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The Terrible Kaali, The Benign Mother


Sri Swami Chidananda

Destruction Precedes Construction
Price of Bliss
Co-Operate With The Divine Power


Since the past four days, we have been conducting the worship of Mother; the Divine Mother in Her threefold aspect—of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati—is now being adored. Here we have a curious and significant fact which has come in for a lot of criticism by Westerners especially and such of those Indians themselves who air Western views. It is the fact that as Durga we worship the Mother in a very fearful aspect. This has evoked a lot of surprise in the Western mind that even highly cultured, educated and refined Hindus should persist in worshipping a God in fearful form, black in colour, with lolling red tongue, holding a severed human head dripping with blood in one hand and a fearful Khadga (sword) in another hand.

Many misunderstand this worship and think it is an outmoded relic of some bygone savage practice. But, we still continue to worship this Mother. Is this savagery? Is this a superstition which, in spite of culture, education and enlightenment, the average Hindu is unable to shake off? If it were so, how is it that the Hindu is still able to worship this terrible form with love when it would seem that such a fearful aspect as Kaali or Durga could evoke but one unmistakable emotion in man, viz., that of fear? Yet, we have a strange phenomenon of people literally melting in love.

To understand the meaning of this strange phenomenon, we have to dive a little deeper and go beyond the mere form of the Mother as Durga and try to find out the meaning behind the worship of this apparently terrible being. The meaning is this.

Destruction Precedes Construction

We find that if anything constructive has to be done, it always necessitates some variety of initial destruction; some preliminary breaking up is inevitable in the process. We find if a new thing has to be given birth to, if some new thing has to come into being, there is a corresponding destruction of something that went before it, a pain and a suffering somewhere before the new being can come about.

If, for instance, the field is to be filled with life-giving corn, to keep life, the sharp plough is plunged ruthlessly into the bosom of the virgin soil and it is inflicted with deep furrows; the soil is ruthlessly smashed and broken up so that the vital seed might be sown and it might later grow into rich corn. Still further, if this seed that is sown is to spring up into plant and yield many more seeds, the seed has to die; it has to destroy itself, and bursting forth into its self-welcomed destruction, it gives place to the plant. From its destruction of its own seed-form the plant is constructed. If the seed persisted in remaining a seed, then no plant would come forward!

Thus the phenomenon of destruction necessarily preceding a new birth is found in every aspect of human life upon this earth. Similarly in the realm of the spirit, when the seeker has set himself to rise into the transcendental state of Pari-poornata, fullness, perfection, bliss, eternal life, and infinite peace, light and joy; when he starts upon this process, he finds that he is bound down by many things which do not allow him to rise up to that desired state of spiritual felicity and bliss. Numerous elements of his old human self, many undesirable factors of the lower aspect of this human self, which is known by the name of Papapurusha or the Pashu, according to the Shakta (worshippers of Divine Mother) parlance,—these factors hold him down, bound to ignorance, darkness, delusion and unatmic (not pertained to the Self) tendencies.

Price of Bliss

Here, he is confronted with this question, namely how ardently does he aspire for the real life. Does he really want the bliss of the spiritual consciousness? Is he really sincere and deeply earnest in his desire to attain to the Divine Life or the Divine Consciousness? If so, what is the price he is willing to pay for it? For, upon his answer to this question depends whether the seeker is fit to worship the Mother or not. For, the Mother in Her aspect as Para Vidya, Supreme Atma-Jnana, as Aparoksha Anubhuti, as Saraswati, has to be approached through Her aspect as Mahalakshmi. For, if an aspirant should really and earnestly desire to attain to Supreme Peace and Bliss, then he must be resolutely prepared to do the preliminary breaking process that is absolutely essential before he can be free to rise up from the old personality and soar into the empyrean realm of the spiritual consciousness full of bliss and peace. If his earnestness makes him ready to die to his lower self, then alone can he be said to be a worshipper of Kali, Kali the fearful. But, fearful to whom? Destructive to whom? She wields Her sword and Her terrible form in order to destroy that which stands as an obstacle to our attainment of spiritual bliss. She is terrible to all that is lower in us, all that is evil and impure in us, all that is unspiritual in us, all that is base and animal in us and these factors that are in the individual are representatives in the microcosm of forces that are present in the infinite scale in the cosmic existence. Here again the individual finds that he cannot fight and overcome these enemies through his own puny individual efforts.

