During this season of Navaratri and this time of year especially is a good time to be speaking about God in the aspect of Divine Mother. The approach that we take to God can sometimes be as father, it can be as friend, as beloved but I think one of the sweetest ways to approach God is as the Divine Mother and in our tradition our Guru Paramhansa Yogananda especially was attuned to that aspect of God in the form of Divine Mother.
I grew up in a family that was not religious at all. But as I grew up, I naturally became curious and of course in college we are exposed to a lot of different ideas and traditions and just intuitively I began to question the upbringing that I had. This was before I came across the “Autobiography of Yogi” and I was led to the biography of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, the great saint from Kolkata. I read his biography and there was a passage, a story in there that had a tremendous impact upon me. It really was quite powerful.
Saint Totapuri realized Divine Mother is the Brahm
I want to tell you this story because it moved me. This is by one of Ramakrishna’s disciples Swami Saradananda and he tells the story of the Saint Totapuri.
We know that Totapuri was a great yogi but of the ‘Gyanic’ type and so I resonated with that. Totapuri was suddenly laid up with the severe attack of dysentery. He had been visiting Ramakrishna and living in the ashram and stayed there for some time. On account of the miserable illness he found it impossible to meditate. One night the pain became excruciating, he could no longer concentrate on Brahmn, the body stood in the way, he became incensed with its demands.
A free soul he did not at all care for the body so he determined to drown it in the Ganges. Thereupon, he walked into the river, but lo! he walks to the other bank. “Is there not enough water in the Ganges?”, standing dumbfounded on the other bank he looks back across the water.
He’s looking back at the Dakshineswar temple: the trees, the temples, the houses silhouetted against the sky. Suddenly in one dazzling moment he sees on all sides the presence of the Divine Mother.
She is everything, She is in everything, She is in the water, She is on the land. She is the body, She is the mind, She is pain, She is comfort, She is knowledge, She is ignorance, She is life, She is death, She is everything that one sees, hears or imagines. She turns yay into nay and nay into yay. Without Her grace no embodied being could go beyond her realm.
Man has no free will; he is not even free to die. Yet again beyond the body and mind She resides in her transcendental absolute aspect. She is the Brahm that Totapuri had been worshiping all his life.
Now as he has this vision he goes back to the temple and spends the rest of the night meditating on the Divine Mother whom he had somewhat rejected and tried to dissuade Ramakrishna from worshiping. But he came to understand in that moment; that grace that was given to him perhaps by Ramakrishna, to see that all is God and all is the Divine Mother.
I read that story and was profoundly moved because somehow it intuitively spoke to me that God is everything and it’s everything as the Divine Mother. And from this, the inspiration that I carried with me was that thereafter when I thought about God, I began to think of the Divine Mother.
Then, I read the Autobiography of Yogi, and saw that in there Paramhansa Yogananda, our Guru, saw God in the same way. He saw God as the Divine Mother and that I immediately understood and I was attracted. It was one of the things that drew me particularly to Master (Paramhansa Yogananda). I felt that he and I, (I very much the minor partner), saw life in a way that I could understand as the Divine Mother.
Symbolism of Durga Puja
Here we are at this time of the year, Navaratri where we worship God as the Divine Mother and we have Durga puja. Durga puja of course is based on the story of Mahisasur who She (Durga) destroys and kills with her trident. When we begin to worship God in this way and we begin to see that everything is the Divine Mother then we begin to see the symbolism in here.
So Mahisashura is the negative side, that beastial side of us, that lower nature of ourselves and Durga represents that higher self. And we destroy, even in ourselves, in our process towards Self-realization, the higher Self destroys and kills the lower self. And She hits the demon with her trident and I began to understand that the trident is symbolic of the three worlds that are embodied.
It represents power over the three worlds and as a kriya yogi that trident also represents the breath, the three nerve channels of the breath which when we gain control over them, then we too have the power to overcome darkness within ourselves. So at this time of navaratri we worship, recognize and bring that out. I especially at this time of year in our meditations concentrate upon the Divine Mother.
Divine Mother does come: Keep calling Her
There is one story about Ram Proshad. He was out working in the fields one day, repairing a fence and singing as he would always do, to the Divine Mother, when his daughter came out into the field from the village to visit and be with him in the fields.
And she says “Papa what are you singing?” And he says “Oh child! I’m singing to my Divine Mother, but she is a naughty mother, because she never answers me”. And his daughter says “Well Papa, why do you keep singing to her if she never answers?” And she laughs and then skips away, and goes back to the village.
In the evening Ram Proshad goes home and tells his wife of this episode. The wife looks at him and says “What are you talking about? She didn’t go out there, she was on the other side of the village the whole day”. And he says “No, she was there, she came to me.” And the wife says “No sir! She was at the other side of the village”. So, they called the daughter and she said ‘No papa I was not out there, I was at the other side of the village.’
