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Conception and Evolution of The Mother Goddess in India

Article of the Month - June 2004
Viewed 66050 times since 2nd Oct, 2008

Devi the Mother GoddessThe Devi as Mother

 

Devi, the Divine Female, revered by all, as is revered a mother, is better and universally known as the Mother Goddess. Reverence for 'mother' is inherent in any one born, a beast or a man, and is the first pious impulse in a child, which shapes the flesh to a human face. The first man, it seems, while contemplating the idea of the unseen Divine, looked at the face of the woman who bore him, the protective, caring and loving mother, and discovered in her the ultimate 'divinity' and the manifest form of the unseen Divine. Devi, the Goddess, thus, transformed as mother and is now since ages the Mother Goddess. The Mother Goddess is India's supreme Divinity. Myriad are her shrines and unending her boons. Centuries long tradition of worship has woven around her innumerable myths and the devotional mind has discovered in her oceans of mercy. In fury or in frown, she is always the same protective, caring, loving Mother with a benign face and a blessing hand.

 

Mother Goddess in the Indus Valley

Mother Goddess in Terracotta from the Indus Valley
Mother Goddess in Terracotta
from the Indus Valley

 

 

 

This impulse seeking to combine the Divine with mother seems to have been man's earliest spiritual experience. At some point of time and perhaps for an effective performance of worship rites, which a believing or fearing mind necessitated, this perception of mind was transformed into a material medium. The Indus dweller further magnified it when, for realizing his idea of the Supreme Divinity, he elevated the Mother to the Mother Earth that blessed him with grain, water, air, fire and afforded for him a dwelling. The terracotta figurines of the Mother Goddess, recovered in excavations at various Indus sites (now mostly in Pakistan), are not only the ever known earliest manifestations of the Divine Power in any medium but are also suggestive of a well evolved Mother Goddess worship cult. As appears from the so far recovered figurines of the Goddess datable from 3000 B. C. to the 1st century B. C., this primitive manifestation of the proto Mother in terracotta idols seems to have continued to prevail till almost the beginning of the Christian era.

 

 

 

Female Deity from Mohenjo-daro (Indus Valley) with Exposed Genitals
Female Deity from Mohenjo-daro
(Indus Valley) with Exposed Genitals

 

 

These figurines, being made of clay and thus defining their kinship with the earth, of which they are cast, represented the Mother Goddess as Mother Earth. As significant and suggestive is her iconography- the large breasts filled with milk, uncovered genital organs, beautifully dressed hair and a good number of bangles on her wrists.

This is the iconic perception of the Being who bears, feeds, takes all calamities on her head and covers the born one under her protective umbrella and, at the same time, defines in the modeling of her form an absolute aesthetic beauty. As suggest her bangles, the traditional emblem of marital state, besides a mother she is also a consort. Thus, in her material manifestation, She represents, with absolute motherhood, also the absolute womanhood. She causes life and sustains it, and is also the cause of life, its inspiration and aspiration, and the reason to live.

 

 

 

Mother Goddess in the Vedas and Other Early Texts

Usha, the Goddess of Dawn

 

In its contemplation, the Rigveda, which seems to have conceded to the idea of the Divine Female, takes two different lines, one mystic and the other traditional. The traditional line was the same as prevailed amongst the primitive Indus community, which perceived the Divine Female as Mother Goddess. The Rigveda calls the Female power Mahimata (R.V. 1.164.33), a term which literally means Mother Earth. At places, the Vedic literature alludes to Her as Viraj, the universal mother, as Aditi, the mother of gods, and as Ambhrini, the one born of Primeval Ocean.

The Rigveda takes a mystic line, when it perceives the Proto Female as Vak or Vani, which, as the creative speech, manifests the cosmos and all existing things. In Vedic mysticism the cosmos and all things pre-exist but are unmanifest. The Vak, or Vani makes them manifest.

 

 

Devi : The Manifestation of Primordial Female Energy

The Proto Female has been perceived also as Ushas, the glowing light of early morning. What the darkness of night makes unmanifest, Ushas makes manifest. In metaphysical theorization, which Vedic literature enunciates, 'all things exist but become manifest in Her, that is, in the Proto Female'. The Upanishadas elucidate this Vedic proposition with greater clarity. In their contemplation, the Upanishadas identify this Vedic Proto Female as Prakriti, the manifest nature, which is the material aspect of the Creation. The Upanishadas suggest that She is the all-pervasive cosmic energy inherent in all existing things.

