is the person who seeks, let alone discovers, the supreme truth. This at least is the view of the Bhagavad Gita. There Krsna declares that among thousands of persons, perhaps one strives for perfection (siddhi), and among those, perhaps one truly comes to know the Lord. Developing this theme into a grand hierarchy, the Kapila Gita ranks beings from lower to higher according to their spiritual attainments, beginning with inanimate entities, then animals, and concluding with humans. Among the latter, Brahmans are the best, and among them, those who know the Vedas. Further refinements in subsequent groups finally culminate in those who surrender all actions, and their own selves as well, to the Lord, realizing no difference between themselves and the Supreme. The Devi Gita elaborates a similar scheme, stressing the increasing difficulty of each successive level of attainment. Birth is thus regarded, especially on the various human levels, as an opportunity not to be wasted. Ultimately, only those births are fruitful which lead toward knowledge, regardless of any benefits received through spiritual discipline (sadhana).
[The Goddess concludes by emphasizing that the realization of knowledge is the supreme self-fulfillment.]
7.43. Therefore, O King, one should strive for knowledge with all one's strength;
Then one surely obtains the fruits of the horse sacrifice at every moment.
7.44. Like clarified butter hidden in milk, knowledge dwells in every being;
One should stir continuously, using the mind as the churning stick.
7.45. Attaining knowledge, one is wholly fulfilled—thus the Vedanta proclaims.
I have described everything in brief; what more do you wish to hear?
The Goddess in the concluding verse stresses that through knowledge a person is fulfilled (krtartha), with no qualifications. While the chapter as a whole shows the important role devotion plays in the attainment of knowledge, devotion is ultimately subordinated, while the Advaitic notions of self-realization, of discovering one's true inner essence, are accented. By way of contrast, as pointed out above, the bhagavata Purana not infrequently subordinates knowledge to devotion: knowledge by itself does not lead to fulfillment. The bhagavata (1.5.3-4) makes this point in rather dramatic fashion, when it describes the initial depression of its own basic narrator, Vyasa. Although Vyasa has composed the great epic Mahabharata dealing with all the objects of human longing, and has inquired about and realized (or studied: adhita) Brahman, he nonetheless grieves like one who is not fulfilled (akrtartha). The reason for Vyasa's dissatisfaction is that, despite his knowledge, he has not sufficiently sung the praises of the supreme Lord. Such glorification of devotion over mere knowledge of Brahman is not unusual in the bhagavata Purana, while the Devi Gita sees knowledge of Brahman as identical with the supreme goal of devotion. The Devi Gita qualifies bhakti: if it is not conjoined with knowledge, it is deficient. It does not make a similar qualification of knowledge.
Although the Devi Gita acknowledges the final supremacy of knowledge on the absolute level, one should remember that the text also asserts that the premier kind of devotion involves the Advaitic realization of unity. As 7.15 states, the highest devotee is one "Who enthusiastically thinks of me alone with supreme affection, knowing me truly as never separate from oneself, not acknowledging any difference." On the practical level, then, the Devi Gita often treats the two paths as equals, as intertwining, or simply as different aspects of one path. Given the importance of devotion, then, it is hardly surprising that the final three chapters of the Devi Gita are dedicated to explaining various details and practices of Bhakti Yoga.
C. MacKenzie Brown, The Devi Gita: The Song of the Goddess
State University of New York Press (September 1998) pp. 228-35
Devi recounts the creation of the five basic elements
[The Goddess explains the initial impulse of the Self, in its aspect as the Unmanifest or Causal Body, to undertake the creation.]
2.22. This Self, however, by its own power of Maya conjoined with desires, actions, and the like,
Through the influence of prior experience ripening in time in accord with the law of karma,
2.23. And by confounding the primal elements, being desirous to create, begins to bring forth.
The resulting creation, devoid of intelligence, will be further described to you, O Mountain King.
2.24. This extraordinary form of mine which I have mentioned
Is unevolved and unmanifest, yet becomes segmented through the power of Maya.
2.25. All the religious treatises declare it to be the cause of all causes,
The primal substance behind the elements, and as having the form of being, consciousness, bliss.
2.26. It is the condensation of all karma; it is the seat of will, knowledge, and action;
It is expressed in the mantra Hrim; it is the primal principle—so it is said.
The creation of the universe in Advaita is seen as an apparent descent from the pure Brahman or Self down to the gross world of physical matter. The process is described using two rather different but overlapping models. One is an evolutionary model, based on the sequential unfolding of primary elements as outlined in the classical Samkhya. Devi Gita 2.22-42ab presents this evolutionary scheme. The other model is one of reflection, whereby the one supreme reality, like an image in a mirror, appears reflected in Maya as the manifold world. The Devi Gita summarizes the reflection model in 2.42cd-49ab. Common to both models is the generation of the three bodies of the self—Causal, Subtle, and Gross.
The above verses describe the first developmental phase in the evolutionary model, the generation of the Causal Body from which the primary elements arise. This process is here interpreted from a Sakta perspective. When the Goddess unites with her own Maya, the latent powers of will, knowledge, and action become activated, and she becomes the Causal Body and unevolved seed of the universe. This seed, referred to as the primal substance or principle (adi-bhuta, adi-tattva), is roughly equivalent to the primary material element Prakrti, of the Samkhya, from which other elements evolve, except that it is not mere insentient matter. It is a supreme spiritual reality as well, that is, Brahman, indicated by its identification as being, consciousness, bliss. And from the Sakta-Tantric perspective, it is also identified with the primary sonic reverberation, Hrim, seed syllable of Bhuvanesvari and source of all manifest creation...
[The Goddess recounts the creation of the five basic elements, the subsequent fivefold generative process known as Pancikarana, and the compounding of the remaining two bodies—Subtle and Gross—of the Self.]
2.27. Out of the primal substance arose ether, endowed with the subtle quality of sound.
Then arose air, characterized by the quality of touch, followed by fire, characterized by visible form.
2.28. Next arose water, characterized by taste; then earth, characterized by smell.
Ether has the single quality of sound; air is endowed with touch and sound.
2.29. Fire has the qualities of sound, touch, and visible form, according to the wise;
Water has the four qualities of sound, touch, visible form, and taste, so they say.
