Shakti-God as Mother
nteracting with mystics from all over the world, drawing freely from Mankind's treasure trove of spirituality, I have been observing with happiness the re-emergence in some form or the other,of Shakti worship.
And it is Universal, Whether it is the ever growing numbers of yatris visting Ma Vaishno devi In our own Jammu, or the establishing of Sri vidya centres down in Bangalore, where one can have puja's and homa's offered to the Devi in the same format as the ancient ways. Whether it is Dan brown's extraordinary book, The Da vinci Code, that sold millions of copies talking to people about Mary magdalene as a great force behind Jesus, or whether politicians in our country feel that its finally time to honour a woman as the first man (and i say this because till now we call our president Rashtra pati), or even the comeback of witches in millions in the UK and USA , where once they were stoned and burned at mere accusation, their incantations and mysterious diagramatic rituals now vindicated, with even The Oxford University actually offering a course in witchcraft, or whether even Harry potter makes his entry into our heart, learning magic from sorcerer’s who had profound respect for, and knowledge of, the mysterious power that is latent in the world.
All this is only a re -assertion of Mankind's oldest form of worship to God as mother. For what really is mother worship? The mother is one who gives us life by deliverance, and then stands by our sides to grow us up every moment,from feeding and nurturing,educating and teaching us how to go about in this world, and this is true not only of all cultures of the human race, but also of birds and animals….so too, the wise people of old times noted that there must be a cosmic mother, One, who delivers the whole universe from its womb. And in this concept, she goes by different names in different cultures, but is almost always present in the older civilizations and native tribes of the old world .
In India, where we have always been especially priveleged when it comes to spiritual inheritance, being comfortable with Shakti, the feminine aspect of God,comes naturally to us. Notably in Hinduism, it in fact, is among the most outstanding features - no God is really complete without his consort, and we even take their names in pairs, sita ram, radhe shyam, brahma saraswati, and of course, shiva parvati. And the consorts are not different from the gods, they are like the qualities of the God himself, like fire and heat,sun and radiance, etc.
In modern mystic parlance, we talk in terms of being and becoming, this is important to note,
For Shiva is pure being and Shakti is all becoming.
God is the transcendental pureness,and the manifest world is called simply ,Mother Nature .
Without shakti (His power to create), Shiva, they say, would be shava, inert as the corpse.
Shiva's Shakti is also His power to preserve, and finally to dissolve the world back into Himself.
And the old wise ones had noted not only the capacity of this universal power to create, but also to preserve, and ultimately to end all things that are born.
And even this end, they taught, was only an end from the separation from God, and rather than death, they liked to understand it as a return to the origin,a phenomenon they termed as dissolution.
Thus, mother worship, shakti puja, in simplified terms, is a healthy respect for the created world, its running, and ultimately the end of the life cycle of all things,and a second deliverance,after having co- operated with the divine intelligence that runs the world, a deliverance back to the origin.
Unlike its western counterparts, who for want of better understanding among the skeptical, got burnt as practitioners of some mysterious and occult ritual, Seekers in India were actually respected for their profundity in their way of tribute and participation in the Divine Mother’s leela, play. This is because India has also been very rich in its iconography or symbolism of divine insight ,and as a result we had a fantastic array of portrayals of Durga in many of her different attributes,each represented by an elaborately worked out system of yantra(diagram) mantra(incantation), and of course, the very rich portrayal(iconography) that went alongwith it.
These are The Ten Mahavidyas , known as Wisdom Goddesses. The spectrum of these ten goddesses covers the whole range of feminine divinity, encompassing horrific goddess's at one end, to the beautiful at the other. The Goddesses are: Kali,Tara, Shodashi, Bhuvaneshvari, Chinnamasta, Bhairavi, Dhumawati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi, and Kamala.
I quote from a legend “Once during their numerous love games, things got out of hand between Shiva and Parvati. What had started in jest turned into a serious matter with an angry Shiva threatening to leave Parvati. No amount of cajoling by Parvati could reverse matters. Parvati then multiplied herself into ten different forms for each of the ten directions. Thus however hard Shiva might try to escape from his beloved, he would find her guarding all escape routes.
Each of the Devi's manifested forms made Shiva realize essential truths, made him aware of the eternal nature of their mutual love and significantly established in Indian thought the Goddess's superiority over her male counterpart. Not that Shiva in any way felt belittled by this awareness, only spiritually awakened.”
The central aim here is to stretch one's consciousness and go beyond the conventional social norms, roles, and expectations, and foray into the realm of truth for oneself.
And so we learned from the very beginning to honour the Devi in her different aspects , the different aspects of Nature: its beauty and benevolence as shodashi ,bhuvaneshwari and tara and we learnt also of her autumnal aspect, her old age as dhumavati, as bhairavi, the destroyer, and of course, we respected her even in her terrible aspect! who is not familiar with Mahakali, and so, our ancients matured in shakti puja, leaving behind an immense legacy of spiritual gems..
The next time we read or hear about the Das Mahavidyas, ten major forms of the Devi, replete with her mantras and yantras, we can imbibe the process with a greater sense of belonging to a heritage that has matured to respect God in his powers, God, in motherhood, God as She looks after us all like a loving mother through each pleasure and pain of this wordly sojourn.
Jai Mata Di!
Hailing from a well known business family of J&K state, Shail Gulhati is a practicing Shaivite mystic(and this can be mentioned, because one of our goals is to end the idea that spirituality and the world are mutually exclusive).
He has authored two books.
The yogi and the snake", a parable set in a mystical dialogue format between a seeker whose self esteem is low and the supreme spiritual master Shiva, who unfolds the secrets of spiritual pluralism that bridge the gap between ancient mystic wisdom and contemporary spiritual understanding, thus restoring his esteem for him by transforming his perception. And more recently ,"NAAMROOP-A Tribute to the divine" a book of verses and paintings to the divine, with celebrated Delhi based artist, Arpana Caur.
Shail Gulhati has participated in the third international seminar on Kashmir Shaivism, and also the 19th SAARC writer’s summit, with poems. He writes spiritual articles regularly for newspapers. You can find reference for his Kashmir Shaiv Darsana at Facebook
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Thanks Deepak, for the article. The pic used is awesome:) I love being associated with Shehjar and you.
Added By Shail Gulhati