Abhedânanda Swâmi.

Vedanta philosophy : five lectures on reincarnation online

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readers are not famihar, but which is known

to a few Vedic scholars. It meant " father

Fatherhood and Motherhood of G(h1.

in heaven" and is a transmuted form of tlit
Sanskrit Dyus-Pitar or Dyaus-Pitar, which
very often occurs in the Rig Veda, the oldest
of the revealed Scriptures of the v^^orld. The
term ''Dyaus" or ''Dyus" originally signified
''shining space" or ''heavens," but after-
wards it was used for the self-effulgent Spirit
dwelhng in the heavens; and "Pitar" was
the father and the protector. In the second
book of the Rig Veda (ch. iii, ver. 20) we
read, ^^Dyaus me pita janitd ndbhi ratra.''^
Here the word "Dyaus" is used, not in the
sense of "shining heavens" as some of the
Oriental scholars have imagined, but it refers
to the Spiritual Source of all Hght as well as
of heavens. "Pita," literally "father," here
means "protector." The meaning of this
verse therefore is "That shining or self-efful-
gent Spirit w^ho dwells in the heavens, is my
father and protector, my progenitor or pro-
ducer, and in him hes the source of all things."
This was the earliest conception of the fatherly
aspect of the Supreme Being which we find in

Vedanta Philosophy.

studying the Vedas. Again, in the tenth
book of the Rig Veda, Prajapati, the Lord
of all creatures, is addressed as "Pitar," the
Father and the Protector (ch. v, ver. 6, 7).

The one Supreme personal God was called
in the Vedas "Prajapati," the Lord and
Father of all creatures. He is most beauti-
fully described in the one hundred and twenty-
first hymn of the tenth book of the Rig Veda.
The conception of a personal God which we
find in this hymn has not been surpassed by
the idea of a personal God among any other
nation during the last five thousand years.
When an ancient Vedic Seer was asked "To
whom shall we offer our prayers and sacri-
fices?" he replied:

1. "In the beginning there arose the Praja-
pati, the first-born Lord of all that exists.
He holds by his power the heavens and the
earth. To Him we should offer our prayers
and sacrifices."

2. "Prajipati, the Lord of all creatures,

who gives Hfe and strength to all that exists,

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

from whose body emanate the individual souls
like sparks from fire; who is the purifier of
all souls ; whose commands all creatures revere
and obey; whose shadow is immortahty and
mortahty; to Him we should offer our prayers
and sacrifices."

3. ''Who by His power and glory became
the one King (without a second) of all men,
of beasts, nay, of all animate and inanimate
objects; to Him we should offer our prayers
and sacrifices.

4. "Whose greatness is manifested in the
snow-capped ranges of mountains and in
the waters of the rivers and the oceans ; whose
arms are spread on all sides; to Him should
we offer our prayers and sacrifices.

5. ''Who made the sky strong and the
earth firm, who estabfished heavens in their
places, nay, the highest heaven; who measured
the Hght in the air; to Him we should offer
our prayers and sacrifices.

6. "To whom heaven and earth, standing

firm by His help, look up, trembling in their

Vedanta Philosophy.

minds; and by whose support the rising sun
shines forth. To Him we should offer our
prayers and sacrifices.

7. "When the great waters went every-
where, holding the germ and generating fire,
thence He arose who is the sole Hfe of the
bright spirits (Devas). To Him we should
offer our prayers and sacrifices.

8. "Who is the one Lord of all living beings
and God above all gods; who by His might
looked over the causal waters at the time of
dissolution. To Him we should offer our
prayers and sacrifices.

9. "May He not injure us, He who is the
Creator of the earth, heavens, and bright
and mighty waters, who is the foundation of
truth, righteousness and justice. To Him
we should offer our prayers and sacrifices.

10. "O Praj^pati, no other but Thou has

held together all these phenomena; whatever

we desire in sacrificing to Thee, may that be

ours; may we be the lords of all wealth."

