Most beautiful Hymn to Durga

This is one of my favourite renditions of one of the most powerful hymns to Ma Durga. Its a very long hymn. I will post the translation once I find a satisfactory one or once I do it myself. In gist it describes the attributes of the goddess Durga and bows down to her. She is called the merciful one, the victorious one, the terrible and beautiful one, the auspicious one, the three-eyed one, the beautifully attired one, the mother, the daughter of the mountain, the wife of Shiva, the sister of Vishnu. Her victory over Mahushasur (the Buffalo Asur) is hailed. Her immense strength, immeasurable power and her beauty is praised.

Saraswati… in you and me…

‘In you and me, Saraswati flows through that moment when we choose a creative path or make an intention. She lives in the ever-new creative instant when inspiration arises within the field of your consciousness. When an idea takes form, you can find her as the inner impulse that comes from somewhere deeper than your ordinary mind, ready to dance on your tongue. She undulates in the stillness before the notes come forth as your power to make connections between apparently disparate things, as the power to understand language, as intelligence in all its forms, as insight and rhetoric, and as the intuitive knowing that lets your recognise your own awareness as the field of enlightenment.. .

At her subtlest, Saraswati lives in that pulsing space at the root of sound, where silence gives birth to creative possibility. A hymn to Saraswati, by the Tantric sage Abhinavagupta praises this subtlest form of Saraswati like this: “No one knows your nature, nor is your inner reality known. You are the whole universe and you exist within it.”‘ – Sally Kempton, Awakening Shakti (Sounds True Inc 2013)

Artist: Danny O'Connor

Artist: Danny O’Connor

Saraswati – Awesome Voice of Thunder, Voice of Heaven…

In the Hindu pantheon, Saraswati (or Sarasvati), referred to as the Mother, is the goddess of knowledge and wisdom; of learning; of words and expression. Only her blessings can give one the gift of language and knowledge. She is a peaceful aspect of Adya Shakti, the Primal Mother, the Ancient Creatress. In her currently worshipped form, Saraswati holds the symbols of learning in her hands (including a musical instrument, Veena, and the Vedas), wears white and rides a white swan. She is also often depicted with a peacock.

Modern popular depiction of Ma Sarawati

Modern popular depiction of Ma Sarawati

In the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, she is a celestial river – one of the seven sister rivers (sapta-sindhu). She is ‘horrendous in her vehemence … her impact knows no end, roaring, she moves on … [the] daughter of lightning, the voice of thunder …she… rules over all intuition.’[1] 

‘Sarasvati, a flowing onrush of creative power, is a form of the great goddess. She pours out from the source, full-fledged. She is the ineluctable impetus of creative intuition, awesome voice of thunder, the voice of Heaven. She is all movement, the vehement river of creative thought.’[2]

Her slightly different manifestation is the Vedic goddess Vak or Vac (literally, word or speech). In Sanskrit, Vak literally means ‘speech.’ Called the ‘Mother of the Vedas (the most ancient Hindu scriptures),’ Vak is also described as fierce and commanding; she strides and carries with her the other gods; wind is her breath. And most surprisingly she is described as the mother of her own father.

‘…she is the Great Goddess, exceeding axis of the cosmos, creator of the Father in Heaven, her own father, up on high. … “The heavenly oceans flowed from her and then the Word, the Aksara, the creative syllable”’[3]

'The Commander' by Freydoon Rassouli*

Artist: Freydoon Rassouli*

In the Rig Veda, Vak declares –

‘I am the sovereign power (over all the worlds … and the first among those to whom sacrificial homage is to be offered; the gods in all places worship but me, who am diverse and permeate everything. … I pervade heaven and earth. I give birth to the infinite expanse overspreading the earth.’ [4]

She is celebrated and worshipped all over modern India in homes, schools, colleges and universities. Saraswati’s blessings is still sought after by every seeker of knowledge and wisdom.