The Vedas and Upanishadas weave around Devi a body of mysticism, but, in popular tradition, as suggests Harivansha Purana, a 4th-5th century religious treatise, when it alludes Her as the Goddess of jungle and hill tribes, She was yet the same simple unmystified puritan Mother Goddess. Her ties with the primitive man were emotional and relatively strong. However, there also emerged, in simultaneity to this worship cult, and obviously inspired by Upanishadas' mysticism, a body of metaphysics, which perceived the Divine Female as Shakti, the guided cosmic energy and the transcendental source and support of all creatures and all created things. The Mahabharata, keeping in line with the Vedic mysticism, alludes Her as the source of all things, the spiritual as well as material. The epic enunciates that all things, material and abstract, manifest and unmanifest, are only the manifestations of the Divine Female. According to the Mahabharata, this metaphysical Being, the Mother Goddess of the primitive man, is the basis, the root and the root cause of everything. She is the eternal upholder of Dharma and truth, the promoter of happiness and the giver of salvation and prosperity but also of sorrows, grief and pain. She removes obstacles and worries and renders Her devotees' path detriment free.

Devi in Puranic literature

During the period after the Mahabharata to the emergence of the Puranic era around the 4th-5th century A.D., the Devi is only the little quoted theme in literature and art of the elite. The worship of Devi was those days a wide spread phenomenon, yet till her elevation to the status of a Puranic deity, such worship was confined to only, or mostly, around the remoter corners of the primitive world of tribes. The tribes like Santhal, Bhumia and others of Bihar, Orissa and Bastar yet have a live convention of announcing their lineage at the time of wedding of their sons as well as daughters. Both sides begin with their origin, which is usually from one of the nature gods and commit themselves to Shiva, the Yogi of hills and their protector, and Mahimata, the Mother Earth, as their Dharini, the upholder. Quite interestingly, it depicts the five thousand year long continuity of the cult of worshipping Shiva, as the Mahayogi, representing the Divine Male and Mahimata, the Mother Earth or Mother Goddess, representing the Divine Female. It was only after She was accommodated into the Brahmanical pantheon, that the Mother Goddess was an object of worship in the world of elite also.

Durga PoojaThe Devi theme, once it becomes a part of the Brahmanical pantheon around the 5th century A.D., almost explodes the entire body of Puranic literature, with each Purana text coming out with one of Her aspects or the other. Here, She not only occupies the thinking mind but also its the altar. She is invoked not only as the Supreme Power reigning the cosmos and reigning above all gods, but as the cosmic energy incarnate, She is invoked also with greater thrust : "Ya Devi sarvabhuteshu shaktirupen sansthita, Namastasye namastasye namastasye namo namah", that is, 'O yea, the Goddess who in the entire cosmos stands for energy form, we make our salutations to Thee, over and over we salute Thee' (Markandeya Purana).

Of all texts, the Markandeya Purana is most elaborate in its Devi concept and related rites and is considered as yet the most authentic document on the cult of Devi. It contains a full book, known as the Devi Mahatmya, conceptualizing and adoring Devi. She has been identified in Markandeya Purana primarily as Durga. On the face of it, the Markandeya Purana seems to move away from the prior manifestation of Devi as Mother Goddess, or Mother Earth, but in reality it is only a continuity of the Indus valley tradition. It is, at the most, a departure from the iconic manifestation of the passive Indus Mother Goddess to the operative personified representation of the Divine Mother who abounds with myths of Her origin and exploits, but She is yet the same Mother Earth or the Divine Mother. The Devi Mahatmya part of the Markandeya Purana is narrated by sage Markandeya to king Suratha and merchant Samadhi, who, having lost respectively their kingdom and business, approach the sage for knowing from him how to regain their prior status. After having narrated the significance of the Divine Mother and Her unique power, sage Markandeya asks them to prepare an earthen image of the Divine Mother and worship it. Obviously, even during Puranic era, She best manifested as Earth and in an earthen medium.

