Naveen C Trigunayat
After a deep sleep a person wakes up and becomes aware that he had slept soundly and feels the after effects of that sleep as a pleasant happening. But there is no description or material details of that deep sleep any longer, he had just passed something that left a pleasant experience in his mind. The world is in existence because of a mere Consciousness- not thought. That invisible and incomprehensible feeling is Shakti, here as the power of sleep. A similar Shakti exists in all process and in the hands of a doer. These small powers come under the aegis of Mahashakti. The act of doing is for the Gods, but, the power to provide effect to their deeds is with this Mahashakti alone.
Before the creation was set in motion and when there was nothing but darkness under the waters it was Shakti that became both cause and effect to commence the action of creation. Shakti empowered Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh to execute their respective acts of creation, administration and dissolution. Then, to empower them to continue with their work she assumed forms of their respective consorts and stayed with them. Of the thousands of Universes like our own, she oversees the work of whatever Gods prevail in those places. She is the Ultimate.
In the write up that follows there is an attempt to bring out the glory of Shakti in the hands of Gods and in the hands of people of the world in day to day activity. The learned readers are welcome to use this text to unlock the doors to their own knowledge.
New Delhi Naveen C Trigunayat
I pray to Bhagwati, the Mother of the Cosmos. By Her grace Brahma became the creator of the Universe, Vishnu its administrator and Rudra its destroyer. All the Rishis meditate on her name and in the quest to reach the Truth the Munis debate on her as Prime Creation and describe Her as the giver of Moksha and Heaven.
Ved Vyas performed severe austerities on the Himalayas after he completed the 18 Purans. Devi was pleased with his work and then a divine voice asked him to proceed to Brahm-Lok where all Shruties are present. The voice assured him that he will get Her darshan there as also more text regarding the Creation. He went to Brahm-Lok and prayed to the four Vedas. As a result, the param Swaroopa Devi appeared in all her glory. She had the brilliance of a thousand Suns, the coolness of hundreds of moons and had thousands of arms holding weapons and scripture of Vidya . She began to take different forms and assumed herself as Vishnu and then appeared as Lakshmi on his left, some times She bore the looks of Radha dancing with Krishna and sometimes she became Shiva and then made herself as Parvati on his left side. This way she made her presence associated with all other Gods who were all in the male form.
Once all the Gods had assembled at Mandarachal Parvat and prayed to Shiva. After the prayers they were joined by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Narad Muni folded his hands and said, ‘ O! Revered Shiva! All the Gods and the Rishis and Munis pray for kindness and blessings from you three Devas of the trinity (Trideva). Most of the times you all are also performing Tapasya, please say to whom do you pray to’. Shiva replied, ‘ Like this world is created, administered and destroyed by Me as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the entire creation is run by DEVI SHAKTI. She is known by many names, primarily she is Bhagwati Jagdamba. In this world too, she is known by many names and she is the prime person who associates with all of us and is the force that enables us to perform what ever she has ordained us for’.
At the moment when the Supreme had decided to multiply and thus created Brahman she had appeared and appointed us for our specific tasks and said, ‘ I am the powers that have appointed the three of you for the complete running of this world, hence you Trideva (Trinity) will function as per my desire. I will take form as Savitri, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Ganga and Sati (Parvati) and stay with you as your consorts. I will also take birth with Shambhu’s guidance and be born as female of all the living beings in this world. Since then, whatever, sura, asura, or animal that are born, the Shakti is also born as their female part, thus the beings multiply and proliferate with her kindness.
Rudra had once told Narad that when there were no Worlds, Sun, Moon, Stars, Day-night, Agni, Directions, Sound, Touch, etc. or any other form of Brilliance or Powers , there was only this divine power. This Sat- Chid- Anand form of existence was full of knowledge, eternal, away from speech, away from any gravitational force etcetera and was completely formless. Though she Herself had no body, She got an idea that she should multiply and immediately she assumed a visible form. She had the beauty of a thousand lotuses, and dark as the mascara, had four arms and flaming red eyes, her hair flowed wildly, and she wore only directions as her attire (was naked). She appeared thus, sitting on the back of a tiger.
She then produced the three Gunas (qualities) of Sat (truth), Raj (control) and Tam(Dissolution) and created a person who had no consciousness of his own - Purusha. In this Purusha she expressed her desire to multiply. Instantly the form cast itself into the effects of each Guna as Vishnu (Sat), Brahma (Raj) and Shiva (Tam). When she still did not see the creation being formed, she divided the Purusha into two parts called Jeevatma (the living form)and Parmatma (the divine form). Simultaneously, She, split herself into three forms of Maya (disillusion), Vidya (knowledge)and Parama (divinity). The power that administers the world and that pulsates life in the living is called Parma and we all pray to that as absolute power.
