Saturday, 2 July 2011

One Mother, everywhere

You've often heard of God, the Father, creator of the universe. Have you ever heard of God, the Mother? Mothers create too, don't they? -- even more than fathers, because we draw our very life and nourishment from them. So, do not be surprised that in some countries and among some people, God is also worshiped as "Mother". This is especially true in India. Over there, October is the time when the year's crops of vegetables, grains and fruits are harvested. In the festival to celebrate this many people gather around images of "the Mother" -- beautiful, painted and decorated forms depicting the Divine Mother, looking just as they have imagined (or perhaps seen) Her, for centuries. They praise Her and sing hymns and dance in honor of Her who has given them land and crop, cattle and goods. In short, everything has come from the hand of the Mother, who is Creator, Sustainer and Dissolver of it all.

Here are two stories often told, about how one little boy, son of the Divine Mother Durga, discovered Her true nature. His name was Ganesha. He is considered to have been very wise, which is one reason he's shown in pictures with the head of an elephant!

Ganesha went outdoors one day to play and found a stray cat. Too small to know better, he began to pull her ears and tail. He roughed up that poor cat and even began to beat her with a stick, making marks on her head till, yowling, she ran for her life. Some hours later Ganesha went into the house. His mother, to his astonishment and dismay, was looking terrible. Her hair was a mess, she had scratches on her face and she limped from the bruises on her body.
"Mom!" cried Ganesha. "Who beat you up?"
Sadly Sri Durga replied, "It was you, I'm afraid."
"No way! What do you mean? I never did it!"
"Do you remember, his mother asked, "a while ago, how you treated a certain cat?"
Now Ganesha though that the cat's owner must have come and beat Mother Durga on account of him, and he burst into tears.
"Where is that man?" he sobbed.
"No, not that. You see, my boy, I am not just your physical mother. I have filled the whole universe with My Being. As a matter of fact, whatever you do to any least part of it, you do that to Me."

Some years later the Mother was sitting in her dressing room in a very lofty mood. She had recently been meditating and in that mood had become quite conscious of her own divinity. Now she put around her neck a lovely necklace of gems, a gift from her husband, Shiva. But seeing Ganesha and her other son, Kartik (Karteek), playing nearby, she said to them "Look, I will give this precious necklace to whichever of you comes back first, after traveling all around the universe. So run this race, but cover every mile of the universe."
Kartik immediately dropped what he was doing, went out, and finding the animal he most liked to ride upon (which was a magic steed), he set off on the long journey. He went as fast as he could, over the earth, out to the moon and planets, sailed through the galaxies and visited the asteroids, even peeping into a black hole or two. Almost exhausted, he recalled that he had to save energy enough to return. When Kartik finally reached home he saw his brother was already wearing the necklace of gems! Ganesha, you see, had become much wiser now: he had simply gone all the way around his Mother's body and then bowed down before Her. He knew full well that apart from Her there was no universe.

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