Yagna on ‘Power of Devi Worship’ Oct 2016

Talks on “Power of Devi Worship” by Swami Abhedananda

(Gyan Yagna conducted from 1st Oct till 6th Oct, 2016)

Key Points from the Discourses

Day 1

The first day of the yagna on ‘Power of Devi Worship’ got to a scintillating start. Swami Abhedananda’s words helped the audience discover the true nature of their All Powerful Cosmic Mother. Day 1A few excerpts from the discourse are as under:

    1. Everything in this world, be it small or big, has some power. Our mistake is that we believe the power belongs to the object. If the power belonged to the object then the object wouldn’t ever lose its power! A day comes in every person’s life where he cannot speak, write or run as he used to. If running, speaking, writing etc. were our powers we wouldn’t lose them ever. These powers belong to only One and She is called ‘Durga’! She can grant or withdraw the power from any person, place or thing. Navaratri is the festival of invocation of that Cosmic Power.
    2. One Power alone graces everyone and that Power is not inert. When Powerful and Power are different then the Power becomes inert. But Powerful alone is the Power in this case. Ishwar is Ishwari. He has assumed the form of gender to suit the devotees. Ram alone has become Sita. He alone has become Durga or Saraswati or Lakshmi.
    3. Power comes to you, you cannot force any power upon yourself. And power comes only when we live a righteous life, do daily upasana and consider the devotion to God and Guru as supreme.
    4. Man’s biggest need is Ishwar because he needs Power at all times. We all know that beyond a certain point we are helpless by ourselves. We all want the power to be unaffected by any situation. While speaking, we want the power to speak effectively, we want the power to listen correctly, we need the power to control the mind and the list continues. Everywhere there is a need for more power. We fail to know that we need Power and that Power can come from God alone.
    5. The Mahima of Durga Saptashati is in its chanting. Like among all the rivers, Mother Ganga is the most pious river, similarly among all the Stotras, chanting of Durga Saptashati is considered as most powerful. There are many stutis in this sacred text, upon chanting of which all our problems get eradicated.
    6. As Durga Saptashati starts, a story comes of a King named Surath and a Vaishya named Samadhi. The King was cheated by his ministers who snatched away his kingdom and the Vaishya was cheated by his wife and children who took away all his money and threw him out of the house. They both were cheated by their trusted-ones. But even after being troubled and thrown away from their homes, they used to be concerned about the well-being of their family and kingdom. This story is a reminder to tell us that the world constantly gives us sufficient punches and kicks but still we are not able to leave it. The world silently keeps saying, ‘Leave me! Don’t hang around me. Don’t be attached to me. Leave the issue to the God.’ But we fail to hear that.

Day 1

  • Our problem is our deep attachment with the people around. With whom-so-ever we have attachment, that person alone becomes the source of our sorrow. Attachment is a notion where we are over-concerned, over-worried, over-possessed and over-obsessed. We are not in a position to be free in our thinking.
  • All worldly relations exist as long as the body exists. After the body is gone, there is no relation and we don’t bother where the jeeva has gone. We keep saying, ‘My son, and my daughter.’ But who is whose son, who is whose daughter? One jeeva is related to the other jeeva for a certain period of time and after that they both go on their separate paths. Whose association is forever? Do you ever bother how your last birth’s wife or mother is? Due to Maya, we have such a thick delusion in our mind.
  • The King and the Vaishya go to Rishi Medha and upon inquiring as to what is the cause of their constant remembrance of those who troubled them, the Rishi replies that because of Maya, they both were deluded. Not just the ordinary person, even the wise person’s mind is deluded by Maya. Unless one does a lot of upasana, attachment won’t go from the mind. If one has to be saved from the Maya, he needs to invoke the controller of that Maya.


We should all propitiate Mother Durga and plead to her like a child who is in urgent need of his mother. With such a powerful protecting Mother beside a child, how can he ever feel unsafe or insecure.

