The Worship of the Divine Mother

Swami Sivananda

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Devi is synonymous with Sakti or the Divine Power that manifests, sustains and transforms the universe as the one unifying force of Existence. In fact, worship of Devi is not sectarian; it does not belong to any cult. By Devi or Sakti we mean the presupposition of all forms of existential power, the power of knowledge, of omniscience. These powers are the glorious attributes of God—you may call Him Vishnu or Siva or as you like. In other words, Sakti is the very possibility of the Absolute’s appearing as many, of God’s causing this universe. Sakti and Sakta are one; the Power and the one who possesses the Power cannot be separated; God and Sakti are like fire and heat of fire.

Devi-worship or Sakti-worship is therefore worship of God’s glory, of God’s greatness and supremacy. It is adoration of the Almighty. It is unfortunate that Devi is misunderstood as a blood-thirsty Hindu-Goddess. No, Devi is not the property of the Hindu alone. Devi does not belong to any religion. Devi is the conscious power of the Deva. Let this never be forgotten. The words Devi, Sakti etc. and the ideas of the different forms connected with these names are concessions given to the limitations of human knowledge, human comprehension. Bhagavan Sri Krishna says in the Gita, ‘This is only My lower nature Sakti; beyond this is my higher nature, the Original Sakti, the life-principle which sustains this entire universe’. The Upanishad says, "The Para Sakti, the Supreme Power of this God, is heard of in various ways; this Power is the nature of God manifesting as knowledge, strength and activity." Truly speaking all beings of the universe are Sakti worshippers, for there is none who does not love and long for power in some form or other. Physicists and scientists have proved now that everything is pure imperishable energy. This energy is only a form of Divine-Sakti which exists in every form of existence.

Since Sakti cannot be worshipped in its essential nature, it is worshipped as conceived of in its manifestations viz., creation, preservation and destruction. Sakti, in relation to these three functions, is Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Kaali. These, as is evident, are not three distinct Devis, but the one formless Devi worshipped in three different forms. Durga Puja or Navaratri is the festive occasion of the ‘nine-day-worship of Maha-Kaali, Maha-Lakshmi and Maha-Sarasvati’, the Divinity of the Universe adored in three ways.

Sarasvati is cosmic Intelligence, cosmic Consciousness, cosmic Knowledge. Worship of Sarasvati is necessary for Buddhi-Suddhi, Viveka Vichara-Sakti, Jnana, self-illumination. Lakshmi does not mean more material wealth like gold, cattle etc. All kinds of prosperity, glory, magnificence, joy, exaltation, greatness, come under the grace of Goddess Lakshmi. Sri Appayya Dikshitar calls even final Liberation as ‘Moksha-Samrajya Lakshmi’. Hence worship of Lakshmi means the worship of Divinity, the power that dissolves multiplicity in unity. The worship of Devi is therefore the explanation of the entire process of spiritual Sadhana in all its aspects.

During Durga Pula or Navaratri observe strict Anushtana and purify your inner spiritual nature. This is the most auspicious time in the year for Mother-Worship. Read Saptasati or Devi Mahatmya and Lalita Sahasranama. Do Japa of the Mantra of Devi. Perform formal worship with purity, sincerity and absolute devotion. Cry for the Darshan of Mother Devi. The Divine Mother will bless you with the knowledge, the peace and the joy that know no end. May the Divine Mother Durga establish righteousness or Dharma in the World! May She destroy all dark hostile forces that disturb the peace of the world! May She remove all sorts of epidemics and famine from the land! May She bring supreme peace, prosperity and undying bliss to all Her children of this world! May She transmute the Asuras or the demons or people with diabolical tendencies into Sattvic men! May She annihilate the Asuric tendencies, such as lust, anger, pride, hypocrisy, etc. in human beings, which represent Madhu Kaitabha, Mahisha, Sumbha and Nisumbha!

May She give the milk of divine wisdom to Her children and lift them up to the magnanimous heights of divine splendour and glory, the imperishable state of Kaivalya and eternal sunshine!

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