Worship of the Divine Mother And Navaratri

SADHU PROF. V. RANGARAJAN

Founder & Spiritual Head, Sri Bharatamata Gurukula Ashram &

Yogi Ramsuratkumar Indological Research Centre,

Sri Guruji Golwalkar Hindu Resource Centre,

Sister Nivedita Academy, Sri Bharatamata Mandir

Srinivasanagar, Krishnarajapuram, BANGALORE 560 036

email: sadhu.rangarajan@gmail.com;

Phone: 080-25610935, Cell: 09448275935

Worship of the Mother

“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children”, says Thackeray. There is also a Jewish proverb, “God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.”

Long before the Semitic culture came into existence, here in this holy land of Bharata Varsha, Mother and Motherland were proclaimed to be more sacred than Heaven itself. The Primal Energy, which is the cause of the whole creation, was propitiated in the form of the Divine Mother.

“Why, it may be asked, is God thought of as Mother?” Sir John Woodroffe poses this question to himself and answers:

“This question may be countered by another—’Why is God called the Father?’ God is sexless. Divinity is spoken of as Mother because It ‘conceives, bears, gives birth to, and nourishes the universe’”.

“God is worshipped as the Great Mother,” says Sir John Woodroffe, “because in this aspect God is active, and produces, nourishes and maintains all.” Parashakti is the Goddess of Nature who was worshipped in ancient times in various countries under various names such as Isis, Mari and Durga.

According to Sir John Woodroffe, “Human experience teaches also that all life is a boon from the womb of the woman, from the mother. Therefore, the Indian thinkers, from whom Shaktism has originated, believed that the highest Deity, the super most creative principle, should be brought nearest to the human mind not through the word ‘Father’, but through the word ‘Mother’.” He suspects that in the beginning the Goddess everywhere antedated, or at least was predominant over the God. In this connection he notes that in the Mediterranean (Aegean) civilization, the Male God is said to have been of a standing inferior to the Mother, and present only to make plain Her character as the fruitful womb whence all that exist spring.

Aati Paramporulin Ookkam- atai

Annaiyenappanital aakkam

—’To worship the Force of the Primal Being as Mother is (the way to) material well-being as well as spiritual elevation,’ says the great patriot-poet-philosopher, Mahakavi C. Subramania Bharati. In one of his inspiring English pieces, ‘Maatri-puja’ (Mother-worship), Bharati elucidates this point further.

“God the Father is the ideal. God the Mother is the actual. That I am one with the Pure Being is a spiritual realization. That I am one with the manifested world is an actual, every day experience. Indeed, ultimately the ideal is the same as the actual; but we, the children of the earth, find in the motherhood of God, a dearer relation, a sweeter rapport. Nor need we erect shrines for Her worship, nor invent symbols. She is there, standing before us; ever-shining, ever-beautiful. She stands revealed as Nature”.

E.A.Payne, author of ‘The Shaktas’, says that the highest conception of Fatherhood contains within it the Mother ideal.

Nicol Macnicol has suggested that female deities are more capable than others of being identified with ideas, when early speculation is struggling to find some medium of expression. But this is only for worship. God is, as Woodroffe points out, no more female than male or neuter. God is beyond sex. The Power or active aspect of God is Shakti and the transcendent aspect, Siva.

Mother-worship Encompasses All Religions and Cultures

“The worship of Mother-Goddesses is an extremely widespread religious phenomenon, and its development in other parts of the world affords several parallels with what seems to have happened within Hinduism wherein the Cult of Mother- worship is still predominant. Friedrich Heiler, in his great book, Das Gebet, gives instances from every part of the world to show that the conception of God as Mother is as natural and ultimate as the conception of Him as Father,” says Payne.

