The Devi Gita: Chapter Seven
Instruction in the Yoga of Devotion
HIMALAYA INQUIRES ABOUT THE PATH OF DEVOTION, AND THE GODDESS INDICATES THE EASE OF THIS YOGA.
Describe the path of devotion that focuses on you, O Mother. By such devotion, supreme knowledge easily develops in the ordinary person filled with passions.
The Goddess Spoke:
There are three well-known paths leading to liberation, Mountain King: the yoga of action, the yoga of knowledge, and the yoga of devotion, my good sir.
Of these three the latter is the easiest to practice in all respects, appealing naturally to the heart without distressing the body or mind.
THE GODDESS DESCRIBES THE FIRST THREE GRADES OF DEVOTION ACCORDING TO THE THREE GUNAS OR QUALITIES OF NATURE
Devotion as practiced by human beings is of three kinds, in accord with the qualities of nature. A person who intends harm to others while engaging in deceit,
And who is spiteful and snappish, practices devotion characterized by ignorance. One who intends no harm to others, being simply concerned with personal well-being,
Who is ever lustful, seeking fame and seizing pleasures, who worships me intently for the sake of obtaining this or that fruit,
Who foolishly assumes false distinctions, thinking that I am other than one’s own being, such a person practices devotion characterized by passionate yearning, O Mountain Chief.
One who offers all karmic fruits to me, the Supreme Ruler, in order to be cleansed of evil, who thinks “I must carry out those acts enjoined by the Veda, without faltering,”
Who performs all work out of a sense of love, such a person practices devotion characterized by virtue, O Mountain.
This latter, though still clinging to false distinctions, leads to the highest devotion. But the two former kinds of devotion do not lead to the highest, so it is understood.
THE GODDESS EXPLAINS AT LENGTH THE SUPREME DEVOTION, BEYOND THE GUNAS
Now be attentive while I explain the highest kind of devotion. One who constantly listens to my virtues and recites my names,
Who is firmly intent on me, a treasury of auspicious qualities, whose concentration is ever steady like a continuous flow of oil,
Who has no ulterior motive at all in these actions, having no desire for liberation in any form-whether living in my presence, sharing my powers, merging into me, or dwelling in my heaven-
Who knows absolutely nothing better than serving me. Cherishing the motion of servant and master and thus not aspiring ever for liberation,
Who enthusiastically thinks of me alone with supreme affection, knowing me truly as never separate from oneself, not acknowledging any difference
Who thinks of being as embodiments of myself, loving other selves as one’s own self
Who makes no false distinctions, realizing that universality of pure consciousness. My omnipresent essence manifested in all beings everywhere at all times,
Who honors and respects even the lowest outcaste, O Lord. Discarding any sense of difference and thus wishing harm to no one,
Who is eager to see my sacred sites and to see my devotees, and is eager to listen to scriptures that describe the mantras and rites used in worshipping me, O Ruler,
Whose heart is over whelmed with love for me, whose body ever thrills with joy, whose eyes are filled with tears of love and whose voice falters,
Who, with such enraptured feelings, O Mountain Chief, worships me as ruler, womb of the world and cause of all causes,
Who performs my splendorous rites, both the regular and the occasional, always with devotion and without miserly regard for cost,
Who longs to see my festivals and to participate in them, ever impelled by such desires arising spontaneously, O Mountain,
Who sings on high my names while dancing, Unselfconscious and forgetful of the body
Who accepts the fruits of past karma as what must be, unconcerned with thoughts of preserving the body,
Such person practices devotion deemed supreme, in which there is no thought of anything except me, the Goddess.
The person in whom such supreme devotion truly arises, O mountain, then dissolves into my essential nature of pure consciousness.
THE GODDESS EXPLAINS THE RELATION BETWEEN DEVOTION AND KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge is proclaimed as the final foal of devotion, and of dispassion as well, for both devotion and dispassion are fulfilled when knowledge arises.
Even when devotion is fully accomplished, O Mountain, if one’s past karmic influences re not favorable, a person may fail to realize knowledge of me and so will depart to the jeweled Island.