Devi in Metaphysical Perception

In Puranic literature, religious conventions, anthropomorphic iconography and ritual practices, the Mother Goddess has been diversely conceived and variedly named. There is, however, a wondrous unanimity in Her metaphysical visualization and cosmic perception. In Her metaphysical perception, whether it occurs in myths or legends, rituals or rhetoric, classics or folk traditions, or to the eye of a worshipper, painter, sculptor or poet, She is the Adi Shakti, the proto energy including in it all forms of vitality, strength, might, power, force, proficiency, dynamism and all operative faculties. As Adi Shakti, She represents Prakriti, which operates in and on all things, the manifest or otherwise, materially present or abstract. She is the dynamic factor of the cosmos, and at the same time She is Dhatri, the holder of all things, whether static or moving, and is thus also constant and firm. She is manifest nature and is thus materially present, yet She is also the absolute Consciousness, the thinking Mind, the universal Intellect and the Controller of senses. She is thus the sleep, thirst, hunger, as also the light, brilliance, shadow and darkness. Modesty, contentment, compassion, mercy, beauty, charm, faith, patience, quietude, activity, movement as also vengeance, or even violence are Her aspects. And, above all, She is the Universal Mother.

Purusha and PrakritiDevi's cosmic perception is a mix of metaphysics and mythology. In India's metaphysical perception the Creation has been perceived as comprising of two factors, variedly named as Prakriti and Purusha, Matter and Self, Male and Female and the like. Mythology identifies them as Shiva and Shakti.

Prakriti or Matter, which in metaphysical equation Female represents, is the manifest aspect of Creation while Purusha or Self its unmanifest aspect. In mythological perception this equation undergoes a change. Here Shiva is Shava, the inanimate Being and Shakti, the energy incarnate, His enlivening and operative power. Without Shakti Shiva is the dead mass. Symbolically Shakti is the inherent energy of all things, whether manifest or unmanifest. This Shakti factor, a concept of metaphysics, is perceived in mythological contemplation as Devi and in primitive vision as the Divine Female.

Other Dimensions of Devi Related Mythology

Devi the Mother Goddess and Her Three ChildrenThe primitive concept of the Divine Female seems to be that of a non-operative boon giver votive deity who the primitive man realized iconically but did not humanize. The Puranic Devi, or the Mother Goddess, despite the related metaphysics, is more a humanized Being with an abundance of mythology woven around Her. After the Puranas vested in Her operative attributes, they conceived Her not only in various roles but also with innumerable personality aspects and in different manifestations. There grew around Her theories of Her origin, myths of Her manifest and incarnate forms, fables of Her various exploits and annals of Her acts of charity and benevolence.

As to Her origin, there prevail innumerable myths, although only two of them are more quoted and have greater relevance to the over-all Devi cult. One of them points out towards Her exploits against evil and restoring righteousness and in the other She is conceived as preceding all of the Gods-Trio (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva).

In one case, She was created out of the gods' celestial powers with all their attributes vested in Her. In the other, She had always existed but appeared as and when required.

The Creation of DeviAs the tradition has it, a buffalo demon Mahishasura ruled the earth. The tyrannous demon inflicted upon all creatures great atrocities and rendered life miserable. He even invaded heaven, the seat of Indra and other gods and drove them out of the holy place. Under a sanction from Brahma Mahishasura was invincible against any male, a beast or human born. After Brahma made the disclosure of his boon, gods decided to seek a female warrior for eliminating the buffalo demon. When they found none capable to accomplish their object, they decided to create such one out of themselves and by their own powers. They decided to create a female warrior, who was unique in might and unparalleled in beauty and charm, as she could be required to bewitch and beguile the demon also by them. Accordingly, her head was formed by the powers of Shiva, her hair by those of Yama and her arms, breasts, waist, feet, toe-nails, fingernails, nose, teeth, eyes, brows and ears respectively with those of Vishnu, Moon, Indra, Brahma, Sun, Vasu, Kuber, Prajapati, Agni, Twilight and Vayu. Her glittering jewels and ornaments were Ocean's gift and her necklace inlaid with celestial gems that of the great Serpent Shesh.

The Devi emerged with three eyes and eighteen hands carrying in them various celestial weapons, the instruments of war and destruction- Shiva's trident, Vishnu's disc, Varuna's conch, Vayu's bow, Agni's dart, Yama's iron rod, Surya's quiver, Indra's thunderbolt, Kuber's mace, Brahma's rosary and water pot, Kala's sword and shield, Vishwakarma's battle axe and many others. Himvana gave her a lion to ride. The enthused gods rejoiced and in gratitude prostrated before Mahadevi, as they called Her. Mahamuni Narada then narrated to Her the plight of gods, hearing which She proceeded to annihilate Mahishasura and killed him in no time.

