[Advaita-l] Mother Goddess - 3

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 3 04:51:18 CDT 2003

Mother Goddess, in Hindu Thought and Culture - 3

12.	The Queen of all mantras

GAyatrI is the Queen of all such mantras. The very word
GayatrI means that it protects those who chant it.
Protecting here is for the sake of the Ultimate. Once the
path to the Ultimate is protected, everything else is
protected, not only of those who chant it, but of the very
neighbourhood, of the environment, of the world in which
they live. Those who have had the privilege of being
initiated into the mantra of the GayatrI have the added
responsibility of not allowing it to decay  with them.
Mantras have to be protected by repeated chanting as per
scriptural injunctions and meditation on their meaning and
significance.  The japa and dhyAna on what GayatrI stands
for has been the most ancient cultural heritage of
Hinduism. In spite of the fact that this responsibility has
been allocated to only a small fraction of the total
population, the power of the mantra is so great that it has
been protecting the entire civilization for mankind. 

No mantra can ever be efficacious if it is learnt without a
personal Master. In that sense, mantras are exclusive,
certainly. But that very fact connotes the sacredness of
the mantras. To wish to use the mantra power on the
physical level is to assume the role of God and to satisfy
unrestrained egos, positive or negative. Even a Vishvamitra
misused it more than once and that was why he took so much
time and went through several hurdles before he was

13.	Meaning and significance of GayatrI

The essence of Hinduism, namely, that Divinity is
everywhere, it is that Divinity that provokes us into
thought and action and it is only with the help of that
ever-present divinity that we may ever hope to have a
discerning intellect with which we may see the
effervescence of the Godhead that is inherent in the
visible universe including ourselves – all this is built
into the GayatrI. It is in the silent meditation of the
GayatrI that thought returns to its seed and leads to the
turIya (=fourth state of awareness) of thoughtlessness.
Indeed the GayatrI mantra which is explained to the
uninitiated as sun-worship is actually called SavitrI,
because the object of worship is not the Sun but brahman
embedded in the region of SavitA, the Sun. This would show
that GayatrI-upAsanA is actually the upAsanA of brahman.  

The Sun is only symbolic of the Absolute Divinity. The
physical sun is not what we are worshipping. The external
manifestation is only secondary; the absolute Supreme that
is behind is primary. The Kenopanishad (1 – 6) makes this
clear in no  uncertain terms. “Whatever cannot be seen by
the eyes but by which the eyes see, that is Brahman – not
the one that you see physically and worship”. So behind the
physical sun there is the sUrya-devatA, the Sun-God. It is
not visible to the physical eyes. “He who inhabits the Sun
but is within it, whom the Sun does not know, whose body is
the Sun and who controls the Sun from within, is the Inner
Controller, your own immortal Self” says the
Brihad-AraNyaka-upanishad (III – 7 – 9). Note also that the
name of the GayatrI mantra goes to its metre, which is
GayatrI, whereas the devatA of the mantra is savitA.

14. Esoteric content of the GAyatrI

It also reflects the three-fold presentation of Reality, as
‘sat’, ‘chit’, and ‘Ananda’.  The three lines of the
GayatrI mean, literally,

That –of the Originator – Most excellent;
Light – of God – Let us meditate;
Intellects – He who – Our – May prompt.

The use of the word savituh ( = of the Originator) in the
first line indicates that He is the Origin of everything in
this world. This suggestion of Creation is symbolic of the
‘sat’ (Existence) face of  Reality. This line is a
glorification of the Absolute. The use of the words
‘dhiyah’ (= intellects) and ‘pracodayAt’ (= may prompt or
guide) in the third line show that this line is indicative
of the ‘cit’ (Knowledge) facet of Reality. This line is the
prayer imbedded in the gAyatri. The second line asks us to
meditate as if it is the be-all and end-all of life. Yes,
because meditation itself gives the bliss, immanent in the
Absolute Reality. Meditation on the Absolute is communion
with or worship of, the Divine. So this line stands for the
‘Ananda’ (Bliss) of the Reality. The three lines together,
of the gAyatrI incorporate, in a sense, the three-fold
universal practice of all Religion, namely, Glorification
of the super-natural, Worship of the Supra-mental and
Prayer to The All-mighty.

