In Praise and worship of Parasakti
Primordial Energy, Univeresal Force and Material Prosperity
PART--I(Compilation for a discourse by N.R.Srinivasan, Nashville, TN, USA, September 2016)
We come across two traditions of Devi in Hindu India—The Vedic and Tantric. Devi is worshiped as Shakti in her most splendid manifestation of Devi. She is Durga to North Indians and Sri Lalita to South Indians. She is popular as Goddess of Wisdom, Saraswati. She is Goddess of affluence and abundance and goddess of Bounty in her form Lakshmi. Devi is worshiped in all these forms during Spring Navaratri during September-October. The Autumn Navaratri is called Vasanta Navaratri popular in Bengal dedicated to Durga about which I have talked in detail in an exclusive discourse.
The first day of Vasanta Navaratri is celebrated as Gudi Padva or Ugadi in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The last day of Vasanta Navaratri marks the birthday of Rama as Rama Navami. With the passage of time, the Autumn Navaratri went to background due to ove riding celberatios of Ugadi, Gudipadva and Ramanavcami falling at the same time while the spring Navaratri became very popular in the celebrious climate. The Chaitra/Vasanta Navaratri is probably not as famous as the Sharada Navaratri that comes in Sep/Oct time-frame but Srividya Upasakas are expected to observe this without fail.
As we have said before, hymns on Devi extol Devi as the Mula-Prakriti and even Trinity are the creations of this Mula Prakriti. This is mentioned in the prayer too 'hari-hara-raajya-daayini' (one who gives the respective kingdoms of Hari and Hara). But the name given to the Mula-Prakriti varies in different Purans, though there is absolutely no confusion arising out of this as that is given without any doubt that it is the same Devi who bears different names in different contexts. This concept is exquisitely expounded by Lord Narayana in Gayatri Stotram in Devi Bhagavatam (Adisakte Jaganmaatar bhaktaanugraha-kaarinee).
Though Radha is never mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam, Radha has been extolled as the Mula-Prakriti in many Purans such as Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Padma Purana, Narada Pancharatra, Rudra Yamala, Adi Purana, etc. Lord Parasurama mentions that Radha is same as Durgaa.
Goddess as Parasakti is worshipped as Primordial Energy and Sakti aspect of Parabrahman. Devi is linked to Samsara, associated with the cycle of birth and death, the material aspect of the world, the realm of eternal change. Parabrahman is closely associated with un-manifest reality, pure Consciousness, Sat-Chit-Ananda, the Atma or Self in all Beings. As Sakti she is Durga, the untamable universal energy. As Sree she is the supreme domesticated Goddess of Fortune, Lakshmi. She is Prakriti as Mother Nature responsible for earthly existence from whom comes material pleasure of Kama (passion and love), and worldly power of Artha (wealth). She is Maya, unfathomable delusion of existence.
Parasakti and Parabrahman stand at two ends of the metaphysical spectrum. Parasakti represents material reality and Parabrahman spiritual reality. In our struggle to exist and succeed following Pravritti Marga we run to her as Mother who is always easy to approach and please. We at the same time desirous of Liberation from the cycle of birth and death (Moksha) approach Parabrahman seeking Nivritti Marga.
In Vedas Devi is glorified as Aditi, Uma, Durga, Sree, Hree, Lakshmi and Sarasvati independently often, not associated with any male counterpart. Later in Puranas Sree, Hree Lakshmi and Bhuh were made consorts of Vishnu, the ever-caring (the sustenance aspect of Parabrahman), Sarsvati as the consort of Brahman as creative aspect of wisdom of the Creator, and Parvati, the Mother Goddess of Love as consort of Siva the Auspicious who both as parents (jagatah pitarah) invite everyone into the cycle of life, helping each one come to terms with the unending transformation of Samsara. Later Tantric followers brought her exclusicvely to forefront and composed several slokas for her glorification and worship.
Markandeya Purana is one of the oldest among Puranas in Hinduism named after Sage Markandeya who worshipped both Siva and Vishnu equally as we infer from the two legends associated with him. Markandeya Purana is not sectarian in its approach like the later Puranas. It therefore does not hold a sectarian view and therefore it is not easy to find any particular deity being invoked for any particular occasion or sought after for granting special boons or invoked for any particular need. It is famous for its included text of Devi Mahatmayam, the oldest known treatise on Devi as the primordial energy, Supreme Truth and Creator of the Universe. This is the holy scripture for Sakta followers and often ranked with Bhagavad Gita which is used by all courts as The Hindu Scripture for oath taking or when someone is made to take an oath to assume high ranking position as a Judge or Minister or Prime Minister or President in India like the Holy Bible in Christian dominated Countries. Some portion of this great literature in Sanskrit is lost but to-day we are left with 6900 verses which covers wide range of topics on socio-cultural information, Vedanta and Metaphysics.
It is customary to chant the whole 700 slokas (hymns) of Durga Saptasati contained in Markandeya Purana during nine days of Spring Navaratri. Particularly Durgashtami worship on the eighth day is concluded with the chanting of slokas that all begin with the phrase “Ya devi Sarvabhooteshu”. In the past I had posted these slokas on the blog of Hindu Reflections in 2011 with my translation in English. Later I received several slokas on Sakti aspect of Devi from IndiaDivine.Org from various authors as well as Muralidharan Iyengar of Singapore who is a researcher on rare slokas from puranas which are liberal in outlook and carry the message of Markandeya Purana. These slokas are chanted with reverence equally by Saivas, Vaishnavas and Saktas and also both by North Indians and South Indians. I had also the request to popularize them by posting them in powerful media like Facebook and others. Since my blog is globally popular with special attractions to Veda mantras and slokas I have pleasure in presenting to you these slokas and also post it on the Blog for permanent reference and use. Most of them have a translation. I have also explained some of them in my specific discourses like Sri Lalita and Tripura Sundari, Kundalini Power, Durga, the Inaccessible etc. Added addition is the lecture by Swami Krishnanda on The Esoteric Significance of Devi Mahatmya. These are included as appendices.