Baby Krishna

As significant is Her other cult. The text called Devi Bhagawat was the first to propound it. After the Great Deluge Vishnu emerged as a child floating upon a fig leaf.

In dismay, he asked himself as to who he was, who created him and why he was there. Suddenly there emerged a celestial voice that announced- all that is, it is me. Me alone is eternal. Puzzled he looked around and saw a celestial female with four hands emerging before him. She carried a conch, disc, club and lotus, wore divine clothes and jewels and was attended by twenty-one powers, more important ones being Rati, the goddess of love and erotic, Bhuti, the goddess of riches and prosperity, Buddhi, the goddess of wisdom, Kirti, the goddess of credibility, Smriti, the memory, Nidra, the sleep, Daya, the compassion, Gati, the movement and pace, Tusti, the contentment, Pusti, the growth and affirmation, Kshama, the forbearance, Lajja, the grace and Tandra, the lethargy. Vishnu realized that She was the Adi Shakti Mahadevi and bowed to Her in reverence.

Devi's Symbolism

In one mythological tradition, Devi's emergence has been linked with Mahishasura. Mahishasura is not the beast in man but rather the human face taking to the face of a beast, and that too, to none else but to that of a buffalo, the most insensitive, self-contained epitome of evil. This suggests total human failure, which none of the gods, equipped only with this or that attribute or representing just this or that virtue, could repair. Only Devi, the supreme virtue equipped with all weapons and means of war, the Divine Totality, could change such state of affairs.

The Warrior Goddess

 

The other myth suggests that Devi preceded Gods Trio. She not only annihilated evil and paved the way for virtue and good to prevail but also revealed cosmic mystery. Her multi-arms suggest Her multi-fold protective umbrella and role. When Mahishasura, the male, contains energy, it leads to evil, the self-centered unguided might breeding ego, greed to acquire and possess more, an ambition to conquer and rule, but when contained in a female frame, it is only the guided power eradicating evil, perpetuating good and virtue and despite that She held arms and resorted to killing, She has attending upon Her only virtues and celestial attributes. She is multi-armed but has a single head, that is, whatever the number of operative organs, the guiding faculty that breeds determination, is just one and single.

 

 

 

 

The Manifest Forms of the Divine Female

Mahakali

This Devi form, irrespective of Her origin-cult and evolution, has multiple manifestations, the prime ones being three. The Markandeya Purana and almost all other Puranas perceive Devi, the Universal Mother, primarily in Her role as warrior or destroyer, sustainer and creator, three aspects of cosmic act which vest with Trinity. As warrior, She is Mahakali, the Destroyer who eradicates evil, evil doers and wrongs and restores good and righteousness. As sustainer, She is Mahalakshmi, who bestows bliss, prosperity, wealth and material happiness and yields good crop and abundant grain. And, finally, as supreme wisdom and all knowing intellect, She is Mahasaraswati, who nourishes all creative faculties, arts, music, dance and creativity. In anthropomorphic visualization Mahakali, is the Shaktirupa, the energy incarnate and is hence multi-armed, their number varying from four to eighteen or even more, and carries in each of them an instrument of destruction. She also grants abhaya and varada and thus, on one hand eradicates evil and on the other protects good ones.

 

The Lotus Goddess of the Cosmic Sea

 

 

 

 

 

The four-armed Mahalakshmi carries primarily the lotus, which rises from the earth, routes across and above the water and sprouts into the air and sky.

 

 

 

 

 

Saraswati

 

 

 

 

It pervades with its glow and fragrance all three worlds. The four-armed shubhra-vasana, Mahasaraswati, the Goddess clad in white, rides a lotus, and subsequently a swan, both symbolizing purity, chastity and detached knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

The Inviolability of a Married Woman

 

 

The Puranas thus begin personifying Her in various aspects and initiate Her variedly conceived iconic and anthropomorphic formations. The warrior and demon slayer Mahakali is perceived also as Durga who for accomplishing Her object takes to other forms and creates for Her aid subordinate powers as Mahavidyas and Matrikas. Different from the black complexioned Mahakali, who wears a ferocious look, Durga, though still the same demon slayer, has golden complexion, a benign face and feminine softness.

 

 

 

 

The Puranas disapproved renunciation and discovered in family life itself means of salvation. They hence perceived their Divinities not as recluses or mendicants but as householders, as the Divine couples. They perceived the abstract Supreme Being of the Vedas manifest as Gods-Trio, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and associated with each of the Trio one of Devi's manifest form, Durga or Mahakali with Shiva, Mahalakshmi with Vishnu and Mahasaraswati with Brahma.

