Sri Matre Namaha
Bakthi-vashya – The One Hundred & Twentyth name in Lalitha Sahasranamam.
She is controlled by devotional act, or by the ‘Indication’.
Sruti also says, “O Siva, though independent, you become subservient by devotion”.
She is controlled by devotion or She is attracted by devotion. Vashya means attraction or keeping under control. Shivananda Lahari (Shivananda Lahari is in praise of Shiva and Soundarya Lahari is in praise of Lalithambigai. Both have 100 verses each and composed by Adi Shankara) verse 62 refers the Divine Mother as ‘bhakthi janani’ meaning the mother thy name is devotion and ‘bhaktarbhakam rakshati’ nurses the devotee as Her child. When someone is overwhelmed with the feeling of devotion, tears roll down his eyes, his voice gets choked and gooseberry pimples appear. This could be followed by a body shudder.
The next verse refers to the story of Kannappa Nayanar (KN). He was a great devotee of Shiva and his devotion is beyond explanation. KN used to worship Shiva in the form of a linga. KN did not know any rituals as prescribed by sastras. He used to offer raw meat to Shiva and Shiva also gladly accepted his offerings. One day, KN noticed blood oozing out of one of the eyes of Shiva. KN tried to arrest the oozing by trying different methods. But none of them worked. Then he thought for a moment and immediately, KN took one of his own eyes and placed in the place of the bleeding eye of Shiva. The oozing stopped immediately. The other eye of Shiva also started oozing blood. This time KN did not try any other methods. He placed his big toe on the oozing eye of Shiva as a marking, as he will not be able to see anything, and was about to remove another eye also. At that time, Shiva appeared before him.
Such is the type of devotion which Shankara refers to in this verse. The verse says ‘the one who follows Kannappa Nayanar, his (the one who follows KN) footwear is used as kusa grass (dharba) for the kalasa (a pot containing water with mango leaves and coconut on the top with a cluster of kusa grass. When mantras are recited, the energy of the mantras gets transmitted to the water inside the vessel. This water is used for purification purpose. This is water is also used to purify a sadhaka and is called mantra bath. Kusa grass or dharba is used for all purification purposes) that is used to give a vedic bath to Shiva”. This is called devotion. True devotion is nothing but sincere love. Those who are ignorant say that Shiva and love are different. Those who are knowledgeable say that both Shiva and love are the same says Thirumular, the great Tamil saint.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says that those who are the masters in Vedas and sastras say this is right and that is wrong. Assuming there are defects in the ways of worship by such devotees, God will never mind the defects as He wants only a sincere devotion. He is ready to bless us, but we are not ready to get his blessings. This is because, the path followed by us is wrong.
Krishna says in Gita 9.30 “Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination” and Krishna proceeds to say in the next verse “that my devotee never perishes”.
In 17.28 Krishna says “anything done as a sacrifice or penance without faith in the Supreme is impermanent and useless both in this life and the next”. In 11.54 “Only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am” says the Lord. All the scriptures and srutis make a clear definition of devotion. Devotion can therefore be defined “as the subject where the feelings of ardent love blossoms within, expecting nothing in return, crossing the boundaries and limitations of all the prescribed rituals and gets transformed into an object where there is a desire to stay put with that object forever”.
She who can be controlled by devotion
She is often referred to as goddess of devotion. All potencies of the Lord have personified forms. In Madhurya-kadambini (1.3) Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains that bhakti is the svarupasakti of Bhagavan and that she is yadrccha, which means that bhakti has her own will. Being sva-prakasa, self-manifest, she is not dependent on any other agency in order to manifest in a person’s heart. In the Bhagavatam (1.2.6) it is said: yato bhaktir adhoksaje ahaituky apratihata – “that by which causeless and uninterrupted bhakti for Lord Adhoksaja arises.”
The word ahaituky in this sloka indicates that bhakti has no cause. The only cause of bhakti is bhakti herself. Srila Cakravartipada analyzes the meaning of this statement. He says that bhakti situated in the heart of a bhava-bhakta is the only cause for her manifesting in others. The Bhagavad Gita (7,16) mentions four kinds of devotees: the distressed, the ones desiring wealth, the ones thirsting for knowledge and the wise. The distressed seek freedom from suffering and disease from God. Those desiring wealth pray for the joys and comforts of wealth. Those thirsty for knowledge address the Divine as the supreme teacher. They see God as the source of all knowledge, art and wisdom and desire knowledge, proficiency and wisdom. The highest type of devotee, the jnani, doesn’t seek anything from God but lives and acts from the realization that God is all and all is God. The wise desire nothing but to realize and become one with the Divine itself. They love God for her own sake.such devotion creates a bond between god and her devotee which is controlled by the devotee because of his love towards her.
There are so many stories which shows how the goddess protects and allows her devotees to take command of her. it only to shows her love for them that she plays such lilas.
Shri-Dhar was an ardent devotee of Ma Vaishno Devi. He resided in a village called Hansali, 2 Km away from the present Katra town. Once Ma appeared to him in the form of a young bewitching girl. The young girl asked the humble Pandit to hold a ‘Bhandara’. (A feast to feed the mendicants and devotees) The Pandit set out to invite people from the village and near-by places. He also invited ‘Bhairav Nath’.
Bhairav Nath asked Shri-Dhar how he was planning to fulfill the requirements. He reminded him of the bad consequences in case of failure. As Panditji was lost in worry, the Divine girl appeared and told Him not to be despondent as everything had been arranged. She asked that over 360 devotees be seated in the small hut. True to Her word the Bhandara went smoothly with food and place to spare.
Bhairav Nath admitted that the girl had supernatural powers and decided to test Her further. Bhairav Nath followed the Divine girl to Trikuta Hills. For 9 months Bhairav Nath was searching for the mystic girl in the mountains. He saw the ‘girl’ hitting the stone with an arrow and water gushing out of the stone. He ‘saw’ the ‘girl’ sitting on the mountain top. When Bhairav went to that place, he saw footprints on the stone. Bhairav wondered how the ‘girl’ had eluded him for 9 months! Wondering whether she was hiding in the cave (Adi Kunwaari), he decide to enter it.
On seeing Bhairav entering the cave, Ma tore open a path behind the cave, by Her trident and came out. Ma reached the beautiful cave in the Trikuta mountain. She urged Bhairav not to follow Her. But he disobeyed. The Goddess took the shape of Fierce Chandi and killed Bhairav. The head of Bhairav fell on the mountain peak. Bhairav had Spiritual powers. So though his head was severed, he still retained consciousness. Bhairav repented for his conduct. Ma forgave him and granted him the boon that whosoever worshipped Her would later visit his shrine.
Meanwhile Pandit Shree-Dhar became impatient. He started to march towards Trikuta Mountain on the same path that he had witnessed in a dream. He ultimately reached the cave mouth. He made a daily routine of worshipping the ‘Pindis’ in several ways. His worship pleased the Goddess. She appeared in front of him and blessed him. Since that day, Shree-Dhar and his descendants have been worshipping the Goddess Mother Vaishno Devi.
Another typical example of devi listening to her devotees command is when It is believed that Kamakshi was originally a Ugra Swaroopini, and that Aadi Sankaracharya, upon establishing the Sri Chakra, personified her as the Shanta Swaroopini (see also Akhilandeswari at Thiruvanaikkaval). It is believed that during the days of Adi Sankara, the presence of the Ugra Swaroopini was felt outside the temple precincts, and that Sankaracharya had requested her not to leave the temple complex. Symbolic of this, the festival image of Kamakshi, takes leave from Sankaracharya, at his shrine in the inner prakaram, each time she is taken out in procession.