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Pandit Prabar Jyotirmoy Nanda
Vedant Tirtha, Bhakti Chakraborty Vidyabhushan


Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj ki Jai !!

 

Hemante prathamey maasi Nandavraja kumarikah
Cheru havishyam bhunjaanaah
Kaatyaayanyarchana vratam

                                                                                                                                       Srimad Bhagavatam 10-22-1

Sri Sukadev Goswami said, “He Rajan! During the first month of the dewy season i.e., Agrahaayana, (October/November), the young milkmaids of Gokul undertook the Vow of Goddess Kaatyaayani consuming only parboiled rice with some ghee once a day”.

The Aryan seers, after refuting all previous conceptions about Time (Kaal) and Nature (Prakriti), and consequently, the cause of the Universe, realized through deep meditation that “Devatma-shaktim sagunour-nirgunaam”, i.e., the potency of Para-Brahma (Supreme Spirit), is the effective and efficient cause of the Universe.

It is Para-Brahman, Who with His own maya-potency performs the ‘play’ of creation. Before the act of creation, the Supreme Being, Paramatma Purusha, alone Was. His sportive-potency emerged from His essential potency manifesting in a feminine form. This original Sportive Potency is the primordial Energy or Essential Potency.

Conceptualised as the Consort of Para-Brahman, She is the powerful Feminine Principle known as Sri Radhika of Krishna; Sri Lakshmi of Sriman Narayan; Sri Durga of Mahadev or Kaatyaayani (when she is worshipped as an independent deity).

The excellence of Her great power has been especially glorified in the Devi-suktam; Ratri-suktam, Sri-suktam found in the Vedas, as also in the various Puranas and Tantras.
Practically, there is no difference between ‘Shakti’ (power) and ‘Shaktimaan’ (powerful). It is only for the pure joy of play or sport that the difference in manifestation of physical entities is observed. Just like Para-Bhraman, His Essential Power is also ‘Sat-Chit-Anand-mayee’ and all pervading.

‘Paraasya Shakti-vividhaiva shruryate’., from this verse of the Shruti, the various forms and manifestations of Supreme Power can be ascertained. Wisdom (gyan) strength (bal), the ability to act (kriya) otherwise known as ‘Samvit’, ‘Sandhini’, ‘Hladini’ and essential Chitt-potency (Sentient Principle), external Maya Shakti (Illusory Potency) and the marginal ‘Jiva Shakti’ (Individual Soul potency), these are all the different nomenclatures of the one and same Supreme Divine Feminine Principle – Shakti.

In the Vedanta aphorism, ‘Sarvopeta cha tad-darshanaat para-brahman’ has been described as the Possessor (Owner) of all powers. Brahman is one without a second and it is He who is also the instrumental cause and the material cause.

In the following two Vedanta Sutras,
Prakritis-cha pratignaa drishtaanurodhaat’ and
‘Younis-cha he geeyate’

Brahman has been alluded to as being Primordial Matter or material cause. Just as the spider is the instrumental cause of the web and with its own saliva it is also the material cause of the web. Similarly Brahman Himself (or Itself) is the instrumental cause of His chitt-potency and with the aid of His own Maya Shakti, is also the material cause.

Therefore the root Cause of causes is Brahman only. He who is Purushottam or Vaasudeva as depicted in the Gita, He Himself is Brahman and Paramaatma. The Illusory Power through which Creation, sustenance and termination of the universe is caused, that has been termed as the illusory power in the Gita and God’s descent (appearance) etc., in the world is through His sportive associate Yogamaya or Essential Potency.

Prakritim swamadhishthaaya sambhavaamyaattma-maayaya’ (Gita). “I make my advent with the aid of My Own nature, i.e., my Sat-Chit-Ananda essential potency", i.e., through Yogamaya.
This essential potency, depicted as the Universal Mother, is named as Kaatyaayani Mahamaya. Purushottam of the Gita and Mahamaya of Devi Bhagavatam are essentially one and without a second – only the form is different.

