Navaratri Satsang, at The Ashram
Shree Peetha Nilaya, 04 October 2019
On the sixth night of Navaratri, Paramahamsa Vishwananda spoke about Katyayini Devi as a protector, the goddess of intuition, and the provider of strength and power. Here are some excerpts from that satsang.
Jai Gurudev, everybody!
Today is a wonderful day. It’s a glory of Katyayini. Normally, She is described as being very ferocious, very wild and ready, like we just heard in the Devi Mahatmyam. Imagine how She looks! I was just telling Swami Revati how the Devi Mahatmyam explains how Devi is very ferocious, swallowing the big, big elephant like a cherry. Like you take a cherry and just eat it, She is that wild.
And yet, She is so caring. Imagine what Arjuna saw, even worse than She is, because in the description that he gave he said some of the heads were stuck in the teeth of the Virat Swarupa, and fire was coming out from the mouth. Devi just swallowed. But that one was more terrible, more terrifying.
Ma Bhagavati on the sixth day took that form of Katyayini. Very often we ask who is this Katyayini? You heard one story from the Devi Mahatmyam, you heard another story from Devi Puran, but actually Katyayini is the same Devi which Kamsa wanted to kill. There is no difference between them. This is the same Devi which even Lord Krishna Himself have prayed to before the war, the Mahabharat War.
When Katyayini Devi flew away, She took a different aspect of Herself by the name of Bahuchara. Probably you have heard about Her…or not? Bahuchara is sitting on a rooster. There is a famous temple for Her in Gujrat. The original of that deity was Krishna, but that deity transformed in the 17th century into Bahuchara. She is well known in India because She is the protector of transgenders. Katyayini is the protector of everyone who is outcast, those who are depressed, those who are in sadness. She is the one who gives strength and power.
After Arjuna had been in 12 years of exile, they still had one year to be incognito. So, Arjuna disguised himself. Actually, he was cursed, because Urvashi wanted to marry him and he refused, so Urvashi cursed him. So, Arjuna went and prayed to Bahuchara and hid all his weapons in a Sami tree in front of the temple of Devi. Then he dressed up and became Brihannala and was teaching everyone how to dance. Here again it shows you that open mindedness of that time beyond the gender, reminding that the whole creation is only in His service.
There is another story of Shikandhi, actually. You know, Shikandhi – well it is too long a story. If you have been following the Mahabharat, you know about it. Shikandhi, was a woman before, and then was born as a man. But that quality inside of him was still feminine. He was feeling very weak in himself, ‘How should I go and fight? I don’t have that potency inside; I don’t have that power inside of me.’ So, he prayed to Bahuchara because Bahuchara (or Katyayini if you want to call her that) the sister of Krishna. So, he prayed. Through the prayer to Her, She granted him strength so he could fight for what he had come in this world to do. It’s beyond understanding. Like Swami Revatikaanta was saying earlier, when we look at one thing, we have one picture and we all jump on that picture; either you criticise or you praise. But a picture has many facets in itself. Those who can appreciate art will stand in front of a picture for hours. If you go to a museum, you will see somebody just standing, looking at a picture. What is that person looking at? But those who have the eyes of appreciation will see more. An artist way of looking at things perceives more than anybody else in the detail of things.
Now, coming to this wonderful day of Katyayini. We know this story of the gopis fasting for 30 days, you know, eating only kitchari, also without salt. Yesterday we touched a little bit of the story how they fasted, but in their minds they had only one aim: to have Krishna as their husband, nothing else.
...if, by worshipping Maha Devi, you aim to attain the Grace of Giridhariji, to have Him, like the gopis, that’s the most important, because this is what your Atma longs for.
You see, worshipping different deities is not bad when your aim is right. If you worship the deities only to gain personal things, then it is wrong, but if, by worshipping Maha Devi, you aim to attain the Grace of Giridhariji, to have Him, like the gopis, that’s the most important, because this is what your Atma longs for. I don’t know… whenever I talk about love, about the soul, for sure, you know, you have a certain understanding, but for sure you don’t know what I’m talking about!
In the Shreemad Bhagavatam, it is said that we are here only to realise Vasudeva, only to attain this Supreme Being. All the sacrifices one does must aim only to attain Vasudeva. The different forms of yoga must lead only to His Feet. All the rituals that we do have to end only in Him. All the wisdom that one has achieved in one’s life: if it doesn’t lead one to have that devotion to the Supreme Lord, it all becomes useless. It’s said that all wisdom must lead one to the Feet of Vasudeva. All austerities and penance have their goal only to attain Him. All spiritual virtues, realisation and destinations have to end only with Him. This is what the Shreemad Bhagavatam talks about. That’s what the Veda proclaims. That’s what the gopis in Vrindavan understood. But when we see how they were saturated, infatuated with that love, you know, it was not for themselves. They were not fasting for their own happiness.
