20. "I Incarnate Myself Age After Age"
In Buenos-Aires a lady who had no knowledge of the Indian mythology began describing Shri Laxshmi in the Vaikuntha stage, lost in ecstasy in front of HH Mataji. March 1976: HH Mataji is sitting in my garden in Kathmandu, gazing toward the sky. I am sitting nearby. I am looking at Her. Suddenly the lines around HH Mataji are melting away. I realise that all the lines are dissolving and only one presence remains which imposes itself onto my attention; my gaze abandons the vanishing garden and again I look at HH Mataji. And I see the figure of a man or rather, of a God, a face of unsurpassable greatness, light blue in complexion, radiating with a beauty and majesty for which there is no name. I am bewildered, adoring, subjugated. Yes, it is You, I have already seen You, I remember this Godhead... and then I bend towards the ground because I feel my eyes are not pure enough to look at Him. When I look at Her again, everything is normal. I tell Her what happened. She says simply: 'It was Shri Krishna.' "
Grégoire de Kalbermatten, The Advent, p. 258
"Just as Visnu ... Devi, too, promises to return if needed."
The Metaphysical Goddess
Two texts in particular have been most influential in establishing the all-inclusive nature of feminine power. The first and most popular goddess-centred text is the Devi-Mahatmya, originally a section of the Markandeya Purana. The importance of this text, and its uniqueness, are apparent in its independence from the parent text. Thomas Coburn comments that while there are very few complete manuscripts of the Markandya Purana, those of the Devi-Mahatmya are countless. The recitation of the text is still an integral part of goddess worship, where, according to Coburn, it forms a part of “daily liturgy in temples of Durga” and “a central place during the … festival of Durga Puja”.
It is here, in the Devi-Mahatmya, that the concept of an all-inclusive Goddess is fully elucidated. Within a mythical framework of the Goddess’s martial deeds, is the assertion that she is the Ultimate Reality, an idea transmitted by inference rather than in direct terms. Mythically, in order to conquer the asuras (demons) that threatened the very existence of the devas (gods), a supremely powerful goddess was created from the combined anger of the gods.
Then from Visnu’s face, which was filled with rage, came forth a great fiery splendor (tejas), (and also from the faces) of Brahma and Siva.
And from the bodies of the other gods, Indra and the others, came forth a fiery splendor, and it became unified in one place.
An exceedingly fiery mass like a flaming mountain did the gods see there, filling the firmament with flames.
That peerless splendour, born from the bodies of all the gods, unified and pervading the triple world with its lustre, became a woman.
Devi Mahatmya 2. 9-12
The vital power that emanated from the gods took shape in the feminine form, and from there on was accepted as the Mahadevi, a supreme Goddess in her own right. She is entirely separate from the gods, the embodiment of sakti, and able to produce further powers of her own. When her work is done, she disappears; she does not return to her source, the gods. The text reinforces the conceptual notion of a Great Goddess, Mahadevi, the embodiment of power…
One of the most interesting facets of Devi's character in the Devi-Matahmya is her independence and her challenge to the stereotypes of goddesses previously presented. The Goddess here does not depend on a male consort, and successful manages male roles herself. In battle, for instance, she does not fight with male allies; if she needs assistance, she tends to create female helpers, like Kali, from herself. Her role as Sakti also differs from that of the puranic goddesses as she does not empower the male deities. “Unlike the normal female, Durga does not lend her powers or sakti to a male consort but rather takes power from the male gods in order to perform her own heroic exploits. They give up their inner strength, fire, and heat to create her and in so doing surrender their potency to her.``
The Devi-Mahatmya makes clear that the conceptual goddess cannot be easily categorized. The “Goddess” so carefully outlined in the text leaves the reader in no doubt of the fluidity of her character. She is the personification of all aspects of energy, being simultaneously creative, preservative and destructive.
By you is everything supported, by you is the world created; by you is it protected,
O Goddess, and you always consume (it) at the end (of time).
At (its) emanation you have the form of creation, in (its) protection (you have) the form of steadiness; likewise at the end of this world (you have) the form of destruction. O you who consist of this world!
You are the great knowledge (mahavidya), the great illusion (mahamaya), the great insight (mahamedha), the great memory, and the great delusion, the great Goddess (mahadevi), the great demoness (mahasuri).
