Divine Mother worship or Durga Puja

Civilization is in a state of transition. The transition that we have to effect today, if we are to survive, is a moral and spiritual revolution which should embrace our whole existence. In this context, a penetrating thought and look into the totality of the blessing of Mother Durga acts as a salvation. The Vedas, the ancient holy scriptures of the world, uphold the truth of eternal existence of the Divine Mother as the supreme power.

The Hindu tradition, followed by over 900 million people today, is one of the oldest, richest, and most influential traditions on earth. Whatever sphere of the human mind one selects for study whether it is in the faculty of language and literature, customs and tradition, art and culture, ancient sciences, polity, architecture, painting or music, one has to look to this heritage, because some of the most valuable and insightful materials in the history of humankind are encompassed within this tradition. For example, ayurveda, yoga, dhyana, astronomy, astrology, vegetarianism and spiritual disciplines have all been of interest, and are sought after by people cutting across national and religious divides. Yet, despite their universal appeal, it is Hinduism that holds the key to understanding the full richness of these ancient traditions. And here lies the concept of Durga worship, too.

In recent years, there has also been a burgeoning interest in Hindu thought among philosophers theologians, psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists, worldwide. More and more scientists are discovering the convergence of Hinduism and modern scientific thinking. Unfortunately, this rich culture and civilization can provide no source of ready reference for students and teachers. Therefore, an authentic, objective, insightful, scholarly, critical and contemporary presentation of Hinduism is needed as a standard source of reference.

The Hindu tradition does not derive from any one prophet or founder. It has neither a uniform creed nor any organised church. Its history and prehistory are ageless. The Vedas, which are the scriptures of the Hindus, are unique in character. We find in the Vedas a great variety of subjects and a great flexibility of doctrines. For example, there are several interpretations of the Upanishads, Brahmasutras and the Bhagavad Gita, and they are all considered authoritative. This is the result of freedom from dogma.

A popular concept of Divine Mother worship or Durga Puja is the following:

In the course of the eternal strife of the Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons), the former being defeated, the latter reigned supreme in the heavens, inflicting intolerable suffering to the Devas.

The helpless Devas came to Brahma, the creator of their distress by default, who led the commission of the gods to Vishnu and Shiva for appraisal of the grave situation and redress.

The tales of the intolerable atrocities of Mashisasura raised vehement anger in Vishnu and Shiva and, in a fit of this, their vital energies in the form of burning flashes came out and created similar reaction among the gods, whose vital energies too came out in like manner. These energies took the form of an unmatchable, sublime and Divine woman. She is Durga. This Divine embodiment of all spiritual energies was equipped with the numerous weapons offered by the gods. Thus, descended the energy incarnate to destroy evil and sustain virtue. She happens to be too affectionate to Her children and very fierce to those who tend to harm them.

So, Durga is tranquil and turbulent, serene and fierce, Shoumya and Rudra at the same time. The Mother Durga, in a fit of destruction, raised such a tumultuous uproar that the frightened Asuras came out in large numbers, equipped with armour and weapons, and the severe war that followed brought the ruin of Mahisasura. The heaven was recovered and the Devas cheered the victory with an elegant hymn addressed to the Mother. Durga is the progenitor of the universal process in its entirety. She is the presiding principle of the cosmic manifestation, and the source of ultimate goal of all perfection and attainment of all existence. She is essentially unique. She is the fountain-head of the highest good, both spiritual attainment and material prosperity. The worship of Mother Durga would ensure our communion with her. We pray to the Divine Mother for succor to save us from any confused order. On the other hand Durga is also adored as daughter by the Bengali Hindu. She comes to her mother's home from that of her spouse Shiva on the Himalayas only for four days, i.e. the duration of Durga Puja festival.

Man is the maker of his destiny, and he can exercise his free will, but at the same time he has taken upon himself the responsibility to ensure full participation in the entire cosmos and, consequently, between man and God, man and nature, man and other living beings and finally between man and man: child and mother. The great American Poet Walt Whitman said.

"Mother, always gliding near with soft feet,
Have now chanted for Thee a chant of fullest welcome:
Then I chant it for Thee, I glorify Thee above all,
I bring Thee a song that,
When thou must indeed come
Come unfalteringly!"

The concept of supreme mother is universal. Hindus go just one step further deriving it from Divinity and worship: "Ya Devi sarvabhuteshu matriruepena samsthita..."(Prem Ranjan Dev is president of Jatiya Hindu Parishad; Daily Star, October 29, 2007).

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