The illusory power (Maya Shakti) by which the universe is created, Her other name is Mahamaya, i.e., universally pervading Power. This Mahamaya is the original ‘Adya Shakti’ Mahamaya or it can be said that the illusory power of Purushottam Himself and this illusory power is divided into vidya (knowledge/ wisdom) and a-vidya (nescience or not knowledge). With the aid of Vidya Shakti, jivas (individual souls) are liberated and on account of avidya, they experience bondage.

‘Sa vidya paramaa mukter-hetu-bhutaa sanaatani samsaar-bandha-hetuscha’ (Sri Chandi, chapter 1/57-58) She is the causative factor of liberation from samsar (material world), she is as good as the absolute Brahmavidya and eternal. It is She who is the cause of avidya, the cause of bondage in samsar and also the Goddess of all gods like Brahma, Vishnu, etc.).

There is a nice similarity of the following shloka from Srimat Bhagavatam with the above shloka. ‘Vidyaavidye mama tanu viddhyudhava sarireenaam. Bandha mokshakari Aadye mayayaa me vinirmite’ Bhagavat 11-11-3.’O Uddhav! Know that vidya and advidya, both of these arise from My maya; eternal and as good as My power and the cause of bondage as well as liberation of the Jivas’.

Purushottam or Mahamaya endows wisdom, devotion and consciousness according to our prayer with the help of Vidya Shakti. That there is no difference between God’s essential potency and God Himself can be known from the authentic devotional literature.

‘Ya Krishnaha Shaiva Durga syat Ya Durga Krishna-eva saha
Swayam he Krishnaha swarup-shaktya Durga naam’ etc.

Although Power and the Wielder of the Power have no difference, yet in the case of worshipping, it is through the medium of Power (or Energy) that the Powerful One can be attained and for the purpose of liberation of the jivas, due to His Grace, His Power is manifested in a different form from the Powerful and thus does good for all beings.

Tantra literature and devotional literature both are of the same view. Tantra says, without the grace of Shakti, Brahman cannot be attained, ‘Shakti jnaanam vinaa devi mukti haasyaaya kalpate’. Devotional literature says, without the grace of Shakti, God cannot be realized, ‘Anayaa sulabho devaadidevo-akhileshwara’.

The devotees of Krishna pray for the service of Sri Radhika. By that means only Krishna can be won easily. The milkmaids of Vraja took recourse to the Universal Mother Kaatyaayani. They chanted the mantra of Durga, ‘Kaatyaayani Mahamaye Mahayoginyadheeshwari Nandagopa-sutam devi patim may kurute namaha….” Praying to Goddess Kaatyaayani the young unmarried gopa-kumaries prayed, “Oh Kaatyaayani Mahamaya, Mahayogini, Aadi-Eashwari, please grant that the son of Nanda (Krishna) may become my husband; obeisance unto Thee”.

From one shloka in the ninth chapter of the Gita we can know that the Father of the Universe, Sri Vaasudeva, is also the Mother of the Universe, from His own mouth, ‘Pitaahamsya jagato maataa dhaataa pitaamaha’. Gita 9/17. ‘I am the Father, Mother, Giver and Grand-Sire of creation’.

Nearly all the commentators and annotators have written the meaning of Mother as one who gives birth or brings into being. Therefore She whom we worship as the Mother of the Universe, She is also another form of the Father of the Universe. The Father has assumed the appearance of Mother. ‘Twameva maata cha pitaa twameva’.

In reality Brahman is the fundamental Truth everywhere. Maya alone cannot be the worshipped deity. A find conclusion has been discovered from the Devi Bhagavatam, “Naaham sumukhi mayaayaa upasyatwam vade kwachit. Mayaadhishthaan-chaitanya-mupasyatvena keertitam”. All manner of worship, yagya (sacrifice), religious activities and hymns  aim only toward Brahman. Only Vaasudeva is the Enjoy and Bestower of boons in all activities and asceticism.

