Devi: The Great Goddess
"Now the name Nirmala itself means immaculate;
means the one who is the cleansing power and the
name of the Goddess also. My actual sign name is
Lalita who is the name of the Primordial Mother.
That is the name of the Primordial Mother."
New York, USA, 30 September 1981
To know the Goddess is to experience Being-Consciousness and bliss itself. But Devi demands total surrender on the part of her followers before she condescends to reveal herself in her divine state. Her fervent devotees must learn to see her presence in all things. She must become the bedrock and the meaning of their life. Then, and only then, can they aspire to experience her blessings in their totality."— Rita Smith
Kash and his family meditated on different photographs of the Great Devi who incarnated Herself on Earth as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. Meditation was done either in the living room or the children's bedroom. There were considerable age differences between the different photos.
One particular day the father became curious again and began pondering which particular image of the Great Adi Shakti manifested in Kash's Sahasrara. Logically only one image of the physical Shri Mataji should manifest in his Thousand-Petal Lotus. But which one would it be and why that particular one? Or did She keep appearing sometimes youthful, at other times middle-aged, or even old.
Kash replied that normally the Great Divine Mother assumes the image that is being normally meditated on i.e., sari color, garland of flowers. However, if the photograph is changed and replaced, or meditation done in a different room with a different photograph, then She sometimes assumes that form.
Nevertheless, one fact is constant at all times: The Great Adi Shakti Shri Nirmala Devi always appears considerably younger in the Sahasrara, between 30-35-years-old, than Her physical being on Earth. Put simply, She always appears youthful and this feature remains constant. She is eternally ever young. (Arwinder and Lalita have confirmed this fact many times.)
There are other observations that he made:
1. According to him the Great Devi always wears a different sari every day. She does not wear any other type of attire, a fact subsequently corroborated by his younger brother, Arwinder. Sometimes Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi wears the exact sari as that in the photograph he meditates on.
(On September 1998, at 9.05 a.m. Kash was asked if Shri Mataji wore a particular sari at other times. He replied that She did wear the same sari again.)
2. Her hair is normally always parted in the middle and flowing down to at least the waist. Sometimes they are held back loosely in a bun. Shri Mataji has a bindi on Her forehead at all times.
3. She never wears earrings but has a koka in Her nose. He is not sure about any necklace as the folds of Her sari are always draped across and over Her chest and shoulders.
4. The Great Goddess has five thin golden bangles on each wrist, and golden rings on Her left Vishuddhi and Agnya fingers. The right hand fingers do not have any rings.
5. The Great Adi Shakti always has a swastika on both Lotus Feet and there are golden rings on all toes, except the big toes.
6. She is always barefooted and has never been seen wearing any type of footwear. This fact was also confirmed by his siblings Arwinder and Lalita.
Note: On September 18, 1998 Lalita was asked if Shri Mataji wore shoes and the reply was She did. Her father told her to be sure but the reply was still affirmative. He knew that she had made a mistake and probably had not observed Her Feet properly.
The next day at 9.10 a.m. Lalita, just after meditation, told her father that Shri Mataji did not have any shoes. This time she confirmed that the Great Adi Shakti was barefooted in her Sahasrara. (Lalita was never even asked to find out). Her brother Arwinder, who had also finished meditating, casually added," Shri Mataji has no shoes."Their father, solely for the sake of positive proof, asked her why was she sure this time and the reply was," When I meditate with Her I can see She has no shoes."In other words Lalita had just found out this fact after going into Nirvikalpa Samadhi a few minutes earlier. Her father asked," You looked at Her Feet?"Lalita replied that she did.
"The Great Goddess, known in India as Devi (literally"goddess"), has many guises. She is"Ma"The gentle and approachable mother. As Jaganmata, or Mother of the universe, she assumes cosmic proportions, destroying evil and addressing herself to the creation and dissolution of the worlds. She is worshiped by thousands of names that often reflect local customs and legends. She is one and she is many. She is celebrated in songs and poems.
Devi is all-important in Hinduism, but there are also forms of female divinity in Buddhism and Jainsim. Today millions of Hindu men and women conduct regular pujas to Devi through one of her many manifestations. For some she is their primary deity while for others she is part of a greater pantheon. All Hindu goddesses may be viewed as different manifestations of Devi. In some forms she is benign and gentle, while in other forms she is dynamic and ferocious, but in all forms she is helpful to her devotees... .