Devi-Mahatmya 1. 56-8
This verse makes it clear that the all-encompassing Goddess in this text represents all aspects of power and energy, both positive and negative, as she is described as devi (goddess) and asuri (demoness). The Devi of the Devi-Mahatmya is fully equated with Ultimate Reality, presented as the power behind the functions of the trimurti, the triad of deities – Visnu, Siva and Brahma – who are responsible of the preservation, dissolution and creation of the universe respectively:
You are the primordial material (praktri) of everything, manifesting the triad of constituent strands, the night of destruction (periodic dissolution), the great night (final dissolution), and the terrible night of delusion.
Devi-Mahatmya 1. 59
Devi originated at a time of cosmic crisis and, consequently, her role seems very similar to that of Visnu in his many avataras (incarnations). Just as Visnu promised to manifest himself in order to protect the cosmic balance, Devi, too, promises to return if needed.
The Devi-Bhagavatam Purana
The Devi-Mahatmya is not the only text to offer an all-inclusive concept of female divinity, equated with the principle of Ultimate Reality. The later Devi-Bhagavatam presents a Sakta response to a variety of puranic strands of thought. According to Cheever Mackenzie Brown, its original parts were written in response to the Bhagavata Purana. The Devi Gita, which comprises skanda (book) 7, chapters 30-40 of the Devi-Bhagavatam, is based on the style of the Bhagavad Gita, but is presented from a Sakta perspective. The ninth skanda, according to Brown, is almost a verbatim copy of the “Praktri Khanda” of the Brahmaraivarta Purana, which Brown describes as “a kind of encyclopedia of goddesses”, associating them with praktri. The Devi-Bhagavatam also encompasses a version of the Devi-Mahatmya and retells a number of puranic myths. The text is more consistently metaphysically oriented than the earlier Devi-Mahatmya, frequently eulogizing the conceptual goddess who is the power behind all other deities.
That Goddess is Eternal and Ever Constant Primordial Force…
She is the source of Brahma, Visnu and the others and all of these living beings
Without Her force, no body would be able even to more their limbs.
That Supreme Auspicious Goddess is the preserving energy of Visnu,
is the Creative power of Brahma, and is the destroying force of Siva.
Devi-Mahatmya 3. 30. 28-30
It is also significant that in the Devi-Bhagavatam, the Great Goddess is explicitly shown to be independent of any male authority and control. Indeed in the previous verses it is the gods that are completely subject to her will, being totally reliant on her power. The goddess/ses of Devi-Bhagavatam are repeatedly portrayed as eternal, the basis of everything, identical with Brahman.
When everything melts away i.e. there comes the Pralaya or general dissolution, then, I am not female, I am not male, nor am I hermaphrodite. I then remain as Brahma with Maya.
Devi-Bhagavatam 3. 6. 2
The Adya or Primordial Sakti is explicitly shown to be the source of all goddesses, from the highest to the lowest forms.
Maha Laksmi is Her sattvaki Sakti, Sarasvaati is Her Rajasik Sakti and Maha Kali is Her tamasik Sakti, these are all feminine forms.
Devi-Bhagavatam 1. 1. 20
The highest forms represent the major facets of her power or energy, the three gunas, encompassing both positive and negative energies. In the Devi-Bhagavatam, the essential character of the Mahadevi encompasses both praktri (material nature), in its unmanifest and manifest forms, and purusa (pure consciousness) – the dual realities of Sankhya philosophy. Unlike Sankhya and other schools of thought, particularly Advaita, the Devi-Bhagavatam portrays praktri in a more positive light; as an integral feature of the Goddess’s power. Similarly, the concept of maya (illusion) is also presented positively rather than negatively, as an integral energy inherent in the act of creation. I am Nirguna. And when I am united with my Sakti, Maya, I become saguna, the Great Cause of this world. This Maya is divided into two, Vidya and Avidya. Avidya Maya hides me; whereas Vidya Maya does not. Avidya creates whereas Vidya Maya liberates.
Devi-Bhagavatam 7. 32. 7-8
Brown points out an interesting and important difference between the conception of maya in the Bhagavata Purana, in which Visnu is the supreme deity, and that in the Devi-Bhagavatam. Whereas in the Bhagavata Purana, Visnu is the “controller and possessor of maya”, the Goddess of the Devi-Bhagavatam, as well as wielding the power of maya, actually is maya. There appears to be a much more intimate relationship in the Devi-Bhagavatam between the Goddess and the workings of the cosmos, for as Visnu and Siva resort to their respective saktis for assistance, Devi resorts to no one but herself.
