Goddess Durga and the Festival of Devi (3/7) Birth of the Mighty Goddess

The story of Durga is the story of one such moment in the evolutionary history of earth. Though this battle takes place on the subtle planes its repercussions are felt upon earth and humanity.

Mahisasura performed a tapasya to appease Lord Brahma to get the boon of immortality. Brahma told him that this is not in his hands since he cannot change the cosmic law. At best he can modify some of the conditions therein. We may remember here how Nachiketa is told by Yama, the guardian of the cosmic law that even the gods know not the secret of immortality of man. This is so because man carries the secret within himself. It is embedded in his secret immortal soul. By finding the soul man discovers the first key to immortality, the key that will open the other doors for him that will eventually lead him even to physical immortality. Gods know it not because they do not have the psychic being which is a unique grace given to man through which man can directly contact the Supreme. It is man’s secret door in matter for coming in contact with the Supreme divine who is beyond all the Gods.

Coming back to our story, the boon of immortality denied as it is not even in the hands of the cosmic powers to grant it, the demon king chose the next best alternative. He asked that neither a man nor a god may be able to fell him. In doing he either deliberately underestimated the feminine power. Drunk with pride and the feeling of invulnerability due to the boon he attacked the heavens and started creating havoc upon heaven and earth. The gods could not defeat him and hence they went to Brahma again to seek a way out of the impasse. It is then that the Goddess Durga was born with a portion of each god thereby incarnating in her body all the celestial powers of the gods.

While describing the boon that would ensure the birth of the Divine Mother as Savitri, Sri Aurobindo reveals in this exquisitely beautiful passage hints and glimpses of what this may mean. Though in the passage below, the Master Poet is revealing to us the secret of the Avatar, we feel in it the tremendous moment when the Gods must have come together to give form and shape to the mighty Mother as Durga, the formidable slayer of the demon hordes.

O strong forerunner, I have heard thy cry.
One shall descend and break the iron Law,
Change Nature’s doom by the lone spirit’s power.
A limitless Mind that can contain the world,
A sweet and violent heart of ardent calms
Moved by the passions of the gods shall come.
All mights and greatnesses shall join in her;
Beauty shall walk celestial on the earth,
Delight shall sleep in the cloud-net of her hair,
And in her body as on his homing tree
Immortal Love shall beat his glorious wings.
A music of griefless things shall weave her charm;
The harps of the Perfect shall attune her voice,
The streams of Heaven shall murmur in her laugh,
Her lips shall be the honeycombs of God,
Her limbs his golden jars of ecstasy,
Her breasts the rapture-flowers of Paradise.
She shall bear Wisdom in her voiceless bosom,
Strength shall be with her like a conqueror’s sword
And from her eyes the Eternal’s bliss shall gaze.
A seed shall be sown in Death’s tremendous hour,
A branch of heaven transplant to human soil;
Nature shall overleap her mortal step;
Fate shall be changed by an unchanging will.
[Savitri: 346]

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