[1] Stella Kramrisch, ‘The Indian Great Goddess’ (1975) 14 History of Religions, pages 235, 246
[2] same as above
[3] same as above, page 247
[4] Kartikeya C Patel, ‘Women, Earth and the Goddess: A Shakta-Hindu interpretation of Embodied Religion’ (1994) 9 Hypatia, pages 69, 75
* Title of featured artwork: ‘The Commander’ by Freydoon Rassouli. For more paintings by Rassouli, visit www.rassouli.com

She stirs… in us…

The goddess stirs…. she stirs in us. The primal power, the divine feminine, the ancient creatress, the great mother — she has various epithets. She has different forms and attributes in different cultures in different times. She has been loved, worshipped, revered, feared and cherished in various ways for many thousands of years. The earliest archaeological evidence of goddess worship has been unearthed and dated as far back as 29,000 B.C.

Until about 2000 years back, worship of the divine feminine was part of most cultures in the world. From South Asia to Middle East, from Africa to Europe, from the Americas to the Far East — the religion of the goddess existed and thrived. She existed alongside male gods who were depicted as her son, father or consort or brother. Under polytheistic religious structure, there was not much trouble in the co-existence of multiple mythologies, in the co-existence of multiple divinities, in the co-existence of competing spiritualities without strife.

Detail from ‘The Birth of Venus’ by Sandro Boticelli

Detail from ‘The Birth of Venus’ by Sandro Boticelli

But in the last couple of thousand years, the worship of the feminine principle has been despised, demonised and discredited, her worshippers have been attacked, injured, slaughtered and her religion has almost been wiped out from the face of the earth.

But not everywhere.

She has thrived in some cultures and her religion has kept pace with changing times. What we commonly call Hinduism, or more accurately, Sanatan Dharma, alive in South Asia, provided the perfect platform where the worship of the goddess could thrive and grow without interruption, without fear. Here the feminine divinities have co-existed with their male counterparts for ages until the modern times. They are depicted in mythology and religion as immeasurably powerful, primally creative, and definitively imperishable. They indeed are the personification of power itself, not power in the narrow patriarchal sense, but in the broad sense of power to create, to sustain, and to withdraw the whole universe; the power to become all and nothing at the same time.

When we look at the history of the worship of the divine feminine all over the world — when we discover the rich mythologies that sustained the symbolic realms of our foreparents, when we read hymns written by our ancestors about the Goddess, the Mother, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, the Primal Power. the Mountain Mother, the Lady of Largest Heart, the Mother of Speech, the Source of All Knowledge — we realise how much of it have been lost; how much of the spiritual wisdom about the power of the goddess and the coexistence of the feminine and masculine divine principles, accumulated by our foreparents and protected in their hearts, have been lost on us.

Artist: Anna Dittman

Artist: Anna Dittman*

Her religion in the ancient forms survive in very few places in the modern world. India and Nepal are two of the most prominent among them. The traditions of the goddess lives unbroken in the hearts, homes, culture, mythology and temples of the people in these parts of the world.

Devi (goddess) Durga, as worshipped in today’s India

Devi (goddess) Durga, as worshipped in today’s India

In most places where the goddess lived, like the Middle and Near East, the Americas and most of Europe, her touch had been wiped away. But even in the loss, among the blurry clouds of forgetting, memories of Her have survived. And once again we can hear her stirring. She is waking again – waking to the calls of her children.

The Lady of Avalon worshipped in the Glastonbury Goddess Temple in the United Kingdom

The Lady of Avalon worshipped in the Glastonbury Goddess Temple in the United Kingdom**

These pages are a tribute to all the forms she has ever taken to reach us and touch our lives. From Durga to Kali, to Anat and Inanna, from Frejya to Isis, from Cybele to Diana – let us know her and hear her voice. In these pages I will bring to you my experience of the life-long love of one of the most ancient forms of the goddess known to us. I will also document my journey to know more about the goddesses whose voices were silenced by violence and the ones who are rising again.

I hope these pages will become a resource for all current worshippers of the goddess to know more about her other forms and for those who are searching for her, to arrive at her love.

______________________________________________

* For more beautiful images by Anna Dittman, please visit http://escume.deviantart.com/

** For more information about the Glastonbury Goddess Temple in the UK, visit  http://goddesstemple.co.uk/