Therefore, comes the necessity and the meaning of Mother-worship. He invokes that aspect of this Supreme Divine Power that might be capable of doing this process of Pashu-Vadha (destroying the animal nature) in his own individual case. Therefore he turns to the Mother and lovingly addresses Her "Oh Mother! Come to me as the terrible; come to me with your fearful sword; come to me as a destructive power, in thy fearsome aspect, which will be capable of destroying in me that which is unspiritual, that which is of the animal, base and unatmic". He welcomes the terrible so that She may release him from the clutches of the evil and the impure that is in him, the Papa-Purusha that is in him. The first three days of the worship of the Divine Mother as Mahakaali or Durga is actually the voluntary invitation of the destructive aspect of Divine Shakti so that She may out of Her love and compassion for us, do the work of destroying all the Shad-Ripus in us, our egoism, our impurity, our attachments, clinging, and all the host of the things that form the lower aspect in the individual.

Co-Operate With The Divine Power

Therefore, the worship of Kaali is a bit difficult; because, we find that, while one part of the seeker, out of his aspiration and desire for Liberation, feels that he should free himself from the base aspect of his personality, yet there is the power of delusion, attachment and Moha in him and this aspect makes it difficult for him to completely destroy his lower self, his attachments and cravings and Trishnas with a resolute mind. While he wants Mother Kaali to come and do the work of destruction, at the same time he yet clings to his lower self! Therefore, his worship of the Divine Mother is not complete. His worship of Mother Kaali is not whole hearted. If we should worship Mother Kaali really and out of the depth of our being, it must mean that from that very moment we should ourselves deliberately begin doing this breaking up or destructive work in our daily life. He is the real worshipper of Kaali, he is the real worshipper of Divine Mother Durga, who sets himself resolutely to crush out all attachments, to crush out his delusion, to crush out his cravings, to crush out likes and dislikes, to annihilate his egoism, and thus actively co-operate with the Power which he invokes through Mother-worship. Else, it will be a hypocritical worship. He will be from one part of his being worshipping the Mother, and at the same time, with the other part of his being, going against Her divine work.

A real seeker and a worshipper of the Divine Mother should ever exercise his Vichara (enquiry), Viveka (discrimination) and Vairagya (dispassion) with a resolute and determined mind. It is the exercise of all these higher faculties, so that his lower faculties may be completely elevated or destroyed that forms the real worship of the Divine Mother. The Sadhana (spiritual practise) which the seeker does in order to destroy the impurities of his mind and heart, the Sadhana, which he does to burn up his egoism, attachments and all the aspects of his lower, human personality, this Sadhana constitutes the real worship of Durga or Kaali. It is not merely the external worship of this fearful form, but it is doing of one's own Sadhana with whole-heartedness, it is the doing of one's Sadhana with intense sincerity, with the entire integral being in man, that constitute real worship of the Mother. Without one part non-co-operating with the other, but with the integral personality carrying out one Sadhana—it is this that constitutes real worship of Mother Kaali.

In every seeker, in every one who wishes to lead the Divine Life, this worship of Mother Kaali is a process that constantly goes on to that extent to which he resolutely opposes the cravings and attachments that try to keep him bound down to his lower existence; to that extent he daily succeeds in doing a real worship of the Divine Mother.

Upon this occasion of the external worship of the Divine Mother during the Navaratri, let us remind ourselves again and again that real worship of the Mother is inner allegiance to the benign destructive force of divine Shakti in its work of breaking our impure personality and giving us a brilliant divine personality. Let us remember again and again that real Mother-worship is our inner co-operation and our inner loyalty to the Durga Shakti which is doing its work of breaking our egoism, breaking our human weaknesses, defects and limitations, so that upon a field that is thus cleared, we may build a path of divine life, of spiritual consciousness, to lead us to immortality and perfection. Let us all pray to the Divine Mother that She may give us all the necessary strength and inspiration and inner power, to put ourselves whole-heartedly upon Her side and join in the work of the Divine Shakti in regenerating us, in annihilating our Pashutwa and bestowing upon us Divya Jyotis (Divine Light).

Last Updated: Monday, 29-May-2017 20:35:30 EDT
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