2.30. Earth has five qualities of sound, touch, visible form, taste, and smell.
From those subtle elements came into being the great cosmic thread which is called the Subtle Body.
2.31. It is proclaimed as all-pervading; this is the Subtle Body of the Self.
The Unmanifest is the Causal Body, which I mentioned earlier.
2.32. In that lies the world seed, from which evolves the Subtle Body.
From that, by the process of fivefold generation, the gross elements,
2.33. Five in number, arise, I shall now describe this process.
Each of those elements previously mentioned shall be divided in half.
2.34. One half-part of each element shall be divided into four, O Mountain.
By joining the undivided half of each element with one of the quartered fractions from each of the other four, each element becomes fivefold.
2.35. And they produce the Cosmic Body, or Gross Body, of the Self.
The Goddess now explains the second and third developmental stages of cosmic evolution, namely, the generation of the Self's Subtle Body from the five subtle or uncompounded elements and the Gross Body from the gross or compounded elements. The three stages of evolution as outlined by the Goddess is the preceding two sections may be amplified and schematized as follows:
I. Goddess (Self) → Maya + Will-Knowledge-Action → World Seed or Causal Body
II. World Seed → The Uncompounded Elements:
sound → ether }
sound+touch → air }
sound+touch+form → fire } → Subtle Body
sound+touch+form+taste → water }
sound+touch+form+taste+smell → earth }
III. The Uncompounded Elements + Quintuplication → Gross Elements → Gross Body
C. MacKenzie Brown, The Devi Gita: The Song of the Goddess
State University of New York Press (September 1998) pp. 95-99
Shive sarvartha sadhike,
Sharanye tryambake Gauri,
Salutations to Devi Narayani, who is blessed with every felicity,
Filled with auspiciousness, able to accomplish everything,
Who is the protectress, the three-eyed Gauri.
The Sanskrit word pra means "exalted," "superior," or "excellent," and the word kriti means "creation." So the Divine Mother is known as Mula Prakriti, since she is the supreme creator of the world. Prakriti is the eternal matrix from which all the components of reality have sprung. She is the point in the center of the ocean of energy that is the ultimate source of all the energetic fields that Western science knows, like gravity, the electromagnetic field, and so on. Tantric philosophy calls this point the Divine Mother, Devi Prakriti, or Parashakti. She is the very source of the subtle dimensions of reality that our physical senses can never perceive.
All creation is made up of combinations and permutations of the three gunas, or essential qualities of Prakriti: sattva, rajas, and tamas. Her name correlates directly to these qualities, with pra denoting sattva, kri denoting rajas, and ti denoting tamas. These gunas are found in all aspects of creation; they are the qualitative building blocks of creation. Without them the universe and its inhabitants would have no qualities. tamas has the ability to distort reality, rajas to veil reality, and sattva to allow it to be seen, though dimly. If we employ the terms used in physics, we can say that tamas is the quality of inertia, rajas of kinesis, and sattva of equilibrium. tamas, rajas, and sattva correspond to different colors, according to Indian thought. tamas is black, rajas red, and sattva white. These are the colors of the Divine Mother herself. Kaali is black, Lakshmi red, and Saraswati white.
Prakriti is known as Maha Maya or the great deluder. But her maya, or power of illusion, has two aspects: vidya maya and avidya maya. Vidya maya is the power of the goddess to dispel illusion by illuminating our intellect through knowledge of reality; it is omnipotent and omniscient and is capable of revealing Brahman, which is Prakriti's receptacle. (Remember she is known as Para Brahma Swarupini, or the very form of Brahman.) Avidya maya is the goddess's power to veil, by which she binds the immortal soul to the mortal frame of the body. The three gunas form the very essence of the Divine Mother's avidya maya. Through avidya maya the supreme self is reflected in the individual as the jiva or jivatman-the embodied soul that has forgotten its original, pristine state. The jivatman is said to have three bodies: the gross body (or physical body), the subtle body (consisting of the mind, ego, and intellect), and the causal body (the astral body, which transmigrates to the spiritual plane). Prakriti resides in the subtle body in two different forms as vidya maya and avidya maya.
Avidya maya conceals the supreme, and thus the jivatman experiences all types of sorrows. In actuality the self or inner spirit, the atman, is self-luminous; it is the eternal and blissful fountain of love. jnana or knowledge is the very nature of the atman. It is the basis of the knowledge of "I am" that every jiva possesses. It is also the source of all love. Though they are in essence nothing but the one supreme self, the jivas thus appear to be many, as each is contained in a moral frame, and they appear to differ from each other due to the different composition of the three gunas in them.
When Himavan, king of the mountains, practiced tapas (meditation) to Maha Devi in order to procure her as his daughter, she appeared to him in her most spectacular form and promised to incarnate as his daughter. After this she proceeded to enlighten him as to her true nature, since he was eager to know her secret essence. This discourse by Devi to Himavan is known as the Devi Gita:
Hear this, O Himavan, by knowing which as jivas will become liberated. Before creation I alone exist?eternal, immutable. My real self is no different from the Para Brahman. In that state I am pure sat (existence), chid (consciousness), samvit (intelligence), and ananda (bliss). At that time I am beyond all attributes or transformations. Maya can be called neither existent nor nonexistent. If it existed eternally, there would be no liberation for the jiva. But if it were not present at all, the practical world would not exist, so it cannot be nonexistent. It can be destroyed with the knowledge of Brahman, so it cannot be called existent either. It is thus my mysterious power of delusion, and it can be overcome only through my grace.
In essence I am nirguna (without qualities), but when I relate myself to avidya maya, I become saguna (endowed with qualities). Then do I become the cause of the universe of names and forms. Thus avidya maya is the cause of this whole creation. From the point of view of the Brahman, there is no maya and no creation. There I am ever pure even though involved in creation, just as the sun`s rays are not defiled by illuminating dirty objects.
When maya unites with chid or consciousness, it becomes the instigating cause of the universe, and when it unites with the five original elements, it becomes the material cause. Avidya maya is what creates the delusion of time, space, and causality, and its characteristic is to hide my true nature, but vidya maya has the ability to liberate the jiva from this illusion.