Appendix includes the following topic and various slokas:
1) Sapta Matrikas, IndiaDivine.Org
2) Esoteric Significance of Devi Mahatamyam
3) Devi Kavacham from Devi Mahtmyam
4) Devi Keelakam
5) Durgaa Suktam
6) Devi Mahatmya Stotra Ashtaka
7) Durga Dwaatrimsa Naama maalaa
8) Saptaslokee Durgaa
9) Bhavani Sahasranamam
10) Sri Bhagavatee Satee-Rudra Yamalam
11) Soundarya Lahari
11) Soundarya Lahari
Namoe devyai mahaadevyai sivaayai satatam namah |
namah prakrityai bhadraayai niyataah pranataah sma tam || (5/9)
Salutations to that Goddess, who is superior to other goddesses; she is the consort of Lord Shiva, primary substance (primordial energy) from which the world arose beautifully. We who are controlled by her offer salutations to her (5/9).
Raudraayai namoe nityaayai gowryai daatryai namoe namah |
Jyotsnaayai chaendhuroopaayai sukhaayai satatam namh || (5/10)
Salutations to Devi, who is fearful, eternal, fair-complexioned and supporter of all. Salutations to the one who is effulgent like the moon-light, whose form is like a moon and who is the personification of Bliss. (5/10).
Kalyaanyai pranataam vriddhyai siddhyai kurmoe namoe namah |
Nairuttyai bhoobrutaam lakshmyai sarvaanyai tae namoe namah || (5/11)
Salutation to Devi who represents all auspicious things; Salutation to Devi, who bestows prosperity and success to those who bow to her; Salutation to Durga; who is the embodiment of wealth and is Siva’s wife. (5/11)
Durgaayai durgapaaraayai saaraayai sarvakaarinyai |
Khyaatyai tadaiva krishnaayai dhoomraayai satatam namah || (5/12)
Salutations to the one who is Durga (tough) and transcends difficulties, essence and cause of everything, knowledge; who has dark complexion like smoke. (5/12)
Atisaumyaati roudraayai nataas-tasyai namoe namah |
Namoe jagatpratishtaayai devyai krityai namoe namh || (5/13)
Salutations to the one: she is both extremely gentle as well as aggressive; she is the substratum of the world and the creator. (5/13)
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Vishnumaayeti sabditaa |
Namastasyai namastasyai namoe nama-h | | (5/16)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is known as “Vishnumaayaa (Illusion of Vishnu)”, in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Chaetanaa iti abhideeyatae |
Namas tasyai namas tasyai namas tasyai namoe namh || (5/19)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is called as “Chetanaa (Sentient—Awareness)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Buddhi roopaena samsthitaa |
Namstasyai namastasyai namastasyai namoe nama-h || (5/22)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Buddhi (Intellect)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Nidraa roopaena samsthitaa |
Namastasyai namastasyai namstasyai namo namah || (5/25)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Nidraa (Sleep)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Kshudha roopaena samsthitaa |
Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namoe namah || (5/28)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Ksudhaa (Hunger)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvasbhootaeshu Chchaayaa roopaena samsthitaa |
Namas tasyai nama tasyai namas tasyai namoe namah || (5-31)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Chaayaa (Shadow)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Sakti roopaena samsthitaa |
Namastasyai, namastasyai namastasyai namoe nama-h || (5/34)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Shakti (Strength)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Trishnaa roopaena samsthitaa|
Namas tasyai namas tasyai namas tasyai namoe nama-h || (5/37)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “ Trishnaa (Thirst)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Kshaanti roopaena samsthitaa |
Namastasyai namastayai namastayai namoe nama-h || (5/40)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Kshanti Forbearance)” in all creations. (5/40)
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Jaati roopaena samsthitaa |
Namstasyai namastasyai namastasyai namoe nama-h || (5/43)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Jaati (Genus)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Lajjaa roopaena samsthitaa |
Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namoe nama-h || (5/46)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Lajjaa (Modesty)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Shaanti roopaena samsthitaa |
Namastasyai namstasyai namstasyai namoe namh || (5/49)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Shanti (Peace)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Sraddhaa roopaena samsthitaa |
Namas tasyai namas tasyai namnas tasyai namoe namah || (5/52)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Sraddhaa (Reverence)”in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Kaanti roopaena samsthitaa |
Namas tasyai nams tasyai namas tasyai namoe namah || (5/55)
Namas tasyai nams tasyai namas tasyai namoe namah || (5/55)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Kaanti (Luster)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Lakshmee roopena samsthitaa |
Namas tasyai namas tasyai namas tasyai namoe namah || (5/58)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Lakshmi (Wealth)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhhoteshu Vritti roopaena samsthitaa |
Namas tasyai nams tasyai namas tasyai namoe namah || (5/61)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is called as “Vritti (Progress)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Smriti rooppaena samssthitaa |
Namas tasyai namastasyai namastasyai namoe namah (5/62)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Smriti (Recollection)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Dayaa roopaena samsthitaa |
Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namoe namah || (5/67)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Dayaa (Kindness)” in all creations.