There are many approaches to looking at Devi: chronological, religious, or by function. Here we have chosen to observe Devi through her six main functions, beginning with her most forceful and dynamic form and moving toward less potent forms.
Devi is first seen as cosmic force, where she destroys demonic forces that threaten world equilibrium, and creates, annihilates, and recreates the universe. Next, in her gentle, radiant dayini form, she is the gracious donor of boons, wealth, fortune, and success. As heroine and beloved, Devi comes down to earth and provides inspiring models for earthly women.
Devi is then seen as a local protector of villages , towns, and individual tribal peoples, where she is concerned only with local affairs. In her fifth aspect, Devi appears as semi-divine force, manifesting herself through fertility spirits, and other supernatural forms. Finally, she is also represented in woman saints, who are born on earth but endowed with deep spirituality and other-worldly powers."1
"By you this universe is borne, By you this world is created, O Devi, by you it is protected." (Devi-Mahatmya).
Throughout India, devotees honour Devi in their temples and at wayside shrines. Flowers garland her image with brightness, the light of countless lamps illuminate her presence and the blood of thousands of animals stains the stones of her altars crimson.
The Goddess is older than time, yet time itself. She is formless, yet to be found in all forms. Her presence is in all things, yet she transcends all things. She is ever-changing, yet eternally changeless. She is both the womb from which all life flows forth and the tomb to which all life returns. Devi the Shining One source of the life-giving powers of the universe, who is experienced by her ecstatic worshipers as the Primal Cause and Mother of the World.
Pre-dating the patriarchal Male Trinity by thousands of years, the Goddess was once worshipped throughout the ancient world. Now, only in India does her cult remain widespread and part of a vibrant, living tradition in which her presence empowers and stirs the hearts of her devotees with adoration and devotion.
The veneration of Devi can be traced as far back as 20,000 BC. A bone image of the Great Mother was discovered at Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh dating back to that period. She was also revered at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus Valley from 2,500 BC. Closely associated with the land itself, villagers in rural India paid tribute to the Earth Goddess, adorning branches of trees and placing shrines within them which carried her image. Smooth, oval-shaped stones also marked her sacred sites.
Women were her channels and it was through them her rituals were performed, rites for the dead and ceremonies to promote fertility and fruitfulness of the land.
The Goddess reigned supreme until the patriarchal Aryans invaded the country in 1500 BC. The Harappan culture declined as these nomadic herding people initiated a new age in which their male Gods became predominent. But the worship of Devi could not be entirely suppressed. It was absorbed and transformed to accommodate the new situation.
The Goddess became united in a Divine Marriage with the Gods of the Male Trinity: Sarasvati with Brahma, Lakshmi with Vishnu, and Parvati, Kali and Durga with Siva. Once given a priestly blessing, veneration of the Goddess as the God's consort was incorporated in the regular rituals. As Sakti, she became the powerful spiritual energy without which the God was unable to act.
The Goddess is multi-faceted, known by myriad names and personified in many forms. As well as responding to the names of Parvati, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Sakti, she also manifests under the titles of Gauri, Uma, Sati, Aditi, Maya, Ganga, Prakriti, Gayatri, Tara, Minaksi, Mahadevi, Kundalini, Durga, Kali, Chamunda and in many other guises.
The great mountain peaks of the Himalayas Annapurna, Nanda Devi and Chomo-Lung-Ma (known to Westerners as the world's highest mountain, Everest) all testify to her divine presence. Like the facets of a diamond, these varying forms of the Great Universal Energy that is Devi are merely reflections of the countless aspects that make the whole, the Absolute.
Creator and Preserver
As Virgin and Mother, the Goddess is considered to be the very spring from which every kind of love flows into the world. From the vast ocean of her being the morphogenetic field that produces all forms the Goddess gives birth to all living things. The pouring forth of this love-energy from her timeless, formless source into the field of time constitutes a sacred mystery.
Representations of the Goddess as a crouching woman giving birth to the manifold forms of her creation can be found in Indian art. As the Sky-Goddess Aditi, she pervades all space and is mother to the Gods so revered by the Indo-Aryans.