Under the influence of Maya, Jeevatma began to ignore Parma and they got attracted towards the false charms of the world and life of Punya (good deeds) and Paap (bad deeds) with their corresponding results began. The third, Para Vidya divided herself into five forms as Ganga, Durga, Savitri, Lakshmi and Saraswati.
Then she associated herself in one of these forms with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to help them make praja that would multiply on its own. These three Gods, with the blessings of Param Devi successfully manage this world.
The Vedas describe that 33 other Gods helped take the creation on its way forward. These are 12 Aditya, as Children of Aditi and the Sun. There are 8 Vasus who are associated with the earth and 11 other Gods linked to Vayu and accordingly called Maruts. Hanuman sports the name Maruti- offspring of Vayu. In addition, there are two Ashwini Kumar’s, the medicine and cure Gods. This sums up 33 Gods. There is a mention of some Devis like Prithvi, Usha, Aranyani (forests), Aditi (mother of Gods), Vagadevi (perhaps Saraswati who is associated with learning) who had independent functions of the creation.
In the Human body we see two distinct parts. The first is the sthul (solid material) part that can be seen, as flesh and bones, this is also called the sagun part. We call this to be prakriti (nature), or Shakti. The second part is formless and dimensionless, 0ur mind. The mind can not be touched by any means and is called nirgun, atma or the soul. If the atma departs the body can still be felt and touched, but it is completely inert-dead, so prakriti remains and atma flits across prakriti. Scriptural name of prakriti is naam aur roop, name and appearance and is the identifiable as sagun element, the other, the nirgun begins beyond the parameters of the sagun. There is a parallel of this in nature too. The tangible, inanimate and material form is the sagun. The intangible form of life, and prana-shakti (Vital force) is the nirgun form. Here too, sagun is referred to as female and the nirgun as male. The sagun prakriti then is defined as the Shakti or Devi-shakti.
There is an ancient lore about, ’without Shakti Shiva is a shav (dead body)’, Literally bringing out the prominence of Shakti over the Material world.
Shiva was always involved in tapasya and devoted truly little time to his newly married wife, Parvati. Parvati told him that he is neglecting her and left him. Immediately the world was struck with a famine and people rushed to Shiva-nagri, Kashi, to seek food. Shiva too rushed there in aid of his Bhakta. He saw that it was Parvati who was feeding all the hungry people. Shiva instantly got the message that without Shakti he too was powerless. The Goddess asked him that because people have a body they become hungry then what will benefit them, food or tapasya? Here the Goddess is portrayed as Annapurna, provider of food.
We exhibit many personae during our lifetime and it is the same with Shakti too. She appears in the form of Kaali (Goddess of Death) when she is angry and is destroying the evil asuras and then she assumes the calm and serene form of Parvati. The portrayals of Shakti has seen varied forms across the country depending on what she has been called up to execute. In her advice to Himalaya, who had the privilege to be her father in her incarnation as Sati, said it is important to know her in her Sthula (bodily) forms as kali and others. Her Sukshma (divine) form can be known only when one is knowledgeable of her worldly forms. Thus, one who wants Moksha must know her in a worldly form and only then she would reveal her Nirakar manifestation.
Even though her form with four arms and sitting astride a tiger is mostly prayed to she appears in Ten other Vidya forms. Their names are Mahakali, Tara, Shodashi, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Baglamukhi, Chinnamasta, Mahatripursundari, Dhumawati, and Matangi. It is in these appearances that she should be prayed to by one who seeks relief from birth-death-birth-death cycle. In addition to these forms that are to be prayed to, she also appeared as other forms too. The story of Krishna incarnation and Her association to Krishna makes interesting reading in Devi Puran. Mahashakti had been sending warning signals to the asura Kans even before the birth of Krishna, who finally killed him.
At one time Shakti Devi was sitting with Shiva in Kailash. Shiva said to her that she had served as his wife and He along with his worldly subjects were incredibly happy under that arrangement. However, it would be very gracious of Her if she incarnated on the earth a male and he could find a way to please her in the reversed female role. Shakti took this as a serious suggestion and promised that she will take form as Krishna and rid the world of Kans. Shiva immediately offered to take form as Radha and continue to bask in her love and care as a female form. And, since there was to be a long separation from each other, Shiva offered to also incarnate as all his eight other wives in Dwarika as Rukmani, Satyabhama, Jambwanti, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Nagnajiti, Bhadra, and Lakshana.
