As the Sun Lotus in Heaven, as the delightful Moon in the clouds,
The Fire on the summit of the human world,
Such is Mother Prachanda Chandika. – Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni
The Mother Goddess opened up the windows of my heart to her beatitude and grace. The Goddess gently drew me into a mystical world of amazing marvels, where I met beautiful people with deep resonances in the inconceivable surroundings of her sacred creation. There arose a profound awareness along with a worldly intelligence at viewing life’s larger picture, seeking divinity within the throes of Mother Nature.
One soon realised that the reality of Shiva, the ‘Transcendent Being’, is seeded deep within us. The eternal presence of Shiva’s mystic light rests at the core of each soul. It is not something one needs to reach out for, as if it were apart from ourselves. Shiva’s divine light is not circumscribed or restricted by any effort or design. An assertive or desperate approach to a spiritual life loses its effects, for Shiva and Shakti must be experienced through Bhakti, ‘profound love’ and fervent invoking. The Divine forces are not available for our personal demands. Clarity of thought, astute awareness and shraddha ‘deep faith and confidence’ must be invoked in tandem with the universal energies that pervade even our ordinary lives. Then the grace can descend in its own way and according to its own wisdom.
A Devi or ‘Goddess’ energy guided me in seeking out the purity and mystique of one’s essence, allowing the bliss of Her eternal presence to illumine my prevailing awareness. Life never changed, but my approach to its myriad experiences took on a new mantle. Through the Devi’s grace one embellished the fabric of this sacred mantle with rich hues of varied designs and motifs of larger spiritual experiences.
Mother Nature continued for me as the support of a veritable Guru, unravelling her wonder and beauty where ever I chose to be. Mother Nature has no religion, just as she recognizes no national boundaries. Her scriptures are open-ended and flow with the benevolence of all life. Sacredness cannot be limited to the pages of a book. Our inner consciousness spontaneously relates to the abundance and beauty of Nature’s world through our ability to sense the Divine spirit existing in a tree, the mountain rock, flowing rivers, or whatever our senses partake of in nature’s mysticism surrounding us.
The female sadhak ‘spiritual aspirant’ who embraces Mother Nature from within is the true Yogini. The Yogini abounds in the sweet bliss of Nature’s mystique and lives in her sacred aura. The Yogini yields to the gentle strains of the inner guru. One who inspires us from within is the real guru, removing the veils of darkness which cloud our thoughts and actions, not simply the one who teaches or preaches. The Yogini sustains the flow of inner joy that is the true form of Guru Shakti. The Yogi can only provide the space and the presence for Shakti to flow; the Yogini herself carries the powerful currents of its celestial energies.
However, before embracing the Mother Goddess’s Shakti sadhana, we must create the appropriate vessel to allow her Divine Grace to be held. For this we need to first deal with our own mental and emotional unrest and turbulence. All the emphasis on psychology dominating our thought today, even in the spiritual realm, has driven people into analysing their suffering and attributing it to others , rather than learning how to catalyse it into something positive and sacred. Through sadhana one learns not to condemn others and dwell on our emotional hurts and traumas; instead we must transform our personal psychology into a deeper love and joyousness, embracing both ourselves and others with compassion and understanding. We must be willing to move forward and shift our energy to higher planes of nirvana, where all can dissolve into an abiding peace.
Life is not meant to be a saga of sinful acts, for which we are continuously punished and left guilt ridden. Life should be an incessant festival of joyousness and vivacity as is the Lila ‘Divine Play’ of Shiva and Shakti. Every moment can unfold a deeper experience of the Divine presence, whether cooking food in our kitchens, doing our work in our offices or our sadhana in our meditation space. Once we awaken the inner flow of grace through our deeper seeking, the Divine guides our hearts and mind.
The mystic spirituality of Rishis ‘great seers ‘of ancient India, is not a faith veiled in sin, condemnation, judgment or damnation. It is the cosmic truth which leads us to the transcendental reality of life as a celebration, where every experience holds universal blessings through the grace and abundance of unbounded divinity. Our celebration rests in the beneficence and freedom of Nature which is an expression of a higher consciousness and joy.
My sadhana transpired amidst the blissful throes of Nature’s abundance, in the sacred shadows of India’s great Himalayan ranges, opening up vast vistas within, unveiling the secrets of the Supreme Spirit. My traverses into sacred precincts of ancient temples like Shiva’s Kedarnath in the snows of 13,000 feet, Shri Durga’s Jhoola Devi nestled in the beatitude of Kumaon hills, or Kalika beckoning the mystic night amidst Deodar forests, all enkindled the embers of inner fires, drawing me into mystical realms of the universal sacred powers.
