Mantra for propitiating Goddess Durga:
Om Dum Durgayai Namah!
I invoke Sri Ganesha, remover of obstacles,
Son of Parvati,
Goddess of the Himalayas.
I invoke Goddess Saraswati,
Goddess of learning and literary gifts.
I invoke Sri Bhagavan Gurudev,
One without a second,
Who reveals the scripture of Goddess
To countless thirsty and hungry ones
For the removal of existential ignorance.
To all, I offer humblest adorations!
She appears as Kali-Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati—though many other goddesses emanate from Her effulgence, just as infinite rays emanate from the effulgence of the sun and moon. She is the interpenetrating presence in the physical, mental and spirit planes of existence. As Shakti, She rules our conscious and unconscious awareness.
The story of the three Goddesses symbolizes the journey through spiritual transformation. This process is all-encompassing, internal and integral, and it covers all aspects of life simultaneously: physical, mental/emotional and unconscious. As such, it leads us to confront the enemies of the soul in the form of egoism (or “I”-ness/mineness), mental distractions and ignorance. Though experienced as subjective, closeness to the Divine Feminine has cosmic implications.
The story beings when two bewildered rich men—one a king, the other a merchant—meet in a forest to find a sage who can help them assuage their grief following a tragic separation from their loved ones. Both men learn that their dearest family members had schemed to have them killed in order to inherit their wealth without any delay. Though from different parts of the country, the king was dethroned by his own son, and the merchant’s family plotted to have him thrown out of his mansion. Soon they reached the Ashram of Sage Medha; which literally means sharp, untainted intellect. Both complained to the sage that even though their families had caused them intense grief and suffering, they were continually bombarded with memories of joyous times that reminded them of their attachments to the past—but were unable to separate the pain from the good times. After welcoming them, the sage invited them to stay and listen to the glories of the Goddess.
The mysticism of the Goddess is an allegorical description of the expansion of consciousness depicted through a highly symbolic drama. Every gain and loss, depression and elation in our lives is brought under Her divine scrutiny for a loving and empowering connection with Goddess Divine. The mystic transformation that takes place in the minds and hearts of Her devotees—as we question the limits of desire, pleasure, grief, love, and hatred informed by ordinary social constructs—requires the internal enactment of nothing less than a major battle between the conscious and unconscious aspects of the mind.
Many mental concepts, symbolically described as demons in the story of the Goddess, have to be brought out, identified, and completely eradicated in the process of personal transformation. This includes aspects that were previously considered to be “natural” to our character and personality. The demons in the story of the Goddess demonstrate the resilience of the negative tendencies of the mind. Even after being conquered or “slayed” again and again, certain negative tendencies may keep emerging to show their fangs and claws in ways that sabotage our deeper compassionate, loving and creative nature.
The demons, in their arrogance, aspire to take the Goddess by force, and an intense battle ensues in the mind-heart conscience. Taking the Goddess by force is a metaphor that symbolizes intensely harmful psychic imbalances such as low self-esteem, jealousy, egocentricity, greed, anger, hatred, and fear. It also reflects the evil effects of patriarchy from which all negative qualities overpower the qualities of the Goddess in women today. In this struggle, our inner lives are the battlefield where the Goddess restores order, uplifting and empowering Her devotees in the Mother’s embrace. The battle includes instincts and the deepest feelings of love and caring for the land, rivers, oceans, the planet and all beings, as well as conflicting negative qualities, or weaknesses present in almost everyone. In the beginning, the positive and negative qualities appear to be mixed up in the struggle, and whatever happens seems to be random. We are thrown into the battle between the forces of ethical action vs unethical action—dharma and adharma. However, invoking the Goddess begins a process of discernment that separates the angelic forces from negative forces within us.
The journey summons all our passions, considering that it involves an ascending path, as depicted in the systems science and experiential ontology of Kundalini, as well as an integral and systemic meditative movement leading to the awareness of Goddess within—immanent and transcendental.
From Goddess meditations we emerge as each other’s keepers.
Goddess is the ultimate radical feminist because She is ready to dismantle the interlocking systems of male oppression against women and all feminine forces in the universe—including, but not limited to, Her children in the forms of fauna and flora, oceans, rivers, mountains, galaxies full of stars, intellectual forces like Sophia and Black Goddesses in Africa and Her sky and lands. She inspires loving devotion and unbound power. Balancing the spirit energies entrusted to us by Goddess, as the need arises, becomes our daily life mission and central project in life. In India today, Dr. Vandana Shiva and the Gulabi Gang—India Women Warriors—represent Shakti, Goddess power in bold actions and their voices bring women from the most oppressed classes to the center of matriarchal movements.
At a time when the image of God—and his representatives—has been corrupted and distorted by psychopathic religious and secular world leaders, Goddess comes to restore sanity through the compassion of the Divine Feminine in Her most redemptive capacity. She emerges in the caring ways of every woman and man invested in stopping the madness of endless destruction for creating a legacy of life. She appears in women’s identity as an empowered and compassionate agency across social, political and personal experiences.
Goddess will test the meaning of love in each and every one, from shallow to deepest love, moment by moment. The mysticism of the Goddess has not been properly understood in western societies, because in order to understand Her love we need to extricate ourselves from layers upon layers of false “needs” and desires considered normal in a consumer-oriented society. History and mainstream religions have silenced Herstory, the stories of the Goddess, as well as women's stories across the planet. She is not appreciated in our discontent with ourselves, She is most exquisitely adored in our appreciation of the “stardust” and galaxies flowing through our nostrils and pores, from the microcosm consciousness energy of our personal experience as compassionate beings to the macrocosm as One with Her. Such is Her lofty nature that She is within us as us. Thus being us as Her and Her as us strips us of any artificiality and ordinary adornments, because ultimately, Her most breathtaking adornments emerge in Her dynamic dance and majestic stillness within us.
Goddess mysticism is the gift of India to humanity.
by Vrinda Jamuna Shakti, a excerpt from her essay in the upcoming Girl God Anthology, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak.
|Celeste Gurevich, Whatever Works Contributor|
Whatever Works is a unique collection of writing by feminists of diverse faiths from around the world. This anthology combines personal essays, poems and academic musings with the goal of sparking conversations among women of all faith backgrounds. Religion plays a key role in defining and maintaining value systems, and yet it is often disregarded within feminism itself. This book shares the stories of highly diverse women with the hope that we can find collective solutions to the global problems that plague women and girls living under patriarchy.
Available late March - pre-order here.
Vrinda J. Shakti is a yogic mystic, scholar practitioner and student of the Goddess in motherline Vedic traditions. She is an initiate in Samkhya and Vedanta—duality and nonduality. Vrinda trained as a nun with honorable mentors who embody the Divine Mother in her three forms. After two decades immersed in the practice, studies and beauty of Integral Yoga at Revered Bhagavan’s ashram, she continues the beloved teachers' mission and research with a focus on the ways that Goddess traditions from antiquity presently inform spiritual activism for societal transformation and the ongoing expansion of consciousness.