Yaa devee savabhooteshu Tushti roopaena samsthitaa |
Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namoe namah || (5/70)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is called as “Tushti (Satisfaction)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Matru roopaena samsthitaa |
Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namoe namah || (5/73)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Matru (Mother)” in all creations.
Yaa devee sarvabhooteshu Bhraanti roopaena samsthitaa |
Namastasyai namastasyai, namastasyai namoe namah || (5/76)
Salutation; salutation; salutation; to the Goddess who is present as “Bhraanti (Delusion)” in all creations.
Indryyaanaa-madhisthaatree bhootaanaam chaakilaeshu yaa |
Bhootaeshu satatam tasyai vyaptidevyai namoe namah || (5/77)
Salutations to the omnipresent Devi who is the substratum of the pure sense-organs in all beings. (5/77)
Chiti roopena yaa-kritsna- maetad-vyaapya sthitaa jagat |
Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namoe nama-h || (5/80)
Salutations to Devi; she stands encompassing this entire world in the form of success. (5/80)
1) Bharati Pal, Sapta Matrikas—The Seven Divine Mothers, IndiaDivine.Org
2) Swami Harshananda, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
3) Mukundan T.K., A Concept of Hinduism Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai, India.
4) Devdutt Patnaik, Devi, Vakils, Feffer and Simons, Pvt., Ltd., Mumbai
5) Anntarangacharya, Principal Upanishads, Bengaluru, India.
6) K. Muralidharan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
7) Ramachander P.R., IndiaDivine.Org
8) Swami Krishnananda, Esoteric Devi Mahatmyam, IndiaDivine.Org
I would like to offer my sincere gratitude and thanks to Sri. K. Muralidharan Iyengaar and to Sri. Sivakumar Thyagarajan from Dubai who sourced Bhavani Sahasranama from his contacts and to IndiaDivine.Org for their periodic dispatches.
Appendix A—Topics on Devi
Sapta Matrikas: The Seven Divine Mothers
Posted by Bharati Pal | Sep 17, 2015 | IndiaDivine.Org
The Sapta Matrikas or the seven divine mothers, representing the saktis, or the energies of the important familiar deities are Brahmani (Saraswati) Mahesvari (Raudani) Kaumari (Karttikeyani) Vaishnavi (Lakshmi) Varahi, Indrani and Chamunda (Chamundi).
According to a legend described in the Isanasivagurudevapaddhati, the Matrikas were created to help Lord Siva in his fight against Andhakasura. When Lord Shiva inflicted wounds on Andhaka, blood began to flow profusely from his body. Each drop which touched the ground assumed the shape of another Andhaka. Thus there were innumerable Asuras fighting Siva. To stop the flow of the blood, Siva created a goddess called Yogesvari from the flames issuing out of his mouth. Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara, Kumara, Varaha, Indra and Yama also sent their saktis to follow Yogesvari in stopping the flow of blood. Thus the Sapta Matrikas originated and Andhakasura finally lost his power and was defeated by Siva.
In the Suprabhedagama, the Matrikas are said to have been created by Brahma in order to kill Nirrita. The Agama literature gives a brief description of these goddesses : that Brahmani should be sculptured like Brahma; Mahesvari like Mahesvara; Vaishnavi like Vishnu; Varahi as a short woman with an angry face and bearing a plough as her weapon; Indrani like Indra and Chamunda as a terrific woman. This lastmentioned goddess should have her hair in a dishevelled condition, should possess a dark complexion and have four hands. She should weild the trisula in one of her hands and carry a kapala in another. All the Matrikas are to be seated images and should have two of their hands held in the Varada and Abhaya poses, while the other two hands carry weapons appropriate to the male counterparts of the female powers.
The Varaha Purana states that these mother-goddesses are eight in number and includes among them the goddess Yogesvari. It further says that these Matrikas represent eight mental qualities which are morally bad. Accordingly, Yogesvari represents kama or desire; Mahesvari, krodh or anger; Vaishnavi, lobha or covetousness; Brahmani, mada or pride; Kaumari moha or illusion; Indrani, matsarya or fault finding; Yami or Chumunda paisunya, that is tale bearing; and Varahi asuya or envy.
The Sapta Matrikas are mentioned in the Rigveda, Gobhilasmriti, Markandeya Purana, Matsya Purana, etc. Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita also mentions about the images of Sapta Matrikas. The sculptures of the Sapta Matrikas are referred to in the Krityaratnakara. The Devi Purana mentions the name of the flowers used for the worship of Matrikas. Prevalence of the worship of the divine mothers is believed to be as early as 3rd millennium B.C., when the Indus Valley Civilization flourished. The earliest epigraphic reference to the Matrikas is to be found in the Gangadhara inscription of Vishwa Varman, in Malwa Samvat 480 or 423-424 A.D. The Matrikas also figure in the Viharstambha inscription of Skandagupta.
Kadambari mentions that the Matrikas were worshipped in every village. The several Tantra sastras such as Svachhanda Tantra and Yogini Hridaya contain a detailed description of the Sapta Matrikas. As the Matrikas are stated to be sitting in lalitasana posture, they are adorned with heavy ornaments, necklaces and circular ear-rings. From the Sadhana in the Buddhist literature it appears that the Tantric Buddhism had also incorporated the Sapta Matrikas in its religious fold. This is amply corroborated by the discovery of a composite figure of the seven mothers at Nalanda.
