God as mother is natural

By Kanaka Ramakrishna

God is one and His aspects are many. As it is impossible for us to worship him in all His fullness and glory, we take up one or the other aspects God.

The divine Spirit can be worshipped in many ways. The worship of God in the form of Mother is a natural and common feature of Hinduism. Just as the baby is nursed and nourished by the mother, so also God creates, supports and nourishes all living beings. To look upon God as mother is the most natural way. There is greater freedom and spontaneity in the devotees’ relationship with God as mother.

The conception of God as mother is not an exclusive Hindu creation. It prevailed in many countries in ancient times like Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria and Greece. Judaism, and later on Islam, put an end to mother worship in the Middle East. Christianity, too, suppressed it, but later on revived it in a modified form. Catholics worship Virgin Mary more or less in the same way as the Hindus worship the Divine Mother. Veneration of the Mother of God is steadily gaining ground in Europe and Latin American countries.

In India, the whole force of womanhood is concentrated in ‘motherhood’. The worship of God as Mother has had an unbroken tradition right from the Vedic times. The Vedas contain a number of hymns addressed to Devi. In the Upanishads the Mother appears as the embodiment of spiritual knowledge. Later on, the Tantras dedicated the whole body of literature to the worship and philosophy of the Divine Mother.

The Mother power or the Divine energy has many forms and symbols. Sometimes She is symbolized as the Goddess of Knowledge, as the Goddess of Wealth, and as the Goddess of Death, playing the dance of destruction. In the form of Kali She is represented as the power of creation, protection and destruction. She stands on the still, prostrate form of Siva, the representation of the Absolute. This is symbolical of the entire cosmic process with the transcendental Reality as its basis. Reality is beyond both life and death. As such, the devotee should rise above both pleasant and terrible, to the transcendental plane from where he can say, “death and immortality, both O Mother, are thy grace supreme”. Such is the highest concept of Mother conceived in Hinduism.

In any human being, the emotions like love, hatred, anger, compassion, etc. are inborn and it is practically impossible for an ordinary man to be completely free from them. Therefore, the Bhakti Scriptures advise him to direct his emotions towards God. For this, man needs a concrete object, with name and form. No one can say with finality that God is only “this’ form and nothing else. He is formless and again He has forms. God now and then assumes various forms for His Bhaktas and reveals Himself to them as a Person. Therefore with a view of helping the aspirants, the Vedas and the Puranas speak of various forms of the Deity, like Durga, Kali, Rajeswari, Shiva, Rama, Krishna, etc. to worship and meditate upon them.

When a devotee worships God as Divine Mother, he or she appeals to her tenderness and unconditional love. Such love brings the devotee very close to God, and he feels safe and secure in the presence of the Divine Mother. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who worshipped the Divine Mother Kali, established a personal relationship with Her and he always felt Her presence with him.  Divine Mother!  Who can fathom Her infinite glories?  She is the embodiment of the Divine bliss.

Mother is Shakti and She is symbolically female, though It is neither male nor female. It is a force or energy, which is the Manifestation of Brahman in the Universe in various forms externally, and as intelligence, discrimination, psychic power and will power internally.

Though Brahman, the Supreme Reality, is beyond our understanding, we can see His manifestation in the form of Shakti. She is the principle force of life and She vitalises the universe through Her Energy.  Just as fire and its burning power, there is no difference between Brahman and His Shakti. “ He who is Brahman is Adyashaklti, the primal energy.  When inactive, He is called Brahman, the Purusha.  He is called Shakti or Prakriti when He is actively engaged in creation, preservation and destruction.  These are the two aspects of Reality: Purusha and Prakriti. He who is Purusha is also Prakriti.  Both are the embodiment of Bliss”———-  Mother, it is She, who always protects her children, grants whatever they desire – dharma, artha, kama and moksha.”  (Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna).

Great saints like Adi Shankara worshipped the Almighty as Mother, Sri Maata. She is the embodiment of benevolence and love. The great Acharyas devised many forms for the Almighty, so that people can choose the form best suited to their temperaments and needs, as Divine Mother is of three gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas, which are manifested as knowledge, action and will. With Brahma, she is Brahma Shakti (Saraswati), with Vishnu, she is Vishnu Shakti (Lakshmi), and with Siva, she is Shiva Shakti (Durga or Maha Kali.) She is the giver of boon in whatever name or form she is worshipped. The Devi assumes many aspects according to the desires and needs of the people.