Maya the Sanskrit word for"magic"And"Illusion"describes her role as the originator of all material things, all that is perceptible to the senses.
Displaying the protective and maternal side of her nature, she revels in her multitudinous manifestations and joyfully embraces the bounty of her gifts. Sculptures adorning Hindu temples frequently depict the Virgin Goddess as a young, beautiful and voluptuous woman. Sometimes she stands on her own, at others she is paired with her God-consort.
As Earth Mother, she is also a deity closely associated with Nature and fertility. Images of her priestesses, the Yoginis and Saktas, often incorporate organic forms such as branches or vines, symbolising Nature in its most instinctive form, proliferous and fruitful. Plants, leaves and flowers are commonly used in Indian medicine and, when they appear in portrayals of the Earth Mother they are considered to reflect the magical powers with which she is endowed.
Although on one level, her naked body signifies the physical beauty and attraction of the Eternal Feminine, it also symbolises the discarding of illusion and, therefore, freedom from attachment.
Adorned with jewels and ornaments, she represents all that is precious. She alone is the eternal jewel whose brilliance encompasses and illuminates the universe.
Carved images of the Goddess and her Yoginis formulate the visual language which conveys the essence of the philosophy lying at the core of her worship, which is so little understood by most Westerners. Gazing at sculptures depicting the joyous physical expression of love, they tend to miss the symbolism of the divine ecstasy associated with the union of male and female energies that transcend, transform and liberate the soul from the wheel of karma.
One of the most ancient cults of the Goddess is that of Sarasvati, who is both worshipped as a sacred river of the same name and as the instigator and protectress of the spoken word, as well as all intellectual and artistic pursuits.
One of the most recent forms of her manifestation is that of Bharat Mata, Mother India, a militant aspect of the Goddess that is much concerned with the cause of Hindu nationalism.
Another manifestation is that of the beneficent Lakshmi, bringer of prosperity and abundance. During the autumn festival of Diwali, people all over the country light lamps in her honour to guide her into their homes.
The Goddess is also revered as Sati the pre-Vedic Virgin Bride who epitomises the loyal and virtuous wife who is faithful to her husband even unto death. This idea of wifely perfection is dear to the Indian way of thinking. Although in a metaphysical sense it means Sati is totally at one with her own true being, it is also an ethical concept. Sadly, the idea of the"perfect wife"Who is faithful unto death developed into the practice of suttee, in which a dutiful spouse was expected to accompany her husband to the world beyond through self-immolation voluntarily or otherwise in the flames of his funeral pyre.
In her aspect of the Great Mother, Devi's devotees believe the presence of the Goddess exists within all her creations. She is their Mother. She gives them life. She nurtures them through her physical manifestations and she is present in their times of need. Through her worship, too, her devotees can transcend the world of illusion and reach out to her true being.
To know the Goddess is to experience Being-Consciousness and bliss itself. But Devi demands total surrender on the part of her followers before she condescends to reveal herself in her divine state. Her fervent devotees must learn to see her presence in all things. She must become the bedrock and the meaning of their life. Then, and only then, can they aspire to experience her blessings in their totality.
Even as in the psychological process of accepting the dark side of our own nature to achieve a harmonious wholeness, it is necessary to understand the Goddess in her terrible aspect also. For even as she is the bestower of life, as Kali the personification of all-consuming Time she is also its destroyer, to whom, at the appointed time, all manifested things return. They are absorbed into her being, there to await rebirth in yet another cycle of cosmic creation.
As Devimahatma, Mahadevi or Durga (one of her most ancient titles), the eternally existent mother who nurtures and protects her offspring, the Goddess's influence swept across North India and was particularly popular in the regions of Bengal and Rajasthan.
Famous for her prowess in battle, Durga the Unassailable used the strength of her will, her knowledge and force of action, to defeat the purveyors of evil and to vanquish the demonic forces upsetting the balance of the universe.
Riding on a lion or tiger, her multiple arms wielding auspicious weapons, she was Cosmic Energy personified. When her mission was fulfilled she returned to her mountain home, promising to nourish the earth and protect her worshipers, only returning should her divine force be needed again.
