India, Hinduism and the New Century

Vishwa Bhaarath
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India, Hinduism and the New Century

India as a Sacred and Spiritual Land

By: David Frawley

Since ancient Vedic times, India has been regarded by its people as a sacred land, the very land of the Goddess or Divine Mother. The subcontinent geographically is shaped like a woman with Kashmir as her head and Sri Lanka at her feet. The region holds the mighty Himalayas, the world’s highest mountains, in the north, from which flow what is perhaps of the largest and most fertile group of great rivers in the world. India is the image of Mother Nature at her grandest from the mountains to the sea. 

   India has defined itself historically not in terms of conquests but in terms of spiritual teachings as a land of Yoga and meditation, which themes pervade its great national epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana. It has produced the world’s greatest abundance of religious and spiritual paths; form and formless, personal and impersonal, theistic and nontheistic. India has developed its civilization not out of mere human invention or according to any special historical revelation, but from the concept of dharma, a recognition of cosmic law as the prime factor in life. India has remained a land of both nature and the spirit, land of the Gods and the yogis, not simply a place of human habitation or ground for worldly progress. 

In Rigveda, the oldest teaching of the region, India has already lauded the land of the great Goddess  Sarasvati, who represents Divine knowledge, power, and beauty. Sarasvati was the name of the great river in  North India, which flowed from beyond the Ambala hills to the Rann of Kachchh in Gujarat, on which Vedic civilization first emerged after the end of the last Ice  Age. Sarasvati, however, is not simply the outer river but represents the inner stream of wisdom and inspiration, what was later called the Sushumna or the central channel of the subtle body. After the Sarasvati, The river dried up in a series of geological and climate changes during the third millennium BCE, the civilization of India shifted its center east to the more certain waters of the Ganga, but it never lost contact with its Vedic roots.

In classical India, the Goddess Durga, the martial form of Shiva’s consort, came to symbolize the country, perhaps owing to the need to defend the land from the many outside invaders. It was the Goddess Durga who, in a vision of his, gave the great Hindu King Shivaji his sword to resist the oppression of the Moguls under Aurangzeb restores Hindu rule in the country in the seventeenth century. Durga is the protective form of the Mother Goddess. She saves her children from danger, slaying all the demons (negative forces) outwardly and inwardly that might assail the body and soul. Even today, Hindus worship Mother India in the form of the Goddess Durga.
    Durga is dressed in red, rides a lion, and has a majestic form. She is the royal power of the Gods that should be the true ruling power in the world. She represents the defense of Dharma, not an aggressive force of worldly expansion. This, particularly during the current information age, is as much an intellectual and spiritual defense as a military one. For those who wish to understand India and its characteristic civilization, they should examine the image of the Goddess Durga. Why has Durga, the image of feminine and maternal power, come to symbolize India? Because India is the land of  Shakti, the Divine evolutionary and transformative force, and embodies higher feminine qualities of patience, tolerance, and synthesis. It is because India is ‘karma bhumi’, the land of spiritual work for the soul,  which is also the land of the spiritual battle, Kurukshetra, where humanity’s spiritual aspiration is both developed and tested.
   Yet Mother India, ‘Bharat Mata’ in Sanskrit, has many names. She is Bharata Bharati, the solar voice (Bharati) that carries the Divine fire. She is Bharata Bhavani, Mother India as the source of life, in which form the great modern rishi, Sri Aurobindo, lauded her. She is Sita, the Goddess of fertile rivers and fields, humble before the Divine solar light of Rama. She is Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayas, wedded to Shiva, the transcendent. She is Lakshmi, the beauty and fertility that is wedded to Vishnu, the Divine force that sustains life. To understand India, we must first recognize the Goddess that is her personification in different forms.

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