Dr. Dolgobinda Shastri


        Durga Puja is the worship of Mother Goddess  or Shakti- The divine potency. Puja or worship means submission, dedication, devotion and sublimation of man’s body, mind and soul for the mercy and blessings of the concerned Deity.

Our heritage teaches us that, since we start our life in our mother’s womb, in form of an atom, which consists body, mind and soul or spirit-consciousness, we require development of the above three main elements after touching the soil of our motherland.

Both mother and motherland sacrifice every bit of their existence to see us develop in every respect of our individual self. Just after we are born, the mother offers our only diet which flows from her breast with love and affection.  When we reach nearing one year of age, instantly the motherland supplies all sorts of diet containing all vitamins and nutrition, we require all through till last breathing.

This Durga Puja which we are observing for five days since 27th September, till 3rd October this year is the worship of our Divine mother who is the creator and sustainer of the universe of which our motherland Bharat Varsa  is treated as the  most sacred country. In this regard let me quote opinions of some world famous wisemen.

Sir William Durant of America praises in his own language as thus,-

“India is the motherland of our race and Sanskrit is the mother of European languages”.

“Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.”

Arnold Toynabyee says -

“At this supremely dangerous moment in human history, the only way of salvation is the Indian way”.

Roman Rolland, in his letter to Gandhiji writes, -

“Only the success of the satyagraha experiment can save humanity from the torments of violence hanging over it”.

Dr.A.L. Bassam writes about our heritage -

“We must take account of the ancient heritage in its success and its failures, for it is no longer the heritage of India alone, but of all mankind”.

Durgapuja is one of the main festivals of our ancient heritage, which has been so highly praised by some world famous wise men. Now my young friends, you must know why this puja is so important.

Devi Durga is worshipped as Mother Goddess. She is the original cosmic energy of the supreme creator who is one without a second as proclaimed by the Vedas, the most ancient scripture of the world. The Vedic epithet of the supreme absolute entity is “Adwaita” (no dwaita or two, only one). But this oneness is not as ordinarily conceived. Let us take an example so as to understand the cosmic mystery behind it.

You have seen a seed of a pulse. You see it one with the outer cover. But when you plant it under the soil pouring some water, the other day or within a day or two, you see the sprout, but the original seed is  a half divided one, with two equal parts visible.

Similarly Adwaita is Female Energy + The Supreme Person or Consciousness, or (Shakti+Shaktiman). There can be no creation by the one half, the two halves must meet. Durga, Mahamaya, Lakshmi, Sita, Radha - are the different names of the same absolute energy and Siva, Narayana, Rama, Krishna, Vishnu - These are the different names of the same supreme entity.

The whole created objects are the divisional parts of the Shakti or Energy. The different names are for the different aspects such as your mother or father is the Chief Minister of the state, sister or brother of some one, father or mother to you, son or daughter to your grandies.

For any creation, there is an efficient cause and a material cause. Efficient cause is Shaktiman and material cause is Shakti.

This Shakti is designated as Prakriti or Nature (Female) and Shaktiman as Purusa (Male) by Sankhya Darsan. Prakriti is the material cause of the whole creation. This Prakriti is worshipped as Durga, Mahamaya etc.

You all know that when Krishna came as the 8th issue of Devaki, He directed Basudev to take Him to Nanda’s residence where Durga was born as a female issue of Yasoda. Such was the direction of Krishna. The previous year, Krishna directed Durga to born from the womb of Yasoda and Basudev was to bring her near Devaki’s bed placing him at Yasoda’s bed. At that time Krishna told to Durga that she will slip from Kansa’s hand and take her real divine shape of eight handed Durga-form. Since then she will be worshipped throughout whole of Bharat-Varsa at different places in different names- such as -Ambika, Mahamaya, Vijaya, Bhadrakali, Chandika, Kumuda, Kankali, Kanyaka, Krishna, Madhavi,  Sarada, Vaisnavi, Durga, Narayani etc. She will be worshipped in every village in more other names.

This is the origin of Durga Puja which has been a traditional social festival in every village of our country. But the previous custom of sacrifice of animals such as goats, buffaloes etc. is a perverted system crept into the rituals. No religion or spiritual institution can advocate slaughter of animals as a part of devotional worship. None of our ancient scriptures encourage such cruel action. May be some Sanskrit pandits, enough greedy of money and meat, have inserted sanskrit verses into our ancient scriptures. This has been outlawed by our present government.

Now let us discuss why Shakti Puja is essential for our material and spiritual purpose. Let me narrate an interesting Story of Kena-Upanishad. Once the celestial gods such as Devaraj Indra (Rain god), Varuna (Water-god), Agni (Fire-god) Vayu (Air-god) etc. were having a festive get-together to celebrate the victory over the demons in a battle. During  conversations, each of them was praising his own prowess and might. Every body was puffed-up with pride.