A Brief Description of the Matrikas are given below :
The first Matrika in the series is yellow complexioned and has four faces, three of which are visible in her sculptures, the fourth one is at the back. Two of her arms in varada and abhaya gestures and she carries kamandalu and akashamala in two other hands, She is seated upon a lotus, has hamsa (swan) as her vahana. She wears a yellow garment (pitambara) and her head is adorned with a Karanda Mukuta. Her place is under a palas tree.
Aum Dhevee Brahmani Vidmahe, Maha-shakthiyai Cha Dhimahee, Thanno Dhevee Prachodayath
Vaishnavi is dark in complexion, carries in one of her hands the chakra and in the corresponding left hand the sankha; her two other hands are held in the abhaya and the varada mudra respectively. She has a lovely face, pretty eyes and she wears a yellow garment. On her head is a Kirita Mukuta. She is adorned with all the ornaments generally worn by Vishnu and the emblem of her banner as well as her vahana is the Garuda. Her place is under a Raja Vriksha. In the Devi Purana, she is represented as possessing four hands in which she carries the sankha, chakra, gada and padma. She wears the vanamala, the characteristic garland of Vishnu.
Aum Thaarksh Yathwajaaya Vidmahe, Chakra Hasthaya Dhimahee, Thanno Vaishnavi Prachodayath.
Indrani has three eyes and four arms; intwo of her hands she carries the vajra and the sakti, the two other hands being respectively held in the varada and abhaya poses. The colour of these goddess is red, and she has on her head a Kirita Makuta. Her vahana as well as the emblem of her banner is elephant, and her abode is under the Kalpaka tree. According to the Vishnudharmottra, she should have a thousand eyes and should be of golden colour and should have six arms. Devi Purana states that she carries the ankusa and vajra only and in the Purva Karanagama it has been mentioned that she has only two eyes and she holds lotus in one of her hands.
Aum Gajath-vajaayai Vidmahe, Vajra Hasthaya Dhimahee, Thanno Indrani Prachodayath
Mahesvari is white in complexion, she has three eyes. She has four arms, two of which are in the varada and the abhaya poses, while in the remaining two hands she carries the trisula and akashamala. Her banner as well as the vahana is Nandi (bull); she wears a Jata Makuta.
Aum Vrushath-vajaaya Vidmahe, Miruga Hasthaya Dhimahee, Thanno Maheshwari Prachodayath
Kaumari is yellow in complexion and has four hands, in two of which she carries the sakti and the kukkuta, the remaining two hands in the abhaya and the varada poses. Her vahana is the Peacock. Her abode is under a fig tree. According to the Vishnudharamottara, she has six faces and twelve arms, in which she carries the sakti, dhvaja, danda, dhanus, bana, ghanta, padma, patra and parasu. The Devi Purana adds that her garlands are made of red flower and the Purvakarnagama adds that the goddess is so sculptured as to suggest the ideas of valour and courage.
Aum Sikid-vajaaya Vidmahe, Vajra Hasthaya Dhimahee, Thanno Kaumari Prachodayath
Varahi is dark complexioned, with human body and the face of a boar. She wears on her Orissa Review head a Karanda Makuta and is adorned with ornaments made of corals. She weilds the hala and the sakti and is seated under a Kalpaka tree. Her vahana as well as the emblem of her banner is the Elephant. The Vishnudharmottara states that she has a big belly and six hands, in four of which she carries the danda, khadga, khetaka and pasa. The Purvakaranagama says that she carries the hala and musala as her weapons. She wears on her legs nupuras (anklets).
Aum Varaaha-muhi Vidmahe, Aanthra-shani Dhimahee, Thanno Yamuna Prachodayath
Goddess Chamunda has four arms, two of which are in the varada and abhaya poses and in the other two hands she carries the kapala (skull) and the trisula. The Devi is destroyed the two demons, Chanda and Munda. She has a very emaciated body, aunken belly and a terrifying face with a grin. She wears a garland of skulls. Her garment is the tiger skin and her abode is under fig tree. As the mother goddess she is the fertility aspect of Durga. She has been praised as the tutelary goddess of Vindhya Mountains. She has a very heavy Jata Makuta. In the Purva Karanagama it is mentioned that she should have her mouth open and should wear on her head the digit of the moon as Siva does, that her vahana is an owl and the emblem of her banner is an eagle. In one of the left hands she carries the kapala which is filled with lumps of flesh, and in another left hand she holds a snake. She wears in her ears kundalas made of conch-shell.
Aum Pisaasath-vajaaya Vidmahe, Soola Hasthaya Dhimahee, Thanno Kali Prachodayat
The sculpturing of the Sapta Matrika group of goddesses found in the cave temple of Ellora conform largely to the description given above. They, however differ in few points. For instance the group is invariably made of seven mothers flanked on either side by Virabhadra who is seen playing upon a vina and Vinayaka. There are some blood-thirsty ghosts surrounding Chamunda, a group of the Sapta Matrikas with Viresvara. In the inner walls of Vaital deula there are a group A stone slab of the early Kushana period, from Dhanagaon near Mathura now in the Mathura Museum, represents the Matrikas as ordinary females without any distinguishing symbol or vehicle. In Orissa certain varieties of the Matrika figures in developed forms have been found. An early group of Sapta Matrikas with the two associates, Genesa and Virabhadra are found on the northern wall of the Parasuramesvara temple (605 A.D.) at Bhubaneswar. The ceiling of the Jagamohana of the Muktesvara temple also contains beautiful figures of the Sapta Matrika, each occupying one of the petals of the eight petalled lotus at the center conceived in the form of a canopy. These figures constitute of Sapta Matrikas headed by Viresvara, with the largest image of Chamunda which is the presiding deity of the shrine. A group of Matrika images like Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani and Chamunda found in the Orissa State Museum. All the Matrikas are seat in Lalita attitude. An interesting relief in the Orissa State Museum, bearing the figures of the Matrikas, depicts Chamunda having emaciated body, sunken belly, wearing a garland of skull and seated in an easy posture, on a prostrate human being.
