Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Devi As Avidya And Vidya Maya

The Mother Goddess is the dynamic aspect of the supreme, transcendent Being which is infinity, eternity and ineffable peace, beyond cognizance of senses and mind. Invocation of the universal Mother leads to attainment of knowledge of Self or Atman as supported by the Yaksha Prasna in Kenopanishada. Navratri celebrates these aspects of Devi Ma and its conclusion is celebration of learning and knowledge.

The Navratri veneration of Devi is shakta worship, one among five divisions, the others being Shaivite, Vaishnava, Ganpatya and Saurya that invoke respectively Shakti, Shiva, Vishnu, Ganpati and Surya deities. Devi Mahatmya, Durga Saptashati or Chandi Patha describe the glory of the Supreme Mother in 700 verses by Rishi Medha to King Suratha and a merchant named Samadhi who were deeply intrigued and puzzled that their mind was seized of the very people who deprived and ousted them and were in fact the cause of their sorrow and grief. This reflects the attraction we feel for illusionary worldly pleasure. Devi Tattva explains that whatever we see or perceive as the phenomenal world is the outcome of supreme power of Parabrahmn, the primal force called Adi Shakti, also known as transcendental power, Parashakti and superlative power, Mahashakti. Sages say that Parabrahmn and His supreme mysterious power of world illusion that we called Maya or Devi are one and the same, like heat and fire, milk and its whiteness, snake and its zigzag motion.

The devout invoke Devi in twofold form, Avidya Maya and Vidya Maya, cause of cosmic delusion as well as cosmic deliverance! As Avidya Maya she binds down all to this illusory appearance, world play, and as Vidya Maya she releases them from bondage. Hence artists see her as a radiant goddess with a noose in one hand that binds and a sharp knife in the other hand that snaps the bondage. Being a mysterious combination of Avidya Maya and Vidya Maya, she is called imponderable and indescribable.

Durga Mahakali
As Durga Mahakali, she destroys, but to save. Mahakali is not fearful or terrible but loving and compassionate as she destroys all evils, just as a broad spectrum antibiotic kills all pathogenic microbes. This concept is found in other religions too in terms of God and Satan in Christian theology, Ahura Mazda and Ahriman in Zoroastrianism – like Mara in Buddhism, we call it ignorance, asuric forces or Avidya Maya in Hinduism. It is called Anatman or non-self in Vedantic parlance that can be overcome by knowledge of Atman.
In Saptashati we find victory over three demons – Madhu Kaitabha, gross form of lower nature of man, Mahishasura of rajo guna and Shumbha-Nishumbha representing vikshepa and avarana shakti equipped with a host of warriors including Raktabeeja symbolising human egoism.

Mother in three aspects Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati,

Venerating Mother in three aspects, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati, is significant. As a play of Avidya Maya there is involution of spirit into matter, absolute into relative, one into many. The creative power of Brahma in the form of Mahasaraswati comes first, followed by the protective aspect of Vishnu as Mahalakshmi and the dissolving power of Rudra as Mahakali or Durga. A devotee seeks the Mother first as Mahakali for destroying grossness and nescience, then as Mahalakshmi for sustaining and prospering in yogic and spiritual life and finally as Mahasaraswati, the first emanation and bestower of knowledge for uniting individual jiva with Paramatma or Parabrahmn and attain universal cosmic consciousness.

Mahagauri Parvati

Inspired by teachings of Swami Chidananda Saraswati, Divine Life Society.
First published by Jayant B Dave in SpeakingTree.in

The NAVARATRI's Finish Tonight - She goes back tomorrow to Her Husband - Om Namah Shivaya!

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