'Devi Bhagavatam' is a very big book, and just to read it takes months. It contains a lot of debates as to who is the creator - Vishnu is the creator, Shiva is the creator, or any male god is the creator. Finally, they come to an agreement that the primal creator is Shakti. But how can Shakti create the whole universe out of herself? Is this immaculate conception possible?
Ordinarily a woman cannot conceive a child without the help of a man, but it is said that Devi has both qualities within her. She can create anything within herself. And it is also true that a female can produce sperm in her own body. Of course, the production of sperm does not take place in every woman. It is a freak of nature.
Now, if a woman can create sperm within herself, she can produce a child, and that child will be immaculate. This is a scientific fact. However, a man cannot produce an ova in himself. That is the limitation of the male body and the highest function of the female body. Judging from this point of view, Devi is said to be the primal creator because she has both the possibilities in herself.
Concentration, meditation, worship, faith and devotion to Devi are said to give results very fast. This is because Devi is Matri Shakti. Matri means motherly, maternal. Matri Shakti implies unselfish love, and this we can find in our daily life also. It is not only in Devi, but also in our womenfolk, that more tenderness, love and compassion are exhibited. Naturally, such a person will grant whatever you ask.
In India the children, especially the boys, go to their mother and not to their father to ask for money. This is not because the mother is foolish or weak. She knows what this fellow is going to get up to, but still she will grant his request because she loves him.
So, in Devi Bhagavatam it is said that Shakti is the granter of all boons. You do not have to waste a lot of time in pleasing her. There are thousands of stories about devotees who worshipped her, how they worshipped her, and in what manner their impossible wishes were granted.
In Devi Bhagavatam it says that: "If Shiva be deprived of Kula Kundalini Shakti, He becomes a lifeless corpse. She is present everywhere, in everything, in this universe, from highest Brahma to the lowest blade of grass. Verily, everything becomes quite inert, if deprived of force. Thus the omnipotent Shakti, the wise call by the name of Brahma."
Devi Bhagavatam then goes on to tell you how to worship Devi and what her qualities are; in her benign form and in her angry form. Lakshmi is very beautiful; you can say 'Miss Universe'. Once you look at her you are finished. That is how she is described. It is said that even demons, ghosts and monsters who look upon her, are hypnotised.
Saraswati is very learned, she is a scholar. She likes to sing and to read. She dresses in white and you will always find a veena in one hand and a book in the other. The book denotes knowledge and learning. In India all the school children, from primary to university, repeat the mantra of Saraswati in order to pass their examinations. There is a special day when all the students in India make a statue or idol of Saraswati and carry it through the streets singing the name of Saraswati. If you were to ask them why they do this, they would say, 'To get the best marks in the examination.'
Then there is the aspect of Durga. She is the remover of all obstacles. If you are facing a murder charge, if you are being arrested for tax evasion, or if your business is going downhill, they say that if you worship Durga, everything will be all right.
Kali is another aspect - a terrible one! She is the remover of all obstacles. She is very black, more black than an African, and very fat and stout. They say you can please her very quickly, but only those who are spiritually minded should evoke her blessings. Besides these, there are many other aspects or Shakti or Devi.
Now, how should Devi be worshipped? How to awaken her? How to communicate with her? For this, there are also sadhanas written in the Devi Bhagavatam. These sadhanas are so many that I cannot tell you all of them. In the book it is written how you should do pranayama, what kind of mala you should wear, what mantra you should repeat, how you should start the practice, and for how long you should practice the mantra.
Devi Bhagavatam is a combination of spiritual practices, with interesting and impossible stories, with all types of metaphors and allegories. By the time you finish the book, you will never say God is the Father, you will say God the Mother. And, even if God were a Father, you would replace him and put mother there, because you need someone who loves you and who listens to you. In history also you will see this. Matriarchal religions have always been very compassionate and harmonious while patriarchal religions have been aggressive and militant.