At the Feet of the Goddess: Divine Feminine in Local Hindu Religion
Lynn Foulston, Sussex Academic Press 1999, pp. 11-15
The Divine Incarnations emanating from the Divine Mother since time immemorial are beyond the scope of humans to unravel
"The Saktas worship the Universal Energy as Mother; it is the sweetest name they know. The mother is the highest ideal of womanhood in India. [...]
Mother is the first manifestation of power and is considered a higher idea than father. The name of mother brings the idea of Shakti, Divine energy and omnipotence. The baby believes its mother to be all-powerful, able to do anything. The Divine Mother is the Kundalini sleeping in us; without worshipping Her, we can never know ourselves. All merciful, all-powerful, omnipresent - these are attributes of the Divine Mother. She is the sum total of the energy in the Universe.
Every manifestation of power in the universe is Mother. She is Life, She is Intelligence, She is Love. She is in the universe, yet separate from it. She is a person, and can be seen and known - as Sri Ramakrishna saw and knew Her. Established in the idea of Mother, we can do anything. She quickly answers prayers.
She can show Herself to us in any form at any moment. The Divine Mother can have form (rupa) and name (nama), or name without form; and as we worship Her in these various aspects, we can rise to Pure Being, having neither form nor name.
The sum-total of all the cells in an organism is one person. Each soul is like one cell, and the sum of them is God. And beyond that is the Absolute. The sea calm is the Absolute; the same sea in waves is the Divine Mother. She is time, space and causation. Mother is the same as Brahman and has two natures; the conditioned and the unconditioned. As the former, She is God, nature and soul. As the latter, she is unknown and unknowable. Out of the Unconditioned came the trinity, God, nature and soul - the triangle of existence.
A bit of Mother, a drop, was Krishna; another was Buddha. The worship of even one spark of Mother in our earthly mother leads to greatness. Worship Her if you want love and wisdom."
Swami Vivekananda, Inspired Talks, My Master and Other Writings
Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, NY, (July 2,1895) pp. 48-49.
"267. In the form of Govinda (Govindarupini.)
In the Harivamsa, Narada says, "The first portion of prakrti, the famous Devi called Uma. [The second one] the manifested Visnu, the All-Pervading, Protector of the Universe, is known as woman."
R. A. Sastry, Lalita-Sahasranama, The Adyar Library and Research Centre
Madras, 1988, p. 145.
"893. In the form of Visnu (Visnurupini.)
In the Brahma Pr., in the Lalitapakhyana, Devi says, 'My male form is bewildering the milk-maids.' In the same place Visnu says to Virabhadra, "The ancient Sakti of the Lord is divided into four forms, that Sakti becomes Bhavani in its ordinary form [bhoga], in battle she takes the form of Durga; in anger that of Kali; and she is also my male form."
The Kurma Pr. when Himavin praises Devi says, 'I salute thy form called Narayana, O Lalita, which has a thousand heads, which is of infinite energy, having a thousand arms, the ancient Person, reclining on the waters.'
In the Kurma Pr. when Siva showed his universal form to Mankanaka, the latter said: "What is this terrible form of thine, facing every side; who is she shining by your side?" Thus questioned, Siva, after explaining the glory of his own nature, says, 'She is my supreme maya and prakrti of triple qualities. She is said by munis to be the ancient womb of the universe.' "
R. A. Sastry, Lalita-Sahasranama, The Adyar Library and Research Centre
Madras, 1988, p. 338.
"In the Caitanya-caritamrta of Krsnadasa Kaviraja, the following verses summarize these principles of incarnation:
Srsti-hetu uei murti prapance avatare sei isvara-murti ‘avatara’ nama dhare
Mayatita paravyome savara avasthana visve ‘avatari’ dhare ‘avatasa’ nama.
The avatara, or incarnation of Godhead, descends from the kingdom of God for material manifestation. And the particular form of the Personality of Godhead who so descends is called an incarnation, or avatara.
There are various kinds of avataras, such as purusavatara, gunavataras, lilavataras, saktyavesa avataras, manvantara-avataras and yugavataras — all appearing on schedule all over the universe. . . .The Lord says that He incarnates Himself in every millennium. This indicates that He incarnates also in the age of Kali."
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita As It Is
B.B.T., 1982, p. 227
"Brahman is the unknowable one. But the only way he can be considered is in terms of a personal deity. So it was natural for the Indians to see the several attributes or functions of divinity manifested in a multiplicity of forms. In the Vedic hymns god is not fully seen in human terms. The gods are the manifestations of nature or cosmic forces. The divine names may be countless, but they are all understood as expressions of Brahman. For, although it may have limitless forms, it is still regarded as one in essence."