Mother-worship unifies religions and cultures too. The Divine Mother is the Tara of Tibetan Buddhism and Padmavati and Saraswati of Jainism. The Babylonian word Ummu or Umma, the Acadian Ummi and the Dravidian Amma for the mother are only different variations of Uma, the Mother of all, the Simhavahini Durga who is the daughter of Himavan. A Cretan deity depicted on a signet-ring, as flanked by two lions and standing on the top of a hill, the Greek Mother-goddess guarded by the lords of the forest, and the Mother Goddess of Asia Minor who had beasts kneeling at Her feet, are all, perhaps, different representations of Durga. The coins of the Kushana King, Huvishka depict the figure of the Mother with a Greek legend, OMMO, which is rightly rendered as Uma. Even earlier, a golden plate belonging to the Maurya period and coins of Saka King, Azes I, contain figures of Hara and Parwati, depicted on them. Payne points out, “The hard, stern and somewhat grim pictures of the Madonna in ancient Byzantine art attract the worship of many Catholics more than the tender charm of the Madonna of Raphael. This trait is most signally evident in the case of certain figures of Gods in the Indian pantheon.” Das Gebet gives instances from every part of the world to show that the conception of God as Mother is as natural and ultimate as the conception of Him as Father. The Goddess worshipped by the Semitic peoples had many names—to the Canaanites and Phoenicians, She was known as Ashtoreth or Ashtart, to the Babylonians as Istar, and possibly to the Arabs as al-Lat and al-Uzza. Both Greeks and Phoenicians have identified Her with Aphrodite whose rites were mostly of Phoenician origin. Payne admits: “There are traces of this worship in the Old Testament, though it seems likely that the texts have been worked over by latter hands anxious to conceal these things as much as possible.” The development of the worship of the Mother Goddess in the Mediterranean world has been very similar to that in India and the same kind of character has been ascribed to the Goddess by Her devotees. Ashtart is sometimes the tutelary deity of a city and in consequence its protectress and champion, a war goddess. She ranks as the Queen of the gods and Princess of heaven and earth. She is identified, too, with the planet Venus, largely because in the astro-theology of the Babylonians, the planet Venus was the star of Istar. Rudolf Otto has noted that ‘from the standpoint of comparative religion it is very striking and remarkable that the worship of Shakti in India became powerful, and forced its way into the higher cult, in almost precisely the same centuries as those in which in the West the worship of the Panagia, the Theotokos, the Regina coeli developed.’  In the case of Mary, we discover a remarkable growth in the ecclesiastical tradition and belief regarding her person, a growth which ended in the formulation of absolute sinlessness, and her peculiar relation to the Godhead, by which she is fitted for special and successful intercession on behalf of mankind. The Mother-idea is also traceable in many references to the Holy Spirit. In the Apocryphal Gospel according to Hebrews, Jesus is made to speak of ‘My Mother, the Holy Spirit’, and the phrase is quoted by Jerome and others of the Church Fathers. A similar series of ideas is to be found connected with the Church, which is often spoken of as ‘the Mother of the Faithful’. Augustine Comte sought to bring back religion, which positivism had banished, in the form of a sentimental worship of Humanity, symbolized by woman, and in particular by the Virgin Mary.

The Cult of Mother-worship In India

Worship of the Divinity in the form of the Mother has been prevalent in our country from time immemorial. The idea of worshipping the divinity as feminine is mentioned in the Vedas. The cult of Shakti seems to be as old as our civilization and it is said, Her images are found in the relics of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, which go back to 3,500 B.C. The archaeological remains of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa clearly proclaim that the Cult of Mother Goddess was very popular in the pre-Vedic days. We find in the Devi Sukta of the Rig Veda Samhita that Vak (speech) realized her identity with the Divine Mother. She is adored as the “true companion of the helpless and oppressed souls”, “the sole guardian of the Universe and all deities,” and the conferrer of “success and bliss” upon Her devotees, The Atharva Veda declares that She is the Mother of all beings. She is known as Ambika in Yajur Veda. The Upanishads mention Her names, Uma and Haimavati, and sing Her glory. Her greatness is narrated in forty chapters in the Brahmaanda Puraana.

The Kena Upanishad proclaims the glory of Uma. According to Devee Mahaatmya, She manifested in three significant forms, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Maha Saraswati, in which She is respectively the consort of Siva, Vishnu and Brahma, the Trinity. Among the Vedic Gods, Aagneyi, Indraani, Varunaani, Bharati, Saraswati and Ila are forms of Shakti. Above them all is Aditi Maata, glorified by the Vedas. Mahakavi Bharati identifies Aditi with Paraashakti and, quoting Max Mueller, he says Aditi means that which is boundless. “This infinite power, Aditi, is the Mother of all Gods. All things, all words, have come forth from Her. One who wants to be ‘liberated’ from the bonds of ignorance must take the help of Aditi, says the Vedas.” Bharati gave a Tamil rendering of the Veda Mantra:

Aditir dyauraditirantariksha-

maditir maata sa pitaa sa putrah

Vishve devaa aditihi panchajanaa aditir

jaatamaditir janitvam.

