Sri Sri Durga Mahastami Celebration
MOTHERHOOD OF GOD IN HINDUISM
Hindus purposefully think of God as Mother. Sakti expresses the purpose and energy behind the one, whole and harmonious life of the Universe. We find that this phenomenal world is a manifestation of the Sakti or Power of the quiescent Brahman; therefore, the Divine is called “Mother.” Wherever motherhood is highly developed, we find greater peacefulness, sobriety, healthfulness, overall development as well as spiritual and cultural creativity and joy. From time immemorial, chastity and motherhood have had great significance in India. These two qualities are profoundly attuned to the mother’s capacity to give birth. Mothers honoring their true nature have been nourishing their children for the sake of spiritual fulfillment. In this respect, Shri Ramakrishna permits meditation on the form of one’s own mother: “Yes, the mother should be adored. She is indeed an embodiment of Brahman” (Gospel, p. 128).
Vedanta says that the Absolute Reality is possessed of inscrutable, mysterious power, will and wisdom.
WORSHIP OF GOD AS MOTHER
Shri Ramakrishna says, “The means of realizing God are ecstasy of love and devotion—that is, one must love God. He who is Brahman is addressed as the Mother” (Gospel, p.107). The exclusive worship of God in the West as a loving Father awaits the universal dimension of the mother-heart of love that worship of God as Mother brings. Shri Ramakrishna sheds light on the Fatherhood and Motherhood of God: He is indeed a real man who has harmonized everything. Most people are one-sided. But I find that all opinions point to the One. All views—the Sakta, the Vaishnava, the Vedanta—have that One for their center. He who is formless is, again, endowed with form. It is He who appears in different forms. “The attributeless Brahman is my Father. God with attributes is my Mother. Whom shall I blame? Whom shall I praise? The two pans of the scales are equally heavy.”
He who is described in the Vedas is also described in the Tantras and the Puranas. All of them speak about the one Satchidananda. The Nitya and the Lila are the two aspects of the one Reality. It is described in the Vedas as “Om Satchidananda Brahman,” in the Tantras as “Om Satchidananda Siva,” the ever-pure Siva, and in the Puranas as “Om Satchidananda Krishna.” All the scriptures, the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Tantras, speak only of one Satchidananda. It is stated in the Vaishnava scriptures that it is Krishna Himself who has become Kali. (Gospel, p. 490).
SIGNIFICANCE OF DURGA PUJA TODAY
Every autumn, the Divine Mother is worshipped throughout Bengal during the four days of Durga-puja, its most popular form of Sakti-worship. Devotees offer their worship so ardently in this unsurpassed festival as to reach the highest peaks of fervent spiritual devotion, joy and delight. This festival is a virtual testimony of the social and cultural benefits that spiritual joy brings to the community that worships God.
God as Mother is all-inclusive. She is the Mother of the Universe. Three eyes are set in Her captivating face, which radiates like the full moon. Her crowning emblem is the half-moon, yet She holds a trident in Her hand astride a white lion. The Divine Mother is the boundless benefactress of grace to Her devotee. Before the forms obstructing the devotee’s spiritual progress and all wicked oppressors of the good She inspires fear; Her terrible aspect strikes them with awe and wonder. She is duly worshipped in both aspects. One hymn praises Her benign Power, saying, “To Durga, the gracious and everbenign, to the ever-auspicious One, the manifestor of all the worlds, I offer my respectful obeisance.” With words of humility and complaisance, another hymn praises both aspects: “Obeisance to Thee, O Divine Mother, Durga, the benignant and yet terrific roaring. . . . Thou art power, the dark night of destruction.” Both aspects, understood correctly, reveal Her benign redeeming grace. She destroys but to save. The Hymn to the Divine Mother in The Devi Mahatmyam (Chandi XI: 10-12) says, sristhi sthitivina shanam, “[Thou art] creation, preservation and dissolution,” and paritrana parayane sarvasyarti hare devi, [Thou art] the remover of misery of all, full of eagerness to save.” The Divine Mother gently guides Her children to attain moksha, which Shri Ramakrishna says is Her Power of Vidya-maya.
Swami Vivekananda says:
Mother is the first manifestation of power and is considered a higher idea than father. With the name of Mother comes the idea of Sakti, Divine Energy and omnipotence, just as the baby believes its mother to be all-powerful, able to do anything. The Divine Mother is the latent power sleeping in us; without worshipping Her we can never know ourselves. All-merciful, all-powerful, omnipresent are attributes of 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 Shri Ramakrishna saw and knew Her). Established in the idea of Mother, we can do anything. She quickly answers prayer. She can show Herself to us in any form at any moment. 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; so 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 Divine Mother. She is time, space, and causation. God is Mother and has two natures, the conditioned and the unconditioned. As the former, She is God, nature and soul (man). 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, another was Christ . . . Worship Her if you want love and wisdom.
At Allahabad Math
Sri Sri Durga Puja is observed at Allahabad Math with due solemnity on Wednesday, 17th October, 2018. The whole day is celebrated with Special Puja, Havan, Discourse by Swami Akshayananda, Secretary of Ramakrishna Math, Allahabad, Bhajan and Prasad distributions. More than 800 devotees took sacred prasad on this special occasion. The worship of Devine Mother creates enormous joy among the devotees of Ramakrishna order.