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The Devi...Jugg Mata...Adi Shakti...Brittania...Diana...Mary

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Gur Fateh!

I would like to start a topic on the broad subject of the Devi or Goddess in world spiritual and religious traditions. This discussion is intended to expand to cover the role of the Divine Mother, historically in all traditions, an examination of the inter-relationship with femininity, art, culture, politics and such like and finally the impact of this today.

Some my ask the relevance of such a discussion on a Sikh Forum, however, if we consider that in the Sri Guru, frequent references are made to Vaheguru as both female and male [Har Ji Pita, Har Ji Mata –Anand Sahib M3] and other times purely as female, and even more so in the Sri Dasam Granth [Kirpa kari hum par Jugg Mata –Kabio Bach Benti Chaupai, Charitropakyan]. The latter works as well as the Sri Sarabloh Prakash also include a series of compositions dealing exclusively with the Devi Chandi in her various forms.

These are largely symbolical references, however I feel a thread such as this is imperative today, when increasing talk of these passages are coming in vogue and with them much confusion within the panth as marked by recent turmoil with regard to one notorious author and even in the cyber-forum world with many a witch hunt for supposed RSS sympathisers has been seen to occur. It is best for us as Sikhs to study and share this heritage in order to better understand the backdrop to our own, that way WE take charge of OUR own heritage and don’t leave space for the likes of the RSS to manipulate it otherwise. So with out further ado here we go...please ALL contribute, questions, thoughts, information, analysis....bring it all on!!!




Introductory thoughts...

We can find reference to The goddess, or Great Mother, in all traditions across the world, not just in India where they have survived. Europe in fact was home to the veneration of The goddess prior to the impact of Christianity. Similar traditions can be found in South America, the Far East and in Africa.

“it is out of the primordial depths of her womb that the Universe and all life is bornâ€

From the European angle, the common belief of those worshipping The goddess is that Old Europe was once ruled by a matriarchal egalitarian religion which worshiped a matrifocal (mother-focused), sedentary, peaceful, art-loving, goddess between 5,000 and 25,000 years before the rise of the first male-oriented religion.

This egalitarian culture was then overrun and destroyed by a semi-nomadic, horse-riding, Indo-European group of invaders who were patrifocal (father-focused), mobile, warlike, and indifferent to art following which the culture eventually assimilated into the more dominant patriarchal religion of the invaders.

Interestingly one also finds alongside the raping and pillaging, the dominant male invaders killing serpents, which are thought to be a symbol of the goddess worshipers (obvious cross reference: Kundalini and Tantra?). It is thought that as the assimilation of cultures continued, the Great Mother Goddess became fragmented into many lesser goddesses, these were then later reduced to mere icons (as is the case with Britannia) or given more acceptable forms (as some argue with the Virgin Mary).

Merlin Stone, [When God Was a Woman] exrpesses the view that disenthronement of the Great Goddess, begun by the Indo- European invaders, was finally accomplished by the Hebrew, Christian, and Moslem religions that arose later.(5) The male deity took the prominent place. The female goddesses faded into the background, and women in society followed suit.

This is an interesting point to note, certainly if one looks outside of The goddess for moment and at the campaigns during the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Sikh reformists to have Gurbani translated into English through the likes of the disgraceful Ernst Trumpp and later through Macaufille, the emphasis made on the use of words such as Lord, He, the Master became all so common and certainly today, whether katha or discussion is held even in Punjabi, reference to Akal is almost always in masculine terms.

No doubt, lip service is paid to the notions of Akal being without gender, however with concepts such as Pati-Parmeasur (Husband-Lord) being manifested within the Panth, so far as being incorporated into the Rehit Maryadas of the Damdami Taksal and that issued by the Nishkam Sevak Jatha, are indicative of male dominance that has occurred with the impact of the Semitic traditions and also through reformist Vaishnavs and such like in the Indian subcontinent.

Jean Shinoda Bolen refers to The goddess as follows:-

“The Great Goddess was worshiped as the feminine life force deeply connected to nature and fertility, responsible both for creating life and for destroying lifeâ€

Which is probably a notion closer to the sentiments of those belonging to Indian Subcontinent vis-a-vis Kundalini and Adi Shakti.

She goes on to say, "The Great Goddess was regarded as immortal, changeless, and omnipotent" prior to the coming of Christianity. The Semitic traditions and Christianity in particular saw God as transcendent, apart from nature, and largely as a masculine deity.

The goddess worshippers held a pantheistic view of God equating God with nature, hence being is in all things and all things being part of God, albeit they viewed God in actuality as a goddess, the giver of all life and found in all of creation.

More to follow....

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