Lessons Learnt IV: The Devi Gita
Lesson Learnt IV: The Devi Gita
Out of the four scriptures we have read so far the Devi Gita, the Song of the Goddess, is comparatively difficult to understand. But underneath the rough surface of this ritualistic, repetitive, and somewhat esoteric oyster are hidden pearls of wisdom. The Devi’s teachings provide intellectual understanding and insight about the deep human concerns, the matters that link an individuals to their true Self.
The Devi Gita portrays the goddess as all compassing. In it the male as well as female aspects of the Ultimate Reality are authenticated. Terrible as well as benign aspects of the Ultimate Reality are recognized. No caste is discriminated against. The scripture teachaes that each and every human being is worthy of the goddess worship. The Devi announces that all moments are sacred moments and any occasion is fit for celebrating festivals. This is because the goddess pervades all times and dwells in all places.
1. Forms of the Goddess
In the text the goddess appears in different forms: as luminous orb of pure energy, as a maiden of incomparable beauty and erotic appeal, as her terrible male form Viraj, and as the World Mother Bhuvaneshvari. Her earthly forms are as significant as her manifestation as the World Mother but ultimately they all subordinate to her transcendent form as pure consciousness.
The Devi is an enchanting maiden.
As Maya she is the creative source of ever-changing world of existence.
She is the half of world-crunching Viraj, with countless heads, eyes and feet. This is her androgynous form.
As Bhuvaneshvari she is the World Mother; consort of no one.
She is all of the above and yet none of them because ultimately she is self-illumined orb of pure energy, pure consciousness.
She is the blazing fire a spark of which is present in each human heart as the true Self.
2. Human Body
The Devi Gita affirms that the human body is an powerful tool for spiritual transformation. The body is an extraordinary gift, a privilege, and an opportunity that is granted to humans so that we may gain self-knowledge, self-awareness and discover our authentic Self.
The goddess teaches that we can experience our authentic Self by eliminating impediments such as desire, anger, greed, fear and too much sleep. All evil stems from individual ignorance. The way to remove the impediments is to discipline the body. The fundamental forces and processes that are at work in the universe are also present within the human body. Upanishads teach, “What is without is within.” By understanding the fundamentals of our body, heart and mind we get insights into the mysteries of our inner world as well as the universe.
3. The Goddess as Pure Consciousness and Her Devotee
The goal of goddess devotees is identification with the Devi as pure consciousness. The Devi Gita regards worship as a smooth progression proceeding from external to internal, from ritual paraphernalia to the devotee’s heart. The experience of the worship in which the devotee feels her presence in his heart is considered higher than any other worship.
4.The Powerful and Compassionate Goddess
The devotees feel the presence of the all-compassing Devi on roadside shrines, in village and town temples as well as in monumental city temples. It is at these places that her devotees, tied up with their daily lives, can access her. According to a goddess myth, her specific body parts are embedded at specific pilgrimage centers on land. This suggests her connection with the earth mother.
The Devi Gita demonstrates that for the Ultimate Reality to be truly Ultimate both genders must be included. Yet feminine power is dominant and an authoritative will in the universe. Perhaps the most significant contribution to the goddess tradition is the portrait of the goddess as physically powerful as well as compassionate. As Bhuvaneshvari, the World Mother, she is the whole existence: she flows in our consciousness from exterior to interior, from gross to the subtle. She is rooted in the earth and dwells in each and every devotee’s heart as spiritual insight.