That very Param-tatva Supreme Principle Vaasudeva is worshipped by devotees according to their respective preferences – some as the Universal Father and some as the Divine Mother; some as the Supreme Master and some as Friend; some as Son and yet others as Beloved Consort.

We heard Srila Bhagawandas Babaji, the realized soul of Ambika Kalna, at the time of Durga Puja festival, when at the sight of the deity, he exclaimed in ecstasy, “Prabhu! You have changed your colour and form but at one point you have been detected. You could not evade your standing in your three-bent posture”!  In the meditation on the Mother, there is mentioned ‘tribhangasthan samsthaanaam…’ and it is quite well known to all that Krishna stands in a three-bent posture.

To save His Foremost Devotee Sri Radhika, and to hoodwink Aayan Ghosh (her husband), Sri Krishna in His Vraja leela transformed Himself into Devi Kalika – this episode is famous.

Beyond that there is one more miraculous event which occurred in the Nadia-leela of Sri Sri Bhagavan Goursundar – this we find in Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat – which surprises and delights everyone.

In the house of Chandrashekhar Acharya one day, Mahaprabhu Vishvambhar assumed the form of Aadya-murti (Primordial Goddess) and made His devotees blessed by asking them to suckle Her breast. Observing the Shakti-murti of Mahaprabhu the assembled devotees in their respective moods offered panegyrics to Sri Lakshmi, Sri Chandi etc.

In the mood of loving Mother, Vishwambhar held each and everyone in a tender embrace and nursed them with the milk of His love. Kamala, Parvati, Daya, Maha-Narayani, Prabhu Himself became Jagat-Janani.

In this connection, the hymn to the Mother composed by Sri Vrindavan das Thakur is exactly the translation of Sri Sri Chandi, containing seven hundred shlokas and is most excellent. ‘Jai Jai Jagat-janani Mahamaya…’etc., hearing which inspired Mahaprabhu to assume the form of Devi Aadyashakti.

In the Gita Sri Bhagavan has mentioned that He is the Mother of the Universe so He made this utterance true by manifesting directly as Jagat-janani“Satya korilen prabhu aapnaar Gita, ami pita, pitamaha ami dhaata mata” –Chaitanya Bhagavat

Another reason is to give an important lesson to the devotees, Bhagavan and Bhagavati Shakti are identical. If anyone slanders Bhagavati Shakti it is the same as maligning Sri Bhagavan. Rather is Bhagavati Shakti is duly honoured it results in obtaining unwavering devotion to Sri Bhagavan Hari. To caution and impart a proper lesson to the devotees in connection with their bhajan, Mahaprabhu assumed the form of Shakti.

During the Bengali month of Ashwin the 10 days following the new moon are observed for Mahamaheshwari Mahamaya’s Mahapuja. Out of all the days in the year, the two lunar days of ‘ashtami’ and ‘navami’ (8th and 9th days from new moon) have been termed as Mahaashthami and Maha-navami for the worship of the Divine Mother. Worship of the Mother is termed as Mahapuja and bathing the deity as Mahasnaan.

She is supremely majestic, everything about Her is glorious. She is the shelter for all and those who are her devotees becomes also their refuge, ‘Vishwa-ashraya ye twai bhaktinamraah’ – Chandi Paath.

In the month of Agrahaayan, the Vaishnavas following the example of the Vraja gopis perform the vow of Kaatyaayani throughout the month. Till today in Sridham Vrindavan Kaatyaayani devi is being worshipped.

She who is Aadya Shakti, She Herself is Durga or Kaatyaayani. In the Puranas we find the demigods and rishis assemble to glorify Her and offer prayers at Her feet. ‘Kaatyaayanim tushtuburistha lambhaat’ – Chandi.

May the distressed people like us assemble together to offer our prayers for the wellbeing of all and for peace in the world. May She come as a deity of grace in the form of Vidya-murti and endow us with pure devotion.

Let us pray in chorus, ‘No maam mahaaya mayaaya paramaaya vishwashwari tubhyam namaha’.

 

 

Jai Sri Radhey!

Jai Guru!