Day 2

Swami Abhedanandaji’s insightful discourse on Devi Worship continued to captivate the listeners. Here are some key excerpts from the second day of the yagna…

Devi Power – Its True Nature:

  1. Every power has 5 aspects in it: power to create, sustain, destroy, bless and curse. At any given time, we need some or the other power in us. If anybody is helpless in a situation, it is only because he doesn’t have the required power in him. Sadness is nothing but the expression of powerlessness on some issue. The principle of Devi worship is the invocation of all five powers at respective time and place.
  2. The holder of all the Powers is Durga Herself and Her Powers are present at every point of this universe. Even one petal has the power of the whole Brahmand because it also has the same Durga element in it. Whatever is in the Brahmand (Macrocosm) is present in the Pinda (Microcosm).
  3. Invocation of this Cosmic Power is called Durga Puja. More we do something to invoke Her, more is the strength we derive. More we do something to lose Her power, more we become powerless in our lives. Her powers in Navaratri are augmented because She is very eager to bless during this time. She can bless with both internal and external prosperity. She can bestow both, material wealth as well as the wealth of devotion. Navaratri is the time when even Lord Rama did upasana of Devi Ma before fighting with Ravana.
  4. Everybody has some demon in him. Everybody is little animalistic at certain times and on certain issues. And unless the God wants, you can’t win over the demons hiding within in the form of attachment, hatred, ego, jealousy, desire, anger etc. By talents and capacities only, you can’t win and therefore everybody is defeated badly in some area. But your area of defeat can become your biggest area of strength if you know how to invoke God in that area!

Day 2Madhu and Kaitabh – The demons within:

The Cosmic form of uncontrolled and disastrous anger is represented by the demons Madhu and Kaitabh. It is said in the story that Madhu and Kaitabh came from Lord Vishnu’s ear. They did a lot of tapasya and got the boon of ‘Ichcha-mrityu’ from Devi Ma i.e., they would die only when they wish to die. After getting the boon, they started creating havoc all around and attacked Lord Brahma. Then Lord Vishnu fought with them for thousands of years but they were defeated only when Lord Vishnu invoked Devi Ma. This story gives various messages to the seekers:

  1. Madhu & Kaitabh represent Raag (attachment) and Dwesh (hatred) which come only from listening. You hate someone because you heard bad about him or you heard something bad from him. And you are attached to someone because you hear a lot of loving and sweet words from him.
  2. Brahmaji is the devata of budhhi (intellect) and so Madhu & Kaitabh attacking Brahmaji is nothing but Raag and Dwesh attacking our budhhi. Attachment and hatred sabotage and kidnap our intellect. If anybody is not able to perform his work properly that only means either he is too attached somewhere or he hates someone. He loses the ability to think properly and hence misunderstands life’s situations.
  3. The boon of Madhu & Kaitabh to die only upon their will represents that – when you want that your attachment should go away then only it will go away. Nobody else can kill your attachment. When you yourself want to stop hating someone, then only hatred will go. Goddess will help only when we put efforts from our side. During the war between Lord Vishnu and Madhu-Kaitabh, Goddess didn’t come to help at first. After about two thousand years, Goddess came and gave a way to kill them. This means that those seekers who want to kill their attachment and aversion, God alone finds a way and ultimately peace prevails.
  4. Madhu & Kaitabh were killed by Lord Vishnu when the Lord pulled them out of the water where they used to reside. Here ‘water’ represents ‘ras’ i.e., joy of thinking. This implies that attachment grows only when one has the joy of thinking good about someone and aversion grows when one has the joy of thinking bad about someone. Hence, to kill these demonic tendencies, the only way is to be out of this ras of thinking.

Mahishasur – The ego embodiment:

  1. The demon Mahishasur represents our Ego. He rides on a buffalo which is the most dull-witted animal. Ego is a dull-witted thing because the person doesn’t understand that he can’t do anything by himself and there is a God above him. He thinks that he can conquer anybody and people should run as he wishes. To become egoistic, one has to be foolish.
  2. Only Durga Ma, sitting on a lion can kill this demon. Ferociousness of lion is required to gulp and eat away this negativity because it is very big and almost unconquerable.

Mother Durga is right here, right now; present with all Her powers. She is anxiously seeing all around to find the devotees who are calling out to Her. Did you call Her? Is it possible that a mother can remain far away after listening to her child’s cry? If the micro-cosmic mother is called by her child, she rushes and responds to the best of her abilities; then how is it possible that when we call our cosmic Mother with her limitless powers, She would let us suffer!