At the height of this great cosmic battle, Durga was aided by the awesome Kali, who burst from her forehead to devour or crush the army of demons. As Kali drank the seed-blood of her enemies, she rendered impotent the destructive phallic power of her assailants.
Black Kali represents the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess. With her dishevelled hair and lolling blood-drenched tongue, she presents a fearsome figure.
As the active power of Time, her three eyes look to past, present and future. Her thin waist is encircled by a girdle of human hands, symbolising the accumulated deeds of karma. Around her neck hangs a rosary of fifty skulls, each one inscribed with a magic letter of the Sanskrit alphabet representing the sacred word, or mantra, which vibrates within the primordial creative energy of the universe.
The Dark Goddess's four hands are also symbolic of her function: one wields a sword to cleave the threads of bondage, another grasps a severed head, representing the annihilation of the ego. Her two remaining hands are poised in gestures to dispel fear and inspire her devotees with spiritual strength.
Paintings and sculptures sometimes depict the fearsome Goddess standing on the inert body of her consort, Siva, awakening him into action with her sheer primordial power and energy.
As Smashanakali she resides in cremation grounds and her priestesses, the Dakinis or Skywalkers, undertake the role of Angels of Death.
Terrible though her aspect as Destroyer undoubtedly is, the mystical experience of the Goddess in this form can liberate the devotee from ego-consciousness and spiritually unite him with the Goddess in her oceanic formless state.
One of her most frequented temples is that of Kalighat in Kalikata, Anglicised to Calcutta, the city that derives its name from the Goddess.
During the three-day-long annual autumn festival of Durga Puja, seven or eight hundred male goats are slaughtered in her honour at Kalighat alone.
Before human sacrifice was prohibited in 1835, male children, too, were sometimes beheaded to placate Kali.
In today's festivities, an image of Durga is fashioned from clay, painted and lavishly decorated, then paraded through the streets and cast into the waters of the holy Ganges.
Abstract forms can also depict the Goddess in her various forms.
As Creator she is symbolised by a downward pointing triangle, the yoni, representative of female sexuality.
As Preserver, she takes the form of a straight line, and as Destroyer she is recognised in the form of the circle.
In her unmanifested state as the Source of all life, the Goddess is depicted simply as a dot, the bindu, or seed-state of her being.
Tantric texts date back to about 600 AD, but the basis of many of their ideas go back to much earlier times. Even today, the worship of the Eternal Feminine as the cosmically creative energy of her consort Siva, is widely practised in Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet, as well as India.
Tantrics practise the sexual adoration of the feminine life-force as Sakti and through controlled sexual intercourse maithuna seek to awaken the spirit within to a state of heightened awareness, breaking through the limiting physical boundaries to an ecstatic union with the divine in her Absolute and timeless state.
To raise the kundalini, or serpent power, so that the spiritual energies ascend through their psychic channels and energy centres within the subtle body the chakras to culminate in enlightenment, involves a number of processes. Methods such as meditation, breath control, the saying of mantras, the contemplation of yantras, visual symbols which concentrate the mind, all play an important role.
As Kundalini, the Goddess assumes the form of the ancient and powerful symbolic image of the serpent or snake, so shunned by Christianity.
Yet, in whatever form, Devi's magic still remains. As the Great Triple Goddess she is today widely worshipped throughout India.
To her followers, she is both the Energy which is life itself and the Source to whose depths all living things return.
At the time of Kali Yurga, or cosmic dissolution, her devotees believe the physically manifested universe will once again withdraw itself into the formless depths of the Goddess until a new gestation period commences and the cyclic rhythm of creation is once again set into motion.
"Who dares misery, love
And hug the form of death,
Dance in destruction's dance
To him The Mother comes."
Devi by Rita Smith 2
"The saints were respected, I am telling you in India, real saints were respected and they made different observations. Now when I read, say Adi Shankaracharya, I am amazed how he knows so many things about Me. He knows how My knee looks like, he knows how many lines I have on My back, how many. I mean it is very amazing how this man knows everything about Me. That means through his meditative power he could envisage Me. He never saw Me. The description and everything is so clear cut.