Earlier we did the yagna, and I said come whoever wants to get married, no? Everybody jumped, and they came. So, what is the aim of this? The gopis were asking, ‘Yes, I want to marry Krishna.’ Even the gopis wanted to get married, but they wanted Krishna only. How many of you who were sitting said, ‘Yes, I want to marry Krishna’? Some of them in their minds had different aims; that’s why I was laughing because their aim was so stupid. They came and sat there, but then their asking was a bit weird. Do you think your aim is similar to that of the gopis? No, it is personal, ‘If I am happy, that’s enough’. It is one’s own gratification. But the gopis were not praying for their own gratification. They didn’t want to marry Krishna because they wanted to possess Him. They wanted to have Him for His sake. As much as they wanted to have Him, He also wanted to have them. So, they fasted.
When we analyse how the gopis were, (or are, because they are eternal) they were very simple people. The word ‘gopi’ – what does it stand for? Cowherd. Yes. They were just cowherds, you know, so simple, but yet, why do you think that even the devas praised them? Why do you think that the sages, even the great, great rishis praised the gopis? What made them great? Hmm? What made them great?
It’s that bhakti. They didn’t want any liberation. They didn’t want to pray to Maha Maya, Katyayini Devi, and say, ‘Yes, give me Krishna for my sake.' Like Satyabhama prayed. You know, Satyabhama? You know the story? Satyabhama was praying, ‘I want Krishna only for me. I don’t want Krishna to be with the other seven.’ It was very personal. ‘I!’ Yet through the bhakti, through simply by having this deep love and affection for Krishna, being devoted to Him, the gopis had the whole knowledge of the scriptures. With that deep knowledge, one can go with one’s mind and understand everything. Okay, you have read the Vedas, you have read the Upanishads, you have read everything, but they didn’t have anything like that. They reached such a high level just by that love that they had for Krishna; Krishna had installed Himself deep within themselves. Their heart had become the temple.
When the gopis closed their eyes, they saw only Krishna. So, in that way, He was keeping His relationship alive in them and keeping in contact by having this inner relationship with them.
Even after Krishna left for Mathura, then after that for Dwarka, even when Krishna was not there physically with them, they could find solace within their hearts because this is where they would meet Him. These were ordinary householders, who had never studied any scriptures, and whose life normally rotated around mundane things. They were householders, they were doing simple chores, they were going on with their daily life, no? Imagine how simple they were. So simple that even God praised them, even Krishna praised them. Even when we look at the life of the gopis, we see that they forgot about everything. Whenever Krishna would play His flute, they would run to Him. But yet, the scriptures say that they are chaste, no? But from a logical point of view, would you call these gopis chaste women? You would never call them chaste, because with the logical point of view, with the mind’s point of view in which you think, society has made you understand that they are not chaste. But yet, the devas, the gods, praised them; they praised their simplicity, they praised that bhakti that they had inside of them. So, what was burning inside of them for even the Vedas, the scriptures, to say, yes, they are chaste? When we look at Srimati Radharani, She was married, no? But yet, She would sneak out and go and meet Krishna, because Krishna was the most important in Her life. This is not through logic. It is something which is beyond the understanding of the mind that makes all the gopis run like crazy.
The gopis loved and adored their beloved Krishna from the core of their hearts. Even when Krishna left to do His duty, to go do why He had incarnated, even when He was not there physically, that image of Krishna was so imprinted inside of them. Imprinted not only in their hearts, it was imprinted everywhere in their bodies. Even their hair was imprinted with His Name.
You say you love each other, no? Take your hair, would you hear your husband’s or your wife’s name? Maybe prabhus listen to your wife’s hair or matajis listen to your husband’s hair! But when you take one hair of Hanuman, you will hear only Ram. I am sure the hair of the gopis would also vibrate Krishna. Such was their dedication; such was their love for Krishna. Krishna was their everything, you know. When you close your eyes, what do you see? You see so many things. You see the world, you see ‘x, y, z’. But when the gopis closed their eyes, they saw only Krishna. So, in that way, He was keeping His relationship alive in them and keeping in contact by having this inner relationship with them. They were absorbed in that bliss. This kind of bhakti is the highest.
That’s what they were asking Katyayini Devi for. That they could have Krishna, and Krishna knew. You see, when you look at it all and observe how everything is pre-planned, it’s crazy. The yogis incarnated to serve Him. Those reached a very high level of jyaana, but jyaana had not given them the Lord. It was through bhakti, through that longing, that they could receive Him and be with Him. These yogis attained this highest state of freedom, liberation, just because their minds were fully engrossed in the thought of Giridhari all the time. Their minds transformed from a logical mind or a material mind into the personified Lord Himself. It was not only having His image in their minds, but they themselves transformed. They reflected their Beloved. They remained in this ecstatic bhav, ever blissful. Their minds were not wandering around. You know, when you talk about bhakti, you do a little japam, you do a little sadhana, and your mind always wanders left, right. But their minds were not wandering anywhere else. It remained submerged in the thought of Lord Krishna.
