The Devi Gita: Chapter One
The Appearance of the Great Goddess as the World-Mother
O Hear the tale of Sati’s death!
Sati’s (the Devi’s manifested potency) father did not invite Sati and her husband, Shiva, to the great fire sacrifice. Sati felt insulted. In the presence of the invited dignitaries, she jumped into the sacrificial pit and killed herself. With Sati’s death, Shiva lamented bitterly, joy shriveled up in the heart of every being. The world was drowned in a sea of misery. Consumed by disease, planets retrogressed, fortunes of gods declined and they suffered misfortune.
At such a time of crisis rose a great demon named Taraka. For thousands of years he performed vigorous asceticism and became master of the three-tiered universe. Brahma, impressed by his dedication and asceticism, gave him this boon, “Only a legitimate son of Shiva can slay you.” Taraka roared and rejoiced because Shiva did not have a son.
Taraka attacked all the gods and drove them from their homes. The gods lived in a state of persistent and perpetual anxiety. Without Sati how was Shiva to produce a son? They counseled with the high god Vishnu. He advised them to go to the World-Mother who would have a solution to their predicament. Vishnu said that the auspicious Devi is a wish-fulfilling tree, the supreme, ever attentive, mother will grant their wish.
All the gods accompanied by their chief, Vishnu and his wife, set forth at once for Himalaya Mountain to worship the Devi. All absorbed in meditation, worshiped the Devi, reciting her name, concentrating on her hymn and chanting her mantra Hrllekha (lekha= furrow in the hrd=heart).
Thus many years pass by.
On the ninth lunar day in the month of Chaitra, (March-April) on a Friday, the Devi appeared before the gods as a lustrous orb of pure power. It blazed like ten million suns, yet soothed like ten million moons. Flashing like ten million streaks of lightening tinged with red, that supreme lustrous power shone forth. Without beginning or end, it had no body, no hands, no limbs. Nor did it have a woman’s form, a man’s form, nor two combined. The dazzling brilliance blinded the eyes of the gods.
When their vision returned, the gods beheld a charming and delightful maiden. She was exceedingly beautiful.
Her full, upraised breasts put to shame the swelling buds of the lotus.
Her girdle and anklets jingle with clusters of tinkling bells.
Embellished with necklace, armlets and bracelets,
her neck is adorned with chain of priceless gems.
The locks on her cheeks shimmer like black bees on delicate blooms.
An exquisite line on her midriff enhances her shapely hips.
She is chewing bits of mint camphor.
Pendant earrings of shining gold grace her lotus face.
Above eyebrows her forehead shines with an ornament of crescent moon.
Her eyes are red lotus petals, her nose dignified, her lips like nectar.
Her teeth like buds of white jasmine; a string of pearls adorns her neck.
A garland of jasmine flowers brightens her luxuriant hair.
Her forehead has a saffron dot, while her three eyes are in a playful mood.
Her two hands hold a noose and goad,
The other two are in gestures of beneficence and assurance.
Dressed in red, she is lustrous like pomegranate blooms.
Satisfying all desires, she is the Mother of all, the Deluder of all.
The Mother’s gracious face displayed a tender smile on her lotus mouth.
Gods beheld this embodiment of unfeigned compassion.
Chocked in tears and unable to speak the entire host of gods bowed low in silence. Their necks bend in devotion, they struggled to regain their composure. Their eyes brimmed with tears of loving joy they glorified the World-Mother with hymns:
Hail to the Goddess, to the Great Goddess, to the Auspicious one!
Hail to her, the color of fire, blazing like the sun with ascetic power,
Hail to the Goddess Durga, Hail to the raft of swift crossing.
To Kalaratri praised by Brahma, to Vaishnavi, to the Mother of Skanda,
To Sarasvati, to Aditi, to Daksha’s Daughter, we bow to the Auspicious one.
We know you as Mahalakshmi; we meditate on you as the Shakti of all.
May the Goddess inspire that knowledge and meditation of ours.
Hail to her in the form of the Cosmic Body.
Hail to her in the form of Cosmic Soul.
Hail to her in the Unmanifest State;
Hail to her in the form of the glorious Brahman.
Through her power of delusion, she shows herself as the world,
like a rope appearing as a serpent, wreath and the like.
Through her power of knowledge, she dissolves the world back into herself.
We glorify her the Ruler of the universe.
We glorify her as pure consciousness, Tat.
Transcending the five sheaths, witness of the three states of consciousness.
She is also in essence the individual soul, represented by the word Tvam.
Composed of mantras Om, Hrim, the compassionate Goddess hail!
The Devi said:
O Wise gods, explain the reason that brings you together here.
I am ever the bestower of boons, a wish-yielding tree to devotees.
You shine with devotion, why are you anxious when I stand nearby?
I rescue my devotees from the troubled ocean of Samsara.
Know this promise of mine to be sincere, O best of gods.
Hearing her words the gods were satisfied in their hearts.
Freed from fear, the immortals described their ordeal.
The gods said:
Nothing is unknown to you. You are omniscient, the incarnate witness of all, O, Supreme Ruler. The demon chief Taraka torments us day and night. Due to Brahma’s boon to him, he can be killed only at the hands of Shiva’s son, O Auspicious One. But as you know Shiva has no wife. You can infer the rest, O Mother. We are devoted to your lotus feet.
The Goddess said:
One of my potencies is Gauri (Parvati). She will be born to the King Himalaya. She will marry Shiva and will furnish what you need. King Himalaya, who is moved by intense devotion, truly worships me in his heart. Thus, as Gauri, I consider it a pleasure to take birth in his house.
Upon hearing the Goddess King Himalaya’s eyes and throat congested with tears.
I am so dull and motionless compared to you who embody infinite being and consciousness. That I should become your father in the course of hundreds of births is astonishing, O Faultless One. Now the world will think, ‘The World-Mother has become the daughter of that Himalaya, wonder of wonders! How blessed and fortunate is he! She whose womb contains tens of millions of worlds has been born as his daughter who on earth is his equal.’ Even my ancestors are blessed to have one such as myself born in their family.
As you have already granted me one favor through your loving compassion, would you please describe to me your true nature as explained in the Upanishads? Also please describe the Path of Yoga and Path of Knowledge as approved by scriptures so I may become one with you.
With her kindly disposed lotus face, the Mother revealed to King Himalaya the mystic teachings hidden in scriptures.
As I Understand It:
For the sake of clarity, I will abridge all the chapters of the Devi Gita, as I have chapter one.
The Devi is introduced as pure energy, an orb of luminous light. Then for the sake of her devotees she manifests into a magnificent human woman. At first, she is depicted as a maiden of uncomparable beauty with undeniable erotic appeal. Her verbal portrait concludes with her depiction as the mother of the world. Thus cleverly depicting the Devi’s paradoxical characteristics of sexuality and maternity.
After listening to the gods’ predicament she promises them that one of her potencies, Gauri, will be born to King Himalaya and would marry Shiva. Their son will slay demon Taraka and restore peace to the three tiered world.
King Himalaya, overwhelmed by her grace but thirsty for spiritual knowledge requests her to describe her true nature and the paths that lead to her. In the following chapters Bhuvaneshvari, the World Mother, graciously delivers her wisdom to the king and the rest of the assembled gods.
Brown, C. Mackenzie, The Devi Gita, The Song of the Goddess: A Translation, Annotation, and Commentary, Albany: State University of New York Press. 1998.
___________, The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of the Devi-Bhagavata Purana. Albany: State University of New York Press. 1990