Now if you say the Thousand Names of the Goddess, thousand names of the Goddess are so precise, I mean you can verify them in Me. I am just like that. Whatever it is good or bad, whatever is said about Me is there, is a fact; and it is the Knowledge of these people is most remarkable. How did they know that a Goddess is like that? Certain of My things which I also don't know but they are there, and they have described. Very surprising. So their meditative power in India was great."
Shri Bhandasurendra-nirmukta-sastra-pratyastra-varsini Devi
Navaratri Puja, Cabella, Italy — Sep. 27, 1992
(Sri Bhandasurendra-nirmukta- sastra-pratyastra-varsini — She rains forth weapons in return to every weapon released by Bhandasura. Once Sri-Lalita as Vimarsa-Sakti takes hold of the devotee, She will control every downward egoistic pull of his mind and every notion of dualism.)
"Devi is the Divine Mother of the Hindu culture. Her name means"goddess."She has many names and forms such as the warrior Durgha and the bloodthirsty Kali or she can be gentle as Parvati, mother of the elephant god Ganesha. Devi is the consort (wife) of Shiva which is Parvati. Shiva is the god of generation and destruction. Devi is the"Mother Goddess," meaning she is The Mother of all. In her hands she holds joy and pain, right hand; and life and death is held on her left hand. Devi is the god of nature and life because she brings rain and protects against disease. Devi is mild and loving. This was the personality of Devi as mother of life.
As mother of death, she is terrible. In her description, Devi has eight arms, only one arm has a sword. When she is fighting against evil, she is usually mounted on a lion or a tiger. Devi holds the universe in her wombs. Devi is the warrior Durgha when she is The Mother of death. Gods begged Durgha to kill and protect from the evil Mahisasura. Devi is in all the women's soul and she can also turn into the religious Uma.
Devi's diagram is called her mansions. In the middle of her forehead, she has a Bindu (drop or dot) which in some ways seems to be masculine. Lakshmi, wife of Vishnu is an incarnation of Devi. She is the goddess of creative power and represents all women in the universe."
Kayur Shaha, www.pantheon.org
The aspect of The Mother Goddess is probably the most widely known and most widely envisioned in most cultures. Because the Earth nourishes and replenishes us, most goddess cultures did pay reverence to the Earth as The Mother, and therefore the Goddesses that are most prominent and about whom stories are most prolific are the goddesses that are the representation of The Mother.
She is, in virtually every aspect, a divine or celestial representation of our earthly mothers. Everyone has an earthly mother, or at least did at one point, so we readily understand the relationship between mother and child. The Mother is the protector, the care-giver, the kisser of wounds, and the disciplinarian. The Divine Mother is no different.
Many of the most ancient goddess figures that archeology has uncovered are goddesses depicted as round, pregnant women. They feature large breasts and full, meaty hips. Some archeologists (patriarchal, close minded fellows, to be sure) have written these goddess figures off as nothing more than prehistoric"porn"figures. However, the generally accepted opinion is that these figures, found in such places as France, modern day Turkey, and Egypt, are actually representations of a mother goddess. There is some speculation that perhaps these figures are not goddesses at all, but rather figures used in fertility rites to enable women to conceive children. This too is a possibility, but when combined with other information that we have (such as other evidence of prehistoric goddess worship, and the fact that the connection between sex and pregnancy was not made until much later than the dates associated with these figures) leads most scholars to believe that these statues are indeed goddess representations....
Like earthly mothers, the Goddess is fiercely protective of her children, and in order to provide that protection she will often don the face of the warrior. The Warrior Goddess most probably gained popularity among people who had begun to adopt a more patriarchal (or at least patrifocal) structure. It might be presumptuous to say that matrifocal cultures were not particularly warlike, but it is safe to say that patriarchal cultures were more so. In either case, the warrior Goddess did become popular. In this aspect she is Amazon, fierce and strong, and able to take on any man to protect what needs protection."
"The second aspect of the Goddess is that of Mother. As previously stated among her names by which she is called are the Great Mother and Mother Nature which signifies her worshipers believe her to be The Mother, creator and life-giver to all of nature and to every thing within.
