On Hinduism (8)

-17 July, 2020


The Divine Mother

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु मातृरुपेण संस्थिता।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥[1]

To that Divine Goddess Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of the Mother,
Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations again and again.


The Divine as the Eternal Feminine, as the Mother, is perhaps the profoundest and the most powerful of the mysteries concealed at the heart of Sanatan Dharma. The Hindu reveres and invokes the Divine as the Transcendent Brahman, as the Indescribable Supreme Being, Purushottam, as the beloved Sri Krishna, or the inscrutable Shiva, the eternal Self of all that lives and moves in this universe; but he also adores and invokes the Divine as the Mother, as the primordial Consciousness-Force, Chit-Shakti, and the supreme creative principle that manifests all being, and sustains and nurtures it even as a human mother sustains and nourishes the life of her child. And even as a mother bears her child in herself, so does the Divine as the Mother bear us all in Her cosmic womb, the sacred matrix, till we are spiritually ready for our full manifestation. Indeed, our whole life in the cosmos is an occult evolutionary preparation in the cosmic womb of the Divine Mother. Few indeed can entirely grasp the supreme mystery of the sacred Feminine. 

Sri Aurobindo describes this sacred Feminine in his mantric epic, Savitri: 

The luminous heart of the Unknown is she,
A power of silence in the depths of God.
She is the Force, the inevitable Word,
The magnet of our difficult ascent.

The sacred and eternal Feminine, the Divine Mother, is the root of this entire universe, the very force that weaves it into the fabric of spacetime; the One who dwells equally in the heart of the atom and in the inmost self of man, the One who spins the Cosmos around the invisible axis of Her divine being, and the One who lies coiled and involved in the heart of matter as the Supreme Light of Truth, jyoti-parasya

Often the first contact of the devotee with the Divine Mother is through Love and Light, for She is the foremost and perfect embodiment of both: as Love, She is the source and the consummation, the fount of all that manifests as Existence, Consciousness and Delight of the Divine; it is out of Her Love that all this exists, that all this has its being in space, time and consciousness. She is the eternal Love that manifests as the Self of the Vedantin, as the God or Ishvara of the Yogin, and as Shiva or Narayan of the meditator and the devotee.  

As Self, She is the inmost psychic being[3], the living portion of the Supreme indwelling in all living beings, the sacred Agni in our inmost hearts; as Agni, the evolutionary Flame, She consumes all our darkness, our ignorance and obscurities, and leads us with a supreme compassion towards our own highest Truth. In Sri Aurobindo’s words, She is the magnet of our difficult ascent.

All forms in this universe are variations of Her infinite becoming, She alone is the whole of this creation, and, indeed, of creations without end. At the head of all manifestation, on the mystic edge of that primordial event-horizon out of which arises all being, She is the Adi-Parashakti: the originating Supreme Consciousness-Force of the Divine. Without the Mother as Adi-Parashakti, Brahman Itself would be incapable of manifestation and Its first movement of Will to become would simply fall back, impotent, into the silence of the Unmanifest. 

All this that we regard and experience as World and Cosmos, Vishwa-Brahmanda, albeit in minuscule measure, are planes and parts of Her infinite being and becoming. She becomes all; all that we are and ever shall be, all that we know and ever shall know, are only forms and formulations of Her infinite creative capacity — She alone is the Divine Creatrix, the Power or Shakti of Divine Creation. Thus is She known as Mahashakti — the supreme Force of Creation. But do not regard Her as only Force, for She is Force of the Divine Consciousness, She is the animating consciousness-force that manifests Shiva, and without Her, Shiva would remain inert and unmanifest, lifeless as shava, a corpse. Shiva, the transcendent Divine, offers his cosmic heart to Her as Her sacred base for manifestation, and She assumes the cosmic form of Mahakali preparing and moulding the universe for Shiva’s Truth; without the Mother’s benign presence, Shiva’s Truth would instantly vaporize the universe. She is then the Shakti upholding even Shiva, the consciousness-force bearing Shiva’s pillar of infinite Light. 

As Narayani, She is the creative consciousness-force emanating from Narayan through all the planes of cosmic existence, weaving spacetime consciousness for Narayan to make Himself manifest in all His infinite becoming. Narayan’s vishwarupa, or cosmic Form, is but the Mother’s supramental vision made manifest in the eternal spirals of evolutionary Time. As Narayani, She sustains universes in Her consciousness as portion of Her own infinite being. 

