Since the past four days, we have been conducting the worship of Mother; theDivine Mother in Her threefold aspect–of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati–is nowbeing adored. Here we have a curious and significant fact which has come in fora lot of criticism by Westerners especially and such of those Indians themselveswho air Western views. It is the fact that as Durga we worship the Mother in avery fearful aspect. This has evoked a lot of surprise in the Western mind thateven highly cultured, educated and refined Hindus should persist in worshippinga God in fearful form, black in colour, with lolling red tongue, holding asevered 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 somebygone savage practice. But, we still continue to worship this Mother. Is thissavagery? Is this a superstition which, in spite of culture, education andenlightenment, the average Hindu is unable to shake off? If it were so, how isit that the Hindu is still able to worship this terrible form with love when itwould seem that such a fearful aspect as Kaali or Durga could evoke but oneunmistakable emotion in man, viz., that of fear? Yet, we have a strangephenomenon of people literally melting in love.
To understand the meaning of this strange phenomenon, we have to dive alittle deeper and go beyond the mere form of the Mother as Durga and try to findout the meaning behind the worship of this apparently terrible being. Themeaning is this.
We find that if anything constructive has to be done, it always necessitatessome variety of initial destruction; some preliminary breaking up is inevitablein the process. We find if a new thing has to be given birth to, if some newthing has to come into being, there is a corresponding destruction of somethingthat went before it, a pain and a suffering somewhere before the new being cancome about.
If, for instance, the field is to be filled with life-giving corn, to keeplife, the sharp plough is plunged ruthlessly into the bosom of the virgin soiland it is inflicted with deep furrows; the soil is ruthlessly smashed and brokenup 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 yieldmany more seeds, the seed has to die; it has to destroy itself, and burstingforth into its self-welcomed destruction, it gives place to the plant. From itsdestruction of its own seed-form the plant is constructed. If the seed persistedin remaining a seed, then no plant would come forward!
Thus the phenomenon of destruction necessarily preceding a new birth is foundin every aspect of human life upon this earth. Similarly in the realm of thespirit, when the seeker has set himself to rise into the transcendental state ofPari-poornata, fullness, perfection, bliss, eternal life, and infinite peace,light and joy; when he starts upon this process, he finds that he is bound downby many things which do not allow him to rise up to that desired state ofspiritual felicity and bliss. Numerous elements of his old human self, manyundesirable factors of the lower aspect of this human self, which is known bythe name of Papapurusha or the Pashu, according to the Shakta (worshippers ofDivine Mother) parlance,–these factors hold him down, bound to ignorance,darkness, delusion and unatmic (not pertained to the Self) tendencies.
Here, he is confronted with this question, namely how ardently does he aspirefor 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 DivineLife or the Divine Consciousness? If so, what is the price he is willing to payfor it? For, upon his answer to this question depends whether the seeker is fitto 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 approachedthrough Her aspect as Mahalakshmi. For, if an aspirant should really andearnestly desire to attain to Supreme Peace and Bliss, then he must beresolutely prepared to do the preliminary breaking process that is absolutelyessential before he can be free to rise up from the old personality and soarinto 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 hebe 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 todestroy 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 thesefactors that are in the individual are representatives in the microcosm offorces that are present in the infinite scale in the cosmic existence. Hereagain the individual finds that he cannot fight and overcome these enemiesthrough his own puny individual efforts.
Therefore, comes the necessity and the meaning of Mother-worship. He invokesthat aspect of this Supreme Divine Power that might be capable of doing thisprocess of Pashu-Vadha (destroying the animal nature) in his own individualcase. Therefore he turns to the Mother and lovingly addresses Her “OhMother! Come to me as the terrible; come to me with your fearful sword; come tome as a destructive power, in thy fearsome aspect, which will be capable ofdestroying in me that which is unspiritual, that which is of the animal, baseand unatmic”. He welcomes the terrible so that She may release him from theclutches of the evil and the impure that is in him, the Papa-Purusha that is inhim. The first three days of the worship of the Divine Mother as Mahakaali orDurga is actually the voluntary invitation of the destructive aspect of DivineShakti so that She may out of Her love and compassion for us, do the work ofdestroying 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 theindividual.
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, yetthere is the power of delusion, attachment and Moha in him and this aspect makesit difficult for him to completely destroy his lower self, his attachments andcravings and Trishnas with a resolute mind. While he wants Mother Kaali to comeand do the work of destruction, at the same time he yet clings to his lowerself! Therefore, his worship of the Divine Mother is not complete. His worshipof Mother Kaali is not whole hearted. If we should worship Mother Kaali reallyand out of the depth of our being, it must mean that from that very moment weshould ourselves deliberately begin doing this breaking up or destructive workin our daily life. He is the real worshipper of Kaali, he is the real worshipperof Divine Mother Durga, who sets himself resolutely to crush out allattachments, to crush out his delusion, to crush out his cravings, to crush outlikes and dislikes, to annihilate his egoism, and thus actively co-operate withthe Power which he invokes through Mother-worship. Else, it will be ahypocritical worship. He will be from one part of his being worshipping theMother, and at the same time, with the other part of his being, going againstHer divine work.
A real seeker and a worshipper of the Divine Mother should ever exercise hisVichara (enquiry), Viveka (discrimination) and Vairagya (dispassion) with aresolute and determined mind. It is the exercise of all these higher faculties,so that his lower faculties may be completely elevated or destroyed that formsthe real worship of the Divine Mother. The Sadhana (spiritual practise) whichthe seeker does in order to destroy the impurities of his mind and heart, theSadhana, which he does to burn up his egoism, attachments and all the aspects ofhis lower, human personality, this Sadhana constitutes the real worship of Durgaor Kaali. It is not merely the external worship of this fearful form, but it isdoing of one’s own Sadhana with whole-heartedness, it is the doing of one’sSadhana with intense sincerity, with the entire integral being in man, thatconstitute real worship of the Mother. Without one part non-co-operating withthe other, but with the integral personality carrying out one Sadhana–it isthis that constitutes real worship of Mother Kaali.
In every seeker, in every one who wishes to lead the Divine Life, thisworship of Mother Kaali is a process that constantly goes on to that extent towhich he resolutely opposes the cravings and attachments that try to keep himbound down to his lower existence; to that extent he daily succeeds in doing areal worship of the Divine Mother.
Upon this occasion of the external worship of the Divine Mother during theNavaratri, let us remind ourselves again and again that real worship of theMother is inner allegiance to the benign destructive force of divine Shakti inits work of breaking our impure personality and giving us a brilliant divinepersonality. Let us remember again and again that real Mother-worship is ourinner co-operation and our inner loyalty to the Durga Shakti which is doing itswork of breaking our egoism, breaking our human weaknesses, defects andlimitations, so that upon a field that is thus cleared, we may build a path ofdivine life, of spiritual consciousness, to lead us to immortality andperfection. Let us all pray to the Divine Mother that She may give us all thenecessary strength and inspiration and inner power, to put ourselveswhole-heartedly upon Her side and join in the work of the Divine Shakti inregenerating us, in annihilating our Pashutwa and bestowing upon us Divya Jyotis(Divine Light).