This at first may seem confusing to many within the Christian Age where the Father God is claimed to be the creator. What many are not aware of, but more are becoming so, is that the world passed through a matriarchal age before the present patriarchal one. There is amble archaeological, historical and anthropological evidence of this. The previously mentioned findings of numerous female figurines and drawings in many locations supports the fact that during such ancient times the female was very honored. The depictions self-fertilization and women giving birth states the Goddess has been very honored for motherhood... In The Sacred Book one reads:
...(She is)...the image of the invisible, virginal, perfect spirit... She became
The Mother of everything, for she existed before them all, The Mother-father [matropater]...
In the Gospel to the Hebrews, Jesus speaks of"my Mother, the Spirit."Again, in the Gospel of Thomas"Jesus contrasts his earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, with his divine Father—the Father of Truth—and his divine Mother, the Holy Spirit."And, in the Gospel of Philip," whoever becomes a Christian gains 'both father and mother' for the Spirit (rurah) is 'Mother of many.' ...
Many men have expressed the need to return to the Goddess, indicating that this is not only a woman's search or desire."English therapist John Rowan believes that every man in Western culture also needs this vital connection to the vital female principle in nature and urges men to turn to the Goddess. In this way men will be able to relate to human women on more equal terms, not fearful of resentful of female power. Perhaps this is how it was in prehistoric times when men and women coexisted peacefully under the hegemony of the Goddess."
To many men in Neo-paganism and witchcraft sexism seems absurd and trifling. If all men were honest they would admit that they would not be here if it were not for their biological mothers. Sexism immediately disappears when this fact is agreed to. All human beings are sexual, and sexuality propagated, although at times it would seem the Christian Church would have liked to dismiss this fact completely. But, the fact cannot be dismissed because, again, according to Jung this biological fact is also imprinted as the archetypes of anima and animus upon the human unconscious. They represent the feminine side of man and the masculine side of woman. As behavioral regulators they as most important; for with out them men and women could not coexist. When the two unconscious elements are balanced harmony exists, but when there is an unbalanced over masculinity or femininity is exerted."
"The Archetypal Mother/the Great Goddess still holds a prime place in the collective Hindu psyche as well as in Hindu rituals; a phenomenon, more obviously ascribable to the Harappan than to the Vedic cultural traits. There is also enough corroborative evidence to surmise that women did enjoy high social esteem in the capacity of priestesses and high priestesses (Atre 1987).
The decline of the Harappan Civilization left the Harappan people scattered over a large area of the Indian subcontinent with a gradually fading identity and we have no way to measure the traces they might have left of their socio-religious life. These elements did not totally disappear. On the contrary, they are thought to have been subtly modified and synthesized to suit the Brahmanic pattern, which are represented by some of the prominent traits in the cultic practices of various gods and goddesses belonging to many Hindu sects.
The same elements in their pristine form can also be observed to be present in the practices associated with folk cults within the fold of Hinduism as well as non-Hindu tribal cults. These cults are centered mainly around the regional or village deities of tutelary nature. The examples are far too many and obvious to be enumerated here. The religiosity infused in the ritualistic scenario therein is far removed from the religion of the Rigveda."
"Does anyone still believe in a Goddess?
Yes, many cultures around the world have never stopped worshipping Goddesses. The Hindus of India have a pantheon of many Goddesses and Gods. Today in Japan the great Sun Goddess, Amaterasu is honored as the Divine Mother of the Japanese people. The Goddess of Mercy, Kwan Yin (Quan Yin) has many devotees in China. The Inuit people (Eskimos) still honor the OceanMother Sedna. In South America Ijemanja (Yemaya) the Sea Mother-Goddess is honored with huge public processionals on January 1st each year. In Africa, the Orishas are honored as Gods and Goddesses. Modern Jewish tradition still honors the Shekhina and millions of Catholics honor the Virgin Mary as a Goddess. In the United States and other western countries, for the past twenty-five or thirty years there has been rapidly growing interest in Goddess religion. Many Christian traditions like Unity, have begun to incorporated the Goddess into their faith. The Unity blessing includes a Mother-Father-God. There are also many groups that honor the various forms of the Goddess. Still other traditions honor the Goddess, along with a God."