Shiva is also the proto lover and then Durga, his consort, manifests as the humble domestic Parvati. Parvati, the white complexioned daughter of Himalaya, is also Shiva's loving Gauri. While in exile from Baikuntha to hills of South, Vishnu takes to Venkatesh as his name. Here his consort Lakshmi, or Mahalakshmi emerges as Padmavati. When Vishnu incarnates as Rama his consort Lakshmi emerges as Sita and when he incarnates as Krishna, Lakshmi incarnates as Radha. Brahma's consort Mahasaraswati is better known as Sharada and most of her ancient shrines are devoted to her only in her name as Sharada. The ancient sculptures of Sharada follow Durga's iconic norms.

SaptamatrikaMatrikas and Mahavidyas

The Puranas like Skandapurana, Devipurana, Brahmavaivartapurana, Devibhagawata, Prapanchasaratantra, Lingapurana etceteras, have conceived of other forms of Shakti to couple other important male gods. The more widely accepted number of such manifestations of Shakti is seven, though in some of these and other Puranas it is eight and even more. They are better known as the Saptamatrikas, or Seven Mothers. In Matrika cult, Brahma's consort is known as Brahmani, Shiva's as Maheshvari, Raudri or Rudrani and Vishnu's as Vaishnavi. In his Varah incarnation, Vishnu's consort is Varahi and in Narsimha incarnation Narsimhi. The consort of Shiva's son Karttikeya is Kaumari, or Karttikeyani, that of Indra Indrani or Mahendri and of Yama Chamunda or Chamundi.

There prevail two myths in relation to Saptamatrikas. A demon Andhaka had the boon to get every drop of his blood that fell on earth transformed into yet another Andhaka. The demon thus multiplied himself in the battlefield rendering his opponent impossible to eliminate him. Once he attempted to take away Shiva's consort Parvati. Shiva shot an arrow at him. The blood gushed from his body but only to create many more Andhakas. Finally gods sent their Shaktis to assist Shiva. These Shaktis licked each drop of demon's blood before it fell on earth. Another version of the myth is almost similar to it except that demon's name was this time Raktabija and instead of Shiva his consort Durga confronted him. Durga created Saptamatrikas by her own power to assist her in eliminating the demon.

Ten Mahavidyas and Ten Incarnations of VishnuOther significant manifestations of Devi have been perceived in ritual tradition as Ten Mahavidyas. Though a late cult, individually some of the Mahavidyas, say Kali, have quite an early origin. Their number coincides with Vishnu's ten incarnations and is, hence, interpreted as the Shakta or Shaivite version of ten-incarnation Vaishnava cult. In Devi theology, Devi, like Vishnu, has been revered as the creator and maintainer of the cosmic order. Sometimes Vishnu's incarnations are considered as arising from these Mahavidyas, as Kali becoming Krishna, Chinnamasta becoming Narsimha and so on. These Mahavidyas are Kali, Tara, Chinnamasta, Bhuvaneshwari, Bagala, Dhumavati, Kamala, Matangi, Sodasi and Bhairavi, and are more or less the tantrika innovations of the Divine Female.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh Worshipping DeviDevi in Popular Tradition

 

 

 

The tradition of worshipping the Mother Goddess, in whatever name, thus, has very early beginning. It is believed Rama invoked Devi when he felt that without her blessings he would not be able to eliminate Ravana. Sikhs' tenth Guru Gobind Singh and the great Maratha warrior Shivaji invoked her to assist them in accomplishing their object.

 

 

 

 

The Death of Satyam Shivam Sundaram

 

 

 

 

During India's struggle for freedom her sons resorted to Devi and perceived their land as Bharat-Mata. Reciting Vande Mataram, that is, salutation to Thee, Mother, they laid their lives for her freedom. She is now India's most widely worshipped deity and has associated with her more festivals and events than has any other Divinity.