Day 3

Swami Abhedananda continued to enlighten the minds and drench the hearts of the listeners on the third day of the monthly yagna on ‘Power of Devi Worship’. Listening to the many qualities of Devi Ma, it felt as if children were getting reintroduced to the mother whom they had somehow forgotten for long. Below are some excerpts from the discourse:

Ma Durga – The source of all Powers:

    1. Every person has numerous powers; the power of eating, speaking, seeing, hearing as well as the more evolved powers to love, show compassion, empathy etc. Like a small spark of electricity confirms the presence of a big transmission center somewhere; similarly, a small amount of Power as seen in us confirms an infinite source of Power. As I am the holder of all my Powers, the holder of all the infinite Macrocosmic Powers is called Devi or Durga!

Day 3

  1. The next question that arises is, are the Microcosmic Powers in us and the Macrocosmic Powers in Devi connected and if they are connected, then why don’t we feel Powerful? It is our unrighteous ways that has displeased the Divine Mother and it is due to this that, though we are connected we feel our Power is finite and limited.
  2. Navaratri is the festival in which a devotee tries to remove the obstacles or hindrances between the Microcosmic Power and the Macrocosmic Power. There is no source of fear or delusion in this world if we learn to hold the hands of our real Mother. There is a Big Power behind us, from that Power alone the whole cosmos emerges, it is sustained and finally gets dissolved back into the same Power.

This Navaratri, let us shed our weaknesses, emerge stronger by connecting ourselves with the Infinite Mother. Let us go back to Her lap, to hold Her hand and rightfully claim our son-hood or daughter-hood.

Demons Vs Devatas:

Interestingly, in various stories in Durga Saptashati we see that demons keep defeating the devatas! This denotes that the demonic tendencies are expressing in full force in us and hence able to defeat the feeble goodness inside. A person is very intense when he is angry or lusty, while he is not as intense when he is doing japa. In japa, one has a scattered mind; but in anger, the mind is fully focused on the source of one’s annoyance.

Stuti (praise) by the Devatas:

Three things are essential in a stuti –

  1. Ekagrata (concentration) while chanting – be single pointed
  2. Dravyata (heart touching emotion) – melting of our hearts while calling the Divine Mother, and
  3. Ananyata (complete dependence) – at least while chanting maintaining the thought, ‘I have no one to call, You alone are there’.

In the 4th & 5th chapters of Durga Saptashati, devatas have done stuti of Devi Ma and they praise Her many qualities in numerous ways. Some are mentioned below:

  1. ‘Shradhha’ – The biggest asset of a person is his faith in God. Howsoever bad the outer situations may be, with faith in the Lord there is always a silent assurance that nothing can touch me. In this world, there is nobody whose life is without external problems; be it physical, social, financial, emotional, intellectual or even spiritual. So what shall we do? Have faith that God is holding me, He will take care. Devi Ma alone comes in the form of Shradhha in our heart.
  2. ‘Lajja’ – In the wise people, Devi Ma is like lajja (shyness or modesty). Shyness is that quality which restrains you from expressing certain thoughts which when expressed reduces the dignity of the person. Those who never cross their limits in the flow of emotions are always respected.
  3. ‘Atma-vidya’ – Devi Ma alone is Atma-vidya or Brahma-vidya. Outer teachers stay for a short time but inner Devi comes in the mind and explains us everything. She alone is the perennial teacher.
  4. ‘Medha’ – Devi Ma alone is ‘medha’, the power of retention through which a person remembers and by-hearts various stotras and shlokas. She alone sits in the mind and makes us remember everything.
  5. ‘Durgati Tarini iti Durga’ – She is the one who takes away all durgati (misery). She is like the boat which takes us across the ocean of samsaar which is full of diseases, bereavements, shouting, scolding, emotional issues, physical challenges etc. We die again and again, only to be reborn in the same cesspool. Devi alone makes us meet someone (a Guru) who takes us across.
  6. ‘Budhhi Rupen’ –
    • Devi Ma is in the form of ‘budhhi’ all over the cosmos. Budhhi means, knowing what is right and what is wrong and having control over the mind. Biggest budhhi in this world is – how to be in the lap of Mother Goddess. If you are very clever, sharp and shrewd then use all your sharpness and shrewdness to find out how can you remain in Her lap.
    • Let us not be in the lap of worry, or in the hands of frustration; let us not be a puppet of our desires; let us not burn in the fire of anger; let us be in Her cozy lap where She can hold us tightly so that nobody can drag us into the quagmire of this world. The biggest intellect that one should have is – How not to be caught and get attached in the world? How to get dissociated with the association of all sorrows? That is the brilliancy of a person.

