The launch of Sri Devi Lila at Lumut was a colourful affair.
It was conducted on the spacious lawns of Smt.V.V.V. Menon.
The backdrop was a fabulous equatorial jungle.
The altar was beautifully arranged with a lovely statue of Lord Krishna
flanked by the two goddesses, Lakshmi and Saraswati.
The function was attended by many of the elite of Kuala Lumpur and Lumut.
Major General Dato Dr. Mohan Das was the one who actually launched the book.
Sri Udaya Bhanu was the MC. Datin Dr. Lila Menon lit the two huge lamps
which flanked the altar on either side. Smt.VVV Menon introduced Mataji.
Mataji spoke on the three main manifestations of the Maha Devi.
The noted philosopher and speaker Mr. Khadir Ibrahim had come to meet Mataji before the launch. He had another program at the naval base at the same time and thus was unable to attend the function. After the launch there was an autographing ceremony.
The divine presence of the goddess was felt by all.
The launch was followed by a delicious dinner hosted by Smt. V.V.V. Menon.
Dato is an honour conferred by the Malaysian government,
for meritorious acts done by the person. The feminine is Datin.
Hari Aum Tat Sat
Gist of Talk by Mathaji Vanamali.
The first word uttered by the human infant is "Maa". Our first relationship with the world is through the mother. The earliest memory of the baby is that of lying in the lap of the mother and looking into her love-filled eyes. She is the embodiment of love, tenderness, security and comfort and the source of all nourishment. To the infant she is indeed God. To transfer this concept to a Cosmic Being who is the Mother of all, who nurtures and cares for all was but a step which all the ancient cultures took. Therefore the concept of the divine as the Mother is as old as life itself. She is the eternal womb of all creatures, human, animal and sub-human. Whenever you see maternal love, in a bird or animal or human being, know it to be but a reflection of the Divine Mother’s love for her creation. She is the one who has given us birth but she is also the one who can free us from this mundane existence.
In her transcendental aspect she is Para Brahma Swaroopini or the form of the Para Brahman or the Absolute. They cannot exist separately, like the dynamo and the battery which charges it., one cannot exist without the other. The Absolute Brahman is that which we cannot know or conceive. All that we know through our mind and senses is nothing but the manifestation of the Mother. Every conceivable form is the form of the goddess. In essence she is nirguna or without qualities but when she manifests herself as this universe she become saguna or with form. She is Mula Prakriti or the original form of Nature. She is the dot in the centre of energy which is the ultimate source of all the fields which western science is slowly discovering. – The field of gravity, the electromagnetic field and the zero point field. Thus she is known as Parashakti or the ultimate force. Even though Einstein did not know of her as the Mother Divine, yet he dimly perceived her power and said, "The field is the only reality."
In the Puranas, creation is cyclic in nature. A vast period of creation is followed by another vast period of dissolution. During the time of pralaya or dissolution she is totally submerged in the Brahman and they appear as one which indeed they are, but during the time of creation she projects herself to the forefront since it is she who actually creates. The Brahman is merely the witness. Without her there would be no creation and no action.
In Her lies the three aspects without which creation cannot be accomplished. These are known as icchha shakti, jnana shakti and kriya shakti. Iccha shakti is the power of desire without which nothing can accomplished. But even if the desire is there unless one has the knowledge of how it should be done, there can be no progress. Finally even if these two are there, without kriya shakti or the power of action these ideas cannot be put into concrete forms. She also has three qualities or gunas, which are inherent in Her through a combination of which She creates this multifarious universe. of countless forms and qualities. These gunas are known as sattva, rajas and tamas and are the qualitative building blocks of creation. They are found in all aspects of creation. In physics rajas is called kinesis or the power of action, tamas as inertia and sattva, the balancing principle of harmony or balance. Sattva is white in colour and is the source of peace and happiness. It induces a person to all types of good thoughts and activities. Rajas is red in colour and is the source of hyper activity leading to pain and unhappiness. Tamas is black in colour and leads to laziness, sloth and vulgarity. Luckily these qualities are never found in their pristine state but are always intermingled and dependent on each other. These gunas are the agents of Prakriti by which the immortal and imperishable atman which is nothing but the supreme Spirit within us, imagines itself to be mortal and perishable.
The Hindu mind has a prolific imagination, and has given us the three goddesses who correspond to these qualities. These are Lakshmi, who personifies rajas and is red in colour, Saraswati who personifies sattva and is white in colour and Kaali who is the epitome of tamas and is black in colour.
In India the worship of God in a dual aspect as male and female stems from ancient times. The formless and attributeless, steadfast form of the Purusha is imagined to be male while the pulsating form of Prakriti or Nature which is his counterpart is considered as female. This two-in-one aspect of the divine has been called by various names - as Shiva and Shakti and Purusha and Prakriti.
The Maha Devi encompasses all aspects of Prakriti or Nature. The Hindu philosophy was prepared to accept all aspects of Nature not just her beautiful and enticing face. She is not only all beauty but she is also all ugliness. She is not only all-wonderful but she is also all-repelling. She is not only the glory of the stars and the moon and the sunset but she is also the storm, the typhoon and the tidal wave.