Infinite and endless creations are threaded on me as pearls on a string. I myself am the lord that resides in the causal and subtle bodies of the jivas. I am Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. I am the sun, moon, and stars. I am the beasts and the birds, the Brahmin and the untouchable. I am the noble soul as well as the hunter and the thief. I am male, female, and hermaphrodite. Wherever there is anything to be seen or heard, I am to be found there, within and without. There is nothing moving or unmoving that can exist without me. This world cannot appear without a substratum, and I am that substratum.
The world is composed of twenty-five tattvas or elements. The first five—akasa (ether), vayu (air), agni (fire), apas (water), and prithvi (earth)—are known as the maha tattvas. When the Para Brahman relates to my avidya maya, the sound hreem, which is my seed sound, is produced. within this sound are contained my three shaktis (powers), known as iccha shakti (the tamasic power of will), jnana shakti (the sattvic power of intelligence), and kriya shakti (the rajasic power of action). These three are absolutely essential for creation. The sound hreem, which denotes me—the Adi Shakti or the first force, who is of the nature of the Brahman and is known as Para Brahma Swarupini—is the twenty-fifth tattva. The rest of the twenty-four tattavs come out of it.
The five qualities of sound, touch, form, taste, and odor are known as tanmatras or subtle elements. The subtle quality of sound is the first tanmatra to manifest from hreem. Then come the subtle elements of touch, form, taste, and odor. Out of the subtle tanmatra of sound is manifested the gross element (tattva) of akasa or ether, the vast field of energy that comprises the universe. Vibrations in the ether cause the movement of air. Thus from akasa appears vayu or air, which has its own subtle feature of touch plus the added quality of sound, which it incorporates from the previous tattva of akasa. Friction caused by the continuous movement of the air principle creates heat, which we call fire. Thus from vayu comes agni or fire, which has its own subtle feature of form plus touch and sound. Condensation of the density of these forces results in the formation of liquid or water. So the next to manifest is apas or water, which has its own subtle quality of taste plus those of form, touch, and sound. The solidified form of all this is earth, so the last to appear is prithvi or earth, which has its basic subtle feature of odor plus the qualities of the other four elements of taste, form, touch, and sound.
What we come to understand from this teaching is that creation proceeds from the subtle to the gross and not the other way around, as we might suppose. The subtle elements (tanmatras) are sound, touch, form, taste, and odor. The gross elements (tattvas) are ether, air, fire, water, and earth, which are all derivatives of the subtle elements. These five gross elements represent the entire gamut of our advanced modern physics. But from the Shakta point of view, physical matter and its fields represent only a tiny fraction of reality.
The five subtle elements all have sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic qualities. The five jnanendriyas or sense organs of knowledge are created out of the sattvic portion of the first five subtle elements. These are the ears, skin, eyes, tongue, and nose, and they are the instruments through which the mind can interact with these elements in the material world.
The karmendriyas or organs of action come from the rajasic portion of the tanmatras. These are the organs of speech, the hands, the feet, the organs of procreation, and the anus or organ of excretion. The subtle element of sound gives rise to space and ends in speech. The subtle element of touch projects as air, which is felt by the skin, especially the skin of the hands. The subtle element of form gives rise to fire, which eventually takes the form of the feet. The subtle element of taste gives rise to water, which in turn produces the organ of procreation. The subtle element of odor produces the earth, which results in the production of the anus.
The five pranas or subtle breaths, which control the involuntary functions of the body, arise from the tamasic portion of the tanmatras. They are the prana vayu, which resides in the heart and controls blood circulation; the apana vayu, which resides in the lower portion of the body and controls the expulsion of waste matter; the samana vayu, which resides in the navel and controls digestion; the udana vayu, which resides in the throat and controls speech; and the vyana vayu, which pervades the whole body.
The sensations of sound, touch, form, taste, and odor are important components of our experience of life. Indian philosophy claims that these elements exist in intangible and subtle forms. They are visible to our inner eye and are the very stuff of our dreams. However, the gross body is not able to experience them.
The seventeen tattvas that make up the jivatman are the five gross elements, the five sense organs that correspond to these, the five pranas (or vital breaths), and the mind and the ego. The linga sarira or subtle body of the jiva is made up of these seventeen tattvas in their subtle forms. Yogis who perfected the ability to leave their physical bodies at will realized that their subtle or astral bodies were able to travel unhampered through space and gross matter. However, they could still hear, touch, smell, and feel in this state, so they concluded that the actual experience of these five sensations lies in the subtle body and not in its physical counterpart.
The mind is a psychic organ that operates through a physical nervous system in this life, allowing it to interact easily with physical matter. While in the physical body it has three functions with separate names. The part that receives information through the jnanendriyas (sense organs) and then processes and stores that information is called manas or mind. The part that relates to a particular individual, giving him a strong sense of individuality, the feeling of "my" and "mine," is called ahamkara or ego. The part that weighs alternatives and makes decisions is called buddhi or intellect.
However, the mind has another aspect that is most subtle, called chitta. It has no equivalent English name, though it is sometimes called the superconscious, which is not quite an accurate translation. It is capable of obtaining data from our inner dimensions of reality and is a storehouse of information. It is in direct contact with akasa, or the energy field or ether of the universe. After death-or, for yogis, during astral travels-the mind separates from the physical organism and operates in the realm of the tanmatras or subtle elements. Then it is pure chitta alone. The chitta is very close to pure spirit (or atman). The difference is that the chitta is still individualized. It carries all the information of the individual and is carried to another body. The atman on the other hand is ever pure. It carries nothing and goes nowhere since it is ever full. It is not born and thus never dies. It is not affected by the changes of the mind-ego, intellect, and chitta.
This brings us to another important point of Indian philosophy. The first three aspects of the mind (manas, buddhi, and ahamkara), which are the basis of our personality, are all material constituents and not spiritual entities. They have their roots in Prakriti or primordial matter and not in the spirit or atman.
The mind changes every moment and eventually perishes with the body, but the atman or spirit remains. This is the eternal self that never perishes, that is the undying witness and never the doer.
