Sri Nav Durga ^
Other Forms Of Shakti: Kali
"She, the cosmic strength of the universe, the dominate mother of all, para-sakti, by nine forms and 7 incarnates of the gods, there is no force stronger than her."
She is the Shakti or energy of the
Universe, the power of the cosmic world, which envelops the three
lokas (worlds). The powerful god Shiva sings her praises and she
pervades the thoughts of Brahma and Vishnu. She is said to be the
creative aspect of Divinity, the power through which creation
commences. She is the active female principle Prakriti, in union
with the soul of the Universe, Purusa, manifested as one of the
forms of the consort of Shiva - Parvati, Sati, Uma, Kali, Durga,
Chandi, Gauri, Annapoorna.
The earth became her body and the mountains, rivers and valleys represented her physical features. Vegetation was her adornment and when angry with her children, the Mother with held her bounty by drying up rivers and causing famine in the land. To circumvent her fickle nature, she had to be humored and propitiated and thus all her aspects were to be worshipped.
Fertility and life were associated with the Mother, so all forces of
creation and the agricultural deities had naturally to be accepted
as female. Since grain gathering, an important activity of the
primarily agricultural Dravidians, was essentially a female domain,
the female deities flourished. And the Mother was especially
benevolent towards women, listening to their prayers and entreaties
for the welfare of their husbands and children. The concept of the
Divine Spirit as Mother was basic and could be comprehended by the
simplest of minds. Human beings could please her with simple
offerings and prayers. She could be invoked for specific afflictions
such as disease or barrenness. One fasts on specific days for the
longevity and good health of one's spouse.
The coming of the Aryans, with their emphasis of vigour and masculinity, brought with it the Brahminical religion. Indra, Agni, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, were the gods who guided the destinies of the world. They were the archetypal Aryans, the role models for the conquering race. And yet, try as they might, the preachers of the new religion could not relegate the primordial beliefs in the Mother Goddess to the background. Not wishing to forego their influence on a large part of the population, they decided that wisdom lay in inculcating the Devi cult into the folds of the Brahminical beliefs. They saw the advantage of a 'marriage' between the gods and the ever-powerful Devi, thus effectively subjugating the female to the male principle.
Consequently, all the gods acquired
consorts who were said to be incarnations of the Mahadevi. But to
the masses, the Mother was still the Protector and the bestower of
favors. The female deities came to be envisaged as the active and
productive principle while the male gods were seen as passive and
otherworldly. Their transcendence made them remote and too distant
to concern themselves with daily existence. It was the Devi who was
approachable and who could carry the messages of ordinary mortals to
the gods - Parvati beseeches her husband to give up his meditation
and attend to the prayers of his devotees. She can be worshipped in
many forms - fierce as Durga and Kali or gentle and loving as Sita
Since creation was the prime activity of the Supreme Being, the male
and female aspects came together as the Linga and yoni, seen in the
worship of Shiva. This embodies the union of the soul of the
Universe, Purusa, with the primordial essence, Prakriti,
Prakriti is the cosmic energy, which manifests itself in the
evolution of Nature while Purusa is the transcendent and changeless
Spirit. Prakriti or Shakti when worshipped alone, is depicted as
fierce, imbibing the energies of the gods to protect her devotees,
but when worshipped with her consorts, she is seen as the
peacemaker, gentle and amiable, in fact, the Mother Goddess embodies
paradox - she is gentle and fierce, beautiful and ugly, erotic and
Devi rules every aspect of life and so is often worshipped in groups
like the Saptamatrikas (Seven Mothers) or the Nav Durga (Nine Durgas),
yet all these are manifestations of the Great Goddess, Mahadevi.
The seven Mother Goddess were created to vanquish the demon
Andhakasura, who, besides his other evil deeds, once attempted to
kidnap Parvati, Shiva's attempt to kill Andhakasura only resulted in
several demons being born from each drop of his blood, which touched
the earth. Shiva then created Yogeshwari, who prevented the blood
from falling to the ground. Seven of the gods, Brahma, Vishnu,
Maheshwara (Shiva), Kaumara (a form of Vishnu), Varaha, Indra and
Yama (Death), created their own Shaktis and sent them to assist
Yogeshwari, thus destroying the demon. These goddesses were the
female forms of the gods and carried all the symbols associated with
them as well as their names - Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheswari,
Kaumari, Varahini, Indrani and Chaumunda.
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva may have reduced the power of the Devi as
their consorts, but the two most powerful manifestations of the
Mother Goddess - Durga and Kali - are still worshipped in their own
right and form a cult of their own. In these incarnations the
goddesses are not subservient to the gods and are themselves
worshipped as the highest manifestation of the divine. The worship
of Shakti is common among Tantric sects, which generally have
rituals embodying the fierce aspects of the female deities.
Whatever name she goes by and irrespective of her manifestations, she is the source of all things, the Universal Creation, "the form of Immensity". Combining both strength and gentleness, she stands at the very heart of creation and of Being. She is the enricher of mankind and the giver of supreme bliss.
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