The Devi Gita: Chapter Three
The Goddess Reveals her Cosmic Body (Viraj)
THE MYSTERIES OF MAYA AND THE GODDESS’S ENTRY INTO THE CREATION
I imagine into being the whole world, moving and unmoving, through the power of my Maya, Yet that same Maya is separate from me; this is the highest truth.
From the practical point of view, Maya is regarded as self-evident.
In reality, however it does not exist-only the supreme exists, in an absolute sense.
I, as Maya, create the whole world and then enter within it. Accompanied by ignorance, actions and the like, and preceded by the vital breath, O Mountain.
How else could souls be reborn into future lives?
They take on various births in accord with modifications of Maya.
THE GODDESS IS NOT TAINTED BY THE DIFFERENTIATED MANIFESTATIONS
Modified by apparent limitations, I become differentiated into parts, like space in different jars.
The sun constantly illumines all objects however high or low, yet is not thereby stained; just so am I never stained by faults. Ordinary people superimpose on me the active agency of the intellect and the like.
The self is acting, say the bewildered not the wise. Modifications of ignorance and modifications of Maya divide the soul and the Lord into parts, respectively; Maya contrives it all.
The contrived separation of the space within jars from outer space is like the contrived division between the individual souls and the supreme soul. Just as the multiple manifestations of the soul are due to ignorance, not to the soul’s inherent nature.
Just so are the multiple manifestations of the Lord due to Maya not to his innate essence. Creating divisions through the imagined distinctions of various bodies with all their senses,
Ignorance is the cause of the differentiation of souls, no other cause is revealed. Creating divisions through the imagined distinctions of the material qualities, O Mountains,
Maya is the cause of the differentiation of the supreme Lord into parts and nothing else.
THE GODDESS DECLARES HER IDENTITY WITH COSMIC AND WORLDLY ENTITIES
In me this whole world is woven in all directions, O Mountain. I am the Lord and the Cosmic Soul; I am myself the Cosmic Body. I am Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra, as well as Gauri, Brahmi, and Vaishnavi.
I am the sun and the stars and I am the Lord of the stars. I am the various species of beasts and birds; I am also the outcaste and thief.
I am the evildoer and the wicked deed; I am the righteous person and the virtuous deed. I am certainly female and male, and asexual as well.
And whatever thing, anywhere, you see or hear, that entire thing I pervade, ever abiding inside it and outside.
There is nothing at all moving or unmoving that is devoid of me. For if it was, it would be a nonentity, like the son of a barren woman.
Just as a single rope may appear variously as a serpent or wreath, so also I may appear in the form of the Lord and the like; there is no doubt in this matter.
The world cannot appear without an underlying basis. Accordingly, the world comes by only through my own being and in no other way.
HIMALAYA REQUESTS TO SEE THE COSMIC BODY OF HE GODDESS
Ruler of the Gods, since you have mentioned your aggregated cosmic form, I yearn to see, O Goddess, if you would favor me.
Hearing Himalaya’s request, all the gods including Vishnu rejoiced with gladdened hearts, praising Himalaya’s words.
THE GODDESS MANIFESTS HERSELF AS THE VIRAJ
Then the auspicious Goddess, who is a wish granting cow to her devotees, knowing the minds of the gods, revealed her own cosmic form, satisfying the desire of her devotees.
They beheld that Cosmic Body of the Great Goddess, that form beyond all the forms. The sky is its head, the moon and suns its eyes.
The cardinal directions are its ears, the Vedas its speech; the wind it breath, so it is proclaimed; the universe is its heart, they say; the earth its loins, so it is thought
The atmosphere is its naval the stellar sphere its breast; Maharloka is the neck; Janarloka its face, so it is thought
Taparloka is the forehead, situated beneath Satyaloka. Indra and the gods are its arms; sound is the hearing of the Great Ruler.
The twins Asvins are its nostrils, scent its smelling, so think the wise. Fire is proclaimed as its mouth, day and night as its two eyelids.
The abode of Brahma is the play of its eyebrows; the waters are proclaimed as its palate. Taste is proclaimed as its tongue, the God of Death as its fangs.
The various affections are its teeth; Maya is proclaimed as its laughter. Creation is its casting of its sideling glances; modesty is the upper lip of this Great Ruler.
Greed is its lower lip, the way of unrighteousness its back. And Prajapati, the creator on earth, is its penis.
The ocean is the belly, the mountains the bones of the Goddess, the Great Ruler. The rivers are proclaimed as her arteries, trees as her hair.
Childhood, youth and old age are her excellent gaits; Clouds are her hair, the two twilights the garments of the Lord
O king, the moon is the mind of the holy World-Mother, Vishnu is her power of discernment, and Siva is the seat of her thoughts and feelings, so it is thought.
