International Forum for NeoVedantins
New Article Every Fortnight. Next: March 16, 2002
Neovedanta of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda

Greetings and Welcome

Articles on Science and Spirituality

Immediate Previous Articles

Goddess Mother

(Lecture delivered at the consecration ceremony of the New Temple for Mother Goddess Ma Siddhambika Devi at my hometown two years back.)

Through eternity, Primal Mother Goddess assumes many names and sports in many forms at various places. It is difficult, therefore, to express or to describe her power and glory in words. This is because, the power, which enables me to stand here and speak to you, that power also is but Her grace and Her will. It is Her gift that I am thus honored to speak a few words of Her glory. She is infinite in every aspect. Her attributes are infinite, so do are Her names and forms. Some call Her Siddhambika, a few Durga, some Kali; others call her Jagadamba, and still others Bhavani! She easily grants to her children all that she has, without any reservation she fills the hearts of her devotees with knowledge, faith, devotion, and noble thoughts. The compassionate Mother knows only one bond - the bond of pure love. I am bound to you with the same love, and pray to Her that Her love be distributed to all those who have gathered here, that Her love crosses to neighborhood, to the province, and thus fills the whole universe.

In today's world of scientific culture, a question mark is put, so to say, on the very existence of God! We regularly come to this temple but our hearts are not filled with firm faith and devotion. We do not understand the real nature of this image of Mother in front of us, it just appears an idol of stone to our eyes and mind. We fail to comprehend or realize her conscious and all-encompassing, effulgent and divine form. That is why, for us, religion remains restricted to mere rituals and dry worship: to put a flower, light a candle, and drop a coin in the box; that is what religion means to us. In such 'religion' there is no power or capacity to raise a human being to the higher level of divine consciousness. Moreover, such ritualistic approach fails to support and sustain our ethical and social fabric for long. In such confusing and complex situation, many saints, prophets, and men of God incarnate on this earth, in particular in the holy land of India. These men and women of God, through their sadhanas (spiritual disciplines), austerities, purity, and knowledge of divinity show us the right path to progress in religion and spirituality; they show us that only God is true; and these stone or marble images are not dead symbols, but are in fact the living manifestations of conscious spirit.

One such Man of God (we all know him on this site) was Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. I will dwell on one incidence from his life. As a young lad of 18 years Sri Ramakrishna went to Calcutta with his elder brother. As the circumstances would have it, he had to undertake the job of the priest of Kali temple at Dakshineswar. He used to worship the Mother with full devotion and love. It included decorating the deity with garments, offering her food, flowers and garlands, etc. etc. He wondered whether he was in company with a stone idol or whether the Mother was live and real! He decided to seek answer from the Goddess herself. Hence he prayed:
"O mother, please tell me whether your are just a stone idol or a conscious reality? In Tantras and Vedas, in Upanishads and Mythologies you are described as the Mother of Universe with divine attributes like kindness and compassion, terror to the evil-minded; are all these writings fake?"

For many days Sri Ramakrishna continued to pray, but the Mother did not utter a single word. She did not speak to him. Exasperated with the failure to communicate and know whether the idol of Mother represented just a stone or a living presence, Sri Ramakrishna decided to put end to his life, saying: "Mother, I love you; if you decide not to speak with your child where would I go? Life without you is useless and therefore there is no alterative left for me but to end my life." And indeed Sri Ramakrishna took the temple sword and put it to his throat. Then suddenly the whole temple was filled with divine effulgence, silvery molten clouds rushing to engulf the devotee, and the Mother spoke to her son: "wait my child, what are you doing? I am your Mother; nay, I am the Mother of whole universe." In this way the divine Mother appeared before her most beloved devotee in Her pure effulgent form and beauty.

Thus, while in mythology, the child Prahlada could see God in the pillar, and in fact God Narasimha did come out of the pillar and annihilate the demon, Sri Ramakrishna in the floodlight of science and modernity, reason and rationality gave the proof of existence of God in idols and images. Probably, we will never be able to reach such greatness as that achieved by Sri Ramakrishna and other avatāra purusha, but at least we can follow them and undertake spiritual practices for our individual salvation and welfare of the world. With pure heart and austerities, discrimination and renunciation, devotion and selfless service we can worship Mother Goddess for all-round peace and Bliss.

One thing I want to emphasis here; I know the persons sitting in front of me, my relatives and friends included, are all devotees in their own right. Almost everyone worships God in some form or the other in his/her own way. This is quite encouraging and undoubtedly the high point of our culture, but as I said earlier I see that the worship has lost its vigor, depth, and meaning. It is bordering on mechanistic ritualism, dry and without love for God. We have lost faith in the living presence of Mother Goddess, in her true worship. We prostrate in front of her, not out of love and reverence, but out of fear and want. We are afraid of Her lest she should punish us for our misdeeds, our sins, and shortcomings. Such a thought is most erroneous. How can Mother ever be angry with her child! Even though soaked in dirt and rubbish, she is sure to pick her child in her lap and clean him with tender care.

One more point: Or else, we ask from her things of worldly comforts, wealth, or relief from ailments, etc. Here it should be remembered that the Mother gives everything one needs and deserves; but most importantly, as Sri Ramakrishna has shown, she can give divine knowledge, and that is the real purpose of religion: to seek Divine Realization. God is both personal and impersonal Being. It can manifest as Mother Goddess as well as any other deity and avatāra purusha. The Mother is everywhere, in every atom of the universe. It is the purity of our mind that determines whether we shall be able to see the Mother or not. Religion is to make such effort to realize the divinity in the idol that we are installing today in this new Home of the Mother.

The source of inspiration for spiritual practice may be different for different people. Some are inclined towards Bhakti Sect of Acharya Vallabha; others might be active in Swadhyaya on the footsteps of Shri Pandurang Athvale Shastri, a lady devotee may love Child Krishna in motherly mood of Yashoda, I for one try to follow the precepts of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda; all these paths are true in so far as one tries to realize Divine in his or her object of worship. Mother is everywhere. Just as the sun and its sunlight, milk and its whiteness, fire and its power to heat cannot be separated, so is the Mother inseparable from every creation. In fact, whatever exists is but one form of the Mother. Therefore, try to see the Mother in every temple you visit, in every idol you worship, in every deity you adore. This is true religion and I am sure such Jnana based bhakti would be the ideal for future generations to come.

May Mother Siddhambika Devi bless us with Her Vision!
c s shah

a site by dr c s shah: contact, suggestion! opinion?

Home Page |  List of all Articles | New Article | Sri Krishna | The Gita Series | List of Books | 

The articles and information provided here do not claim full accuracy and completeness. There is no guarantee as to its nature as far correctness is concerned. I endeavor to provide information that appeals to me as most beneficial to all, however the reader should understand that there are many conflicting viewpoints on the subject of religion and spirituality. I make no claim to any particular view. If there is information contained herein which you feel is incorrect, or hurting to anybody please notify me. An attempt will always be made to rectify the deficiencies and inaccuracies. This information is provided freely as-is and this site does not provide any guarantee of accuracy. -The Web Servant
Hosted by