The World’s Religions, Lion Publishing Plc., 1992, p.185.
"The Goddess Tripurasundari
Tripurasundari (Lalita) holds five flowery arrows, noose, goad and bow. She is the beautiful (sundari) goddess of the three cities(tripura) which are sun, moon and fire. The noose is attachment (moon). The goad is repulsion (sun). The sugarcane bow is the mind. The flowery arrows are the five sense impressions. When consciousness perceives these, the outward directed arrows stop being dry sticks. These five flowery arrows together with the bow are personified as six Krishnas. The Tantrarajatantra states that Lalita assumed a male form as Krishna, and 'by enveloping all women enchanted the whole world'. Each of the six forms is like dawn, with six arms, holding flute, noose, goad, sugarcane bow, flowers, sour milk. View her yantra. Lalita has 15 attendants, the Nitya Devis, and these are the days of the Waxing Moon."
Mike Maggie, www.web.clas.ufl.edu/
"The Bhagavad Gita truly brings a message of liberation. It reveals, first of all, that there is a Lord, but it adds immediately that this Lord has many names, presents many faces, and performs many functions. Furthermore, it says that nobody can live without a Lord, a master, an ideal, an ambition, a desire, and that it is He, the Lord, the Savior, disguised in accordance with all the variety of the human imagination, who gathers up and vouchsafes the longings of mankind. Nobody escapes his Lordship which acts gently and, many a time, invisibly. Human maturity consists in discovering the face of the Lord and in accepting this growing revelation, for which there are no fixed patterns. All ways lead to him (even the way of wrath), provided they remain ways and do not become final stopping places. Otherwise there is stagnation.
The Bhagavad Gita uses the same expression, gati, to express both the way toward the goal and the goal itself, often called the parama gati, the supreme goal. As the word itself suggests, gati (from the root gam-, to go, to move) means a going, a movement, motion in general. In the Bhagavad Gita it has the connotation of the pilgrimage that constitutes human life, a connotation that allows the text to say that he who is on the path has, in a certain sense, already reached the end of it, because the end is not another place outside or after the way itself, but is already contained in it. Like other parts of the Vedic Revelation, this truth can be grasped only by personal experience. The pilgrimage that is life may lead us to its goal, which in the Bhagavad Gita is described as union with the Lord. The Lord comes down to earth and manifests himself to Man in order to proclaim his message of love and salvation. The Lord is not only the powerful ruler, the mighty God, the just judge, but also the Savior."
Professor Raimundo Panikkar, The Vedic Experience
"No other person is our Mother except God. You see, our biological mother is a mother only for a short time, in this life. Who was with us in the past life, and in the life before that, and in the one before that, always with us, who was there? God. The Observer in us, the highest Self in us. It was always there with us. This is our true Mother. This Mother accompanies us, life after life. Divine Mother and Lord Krishna are one and the same. Therefore in the Sahasranama, the Thousand Names of the Divine Mother, one name is Govinda-Rupini. What does that mean? Govinda is a name of Krishna. Divine Mother is in the form of Krishna. She Herself is Krishna. Divine Mother is infinite Sweetness, infinite Love, infinite Beauty, absolute Beauty, eternal Beauty, ever-new Beauty. Om Govinda-rupinyai namah."
Swami Omkarananda, www.sanskrit.bhaarat.com/
QUOTES OF SHRI MATAJI
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi "Like many people tell Me, I mean I have told many a times also that, "Mother why do you criticize the fake gurus." What should I do? Should I garland them? These are horrible devils who were born before and also were killed by Goddess. And today I see them so clearly...
Krishna said that whenever there is a fall of sustenance; Yada yada hi Dharmasya glanirbhavati bharata: when it goes down, the righteousness falls off, to kill, to destroy these horrible negative forces: paritranaya sadhunam: to save and sustain the saints, sambhavami yuge yuge: I come in every age in human form."
Sri Dharmadhara Devi, London, U.K.—June 29, 1981
[Dharmadhara (884th): ‘Dharma’ is described as the code of right conduct handed down by tradition in each age which is in consonance with Vedas. She is the support of such conduct. Yada yada hi Dharmasya Glanirbhavati . . . . Aham. Whenever there is danger to Dharma, I am born.’ (Bha. Gi.—6-7.)]