–Rig Veda 1.89.10.

“Aditi is sky. Aditi is intermediary space. Aditi is Mother. Aditi is Father and son. Aditi is all Gods. Aditi is the men of five zones. All that has gone is Aditi. All that are to come is Aditi.”

Explaining the many facets of the Divine Mother’s personality, Bharati says: “Parashakti is the Goddess of Nature who was worshipped in ancient homes in various names such as Isis, Mari and Durga.”

“Kings deified Her in some places as the Goddess of War and in other places as the Goddess of Destruction and the common people emulated their rulers. Mystics, seers and poets adored Her as the Formless One, the primal cause of creation, preservation and destruction. All (these forms) are one and the same. ”

According to the Brahmavaivarta Puraana, Krishna worshipped Her in Goloka, Siva before the fight with demon Tripura, Brahma when he was in fright on seeing Madhu and Kaitab, and Indra when cursed by Durvasa. The Tulasi Ramaayana tells that Sita worshipped Her to get Rama as husband, while the Bhaagavata says, Rukmini did so to get Sri Krishna. In the Mahaabhaarata, Krishna advises Arjuna to praise Her before commencing the Kurukshetra war. Durga is one who is inaccessible and who causes obstacles to ill-conduct (Durgaam durgamam Deveem duraachaaravighatineem). Krishna says that “Durga is the Primal Energy; She is the power behind creation, protection and destruction.” According to Devee Maahaatmya, She is manifested in three significant forms, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati, in which She is respectively the consort of Siva, Vishnu and Brahma, the trinity. Besides, being the mother of Ganesha and Kumara, and the effulgence of Surya, She unifies the six great streams of Hinduism, viz., Saivam, Vaishnavam, Shaktam, Ganapatyam, Kaumaram, and Sowram.

This Supreme Mother is worshipped by Her devotees from the Himalayas, the “Abode of snow”, the northern home of Shiva, to Cape Comorin in the south. The word Comorin, is a corruption of Kumari, the Devi or the Mother. To the Shakta, God is his Supreme Mother. Countless mothers he has had in innumerable births and he may, in future, have many. The human mother is sacred as the Giver of Life, but it is the Divine Mother of All, the ‘Treasure-House of Compassion’, who alone is both the Giver of Life in the world and its joys, and who is the Saviouress from its miseries and who again is, for all who unite with Her, the Life of all lives—that unalloyed bliss, Liberation.

Almost all the existing antique temples of India are centers of Mother Worship. Right from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, renowned temples dedicated to Her are spread all over the Bharatavarsha in a uniform pattern, corresponding to the Shakti-peethas in Shri- Chakra. She is Bhagavati in Kerala, Kali and Lalitha in Tamil Nadu, Kanakadurga in Andhra, Chamundeshwari in Karnataka, Bhavani in Maharashtra, Ambika in Rajasthan and Gujarat, Kali and Durga in Bengal and Kamakhya in Assam. She is Sita and Radha too in Uttar Pradesh.

Tantra Shastra

Tantras, believed to be a direct revelation from Siva to His wife Parvati are the Bible of Shaktism just as the Puranas are the Bible of ordinary Saivism and Vaishnavism. Those who have made the Tantras their own peculiar Veda (agama), tracing back their doctrines to the Kaula Upanishads are known as ‘followers of the left-hand path’ (Vaama Margis). They assert that the Divine truth is that revealed in the Tantras. But those who consider the Vedas as the ultimate authority are Dakshina Margis or ‘followers of the right-hand path.’

But Shaktism is not confined to these two water-tight compartments. As Woodroffe points out, “At present we can say that he who worships the Mantra and Yantra of Shakti is a Shakta, and that there were several Sampradayas of these worshippers. Shakti darshana, as it exists today, is the development and amalgamation of the various cults which were its ancestors.”

