Mahadevi [ 2003 ]

Alexandra Kafka

India knows many goddesses but also the concept of One Great Goddess, MAHADEVI. As far as I know there are two possible theological concepts regarding Mahadevi: Eighter one declares one special goddess (Kali, Tripurasundari, etc.) as supreme and all other goddesses as her manifestations; or one declares that there is a supreme source from which all goddesses emanate and this supreme source is Mahadevi.

I am interested in the second possiblity and would like to know about the concept of Mahadevi in different shools and sub-schools of the Shaiva/Shakta tradition. Has someone information?

Colin Robinson

Namaste Alexandra.

India knows many goddesses but also the concept of One Great Goddess, MAHADEVI.

True. And the same is true of gods: a concept or vision similar to Mahadevi is expressed in words like Mahadeva (Great God) and Purushottoma (Supreme Male Person)

. It's important, though, that in India the many have been seen as continuous with the One.

There is a famous verse in the Rig Veda: Ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti. Reality is one, the wise give it many names.

On one level, the goddesses and the Great Goddess, or the gods and the Great God, are comparable to angels and God in Christianity.

However there are subtle differences. In Christianity, angels are not to be worshipped, nor would a worshipper address God with the name of an angel, such as Michael or Gabriel.

In India's traditions, the many goddesses and gods _are_ worshipped, and the Great Goddess and Great God _are_ addressed using the names of the many goddesses and the many gods.

The many merge into the One, like rivers into the ocean or branches into the bowl of a tree.

As far as I know there are two possible theological concepts regarding Mahadevi: Either one declares one special goddess (Kali, Tripurasundari, etc.) as supreme and all other goddesses as her manifestations; or one declares that there is a supreme source from which all goddesses emanate and this supreme source is Mahadevi. I am interested in the second possiblity

I think perhaps your two possibilities seem more different from a western point of view (which wants to split off the many from the one) than from an Indian point view (where the many and the one are continous).

and would like to know about the concept of Mahadevi in different shools and >sub-schools of the Shaiva/Shakta tradition. Has someone information? For some years now, I have been studying literature in which Kali is worshipped as the Mahadevi, or (to put it another way) the Mahadevi is addressed and spoken about as Kali.

One important book which does this is the Kalika Purana. It glorifies a universal feminine power whom it names, interchangeably, as Kali, Mahadevi, Mahamaya, Jagaddhatri (She Who Supports the World), Jaganmayi (She Who Contains the World) and Kamakhya (She Whose Name is Desire).

Written about 1000 years ago, it is a comparatively early expression of the current of vision which manifested more recently in the devotional songs of Sri Ramprasad and the mystical experiences of Sri Ramakrishna.



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