 

 

 

 

 


References and Further Reading

  • Aitareya-brahmana (the Rigveda Brahmana) translated by Arthur B. Keith, Delhi.
  • Bhattacharya, N.N. The History of Sakta Religion, New Delhi.
  • Bhattacharya, N.N. Indian Mother Goddess, Calcutta.
  • Brown, Cheever Mackenzie. God is Mother: A feminine Theology in India, Hartford.
  • Coburn Thomas B. Consort of None, Sakti of All: The vision of the Devi Mahatmya In The Divine Consort: Radha and Goddesses of India, edited by John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff, Berkeley, California.
  • Devi Bhagavata Purana, Banaras.
  • (Devi Mahatmya) The Glorification of the Great Goddess edited and translated by Vasodeva Sharan Agrawal, Banaras.
  • Dehejia, Vidya. Devi : the Great Goddess, Washington D.C. & Ahmedabad.
  • Hymns to Kali (Karpuradi Stotra), edited and translated by Arthur Avalon, Madras.
  • Kinsley, David. Hindu Goddesses, Delhi.
  • Kumar Pushpendra. Shakti Cutl in Ancient India, Banaras.
  • Mahabharata. Edited by Vishnu S. Sukthankar, Poona.
  • Marshall, Sir John (edited) Mohenjo-dara and Indus Civilization (3 vols.), London.
  • Rg-veda with commentary of Sayan. Edited by Sontakke and C.G. Kashikar, Poona.
  • The Sakta Upanishads, translated by A.G. Krishna Warrier, Madras.
  • Skanda Purana. (3 vols) Calcutta.
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  • Being a Sikh, I am highly offended. Our beloved tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ji never ever did any Durga puja. There is only one GOD, and HIS shape,form, physique cannot be defined. Humble request, please don't try and spread wrong preachings!
    by Prabhjot Singh on 15th Nov 2011
  • I have now read several of Prof. P.C. Jain articles here and am obviously impressed by Prof. Jain's great knowledge. I would like to know if he would be available or interested in writing a 16 hour training weekend on the Philosophy of Yoga that would be offered in our yoga teacher training program? I know it's a big request, but who better? Thank you for your consideration
    by Jeffrey Miller on 21st Sep 2010
  • Joy, no one here cares if "Jesus himself" claimed that he is "the way, the truth, and the life". Many other men have claimed that they are "the way, truth and life"... among them Charles Manson and David Koresh! In short, just because someone claims to be something doesn't necessarily make it the truth, and just because you believe something doesn't give you the right to criticize others' beliefs.
    Jai Mata Di.
    by J. on 28th May 2009
  • será posible encontrar notas o comentarios sobre el significado de la gran obra literaria India los upanishads? ojalá sea posible. le estaré agradecido.
    Salvados
    by SALVADOR DIAZ on 17th Feb 2009
  • A little more reading of the sacrifice of the Purusha Suktam will reveal that the story of the cricifiction of Jesus the Christ came directly from the account of the sacrifice of the Cosmic man as Purusha Suktam. It is also where the concept that jesus was the tuth the light and the way ....no man....
    by Balraj on 8th Oct 2008
  • Try looking for the similarities in the sacrifice of the Purusha Suktam or Cosmic Man and the crucifiction of Jesus, the Christ. It will also show the origin of the concept of the truth, the life and the way....no man....
    by Balraj on 8th Oct 2008
  • I'm sorry to spoil this site with another point of view but the truth must be known: It's not the Christians who claim that Jesus is the only way to heaven, it was JESUS HIMSELF who said it in no uncertain terms. Some people like to lump Jesus in with all the false gods and prophets, but Jesus (according to his own teachings!) would not appreciate it. Here's what Jesus REALLY did say to Thomas, recorded in the gospel of John: Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME" ! That's pretty clear to me that "The Way" really is THE WAY!
    Jesus also said this, recorded in Luke 12: 4, "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him".
    In this bible verse Jesus is clearly saying that God has the right to judge all of us and we should seriously respect Him and His authority. But Jesus provided grace and forgiveness for all of us (The Way) by dying on that cross and rising again to defeat death once and for all! Yeh...take that Kali! Praise Jesus!

    Speaking of Jesus' victory over death, here's another wonderful God breathed writing from the apostle Paul to the Corinthians:
    I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
    "Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?"
    The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord JESUS CHRIST.


    by Joy on 9th Nov 2007
  • Thank you so much for this interesting article. I was just reading the Prithvi Suktam in detail and was amazed by the poetry and deep insight of the Rishi, your article opened up even more windows to see and feel this amazing world of ancient minds one with mother Goddess. Thanks again.
    by Vandana Jani on 11th Oct 2007
  • Just wanted to drop a note to say thanks for the great article on the Mother Goddess on your site. It was really informative.
    Namaste,
    by Traci Nichols on 22nd Aug 2006
  • As a follower of Tara I truly enjoyed this article! I have been trying to locate Tara's pre-Buddhist origins in India. I am a follower of Tara in a Buddhist context, but suspected that she was or might be older than the emergence of Buddhism in India.

