On Sadhguru’s Recent Curious Comment About (Hindu, Divine) Feminine And Conquest

To answer Nirjharaḥ Mukhopādhyāyaḥ’s question …

“No World Beyond HER Rule
No Enemy Beyond HER Wrath”

is what I think about this.

Now I know that Sadhguru prides himself on not letting himself be “cluttered” by reading scripture – however it does not take a pervasive engagement with our texts to see that the “Feminine”, Devi, is very much capable of “dominat[ing]” via Conquest.

One would just need to take a look at the standard iconographic renderings of Her – replete with all of the Weapons. And, in various cases, the decapitated body of a demonic adversary lying at Her Feet.

Indeed, one of the major reasons that various heroes pray to Her in the course of the myths of the epics and the evocative illustrations of our ritual conceptry … is precisely because She is irreducibly associated with Conquest in the first instance.

In fact, we also are reminded of what I believe to be one of the gentleman’s [N.M.’s, that is] favourite RigVedic Hymnals – that being RV VI 61, pertaining to Saraswati.

The fittingly martial conceptry found therein is most certainly engaged in overpowering and conquest.

वर्त्रघ्नी वष्टि सुष्टुतिम
Vrtraghni Vasti Sustutim
‘Foe-Slayer Claims Our Eulogy’

Perhaps we might also quote the justly famed Durga Suktam [ 5 ]

pṛ̠ta̠nā̠ jita̠gṃ̠ saha̍mānamu̠grama̠gnigṃ hu̍vēma para̠māthsa̠dhasthā̎t ।
sa na̍ḥ par-ṣa̠dati̍ du̠rgāṇi̠ viśvā̠ kṣāma̍ddē̠vō ati̍ duri̠tā-‘tya̠gniḥ ॥

Particular emphasis upon the सहमान [‘Conquest’] therein.

“We Invoke From The Highest Place The Ugran Agni [Powerful/Furious Fire], The SahaMana [‘Conquering/Overpowering/Powerful Spirit/Anger/Sentience’] Unvanquishable In Battle ;

May She Greatly Protect Us From The Universe’s Durgaani [‘Dangers’], Divinely Incinerating [‘Ksamad-Devo’] The Great Evils [‘Durita-Ati’ – also means ‘very difficult path’] [With Her] Living/Sacred Blaze [‘Agni’]”
[Rolinson translation]

I would also be reminded of the Athena epithets –
Πτολίπορθος ( Ptoliporthos ) – ‘Sacker of Cities’ (and ‘Fortifications’)
περσέπτολι (Perseptoli) and περθόμεναί τε πόληες (Perthomenai Te Polies)

And at this point I shall restrain myself from indulging in a rather … discursive Indo-European tangent. With the brief exception of noting the rather differing perceptions of those Ancient Greeks when it came to the relatively ‘chill’ Hades … as compared to His Wife, Persephone [‘Raining (Reigning) Death’]. Not for nothing do we find “Brimo’ [ Βριμώ – Terrifying , Fierce, Enraged, Powerful (c.f. βρῑ́μη / ‘Brime’), and perhaps also ‘Roaring’, viz. Βρόμιος / ‘Bromios’] as an attested epithet / facing for these Goddess-Visages (Hekate springs instantly to mind – also prayed to for martial success, as it happens … ).

And, of course, that broader array of Dark / Black Avenger Goddess-Forms and associated entities (ErinYES) which spring instantly to mind in relation to Same.

Which, of course, also includes Kali – Who, yes, most definitely, is A Mother (indeed, The Mother), and can ‘Embrace’.

And can also , as perhaps befits a Goddess literally named Death, ‘Embrace’ in another sense … as one might suggest was done to the demon(-army) Raktabija, with the all-consuming and inescapable Jaws of Death and the Night.

Like I said – No World Beyond HER Rule. No Enemy Beyond HER Wrath.

An ‘Empire’ as boundless as ‘Aditi’.

We are also reminded of Krishna’s instruction to Arjuna to pray to Devi for victory , in the course of the Mahabharata

What does Devi reply to Arjuna’s panegyric to Her ?

‘Within a short time thou shalt conquer thy foes, O Pandava.’
[Ganguli translation]

We would also recall the situation of TS VI 2 8 / SBr III 5 2 8 – wherein Vak as Lioness is enjoined in Her Formidable Fury & Wrath to go forth and conquer in the sacrificer’s name (of the name proffered by him as the enemy, the demon, etc.)

I could go on (at quite some length) – but I think the point is made.

Although all of this also matters for another reason, as well.

It is predictable (this being a Friday, me being me, and Devi being Devi (inter alia)) that I would be so vehement with regard to Her (mis)characterization here.

But it is not only Devi Who is ‘sold short’ and ‘mischaracterized’ by all of this ‘insistent gender essentialism’ of Sadhguru’s statement.

It is the male divinities of the Pantheon, also.

I mean, consider this – nobody disputes for a moment that Rudra is ‘Wrathful’, and ‘Conquest’ is also His to the general terror of His Foes.

Yet that is not all there is to Rudra. We also think not only of ‘Shiva’ – as the ‘calm’, ‘approachable’ , ‘beneficent’ Facing to He, but in particular of ‘Bholenath’. Shiva is prominently hailed as the Great God of Mercy, Compassion. Dare we suggest … ‘Embracing’ ?