In India the favourite celebrations of shakti are Navadurga or Navratri in Most Northern states. In the Eastern states She is prayed to as Durga sitting astride the tiger. Her nine forms that are prayed to , one after the other on all succeeding days of Navratri. She appears as Shailputri on the first day of the nine day festivities. She is prayed to on the first day and highlights her as the daughter of Mountain King. Also known as Sati, Bhavani, Parvati or Hemavati. She depicts herself as absolute Mother Nature and embodiment of Shakti- the powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. She has a Human form with two hands and has the half moon on her forehead and holds the Trishul or trident in her right hand anda Lotus flower in her other hand
On the second day She is depicted as Brahmcharini. In this form she is identified with Brahman and is the Goddess of asceticism and penance. She is portrayed in her unmarried form, hence the female equivalent of Brahmchari, male celibate. She is believed to walk barefoot with a japa- mala and a Kamandal in her hands.
On the third day she delights as Chandraghanta. The name comprises of Moon (chandra) and a Bell (ghanta). This depicts her married form as after marriage she wore the half moon like a bell. She inspires courage and is always battle ready. Otherwise this is her calm and serene form, but if irked, she is ready to punish the defaulters severely. In this form she rides a tiger and has ten hands. Though this Mother form is ready for battle yet she protects the peace and welfare of her bhaktas.
On the fourth day She is revered as Kushmanda. The parts of her name mean ku as little, ushma as heat and and indicating the Brahmanda – the Universe. Etymology has it that after Sidhdhidatri she began to dwell in the sun, thus releasing its energy for the Universe. This name highlights her capacity to stay in the Sun and her body glow outshines the Sun. In this form she has eight hands and rides a Lioness. It is believed that she created everything with just a smile and that she is a giver od Sidhdhis (Physical qualities).
On the fifth day she is prayed to as Skandmata. She is the Mother of the War-God; Karthikey. In this form she mounts a Lion and is embodiment of Fire carrying baby Skanda in her arms. She has four arms. She sometimes sits on a lotus flower and then she is called Padmasana. In this form people who pray to her get the dual benefits of Her as well Skanda’s grace
Sixth day prayers are offered to Her as Katyayini. She had incarnated as daughter of sage Katyayna just before she was to slay the demon Mahishasura. She is embodiment of Anger, Vengeance, and Ultimate victory over evil.
Kalaratri is the form to which devotees throng on the seventh day. In this form she actually slays the demon Mahishasura and it her most ferocious form. The name itself means the Night of Death. She is supposed to be the death of the God Mrityu. She has a dark black complexion and rides a Donkey. She has four arms and has a deadly hook and a deadly sword in two of her arms.
Eighth day is considered most auspicious and is known as Ashtami. On this day She is known as Mahagauri. After She slays the Demon, She returns to her loving form as Goddess of Purity and Cleanliness. She burns away all the sins of anyone who pleases her. If as Sidhdhidhatri she was the one who removed ignorance, then in this form she is the giver of knowledge to realise true reality. She is the Mistress of all achievements. Here she has a camphor white appearance and hence called Mahagauri. Her mount is the Bull and has four arms and is the only form in which she holds a Damru (tambourine). She is specially known as forgiver of sins of her Bhaktas.
She takes the form of Sidhdhidatri on the final ninth day. In the beginning of the Universe, before his marriage, Rudra had prayed to Shakti to be his wife. She as adhidhatri ( giver of boons since the inception) had no form and appeared from the left part of Shivas body. In this form she sits on a lotus flower or rides a tiger or a lion. She has four arms and holds Gada (mace), chakra, Shankha (conch) and a lotus flower in her hands. She is the giver of all eight types of Sidhdhi (supernatural powers) to all her worshippers including humans, ghandharva and asuras.
It is Mahashakti that plays with the manifest world under the garb of smaller Shakti’s and keeps the wheels of our Universe in motion. Where there is no Shakti, there is absolute nothingness. Dhruva and Prahlad are revered to because of their Bhakti- Shakti, the Gopies found acceptance because of their Prem-Shakti, Hanuman and Bhishma had Brahmcharya- Shakti, Ved Vyas had the Vak-shakti, and so on.
May my mind reside in my speech and may my speech reside in my mind. O Lord, may you be pleased to appear before me. Hey Speech and Mind give me the power to grasp the text of the Vedas. May my knowledge never wean, may I always be engaged in learning. May I always say the Truth in pleasant words. May the disturbances of Mind, Body and words be placated.
Om ShantihOm ShantihOm Shantih