Indian philosophy is slowly coming to find an ally in evolving Western science. The Newtonian world was a law-abiding but desolate place from which we were totally unconnected. Next came Darwin, who stripped life of all its spiritual potential and left us bereft. Our only purpose was survival. The pinnacle of humanity appeared to be the terrorist who could efficiently dispose of all weak links. Life was not about sharing and interdependence but about winning and, if need be, warring. These theories produced the modern psyche and have led to some of the world's greatest technological advancement. Unfortunately, such advancement has been at the cost of our humanity and of our divinity. No wonder suicides claim as many lives as homicides and wars.1 Science tore the human being from his roots and left him with a sense of brutal isolation.
With the advent of quantum physics in the early part of the twentieth century, many scientists underwent a dramatic reversal in their views of man and the universe. Modern science is slowly coming to understand that underlying every aspect of the universe is a field of energy that connects every thing to every other thing. Scientists call this the zero-point field. They have found that the tiniest bit of matter isn't matter at all but energy in motion. As Lynne McTaggart has said in her book The Field, "Living beings are a coalescence of energy." Even more interestingly, scientists have discovered that subatomic particles have no meaning by themselves but function only in relation to everything else! This astonishing finding is slowly replacing the old Newtonian physics wherein everything had a set pattern and was totally predictable by the human mind.
Lynne McTaggart goes on to say that the pulsating energy field that underlies existence is the central engine of our being and our consciousness-our alpha and omega. There is no duality between the universe and us. We are connected to every single thing in the cosmos by this one underlying energy field. In The Field she says, "This field [of energy] is responsible for our mind's highest functions, the information source guiding the growth of our bodies. It is our brain, our heart, our memory-indeed a blueprint of the world for all time. The field is the force, rather than germs or genes, that finally determines whether we are healthy or ill, the force which must be tapped in order to heal. . . . 'The field,' as Einstein once succinctly put it, 'is the only reality.'"
The Puranas depict this energy field of Prakriti as the ocean of primeval waters on which Vishnu lies, in which the Island of Jewels or the Mani Dwipa floats. Maha Devi's throne on the Island of Jewels (see chapter 4) is the bindu or point from which all energy eddies in circles to create the expanding universe. Maha Devi or Para Prakriti or Para Shakti is actually nothing but the Brahman. They are a two-in-one reality. In the unmanifest state there is no difference between them. However, when the urge to create occurs, this Para Prakriti pierces through the bindu in the form of the sound hreem, from which the entire world of manifestation arises. Prakriti is the energy of the Brahman. This energy remains latent during the period of dissolution when the cosmos is in a latent state within her. But during the time of evolution and creation she comes to the forefront and carries out the work of manifesting creation.
The universe's underlying energy field is akasa, the ether that is the twenty-third tattva. It is a timeless, spaceless quantum that provides the ultimate blueprint of the world for all time-past, present, and future. Any person who desires or professes to see the past or future has to tap this source. Quantum physics has come to realize that pure energy as it exists on the quantum level is not bound by the ordinary laws of time and space. It exists in a vast continuum of fluctuating charge. When we bring this energy to our conscious awareness through the act of perception, we create the separate objects of our world that exist in time and space. In fact we create our own worlds in time and space and thereby create our separate individualities. This brain-boggling theory, which Western science has only recently become aware of and is still wary of accepting, is something that has been recognized by Indian philosophy from ancient times. In fact it is what the Devi told Himavan in the Devi Gita. Of course the words she used were different, but the meaning is the same.
All the Puranic stories point out this amazing truth. For instance, in the story of the churning of the milky ocean (see chapter 21), the devas (gods) and asuras (demons) represent the positive and negative sides of each person's personality. This personality churns the ocean of all possibilities (the zero-point field), using the churn of space (Mandara) and the rope of time (Ananta), and thus draws out for himself many wondrous things, including the nectar of immortality if he so wishes it. Thus each creates his own separate world.
Time has generally been considered a primary, independent, and universally applicable order both in physics and in common experience. It is one of the fundamental orders known to us. Now modern scientific research is slowly coming to accept the fact that it is a secondary order that is, like space, derived from a higher dimensional ground. Both time and space depend on another multidimensional reality that cannot be comprehended fully through common experience; for human consciousness to operate on this quantum level, it must reside outside space and time. In theory such a state of consciousness would mean that we would be able to access information of both the past and the future, and that every moment of our lives could be made to influence every other moment, both forward and backward. These are breathtaking ideas that science is loath to accept. But Indian yogis have known them from time immemorial.
In every puja or ritual there is a particular step called sankalpa or intention in which the gods are invoked. This intention is the reason the priest undertakes the ritual. It may be for some physical purpose, like the curing of a disease or passing an exam, or anything else. The intention is said to be so important that it can actually change the chain of events and make manifest the desire of the one who performs the ritual. Such reasoning is now backed by modern science; the quantum age has shown that the intention of the experimenter has a lot to do with the final result to be achieved from the experiment. The human factor influences the end result of any experiment!
The individual is not an isolated phenomenon, a piece of flotsam floating aimlessly in the sea of the world, totally unconnected with everything else, with freedom to pursue his own selfish ends. He is part of an interconnected whole in which all of us are deeply involved. Human consciousness is absolutely essential to the making of some objective sense out of the constant flux of subatomic particles. This is the amazing discovery of quantum physics that many scientists are still unable to accept.
In the Devi Gita, Devi says,
I am the intelligence from which the universe emanates and in which it abides. The ignorant believe me to be nothing more than Nature or Prakriti, but the wise experience me as the true self within. They glimpse me in their own hearts when their minds become as still and clear as an ocean without waves. The supreme wisdom is that which ends the delusion that anything exists apart from me. The fruit of this realization is a total lack of fear and the end of sorrow. When one understands that all the limitless universes are but a fraction of an atom in the unity of my being, that all the numberless lives in the universes are the wisps of vapor in one of my breaths, that all triumphs and tragedies, the good and the evil in all the worlds, are merely games I play for my own amusement, then life and death stand still and the drama of individual life evaporates like a shallow pond on a warm day.
This world that you are experiencing now is nothing but my power. The only remedy for your ignorance is to worship me as your innermost self. Surrender yourself to me with one-pointed devotion and I will help you discover your true being. Abide in me as I abide in you. Know that even now at this very moment there is absolutely no difference between us. Realize and be fulfilled this instant."
