Supreme Devotion to Devi
In Hindu mythology, female goddesses perform special functions that
male gods are incapable of performing. The most important female
deity is Devi, the wife of Shiva, who is often referred to simply as
the Goddess. Like Shiva, Devi is contradictory in nature. In her
gentle and subservient moments she takes on the form of a goddess
named"Parvati."In more fierce moments she takes on the form of the
goddess known as"Kali," who is depicted as wearing a necklace of
human skulls, tearing away the flesh of sacrificed victims. As the
mother goddess of all, Devi has a special creative power beyond all
the Gods. The Hindu term for this creative power is shakti and, so,
devotees to Devi are called Shaktas. These followers see her as the
single original reality from which the three gods of the Trimurti
emerge. They also see her creative power as the source of the
origination (pravrti) and dissolution (pralaya) of the successive
universes, as described above. Although the Puranas focus mainly on
the male Gods of the Trimurti, the Devi Bhagavata Purana is devoted
specifically to Devi and her creative powers. About one thousand
pages in length, the text is classified as one of the 18 great
Puranas, although it competes for that classification with the
Bhagavata Purana discussed above....
The text vividly describes the concept of supreme devotion (parabhakti), a central component of all the Puranas. One passage explains that there are three kinds of Yoga: that of action (karma), knowledge (jnana), and devotion (bhakti). According to Devi, who narrates the text herself," Of these three, the Yoga of devotion is the easiest in all respects."However, she explains, there are three lower forms of devotion that should be avoided. Some people worship Devi to spite other people. Others worship Devi hoping to attain some personal desire, such as fame. Still others worship Devi as a means of purifying their actions. A fourth type of devotion, though, is supreme devotion, which is completely selfless. As described below, it is so selfless that the worshiper does not even desire the experience of release itself.
Now listen attentively about the supreme devotion (parabhakti) which I will now describe to you. He always hears my glories and recites my name. His mind always dwells in me, like the incessant flow of oil, and he is the receptacle of all good qualities and gunas. But he does not have the least trace of any desire to get the fruits of his actions (karma). Indeed, he does not want the various levels of release (moksha), including being on the same plane as God (salokya), nearness to God (samipya), having the form of God (sarsti), union with God (sayujya) and other forms of release.
Devi continues noting that true worshipers abandons all concepts of themselves, completely identify themselves with Devi, and make no distinctions between themselves and anything else. Worshipers find Devi in everything, including other souls:
He becomes filled with devotion for me alone, worships me only, knows nothing higher than to serve me, and he does not even want final release. He does not like neglecting the notions of"serving" (sevya) and the"servant who serves" (sevaka). He always meditates on me with a constant vigilance, actuated by a feeling of supreme devotion. He does not think of himself as separate from me, but rather thinks to himself," I am the Lord (Bhagavati)."He considers all souls (jivas) as myself, and loves me as he loves himself. He makes no distinction between the souls and myself since he finds the same pure consciousness (caitanya) everywhere and manifested in all. He does not quarrel with anyone since he has abandoned all ideas of separateness. He bows down and worships the pure consciousness and all the souls. He becomes filled with the highest love when he sees my place, sees my devotees, hears the scriptures, describes my deeds, and meditates on my mantras. His hairs stand on end out of love for me and his tears of love flow incessantly from both of his eyes. He recites my name deeds in a voice that is choked with feelings of love for me. With intense feeling he worships me as the mother of this universe and the cause of all causes. [Devi Bhagavata Purana, 7.37]
Supreme Devotion to Devi
EASTERN PHILOSOPHY: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CLASSICAL THEORIES OF HINDUISM, BUDDHISM, CONFUCIANISM, AND TAOISM
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