"Mother goddess It is believed that the foremost amongst the Sindhu pantheons was The Mother Goddess. A large number of terracotta female figures found in the sites represent Mother Goddess. Some historians are of the view that the range of the cult of The Mother Goddess once extended from Indus to Nile. Because a number of such figures have also been recovered from Kulli culture in South Baluchistan and Zhob Valley in the North. According to Sir John Marshall," in no country the worship of the divine mother is so deep rooted and universal as in Bharat, where she became the prototype of the cosmic energy. (prakriti) and the counter part of the cosmic soul (purusha)
Critics point out that the idea of The Mother Goddess or Earth Goddess was well known to Vedic Aryans. To begin with it appears in the form of Prithvi but later on it is called Aditi, Prakriti, Durga, Gauri etc."
"The concept of the Great Mother belongs to the field of comparative religion and embraces widely varying types of mother-goddess. The concept itself is of no immediate concern to psychology, because the image of a Great Mother in this form is rarely encountered in practice, and then only under very special conditions. The symbol is an obviously a derivative of The Mother archetype. If we venture to investigate the background of the Great Mother image from the standpoint of psychology, then The Mother archetype, as the more inclusive of the two, must form the basis of our discussion."
Jung, C. G., Four archetypes: Mother/rebirth/spirit/trickster
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (1969), p. 9
"Goddess worship is among the original forms of human religious expression, and it is re-arising today among modern women and men who understand the importance of the feminine in symbol and reality. Thomas Cleary and Sartaz Aziz show how the divine feminine has never really disappeared from religion—in spite of its suppression by patriarchal culture. Whether conceptualized as divine person, saint, mythic figure, archetype, or abstract principle, the Divine Feminine inevitably arises, manifesting in hidden ways, as well as obvious ones. Some examples:
Hinduism: Source of literally thousands of goddesses, including Devi, Maya, and Kali.
Taoism: Characterized by the importance of the feminine yang principle (counterpart to the masculine yin) and by reverence for the Mysterious Female.
Buddhism: Where the feminine is found in the supreme symbols of compassion, perfect intuition, absolute truth: the Bodhisattva Kuan-yin, or Kannon.
Sufism: In which an inner tradition of feminine spirituality and reverence for women was preserved within the outwardly male-centered Islamic milieu."
"Durga's name literally means"Beyond Reach." This is an echo of the woman warrior's fierce, virginal autonomy. In fact many of the figures associated with her are officially virgin. This is not meant in the limiting sense understood by the patriarchal order, but rather in Esther Harding's sense: she is"one-in-herself", or as Nor Hall puts it," Belonging-to-no-man." As Harding further observed of 'The Virgin Goddess': 'Her divine power does not depend on her relation to a husband-god, and thus her actions are not dependent on the need to conciliate such a one or to accord with his qualities and attitudes. For she bears her identity through her own right.'
The disappearance of Durga from the battlefield after the victory over aggression expressed one of the deepest truths of the episode, for the feminine action in the cosmic drama is without retentive, ego-seeking ambition....
Indeed The Mother Goddess, it is believed, controls the fate of all. But even though she makes her appearance when the male deities conglomerate their respective energies, she is, in fact, not 'created' by them. All her incarnations are the result of her will to be in the world for the benefit of mankind; she chooses when and how to effect her lilas (play of the Goddess in the world)."
"It should be remembered that the gods/goddess of Vedic myths and hymns, like those in Homeric Greece represented a superhuman/cosmic order, and were the recipients of prayers, rituals, and sacrifices. (21) In India, however, the notion of the gods/goddess as separate and different deities representing the manifold aspects of the universe developed into an understanding of the one deity that subsumed the various aspects of polytheistic deities into a comprehensive unity. The personification of Justice as a separate deity does not exist in early Vedic mythology. Justice is seen as a function within the role and symbolism of the Great Mother traditions.
The early pre-history of India corresponds in many ways with that of ancient Greece, where, again, the Aryans ("The people of sky") invaded the early matriarchal gynocentric culture of the Dravidians which can be traced back as early as 3,000 B.C. Here we can see the similarities in terms of their matriarchal beliefs and rituals in their Paleolithic caves and mounds. The earliest Great Mother cults of Asia were earth-centered, focusing on fertility and life-giving energy. Their rituals included celebrations of nature and the offering of plants and herbs to the source of creation. With the conquest of the Aryans, the religious focus shifted from that which was immanent in nature to the transcendent sky gods with rituals involving fire and smoke. The early Goddess religions attempted to assimilate the patriarchal gods into their culture and, for some time after the initial invasion, the Goddess was worshipped as one of the primary deities. Yet, as was the situation in ancient Greece, this adaptation soon gave way to the superimposition of patriarchal gods and conception of Brahman as ultimate reality."