Vanamali (2008-07-21). Shakti: Realm of the Divine Mother (Kindle Location 308-483). Inner Traditions/Bear & Company. Kindle Edition.
"Self-ignorance is also a form of self-destruction. According to the Dialogue of the Savior, whoever does not understand the elements of the universe, and of himself, is bound for annihilation:
... If one does not [understand] how the fire came to be, he will burn in it, because he does not know his root. If one does not first understand water, he does not know anything.... If one does not understand how the wind that blows came to be, he will run with it. If one does not understand how the body that he wears came to be, he will perish with it.... Whoever does not understand how he came will not understand how he will go ...
How—or where—is one to seek self-knowledge?"
Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels, Random House (1989) p. 126
The Song of the Goddess:
The Devi Gita: Spiritual Counsel of the Great Goddess
"Our whole cosmic quest of the world and beyond starts from the point of panchabhuta (five elements) which then manifests in an enjoining manner to form the life force and then, later, those five elements disintegrates to ensue a celestial traverse at the Paramanu (atom) level.
However, we will first try to understand these five elements which are Earth or Prithvi; Water or Jal ; Fire or Agni; Air or Vayu and then Ether or Akasha. Each of these Five elements has its own character and celestial elements which we will gauge in the following lines.
Earth (Prithvi): One can touch earth and smell it too ! However, there are two types of earth one is Eternal or (nitya) which are in the form of atom (Paramanu). The other type is perishable (anitya) which exists in the form of Karya or Work at animate and inanimate levels. Symbolically speaking our body, sense organs are the earth which as a whole get the shape of Jiva or life but those are perishable. But elements or atoms are eternal as after death may we bury, or burn the body, all the atoms get disintegrated to come back to its original eternal form. So our body and its Karya or Work are perishable as the mountain or rock forms but the atom remains which are eternal.
Water or Jal is the second element which again has two characters as in the Earth i.e. eternal in the shape of atom and Karya (Work) be it as river, pond or sea are perishable. As from sea or river water evaporates to be in the sky as cloud then again in the shape of rain it comes down on earth. So the eternal atom is only changing its karya or shape of work and what we see is the perishable form. From the sense organ perspective we can touch it to feel and taste it as well.
The third element is Air or Vayu. Again it has two levels as earth and water i.e. eternal atom and perishable Karya. One can feel air, as we breath in or out. We feel the storm or strong breeze which are temporary but air at atomic level remains around us eternally. In the Purana there is a mention of 49 types of Maruts or winds. Seven are important namely 1. Pravaha; 2. Avaha; 3. Udvaha; 4. Samvaha; 5 Vivaha; 6 Parvaha and 7. Paravaha. The wind which takes the water from the ocean is called Udvaha.
Fire or Agni is the fourth element of Indian Panchabhuta. Again it has eternal and perishable elements as we have seen above. The essential character of Fire is to generate heat. According to Hindu Mythology, Agni is one of the Eight guardians who guards our universe and is known as Asta-dik-palakas (Asta-eight, dik—Zone, Palaka-Guardian). The Fire is posited in the South East of the Universe.
However, in Indian mythology there are mentions of various types of fires. The four important ones are fire of the earth, fire of the sky, fire of the stomach (can mean hunger and digestive power as well) and the fire we commonly use.
Then comes the last of the Panchabhuta or five elements which is sound or ether. Ether is unique as it has only one character i.e. eternal. Ether is the carrier of sound be it man made or otherwise. One can hear it. As ether is the only eternal element of the five elements it attracted the attention of various sages. The concept of Akashvani or Divine sound which is heard by sages of higher order is related to this Ether or Akasha. The primordial mantra AUM then in modern times Raam or Shyaam are to work as linkages between Jivatma (life force—atman or soul) to Paramatman or (Omnipotent of supreme soul).The concept of sound and Mantra will be discussed in the next issue. Now we should concentrate on elements, other than five mentioned above which are very important to Hindu theological perspective. Those are Time (Kala) and Space (Sthan or Dik i.e. place and direction); Soul and Mind.
Like ether Time and Space are eternal. Time or kala is common cause of all actions of all the elements and is eternal link of predetermined actions and happenings. Thus in Hindu astrology the whole world and its course are equated with "time." The Direction or Dik are part of Space and North, South, West and East are eternal no matter the Universe undergoes whatever changes.
Then the other element is Soul which is related with the knowledge system of man as jivatman and the eternal Knowledge of God or Paramatman (omnipotent). The last of the nine main elements is the manas or Mind. Its the sense-organ or path to experience the world eternally and otherwise. These sense organs are in the shape of eternal paramanu or atom and works is combinations to derive pleasure at worldly levels. These are the brief out line of main five elements and other four primary elements. It is said that our universe was created out of the manifestation of five elements. This was described in the Devigita very elaborately.
Devigita proclaims that Shakti went about creating the world with 24 tattvas or elements. The five elements were born out of the primordial principle of unmanifested Sakti. The ether through which sound traverse was first element, which is also known as Sabda-rupa (form of sound). Second was Air or Vayu (Sparsharupa or a form which is felt) The Air or Vayu give rise to Agni so it called Vayoranih. Then sense of taste or 'rasrupa' the water element came. The the gandharupa or the source of smell came—the earth."
The View from the Center of the Universe
An interview with Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams
by Elizabeth Debold
"In the last few decades, the cultural conversation about science and religion has become less a scholarly debate and increasingly like a barroom brawl. Atheists and theists are wrangling on the radio, in print, and on every possible bandwidth. The prize is a big one: Who are we? Where do we come from? Our core identity as humans is at stake. Are we God's children, or are we random accidents in an indifferent universe? In other words, does our existence matter to something larger than ourselves?