There is an interesting Saptamatrika panel in the Allahabad Museum. They were found at Gorgi in the Rewa dist of Madhya Pradesh. All the seven divine mothers along with Virabhadra and Ganesa have been rendered as dancing vigorously.
The Esoteric Significance of the Devi Mahatmya
Posted by Swami Krishnananda | Apr 16, 2014 | IndiaDivine.Org
Our longings are fundamentally very deep and cannot be easily satisfied by temporary make shift or day-to-day adjustment of outer circumstances. Our desires are profound; our yearnings are very unintelligible to outer atmosphere of our daily life. We seem to have a root which is deeper than what can be comprehended by our normal understanding of the world.
We grow from all sides, and when we long for or desire or yearn or aspire, we do so in a very comprehensive manner. This aspiration of the human being is really the soul’s longing for freedom. All our desires are desires of the soul, ultimately. Though they look like sensory desires, mental desires, intellectual desires, social desires, etc., they are, at the bottom, the longing of the soul of the human being, which ramifies itself into various distracted rays through the operations of the mind and the activities of the senses. Our longings are, therefore, capable of being collected into a single essential power, an inward urge, which we may call the longing for freedom. It is freedom that we ask for and it is freedom that anyone asks for. Varieties of longings and multitudes of enterprises in the world can be collected into a single focus of the soul’s aspiration for liberation. And this aspiration for liberation is not merely the longing of the human being, but of all that is created anywhere on earth or in heaven. Whether it is the plant or the animal, whether it is a man or a celestial, the aspiration is this much. All longings can be boiled down into the quintessence of the longing for liberation, freedom from all sides and an ultimate supremacy over one’s own self in the realization of this freedom.
The Devi-Mahatmya which, in a majestic poetry in Sanskrit, describes to us the Epic of the march of the human soul to its destination, the realization of this freedom, is the dramatic aspect of the great worship of the Divine Mother during these nine days of Navaratri or Dassehra as you call it. The march of the soul is dramatic. It is not a lagging or a crawling but a beautiful, sonorous, musical advent, you may call it. This is the beauty of the Devi-Mahatmya. All Epics have this particular character of grandeur, uplifting the emotions, and chastening the intellect of the devotee who goes through them.
The Devi-Mahatmya is a part of the Markandeya Purana, containing thirteen chapters which are grouped into three sections, known as the Prathama Charitra, Madhyama Charitra and the Uttama Charitra. As in the Bhagavadgita, sometimes we are told that the eighteen chapters can be grouped into three sections of teaching, consisting of six chapters in each, in the Devi-Mahatmya also, which is an Epic-counterpart of the methods of the Bhagavadgita in its practical implementations it is capable of a division into three sections. The march of the soul is graduated into three major steps, though there are many minor steps involved in these three major ones. While we have to rise through various rungs of the ladder of evolution, we come to three points or halting places, we may call them, where there is a complete transformation of outlook, attitude and constitution of our being. These threefold transformations of the spiritual being of the aspiring soul are dominated or presided over by three deities known as Maha-Kali, Maha-Lakshmi and Maha-Sarasvati. These three presiding forces are representative of the powers of the spirit within manifesting themselves in an upward ascent towards freedom ultimate, so that in this march of the soul to its freedom, it carries with it everything that is connected with it. The difference between the spiritual march and your march along the road or a highway is this, that while in your march on a roadway, you alone walk and nobody need accompany you, nothing need be connected with you, and you can have a free walk independently; in the spiritual march, it is not such an isolated march, but you carry with you everything that is connected with you. Now, what are the things connected with you that you carry? There are four stages of this relationship. Consciously we are related in a particular manner and subconsciously we are related in another manner altogether. Consciously, we people seated in this hall for example, have a particular sort of relationship among ourselves, but subconsciously our relationships are of a different kind altogether and they need not tally with our conscious relationship. And deeper still, we have a layer where our relationship is more akin to a unity of life than to a diversity of personality. There is a fourth stage which is incapable of any description at all. We do not know whether we are to call it a unity or a diversity, or oneness or otherness. This is the goal towards which the soul is marching. So, in the description of the Devi-Mahatmya, we are carried forward psychologically and spiritually to our destination of the ultimate realization.