The Tantra Shaastra is, according to Arthur Avalon, ‘a development of the Karma Kanda’, promulgated to meet the needs of Kaliyuga. The Shakta Tantras are the particular repository of Mother-worship. Tantra Shaastra outlines an elaborate ritualistic pattern of Shakti worship. The word, Shakti, means, ‘Energy’. Power or Force is conceived as the active principle in the universe and is personified as Goddess. Tanum traayate iti tantrathat which protects the body (tanu) is the force of tantra. In this worship, the sound force of the letters is employed as mantras in invoking the Devi Swarupas (forms of female divinities) proving thereby that the world is a creation by sound waves emanating from the root sound AUM. Tantras are traditionally considered as the revelation of the three supreme deities—Brahma, Vishnu and Siva—upholding the mysteries of the sect. They are the storehouse of Indian occultism and authorities on Yoga. They deal with various branches of worship and there is, in them, considerable amount of philosophical material. Even Tantric Buddhism is permeated with Shakta ideas. In Hinduism, it is only the Shaakta Tantras that have proved to be of great influence. Sir John Woodroffe goes to the extent of saying, “He who has not understood Tantra Shaktam has not understood what ‘Hinduism’ is as it exists today.”

Tantra Shaastra does not simply mean the Shakta Tantra. The latter is only one division of Aagama, which has today three main schools, Shaakta, Shaiva and Vaishnava. Tantric does not mean only Shakta.

“The Shaakta Tantra says Woodroffe, “is a Saadhana Shaastra of Monistic (Advaita) Vedanta. It is to me, a profound and powerful system, and its doctrine of Shakti or Divine Power is one of the greatest evolved, through spiritual intuition, by the human mind which, according to its teaching, is a manifestation of the Divine Consciousness Itself (Shiva)”.

Summarizing Shakta doctrine, we may first affirm that it is Advaita-vaada or Monism. This we might expect seeing that it flourished in Bengal, which, as the old Gauda Desha, is the guru both of Advaita-vaada and of Tantra Shaastra. Mahakavi Bharati points out: “Even now Shakta religion is alive and strong in Bengal. Though in other places, the public worship Shakti with all pomp, there is no separate faith as Shaktism”. While reminiscing with pride that during the period of ancient Hindu Kings Shaaktam was at its height of glory, that Vikramaditya who drove away the Hunas and set up the Vikrama Era was a worshipper of Maha Kali, that his contemporary and a great poet who did great service to Bharat and the world, poet Kalidasa, was a worshipper of Kali and that to Shivaji too, She was the Goddess, Bharati does not hesitate to point out that some people in the South even now practice in secret the ancient Kshatriya methods of offering meat under the wrong impression that it is needed. He says, because of these practices, in some places, Shakta means ‘one who drinks in secret’ and this is an astonishing turn of event in time.

What is Shaktism?

Mahakavi Bharati points outs, “Our ancestors were great apostles of this Mother- worship. Parashakti, the Supreme Energy, is the name whereby they knew Her”.

Bharati wrote more than a hundred poems on not only the Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon, but also on Allah and Christ. But the majority of his poems are on Parashakti and he himself claims:

Naattu makkal nalamutru vaazhavum

Naanilattavar menilai eitavum

Paatthinile Kali kootthavum vendi, naan

Mootthum anpukkanalodu vaaniyai

Munnukinra pozhutilellaankural

Kaatthi annai paraashakti ezhaiyen

Kavitaiyaavum tanakkenakkethkinraal.

For the welfare of the countrymen, for the upliftment of people of all countries, and for spreading ecstasy through songs, when I approach Goddess Saraswati with the fire of love kindled in me, Mother Parashakti calls me out and demands me to offer all my poems to Her alone.

According to a viewpoint, Bharati was also a Shakta who worshipped Shakti. But there is a contrary view that though Bharati was a great devotee of Shakti it cannot however be said that he followed the pattern of worship called Shaktism. Perhaps a clear understanding of what is Shaktism and what are the various facets of Shaktism will enable one to find out in what way Bharati is a Shakta and what exactly is his view of Shaktism.

The word Shakti means power or energy or force. Power or Force is conceived as the active or dynamic principle in the universe and is personified as Goddess. Shaktism is a universal religious phenomenon and in all the great religious systems of the world traces of its salient beliefs, especially in God as Mother, can be found. Sir John Woodroffe says, “A beautiful and tender concept of the Shakta is the Motherhood of God, that is Shakti or the power which produces, maintains and withdraws the universe”. He also lists out the characteristic features of Shakta- Dharma as its Monism; its concept of the Motherhood of God; its unsectarian spirit and provision for Shudras and women, to the latter of whom it renders high honour, recognizing that they may be even gurus; and lastly its Sadhana skillfully designed to realize its teachings. Payne points out three chief characteristics: ‘its idea of the Deity as Destroyer, its conception of God as Mother, and its attention to ceremonial’.