The same Prajapati, the true, just and

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

righteous Lord of the universe and God of all

gods, was addressed by the Vedic Sage as

" Dyaus-Pitar " or the Father in heaven and

the Protector of all. He is described in

another hymn of the Rig Veda as Aditij the

unflinching and immutable support of the

phenomenal universe. The word "Aditi'^

signified the motherly aspect of the Divine

Being. "Aditi is in the heavens and in the

illumined space that pervades between heaven

and earth, the Mother of all Devas or gods

as well as the Creator of all animate and

inanimate objects. She is also the Father

and Protector of all; She is the Son and

the Creator; by Her grace She saves from

sin the souls of those who worship Her. She

gives unto Her children everything that is

worth giving. She dwells in the forms of

all Devas or bright spirits; She is all that is

bom and all that will be born. She is all in

all." (Rig Veda, Book 2, ch. vi, verse 17.)

Thus we see that in ancient India God

was conceived as both the Father and the

Vedanta Philosophy.

Mother of the universe centuries before
Jesus was born. In Greece, however, the
idea of the Fatherhood of Zeus-pitar pre-
vailed, but his motherly aspect was denied,
because Zeus-pitar or Jupiter was only an
extra-cosmic personal God. As long as the
conception of God is extra-cosmic, or as
dwelHng outside of nature, so long He appears
to His worshippers as father alone and as
mascuhne. The God of Jesus the Christ
was the same extra-cosmic creator who was
called Yahveh or Jehovah in Judaism and
who was always described as masculine.

According to the Hebrews the mascuhne
element of nature possessed all activity,
strength and power; the male principle was
recognized as the generator, and the female
principle of nature was thought to be lower,
insignificant, powerless and passive. The
female principle of nature was the producer
and bearer of what the male principle created;
consequently everything that represented the

female principle was considered as unim-

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

portant. This explains why womanhood was
estimated so low by the writers of the Old
and New Testaments, especially by the great
apostle to the Gentiles. Even the very
appearance and existence of woman on earth
depended upon a man's rib, according to
Genesis. Although the Creator was repre-
sented by the Hebrews as masculine and all-
powerful, when they explained the genesis
of the world they could not deny the presence
of the feminine element which helped the Cre-
ator in bringing life into existence. In the
Mosaic account of Genesis we read "And the
spirit of God moved upon the face of the
waters " (Gen. i, 2), which Hterally means
that the Creator impregnated the waters or
the female element of nature. And, as God,
that is, the male element, was extra-cosmic,
outside of nature, and possessed all activity
and power, He became the object of worship;
and the female element or nature was entirely
ignored. Every Christian admits the existence

of nature, the female principle; but she has

Vedanta Philosophy.

never been worshipped or adored. The idea
of Father grew stronger and stronger and the
mother nature was left aside as passive and
powerless, and was ultimately ignored. As
long as the conception of God remains as
extra-cosmic, separate from nature which is
passive, so long will He appear as Father
alone. The more we comprehend God as
immanent and resident in nature, the more
clearly we understand that God is our Mother
as well as our Father. When we see that
nature or the feminine principle is inseparable
from the Supreme Being or the masculine
element, when we reaUze that nature is not
passive and powerless but the Divine Energy,
then we understand that God is one stupendous
Whole, in whom exist both the mascuhne and
feminine principles. Then we no longer sepa-
rate nature from God, but we recognize
nature as a part of the manifested Divine

So long as God is supposed to dwell out-
side of nature and as father alone, He remains

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

as the efficient cause of the universe, while
nature appears to be the material cause.
But when we realize that nature or the ma-
terial cause is nothing but a part of the mani-
fested Divine Energy, we then understand
that God does not, hke a carpenter or a potter,
create or fashion the phenomena out of the
materials which exist outside of Himself, but
that He projects by the process of evolution
everything out of His own body wherein
dwell all matter and forces of the world.

In no other Scriptures than the Vedas, in
no other rehgion than that of Vcdanta, is the
personal God described as the Father and the
Mother, the efficient and the material cause
of the universe. Now-a-days liberal-minded
Christians are trying to introduce the idea
that God is both Father and Mother of the
universe; but they do not realize that by so
doing they are entirely upsetting the Christian
conception of God, w'ho dwells outside of
nature and of the universe. The God of

Christianity can never become both Father

Vedanta Philosophy.

and Mother at the same time. If we address
Him as the Mother of the universe, we have
outgrown that conception of God which is
taught in the Bible and in Christian theology.
In the whole Scriptures of the Christians there
is not one passage where Jehovah is addressed
as the Mother. In Isaiah (ch. Ixvi, 13) the
Lord says: "As one whom his mother com-
forteth so will I comfort you." From this
passage, however, no fair-minded person can
deduce that Jehovah was the mother of the