If one reaches that state, all your karmas, all your sins, all your samskaras from past, everything, is washed away. Even being in the outside world, if your mind is focused upon Him, that is the goal of life itself. The gopis attained through the Grace of Ma Bhagavati, Katyayini, the fruit of their lives. They attained the Supreme Himself. It is even today, you know, that they are eternally with Him. They are eternally enjoying that relationship.
... Bhagavan has done so many Leelas in each one of your lives. Do you think it is just a mere coincidence that you are sitting here? Not only you people who are here, but anybody who has come on the path to get to know Him, to get to have a relationship with Him. It’s a reminder. He reminds you of His relationship. But do you want to be reminded of His relationship? Do you want really to have Him? Not superficially. Like Swami Revati was saying earlier, He left that up to you, no? That you have to see within yourself.
There is a beautiful story which is found in the Ramacharitamanas. It is similar to the gopis. When Vishwamitra took Rama and Lakshmana to protect the yagna, after He had killed Marich and the other demons, they were passing by Janakpur. So, they went there because Janak was getting Sita married. As they went for the marriage ceremony, as they entered the city, everybody was mesmerised by looking at Rama. There were many princes and many kings who came also. But when Rama came in with sage Vishwamitra, all the citizens, the men, the women, the children, they were all out on the balconies looking at Him. Everybody who was working all rushed to see.
When the soul has a certain relationship with Him, and the soul is ready and mature enough, one will have an even greater experience. When your soul is mature, you will understand a different kind of love.
This affection which the gopis had, this affection which those who are ready to relish that love have, they will feel it. And this is not through the logic. Same as the gopis, it is not through their logic or the scriptures, or anything. Same as the people in Janakpur: they were simple people, but yet they were drawn; there was something which was pulling them. Something unknown to their minds was pulling them towards their Beloved Lord.
Your soul has prayed through many lives, your soul has longed through many lives, and that’s what He is reminding you of by being on the path of bhakti. But how long and how much you hang upon your pride, how much you hang upon your ego identity, is up to you.
Coming back to Katyayini Devi, that’s what the Lord wants, you know. And today when we are talking about Katyayini, very often people think, ‘We should pray to Katyayini to get married, we should pray to Katyayini to get fertility, to have children’, because that’s what that mind which is so focused on the outside makes you think. ‘Yes, I should pray to Her only to get this thing.’ No, She is here to give you Krishna. She is here to reveal Him, to intercede with Krishna for you. Like She asks Krishna, ‘Listen, this girl has been working very hard through many lives, You should give Yourself to her, you know.’
This is where Krishna stole their clothes - no? - and revealed to them when He would meet them, when would be the time. Why do you think He stole their clothes? This has a very deep philosophical understanding because very often one is so attached to their body image or personality. The gopis were also very attached; they were praying to Krishna and they wanted Krishna. Early in the morning they would all go to the Yamuna to have Krishna. So, this fine morning they went, they were all naked, they entered the water and yet when they tried to go out, as they looked for their clothes, they could not find them. Then they heard Krishna playing the flute. Krishna was sitting in the tree looking at them. So, what is the next thing to do? Try to hide. Probably that time yes, they tried to hide. Nowadays they would say, ‘Here, look!’ Nowadays they would easily run. They would already climb on the tree probably.
But the gopis didn’t, they were very chaste, no? – like we said, they tried to hide themselves. But to remove that last pride of the body, you know, because very often you think, ‘Yes, this is my body.’ No, when Bhagavan comes, He takes everything: your body, your mind, spirit, everything. It’s all Him! It’s all for Him, for His pleasure, for His happiness. They wanted Krishna, and Krishna said, ‘Yes I’ll take that pride away from you, that body consciousness.’ That’s what He did. By stealing their clothes, by rendering them completely naked, there was no barrier between them. He removed that barrier which they conceived. He said, ‘I know you, I created you, I gave you this body, what are you hiding?’ He purposely said, ‘Come out!’ But they said, ‘No, no, no, no, no! Please, throw the clothes!’ He said, ‘No, you come, come out, go beyond that limitation which you have put there.’
Please, tomorrow don’t take the story and then tomorrow you all come naked. Just to clarify! People can be like that, you know. Maybe your understanding is completely saying, ‘I’m free now.’ But you have not yet reached to that level of the gopis. So, to remove those last things, each one of the gopis came out to take their clothes. Then He told them that on that day, whatever they had prayed to Katyayini for, they would receive.
Your soul has prayed through many lives, your soul has longed through many lives, and that’s what He is reminding you of by being on the path of Bhakti. But how long and how much you hang upon your pride, how much you hang upon your ego identity, is up to you.
You should pray to Katyayini to open your mind, open your heart, because She is a Goddess of intuition also, you know. She is the one that awakens that intuitiveness inside of you. So, let Her blessing be upon you.