Saturday 1 October 2016

Mother Worship


Worship of God as Mother has prevailed in India from prehistoric times.  It was perhaps in vogue in Mohenjodaro-Harappa civilization.  In the Rig Veda, there is a wonderful hymn known as Devi-Suktam (which is chanted during Durga Puja days) in which the Divine Mother declares that She moves with the Rudras, Vasus, Adityas, and all other gods, that She is the power of all gods, that She is the Queen of the world, and so on.


It is, however, in the Devi-Mahatmya, popularly known as the Chandi, that worship of the Divine Mother assumes an independent, supreme status.  Although Chandi forms a part of Markandeya Purana, it is treated as an independent scripture.  For devotees of the Divine Mother, especially in Bengal, Kerala and some parts of Tamil Nadu, Chandi is regarded as the most sacred and valued scripture.  It was composed sometime between the 6th and 9th centuries AD.


Another authoritative book on Shakti worship is Devi-Bhagavatam.  Between the 6th and 16th centuries a class of Shakta scriptures known as the Tantras (believed to be 63 in all) came into existence.  The Tantras became popular in three areas, namely Bengal, Kerala and Kashmir, which form the three angles of a geographical triangle.


Worship of the Divine Mother is prevalent all over India - from Kanyakumari (famous for its Kanyakumari temple) to Kashmir (Kshirbhavani temple) and from Rajasthan (Amba temple) to Kolkata (Kalighat temple).  In fact, there is hardly any large area in India which does not have a Devi temple.  Great heroes of the past worshipped the Divine Mother.  Sri Rama is said to have worshipped Durga before killing Ravana.  Shivaji, the great Maratha king, was a votary of Bhavani.  Guru Govind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, is also said to have been a worshipper of Mother Durga.


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