"Krishna said, 'Sarva dharmanam parityajya mamekam sharanam vraja'; Forget all the religions of the world. Religion doesn’t mean, it does not mean the religions like Hindu, Christian, Muslim but He was meaning all the sustenance. 'Forget all the sustenance and completely dedicate to Me.' That was six thousand years back. And there are many who would still say that: 'That we have completely dedicated ourselves to Shri Krishna.' Where is He now? Even those whom I have given, I have given Realization, they say like that. Of course there is no difference between Him and Me, but today I am the One. I am the One who has given you Realization."
The Adi Shakti Shri Mataji, U.K.—July 31, 1982
"Shri Krishna has said, 'Give up all your Dharmas and surrender to Me — surrender to My Dharma only.' ... Shri Krishna is not there. It’s Me who is Shri Krishna."
Sri Govindarupini Devi
(Govindarupini [276th]: Of the form of Govinda or Visnu. The second of the powers of Prakrti as woman is Visnu according to Narada in Harivamsa.)
"Avatar (Sanskrit avatara, "descent"), in Hinduism, descent of a god into the world of human beings for the duration of a human life span. Avatar is similar to the Christian concept of incarnation but is different in two significant ways. First, a Hindu god can become incarnate in many places at the same time through "partial" avatars (amshas), while the main form from which the avatars emanate remains entirely "full" and can converse with the "partial" forms. Second, the avatars do not fully participate in human suffering or lose the knowledge and power of their divine nature. The god Vishnu is most famous for his numerous avatars, which include Krishna, Rama, and the Buddha, but other gods, such as Shiva, also have avatars."
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead is consciousness, a knower, an enjoyer, a thinker, self-manifested, and visible to others. He is also the knower of all fields of activity and He is full of desires. The individual spirit soul is also consciousness, a knower, an enjoyer, a thinker, self-manifested, and visible to others. He is also the knower of a field of activity and he is also full of desires. Because He is the master of all potencies, the Supreme Personality of Godhead has these qualities to the highest degree. On the other hand, the individual spirit soul, possessing only very slight power, has these qualities in a very slight degree. Although they are different in the sense that one is perfect and complete and the other is very small and atomic, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the individual spirit soul are alike in that They both possess these qualities. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the master of all potencies. He is the controller of the svarupa-shakti (internal potency), jiva-shakti and maya-shakti. These potencies are all His obedient maidservants. He is their master. Whatever He wishes, they do. That is the nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is subordinate to the Lord's other potencies. The word 'maya' is used in the Dasa-mula (in the verse quoted in the beginning of this chapter) to mean not only the Lord's material potency but also His internal potency (svarupa-shakti). The dictionaries explain:"That which measures is called 'maya'."
According to this explanation, the word 'maya' refers to the potency of Lord Krishna that manifests the spiritual world, the individual spirit souls, and the material world. Understood in this way, the word 'maya' refers to the Lord's internal potency (svarupa-shakti), not to His material potency. Lord Krishna is the master of this maya potency. The individual spirit souls are under the control of the maya potency. This is described in the following words of the Svetasvatara Upanisad (4.9-10):
'It is very difficult for the conditioned soul, illusioned by maya and trapped in the material world, to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the controller of the illusory potency and the creator of the material universes.
"One should know that although maya (illusion) is false or temporary, the background of maya is the supreme magician, the Personality of Godhead, who is Mahesvara, the Supreme Controller.' "
In Godhead, the male and the female principles are complementary aspects. If God is usually referred to as the Male (Purusa), it is only in the sense similar to that in which the expression 'man' is employed to signify mankind including 'woman'. God's female aspect is His Sakti (Power). Without Sakti, He cannot fulfil His cosmic functions. Sri Sankara says in the opening verse of the Saundaryalahari:
'Siva is able to create only when He is united with Sakti; if not thus, the God cannot even move.'
Sivah saktya yukto yadi bhavati saktah prabhavitum
na ced-evam devo na khalu kusalah spanditum api
There are three principal functions in regard to the world - its creation, preservation, and dissolution. The Godhead which is Trimurti is called Brahma in its aspect as Creator, Visnu in its aspect as preserver, and Siva in its aspect as Dissolver. The three aspects of Sakti, respectively are Sarasvati, Laksmi and Parvati. As has been shown already in the case of Visnu and Siva so also there is no absolute distinction between any two of these aspects. Thus it ought not to confuse us when Visnu is identified with Brahma and Siva, or when Laksmi is identified with Sarasvati and Parvati, or when Visnu and Laksmi are themselves identified with each other." www.hindubooks.org/
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