In Shaktism also, as seen elsewhere in Hinduism, we find two orders of religion side by side. One is philosophic, universalistic and spiritual and the other is popular, local and magical. ” Shaktism”, according to Monier Williams, “in the simplest acceptation of the term is the worship of power or force (Sanskrit- Shakti) personified as a Goddess with a view to the acquisition of magical and supernatural faculties through Her help or to the destruction of enemies through Her co-operation”.

Like any other cult, Shaktism or the Cult of Mother-worship had its ups and downs in the course of its historical development through centuries. At one time it was even denounced and denigrated as a bundle of nefarious occult practices or some sort of magical art in the hands of notorious criminals. The Kaulopanishad is, as it were, the seed of the Kaula doctrine and form of worship, which is amplified in the Kulaarnava, and other Tantras and Samhitas. Towards the end of the Upanishad is to be found the injunction against the indiscriminate preaching of Kaula (Kula faith and doctrine), because it is likely to be, as it is often in fact, misunderstood, as by persons who say that the doctrine teaches and sanctions, among other things, incest. When Tantricism spread as a popular cult, the symbolic significance of the names, madya, maamsa, matsya, mudra and maithuna were lost sight of and the religion deteriorated to such an extent that Hindu culture itself expelled the Vamaachara path from the religious pantheon. Even among the Shaktas there have been those who have protested against bloodshed and other practices, which went against the accepted moral values of the society. They tried to spiritualize the Tantric tenets and the best of the Tantras have always insisted that external worship alone is of no evil. With the advent of Shankaracharya and his establishment of the Shanmatas, Shaktism again received a new and dignified position among the six chief religious systems, systematized by Shankara. Not only the advent of great spiritual personages like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, but also the untiring and exemplary services of Western savants like Sir John Woodroffe, brought to light in the modern period, the pristine glory of our ancient Tantras and Shakti Sadhana.

Great Shaktas

Countless are the scholars, saints and spiritual men who have attained glory and immortality by worshipping Her. Kalidasa, who worshipped Her at Ujjain, became a great poet. The Tamil poet Kamban too was Her devotee. Shankara showered hymns in praise of Her and Ramaprasad of Bengal burst into devotional songs. Sri Ramakrishna, the advocate of harmony of all religions, saw Her face to face and proclaimed: “My Divine Mother is not only formless, She has forms as well…The Mother reveals Herself to Her devotees in different forms. I saw Her yesterday. She was clad in seamless, ochre coloured garment, and She talked with me.” With the Divine Grace of Mother Tulja Bhavani, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj rebuilt the Hindu Rashtra. Swami Vivekananda, who wrote his celebrated ‘Hymn to Kali’ after worshipping the Ksheer Bhavani of Kashmir, had the grand realization of the mission of his life when he sat at the feet of the Goddess of Kanyakumari.

During the Freedom Movement of the country, great patriots like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Bankim Chandra, Sister Nivedita and Subramania Bharati awakened the national consciousness by reviving the worship of the Motherland in the form of the Mother—Bhavani Bharati. The new awakening created by them was not confined to any creed or community. In the words of Sister Nivedita, “The Mohammedan boatman of Eastern Bengal is not in his own person a worshipper of Durga, and yet the words ‘with folded hands before the Mother’ may carry as much to him as to the Hindu heart.” She further says: “Every year that goes by, the images of the Mother become more and more deep, each in its turn, entwined with the thought of India to the Indian heart. Mother and Motherland—where ends the one and where begins the other? Before which does a man stand with folded hands, when he bows his head still lower and says with a new awe: ‘My salutations to the Mother’?” The Sarbojanin Durga Pooja of Bengal inspired Bankim Chandra to conceive our Motherland in the image of Durga and proclaim, “Twam hi Durgaa dasapraharana dhaarineem“—’Verily Thou (Motherland) art Durga, the wielder of ten weapons’—in his celebrated national song Bande Mataram. Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo wrote, somewhere between 1904 and 1908, Bhavaani Bhaarati, a poem in Sanskrit with 99 verses invoking the Shakti, the Mother of the nation, the nation itself. The work was promptly seized by the British Government and after many decades it was recovered by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1985.  Kavyakantha Vasishtha Ganapati Muni, sitting in the divine presence of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, composed the immortal poem, Uma Sahasram of thousand verses. Bhagavan, who sat in absolute silence when the poet was dictating the verses to his disciples, sprang a surprise to all by asking the poet whether all that He had dictated was written down. The illustrious disciple of Vasishtha Ganapati Muni, composed the Bhaaratee Stavam, the Song of the Soul of India, on the eve of the Independence of India on August 15, 1947.