It is in that approach and under such aegis that Shiva has maintained (‘dominated’?) a position of incredible saliency for the Hindusphere today – more prominent than Rudra the Wrathful facing , one can argue.

If one wants to say that Devi is Compassionate, Embracing … I will, of course, absolutely not disagree. That is partially why the ‘Conquest’ and ‘[Ultra-]Violent[-Light]’ war-front is so necessary.

But it is Both rather than Either. Even if various particular Forms of the Goddess might be rather more of the latter , and quite formidable to seek to approach … ‘selective’ in Their ’embracing’, we might suggest.

And this general principle of … Divinities actually being capable of being more than a single human-labelling at once; being at least as capable of ‘complexity’ as a human (by which I mean near infinitely moreso) , rather than merely being a rather narrowly construed and defined rhetorical shorthand description given the life of self-help books and occasional divine architecture / sculpting-work …

Well, as you can tell, I do not think that it is only Devi to Whom this applies, and to Whom Sadhguru’s comment is doing something of a reductionist disservice to.

Now in all fairness to him – it’s a tweet; hardly the platform for in-depth and nuanced communication at the best of times, much less about something as incredibly engaging as (Hindu) Theology, particularly of the Goddess orientation.

People make limited remarks which are incomplete in their conceptual elocution all the time. What is the big deal?

Well, at time of writing, it’s wracked up 203 replies, 2221 retweets, 5279 likes/favouritings, and 243.6k views. And climbing on all fronts.

Like it or not, Sadhguru has considerable currency and influence out there in the broader world. Not just in the Hindusphere itself, but also to some extent outside and beyond of it, as well.

When he says something like this, people presume that he is saying it with the utmost spiritual clarity. Well, people keen on him (or, at least, open to his messaging) do, anyway.

And thus, we somehow end up with the actual and incredibly deep, rich, multi-faceted, and ancient religious understanding of the Hindusphere (and the Shakta dimension in specia) … becoming seemingly ‘papered over’ in parts of the popular-consciousness (and, worse, sectors of actual Hindu religious engagement) via these skin-deep (un)’essentialisms’ which sound more like they came out of some Western Wiccan pastiche rather than the genuine and living (much less – ‘traditional’) sphere to our faith.

It is great that Sadhguru thinks that Nepal – and the Shakta dimension there – is worth highlighting and celebrating. We absolutely do agree that there is an incredible and amazing “richness” of the Culture to be found there, which must be honoured and protected.

A grand thing, then, that they have such powerful Devi-forms loka-lized thereto with which to do so.

Jai Mata Di.

4 thoughts on “On Sadhguru’s Recent Curious Comment About (Hindu, Divine) Feminine And Conquest

  1. I think Sadhguru’s mistake was to polarize the deities with stereotypical gender related attributes. With this he is forgetting that the goal of religion is not to humanize the divine deities, but to uplift humanity towards the divine. That is just my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yup, because then we’re talking about, as you put it, ‘[polarized] stereotypical gender related attributes’ rather than deities – or, for that matter, our engagement therwith.

      That said, i’ll undercut what i just said by noting that that ’embrace’ concept … ok, sure, that’d be engagement with the Divine [well, the other way around – Divine Engages With You].

      But yeah uh … nothing wrong with having such as a concept, but then trying to essentialize male divinity in the ‘opposite’ fashion in a way that … doesn’t really concord with the theology –

      it just comes across as a clumsy effort to highlight / hype Devi engagement / worship … by saying that Her (male) Counterpart(s) is not associated with / significantly capable of this other trait, and will instead “conquest’ you.

      Something that i have often been at pains to emphasize when we are dealing iwth Europeans, Americans – is that it is not a zero-sum game when it comes to having powerful female divinity and acknowledging, worshipping such. It is not like some certain sorts of wiccanry / and rather select sorts of feministy types seem to believe – which is basically simply the ‘opposite / inverse’ of what some pretty ‘anti-Goddess’ sorts because pro ‘Divine Patriarchy’ sorts have in their heads instead.

      We do not need to diminish male Gods – whether the Sky Father (and Expressions thereof) or otherwise – in order to ‘make space’ for female divinity.

      And, indeed, this is particularly egregious viz. the Shakta sphere in specia – because, after all, not only is She capable of standing upon Her Own Two (or four) Feet *without* such ‘clearing away’ [Her Own role ‘clearing things away’ at er .. certain points in the cycle of creation, perhaps, notwithstanding … ] but due to the .. well .. you know how things work – engagement with the Devi ‘just is’, on its (Her) own terms, no chicanery and ‘define in opposition to because hey dialectic’ required.

      Something like that, anyway. I’m rather .. all over hte place after a hard day or two’s efforts

      Good comment from you anyway

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Without understanding the multidimensional quality of our ancestral divinities, we are destined to have a very shallow view of them, which, in turn, will not make them very meaningful to us. Hopefully those led astray by this thinking will realise it and pursue a deeper knowledge of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: On Sadhguru’s Recent Curious Comment About (Hindu, Divine) Feminine And Conquest – Glyn Hnutu-healh: History, Alchemy, and Me

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