In the midst of this polemical slugfest, something quite remarkable is emerging from a growing chorus of scientists whose love for and appreciation of our creative cosmos may eventually lead beyond this polarization. The Hubble and other space probes have brought us stunningly gorgeous pictures that inspire wonder at what we are a part of: incandescent nebulae that are the cradles of stars and glowing supernovae that forge the elements from which we are formed. The universe is far more vast, explosively creative, eerily beautiful, and mysterious than anyone could ever have imagined. The scale of what we are in the midst of—the vast dark expanses of space, the infinitesimally small distances traced by subatomic particles, and the stretch of spacetime that extends back for billions of light-years—is nothing less than awesome. As astronomer Carl Sagan once said: "A religion that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by traditional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.'
But for such a religion to bind itself to the human heart, it has to tell us how to relate to this overwhelming picture that science shows us. Where do we fit in? Are we merely passive witnesses to the unfolding drama of the distant stars? Most materialist scientists demur at this point, believing, as Sagan did, that although the universe can be central to us, we are not central to it."
EnlightenmentNext May-July 2008
How did the Universe emerge?
"The first and greatest mystery is how the universe came to be. For spirituality, the issue seems like a lost cause before discussion even begins. Modern physics has taken over the genesis question, and its answer—the Big Bang and all that followed for the next 13.7 billion years—has succeeded in wiping out the credibility of the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, and every other indigenous versions of creation. Yet today, just at the moment when science seems poised to strike the final blow, it has gotten stuck. Quantum physics has been forced to stop at the edge of the void that preceded creation, with no way forward until that void can be bridged by an explanation. Leonard's position, shared by physics in general, is that the full explanation will be found through mathematics. My position, shared by students of consciousness in general, is that the very meaning of existence is at stake. In modern times we have assigned cosmology to specialists the way we assign genes to genetics. But you can't pin a sign on creation that says 'Keep out; you don't know enough math.' We all have a stake in genesis, and that's fortunate, because a new creation story is trying to be born in our time, and all previous versions are up for radical revision.
The void is the starting point of any creation story, whether scientific or spiritual. The book of Genesis tells us that 'the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.' Assigning God a home in the void doesn't satisfy the scientific mind, however, and spirituality must overcome some strong skeptical objections, which include the following:
- There is no scientific proof that God, or any other creator, exists.
- The universe cannot be proven to have a purpose.
- The preuniverse may be unimaginable. Insofar as our experiences happen in time and space, is it futile to try to explain reality before space and time appeared?
- Randomness seems to be the long-term winner in the universe as stars die and energy approaches absolute zero.
These seem like crushing objections, and Leonard exemplifies the stubborn resistance of science to other ways of regarding the cosmos. Non-scientific explanations he regards with suspicion or worse—as primitive superstition ('white and yellow corn'), or self-delusion. For him, all processes in the cosmos, visible or invisible, can be explained through materialism. But it's fascinating to see just how spirituality has resurged in the debate, and why, in my view, it will gain the upper hand. All of science's objections can be met, and in the process we can lay the groundwork for a new creation story."
War of the Worldviews: Where Science and Spirituality Meet—and Do Not
Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow, Three Rivers Press (October 2, 2012) pp. 32-3
Black Hole Drinks 140 Trillion Earths' Worth of Water
By Michael D. Lemonick Tuesday, July 26, 2011
This artist's concept illustrates a quasar, or feeding
black hole, where astronomers discovered huge
amounts of water vapor (NASA) We don't think of the universe as a terribly wet place, but in fact, there's water out in space pretty much everywhere you look. A few billion years ago, Mars was awash in the stuff, with rivers scouring twisted channels en route to ancient seas. The Solar System from Jupiter outward would be an interplanetary water park if most of the H2O out there weren't frozen. Saturn's rings are made mostly of trillions of chunks of ice. The comets are mostly ice. So is Pluto. Jupiter's moon Europa has a thick shell of ice surrounding a salty ocean, kept warm by the little world's internal heat. Saturn's moon Eceladus spews its own subsurface water into space in titanic geysers that form a ring of vapor that surrounds Saturn itself. Uranus and Neptune are known to planetary scientists simply as "Ice giants."
And it doesn't stop in our own solar system. Water — solid, liquid or vaporous — has been turning up for years, all over the cosmos. So it takes a pretty impressive discovery to put space water in the headlines. But "Impressive" may be an understatement for what two international teams of astronomers have turned up. Peering out to the very edges of the visible universe, both groups have detected a cloud of water vapor weighing in at a mind-bending 140 trillion times the mass of the world's oceans, swirling around a giant black hole 20 billion times the mass of the Sun. To be precise, the water vapor is mixed with dust and other gases, including carbon monoxide, forming a cloud hundreds of light-years across. (The star closest to Earth, Proxima Centauri, is less than four light-years away.) The cloud is so enormous that while it's incredibly massive, it's also vanishingly sparse: the thinnest morning fog is hundreds of trillions of times denser.
Most surprising of all perhaps, is the fact that finding such an immense reservoir of water, lurking in the cosmos just 1.6 billion years or so after the Big Bang, makes perfect sense. Hydrogen has always been the most common element in the universe. Oxygen is less common, but there's still plenty of it, and the two love to combine whenever they get the chance. And in fact, previous observations had turned up water from only about a billion years later in the life of the cosmos. Earthly astronomers have previously used water vapor swirling around a black hole to try and understand the mysterious dark energy that pervades the cosmos.
The scientists are doing something similar with this new discovery — studying the water to infer what's going on in the black hole itself. They already know it's not just a black hole, but one of a special subclass known as quasars. The body's immense gravity is sucking in gases at a prolific rate, squeezing and heating them until they blaze with a light that can be seen across the universe. Without seeing the water vapor, however, the scientists wouldn't know how much gas lies outside the superheated region, and thus how much potential the black hole has to grow (the answer: it could in theory swell from 20 billion to 120 billion times the mass of our Sun).
For another class of astronomers, meanwhile, water in the universe has a different significance entirely. As far as anyone knows, water is a basic requirement for the emergence of life. For biology to have arisen on other planets, either inside the Solar System or out, the fact that there's plenty of the stuff everywhere you look is reassurance that life may be very common too. Much of the water in the universe comes in the form of ice, lots as water vapor. But it took only a relatively teeny amount in liquid form to nurture life on Earth — and there could easily be plenty of other places in the Milky Way where the very same thing is going on.
