Why is the Divine Mother worshipped?

Navaratri Satsang, at The Ashram
Shree Peetha Nilaya, 29 September 2019

On the opening night of Navaratri, Paramahamsa Vishwananda spoke about why we worship the Divine Mother. Her nine aspects reflect the inner transformation required to fully surrender and attain the Lord. When you sincerely pray to Her for help, She will give it.

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Jai Gurudev, everybody!

Welcome to this Navaratri festival. It is these nine days where we praise the Divine Mother. Actually, the mother is very important. Without the mother we would not be here. Which means, without Shakti, creation would not happen. So, when the Lord wills for things to happen, it is His Shakti that makes things happen, and that Shakti of the Lord Himself is portrayed as Ma Bhagavati. During these nine days, nine aspects are worshipped. These nine aspects are a transformation within oneself. Even though the prayer acts upon the outside, it is happening within.

Yesterday somebody sent a message to someone saying, ‘Why is the Divine Mother worshipped?’ Everywhere we look in all other religions you see that there is a very patriarchal energy: very dominant, very powerful, wants to take control of everything. ‘I have to be in control of everything. I have to be prominent.’ But when we take Hinduism, for example, this is the only religion where She is placed first because of what She represents. When we look at the whole pantheon of the Hindu tradition, we always say ‘Gauri-Shankar’, She is always first. We always say ‘Radhe-Shyam’, ‘Lakshmi-Narayana’, ‘Sita-Ram’. The men don’t come first. It is this feminine aspect which we praise, and in the Bhakti path, Sriman Narayana is the only male; the rest are feminine. Creation itself is feminine. That’s why we have this relationship with Him. In a relationship, one is positive and one is negative. It can’t be both the same. Automatically, you are part of Nature through Shakti Herself, through the power of the Divine Mother, through the Will of the Lord Himself. But that Will longs for something supreme; that Will longs for something great. This is where bhakti comes into play. Bhakti is not just superficial worship or being superficial on the outside.

You are part of Nature through Shakti Herself, through the power of the Divine Mother, through the Will of the Lord Himself. But that Will longs for something supreme; that Will longs for something great.

Paramahamsa Vishwananda 

Yesterday somebody asked about surrender. For surrender to happen, one must have the yearning inside of oneself. If one doesn’t have that yearning inside, surrender becomes very difficult. So, who is yearning for whom? In a magnet there are two poles. You have the positive and the negative. That’s what attracts the other. Here I’m not talking about the physical aspect of whether you are male or female. I’m talking about the inner potencies that you have inside of you which attract. If He is a positive, automatically you become the negative. That’s Shakti. Only when there is a fusion of these two can something happen. That yearning is what brings that fusion.

For Ma Bhagavati, when we look at Her aspect, She is destroying all the demons, but all these demons are not external demons. They are the internal demons which are so much inside you that sometimes you don’t even notice that they are there. In other religions you will see that as they go around saying ‘Oh, yes, these are demons’, but people who are on the Bhakti path don’t see the demons everywhere. You are called to perceive the Divinity. But demons arise in the mind in different ways. 

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When we talk about God He has many qualities. Like that, the demons also have certain qualities inside of them. When it arises inside of your mind, it arises in the form of qualities. It arises and you perceive how your mind is being challenged, how your mind is being negative and so on. Ma Bhagavati is responsible for that, because She is in charge of Nature. Being in charge of Nature – you know, in India they do the harvest during this time, and in ancient times, the sages also said you have to change your eating habits. That’s why people fast. Changes can happen only when there is a change inside of you, and when you do something concrete in the outside, ‘Yes, I want to fast’, through that fasting, changes happen, but those changes happen in the mind itself. 

That’s why the sages said that these nine days are very important. Also according to the astrological things: the position of a planet during this time, if you keep your mind focused upon prayer, chanting, and all this, will be beneficial for you because you will become positive. By being positive, you will attract something that is positive. Every day Ma Bhagavati takes a different aspect of purifying your mind, transforming your mind. But that can happen only if you collaborate with Her. You can’t say, ‘Yes, I’ve been sitting here’. Like that, there are so many! ‘It’s so beautiful’…whatever. No! The participation of yourself, your willingness to transform from negative to positive is also from your side. When She perceives that, ‘Yes, I want to change something’, you will have a certain power inside which will attract Her energy. She is Nature itself, and due to that attraction of Her energy, She will come. She will give you that strength; She will give you that power so that you can move forward. 

Every day Ma Bhagavati takes a different aspect of purifying your mind, transforming your mind. But that can happen only if you collaborate with Her.

Paramahamsa Vishwananda 

But if there is no collaboration within you, even if you sit here, nothing will happen. Effort is important. She is saying that the effort is that you have the willingness to transform the mind. Not just say, ‘Yes, I’ve been trying, but yet, my mind is still strong.’ No! It’s about observing yourself. Each aspect of Her is ready to destroy this demon inside of you, She is ready to carry you. And in each aspect, whenever the Lord has manifested Himself, for example, in the time of Rama, She was there. In the time of Krishna, you know how Radharani and the gopis were worshipping Katyayini. But for what aim? This is very important to see. Devotees, when they pray to the Mother or they pray to any other aspect of the Divine, it’s not for something material, but it is for something which is beyond the material. Because She is material things. But if you pray to Her just for something material, then you will get only something that is limited. Then when you get something limited, there will be suffering afterwards. 

So when you pray to Her, ask Her, ‘Help me to have this yearning.’ That’s what the gopis were asking to Katyayini. They were asking only for one thing: they want only Krishna. But Krishna is not just a normal person. Krishna is the Supreme Lord Himself. They were clear about what they wanted. Such clarity is important. Then She will help you.

We talk about bhakti. People will say, Yes, I am on the path of Bhakti’, but the path of Bhakti is not just shallow like very often people think it is. The path of Bhakti can’t be walked by weak-minded people. Only when you are very strong in yourself, then you can. To have a relationship with Him, you have to transcend that limitation which you have put upon yourself. And She will help! These nine days She reminds you that, ‘I am here to remove all your suffering, to remove all your worries, but just become like a child, allow me to carry you, allow me to care for you.’ 

Like a mother, She is ready to care for you, to look after you, but you have to become that child. How is a child? A child trusts the mother. It doesn’t matter how difficult it is. The child doesn’t bother about the outside. It trusts the mother. Once the child is in the mother’s lap, the child finds safety and the child feels safe because the mother will look after it and will care for it. There is no language spoken, but the mother understands. And this is the greatness of a mother. She understands without you speaking. When you have to be changed, she will change you. When you need food, she will know about it. And now we are talking about the Divine Mother Herself. She has called everybody as a reminder of this transformation and the change and She is ready to carry and care for each one. The only thing She says is, just collaborate with Her, just try. She doesn’t even tell you to do it, but try it at least. And this is a beauty of these nine days: for those who try, transformation does come.

Jagadambe Mata ki…Jai!

Jai Gurudev!


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