The Vedantic idea that God is the Mother
as well as the Father of all harmonizes with
the modern scientific conception of God.
Modern science traces the whole phenomenal
universe back to the state of eternal energy.
The doctrine of evolution, correlation of
forces, persistence of energy, all these clearly
prove that the phenomena of the whole uni-
verse and the various forces of tbe external
and internal world are but the expressions of
one eternal energy. The theory of evolution

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

explains only the mode in which that eternal
energy produces this phenomenal universe.
Science has disproved the old theory of crea-
tion out of nothing through the fiat of an extra-
cosmic God, and has show^n that something
can never come out of nothing. Science
teaches that the universe existed in a potential
state in that energy, and gradually through
the process of evolution the whole potentiality
has become kinetic or actual. That eternal
energy is not an unintelHgent energy, but is
intelHgent. Wherever we cast our eyes, either
in the external or internal world, we find
the expression, not of a fortuitous or acci-
dental combination of matter and mechan-
ical forces, but of regular laws guided by
definite purpose. This universe is not a
chaos but a cosmos, one harmonious whole.
It is not an aimless chain of changes which
we call evolution, but there is an orderly
hidden purpose at every step of evolution.
Therefore, that energy is intelHgent. We

may call this self-existing, intelligent, eternal

Vedanta Philosophy.

cosmic energy the Mother of the universe.
She is the source of infinite forces and in-
finite phenomena. This eternal energy is
called in Sanskrit Prakriti (Latin procreatrix) ,
the creative power of the universe.

*'Thou art the Para Prakriti or the divine
energy of the Supreme Being. Of Thee is
born everything of the universe, therefore
Thou art the Mother of the universe." As
all the forces of nature are but the manifesta-
tions of this Divine Energy, She is called all-
powerful. Wherever there is the expression
of any force or power in the universe, there
is the manifestation of the eternal Prakriti or
the Divine Mother. It is more appropriate
to call that Energy mother than father, because
hke a mother, that Energy holds within her
the germ of the phenomenal universe before
evolution, develops and sustains it, projects
it on space and preserves it when it is born.
She is the Mother of the Trinity, Creator,
Preserver and Destroyer. She is the source

of all activity. She is the Saktij force in action.

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

A creator, when deprived of his creative
power, is no longer the creator. As the crea-
tive power is one of the expressions of that
eternal Energy, the Creator or Brahma is
looked upon by the Hindus as the child of
the universal Divine ^Mother, so, too, is the
Preserver Vishnu and the Destroyer Siva.
The Hindus have understood this Eternal
Energy as the Mother of the universe and have
worshipped Her from the prehistoric times
of the Vedic period. Here we should remem-
ber that this Divine Energy is not the same
as the powerless and passive nature which
was rejected and ignored by the Jews and
the Christians. We must not mistake this
worship of the Divine Mother for Nature-
worship. In the Rig Veda we read: ''The
Mother Divine says, * I am the Queen of the
universe, the giver of all wealth and fruits of
works. I am intelhgent and omniscient.
Although I am one, by My powers I appear
as manifold. I cause war for protecting

men, I kill the enemy and bring peace on earth.

Vedanta Philosophy.

I stretch out heaven and earth. I have pro-
duced the Father. As the wind blows by it-
self, so I produce all phenomena by My own
will. I am independent and responsible to
none. I am beyond the sky, beyond this
earth. My glory is the phenomenal universe;
such am I by My power.' " *

Thus the Divine Mother is described as all
in all. We live and move and have our exist-
ence in that Divine Mother. Who can live
for a moment if that Eternal Energy cease
to manifest? All our mental and physical
activity depends on Her. She is doing what-
ever She chooses to do. She is independent.
She obeys none. She is the producer of
every event that occurs in the universe. She
makes one appear good, spiritual and divine,
while it is She who makes another appear as
wicked and sinful; since it is through Her
power one performs virtuous deeds or com-
mits sinful acts. But She is beyond good and
evil, beyond virtue and vice. Her forces are

* Rig Veda, x, hymn, 125.