15.	Mine of Stotras.

In the devI-mAhAtmyam three major manifestations of the
Goddess are described and in each case there are very
delightful poems of praise.  The first story therein is
that of MahA-kALi who made Herself manifest at the pitiful
appeal and praise of BrahmA, the Creator Himself, imploring
Her as the Goddess of Cosmic Sleep (= yoga-nidrA) to wake
up Lord VishNu who was plunged in cosmic sleep during the
cosmic night between two kalpas of BrahmA. The two demons 
Madhu and KaiTabha were done away with as a consequence of
the waking up of Vishnu. In the second story we are told
that MahA-lakshmi with Her eighteen hands – representing
the eighteen vidyAs – appeared from all the inner
vitalities of all the Gods and divinities and so in that
sense represents the total might of everything divine.  The
object in this case was the demon MahishhAsura whose end
had to be only at the hands of a feminine deity. 

Incidentally, the eighteen vidyAs or eighteen units of
knowledge are: 
1 to 4. The four Vedas; 
5 to 10. The six VedAngas, or organs of the vedas:  
Sikshha or Seekshha (Phonetics), (the nose and lungs)  
VyaakaraNa (Grammar), (the mouth)  
Niruktam (Etymology),  (the ears)
Chandas (Metric composition),   (the feet)
Kalpa (Ceremonials), (the arms)
Jyotishha (Astronomy-cum-astrology); (the eyes)
11. All the purANas as one unit;
12. Dharma-shAstras (the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the
other kavyas);
13. MimAmsA ;
14. nyAya;
15. Ayurveda;
16. Dhanurveda; 
17. Gandharva-veda;
18. artha-shAstra and kAma-shAstra as one unit.

After MahishhAsura is done with, the gods together praise
Her as Adi-parA-shakti who is at the root of all their
strength, power, charm and grace. Again, later when the
asuras, Shumbha and Nishumbha were at the peak of their
terror and terrorism, the same gods had to invoke Her again
and recall Her promise that She would come to their help
any time they wanted. There is a beautiful stotra here,
pregnant with meaning, which is very often repeated by the
devotees. This is the one where you get perorations like
“yA devI sarva-bhUteshhu buddhi-rUpeNa samsthitA;
namas-tasyai namas-tasyai namas-tasyai namo-namah”.  Here
prostrations are offered to the Goddess, three times in
every verse, each verse glorifying Her as the
personification, in turn, of  VishNu MayA, Consciousness,
Intellect, Sleep, Hunger, Shadow, Power, Thirst, Patience,
Status, Shyness, Peace, Faith, Brilliance, Work, Wealth,
Attitude, Memory, Compassion, Satisfaction, Mother,

16.	Stotras are supreme.

This time the manifestation is that of MahA-Sarasvati,
called KaushikI, who came out of the very body of Parvati
(the consort of Lord Shiva)  and is the personification of
all that is skilful and all that is knowledge.  By just a
grunt ( = humkAra), She was able to kill the demon
dUmra-locanA and with the help of the manifestation of KALi
She was able to do away with ChanDa, MunDa and Rakta-bIja –
all of which needed the greatest of divine machination and
ingenuity, not to speak of the brutal might that had to
match that of these once-blessed demons. When Shumbha and
Nishumbha are finally killed, again the gods heave a big
sigh of relief and recite a matchless Stotra called
The greatness of the book devI-mAhAtmyam is not a little
due to these four stotras embedded in these seven hundred
verses. A little sample from nArAyaNa-stuti would not be
out of place. “You are the vaishhNavI-shakti, the supreme
Energy of the Lord of Sustenance, VishNu; or also, the
supreme Transcendental Energy and Power. You are the seed
of the universe. You are the supreme mAyA” – indicating
thereby that the PrakRti or mAyA which is the cause of all
this universe of space and time is Her creation, Her
expression of the Divine will – which fact is also
emphasized by Adi Sankara in his dakshhiNA-mUrti-stotra:
cf. ‘mAyA-kalpita-desha-kAla-kalanAt’.