Without Her as the embodiment of Love, this universe as we know it would fall apart, cease to exist. It is out of Her Love that She keeps the universe cohesive and coherent from the quantum to the cosmic levels; from the tiniest spark of life in the single cell to the vast consciousness of the mighty Gods — She alone is the Force that binds and wields. When the physicists contend with the powerful forces within the atomic nucleus and stand back amazed at the sheer potency of the very small, they are but countering just a minuscule fraction of the Mother’s immense Power and mystic Love. 

When the astronomers look upon the incredible cosmic vastnesses, into the farthest reaches of space and time, and stand bewildered by those appalling immensities, they are but catching just the faintest tantalizing glimpses of the Mother’s inscrutable power of creative formation, or Maya. As the possessor and wielder of Maya, the divine creative power of infinite formation, She is known as Mahamaya. As Mahamaya, She sustains, at multiple levels, from the invisible to the supracosmic, the grand appearance of the Universe. For the Universe is not really a thing out there but a manifestation of one of Her formations that She holds in Her consciousness. Mark the fact that it is one of Her formations. There are numberless formations and universes that the Divine Mahamaya weaves out of Her infinite creativity, and these are not all out there but truly deep within, as one discovers on entering the inner layers of Her manifestation: layers subtler than subtlest thought, so subtle that these appear almost void to our ordinary gross consciousness. 

Thus, it is said that the Mother as Mahamaya holds all conscious life in Her inscrutable spell of Maya, and none — not even the great gods and sages — can escape Her field of Maya without Her grace, will and consent. She is known to Her ardent devotees as the One who grants all capacities and powers of consciousness, sarvasiddhidayini. It is by Her divine Love that She liberates the soul from the illusion of the false ego; it is by Her Love that She liberates the mind from the illusions of the false existence, mithya and avidya. She is, therefore, also the One who grants all liberation and freedom, sarvamuktidayini. For all souls caught in the snares of cosmic and egoic illusion, her Love is the Light of hope. For not only is She Love, She is also the source of divine Light, She Herself is the Light of the Supreme, jyoti-parasya, that Yogins through the ages have invoked and revered, the Light without which there would indeed be no Yoga or Sanatan Dharma. 

The Divine Mother is indeed the heart of the Dharma. Whoever, wherever, gives himself to Dharma, gives himself to the Divine Mother. When one stands for Dharma in this universe of perplexing duality and confusion (for all evil is but confusion and duality) and protects Dharma, he is protected directly by the power of the Divine Mother. Dharmo rakshati, rakshitaha is equally a mantra for invoking the protection of the Divine Mother. 

There are those who feel, perhaps rightly so in the confusions of everyday life, that the Sanatan Dharma is in grave danger, under threat by hostile forces; but they forget too easily perhaps the deeper truth that the Sanatan Dharma is the manifest field of the Divine Mother’s Yogic work upon earth, and earth herself may be destroyed but the luminous seeds of Sanatan Dharma will survive, concealed eternally in the Mother’s bosom, awaiting its time of revival and rejuvenation in the endless spirals of evolutionary Time. The ones who have known even an infinitesimal portion of the Divine Mother’s consciousness also know that the Mother is vaster than this earth of ours, and a million earths, nay — a million universes, can arise and dissolve in the infinite consciousness that She is. 

Who indeed can know the Mother in his or her small, time-bound consciousness? For the Mother exceeds space and time, exceeds consciousness too, exceeds all manifestation. In the wink of an eye, She can create a universe, and in the space of that same infinitesimal fraction of time, She can dissolve it all.

The Mother is the creative Word of the Divine. When the sage says “in the beginning was the Word…”, he is pointing to the mystical truth of the Divine Feminine as the Word of creation. The Word, the Divine Logos, is also the mystic-syllabled Om out of which arises all manifestation. The ancient sages realized this Om as the Divine Mother’s first seed of Light sprouting as the universe. This was the mystic beginning, pure unmanifest and undifferentiated consciousness manifesting as the Mystic Sound or vibration of the three-syllabled A-U-M. AUM is also the gateway to the understanding of the Divine Mother, for each of the syllables represents a plane of the Divine Mother’s manifestation and can lead the Yogin to not only knowledge of these planes but direct experience, anubhava, of these planes. In a deeper mystical sense then, the Mother is Brahman’s power of Creation, the Supreme Creative Word. Thus it is declared by the sages of old that following the mystical revelatory pathway of Om, one can penetrate the Mother’s Maya and enter into the higher regions of Her Lila and Ananda. It is only by that that the soul comes to the Truth of ananda or divine Delight behind Mother’s formidable Maya.