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

neither good nor evil, although they appear
so to us when we look at them from different
standpoints and compare them with one an-

When that all-pervading divine energy
manifests, it expresses itself in two sets of
opposite forces. The one set has the ten-
dency towards God and is called Vidyd in
Sanskrit. The other tends towards worldH-
ness and is called Avidyd. The one leads
to freedom and happiness, and the other to
bondage and suffering. The one is knowledge,
the other is ignorance. The one is Hght, the
other is darkness. Each individual soul is a
center where these opposite forces are con-
stantly working and fighting with one another.
When Vidyd or the powers which lead Godward
predominate, we advance towards God and
become rehgious, spiritual and unselfish; but
when its opposite, the Avidyd power prevails,
we become worldly, selfish and wicked. When
the former is predominant the latter is over-
come, and vice versa. These powers exist in

Vedanta Philosophy.

each individual, though they vary in the degree
of intensity in each. The man or woman, in
whom the former, that is, the Godward-
leading- powers prevail, is called devotional,
prayerful, righteous, pure in heart, unselfish.
These quaHties are but expressions of the
Vidyd powers within us. Such higher powers
are latent in all, even in those who do not show
virtuous quaHties. All persons can rouse
those latent spiritual forces by practising
devotion, prayer, righteousness, purity, unsel-
fishness. The easiest way to attain them is
by the worship of the Vidyd Sakti, or that
aspect of the Divine Mother or Divine Energy
which represents all the powers that lead to
spiritual perfection.

By worship or devotion is meant constant
remembrance of that aspect. If we con-
stantly think of the source of all spirituaHty
and of all the higher powers which make
one spiritual, surely those powers will be
aroused in us, and we shall become spir-
itual, righteous and unselfish. Therefore the

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

Hindus worship this Vidyd Sakti. When they
worship that aspect, they do not, however,
deny, or ignore its opposite nature which
leads to worldhness, but they make it subor-
dinate to the higher Vidya aspect. Some-
times they think of these opposite forces
separately, personify them and make them
the female attendants of the Divine Mother.
The Divine Mother has many attendants.
All the evil forces of nature are Her attend-
ants. She stands in the center of the universe
radiant in Her own glory, like the sun when
surrounded on all sides by thick, dark clouds.
Wherever there is any expression of extraor-
dinary righteousness and spirituaKty, it is a
special manifestation of the Divine Mother,
there is Her incarnation. The Divine Mother
incarnates sometimes in the form of a man,
and sometimes in the form of a woman, to
establish order and righteousness. All men
and women are Her children. But there is
something more in woman. As woman rep-
resents motherhood on earth, so all women,

Vedanta Philosophy.

whether married or unmarried, are representa-
tives of that Almighty Divine Mother of the
universe. It is for this reason that women
are so highly revered and honored by the
Hindus. There is no country in the world
except India where God the Supreme Being
has been worshipped from time immemorial
as the Divine Mother of the universe. India
is the only country where the earthly mother
is looked upon as the Hving Deity, and where
a man learns in his childhood "One mother
is greater than a thousand fathers."

You have heard many stories regarding the
condition of women in India. Most of these,
however, are grossly exaggerated, some are
utterly false and some are partially true.
The famiUar American story of Hindu mothers
throv^ring their babes into the Ganges to
become food for crocodiles, is unknown
among the Hindus. In the first place, croco-
diles cannot live in a strong current hke that
of the Ganges. I have travelled the length

of this mighty river from its mouth to its source,

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

some fifteen hundred miles, but never found
a single instance of such an inhuman act.
Hindu mothers, Hke their Christian sisters,
may sometimes destroy their children, but
such action is as strongly condemned in India
as in America. These statements were heard
by me for the first time after coming to Amer-
ica, though tales and pictures to this effect
have been quite common in this country in
books for the young.* There is no , other
country "Where every living mother '^ — as
Sir Monier Monier WilHams says — "is ven-
erated as a kind of deity by her children,
where every village or city has its special
guardian mother, called (in Sanskrit) Mata.^' *
It is extremely difficult for a Western mind
to grasp exactly what the Hindus mean when
they say that every woman is a representative
of the Di\dne Mother. A very simple illustra-
tion will give you an idea of the respect the
Hindus have for women. In Sanskrit when
two names are used together, the rule of

* " Hinduism and Brahmanism," p. 222.