It is the bounden duty of every Indian to protect and preserve this great heritage by worshipping the Divine Mother in the form of our Motherland. Let us all pray together chanting the ‘Hymn to the Divine Mother’ in the words of Sri Aurobindo:

“Mother Durga! Rider on the lion, giver of all strength, Mother, beloved of Siva! We, born from thy parts of Power, we the youth of India, are seated here in thy temple. Listen O Mother, descend upon earth, make thyself manifest in this land of India.”

” Mother Durga! From age to age, in life after life, we come down into the human body, do thy work and return to the Home of Delight. Now too we are born, dedicated to thy work. Listen O Mother, descend upon earth, come to our help.

Significance of Navaratri

The origin of Durga Pooja for nine days during Navaratri is traced to Sharadotsava, a season festival at the conjunction of the cessation of rains and the incoming of autumn. Devi Bhaagavatam says: Vasanta and Sharad-ritus are like two incisor teeth of Yama, meaning, that during these months the scourge of ill-health in the world is at its highest. Consequently, Devi is worshipped to save mankind from pestilence. According to the Bengal school of Durga worshippers, the Mother visits the earth, Her parental home, every year for three days in autumn and returns to Her husband’s house over the Mount Kailasa on the Vijayadashami day. The Bhaagavatam says that Durga is eternally nine years old and hence the nine-day worship. On the ninth day, She is worshipped as Sharada or Saraswati and on the tenth as Aparajita or the invincible form of Durga, which accounts for the name of Vijaya Dashami for that day. The universal nature of Her worship is declared by Bhavishya Puraana, which says that Devi should be worshipped not only by Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras, but also by Mlechchas and all other men and women. Vijaya Dashami is also considered as the day of final victory of Sri Rama over Ravana and accordingly celebrated with picturesque Ram Lila in the North. On this day, the Pandava brothers were supposed to have worshipped, after the expiry of the period of their Ajnatavasa, the Sami tree on which they had deposited their weapons on the eve of their leaving in disguise. According to Devi Maahaatmya, the nine manifestations of Devi Durga known as Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandra Ghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayini, Kalaratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri are collectively called Navadurgas. Each of them is worshipped on different nights of Navaratri.

Raja Kangsa Narayan of Taherpur in Rajshahi District (now in Bangladesh) is believed to have introduced in Bengal the public festival of Durga Puja in the year 1580, during the reign of Akbar. He celebrated the festival at a cost of rupees nine lakhs. The Bhonslas of Nagpur also celebrated it on a grand scale. In the South, the great kings of Vijayanagar patronized the public celebration of Navaratri. The much travelled Portuguese traveller, Dormingo Paes, who visited the capital of Vijayanagar, gives a grand panoramic description of the Navaratri celebrations during the reign of the great emperor Krishnadeva Raya. Inheriting that tradition, Raja Wadiyar of Mysore instituted the observance of the public festival in his State in 1610 A.D. Some of the features of the celebrations in Mysore like the pooja offered to State horse, State elephant and State carriage represent the worship of Indra’s horse, Ucchaisravas; his elephant, Iravata; and his chariot, Devaratha. These suggest that in the early days Dasara festival was probably connected with Indra, the greatest of Vedic Gods. The festival is observed on a grand scale in the Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu, the festival is celebrated in every home with the traditional ‘Kolu’ or arrangement of dolls of gods, goddesses, men, animals and even inanimate beings, with the image of Durga in the centre, which symbolically represents that the Mother rules the entire universe. As the story of Her annihilation of Mahishasura symbolizes the removal of the darkness of ignorance by the light of knowledge, the Vidyarambham or the commencement of school going of a child is performed on the day of Vijaya Dashami.

According to science, the entire world of creation is nothing but manifestation of energy. Matter arises out of Spirit or Force. E=mc2. There are three types of forces or causes always active in all creation. First is the material cause. Without mud, a potter cannot make a pot. Inert Matter is Tamasic Energy. Without the vitality or work of the potter, the pot will not come into existence. That vitality of the potter is Efficient Cause or Rajasic Energy. Without the know-how of making a pot, the potter could not make a pot. That Intelligent Cause is Satwic Energy. These three are symbolically represented in Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati. These three are not independent forces, but evolutes of the Uncaused Cause, the Consciousness Force who is symbolized as Maha Shakti or Adi Shakti.