“This universe is created by Mahamaya of God (inscrutable power of illusion).  Maya has two aspects namely, vidyamaya and avidyamaya.  The Maya of ignorance (avidya) consisting of anger, passion and so on, entangles one in worldliness.  The Maya of knowledge (vidya maya) consists of kindness, purity, unselfishness and so on, leads one to liberation.  It is She, who veils the Truth from us, and binds us in ignorance and binds us to this world, as Avidya Maya. When She is worshipped with sincere faith, devotion, and unconditional love and self-surrender, She, as Vidya Maya, removes the veil and helps to see the Truth.

In India, there are many festivals and occasions to worship God. Navaratri is one of the popular festivals for worshipping God for ten days. During this time, all the Hindus worship the Mother in the form of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi, with great devotion.  The first three nights, Durga or the destructive aspect of the Mother is worshipped to destroy all impurities, vices, defects and baser animal qualities.  Thus the first three days mark the first stage of destruction of the impurities and sincere effort and struggle to root out the evil tendencies of the mind.  Once the impurities and old vicious habits are eliminated and the negative side of our nature is subdued, we should try to acquire positive qualities replacing the demonical qualities.

The devotee must cultivate and develop all the auspicious qualities in the succeeding three nights.  It is the creative aspect of the Universal Mother, Lakshmi, which is worshipped for the spiritual wealth, prosperity, success and joy.  This stage is as important as the first stage of worship, for, if this development of opposite qualities is not cultivated, the old destructive qualities will raise again and again.  The first stage is the ruthless annihilation of egoistic lower self; the latter is an orderly, steady, calm and serene effort to develop purity, subduing the ego. This aspect of worship is depicted by the worship of Lakshmi, the bestower of Divine wealth or Daivi Sampath.

In the third stage, the devotee, after succeeding in rooting out the evil propensities and developing pure satwic and Divine qualities, he becomes competent to attain wisdom and Divine knowledge.  At this stage, he should worship Saraswati, the bestower of wisdom and the embodiment of knowledge of the Absolute. The last three days are devoted to propitiate Mother Saraswati, the cosmic intelligence and knowledge.

The tenth day, Vijayadasami marks the triumph of the good over evil and the soul sees the glory of the supreme.  This day is observed as the day of victory. Worshipping the Universal Mother in this order as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati has a special significance in the spiritual evolution of human beings through which everyone has to pass. By following this, we can achieve eternal victory – freedom from bondage and suffering, and enjoy eternal bliss.

Navaratri is also called Dasara. (Dasa- hara). Sri Rama worshipped Ma Durga before starting the war with Ravana, the ten-headed demon, and he was victorious in the war, killing the evil Ravana.  This occasion we celebrate not only to commemorate the victory of Rama over Ravana, but more significantly, to purify ourselves by observing the strict spiritual disciplines during these days. The ten headed Ravana, lives in every one of us, in the form of ten evil forces, –  passion, pride, anger, greed, infatuation, lust, hatred, jealousy, selfishness and crookedness. By seeking and invoking  Mother’s grace and praying to her to destroy the evil and demonic forces within us, we can kill the demon, our greatest enemy within us. Many Hindus read Ramayana during the Navaratri, for purification of the mind and for the compassionate Mother’s grace and blessings.

By calling upon Mother, in whatever manner or form one likes, and taking complete refuge in Her, one will be able to get rid of this bondage of life and be free. But one should have sincerity of heart, immense faith and the yearning like a child for its mother. Sri Ramakrishna says that the mother allows the child to play with toys and engages herself in cooking and in other household works. If the child cries, she gives some more toys and sweets, to divert its attention. But after a while, when the child throws away all the toys and begins to weep bitterly, she runs to the child and takes it on her lap. In the same way, if we also renounce all the transitory things of the world and call upon the Divine Mother, earnestly, with yearning heart, She will surely rescue us from getting drowned in the ocean of worldliness and frees us from the bondage of the world.

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Posted by on Nov 18 2010. Filed under Body Mind Spirit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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