The Devi-Mahatmya or The Glory of Goddess or Sridurgasaptasati, has a unique status in Indian devotional literature. It is a code of practice for the attainment of perfection, both internal and external, both spiritual and mundane. Goddess Durga seated on a lion represents in Indian myth and legends, rituals and rhetorics, metaphysical contemplations and folk traditions, or to the eye of a worshipper, a painter, a sculptor, or a poet, the Adi Sakti, the proto energy including in it all forms of vitality and strength, might, power, and force, proficiency and dynamism and all operative faculties. And so it is said that Siva begets Sakti and Sakti gives birth to Siva. Like Siva, the Goddess embodies paradox and ambiguity: she is erotic yet detached: gentle yet heroic; beautiful yet terrible. Both in their happy union produce the worlds and souls.
The present book is an ingenuous attempt to discover the quintessence of relationship between the Creator and Creation, which would enliven the minds of general reader and quiz the mind of scholars to ruminate, which would ultimately bring about moral renaissance. The hallmark of this book lies on the trinity of languages, English & Hindi commentary with the original Sanskrit Text with a phonetic transliteration and in depth introduction alongwith the methods of recitation.
Dr. Manoj K. Thakur (b. 1966) is educated from University of Delhi and works and lives in Delhi. He is a Life Member of Indian History Congress and has been a Fellow of Indian Council of Historical Research. He has assisted in a major U. G. C. Research Project entitled, Descriptive Catalogue of Sanskrit Inscriptions and Compiled a text book on is known for his scholastic bent of mind in various branches of learning and which is reflected in the publication of India In The Age Of Kanishka and a post graduate text book on Bharata's Natyasastra. It has received accolades for having been written in a coherent and analytical style.
He is also the Editor in Chief of the Compendium Series of various topics on Indian Thought and Knowledge. Forthcoming are his works of The Selected Inscriptions and Coins of Ancient India, and The Dictionary of Indian History, and A Compendium Of The Medicinal Plants: Importance & Use.
The divine germ exists in every man and is alone responsible for the elevation of the human race. Moksa, nirvana, eternal life are not an escape from life but the realization of life's fullest possibilities, the perfection of personality. Religion is not only the way to God, but the way to man. Heaven and hell are not physical areas. A soul tormented with remorse for its deeds is in hell, a soul with the satisfaction of a life well lived is in heaven. The reward for virtuous living is the good life itself. Virtue, it is said, is its own reward. It is true that one may try to escape from dread, anguish and the other allied states by self-alienation. However, one cannot always succeed in escaping from one's own self. Thus the suffering individual cries out in the words of the Upanisad:
Therefore, in this direction, the Devi Mahatmya or the Glory of Goddess as a final expression of God's will and purpose for man. It has a unique position in Hindu devotional literature. Though it appears as an insertion in virtually all editions of the Markandeya Purana, it is also very widely circulated as an independent text, with a distinctive religious significance of its own. Metaphysically the Goddess represents Sakti, the guided power, the transcendental source and support of all creatures and of entire creation. The Rigveda (10/125) calls the great Goddess as Vak, the universal power. The Rigveda further refers to Her as Mahimata, the Great Mother, as mothers of gods; as Aditi, the universal nature and infinity; as Viraj, the universal mother, as cosmic cow oozing out of her teats ambrosial milk for the entire creation. She is said to be the daughter of primeval ocean and carries Ambhrini as one of Her many names, obviously to symbolize that She is both the unmanifest source and the manifest cosmos. In the Puranas, the Goddess Mahadevi is referred to as Mahisasurmardini, the slayer of demon Mahisasura, and as Vaisnavi and as Katyayni. Harivamsa Purana differs and says the Goddess was worshipped by the hill and jungle tribes. In Ken Upanisada, the Goddess is depicted as the Guru of the male gods and is called the Brahman, the absolute. However, it is only by the 4th century when in a section of Markandeya Purana known as Devi-Mahatmya and the Goddess Durga is elaborately detailed and the version of Markandeya-Purana remains alike acceptable to all to till date. It is both-metaphysical and ritualistic. It has involved in it a deep symbolism as well.
