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Mediating role of the Divine Mother

From: Ramagopal Mudumbi (
Date: Thu Mar 05 1998 - 10:12:04 PST

Dear Bhakti members:

There is a wonderful article on the Divine Mother in today's Hindu and
thought it may be of interest to our group. 

               Mediating role of the Divine Mother 

The Ultimate Reality according to Visishtadvaita school of philosophy is
Sriman Narayana and the religion based on this school is thus called
Srivaishnavism. The Lord and Sri are not two different principles but a
metaphysical unity. This concept is unique to this Vedanta. When the
Supreme Being assumes different forms Sri also does so. 

Besides Her cosmic functions, Her role is very important in the redemption
of the soul from bondage for She is epitomised as the very personification
of the Lord's compassion. The Divine Mother thus assumes the natural role
of mediator (Purushakara) when man surrenders to the Lord. The scriptures
right from the Vedas state that the Almighty derives His auspiciousness and
glory from Sri. 

In the Mantrarajapada stotra occurs the term ``Bhadra'' as an epithet of
Lord Narasimha. It is relevant to note that Sankara while commenting on
this term occuring in the Narasimhatapaniyopanishad interprets it to mean
auspiciousness. This is the reason that in this form He is always referred
to as Lakshminarasimha. It should be noted that whenever there is reference
to the Supreme Being, Sri is also subsumed in it (termed as Sriyahpatitva
which is His essential nature). Thus all the attributes of the Lord apply
to the Divine Mother also. 

Another important scriptural text on which the Visishtadvaita metaphysics
and ethics are based especially with reference to Sri, is the Pancharatra
Agama. It is so called because it was taught to five sages by the Lord
Himself during the course of five nights and propagated by them.
Traditionally reckoned as 108 the important among them are the Jayakhya,
Sattvata, Paushkara, Ahirbudhnya and the Padma Samhitas. Lakshmi Tantra is
the text which treats the role of Sri with meticulous detail. 

In his discourse Mukkur Sri Lakshminarasimhachariar said, Srisukta was the
Vedic hymn which glorified Lakshmi. An interesting feature of this hymn is
that though it eulogises Sri, the hymn is addressed to the Lord. The
esoteric significance of this is that one should address the Lord to obtain
Her grace and while performing surrender (Saranagati) to the Lord it is to
Sri one should submit for intercession. 

Other hymns in praise of Sri in this tradition are the Catussloki of
Yamunacharya (Alavandar), Sristava of Kuresa, Srigunaratnakosa of Parasara
Bhattar and Sristuti of Vedanta Desika. The etymological interpretation of
the word Sri gives the qualities which are basic to Her nature, as one who
removes the lapses of and listens to the plaints of devotees, mediates and
convinces the Lord to shower His grace on them.

Ramanuja Dasan