Retrieved July 27, 2011
The Hebrew creation myth blamed the female of the species for initial sexual consciousness
"The Hebrew creation myth, which blamed the female of the species for initial sexual consciousness in order to suppress the worship of the Queen of Heaven, Her sacred women and matrilineal customs , from that time on assigned to women the role of sexual temptress. It cast her as the cunning and contriving arouser of the physical desires of men, she who offers the appealing but dangerous fruit. In the male religions, sexual drive was not to be regarded as the natural biological desires of women and men that encouraged the species to reproduce itself but was to be viewed as woman's fault. Not only was the blame for having eaten the fruit of sexuality, and for tempting Adam to do the same, laid heavily upon women, but the proof or admission of her guilt was supposedly made evident in the pain of childbirth , which women were assured was their eternal chastisement for teaching men such bad habits. Eve was to be severely punished as the male deity decreed: 'I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.'
Making use of the natural occurrence of the pains of the pressure of a human child passing from the womb, through a narrow channel, into the outside world, the Levite writer pretended to prove the omnipotent power of his deity. Not only was woman to bear the guilt for sexual consciousness, but according to the male deity her pain in bearing a child was to be regarded as punishment, so that all women giving birth would thus be forced to identify with Eve.
But perhaps most significant was the fact that the story also stated that it was the will of the male deity that Eve would henceforth desire only her husband, redundantly reminding us that this whole fable was designed and propagated to provide 'divine' sanction for male supremacy and a male kinship system, possible only with a certain knowledge of paternity.
We are perhaps all too familiar with the last line of the decree, which announced that from that time on, as a result of her sin and in eternal payment for the defiant crime which she had committed against the male deity, her husband was awarded the divine right to dominate her, to 'rule over' her, to totally assert his authority. And in guilt for what she had supposedly done in the very beginning of time, as if in confession of her poor judgment, she was expected to submit obediently. We may consider here the more practical reality that, once the economic security of women had been undermined by the institution of male kinship, women were forced into the position of accepting this one stable male provider as the one who 'ruled the roost.'
Once these edicts had been issued, the couple was expelled from the Garden of Eden, the original paradise where life had been so easy. From that time on they were to labor for their livelihood, a most severe warning to any woman who might still have been tempted to defy the Levite Yahweh. For hadn't it been just such a woman, listening to the advice of the serpent, eating the forbidden fruit, suggesting that men try it too and join her in sexual consciousness, who had once caused the downfall and misery of all humankind?"
Stone, Merlin (2012-05-09). When God Was A Woman (Kindle Locations 3783-3806). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The Paraclete Shri Mataji "Today is a very important day for all of us Sahaja Yogis, because today Shri Ganesha was born. Shri Ganesha is whom we worship and because of whom we got our realization. However much you may remember Him, until you do not know His special qualities, you cannot attain Him. His special quality is that He is the embodiment of purity (shuddha swaroop) and complete Master of the Universe. He is the incarnation of the Supreme, of Brahman.
By coming into this world He has created music (sangeet), rhythm (taal) and notes (sur). By His Grace only people become one with music (talleen). A small boy who came into the world and did such great work! He has given so many things to everyone and even today He is active. Shri Ganesha's Puja, no matter how much you do it, it is not enough. A lot of people say we don't see Shri Ganesha, even after worshipping Him so much, we do not attain Him.
He is omnipotent, omnipresent and in everything, but you cannot recognize Him until you are realized. After your realization you can recognize what Shri Ganesha is. Shri Ganesha is Purity, the Pure Spirit. When He is awakened within us, then we have no questions left. Then we are successful, in whichever task we undertake. We find joy in everything we do. He is the embodiment of joy and gives joy to everyone. To serve Him is the ultimate dharma (paramdharma). To serve Him means to look after small children, to serve them, to make sure there is no cruelty towards them. This pleases Him very much. Such an embodiment of love, such a pure-hearted Shri Ganesha was born today.
This is the importance of this day. Today if you ask for any wish, then Shri Ganesha will fulfill it. It is His right to fulfill all your desires, because you are all realized. Ask Him with all your heart and He will help you in every way, every moment, every instant.
Today is a very big day, because the actual pure spirit has taken birth today. And He already had such an eternal state, that many people could not comprehend it or write about it. They wrote only what they understood, but now that you are realized you can understand that by the power of Shri Ganesha's name you can get your realization. By taking His name alone any disease or any pain will disappear. He is eternal. He is always present within us, when you get your realization, you can feel Him.
And if you are not realized, you cannot understand Him. That is why people get misled and do wrong things. But with Shri Ganesha's blessings you can do so many things and neither you will feel greedy, nor will you have any problems. Because He does all the work for you.
He takes care of you. Though He is a little boy, He looks after you. Shri Ganesha is a very great power by which so much work is getting done. For Me, He is the purest and My own. I trouble Him a lot, when somebody tries to trouble Me, I ask Him to handle this fellow and to make him alright. When this fellow is unmanageable for Me, when there is a difficult person and it is possible for Me to handle him, then He does the job.
So today's day is very auspicious as today He is born. Secondly today is Panchami (the Fifth Day). This Panchami is recognized because on this day we wear a dress, whatever we wear today is so that our body is properly covered. The sense of shame and chastity that our body has is because of Him. Lajja Rupena Samstithaha. So if you have any sense of chastity and shame, it is because of Him. That will benefit you immensely.
You cannot feel joyous until you worship Shri Ganesha. By worshipping Shri Ganesha, your joy increases, you become joyous, because He is the personification of joy (aanand swaroop). Because of this, both things are today, His birthday and His help. We take His help in any work what we do. Such is our way. But we don't see what we have to do to awaken Him.
In that direction our attention does not go. We do not feel that we should become like Him, that we should have a state in which Shri Ganesha is awakened within us. With which we may never venture on the wrong path.
Those who are rooted in Ganesha are special, they despise all the wrong things in this world and they do not do anything wrong, because Shri Ganesha stops them. They cannot enjoy any wrong activities. This is Shri Ganesha's great blessing that you have come into such a joyous life. So today in His service you sing His praise and glory, so that He may be pleased.
My Eternal Blessings to all of you.
