Devī Bhāgavatapurāṇa Book 1 Chapter 2 Reflection

Having established the nature of the goddess as Creatrix, Chapter 2 further clarifies how the goddess acts within the physical universe. The text declares that the goddess is praised by the major deities, and is the source of liberation for yogis:

“O Brahmins! I bow down to the gentle lotus feet, known in the three Lokas as the Devī Bhagavatī, praised by Brahmā and the other devas Visnu, Maheśa and others, meditated always by the Munindras and which the Yogis contemplate as their source of liberation.”

Verses 1 – 5

Further, the goddess is the primal power behind the material manifestation, and the source of knowledge in the Vedas.

“May that Highest Primal Śakti who is known as Vidyā in the Vedas; who is omniscient, who controls the innermost of all and who is skilled in cutting off the knot of the world, who cannot be realised by the wicked and the vicious, but who is visible to the Munis in their meditation, may that Bhagavatī Devī give me always the buddhi fit to describe the Purāna!”

Vaerses 1 – 5

The text now highlights a core tenant of Śakta theology and praxis, I remember in my mind the Mother of the Universe, tām sarva-viśva-jananī manasa smarāmi. The Creatrix is sarva-viśva-jananī, the Mother of the Universe, or simply Mā, who creates, preserves, and destroys.

“I call to my mind the Mother of all the worlds who creates this universe, whose nature is both real (taking gross, practical point of view) and and unreal (taking a real point of view), preserves and destroys by Her Rājasik, Sāttvik and Tāmasik qualities and in the end resolves all these into Herself and plays alone in the period of Dissolution…

I take refuge of the Mother of all beings, who resides as the śakti of all and thus is the supporter of all; I fly for refuge unto that Devī who was praised by Brahmā while resting on the navel lotus of Visnu who was lying fast asleep in Yoga nidrā. O Munis! meditating on that Maya Devī who creates, preserves and destroys the universe who is known as composed of the three guṇas and who grants mukti,”

Verses 1 – 10

The following verse clarifies the goddess’s role in innervating the trimūrti, as the triple goddesses of primary creation (sarga), Sarasvati, Mahā-Lakshmi, and Mahā Kālī. These manifestations of the Devī correspond to secondary creation (pratisarga) as the śaktis, or internal powers, of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva respectively. Further, the triple goddess’s attributes correspond to the triguṇa of the Samkhya cosmology, rajas, sattva, and tamas, respectively.

“Śiva is beyond Prākritic attributes, eternal and ever omnipresent; She is without any change, immutable, unattainable but by yoga; She is the refuge of the universe and Her nature is Turīya Chaitanya. Mahā Lakshmi is Her Sattvikī Śakti; Sarasvati is Her Rājasik Śakti and Mahā Kālī is Her Tāmasik Śakti; these are all of feminine forms…

The assuming of bodies by these three Śaktis for the creation of this universe is denominated as “Sarga” (creation) by the high souled persona (Mahārpurusa), skilled in Śastras. And the further resolution of these three Śaktis into Brahmā, Visnu and Maheśa for the creation, preservation, and destruction of this universe is denominated (in this Purāna) as Pratisarga (secondary creation.)”

Verses 17 – 25

Christopher Miller defines the process of pariṇāma in the Samkhya system and the role of the guṇas,

“During the process of pariṇāma, the relative proportion of three perpetual qualities (guṇas) known as sattva (buoyancy and luminosity), rajas (activity, movement, and stimulation), and tamas (inertia, darkness, and density) wholly determines the quality and manner by which prakṛti’s creative unfolding, and thus the extent of one’s psychosomatic experience of suffering in the world, occurs (verses 24–26). The guṇas exert their influence on one’s experience from within one’s intellect (buddhi, the third tattva, which is the seat of emotion and the subtlest layer of perceptible human experience”

(Miller 2018, p. 3)

In this way, the goddess not only accounts for the power of the trimūrti, but She also accounts for the fundamental qualities that influence the intellect (buddhi) and the way that it interacts with the material manifestation (prakṛti), the qualities of goodness, passion, and ignorance.

In contemplating these verses, one need look no further than the pithy statements of Ramakrishna who so characteristically defined the standard of Kālī-bhakti in plain language:

“That which is Brahman is verily Śakti. I address That, again, as the Mother. I call It Brahman when It is inactive, and Śakti when It creates, preserves, and destroys”

(Nikhilananda 2017, p 501)
  1. Miller, Christopher P. “Samkhya.” In Hinduism and Tribal Religions, 2018.
  2. Nikhilananda. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York, NY: Ramakrishna Vivekananda Center, 2017.
  3. Vijnanananda. Srimad Devi Bhagavatam. New Dehi, India: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers , 2020.

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