"Shakti means"creative energy," and Shktism means"Doctrine of the Creative Energy."Shktism venerates the Ultimate Reality as the Divine Mother-Shakti or Devi-of the universe. Archeologists have recovered thousands of female statuettes at the Mehrgarh village in India, which indicate that Shakti worship existed in India as far back as 5500 BCE. There are references to the female deities in the Rig Veda, including a popular Hymn to the Divine Mother (Devî-skta, X.125), which holds special sanctity to Hindus in general and Shktas (the followers of Shktism) in particular.
Shktism visualizes the Ultimate Reality as having two aspects, transcendent and immanent. Shiva is the transcendent aspect, the supreme cosmic consciousness, and Shakti is the supreme creative energy. Shiva and Shakti are God and God's creative energy inseparably connected. Metaphorically, Shiva and Shakti are an inseparable divine couple, representing the male and female principle in creation.
Shktism greatly resembles Shaivism, but Shiva is considered solely transcendent and is not worshipped. Like Shaivism, the goal of Shktism is to unite with Shiva. Such unity is possible only with the grace of the Divine Mother, Who unfolds as icch shakti (the power of desire, will and love), kriy shakti (the power of action), and j—an shakti (the power of knowledge and wisdom). According to the Tantra philosophy, the spiritual center at the crown of the head (sahasrra chakra) is the abode of Shiva. Likewise, the spiritual center at the base of the spine (mldhra) is the abode of shakti. Normally shakti is latent in the mldhra. Through a spiritual discipline, shakti is awakened and it rises through the spine and unites with Shiva in the sahasrra. When this energy transformation occurs, the individual attains cosmic consciousness and is said to have realized the Self.
within Shktism, Shiva is the unmanifest Absolute and Shakti is the Divine Mother of the manifest creation. The Divine Mother is worshipped in both the fierce and benign forms. The fierce forms of Goddess include Klî, Durg, Chandî, Chamundî, Bhadraklî and Bhairavî. The benign forms of Goddess include Um, Gaurî, Ambik, Prvatî, Maheshvarî, Lalit, Lakshmî, Saraswatî and Annaprn."
"Since this primordial power of the ultimate is the creatrix of everything we experience, She is worshipped as Mother from time immemorial. In fact Sakti worship in India is as old as man...
In Vedic times mother goddess was worshipped as Usus and Aranyani in Rgveda and as Sri Gayatri in Yajurveda and Durga in other Vedas and in Upanishads as Uma and Hymavathi... . The epic Ramayana of Valmiki has said to be embedded in it Sri Gayatri of 24 letters in the 24 thousand verses of the epic. In Puranas, Samhitas, Agamas and in the Tantras She was worshipped as Lalita, Sri Mahakali, Sri Tripura Sundari and Sri Raja Rajeswari. Thus from the pre-historic times (2000 BC) up to date there is an unbroken tradition of the Godhead being worshipped as Mother for more than 4500 years. Even today it is rare to find a Hindu home where She is not worshipped as Sri Durga, Laxmi, Kali, or Saraswati or at least as a Gramadevata, that is, a small village deity....
She is worshipped with the object of reaching and realising higher and higher levels of consciousness and knowledge with the offerings of flowers, milk, honey and fruits. She is Mahasaraswati aspect of Sakti who by presenting to the Sadhaka the knowledge of the ultimate reality — Atmajnana, sheds his fear and leads him to self-realisation."
C. Suryanarayana Murthy, Sri Lalita Sahasranama
"Religion is some group saying their particular version of God is the right version, and that's hard for me to accept.. The world has become such a smaller place. It makes it hard for me to believe that the guy in Nepal and the little boy in Africa and the old man in Maine, all three of them with different versions of God, and yet maybe none of them are right." "I just can't believe that. There has to be some unifying thing"
M. Night Shyamalan, Film director (Sixth Sense, Unbreakable & Signs)
Los Angeles, California, USA, July 29, 2002
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