For a small child, there isn’t a more comfortable, more secure and more lovable place in the entire universe than the lap of his affectionate mother. Think of yourself as a small child and call the divine Mother and plead to Her to hold your finger and make you walk. She will lift you; She will lift you to that situation where you will feel eternally secure!

Day 4

On the 4th day of the yagna, Swami Abhedananda elaborated on the roles of the three Devis in the universe and also in our lives. He gave a beautiful explanation and interpretation of the stuti (prayer) done by the Devtas to please the Mother. Below are some valuable excerpts from the same:
The three Powers that make up the world –

When we classify the Powers, among the numerous Powers, there are 3 main Powers namely, Power of Creativity, Power of sustenance and Power of destruction.

  • Power of Creativity is recognised by Saraswatiji because to make anything you need the buddhi (intellect) first. Even to make a house we need an architect first and also someone with proper knowledge of Civil engineering. We need the Power of Saraswati.
  • Power of sustenance – To maintain the house we need Lakshmiji. There should be someone present to hold the house. Even to maintain one person we need Lakshmiji; he needs to fulfil the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter to sustain.
  • Power of destruction – There should be a time when things should leave and therefore Kali is required. In the absence of Kali we will be attached to false notions. The capacity to break the false is Kali. If the person does not have detachment, he does not have Kali in him.

Thus all the three Powers are required in a person. When Saraswatiji is not there, the person is disorganised and uneducated, when Lakshmi is not there he does not have the Power to hold or maintain and when Kaliji is not there the person will be full of negativity. These are the three Powers that have made the world.


Day 4Stuti (prayer) by the Devatas –

Continuing the Stuti of Deviji, the Devatas praised Deviji as:

  1. “Ya devi sarvabhuteshu, Shakti rupen samsthita” – Devi Ma is the Shakti, she is the Power. From Dharma alone Shakti comes and the Power of Dharma is tremendous.
  2. “Ya devi sarvabhuteshu, Kshanti rupen samsthita” – Kshanti means Kshama (forgiveness). There is no one who does not commit any mistake. Mistakes are natural. A house is held together by people who forgive each other. Bigger is the role of a person, more is the forgiveness required.
  3. “Ya devi sarvabhuteshu, Lajja rupen samsthita” – One should have a little shyness in the behavior. Shyness is the beauty of a person and it makes others at ease in one’s presence.
  4. “Ya devi sarvabhuteshu, Shanti rupen samsthita” – One who has a lot of quietness inside alone can bring out excellence. Quieter the person, bigger is his capacity to provide solutions to problems.
  5. “Ya devi sarvabhuteshu, Vritti rupen samsthita” – Devi is in each of us in the form of our ‘thoughts’ (vritti). We are what our thoughts are. Pujya Gurudev used to say that be very careful about your thoughts because very soon they become your action.
  6. “Ya devi sarvabhuteshu, Smriti rupen samsthita” – In life, every situation demands a response from us. To respond, there is thinking in the background of ‘who am I, what is my responsibility, what is my experience, what is good for me…etc.’ Right thinking requires that all our experiences should be available to us. For that, we need ‘Smriti’. Devi Ma is the one who is in the form of Smriti.
  7. “Ya devi sarvabhuteshu, Daya rupen samsthita” – If daya (compassion) is there, immediately you will understand what the other person is going through. You can live with only that person who can understand you and identifies with your pain. People around us need compassion, sympathy, love and care.
  8. “Ya devi sarvabhuteshu, Tushti rupen samsthita” – Devi Ma is in the form of tushti (fulfillment). If a person is living a righteous life, and is doing what is required to be done, he will be fulfilled. Happiness doesn’t come by indulging in the outer world; it comes when Deviji is present inside. More a person invokes Her, more he will find himself fulfilled.
  9. “Ya devi sarvabhuteshu, Matra rupen samsthita” – Everyone in the world has some ‘mother-ness’ factor present in them. With that alone they are able to tolerate the mistakes of their loved ones and still fulfill their needs.