There are three stages of transformation described in the three sections of the Devi-Mahatmya. The first one is where Adi-Sakti awakes Maha-Vishnu who was asleep, so that He may destroy or overcome the original demoniacal forces, Madhu and Kaitabha. The second stage is where the same Sakti manifests Herself as Maha-Lakshmi and overcomes Mahishasura and Raktabija. The third one is where Sumbha and Nisumbha are destroyed by Maha-Sarasvati. And the nine days of worship comprehend these three stages adored in three days of worship, each. The final victory is called Vijaya-Dasami, the tenth day, as you know. That is the day of Victory, where you master the forces of Nature completely and your goal is reached. When you step over nine, you enter into Infinity. Numbers are only nine, you do not have ten numbers. All the arithmatic is within nine numbers only. The whole cosmos is within nine. But when you transcend the nine, you have gone to Infinity, which is beyond cosmic relationship. The lower powers of Nature are like dirt. We call them Mala, ‘Vishnukarna-Malodbhuto Hantum Brahmanamudyato’, says the Devi-Mahatmya. The Madhu and Kaitabha, two Rakshasas (demons) are supposed to have come out of the dirt of the ear of Vishnu. The lowest category of opposition is of the nature of dirt, Mala; and psychologically, from the point of view of the seeking soul, this dirt is in the form of Kama, Krodha and Lobha. ‘Kama Esha Krodha Esha Rajo-guna Samudbhavah,’ ‘Kamah Krodhastatha Lobhah Tasmat Etat Trayam Tyajet’–It is desire and anger born of Rajas; desire, anger and greed, these three therefore should be abandoned,–says the Bhagavadgita. These three are the gates to hell. These three are regarded as dirt, because they cover the consciousness in such a way that it appears to be not there at all. It is like painting a thin glass with coal-tar. You cannot see the glass. It is all pitch-dark like clouds. This has to be rubbed off with great effort. When this Mala or dirt is removed, we get into another trouble. Do not think that when you are tentatively a master of Kama, Krodha and Lobha, you are a real master of yourself. “There are more things in heaven and earth than your philosophy dreams of, O Horatio,” said Hamlet. So do not think that your philosophy is exhaustive. There are many more things that philosophy cannot comprehend. Kama, Krodha and Lobha are not the only enemies. There are subtler ones, more formidable than these visible foes. As a matter of fact, the subtle invisible enemies are more difficult to overcome than the visible ones. Sometimes you know an angry man is better than a smiling person. Smiling person is more dangerous than the angry one, because he can have a knife under his arm-pit. This is what we will face. When we manage somehow to overcome this Madhu and Kaitabha, Kama and Krodha, we get into the clutches of Mahishasura and Raktabija. They represent the Vikshepa Sakti, the tossing of the mind. Every minute the mind changes its forms which multiply in millions. You read in the Devi-Mahatmya, how Mahishasura changed his form. Now he is an elephant, now he is a buffalo, now he is something else. If you hit him in one form, he comes in another form. And this is your inexhaustible opponent. His energies are incapable of being exhausted. However much you may try to oppose the Vikshepa Sakti, it will manifest in some form or other. This is described in the form of the demon Raktabija, whose drops of blood were seeds of hundreds and thousands of demons like him coming up. When the Devi severed the head of one Rakshasa, the blood fell on the ground profusely and from that blood, millions cropped up. And when She killed them, again another million cropped up. So there was no end for it. If you cut off one or two desires, the desire is not over. The root is still there. The branches are only severed. Unless the root is dug out, there is no use of merely severing the branches of the tree. So what did the Devi do? She asked Kali to spread her tongue throughout the earth, so that there is no ground at all for the Rakshasas to walk over. They had to walk over the tongue of Kali. So huge it was. And now the Goddess started cutting their heads and when the blood fell, it fell not on the ground but on the tongue of Kali. So she sucked everything. Chariots and horses and demons and everybody entered her mouth. She chewed all chariots into powder. So likewise, we have to adopt a technique of sucking the very root of desires and not merely chop off its branches. Otherwise, desires will take various forms like Mahishasura. When we think that Mahishasura has been killed, he comes as a buffalo and when the buffalo is attacked, he again comes as an elephant, and if Devi attacks the elephant, he comes as a bull and attacks Her. So, there is no way of overcoming these desires by merely dealing with them from outside by a frontal attack. Their very essence has to be sucked. Because, a desire is not an outward form or an action, it is a tendency within. You may do nothing, and yet you will have desires; because, desire is not necessarily an activity. A person full of desire need not be very active. He can be sitting quiet, doing nothing, saying nothing, and yet be full of desires. Because, it is a tendency of the mind, an inclination of consciousness, that we call a desire. That can be inside, even if there is outwardly nothing. This is the Vikshepa Sakti,–distraction, tossing and the chameleon-attitude of desire,–which attacks us, when with Herculean efforts, we try to destroy or gain control over Kama and Krodha, Madhu and Kaitabha. After Madhu and Kaitabha, we get Mahishasura and Raktabija. Thus Mala and Vikshepa are the primary oppositions in our spiritual pursuit.
Ancient masters have told us that while Mala or dirt of the psychological structure can be removed by Karma Yoga, by unselfish and dedicated service, Vikshepa or distraction of the mind can be removed only by worship of God, by Upasana. While Karma removes Mala, Upasana removes Vikshepa. But even now, we are not fully safe. While Mala might have gone and Vikshepa is not there, we may have a third trouble, namely, a complete oblivion of consciousness. We will have no knowledge of anything as to what is happening. Ajnana or Ignorance is a subtler opposing power than its effects in the form of Mala and Vikshepa. Distraction and direct sensual desires are the outer expressions of a subtle ignorance of Truth, Avidya or Ajnana. Why do we desire things? We desire things because we do not know the nature of Truth. Why does a strong wind blow? Strong wind blows because the sun is covered over with clouds. The sun is covered by the clouds first, then, there is darkness and then a gale, cyclone starts blowing from the north, breaking your umbrellas and uprooting trees. All these happen because the sun does not shine. Even so, when the Atman is covered over by ignorance of its nature, the winds of desire begin to blow, and they come like violent storms. Impetuous is the force of desire. You cannot stand against it, because the whole of Nature gets concentrated in a desire. That is why it is impetuous and uncontrollable. All the powers of Nature get focussed in a desire when it manifests itself, whatever may be that desire. So the whole of Nature has to be subdued. You are not to subdue only your individual nature, but the cosmic Nature itself is to be subdued. This is what is depicted in the Epic of the Devi-Mahatmya. It is the subdual, overcoming, transformation of the cosmic Nature in the form of Tamas, Rajas and Sattva. While Mala represents Tamas, Vikshepa represents Rajas.