17.	A riddle about women

And then the stuti goes on:
“vidyAs-samastAs-tava devi bhedAh, 
striyAs-samastAs-sakalA jagatsu”

All the arts and sciences, in fact, all knowledge, are only
different expressions of Your Light, says the verse. And in
the second line it says all women in the universe are also
so. Here the Sanskrit text allows a deeper perception which
we owe to Sri Aurobindo. Pundits who have commented on this
verse have stumbled on the apparent repetition imbedded in
the words: samastAs-sakalAh. The two words “samastAh” and
“sakalAh” both mean the same thing, namely, “all”. Why was
this repeated? The Pundits say: the second word “sakalA”
(“sakalAh” is the plural of “sakalA”) has to be broken as
“sa-kalA”, meaning ‘she who is endowed with the fine arts’.
Thus it would appear, Mother Goddess finds expression, not
in all the women of the universe but only in those women
who are endowed with a skill in the fine arts.  Pundits
were satisfied with this meaning and the community of women
also took it lying, as it were. Because this interpretation
had the sanction of tradition, apparently nobody even
noticed the implied insult to women as a whole. 

Another interpretation, again by the Pundits, is also in
vogue. This one is rather esoteric and involves some
knowledge of kAma-shAstra.  The word ‘kalA’ has a meaning
in numerology, namely, the number sixteen. It appears there
are exactly sixteen erotic spots in the physical anatomy of
a woman. So a woman endowed with ‘kalA’ would mean a woman
who can respond to these sixteen spots, that is, a woman
between the ages of 15 and 45, say. Thus again, the meaning
of the verse would come down to saying that not all women,
but only a certain subset of them, have the prerogative of
being the expressions of Mother Goddess. But Sri Aurobindo
would not subscribe to either this or the earlier

18.	All women are expressions of Mother Goddess.

Sri Aurobindo, naturally, was totally opposed to this
distinction between woman and woman. He says: ‘kalA’ means
‘part’ or ‘fraction’. So ‘sa-kalA’ should mean that all the
parts are present or are represented. In other words it
means ‘the fullest’.  Thus the verse would mean: all forms
of knowledge are only different manifestations of Yourself,
O Mother, but in the universe the community of women are
your fullest expressions! This is the reason for the
worship of young girls as Divine Mother in the ritual
called ‘SuvAsinI PujA’. In fact it is this Indian genius of
considering each woman as the fullest expression of the
Divine Mother that is missed by the lay writer about India
and Hinduism – and, Women!  


In the end we may pray, with Adi Shankara (Soundaryalahari
#27), that whatever we may do may be a dedication and pUjA
to that Mother Goddess. May all our prattlings  and
speeches be a japa of Her names. May all our physical
movements be mudrAs (ritualistic arrangements of fingers)
in Her pUjA. May all our wanderings day in and day out be a
pradakshhiNa (circumambulation) of Her, the Supreme Mother.
May our sleep itself be a namaskara to Her in full
surrender. May the act of eating that we do several times a
day be the offerings in the yajna (sacrifice) to propitiate
Her. In fact everything that we enjoy, even if it be an
iota of enjoyment, is nothing but an atomic fraction of the
Supreme Bliss, which is Hers. May everything that we do in
the sense of Self-dedication, be items in Her service.


Om Shri Raja-Rajeshvaryai namah.

PraNAms to all devotees of Mother Goddess

Prof. V. Krishnamurthy
My website on Science and Spirituality is http://www.geocities.com/profvk/
You can  access my book on Gems from the Ocean of Hindu Thought Vision and Practice,  and my father R. Visvanatha Sastri's manuscripts from the site.

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