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Devi as source for both enlightenment and illusion

Sirona

Hindu Wannabe
Namaste,

Maybe my premise is wrong but if one considers the Devi as the source of both maya and enlightenment, how can we see whether her "promise of / potential for the bhakta's enlightenment" is real? How can one see whether the form of the Devi is "true" and not yet another projection caused by one's desires?
 

Sirona

Hindu Wannabe
With all respect due, are there not enough knowledgeable Shaktas here or did I possibly ask an inappropriate question?
 
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mangalavara

सो ऽहम्
Premium Member
Maybe my premise is wrong but if one considers the Devi as the source of both maya and enlightenment, how can we see whether her "promise of / potential for the bhakta's enlightenment" is real?

As Mahāmohā, she is indeed the source of moha, the delusion about reality that naturally results in attachment. At the same time, she is Mahāvidyā, the one who bestows the supreme knowledge. This is in the first chapter of the Devī Māhātmyam. In the thirteenth and final chapter, a king and a merchant spend three years propitiating the Devī with their worship. She is so pleased that she appears before them and grants each of them the boon of their choice. The king asks for his kingdom back, and she grants him that boon. Additionally, she decides that in a future life of his, he will be a Manu. Then, the merchant asks for the knowledge that leads to detachment and Self-realization. The Devī grants him that boon. The king gets what he desires (and a bonus); the merchant gets what he desires. If you want bhukti, she’ll really give it to you. On the other hand, if you want mukti, she’ll really give it to you.

I don’t know if any of that is helpful to you. If nothing above is helpful, it is because I misunderstood you.

How can one see whether the form of the Devi is "true" and not yet another projection caused by one's desires?

This sounds like a great question, but I’m not sure what is meant here. Could you ask the same question again but with some more detail?
 

Sirona

Hindu Wannabe
Well, I’m in a phase of readjusting my beliefs so currently I’m probably not sure what exactly my question is. Let me also start with the observation that I’m probably biased by not knowing enough about Hinduism. For a long time my main source of reference has been ISKCON, which in my opinion presents a bowdlerized version of Hinduism, leaving out most of the Goddess stuff, which, in my view, is what makes Hinduism fundamentally different from Abrahamic religions.

For a long while, I’ve been into Advaita Vedanta, but lately I’ve come to wonder whether it isn’t merely a reflection of the "virtuous male" shielding himself from the temptress who is woman. In the Bhagavatam, women are often presented as temptresses who cause calamities for their men, but I know far too little so I cannot judge to what extent Hindu societies are actually misogynistic, but it has come to my attention anyway.

For example, personally, I don't think it's right that men and women have to sit separately in temples. I know it's a cultural difference, but generally in churches, men and women who are not related by blood do sit together without inevitably falling over each other sexually in a public sacred place.

Coming back to the topic of belief, Gaudiya Vaishnava teaches that Radha is the Shakti of Krishna, but I have a hard time imagining anything about it.

For example, assumed a musician writes a song, then he may say that this or that woman was his "muse" or inspiration, but the song was written by the musician himself, and not by the woman. It is "only" in his head that the woman inspired him to write it. She may not even be aware that she inspired him. (I know, one may also reverse the roles, but there are probably many more [famous] male musicians in the world than female ones).

You may also turn this concept around, in the sense that woman is "virtuous" and her self-control is "threatened" by a seductive man (and she doesn’t give in), but this constellation seems pretty rare to me, as if women had inherently fewer dispositions or opportunities to exercise self-control.

With regard to Gaudiya Vaishnavism, there is also a "heretic" counterpart called Vaishnava Sahajiya which seems / seemed to be sort of a "sex cult". Maybe I’m wrong but the point of Vaishnava Sahajiya seemed to be actual physical union, whereas in whereas in Gaudiya Vaishnava it’s "all in your head" and you experience bliss by sublimation, by enjoying devotional arts et cetera. However, experiencing "it" through sublimation seems to be "good" from a Vaishnava perspective, whereas physical union seems "bad". However, as far as "bliss" is concerned, somebody who sublimates their desires may claim to experience the same happiness as somebody who has actual sex. Maybe I basically misunderstood Shakti, but I wonder whether it can be established which kind of bliss is the "true" one. Gaudiya Vaishnava claims that sublimation is the true way, whereas from a point of Shakti it all seems the same, at least to me, which is an answer I’m not very satisfied with.

These are currently my thoughts. Hope this makes a bit of sense. Don’t hesitate to correct me wherever I’m wrong.
 
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mangalavara

सो ऽहम्
Premium Member
Well, I’m in a phase of readjusting my beliefs so currently I’m probably not sure what exactly my question is.

Readjusting one’s beliefs is a process that involves being aware of what exactly one believes. It is a difficult but worthwhile process, and I appreciate what you are doing.