Now, Sattva is also a Guna, unfortunately. We always praise Sattva and regard it as a very desirable thing. But it is like a transparent glass that is placed between us and the Truth. You can see through it, but you cannot go beyond it. Because, though the glass is transparent, it can obstruct your movement. It is not like a brick-wall, completely preventing your vision, as Tamas does; it is not like a blowing wind which simply tosses you here and there, as Rajas does; it is a plain glass, through which you can have vision of Reality, but you cannot contact Reality nevertheless. How can you contact a thing when there is a glass between you and the thing? Yet you can see it. So they say even Sattva is an obstacle, though it is better than the other two forces, in the sense that through it you can have a vision or an insight into the nature of Reality which transcends even Sattva. There is a glass pane and you can see a mango fruit on the other side of it. You can see it very well, but cannot get it, you cannot grab it. You know the reason. Even Sattva is a subtle medium of obstruction, which acts in a double form; as complacency or satisfaction with what has been achieved, and an ignorance of what is beyond. These two aspects of Sattva are indicated by the two personalities of Sumbha and Nisumbha. They have to be dispelled by the power of higher wisdom, which is Maha-Sarasvati.
Action, contemplation and knowledge are the three stages through which we have to pierce through the veil of Prakriti or three Gunas. And as I mentioned earlier, we are not individual pedestrians on the path. There is no individual movement here. It is all a total movement of everything connected with us and no item in the world is really disconnected from us. Every thread in a cloth is connected with every other thread. When you lift one thread of a cloth, the whole cloth comes up, because of the interconnection of the warp and the woof of the cloth. Likewise, there is an internal interconnection of beings, which prevents any kind of individual effort for the sake of salvation. That is why salvation is universal, it is not individual. When you attain to the Supreme Being, you become the Universal Being. You do not go as a Mr. So and So or as a Mrs. so and so, there. So the path of Sadhana also is a cosmic effort of the soul, a subtle secret which most Sadhakas are likely to forget. It is not a small, simple, private effort of yours in the closet of your room, but a dynamic activity of your essential personality, internally connected by unforeseen relationships with everything in the cosmos. When you enter the path of the spirit, you have also at the same time entered the path of cosmic relationship. A Sadhaka is, therefore, a cosmic person. A spiritual seeker, an aspirant is a representative of cosmic situation. He is not an individual, though he looks like a person, and his Sadhana is not an individual effort. It is much more than what it appears to be on the surface. It is, as it were, the conversation between Nara and Narayana, Krishna-Arjuna-Samvada, as they call it. You and your God are face to face with each other. In Sadhana, in spiritual effort, you are face to face with your Maker. And the face of the Maker is universal. He is not in one spot, hiding himself in one corner.
So, the dance of the cosmic spirit, in its supernal effort at self-transcendence, is majestically described in the beautifully worded sonorous songs of the Devi-Mahatmya, where we are given a stirring account, a stimulating description of what Maha-Kali did, what Maha-Lakshmi did and Maha-Sarasvati did in bringing about this evolution, transformation of the whole range of Prakriti from Tamas to Rajas, from Rajas to Sattva and from Sattva to Supreme Vijaya, mastery in the Absolute, God-realization. All our scriptures, Puranas and Epics, all our ceremonies and celebrations, all our festivals and Jayantis, whatever be the occasion for a religious performance, all this is charged with a spiritual connotation, a significance which is far transcendent to the outer rituals which is involved in their performance. Every thought, every aspiration, every ritual and every duty of ours, every action that we perform automatically becomes a spiritual dedication of the Soul, for the sake of this one single aspiration which it has been enshrining in itself from eternity to eternity. This significance is brought out in all our Epics and Puranas. Whether in the Mahabharata or the Ramayana and whether in the Bhagavad Gita or the Devi-Mahatmya, they tell us the same account in different terminologies and with different emphases. It is always a song of the soul. The Bhagavad Gita is a song of the soul, the Over-Soul speaking to the lower soul. Here again, we have a similar account of the actual Sadhana involved in the realization of this ultimate harmony of the soul with the Over-Soul. The spiritual practice of a Sadhaka is, therefore, a confronting of the three forces of Tamas, Rajas and Sattva, gradually, stage by stage, in their cosmic significance, forgetting not for a moment that we are not ‘islands’. No man is an island. You must have heard the poet’s saying: “A man is not an island.” That means he is not surrounded simply by oceans and cut off from things. He is connected with everything. This is the significance we have to read in our practical lives. This is the meaning we have to see and visualize in our personal Sadhana. And when we learn to see the significance of the presence of divinity or the universality of God even in our private actions, we are taken care of by universal forces. We need not bother about even the smallest problem of our life. Even the littlest of our difficulty will be taken care of in a proper manner by the forces that are in the world, provided, of course, that we are able to read the significance of universality even in the most private of our actions, even in the smallest and littlest of our actions. There is no such thing as a little action in the world. Everything is important. Even the most insignificant event is a very important event, ultimately. Because, hidden behind it is the ocean. This significance we have to learn to read. This is, in my humble opinion, what Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj meant whenever he said that God-realization is the goal of life. He was not tired of saying this throughout his life. We can see, in his earlier books especially, that they commence with the sentence: “The Goal of Life is God-realization.” Whatever he had to say in those books, he said afterwards. So, the first thing is to remember that the Goal of Life is God-realization. Do not forget this. The little petty tensions and turmoils and annoyances and worries and vexations are not the goal of life. They are the obstacles that come on our way, which we have to carefully obviate and go with caution, like a pilgrim who has lost his way in this wilderness of life, and yet confident at the same time that the warmth of the spiritual sun is always energizing our personality and that we are never, at any time, any moment of our practice, completely cut off from that source of energy.
