Goddess Durga and the Festival of Devi: An Inner Meaning (Part 3)

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Continued from Part 2

The Unfinished Tale

In Sri Aurobindo’s yoga the action of the Divine Shakti is from above downwards as a strong descending current transforming our fields of nature in a diviner mould.

In one of her conversations the Mother reveals this beautifully:  

Disciple: But then what is this consciousness we feel like a force inside us? For instance, sometimes in meditation it rises, then descends; it’s not fixed anywhere. What is this consciousness?

The Shakti!

Some receive it from above; for others, it rises from below (gesture to the base of the spine). As I once told you, the old system always proceeds from below upwards, while Sri Aurobindo pulls from above downwards. This becomes very clear in meditation (well, in yoga, in yogic experience): for those who follow the old system, it’s invariably the kundalini at the base [of the spine] rising from center to center, center to center, until the lotus (in an ironic tone) bursts open here (gesture at the crown of the head). 

With Sri Aurobindo, it comes like this (gesture of descending Force) and then settles here (above the head); it enters, and from there it comes down, down, down, everywhere, to the very bottom, and even below the feet – the subconscient – and lower still, the inconscient.

It’s the Shakti. He said, you know (I am still translating it), that the shakti drawn up from below (this is what happens in the individual process) is already what could be called a “veiled” shakti (it has power, but it is veiled). While the Shakti drawn down from above is a PURE Shakti; and if it can be brought down carefully and slowly enough so that it isn’t (how shall I put it?) polluted or, in any case, obscured as it enters matter, then the result is immediately much better.

As he has explained, if you start out with this feeling of a great power in yourself (because it’s always a great power no matter where it awakens), there’s inevitably a danger of the ego meddling in. But if it comes pure and you are very careful to keep it pure, not to rush the movement but let it purify as it descends, then half the work is done.

(Agenda, Vol. 3, pp. 282-283)

Navadurga — The Nine Forms of the Goddess

Thus seen the festival of the mighty Mother, Devi, becomes at once a symbol that reveals important secrets of our inner evolution. There was a time when these secrets had to be safeguarded against misuse and hence preserved in the memory of the race through stories and legends. The uninitiated simply held the story as reminiscent of some event that takes place annually but to the initiate it was replete with deeper meanings.

At the same time the annual celebration was used for creating a state of invocation in the collective consciousness which in turn brought down these gods and goddesses to re-enact the event in the cosmic significance through the cycles of Time.

The Mother reveals this secret to us:

“You want to know if this has an effect on all identical vibratory modes in the world…. In principle, yes. But the effects may not be immediately visible; in the first place, our field of observation is nothing – materially, what do we know? … Only our immediate surroundings – that’s nothing.

In 1920, for example, I had an experience of that type, which resulted in a symbolic but terrestrial action. It was a vision (I don’t remember enough details to make it interesting) where each nation was represented by a symbolic entity, and there was a certain type of horror – of terror, rather. A certain “will of terror” was trying to manifest in that gathering of all nations. And I was witness to the whole thing.

I remember it being a very conscious and rather long and detailed vision with a more intense reality than physical things have (it was in the subtle physical). And after it was over and I had done what needed to be done (I am not saying what because I don’t remember all the details, and without accuracy it loses its value), when I came out of it I could say with TOTAL conviction: “Terror has been overcome in the world.” Of course, it’s not literally true, plenty of people still feel terror, but a certain type of terror was as if UNDERMINED at the foundations.

What had already manifested kept on and is gradually being exhausted, but the terror that was trying to increase and dominate the life of nations was stopped cold.

“I have had other similar experiences – on Durga’s day, for instance, when Sri Aurobindo was still here (you know, that’s the day when Durga masters an asura; she doesn’t kill him, she masters him). Well, each year one particular type of thing was undermined (and my experiences were never mental: the experience would suddenly come, and AFTERWARDS I would realize it was Durga’s day), and each time I used to tell Sri Aurobindo, “Look – today this (or that) thing has been cut off at the roots.”

That’s how it works with the adverse forces – yes, like something being uprooted from the world. Whatever has already spread out keeps going and follows its karma, but the SOURCE is dried up. That’s also what happened (it was in 1904, I believe) when the Asura of Consciousness and Darkness made his surrender and was converted; he told me, “I have millions and millions of emanations, and these will keep on living, but their source has now run dry.” [This seems to refer to the being Mother endowed with a body (in 1906, at Tlemcen), and who went to set up the revolution in China.]

How much time will it take to exhaust it all? … We can’t say, but the source has dried up and that is something extremely important. In 1920, that terror was trying to spread all over the world and to become really catastrophic; and then in my inner vision I could see that a whole movement had dried up at its source. This means that little by little, little by little, little by little … the karma is being exhausted.   

(Agenda, Vol. 3, pp. 305-306)

We may however note that the slaying of the demon does not finish the consciousness that stands behind it. By its very nature consciousness, like energy, cannot be destroyed. It can take new forms or it can undergo a change or it can be reabsorbed back into its Source. This is where we see Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga taking a giant leap over tradition wherein he is not content with the slaying of a demon or many demons but by their conversion or dissolution for good.

But for this not only man but even the gods must collaborate. It is a new game plan, the unique and ultimate divine strategy which the Mother and Sri Aurobindo have attempted. In the course of this new strategy even the gods must surrender to the Supreme to allow the New Force, the New Consciousness to work unhindered by their cosmic action. Rather they need to now align to this New Consciousness and help the process of transformation. This is what we see revealed in the following conversation of the Mother:

“I had a very interesting experience – it was last year or the year before, I don’t recall, but after I retired to my room upstairs… You know that during pujas these goddesses come all the time – they don’t enter the body and tie themselves to it, but they do come and manifest.

Well, this time – I think it must have been for last year’s puja – Durga came (she always arrives a few days in advance and remains in the atmosphere; she is present, like this – gesture as if Durga were walking up and down with Mother). I was in touch with her during my meditations upstairs, and this new Power in the body was in me then as it is in me now, and … (how to put it?) I made her participate in this concept of surrender.

What an experience she had, mon petit! An extraordinary experience of the joy of being connected with That. And she declared, ‘From now on, I am a bhakta of the Lord.’

It was beautiful.

This formidable Power, you see – a universal Power, an eternal and formidable Power – well, she had never had such an experience before, she had only experienced her OWN power. She was used to receiving and obeying Commands, but in an automatic way. Then all at once, she felt the Ecstasy of being a conscious instrument.

Truly … it was truly beautiful.”

(Agenda, Vol. 2, pp. 297-298)


Read Part 1, Part 2

Also see:
Open Your Soul to Her
The Mother Indeed is Always Present

~ Design: Beloo Mehra

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