Let me also start with the observation that I’m probably biased by not knowing enough about Hinduism. For a long time my main source of reference has been ISKCON, which in my opinion presents a bowdlerized version of Hinduism

As you very likely know, Hinduism is incredibly vast in its philosophies and spiritual paths as well as its practices, the customs, deities, etc. So, there are many sources of reference to choose from. The Sringeri Sharada Peetham, the Saiva Siddhanta Temple, and the Ramakrishna Mission are good ones. There is also Balinese Hinduism and Javanese Saivism in Indonesia. Finally, there are Rabindranath Tagore’s writings, and there are the teachings of the late (and perhaps liberated) Jay Lakhani who taught Hinduism as Spiritual Humanism. There are many more sources of reference. Have a look at what interests you; it is really worth it.

For a long while, I’ve been into Advaita Vedanta, but lately I’ve come to wonder whether it isn’t merely a reflection of the "virtuous male" shielding himself from the temptress who is woman.

If you look at Advaita Vedānta from a feminist lens, you might wonder that. Similarly, if you look at it from a Marxist lens, you might wonder if it was formulated to champion or perhaps undermine an economic class system. It could be that Advaita and all other subschools of Vedānta were formulated by individuals who were simply seekers of the Truth.

For example, personally, I don't think it's right that men and women have to sit separately in temples. I know it's a cultural difference, but generally in churches, men and women who are not related by blood do sit together without inevitably falling over each other sexually in a public sacred place.

Externally, women and men together in churches may not be flirting or whatever. Internally, what is going on, especially with the men? Many, many years ago, I attended different masjids, which are very segregated by gender. How many times did I think about women there? Almost zero. My thoughts were on what was appropriate for the place.

Coming back to the topic of belief, Gaudiya Vaishnava teaches that Radha is the Shakti of Krishna, but I have a hard time imagining anything about it.

When you see Krishna, what you really see is Radha. When you chant the Mahāmantra even that is Radha.
 

Aupmanyav

Be your own guru
With all respect due, are there not enough knowledgeable Shaktas here or did I possibly ask an inappropriate question?
No problem. Good for a start.
As a maverick advaitist, I say that whatever really exists in the universe is 'physical energy'.
Now 'energy' is 'Shakti' in Sanskrit and related languages.
So, whatever exists in the universe is 'Shakti'. One who accepts that is a 'Shakta'. :)

@mangalavara , if 'maya' is understood, then it is enlightenment. One and the same thing.
 

Valjean

Veteran Member
Premium Member
Namaste,

Maybe my premise is wrong but if one considers the Devi as the source of both maya and enlightenment, how can we see whether her "promise of / potential for the bhakta's enlightenment" is real? How can one see whether the form of the Devi is "true" and not yet another projection caused by one's desires?
Like any other "things," the Devi are individually created manifestations of maya, they are projections in an illusory, small-r reality.
Ie: they're all in your head, like trees, toasters and any other gods.
 

Aupmanyav

Be your own guru
ISKCON, which in my opinion presents a bowdlerized version of Hinduism, ..
.. but lately I’ve come to wonder whether it isn’t merely a reflection of the "virtuous male" shielding himself from the temptress who is woman.

For example, personally, I don't think it's right that men and women have to sit separately in temples. I know it's a cultural difference, but generally in churches, men and women who are not related by blood do sit together without inevitably falling over each other sexually in a public sacred place.

Coming back to the topic of belief, Gaudiya Vaishnava teaches that Radha is the Shakti of Krishna, but I have a hard time imagining anything about it.
.. but there are probably many more [famous] male musicians in the world than female ones).

Maybe I basically misunderstood Shakti, but I wonder whether it can be established which kind of bliss is the "true" one. Gaudiya Vaishnava claims that sublimation is the true way, whereas from a point of Shakti it all seems the same, at least to me, which is an answer I’m not very satisfied with. These are currently my thoughts. Hope this makes a bit of sense. Don’t hesitate to correct me wherever I’m wrong.
I am not correcting you, I am just writing down my thoughts.
You hit the nail right on the head, but if that suits someone, Hinduism has no problem with it.
Where from you get that? Brahman is mentioned as 'it'. It has no gender, no form, no desire, no preferences, not even 'dharma'. It is beyond all that.
That men and women generally sit separately in large religious gathering helps to create an atmosphere of reverence and concentration to what is being said rather than engaging in small talk. It is not a religious requirement. All people may not have pious motives. Humans, after all, are humans.

inside-the-radha-soami-satsang.jpg


Who is Shakti is peoples' belief. For Shaivas, it is Kali, for Vaishnavas, it can be Srimati Radha Rani or Mother Lakshmi. I always associate the name of Krishna with his first and principal wife, Mother Rukmani. I do not disregard seniority. Even my 'shakti' is my wife, I will not be able to function if she is not around. Men and women are complimentary to each other.
In India, one Mira (Mirabai - Wikipedia) is equivalent to all male lyricists taken together.

Pursuit of 'bliss' (any kind) is not the correct thing, it is 'maya'; the pursuit of truth and understanding is the real thing.
 
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