    Thank you for making such well documented and researched articles available to your readers.

    With respect and appreciation,
    by Teresa Myers on 21st Jun 2004
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"She has always believed that this would redeem her of her distress….A coconut, otherwise an ordinary dried fruit or the source of edible, or at the most, beauty oil, has always been revered as an auspicious object effecting good and well-being and the food that gods most loved….The tree in the Buddhist tradition was later identified as Bodhi-tree, seated under which Buddha had attained Enlightenment….Body gestures and symptoms, signs, indications among others must have been the early man’s tools of communicating oneself and knowing and understanding the world around….Kirttimukha was initially conceived as a mystical mask….Lion does not figure in the wide range of animal toys or figurines excavated from Indus sites."
Auspicious Symbols in Indian tradition
"Actually, the one who worships Bhagwan Vishnu should get rich and the one who worships Shiva should become an avadhuta like Him…. Then he works hard again to acquire wealth. I render all his efforts futile…. However, Bhagawan Vishnu is not like that, it takes longer to please Him…. As a consequence, they later harassed the great God Himself…. On the seventh day, he bathed in the holy waters of Kedarnath and began to cut his head with an axe to offer into the fire…. The boy bowed respectfully before the demon and asked…. No one who commits sin against a great person can be safe and happy in this world."
Shiva and Vishnu: A Unique Aspect of Their Worship
"This middle path lies in between extreme asceticism on one side, and extreme indulgence on the other…. When standing under a Ashok tree, tired and exhausted, she raised her right hand for seeking support of a branch of the tree…. The unique balance that defined his entire life was pre-determined in this duality….One day, in the palace garden he frightened his attendants…. He ate less and less till his diet reduced to a sesame seed, and himself, to a mere skeleton…. Seven days after the attainment of enlightenment gods sent food for breaking his fast…. However, he postponed his ‘nirvana’ for three months till he visited the places he had reminiscences of."
The Light That Enlightened Millions
(The life of Buddha in the popular mind)
"It concedes that for an orderly social life a division into four groups based on the principle of varnadharma is necessary…. Each individual sometimes acts in a sattvika manner while at other times he may act in rajasic or tamasic manner, which means that the manifestation of a particular guna depends on circumstances…. Though all the three gunas are present in everyone, different persons are driven to act differently…. The karma that I have to perform should depend on my inherent gunas and should have the ability to regulate these gunas…. There is no instant transition to moksha…. An individual has to make his way towards moksha only through worldly life."
Varnashrama Dharma: A Logical View
"The Bhagavad Gita, while describing the qualities of a wise person says…. This verse is vividly illustrated in the story of king Rantideva occurring in the Srimad Bhagavatam…. He did not believe in hoarding, was above all attachments and was highly patient…. They were all trembling due to starvation and thirst….bowed to the dogs and their owner…. What I want is only this: That I be able to go and live in the hearts of all beings and undergo sufferings on their behalf, so that they may become free from all miseries."
An Example of Living Vedanta: The Story of King Rantideva
"We assume that our happiness is the result of an interaction with external objects…. Suppose that an individual is deprived of sleep and food and pleasurable objects for a long time and then all of them are simultaneously offered to him…. Actually, seeking the answer to this question is the most significant pursuit in life…. The veil comes up again and the duality returns…. In this background, we can now analyse the nature of dukha (grief)."
Ananda: Understanding the True Nature of Happiness
"Whenever he gets the time, he should go and live amongst people who have given up worldly life…. A wise person should serve his body and family only to the extent that is functionally necessary…. The person who lays claim on the surplus wealth is nothing but a thief…. He should share all objects of enjoyment with everyone, right down to dogs, sinners…. Such is the attachment to one’s wife….How despicable is this body, which if buried is going to become the food of worms, or excreta if eaten by animals….Since a son is to thus revere his elders even after their death, what to say that he is expected to serve them when they are alive…. The person wishing to follow the path of dharma should steer clear of the five forms of Adharma."
Narada Teaches Yuddhishtra a Householder’s Dharma