What the western mind calls Hindu Gods and Goddesses, we refer to with reverence as Devata, ‘Divine principles’, sacred aspects ofBrahman, the impersonal Godhead reaching beyond the manifest universe. The Devi or Deva manifest as powers of Bhakti Yoga or Divine love and Jnana Yoga or ‘sacred wisdom’. The Devata symbolises Ishvara, the ‘Cosmic Lord and Creator’, which is why their forms and powers symbolize the extraordinary, supernatural, paradoxical and mystique.
Sacred symbolism unravels the subtleties of Tantra. Symbols unveil the imagery, allegory and metaphors of deep hidden secrets. The ancients called it ‘Gupt Gyan’ ‘deep hidden sciences’, where only the Tantric adept could practice the sacredness of divinity. The Tantrika or ‘sacred adept’ sifts through the veils of mysticism opening the doorway to higher truths and sacred realities. Ancient cultures used symbolism to communicate with Divine Powers relating to profound wisdom through myths and stories.
The sadhak with an inner vision and deep devotion realises the Divine currents of the Devata working through forces of light, fire, time, space and all of Nature. He experiences that Brahman manifests as the unchanging ground of being within the entire cosmic revelation. Brahman prevails in the Devata, God, the Guru, and the sadhak’s own self. The Deva and Devi are two aspects of this supreme Brahman as its Shiva or ‘supreme will’ and Shakti or ‘feminine power and energy’.
The Devi’s Grace, through devotion, prayers, sacred rituals, and the maintenance of a pure sattvic lifestyle, transforms our individual personality into a vast impersonal, balanced nature of equipoise. Divine Grace energises and personifies the Infinite, allowing us to move through the entire gamut of life, death and rebirth. In experiencing the Divine forces as Brahman, we truly allow ourselves to envision the powers and characteristics of their divinity through the yearnings of our spiritual heart. We discover the Divine Person who is not limited by the taints of any human personality, who has the peace of the impersonal but, can manifest it through Divine love.
Not bound by limitations and prejudices of the human mind, one can experience the deeper meaning of the entire cosmic play of innumerable Devatas or Gods and Goddesses. Paying reverence to these Divine forces by relating to their powers through mantras, meditation, yoga asana and Pranayama drew me into their flow of grace. Through spirituality, the devotee relates to the Divine as the mother, father, the consort, child, ideal companion or friend – through every possible human relationship or mode of devotion. Even Hinduism is not about mere idol worship; the image is but a conduit of sacred intimacy to specific Divine powers of deep love and wisdom beyond our human consciousness. Hindu dharma is based on recognition of the One, the All-pervasive Supreme Being, both as Creator and the Unmanifest Reality beyond creation.
In inner Yogic practices, one learns to resonate with the sacred name to the nameless; through the sacred form to the formless. Vibrations of the sacred mantra lead us into a deeper silence and transcendental bliss pervading the Absolute void. The sadhakassociates himself with human factors in his worship of the Devata. Yet the Devi-Deva, ‘goddess or god’ gradually merges into the one Godhead, the Absolute Brahman beyond all personality and form. The human heart understands and responds easily to the expressions of Divine love and emotion held in such visionary forms. The deity is propitiated in the form of a living or manifest divinity with rituals, sacraments, ceremonies and celebrations. In reality it is the Divine within ourselves which we are propitiating, celebrating and consecrating.
For Shakti–sadhana or Devi spiritual practices, one needs to cultivate the quality of a Vira, an heroic, valiant and fearless approach. Only a courageous soul can perform the internal and external puja, or worship of the Goddess’s supreme power, in Nature’s profoundness. The Vira seeks the truth in every sphere of life unfolding the higher ideals of a spiritual existence. Life plays out the sacrificial Yajna, ‘sacred ritual’ with every simple act of worship in every living moment of our existence, in which we learn to offer ourselves to this higher unknown power.
Sacred rituals hold a deep meaning, symbolising Nature and the Cosmic Reality. Yoga itself is an internal ritual of worshipping the Divine within. Propitiating a Divine form with flowers, incense, fire offerings, sacred chants, food and prayers, we initiate the sacred rites into our own consciousness. Bathing in the waters of sacred rivers purifies our inner and outer being. Through fire rituals we burn away impurities in ourselves and in the environment. Residual sensory impressions, mental agitation and emotional anguish are purified through using incense, the sattvic ‘pure’ bounty of nature’s food, mantra, meditation and a Yogic lifestyle.