Going there, that person encounters enjoyments of all kinds, though remaining indifferent, and in the end attains complete knowledge of my essence that is pure consciousness, O Mountain.
Thereby the person is forever liberated; liberation arises from knowledge and from nothing else. One who attains knowledge here in this world, realizing the inner self-abiding in the heart…
THE GODDESS AFFIRMS THAT KNOWLEDGE MAY BE ATTAINED IN THIS WORLD AND EXPLAINS THE RELATION OF KNOWLEDGE TO DISPASSION
Who is absorbed in my pure consciousness, loses not the vital breaths. Being Brahman, the person who known Brahman attains Brahman.
An object may vanish through ignorance, like gold forgotten on one’s neck; through knowledge that destroys the ignorance, one may recover the desired object
My essence is different from the known and the unknown, O Highest Mountain. As in a mirror, so is that essence reflected clearly within the embodied Self; as in water, so is it reflected indistinctly in what world of ancestors
Just as the distinction between shadow and light is clear just so is the knowledge, dispersing any sense of duality, that arise in my world.
One who is dispassionate at death but who lacks knowledge will ever dwell in the world of Brahman for an entire eon.
That person will be reborn in a virtuous and dignified family, and after practicing spiritual discipline will thereby attain knowledge.
THE GODDESS ADVISES HIMALAYA THAT A LIFE SPENT WITHOT SEEKING KNOWELDEG IS WASTED
In the course of many births does knowledge arise, O King, not in one; therefore with total commitment seek to acquire knowledge.
Otherwise, it is a great loss, as this human birth is hard to attain. Even if one is born a Brahman, access to the Vedas is hard to gain.
Realizing the six virtues beginning with tranquility, achieving success in yoga as well, and finding an excellent teacher, all these are hard to attain in life,
As are keen senses and sanctification of the body. By the merit gained in several births, one comes to desire liberation
Even after attaining the fruits of spiritual discipline, the person who does not strive after knowledge squanders the opportunity provided by birth
THE GODDESS CONCLUES BY EMPAHSIZING THAT THE RAEALIZATION OF KNOWLEDGE IS THE SUPREME SELF-FULFILLMENT
Therefore, O King, one should strive for knowledge with all one’s strength; then one surely obtains the fruits of the horse sacrifice at every moment.
Like clarified butter hidden in milk, knowledge dwells in every being; one should stir continuously, using the mind as the churning stick.
Attaining knowledge, one is wholly fulfilled-thus the Vedanta proclaims. I have describe everything in brief; what more do you wish to hear?
As I Understand It
In this chapter the Goddess places greater emphasis on knowledge and less on devotion or dispassion. Without knowledge, she says devotion and dispassion are useless. She advises unceasing contemplation on the Supreme Consciousness, the Devi herself.
The goddess assures her devotee that it is possible to attain the Devi Vidhya, Knowledge here in this world. Most people forget that the Devi as consciousness is within us. Just like a woman who forgets she is wearing a gold necklace until she remembers that she is wearing one on her neck. In remembering, there is a delight of recognition. Similarly, people busy with their mundane lives tend to forget that the Devi as pure consciousness is their true nature. That self-realization does not depend on death or rebirth. When a dedicated devotee contemplates upon the goddess and experiences Self, he is awakened. He experiences supreme consciousness in this very life, becomes one with Brahman and is thus free from rebirth.
Not too many people seek supreme consciousness. And only rare persons discover it. The Devi advises that human birth should not be wasted. It is a gift, a privilege, and an opportunity to seek and gain self-knowledge and discover one’s inner essence.
Knowledge of the Devi/Brahman is identical with the supreme goal of devotion. In several later chapters of the Devi Gita the paths of devotion and knowledge are intertwined. The goddess ultimately considers supreme devotion as transcending the three human qualities, gunas.
The one exceptional heavenly realm, the realm from where there is no rebirth, is the Devi’s Jeweled Island (Mani Dvipa). At this place non-dual knowledge arises spontaneously. Here the goddess disseminates knowledge and elevates devotion to dispassion.
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.