Our mind should be full of love, service, humility, inner strength and brahmacharya. Let Devi Ma make this mind. Our Mother is Devi Ma alone. Claim Her! Go to Her and tell Her, ‘Oh Mother! Please dress my mind properly, and make it more beautiful.’
When the devatas thus did stuti of Devi Ma, She came in the beautiful form of Mother Parvati. The macrocosmic mother came for the protection of the devatas. From Her body, other Devis emerged – Shivaa, Kaushiki, Ambika, Chandi, who fought ruthlessly with the armies of the demons. When the child calls, the Mother has to come. More a mother has love for the child, more she will be angry towards the one who is disturbing her child. Imagine what the Macrocosmic Mother would do for Her children with her infinite capacity to love!

Day 5

Swami Abhedananda continued with the beautiful commentary on the splendid text of Durga Saptashati. He explained the glory of the paradoxical nature of our Mother Kali – Furious and ferocious, yet filled with extreme compassion and love. A few remarkable points from the discourse are as under:

Glory of Durga Saptashati:

Each shloka of Saptashati is like a mantra and in every mantra Durga, Kali and Saraswati are hidden. Even if you don’t understand the mantras but you chant with little faith, Goddess is pleased and she blesses immediately. This has been the experience of many great saints and devotees of Devi Ma such as Ram Krishna Paramhamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Karpatriji Maharaj, to name a few.

Importance of the Power of destruction:
Day 5

  1. The whole world is full of Powers of the Lord; there is a power of creation, power of sustenance and the power of destruction. We are more concerned about how much we can create and sustain but we fear when its time for something to be destroyed. But if power of destruction is not there, how can something good be created! If yesterday is not destroyed, how will we get today? Like in our body, some cells are destroyed and new cells are created, similarly this world needs to be destroyed to create a new world. This Power of destruction that destroys the whole world is called Kali or Kalika or Chandika.
  2. If we don’t have Kali in us we will not be effective for any kind of contributory work. For any contribution we have to destroy some kind of negativity. To do seva, one has to destroy his laziness, his ego and his small sankalp. If that is not destroyed a person will be handicapped in serving his God, Guru and community.

The nature of our Mother Kali:

  • Consciousness conditioned by cosmic anger to protect the good is called ‘Kali’. Like we have little anger, She has cosmic-anger. Her anger is to protect the whole cosmos, while our anger is to protect our own ego. She has extreme love for Her children and hence She took such a fierce form to kill all the demons because they had created unprecedented problems and troubled Her children.
  • The form of Kali Ma surely is the most fearful and devouring form but it is also the highest form of ‘Vaatsalya’ (compassion). It is as if She is eager to come to us and protect us. Don’t you feel we need a very compassionate Mother who is always there for us? Don’t you feel we need a Mother who can be very possessive about us and take away all our faults? That Mother is here for us, She has not forsaken us. She is the Mother who fulfills the desires of Her devotees very fast.
  • While killing the demons, Devi Ma had taken a very terrible form, full of anger and ferociousness. But at that time, the devotees of Devi Ma were still praying to Her like small children. With folded palms, they were saying, “Ma, Ma, Please protect us!” The moment Devi Ma’s glance used to fall on them, Her anger-filled eyes used to become quiet, Her blood-smeared face used to calm down and Her sword would slip out of hands. This was because of the love and compassion She had for those who called Her through their repeated prayers.

Raktabeej – The Ego embodiment:

The infamous demon Raktabeej symbolizes ‘ahankaar’ (ego). It is said that during the fight with Devi Ma, whenever Raktabeej’s blood used to drop on the ground, a new Raktabeej used to be born. This represents that if anybody tries to hurt the ego of an egoistic person, it grows even more. Only the Goddess can drink the blood of Raktabeej i.e., only Devi Ma can take away our egoistic thoughts such as, ‘I am better, I am superior, I cannot be defeated by anyone’.

Nobody in this world can protect himself at all times. We all need Ma Kali who can take out our internal enemies as well as give external security. Whenever one calls Her with a pure heart, She is filled with a strong & urgent desire to alleviate any problem Her child is facing. She comes asking, ‘Who is there? Who is troubling my children? Which enemy shall I kill?’ Such is the nature of our Cosmic Mother!

