Experiencing the Divine

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, Ganga Darshan, 3 December 1995

Paramahamsaji has always supported women. Because of this he has also been misunderstood and there have been many stories. But he has always continued to encourage and support women. Even when the ashram was first established in 1963, he did not come to the forefront at all, rather he made Ma Yogashakti the head of the movement. He also made Swami Atmananda the first acharya, then Swami Amritananda and others after that. Now Swami Gyanprakash is the President of BSY.

Some people did not like or appreciate this because of their own ambitions. Paramahamsaji has always maintained that men are a very ambitious lot. They have a greater desire to reach the top, but are very unstable. Women are more stable mentally and emotionally and clearer in their approach to life. What type of society encourages what kind of qualities is a different subject. Religion comes in, politics comes in, many factors come in. But Paramahamsaji has always maintained that women are superior to men in every respect and they have to be nurtured properly for the right quality to manifest.

Paramahamsaji says that God has always been a woman. We have made God into a male figure due to religious influences or due to the experiences of another being which we took to be the only truth. For example, Christ said, 'My Father and I are one.' That was Christ's personal experience in which he had a father-son identification with God. Later on people interpreted his thoughts as patriarchal. This idea was carried forward and Mother Mary was assigned the second post.

It is the same in the vedic tradition, but not the tantric tradition. In the tantric tradition, especially the Shakta system, they speak of ten powers, ten mahavidyas. The first one is Kali, the feminine aspect, Kala, the devourer of time. The tenth power is Kamala, another feminine aspect, meaning the unfoldment of potential, when one has gone beyond the experience of time, space and object and is in tune with the cosmic nature.

The only male figure in the Shakta Tantra is Shiva, who is usually pictured lying down on the ground with Shakti standing on top of his body. There is another figure of Shiva, Ardhanarishwara, in which he is half male and half female. These are the only two major images that are used in the Shakta tradition.

In the vedic tradition they speak of the original God as a female deity, hiranyagarbha, the golden womb. Garbha means 'womb'. Some people call it the golden egg, but the literal translation is the golden womb. The womb is an attribute of the feminine body. So even the vedic tradition speaks of hiranyagarbha as the original God, as the original guru, as the original deity.

The first person to come forth from the hiranyagarbha was Narayana. Narayana is life. When a baby comes out of the womb there is life. The aspect of Narayana is the life force that takes birth from the golden womb. From Narayana came creation – Brahma. Brahma became prominent. From Narayana came the power of sustenance – Vishnu. Vishnu became prominent. From Narayana came the power of transmutation and transformation – Shiva. Shiva became prominent. They formed the trinity. But that trinity is of the manifest nature only, not the seed nature. The seed nature is hiranyagarbha.

There is no image of hiranyagarbha. Narayana has name, form and quality. Brahma has name, form and quality. Vishnu has name, form and quality. Hiranyagarbha has no name, form or quality. The only symbol that is used to describe hiranya-garbha is a golden egg, and even that is wrong because garbha means womb not egg.

People have to realise the truth themselves. It is no use discussing whether God is male or female because intellectually anything can be said. I don't think these matters are for intellectualisation, rather for gaining personal experience in your own sadhana. If you have a mind like Christ then you will say that 'God is my Father'. If you have a mentality like Radha then you will say 'God is my lover'. What is important is not how you can describe a power or a force rationally, but how you experience it. Paramahamsaji has given us a glimpse of that experience in his own way. As he said, things are secret, but an open secret.