The principal manifestations of the Maha Devi which are the ones who are most commonly worshipped in all Hindu households are Mahalakshmi, Maha Saraswati and Maha Kaali. . Many people have the mistaken opinion that Hinduism looks down upon wealth and prosperity and that it insists on a very austere life of renunciation. If you look at the form of Lakshmi you will see that this is far from being the truth. She is the goddess of beauty and prosperity and auspiciousness. The seven sages were born out of Brahma’s mind and six of them took to a life of utter renunciation and eventually found that they were almost dying of starvation. The sage called Brighu was the only one who was prosperous. So they asked him to tell them the secret of his success. He told them that food was the very source of life. Without food no one could live and unless they could discover the source of auspiciousness and plenty they would never be able to get success even in their spiritual life. He advised them to worship the goddess Lakshmi. This goddess is portrayed in a most beautiful manner in the scriptures. She is the very source of beauty and affluence. She is the colour of the golden sunset. She wears red, which is the colour of affluence. She is adorned with gold ornaments. Gold is a metal which never rusts and is the symbol of prosperity. She is seated on a lotus. The lotus is a flower which portrays the evolution of man from the muddy waters of mundane existence to the glory of a spiritual life. Thus Lakshmi takes us from the material to the spiritual in a beautiful way. She is worshipped in every house, temple and shop throughout India. She is a very choosy goddess. She goes only to those houses which are neat and tidy with beautiful surroundings. Though she is the goddess of wealth she never goes to those people who hoard or plunder wealth. She teaches us the great truth that money should never be hoarded and should always be allowed to flow.
Saraswati is her opposite. The human being can never be satisfied with money and affluence alone. An animal will be perfectly content and happy if all his material needs are met but the human being craves for something more. The intellect longs for sustenance. Arts and sciences are as important to him as food and drink. It is Saraswati who is the goddess who satisfies this part of the human personality. She is the opposite of Lakshmi. She is an austere goddess who dresses only in white, and wears only a simple necklace of pearls or spotless white crystals. She carries a rosary in one hand, a veena or lute in another and the Vedas or the books of knowledge in another hand. Her function is to encourage us in all learning, art and science. She is the presiding goddess of the student, the artist and the scientist. She loves precision and harmony in all activities. She pays great attention to detail and is happy in those places which are clean without being showy and where a lot of study and exacting work is done which lead to great art, discoveries and inventions. Her vehicle is the swan which is the symbol of purity and truth. The swan is supposed to have the ability to separate milk from water. Thus the seers of truth can separate the milk of Reality from the muddy waters of unreality. Hence they are known as Paramahamsas or the Great Swans. She is a goddess of the aerial sphere and is always floating in the air playing on her lute exhorting us to reach for the stars which shine in her hair. If we have the ears to hear, we will be able to hear the music of her lute calling us to the life divine.
We have already seen that the Maha Devi has many faces. If Lakshmi is the embodiment of all man’s delight, Kaali is the embodiment of all his disgust. Kaala is the Sanskrit word for Time – relentless, all-consuming and indomitable time which is the only killer. She is the wife of Shiva, in his form as Rudra, the destroyer. Parvati tries to curb his violence and anger but Kaali incites him to further violence and destruction. She is portrayed as black with cavernous eyes and fangs dripping blood, hanging breasts, tangled hair, dressed in black, with a red lolling tongue dripping blood. She wears a garland of grimacing skulls and a bracelet of baby cobras. Her girdle is made of hands which have been hacked off from corpses and her favourite haunts are cremation grounds and burning ghats. Her visible mask is that of Maya – Nature bringing forth all beings from her womb, feeding them at her breast then devouring and assimilating them into herself. This is her public mask as known to science – a cosmos that seems to be superficially purposeless, a chaos of opposing qualities, creation and wanton destruction, cause and effect, light and shade, good and evil. She is like a random and willful despot, elusive and aloof. She is ruthless to the ones who hate the divine and cannot bear indifference and negligence in the performance of divine works. Her wrath is immediate and dire especially against treachery and falsehood. Force and strength are her characteristics. She looks like the embodiment of universal destruction. Without her there would be no death and therefore no life. These are the two faces of life. Her imagery is bizarre and intended to put off anyone who is not ready to accept life as it is. It is only in this century that quantum physics has shown that the universe is not an orderly whole in which atoms and molecules behave in a set and fixed pattern. The energy field from which the whole universe rises is far from being orderly. It is a seething mass of turbulent forces made up of energy particles that seem to have no observable pattern of behaviour. This was a shocking revelation to the western mind. But our Indian sages had realized this long ago. The figure of Kaali forces us to step out of the very-day world of logic into a world of unpredictability, dramatic reversals, opposites and contrasts.
Life is not just the beautiful sunset, or the lovely rose but it is also terror, war, destruction and violence. The fact is that we do not wish to see anything bad, ugly, obscene or dangerous. But life has these two faces. And these are the faces of the Maha Devi. Unless we are able to accept Her in all the aspects of her personality we will never attain complete fulfillment. We cannot accept only one face and ignore the other. It is a human weakness to acknowledge one side and disregard the other. This is reason for our unhappiness. Unless we go beyond joy and sorrow we will never be able to reach the shore of bliss.
Hari Aum Tat