Day 6

On the last day of the yagna as Swamiji continued to drench the devotees in the mesmerizing leelas of the Divine mother, he emphasized on the importance of propitiating Her and surrendering at Her feet. We bring to you some key take aways from yesterday’s talk.

Day 6Propitiate the Whole:

  1. Our whole life goes in accumulating Power. In life we don’t want any object, matter, or person; we want the Power associated with them. We don’t want servant but the Power of service, we don’t want external house but the Power of accommodation and we don’t want spouse but the Power of belongingness and loving.
  2. Consciously or unconsciously we are all seekers of some Power, but the mistake is we only want a part of the Power and not the whole. When we want Power of money, we want money only. When we are attached, we want only one person. It is as if, we want to hold-on to someone’s hand but we don’t want his body. We want small Power without the Powerful (possessor of that Power).
  3. The secret of living life is, not in holding the small Power but propitiating and invoking the highest Power. One who has the whole, he has all the Powers in him. One who is Pure and determined, all Powers serve him. Devi worship or Durga worship is nothing but wanting the Powerful.

Negative Powers:

The demons such as Shumbh and Nishumbh in Saptashati represent negative powers which are constantly fighting with the divine powers. Here Shumbh represents ‘ahankaar’ (ego) and Nishumbh represents ‘mamta’ (attachment).

  1. Ego:
    • Everything has one power source, because of which we all are Powerful. We on the other hand tend to forget the main Power source and feel, ‘I am the one who is doing everything’, that is called Shumbh.
    • Ego over-asserts it’s desires, it’s talents & intelligence, and is not ready to give itself to the one source where it belongs. The obstacle to surrender in life is our reluctance in giving up our smallness. We are ignorant of the fact that our separate existence is not powerful at all. Everything is coming from one Power and the more we are associated with that Power, more we will be Powerful.
  2. Attachment:
    • Mamta or Attachment is very terrible. The first child of attachment is insecurity. People come in our lives to tell how God is and not to give us joy.
    • In attachment, a person becomes very rigid and one small problem becomes very big in his life. One must try to dispossess his problems and try to get attached to the One who is the possessor of all.
    • In attachment, the joy of living goes away because we get too dependent on the responses from some individual. The joy of living is in experiencing emotional freedom at all times. But we don’t seek that joy. Instead we want the joy of possessing someone. More you possess, more you want to dictate the other person and the reality is that no one can ever be under your control in this whole world.

Let the Devi come in us and kill this Ahankaar and Mamta!

Narayani Stuti (Chapter 11th):

  1. As Lord Shiva’s puja is focused on ‘abhishek’, Durga Puja is focused on ‘stuti’. Among all the stutis of Devi Ma, Durga Saptashati is considered as the most powerful one. There are various stutis in Saptashati such as stuti by Brahmaji (ch 1), stuti by devatas (ch 4 & 5), and the most popular Narayani stuti (ch 11). Those who have any problem in life, they can chant these stutis and propitiate the Devi and She would surely come for help.
  2. In Narayan stuti, prayer to Devi Ma is done as, ‘You are the one who removes all the sorrows and troubles of the one who surrenders to You and falls at Your feet. May You be happy with us! We may have done some mistakes but You please forgive us and be happy!’ When Lord is happy, your life will be very quiet and free of issues.
  3. Deviji is the mother of the whole world, not just the human beings, but also the animals, the Himalayas, the ocean, the space, the Sun, the Moon; She is the mother of the whole cosmos. So big is our mother! And still we are afraid? What an irony! Why don’t we understand that we are not powerless and the Goddess of the whole world is there to protect us.

Surrender to the Divine Mother:

  1. Many things and matter in life are not under our control, and what is not under our control, let the Lord control that. The easiness in giving the matter to the God is called surrender. Things happen in their own time. Surrender and see what joy is there!
  2. Those who surrender to the God and the Goddess, they are not troubled by any difficulty; rather they give refuge to others. More important than who you are or what you do is who is happy on you. Your power will be decided by the one who is happy on you. And if someone very big is happy on you, his sankalp and his thought for you will always protect you.

Let us do something so that the Almighty, the Goddess is pleased with us. Biggest requirement of life is that God should be happy upon us. We should pray to Devi Ma to teach us how to love Her, how to surrender to Her, how to call Her. Let Her hold us and protect us from the this world. There is no bigger fulfillment in life than the feeling that Her tight embrace is holding us.