We human beings alone are endowed with Reason which enables us to probe into the mystery of our existence and find the Truth. Our Tamasic physical existence is activated by the Pancha Gnanendriyas (five senses of knowledge—eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin providing us experiences of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch) and Pancha Karmendriyas (five organs of action—hands, feet, speech, excretory organs and generative organs). In this realm, we live an animal life of eating, drinking, sleeping, procreating, aging and dying. Our Rajasic emotional and intellectual life is activated by our mind and intellect which are the seats of emotion and knowledge respectively. There is a higher realm where Satwic intuitive or spiritual existence prevails. These three are transcended to merge ourself in the Absolute, Universal and Eternal Consciousness Force from which we all come. During the Navaratri, we worship Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati, each of them for three nights, consecutively, By worshipping Kali we kill the animal instincts in us, by worshipping Lakshmi  we overcome our emotional attachments and intellectual moorings in the mundane and material life and by worshipping Saraswati, we rise in the realm of wisdom and ultimately gain the intuitive realization of the Truth or Consciousness Force, which is symbolized by Vijaya Dashami, the tenth day of ultimate victory. Our Hindu Shastras say that whenever you visit a pilgrim centre, you have to stay there for three days and three nights so that you could derive the full benefit of staying there. To transcend the three realms of existence, we symbolically worship the three deities for three days each.

Akhand Bharat – The Land of Eternal Light

This writer, in his speech delivered in the Welcome Satsang held at Sivanandashram, Durban, South Africa, on November 23, 1985, revealed a truth:

“There came to Madras, sometime back, Dr. Rostislav Rybakov, from Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow. I received a telephone call inviting me to meet him in the Soviet Consulate in Madras. I was just wondering why he should be interested in meeting me. But when I met him, I was surprised to see that he was doing lot of research work on Hindu religion and theology. We had an interesting discussion on many matters. I was surprised to hear that, in Russia, research is being done on Sri Chakra and other Hindu theological symbols. They are using the most modern computers for working out the algorithm of Sri Chakra. Today, the scientists have found out that the whole secret of nature has already been discovered by the Rishis and has been recorded in the ancient Indian manuscripts. Therefore scientists from Germany, Russia, America and other countries pour into Bharatavarsha. They go to the Saraswati Mahal Library in Tanjore and such other places, collect all ancient manuscripts, take out the secrets therein and do researches on them. You may believe this or not, but this is happening today. And this land, Bharatavarsha, which has produced great Rishis has got a great significance. It is called “The Land of Light” not in eulogy. Probably you might have seen the form of Sri Chakra in some prayer books or scriptural texts. You will find two equilateral triangles, one invertedly placed over the other in such a way that the vertices form six other equilateral triangles. There will be many smaller triangles within. There are fiftyone shakti peethas in Sri Chakra. You take a diagram of Sri chakra and place a map of Akhanda Bharata or undivided Bharatavarsha of the same size over it. Our ancient Bharatavarsha or the Bharata khanda is not present India. It included Gandhara, the present day Afghanisthan. It had the Suvarna dwipa, Sumatra, Jawa, Borneo and Brahma desha which is the modern Burma. All these and many other countries were part and parcel of Akhanda Bharat. You place the Sri Chakra over the map of Akhanda Bharat and, with a pin, mark the spots where the fiftyone peethas are. Then you remove the diagram of the Sri Chakra and look into the map. You will find fiftyone dots exactly in places of sacred shrines of the Divine Mother like Kanyakumari, Kanchi Kamakshi, Madurai Meenakshi, Kasi Visalakshi, Kashmira Ksheerabhavani and Assam Kamakhya from Himalayas to Cape Comerin. Which engineer built, such an India and in which age, with such a planning that all these temples come exactly in these locations? Or, is it an accident? The great Rishis used to wander throughout the length and breadth of the country. Of course, the country was ruled by different kings in different parts and in different periods of our history. I will tell about that also in another lecture. But the Rishis travelled all over the land. Even the great mahatmas in the modern period have marched from one end of the country to the other. The great Adi Shankaracharya started from Kaladi in Kerala and wandered there in meditation and then proclaimed, ‘Here is a shaktipeetha; build a temple for the Divine Mother.’ Thus the Kollur Mookambika temple came up there. Likewise, great mahatmas identified the Shaktipeethas in different parts of the country, in different periods of history and different kings or emperors built the temples there, but all of them are set in the pattern of Sri Chakra. This cannot be an accident. Bharatavarsha is the soul of the universe. A Hindi poet has sung – Hai deha viswa, atma hai Bharatamata.

