Devi, the Divine Female, revered as 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 Mother Goddess, is India’s supreme Divinity.
Myriad are her shrines and unending her boons.
Centuries-old 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.
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.
A distant past
The Indus dweller further magnified it when, for realising 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 it appears from the so far recovered figurines of the Goddess datable from 3000 B C to the 1st century BC, this primitive manifestation of the proto Mother in terracotta idols seems to have continued to prevail till almost the beginning of the Christian era.
Mystic and Traditional
In its contemplation, the Rig Veda, which seems to have conceded to the idea of theDivine Female, takes two different lines, one mystic and the other traditional. Thetraditional line was the same as prevailed amongst the primitive Indus community, whichperceived the Divine Female as Mother Goddess.
The Rig Veda 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 Vedicmysticism, the cosmos and all things pre-exist but are not manifest. The Vak, or Vani makes them manifest.
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.
According to the Mahabharata, this metaphysical Being, the Mother Goddess is theeternal upholder of Dharma and truth, the promoter of happiness and the giver ofsalvation and prosperity but also of sorrows, grief and pain.
She is invoked not only as the Supreme Power reining the cosmos and reigning above all gods, but as the cosmic energy incarnate.
In Puranic literature, religious conventions, anthropomorphic iconography and ritualpractices, the Mother Goddess has been diversely conceived and variedly named. She isthe Adi Shakti, the proto energy including in it all forms of vitality, Prakriti, whichoperates in and on all things, Dhatri, the holder of all things, and the Universal Mother.
As to Her origin, there prevail innumerable myths, although only two of them are morequoted 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).
As the tradition has it, a buffalo demon Mahishasura ruled the earth. Under a sanctionfrom Brahma,he was invincible against any male, beast or human born. Thus a femalewarrior was created.
Unique in might and unparalleled in beauty and charm, as she could be required tobewitch and beguile the demon also by them. Accordingly, her head was formed by thepowers 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 glitteringjewels and ornaments were Ocean’s gift and her necklace inlaid with celestial gems thatof the great Serpent Shesh.
The Devi emerged with three eyes and eighteen hands carrying in them various celestialweapons, annihilated Mahishasura and killed him.
This Devi form, irrespective of Her origin-cult and evolution, has multiplemanifestations, the prime ones being three.
Reproduced with the permission of Exotic India.
- Adi Parashakthi-the source of all strength and energy
- Devi, the Mother Goddess and Her Symbolisms
- Mahishasura Mardhini- some images portray Her with ten hands