"During one such sacrifice, nine spiritually charged men entered the sacrificial hall….As for Bhagavat Dharma, it is the dharma spoken by God directly from his own mouth…. Like a person eating food finds himself gratified simultaneously in three ways…. We are all constantly taught by spiritual texts to offer or dedicate all our actions to God. However, the question remains as to how to practically carry out this injunction…..The only fruit of wealth is dharma... Therefore, there is no need for the Vedas to enjoin us to these things for which we already have a tendency….The real intention of the Vedic injunctions in these matters is to make a person abstain from them…”
Nine Teachings from Nine Yogis: The Essence of Bhagavat Dharma
"Once as he was engaged in puja, a saint came to visit him….Like a true householder attached to his family, Gajendra sported in the water with his wives, children and friends…. Understanding that his end was imminent, they all slowly withdrew, till Gajendra was left alone…. If we reflect on it calmly, we will realise that there is no house in the world where the story of Gajendra does not play out…. The one who is careful towards the end is able to reform his death…. Gajendra’s hymn of praise is one of the greatest philosophical poems in the annals of world literature."
Moksha of Gajendra: Liberation by The Formless God
"Only a certain fraction of this karma is chosen by God in order to form the blueprint of our next birth…. The fruit that one experiences in this birth is due to prarabdha and a portion of the present agami…. Similarly, a fish in the Ganga does not accrue punya because of always living in Ganga…. A good karma can be annulled by a bad karma and a bad one by a good one…. Sometimes we also hear that prarabdha cannot be got rid of. It has to be spent through…. Bhagawan Vyasa says that for the full result of the karma to manifest, three things are necessary…. Then how to understand the statement that prarabdha should unavoidably be experienced?"
Theory and Practice of Karma: Some Salient Features
"Who would not satisfy his wife who is but his better half?…. Later, he took a bath, performed pranayama and meditating silently on the pure, eternal light, repeated internally the Gayatri Mantra…. Once it so happened that goddess Lakshmi was out of Vaikuntha…. Despite being older, they always maintain the appearance of five-year olds…. Seeing the great saints he welcomed them with reverence…. It is never for one single purpose but to fulfil many functions at the same time…. He ensured for them a glorious death."
God’s Lila, Understanding the Collective Impact of Avatara
"Here is a fragment from one of the most poignant episodes of Indian history…. This piece of history is from the Mahabharata…. She was dying with shame but inside, like a true kshatrani (woman of the warrior race), she was burning with anger…. I have heard that women who follow dharma were never brought before a public court….Greed is the destroyer of dharma. I do not desire a third boon…. Draupadi was as forgiving as mother earth herself…. Just then Arjuna saw his dear friend Bhagawan Krishna approaching him…. “Leave him, leave him. He is a brahmin and worthy of our worship. Their mother should not cry, like I have at the death of my children."
Analyzing the Eternal Dimensions of Dharma Through Itihasa (History)
"Vyasa Ji explained through a story how it came to be that the Pandava's marriage with a single wife was in conformity with dharma….The gods, along with their king Indra, were sitting on the bank of a river when they saw a beautiful golden lotus floating on its waters…. Both were playing a game of dice…. On hearing Shiva’s words, Indra started shaking with fear… Without death, the burden on the earth becomes too much…. Her birth had the sanction of all the three Gods - Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu."
Devi Draupadi: Resolving the Paradox
" Contrarily metaphysicians and theologians perceived his form as it manifested in the Upanishads and Puranas….The ‘Advaita’ philosophy also contends that the entire Creation is just the extension of One…. Dance illustrates one of the ever-first cosmic acts with which Shiva seems to have tamed violent motion and separated from it rhythm, moves that communicated emotions and states of mind – human mind and the cosmic, and disciplined and defined pace…. Unlike Vishnu who resorted to dance for accomplishing a contemplated objective, Shiva has been conceived more or less as a regular dancer performing for accomplishing an objective as also for pure aesthetic delight…. Unfurling locks of hair and his snakes floating into space portray the dynamics of the act."
Shiva, the Nataraja
"But to pull this statement out of context and give it as an advice for anyone is far from correct…. But how is one to recognise the guru? Obviously, he will be able to understand the difficulties of the disciples and clarify to them the meaning of the scriptures on the basis of logic and experience…. They will have to search in their own neighbourhood only….The guru chosen by him should be at least better than himself!…. Of course, if the ideal guru whose features have been enumerated in the beginning is available, then the sadhaka should immediately go and surrender to him…. It is just like going to another teacher for higher education, after completing the education in a school."
The Qualities of a Guru and How to Find One
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