Just as in a microcosmic atom there is a nucleus which is the centre of energy, in the macrocosmic world, the nucleus is Bharatavarsha or Mother India and, therefore, saints and sages from the ancient Rishis to Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo of the modern age, all men of wisdom adored Bharatamata as Maha Shakti. Sri Aurobindo dreamt of setting up ‘Bhavani Mandir’ where Sri Bharatamata will be adored and worshipped as Mahashakti. Mahakavi Subramania Bharati and the patriot-saint, Subramania Siva wanted to promote the ‘Sribharati’ Sampradaya of worship of Motherland as the Divine Mother. Subramania Siva even persuaded the Bengali patriot, Chitta Ranjan Das, who was Sri Aurobindo’s lawyer in the Alipore Bomb Case, to come to Tamilnadu and lay a foundation for Sri Bharatamata Mandir at Papparappatti, near Salem, but his dream remained unfulfilled. It became a dream of this writer, a humble sadhu initiated by Yogi Ramsuratkumar of Tiruvannamalai, and he undertook the task of building Sri Bharatamata Mandir.

A Unique Temple for Sri Bharatabhavani

Sri Bharatamata Mandir in Bharatamata Gurukula Ashram at Krishnarajapuram, Bangalore, is a unique temple where Sri Bhavani Bharati has been consecrated as Bhagavati as envisaged by great patriot saints like Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Rama Tirtha, Sister Nivedita, Sri Aurobindo, Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, Sri Subramania Sivam, Sri Badrish Mahashaya and Sri Satyadev Maharaj. On the occasion of the Praanapratishtha of the Vigraha of the Divine Mother Bharatabhavani installed on Sri Chakra, by Poojyapada Jagadguru Sri Vishwesha Teertha of Pejawar Mutt, Udipi, in the presence of Sri H.V. Seshadri, former Sah-Sarkaryavah of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, on December 8, 2004, in the Poornaahuti of the Chandi Homa performed on the occasion, the Divine Mother manifested in the sacred fire, proving that Sri Bharatamata is not just a geographical territory or Motherland of ours, but She is Mahashakti. Nitya Poojas, Abhisheka, Homa and celebration of festivals like Akshaya Triteeya and Navaratri are celebrated according to the injunctions of Tantra Shastra

Sir John Woodroffe, the renowned authority on the Tantra Shastra says, “Shri Bhagavati who, though appearing in one of her forms as Bharata Shakti is not merely a Devi of Hindus but their name for the one Mother of the World.” According to Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo Bhavani Bharati is “a mighty Shakti, composed of the Shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation, just as Bhavani Mahisha Mardini sprang into being from the Shakti of all the millions of Gods assembled in one mass of force and welded into unity.” Tantrik sadhakas who have visited the temple have experienced the powerful divine vibrations in the temple.

Sri Guruji Golwalkar Hindu Resource Centre with an auditorium, guest rooms and a research library on the top floor of Bharatamata Gurukula Ashram & Yogi Ramsuratkumar Indological Research Centre of Sister Nivedita Academy was inaugurated by Swami Harshananda, President of Sri Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Bangalore, on Vijayadashami Day, October 15, 2011. The work to put up a Mahameru Gopura on the top of the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Bharatamata Mandir has started The construction in the model of Bhagavati temples in Kerala will have a pyramid shaped Shikara or peak with a Meru at the bottom, right above the roof of the sanctum sanctorum. The Shikara will receive Cosmic Energy, store them in the Meru and inundate the whole sanctum sanctorum and the temple premises with the cosmic vibrations of Maha Shakti. The Shikhara Sthapana Pooja and Vastu Pooja for commencing the construction work of the Mahameru Gopura were performed in the morning of Thursday, July 28, 2011. The consecration of the Gopura is expected to take place very soon. Navaratri is celebrated in Sri Bharatamata Mandir to invoke the Divine Mother Bharatabhavani’s blessings on all beings for their gradual evolution from the lower realms to the highest. Vande Mataram!