So, through the worship of Maha-Kali, Maha-Lakshmi, and Maha-Sarasvati, we worship Mula-Prakriti, Adi-Sakti in her cosmic dance-form of transformation, prosperity and Illumination. In the beginning, what happens to a Sadhaka? There is a necessity of self-transformation. It is all hardship, rubbing and cleaning, washing, sweeping, etc. That is the first stage through the worship of Maha-Kali, who brings about a destruction of all barriers. Then what happens? There is tremendous prosperity. You become a master and a progressive soul commanding all powers, getting everything that you want. This is the second stage. In the first stage, it looked as if you were a poor person, having nothing, very weak. But, when you overcome this weakness, by removing the barrier of Tamas, you become prosperous. Nobody can be as rich as a Yogi, you know. He can command all the powers. By a thought he can invoke all things, and this is Goddess Maha-Lakshmi working. When Maha-Kali has finished her work of destruction of opposition, Maha-Lakshmi comes as prosperity. A great Yogi is also like a royal personality, because of his internal invocations, though unconsciously done, of cosmic powers. When prosperity dawns, it looks as if the whole universe is a heaven. In the first stage, it looked like a hell. Afterwards, in the second stage, it looks like a heaven, when Maha-Lakshmi begins to work. But this also is not sufficient. Knowledge should dawn. It is not heaven that you are asking for. You want the realization of Truth. Sarasvati will come for help and a flood of light on Truth will be thrown and you will see things as they are. There is no enjoyment, prosperity, richness, wealth or any such thing. It is Truth unconnected with you in the beginning, but later on inseparable from yourself. Thus, from opposition to prosperity, from prosperity to enlightenment, and from enlightenment to Self-realization do we proceed. So, these are the truths esoterically conveyed to us in the Mantras of the Devi-Mahatmya.
Now, this Devi-Mahatmya is not merely an esoteric Epic. It is not only a great spiritual text in the form of occult lessons and occult teachings of which I have given you an outline. But, it is also a great Mantra-Sastra. Every sloka, every verse of the Devi-Mahatmya is a Mantra by itself. I will tell you how it is a Mantra, by giving only one instance and that is the first sloka itself. ‘Savarnih suryatanayo yo manuh Kathyate-shtamah. This is the first sloka, Savarnih Surya-Tanayah. It is all a Tantric interpretation and a very difficult thing to understand. But I am giving you only an idea as to what it is all like. Surya represents fire, the fire-principle. ‘Surya-Tanaya’ means that which is born of the fire-principle. What is it that is born of the fire-principle? It is the seed ‘Ra’. According to Tantric esoteric psychology, ‘Ram’ is the Bija Mantra of Agni. In the word Savarnih, ‘varni’ means a hook; so add one hook to ‘Ram’. Yo Manuh Kathyate, ashtamah. Eighth letter–What is Manu? It is a letter in Sanskrit. Eight letters are Ya, Ra, La, Va, Sya, Sha, Sa, Ha. The eighth is Ha. Add Ha to it. Ha, Ra and one hook, make ‘Hreem’. Savarnih Suryo-Tanayo Yo Manuh Kathyateshtamah, Nisamaya Tadutpattim,–you hear the glory of that, the sage says. So, the first verse means: “Now, I shall describe to you the glory of ‘Hreem’.” This Hreem is the Bija of Devi. But, outwardly it means, “Listen to the story of the king so and so, who is the eighth Manu” and all that. Thus in addition to the outer meaning, there is an inner significance of the Mantra. I am giving you only the case of one Mantra. Like this, every Mantra is full of inner significance. And every Mantra is repeated by devotees for some purpose or the other. Especially, the Devi-Mahatmya is recited for averting calamities in life. Catastrophes, calamities and tensions, personal or outward, whatever they be, all these are averted by a regular daily recital of the Devi-Mahatmya. When there is war threatening a country, for example, or pestilence or epidemic spreading everywhere, or any internal tension or anxiety of any kind, the Devi-Mahatmya is to be studied and it is a very potent remedy prescribed by seers of yore, not only for temporal terrestrial prosperity, but also for the glory of the hereafter, for illumination, for the destruction of Avidya or Ajnana, for overcoming Mala, Vikshepa and Avarana, and to be a fit recipient of the grace of the Almighty. Thus is the outer significance, and the inner significance of the Devi-Mahatmya and the special meaning that it has in the life of spiritual seekers or Sadhakas. Glory to God! Glory to Sadhana! Glory to the integral character of spiritual practice! May we be blessed with this illumination, with this wisdom, with the strength to tread the path of the Spirit, to our ultimate Freedom.
(Note:Continued in next three parts posted seperatly)
(Note:Continued in next three parts posted seperatly)