The Divine Mother/Paraclete Shri Mataji
Shri Ganesha's Birthday. Pratishthan, India—10 February 2008
The Paraclete Shri Mataji "As I said, we are made of five elements, alright? So when you get your awakening, when the Kundalini reaches Sahasrara and opens out your fontanel bone area, you become one with the Divine power. Then this Divine power itself starts flowing through you. A connection is established. Now when it starts flowing through you, this Shakti starts flowing through you. Then what happens? The subtle part we should understand. The subtle part is like this. That these five elements, we are made of, these vibrations gradually start breaking into the subtler form of which they are made. So the first thing such a person has, is the you see, as it is said that word is God, said also in the Bible, the word is God. Now what is this Word? Word is a silent, you can say, silent commandment. We can call it like that.
But from that Word comes, according to Indian Philosophy, another thing what we call as Bindu or we can say Word becomes Naad , is a sound. And then it becomes the Bindu means one small dot, and then from this dot all these five elements start coming one after another.
The first element that comes out is light, Tej. Light is the first element that comes out. So the essence of the first element is light. We call it Tej, Tejas. It is written, of course, in Sanskrit but we should understand that how the light pervades Sahaja Yoga so much and you see the light everywhere. So the first element which is light and you can say in English the light's subtle thing is, we can say, enlightenment, you can say. But enlightenment has another meaning. So we can say it is Tej, Tej. For example a person who gets realization has a face which is very radiant. So you can say the radiance. The radiance is the subtlety of the light. So this radiance starts showing on your face. Radiance starts expressing itself and with that radiance people get impressed and they start thinking something special about this personality which has a radiance. Now you have seen my photographs also wherever they are, many a times you find lots of light on me. That is nothing but the light in me is giving radiance because the light becomes subtler. When the light becomes subtle in me, light is one of the elements. When it becomes subtle then it gives radiance and so this is the subtle growth within you that takes place. Your faces also start shining. They too have radiance and they too have a kind of a different complexion, I would say. This radiance is to be understood, is the subtle of the light of which we are made, light in the gross manner.
Then after this from the light comes the second thing, which we call as Vayu in Sanskrit, meaning the air. So the air that we have which is gross air, what is subtle of air is the cool breeze that you get. The cool breeze is the subtle of that air. So the subtle of what you understand as cool breeze is what we call vibrations, the subtle of that is air; which is a part and parcel of our making. So this cool breeze is the second thing that you start getting subtler and subtler. When your growth takes place, all these subtle things start expressing themselves. It is not only that you get vibrations but you get the cool breeze and that is the subtler of air that has been.
Then comes the Water. We are also made of water. What is the subtle of water is ... Sometimes English language, you know, becomes little short of expressions ... but they call it, I mean which makes the skin, hard skin soft. The skin becomes soft. This is another sign of a realized soul that his, there is some cream they use, is not it, to soften the face. But this is the water in us, gives us that luster, that nourishment to make our skin very soft and that softness of the skin becomes very visible. This is the minimum of minimum, I would say. But then a person who is a realized soul becomes very soft person, very delicate. When he talks to some body, in his voice there is warmth or I should say there is where to have that flow, watery flow and coolness of the water. So that is another subtle thing that should be expressed in your behavior, on your skin, on your dealings with others, that you should be like the water, which is mobile, which is cooling, which is soothing, which is cleansing. So this also becomes a part and parcel of your being, once you become a realized soul.
With this water you have also another thing which we call it as Agni, means the fire. So you also have fire but it is a very silent fire. It does not burn anybody but it burns all the wrong things within you. Whatever wrong things you have it burns and it burns the wrong things in other people also. For example, a person comes with a great anger towards me. What happens that this anger becomes cooler with the fire that is there. Moreover, a realized soul cannot get burnt, fire cannot burn, the burning cannot come to him. It is very important to understand. Also if you are doing something wrong, it may burn you but if you are a good Sahaja Yogi and I should say, perfect Sahaja Yogi, fire will never burn you. We have an example of Sita Ji that she went into the fire but nothing burnt. So this is what one has to understand, understand that once you get to the subtleties of the fire.
So the fire and the water both of them become sort of Divine. For example, the water which you touch, water you drink, whatever, you put your hand in the water, the water becomes vibrated. Means What? The subtleties of the water comes in it, the coolness, curing power also comes in that water. So when it becomes subtler, all these powers start showing which you can see for yourself. You do not have to experiment.
Then lastly is The Mother Earth. It is most important. The Mother Earth. There is a photograph you might see which was taken in Russia in Dacha where the Kundalini is in The Mother Earth. They have shown clearly. It is there and it is The Mother Earth which shows. For example, I have seen flowers. If you keep them in my room, they blossom. They can become very big like that, never people have seen such big flowers, sometimes they say. I am doing nothing. I am just sitting down. What happens to the flowers? You see now there this principle of The Mother Earth works. It is a mother that gives you all the nourishment and makes you grow healthy, and this is how this subtlety of The Mother Earth works. Mother Earth is the one who is giver of virtue to all these flowers and to all these trees and to all that. But it also plays a big part in us. It is not only The Mother Earth that exists without our connection and we do not respect The Mother Earth. We have polluted it. We have done all kinds of things, we have removed the trees and we have made a mess out of her. But she is our Mother and so many subtle things of this Mother Earth come into us. One of them is gravity. A person becomes very attractive, not in the physical sense but in the spiritual sense. Such a person attracts others. If it attracts them, they feel that something is special about this person. This is one of the qualities of The Mother Earth. If she had not kept us attracted we would have fallen out with her movement and also other qualities of The Mother Earth start manifesting within us. We become very, I should say, extremely tolerant and patient. But if you are not tolerant, if you are hot tempered and all that, then Mother Earth's principle is not expressed in you. Look at The Mother Earth. How much she tolerates our nonsense, how many wrong things we do against her, but still she tolerates."
The Divine Mother/Paraclete Shri Mataji
Expression of Five Elements, Delhi, India—16 December 1998
Disclaimer: Our material may be copied, printed and distributed by referring to this site. This site also contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the education and research provisions of "fair use" in an effort to advance freedom of inquiry for a better understanding of religious, spiritual and inter-faith issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than "fair use" you must request permission from the copyright owner.