The Goddess is the ultimate reality, knowledge of whom liberates from the cycle of birth and death, yet she is also the ensnaring veil of the great illusion, mahamaya, binding all beings. As the power which both enslaves and liberates, she is Sakti, the energy or power of Siva. In this way. Durga-Kali is the epitome of Sakti in its visible aspect, by whose power the other divinities in personal form attain life. She is the most directly perceived, attribute-laden unfolding of the invisible, undifferentiated, pure divine Spirit Being, Brahman, which can only be felt in the experience of total unity, in the melting away of one's conscious existence-for inner visualization, she is the purest possible manifest form of the unenvisionable, which, once experienced, merges the perceiver with what he perceives. And that, the sacred image is a device of very efficient construction used for magical, ritualistic and spiritual functions. The image that the believer places before him for his daily devotions is made the focus of his concentration and consequently becomes the absolute object of his consciousness. The changing flow of appearance, which like the play of the waves washes round consciousness that is in a non devotional state and open to the world, solidifies in that image into a picture of peace, taking the form of that image; unity is crystallized out of the self-moving, oscillating multitude of thing found in thought; from this inchoate mass, where external phenomena and the human soul find themselves in company, there arises a concentrated duad: the preliminary stage for the union of the perceiver and what he perceives, the accomplishment of which is the goal of devotional practice, where consciousness comes at last to rest and spirituality leaves all differentiations behind, returning to pure Being without attributes.
And furthermore, in the mantra- the significant formula which, for the uninitiated, may be an incomprehensible sequence of syllables or a sentence of no obvious relevance - we find the highest, spiritual, attribute - laden energy, Sakti, which is totality concentrated in any number of forms as mantrasakti. Owing to the mantras are composite concentrated expressions of essence; their substance Sakti is not discernible through discursive reasoning, but instead through the power of the believer's mind when it is successfully focused on them in meditation, thereby expanding their meaning to fill totally his mind, to permeate his consciousness. Similarly, the sacred image's mystery is revealed only to the fixed gaze of contemplation. Which keeps to the path of traditional techniques and knowledge concerning the importance of the pictorial, spatial complex of forms; to the eyes of the uninitiated, it is merely an image that is being worshipped, but the true devotee sees is in the non-spiritual implement, in his suprasensory vision, the bodily manifestation of the divine energy which is spirit.
It is also important to note that the Divine gives verbal expression to itself in the literary tradition, and elucidates the aspects by means of which man grasps its essence; a Goddess Herself is speaking and says what she is for man and for the human understanding of Her manifestation, and of what above and beyond this Her nature is composed. In the sacred text, it is the Goddess Herself who speaks of Herself and those who are like Her, and it is just that which gives the text their authority, in the face of which, any willful attempt to conceive of or contemplate the god-head in another form is clearly wrong-headed. In sacred tradition, Goddess's self-revelation through Her own word is confirmed, elucidated, so to speak, by accompanying suprasensory contemplation that the Divine graciously grants to him who has first discovered in the text of this aspect of Divine essence. It expresses its own essence and assigns to humankind its place and pathways in the Divine order.
Siva and Durga-Kali in an embrace represent the Divine and His Sakti. Pure Divine Being and its unfolding, within illusion, into motion, are one and the same and yet they are two different things. The phenomenal world is the illusion of the divine, not its essence, but yet, on analysis, this illusion is fundamentally and in essence nothing but the Divine. Samsara and Nirvana are two different things, and yet they too are one and the same; Divine Being and its energy, which expresses itself by unfolding, cannot be separated. The most eloquent symbol for this paradox in logic, which comprises the whole truth of Brahman and its unfolding as Maya, is the sexual union of lover: the mystery in which two are insolubly one. Their image in art is the hieroglyph for the insolubly one. Their image in art is the hieroglyph for the Divine oneness of the world; it is the one comprehensive statement of Being that shows god and man, actuality and illusion, in undifferentiated relationship to each other.
It assures me that whenever disorder threatens to disrupt the cosmos, she intervenes to regain it to order. In the Devi-Mahatmya and other Puranas this has been conveyed through a symbolism. The demons, represent disorder and adharma and the gods, order and dharma. The Goddess by putting the demons to death eradicates disorder and Adharma and brings about the cosmic order and establishes the dharma. Besides Mahisasura, she removes the demons like Sumbha and Nisumbha, and their aids Canda, Munda and Raktabija from the earth. She is said to do for gods who symbolize order, harmony and dharma. Goddess Durga is worshipped under different names in the different parts of the country. A common term for the Goddess is simply 'Mother'. Throughout South Asia the Goddess is referred to as 'Mother' or Ma in the Hindi-speaking north. Amma, in the Dravidian languages of the South. Navaratri, Durgapuja and Mahanavami are the important festivals associated with the Goddess.
In making the present attempt to improve on the performance of my predecessors, and to produce something which might be accepted as echoing however faintly the sublime rhetoric of the Devi-Mahatmya in Sanskrit, I have been at pains to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms which-apart from the message itself-constitute the Devi-Mahataya's undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest position in Hindu devotional literatures. I intend to propose that my endeavour towards this translation as well as commentary that- "to make a new translation
but to make a good one better."
I pray that this interpretation, poor echo though it is of the glorious original, may instruct, please, remove the tensions, troubles and tears; and inspire those who read it. It !! Om!!
Brahma Sutras (79)
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