Horses and all the various species abide in the hips and loins of the Lord; the great lower worlds such are situated below her buttocks.
THE GODDESS’S COSMIC BODY DISPLAYS ITS FEARSOME ASPECTS
Such was the massive form that the best of gods beheld, with its thousands of blazing rays licking its tongue,
Producing horrible crushing sounds with its teeth, spewing fire from its eyes, holding various weapons, heroic in stature, making mush of Brahmins and Kshatriyas for its food.
It had a thousand heads and eyes and a thousand feet as well, resembling million of suns, radiant like millions of lightening streaks.
That fearful, horrific form, terrifying to heart and eye, All the gods he beheld and wailed, “Woe unto us woe!”
With trembling hearts, they swooned helplessly. Even the thought, “This is the World-Mother,” escaped them.
THE GODS REQUEST THE GODDESS TO WITHDRAW HER FEARSOME FORM
Then the Vedas, stationed on the four sides of the Great Ruling Goddess, with much effort awakened the unconscious gods from their swoon.
Then the gods, regaining their senses, received the supreme Vedic revelation. Tears of loving joy filled the eyes of these immortals, while their throats tightened.
They began to offer praise, even as their voices faltered through the tears.
The gods spoke:
Forgive our faults, O Mother; protect us who are wretched, as we are born of you.
Remove your anger, O Ruler of the Gods; we have seen this form of yours and are frightened. How can we poor immortals here offer adequate praise to you?
The extent of your power is unknown even to yourself. How can we who are born afterward comprehend it?
Hail to you, Ruler of the Universe, hail to you composed of the syllable Om.
Hail to you established in the whole of Vedanta, embodied in the syllable Hrim.
To the source from which fire has arisen, to the source of the sun and moon, to the source of all plants, to that Self of all, hail!
And to the source, from which the gods are born, as well as other celestial beings and birds, and animals and men, to the Self of all, hail!
The in-breath and out-breath, rice and barley, asceticism, faith and truth, Self-restraint and sacred law, to the source of all these, hail! Hail!
To the source of the seven breaths and flames and of the seven fuel sticks, and of the seven oblations and worlds, to the Self of all, hail!
To the source from which issue the oceans, mountains, and rivers, to the source of all plants and their sap, hail! Hail!
To the source form which arise the sacrifice, the consecration, the sacrificial post and the gifts, the verses, chants, and formulas, to that Self of all, hail!
Hail from in front and behind, hail to you on both sides; From below, from above. Form the four directions, to you in the greatest degree, O Mother, hail! Hail!
Withdraw, O Ruler of the Gods, this extraordinary form; show us simply that exceedingly beautiful form of your.
THE GODDESS MANIFESTS HER BENIGN FORM
Vyasa said: Seeing the gods so frightened, the World-Mother, an ocean of compassion, withdrew her horrific form and revealed her beautiful aspect:
She held a noose and goad while gesturing her beneficence and assurance of safely; delicate was she in all her limbs. Her eyes overflowed with compassion as her lotus face gently smiled.
When the gods beheld that beautiful form, their fears dissolved and their minds attained peace; inarticulate from joy they bowed down in silence.
As I Understand It:
The Goddess reveals her cosmic body, Viraj, by emphasizing her intrinsic involvement within the material world. The cosmic body, Viraj, is in male form suggesting the androgynous nature of the Goddess. She is the Self, the soul of all living beings and gives them their vital breath or life force.
The Goddess is Maya. From the perspective of scriptures Maya is unreal but from the viewpoint of ordinary people it is real. The limiting conditions of Maya do not effect a substantial change in the Goddess’s nature. All differentiations and their effects are merely imagined. Maya enters the world “as a reflection of consciousness.”
The Goddess identifies herself with the cosmos in all its myriad parts. When she identifies herself with the world does she assume its various limitations, flaws and faults? How can the infinite, the absolute and pure nature identify with the world that is finite, multiple, impermanent and subject to defects of various sorts? The answer is does the Sun stain because it illumines all the worldly objects? Is the space limited when a jar temporarily separates the space within it from infinite space?
The universe is woven upon the Goddess herself. She is the imperishable Brahman. She encompasses both good and evil. She exists both within and without all things. She is both identical with and different from the cosmos. The world is as real as the image is real but is has no existence apart from the medium from which it is manifested. The world is real and it is the free expression of the free will.
The Devi Gita gives equal emphasis to the male and female aspects of the Ultimate Reality. And it gives equal emphasis to benign and terrible. The Goddess’s body is identified with the manifold material universe both good and evil. In the verses 3.35-38 her peaceful image transforms into a powerful, terrifying and destructive energy, Viraj. The world crunching Goddess serves to highlight the horrific pole of the benevolent four-armed Bhuvaneshvari, the World-Mother.
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.