As an expression of deep faith or ‘shraddha’ sacred rituals, unfold Mother Nature’s subtle nuances through the language of transformation, divinity and purity. Vedic and Native traditions use certain sacred materials, which enhance the power of our senses unfolding their inner potentials through Nature’s symbolism. The distinctive nature of the offering of incense, food, wood, flowers, oil ,water, and fire consecrated with sacred chants employed, all create vibrations which resonate with the subtle bodies of both the Devata or ‘divine form’ and the person partaking in the practices. Our inner divinity resonates with the Divine in the universe.
The sacred space of worship is fortified with mantras ‘sacred chants’ against all negative influences, drawing lines of protection in the form of fire and water. Through sacred rites of Prana Prathistha, specially designed to bring the divine spirit into the object of worship, the form, image or picture, is induced with Divine life energy. It is worshipped and consecrated with great love, adoration and tender care; through offerings of food and clothes, bathing and shringar or ‘adorning with ornaments’.
Puja involves placing Prana, the life force, into the deity form. The Devata, deity, icon or form, remains inert unless energised with love, life and a consciousness. The image is no longer of simple clay, stone or a mixture of metals; it embodies the spirit, throbbing with the pulse of life, love and higher consciousness, resonating with our own individual being. Prayer alters the vibrations and resonances of our body, mind and spirit.
With sacred rites, I learned to perceive the wisdom beyond worldly appearances, experiencing an unlimited space of the Goddess’s divinity. The whiff of incense impregnated peace and a higher consciousness, the mantra recitation and music sung in praise of the Devi’s glory, unveiled the light of my own human limitations. Through this sacred honouring, the seeker aspires to traverse beyond all outer forms, names and rituals, ultimately realising the Devi energy in the all-pervading Absolute Consciousness and the Self.
The true sadhak awakens various energy centres or Lotus Chakras in his being, invoking the Supreme Spirit into one’s own heart. All ritualistic worship aims towards drawing the Divine into the inner seat or throne in the small flame of the spiritual heart. The sadhakmust realise the absolute truth of worshipping the transcendental reality within the core of his own being, allowing divinity to unravel its mysticism and deeper potential in our own lives.
Prakriti, ‘Nature’ in herself, is an expression of divine dance. Her inherent charisma interacts through the passion-play of butterflies with flowers, bees and pollen, the awesome silence of mountains with the echo of a stream’s ripple, the romance of wistful clouds and their odyssey in space, the tempestuousness of ocean waves with the winds, and the electrifying dance of lightning through the void. Is this not the Goddess’s dance, which permeates the rhythms of our lives in tandem with Mother Nature? We must gravitate towards the sensuous movement of all sacredness celebrating life through a cosmic dance.
Since millennia human life has intimately interwoven with the sacredness of Nature’s play, such as the sacred rituals that we find in all traditional societies. Nature holds its sacred intelligence in our very being, despite our forsaking its power with modern day technology. The same Prana ‘life force’ and energy exist in its rhythmic cycles where Nature plays to the symphony of the cosmic fire in every soul. Our innate wisdom remains inseparable from Mother Nature’s sacred wisdom or ‘Jnana’. Vedanta, Ayurveda, Jyotish(Vedic Astrology) relate to this prevailing universal sacredness that is inherent in the cosmic movement itself. These are not topics of mere curiosity; they hold the cosmic wisdom for our future healing, well-being and Global harmony.
The secrets of Yoga rest in the beneficence of Mother Nature and her universal energies. These ancient secrets divulge their potent powers through the wisdom of the ‘Inner Yogic Eye’, our intuitive perception and insight. The elements of Nature play a pivotal role in creating a deeper awareness of this Yogic Reality. Each element, be it the stability of Mother Earth, fire’s flaming rage, the magic wisps of air, cooling waves of water or the atmosphere’s ethereal hint, all serve to unravel an inner sacred reality. Nature encodes every cosmic reality for our inner unfolding of divinity.
The yogic vision finds its poetry in the gentle flowing waters of our minds, the rushing blood of our hearts, the pure effervescence of a waterfall, the vibrant spirit of rivers, the whirlpool of an ocean and the deep stillness of placid lakes. Sacred waters hold the essence of all divine grace, the Soma, the honey nectar of life, the ultimate Ananda of immortality. Sustaining and energizing these Pranic waters in our global world and our personal lives revitalises the soul, allowing the being to traverse the hidden delights of our universal existence.
May our prayers seek the art of flowing with the sacred waters through life’s surging streams invoking the divine grace of the Goddess within!
Jai Ma Guru!