But Maya is not just illusion, it is also the creative power that makes cosmic manifestation possible. Without Maya’s luminous veils between the mind of man and the utter Truth of the Divine, personal existence in the Cosmos would become impossible, for the mind would then be entirely and utterly consumed by the Inconceivable as a spaceship approaching too close to the Sun might be consumed by the heat of the Sun. 

The Divine Mother, as the Light of the Supreme, holds the Sun in Her consciousness and regulates its Light and heat, tapas, so that life in the Ignorance may not dissolve too early in the evolution of the Spirit: for the whole purpose of our human manifestation is to evolve to the Mother’s Supreme Light, and it is only by Her force of Maya that She regulates the pace of our evolutionary journey — neither too rapidly out of rajasic impatience, nor too tardily out of tamasic inertia. To do this effectively, the Mother divides Herself infinitely, becomes a portion of Herself in each of us, and guides us intimately, through our own struggles and tribulations, surely and steadily towards the Truth consciousness. That portion of Herself in each of us is the psychic being, the chaitya-purusha of the Vedas. Sanatan Hindu Dharma will soon discover the reality of the psychic being; it is the discovery of the psychic being that will give to Sanatan Dharma its much needed rejuvenating life-force. And beyond Sanatan Dharma itself, the discovery of the psychic being as the pivot of future spiritual life, will be the next necessary evolutionary step for all humanity. It is the Mother as the psychic being that will save humanity from its self-destructive habits and tendencies. 

Assuredly, the next age will be the age of the Sacred Feminine. 

The Sacred Feminine will balance the forces of nature and restore evolutionary equilibrium. Our earth life is out of balance: too much of the masculine, too little of the feminine. This is the root of all our present day civilizational challenges and crises.

The aggression of monopolistic and monotheistic religions based on the pernicious idea of one God and one religion for all humanity, for instance, is the defining feature of masculinity out of sync with its femininity; the aggressive nationalist politics of most nations, the hegemonic tendencies of authoritarian ideological governments are also characteristics of the masculine out of sync with the feminine. The exploitative and opportunistic economics of the modern world is also a characteristic feature of an overtly masculine thinking out of sync with the feminine. The continued destruction of natural environments and the almost irreversible climate change are also indications of that same masculinity out of sync with femininity. 

Our civilization needs desperately the healing touch of the Divine Mother. No religion that admits the Sacred Feminine can remain aggressive and violent. The Sacred Feminine is characterized by openness, humility, compassion and gentleness, and the spirit of universal nurture and universal acceptance — for these are the attributes of the Divine Mother, these are the virtues of the Feminine, sacred or mundane.

The discovery of the psychic being as the Mother’s portion in all human beings will be that necessary personal shift, and one would hope and pray, eventually a terrestrial shift, towards the Feminine. It is the Divine Mother as the Sacred Feminine that will bear earth life towards its next evolutionary status. This is a crucial point: that each of us who understands the truth of this evolutionary shift from the masculine to the feminine must actively embody and live that truth. We must ourselves progressively become psychic beings bearing the force and light of the Feminine in ourselves. We must ourselves turn to the Sacred Feminine, or else we will be out of sync with the spirit of the new age. 

To understand this better, let us not confuse the Sacred Feminine with being a man or woman. Each of us, man or woman, possesses the Masculine as well as the Feminine equally in our depths of being. Neither is superior, both are equal and equally needed for the manifestation and the evolution of the manifestation. The perfect equilibrium between the Masculine and the Feminine, between Purusha and Prakriti, between Ishvara and Shakti, is the creative basis of the Sanatan Dharma and of human evolution. Eventually, as the excess of the Masculine in our civilization is corrected and balance is restored, a dynamic equilibrium between the masculine and the feminine will be the higher evolutionary norm. But the way to that will be through a present and immediate shift of our energies and consciousnesses towards the Feminine. 

In other words, we have come collectively, as a species, to the threshold of the Feminine: the Divine Mother needs to be restored to the centre of human life and spirituality; our spiritual life and religions must become a terrestrial invocation of the Sacred Feminine. We must now turn to the Mother, consciously and joyfully.

The Mother is not only the Divine’s Truth and Consciousness but also its Love and Delight — She is the anandamayee, the embodiment of Ananda, as much as She is the chaitanyamayee, the embodiment of Consciousness, and satyamayee, the embodiment of Truth. 

1yādevī sarvabhūteṣū mātṛrūpeṇa saṃsthitā
namastasyai, namastasyai,namastasyai namonamaḥ

2Book 3, Canto 2 of Savitri by Sri Aurobindo

3As used by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo in the context of Integral Yoga.

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