Vedanta Philosophy.

grammar is that the more honorable should
stand first. In Sanskrit we say women and
men, not men and women; instead of father
and mother, we say mother and father; instead
of husband and wife, wife and husband,
because a woman is always more honorable
than a man. In India wives do not adopt
their husbands' names, they do not merge
their individuahty into that of their husbands
as women do in the West, but they keep
their own name separate. If a wife's name
be Radha, and her husband's name be Krishna,
and if we say them together, we would say
Radha-Krishna and never Krishna-Radha.
The wife's name must be said first. So we
say Sita-Rama; Sita is the wife and Rama
is the husband. Again, when God incar-
nates in a man form, as in Krishna or Rama,
the wife of such an incarnation will be
worshipped as the incarnation of the
Mother. The wife will be worshipped first
and then the husband. A Western mind

does not easily appreciate the wonderful

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

reverence for womanhood which the Hindus

The Divine Mother is the personal God,
the same as Iswara in Sanskrit; and Brahman
or the Absolute Substance or the Universal
Spirit is the impersonal Being. Brahman is
formless, nameless and without any attributes.
It is the ocean of absolute inteUigence, exist-
ence and bHss. It has no activity. It is the
Godhead of Fichte, the Substantia of Spinoza.
It transcends all phenomena. Before phe-
nomenal manifestation Divine Energy rested
on the bosom of that ocean of Absolute Being
in a potential state. It is the dormant state
of activity somewhat Hke our deep sleep
state when all activity is latent. As in deep
sleep all the mental and physical powers
exist in us in an unmanifested condition and
nothing is lost, so, before the beginning of
the cosmic evolution, all the phenomenal
forces of the universe remained dormant in
that Energy. There were no phenomena,

no manifestation of any powers whatever.

Vedanta Philosophy.

Again, as in our waking state all the latent
powers manifest and we are able to walk,
move, talk and are tremendously active, so,
when a portion of that Impersonal Being
wakes up, as it were, and manifests the latent
cosmic powers of the sleeping Energy, the
evolution of the cosmic Energy begins and
the Impersonal Being appears as the Creator
of the universe and its Preserver.

The Impersonal Being is then called per-
sonal, on account of that manifested energy.
According to the Hindus the impersonal Brah-
man is neither mascuHne nor feminine. But
the personal God is mascuHne and feminine
both in one. Energy and Being are insepa-
rable in the personal God. As pure Being
without energy cannot produce any phenom-
ena and as Energy possesses all activity and
is the mother of all forces and phenomena,
the personal God is most appropriately called
the Mother of the universe. As fire and its
burning power or heat are inseparable, so

Being and Energy are inseparable and one.

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

Those who worship the mascuhne aspect of
God, in reaHty worship the male child born
of that Divine Mother. Because the activity,
strength and power which make one mascu-
hne, owe their origin to that Divine Energy.
But those who worship the Divine Mother
worship the Whole — all gods, all angels and
all spirits that exist in the universe.

The wonderful effect of this conception of
the Motherhood of God is to be found in the
daily life of almost every Hindu woman and
man. A Hindu woman thinks that she is a
part of the Divine Mother, nay one with Her.
She looks upon all men and women of the world
as her own children. She thinks of herself
as the blessed Mother of the world. How
can such a woman be unkind to anybody?
Her pure motherly love flows towards all men
and women equally. There is no room for
any impure thought or feeHng or passion in
such a heart. That perfect motherly feehng
makes her ultimately Hve hke the Divine

Mother on earth. Her ideal God in human

Vedanta Philosophy.

form is her own child. She worships the in-
carnation of God as her most beloved child.
Just as Mary was the Mother of Jesus, so
the Hindu women in India often look upon
themselves as the mother of Krishna, the
Hindu Christ, or of Rama, another incarna-
tion. Christian mothers, perhaps, will be
able to appreciate this to a certain extent.
If a Christian mother thinks that she is Christ's
mother and loves Him as she loves her own
child, the effect will be wonderful. She will
then understand what Divine Motherhood
is. The Hindus think this the easiest way
for women to attain to that love which makes
them unselfish and divine. A mother can
sacrifice everything for her child ; she naturally
loves the child without seeking any return,
though there are mothers who do not possess
pure, unselfish motherly love. A true mother,
however, loves her child above everything.
If such a child be an incarnation of God Him-
self, how easy it will be for the mother to

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