This was not unnoticed by their creator and supreme God-head, who was the actual fountain source of any strength whether physical or mental or spiritual and who has transmitted a minute part of his supreme power to every living being. The gods had actually nothing to boast, rather they were expected that they pay humble homage to the Supreme God for His mercy for the victory over the demons.

Now God, in order to correct the wrong attitude of the gods, appeared in an unusual form of a Jaksha, at a distance and began to exhibit his effulgence and divine luster which drew the attention of gods at once.  They were dum founded seeing this figure of super-natural shape. They were afraid of such a huge luminous tall figure. Indra and other gods asked Agni to go and know who that person was. Agni was very proud as he was the most powerful god and known as Jata-Veda (the knower of the Vedas). He was very confident that he knows every thing and is the wisest of all.

Agni proceeded towards the Jaksha and without showing any respect stood before Him making a show of his superior personality. God was very kind. He wanted to see the gods free of pride and self-conceit. God asked Agni--who are you ? Agni was very much egoistic, but hearing this uncivil address became rather tempered and replied,

Agni--I am the famous Agni. Don’t you know- I am revered as Jata-Veda, the wisest conversant of the Vedas.

Jaskha -- Oh! you are that Agni? O.K. You are then the wisest of gods ! But what is the special power you have ? What can you do ?

Agni considered it an undignified question. He was very much perturbed as he thought of himself as being ignored. Therefore his answer was also very spirited one.

Agni- Do you know ! If I want, I can reduce to ashes what ever is seen on this earth? Hearing this undaunting reply and placing a dry grass before Agni, Jaksha told “ OK, burn this dry grass ? Agni considered a disgrace to him asking to burn a grass. However, he applied his force, then his all might, but he could not,  touch the grass.

Being utterly ashamed, he returned with his head bent down and said to Indra 

I could not recognise who He was. Then Vayu came forward. He was also at the panicle of his pride.

He was in no less a capable person than Agni. He thought-Agni might have done something wrong. Otherwise it was not a very big problem to recognise a mere Jakshya. Indra gladly allowed him to go and know who that Jakshya was.          

Seeing Vayu before him Jakshya asked - who are you ?

Vayu - I am the celebrated Vayu. I don’t think you are unaware of my name and fame. I am also respected as Matariswa, the mysterious god.

Jakshya - Oh’ you are that Matariswa, very well. You can swim in the air without any support. That’s good, but let me know the power you have ? What can you do ? 

Vayu - (puffed up with pride as Agni and laughed loudly). What nonsense !! Don’t you know, if I wish, I can sway the whole of this earth with every thing on it ? Just like a ball in my left  hand !!

Jakshya - Keep it with you. (placing a dry grass before him) Now can you move this grass ?

Vayu, taking it as an insult, applied all his force to fly the grass, but failed. Bending his head down and reaching Indra, he confessed that he could not know who the Jaksha was. Then what of other gods ? Indra thought it is unnecessary to send others. It is simply killing time. I must personally go and found out the mystery. Other gods also requested Indra to go and see. But astonishingly, when Indra proceeded forward, Jakshya suddenly vanished. He knew that Indra, as the king of heaven, might be more proud than others. So, in order to make Indra humble and submissive, he did not like to see him at all.

Now Indra came down and mentally surrendered before this mysterious person. God sent his divine potency (Shakti) in form of a Devi - adorned with golden ornaments. She was ‘Uma’ (the other name of Parvati, the daughter of the Himalaya). When the supreme person takes the form of Siva, his divine potency or energy or Shakti or divine consort takes the form as Uma, Durga, Parvati etc. Uma, after appearing before Indra, revealed the cause of the appearance and disappearance of the supreme Brahman disguised as Jakshya.

She told, “The mysterious Jakshya, who appeared before you, is none other than your supreme creator and fountain source of power, wisdom etc. Your victory over the demons, for which you all are very much proud, is not your strength and ability. He transmitted the strength and power to you all by which you won. But when all of you felt proud and became egoistic, he withdrew all strength and you could not burn or move even a dry grass. Out of compassion and mercy, he made a trick and corrected you.

The moral of this story teaches us the fundamental self of the individual soul is–

1. What ever exceptional power or capability we see in any living being, is a part of the supreme soul transmitted to that particular living being.

2. We should not boast that I am such and such.

3. If so, we must repent and pray to God with submissive attitude.

4. Then only he will send his mercy in form of a Guru or preceptor to teach us the proper code of conduct.

The above discussion is meant to impart a faint idea of Shakti-Puja or Durga Puja as given in our ancient scriptures.

The present day Puja festivals have gone long way out of the track. We only indulge in outward show, spending lakhs in decoration, huge gates, famous band - parties, melodies, processions etc. Purity and sanctity of worshipping mood has almost totally vanished.

Youthful vigour is a sharp weapon. It must be utilised in doing good to others.

Samagre Bharate Sastre

Vyasasya Vachanam Dwayam Paropakara Punyaya

Papaya parapidanam,

Only a twin simple motto-

a - To do good to others is virtue.

b - To cause harm to others is vice.