You see, Divine Mother came in that form, and it’s something to remember. We call to God as the Divine Mother and we think that She doesn’t respond but God hears all of our prayers, and oftentimes we find that the Divine Mother does come but we have to open our eyes – and to the degree that we can see our prayers are answered and that the Divine Mother is in everything.
She is everything and She speaks to us through all of the events that take place in our daily life. So look upon life – look upon the activities that take place during the day; see within, that it’s the Divine Mother speaking to you. Your part in the equation is to sing to her and call her to come out of that darkness, reveal herself. ‘Reveal yourself to me’.
God bless all of you.
Divine Mother as an expression of Infinite
These are some of the words of Swami Kriyananda about the Divine Mother.
“We need to understand that Divine Mother is not a separate thing or person but is the feminine aspect of God. There’s really only one reality, the infinite consciousness that has produced all the different manifestations we see but there can be different expressions of the Divine that appeal to people according to their own natures. What part does Divine Mother play in this? She gives us a form towards which we can direct our love.”
It’s so sweet, because this aspect of God is compassion, is love, joy, openness, receptivity.
Fearing God to Loving God
When I was growing up, we were very religious in our family. We were Christian Baptists and every Sunday we went to the morning Sunday school as children. And I really enjoyed that time, but I have to say it was a bit frightening, because we were so afraid that if we did anything wrong we would be in trouble, because we worshipped the father aspect of God, the disciplinarian part.
It was so comforting to come to Master’s teachings, hear his chants, hear him speak of the sweetness and how God loves us, how Divine Mother is the nearest of the near and the dearest of the dear.
Divine Mother knows us individually and wants to come to us
Divine Mother knows our every thought and our every feeling. Even though She keeps this cosmos going, She knows you individually. Master had lost his mother at an early age but Divine Mother came to comfort him as he searched for his mother in his dreams, in his thoughts, in his heart and in his prayers. Divine Mother came to him in a vision and said “it was I who was behind your earthly mother in all incarnations”.
We have to realize it’s She who is behind our loved ones, behind our spouse, behind our mother, our father, our friend, our Gurubhais our beloved. She is in the earth and the wind and the Sun. Everything is Divine Mother who’s trying to reach us and trying to draw our love to Her and that is all She wants. Master said She wants nothing but our love.
Guruji had a vision of the Divine Mother at a Christmas meditation one year, an eight-hour christmas meditation and he spoke to her. The devotees could hear his side of the conversation, he wanted them to hear that you can talk to God, and he was saying over and over ‘Oh you’re so beautiful, you’re so beautiful’ and then at a certain point he said ‘Don’t go, don’t go, please don’t go’. He said “the material desires of these people are pushing you away, oh don’t go”.
This is what we have to remember, that She’s trying to come to us, She wants to come. For each of us at this time of celebrating and honoring the Divine Mother we have to remember that it’s really inside. Sure we can offer our devotion outwardly but I think so many people forget that She’s really inside of ourselves and that we can talk to her.
Live with Divine Mother, talk to Her
Swamiji told several stories in his own life where he spoke to the Divine Mother and that she answered him in beautiful ways. He lived with Her, he spoke with Her, he felt Her presence. Near the end of Swamiji’s life, he could barely talk for the love that he felt for God in that aspect of sweetness of mother. So through our prayers, through japa, through chanting, through wanting to live every day in the presence of Divine Mother let us remember that She’s always there.
Master said when he found God he asked “Divine Mother, why didn’t you come sooner?” I prayed so long, so many years and She said there were just a few desires left but now those are gone. As we put aside the desires and open our hearts to God and this beautiful aspect of the Mother we will feel a closeness with the Divine Mother.
Divine Mother’s Message for Us
Swami Kriyananda had words come to him from the Divine Mother, during an eight hour Christmas meditation, and he spoke them to the Ananda Community. This is what he said: ‘Divine Mother has asked me to convey these words to you’.
“I am very pleased with all of you, I am very pleased with what you are doing but don’t live in littleness and petty things, little thoughts, little worries, little ambitions. Live for me, for my love. I am your Mother through all eternity, nothing else matters. You were born to commune with me, for no other reason were you born. Live in my consciousness, everything else is dust. I know all your thoughts, your devotion is very pleasing to me. You are my children, you are all very dear to me. Live more in me, live in my love. Yes build a community but in the sense of communion with me. My children I am always with you, I am just behind your thoughts, just behind your feelings. I am with you every second. Let no other thought come between me and thee”.
Om Shanti Shanti.
This is an excerpt from a talk by Nayaswamis Jaya and Dhyana on the occasion of Navratri (Durga puja).