Sri Matre Namaha
Nirakara – The One Hundred & Thirty Seventh name in Lalitha Sahasranamam.
na vidyate akarah yasyah sa
She who is formless
She who does not have any shape
The view of the Madhyamika Baudhas (who belong to sakaravijnanavada, i.e., idealism) is refuted. According to them everything has form.
Akara means the form to which the qualities are attributed, and which is not real
She is formless. This is an important aspect of nirguna Brahman. The qualities of the formless Brahman are described one after another.
“Salutations to the Divine Mother who exists in all beings in the form of intelligence, mercy and beauty, Salutations, O Sweet Mother, the consort of Lord Siva. O Mother Parvati! Thou art Lakshmi, Thou art Saraswati. Thou art Kaali, Durga and Kundalini Shakti. Thou art in the form of all objects. Thou art the sole refuge of all. Thou hast enchanted the whole world. The whole universe is the play of Thy three Gunas. How can I praise Thee? Thy glory is in¬describable. Thy splendour is ineffable. Protect me. Guide me, O Loving Mother!”
This small prayer came to my mind when I read her name nirakara.
The Goddess is multi-faceted, known by myriad names and personified in many forms. As well as responding to the names of Parvati, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Sakti, she also manifests under the titles of Gauri, Uma, Sati, Aditi, Maya, Ganga, Prakriti, Gayatri, Tara, Minaksi, Mahadevi, Kundalini, Durga, Kali, Chamunda and in many other guises.
The great mountain peaks of the Himalayas Annapurna, Nanda Devi and Chomo-Lung-Ma (known to Westerners as the world’s highest mountain, Everest) all testify to her divine presence. Like the facets of a diamond, these varying forms of the Great Universal Energy that is Devi are merely reflections of the countless aspects that make the whole, the Absolute.
The Goddess is considered to be the very spring from which every kind of love flows into the world. From the vast ocean of her being the morphogenetic field that produces all forms the Goddess gives birth to all living things. The pouring forth of this love-energy from her timeless, formless source into the field of time constitutes a sacred mystery.
Representations of the Goddess as a crouching woman giving birth to the manifold forms of her creation can be found in Indian art. As the Sky-Goddess Aditi, she pervades all space and is mother to the Gods so revered by the Indo-Aryans.
Maya the Sanskrit word for “magic” and “illusion” describes her role as the originator of all material things, all that is perceptible to the senses. As Earth Mother, she is also a deity closely associated with Nature and fertility. Plants, leaves and flowers are commonly used in Indian medicine and, when they appear in portrayals of the Earth Mother .
Adorned with jewels and ornaments, she represents all that is precious. She alone is the eternal jewel whose brilliance encompasses and illuminates the universe.
Abstract forms can also depict the Goddess in her various forms.As Creator she is symbolised by a downward pointing triangle, the yoni, representative of female sexuality.As Preserver, she takes the form of a straight line, and as Destroyer she is recognised in the form of the circle.In her unmanifested state as the Source of all life, the Goddess is depicted simply as a dot, the bindu, or seed-state of her being.
Devi is synonymous with Sakti or the Divine power that manifests, sustains and trans¬forms the universe as the one unifying Force of Existence. In fact worship of Devi is not sectarian. It does not belong to any cult, as it is commonly mistaken to be. Devi is not what is set in opposition to Vishnu or Siva, as the common populace understands. By Devi or Sakti we mean the presupposition of all forms of existential powers, the omnipotence and powers! These powers are the glorious attri¬butes of God—you may call Him Vishnu or Siva as you like. In other words, Sakti is the very possibility of the Absolute’s appearing as many, of God’s causing this universe. God creates this world through Srishti-Sakti (creative power), preserves through Sthiti-Sakti (preservative power) and destroys through Samhara-Sakti (destructive power). Sakti and Sakta are one, the power and the one who possesses the power cannot be separated; God and Sakti are like fire and heat of fire.
It is unfortunate that Devi is understood as a mere blood-thirsty ‘Hindu Goddess’. No! Devi is not the property of the Hindus alone. Devi does not belong to any religion…. not only so much. Devi is not differentiated from the Deva by sexual factors. Devi is the conscious power of the Deva. Let this not be forgotten. The words Devi, Sakti etc., and the ideas of the different forms connected with these names are concessions given to the limitations of human knowledge; they are not ultimate definitions of Sakti! The original Sakti is beyond human comprehension. Bhagavan Krishna says in the Gita, —This is only My lower Nature (Sakti)—beyond is My higher Nature (the Original Sakti), the life-principle which sustains this universe. The Upanishad says, —The Para Sakti—supreme power of this God—is heard of in varieties of ways, this power is the nature of God, manifesting as knowledge, strength and activity. Truly speaking, all beings of the universe are Sakti worshipers, for there is none who does not love and long for power in some form or other. Physicists and scientists have proved now that everything is pure imperishable energy. This energy is only a form of Divine Sakti which exists in every form of existence.
Since Sakti cannot be worshipped in its essential nature, it is worshipped as conceived of in its manifestation, viz., creation, preserva¬tion and destruction. Sakti in relation to these three functions is Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Kaali. These, as is evident, are not three distinct Devis, but the One formless Devi worshipped in three forms. The Devas corresponding to these are Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvara, who in the same way are not three Devas, but the forms of the one Supreme Deva who is formless.
Sarasvati is cosmic intelligence, cosmic consciousness, cosmic knowledge. Worship of Sarasvati is necessary for Buddhi-Suddhi and Viveka-Udaya, Vichara Sakti, for Jnana or Self-realisation. Lakshmi does not mean mere material wealth like gold, cattle, etc. All kinds of prosperity, glory, magnificence, joy, exalta¬tion or greatness come under Lakshmi. Appaya Dikshita calls even final Liberation as —Moksha-Samrajya-Lakshmi. Hence worship of Lakshmi means the worship of the central purpose of existence itself. Mahakaali is the transformative power of Divinity, the power that dissolves multiplicity in unity. The worship of Devi is, therefore, the explanation of the entire process of spiritual Sadhana in all its aspects.For the sake of the continuance of Her Divine Play here, She Herself, as Avidya Maya, has veiled the Truth from you and bound you to this Samsara. When She is propitiated through the practice of sincere devotion and unconditional self-surrender, She, as Vidya-Maya, removes the veil and enables you to per¬ceive the Truth.
To conclude I would say:
“Who dares misery, love
And hug the form of death,
Dance in destruction’s dance
To him the Mother comes.”