Inspiring Metaphors: Mother and Father

In all cultures there are mythologies and analogies referring to the cognitive (consciousness) and operative (creative) aspects of the Supreme Being. In certain religions like Islam the “mother” metaphor is carefully avoided, instead the 99 attributes of Allah are mentioned to refer to different “aspects” of the Supreme Being. In Christianity, the “mother” metaphor brings the spiritual Mother Mary to mind. In Hinduism there is no restriction on the “mother” metaphor and there are plenty of names used to refer to the “mother” aspect of the Supreme Being. In general the “mother” metaphor is used for the the “Cosmic Operative Principle” or “Creative Matrix”.

In the Ancient Egyptian Cosmology Osiris was thought of as the Cosmic Father and Isis as the Cosmic Mother. Their son Horus represented the Cosmos which is born as a result of the love affair between Osiris and Isis. In this analogy the love of Cosmic Mother for the Cosmic Father is the cause of Cosmos.

Some say that in modern mythology spiritual Mother Mary replaced Isis while the Holy Spirit replaced Osiris. When I was thinking about the Trinity concept of Christianity, however, my conception of Holy Spirit was closer to the Prakrti of Tantra Yoga therefore closer to the concept of “mother.”

In Tantra Yoga, in the historical context some of these conceptual pairs like Puruśa/Prakrti (Shiva/Shakti), were understood using the father/mother metaphor. Shrii Shrii Anandamurti who reformulated Tantra Yoga for the present age, however, was very careful about the “mother” metaphor. Shrii Shrii Anandamurti was very careful about naming the “aspects” of the Supreme Being and the stages of the transformation from Being to Becoming.

Brahma is the composite of Shiva and Shakti” (Ananda Sutram 1-1)

Avtk. Ananda Mitra Ac. explains this sutra as follows:

This is the basic concept of Ananda Marga philosophy – that the Supreme Entity is One but has two aspects: the Cognitive Principle and the Operative Principle, Shiva and Shakti. It is impossible to conceive of one entity without the other; Consciousness and Its Energy of creation are as inseparable as fire and its heat; as milk and its whiteness, as two sides of a piece of paper. This concept has often been depicted symbolically in the image of a hermaphrodite (man and woman in the same body), or in Indian sculture as two lovers locked in a tight embrace. In this sutra the term `atmakam’ has been used to express the relationship: Brahma is the composite of, the combined name of, Consciousness and the Operative Principle, Brahma is not a third entity.” [1]

The Cosmic Operative Principle, or Cosmic Creative Principle, or Causal Matrix, is sheltered in the Transcendental Entity, the Supreme Cognition.”

from “Supreme Cognition”, Subháśita Saḿgraha Part 24 [2]

Prakrti and Máyá are almost synonymous, but in common usage there is a shade of difference in the meaning. In cases where the three guńas or attributes, sattva (sentient), rajah (mutative) and tamah (static), are in equilibrium, the word Prakrti, is generally used. Such equilibrated Mulá Prakrti (Primordial Force or Operative Principle) is unmanifest but where the three components are not in equilibrium, such a state is called Máyá (the Creative Principle). Where there is no equipoise or equality, where there is disparity – either sattva or tamah is predominant. The state of disparity in which sattva (the Sentient Force) is greater, is called Vidyámáyá or Introversive Force and the state in which Tamah (the Static Force) is greater, is called Avidyámáyá or Extroversive Force.”

So you see, it is only due to the disparity in the trivalent factors of Prakrti that the world is conceived in the Cosmic Mind. Similarly when the unit mind races towards Brahma, it is also due to the same attributional disparity of Prakrti. If Prakrti had been in equipoise, no movement would have been possible in the primordial state where Prakrti is inexplicit and dormant in Puruśa – this state is a stationary state. Manifested Prakrti is of course dynamic, be that momentum introversive or extroversive. By the introversive momentum of Prakrti under the influence of Vidyámáyá, the unit beings (jiivas) proceed towards sublimity. But the stage when it reaches in that Sublime Uniformity, not only does the Avidyámáyá or extroversive force [[not]] exist, but even Vidyámáyá’s potential influence over the individuality of the unit also disappears due to her own super-exaltation. For the purpose of sádhaná (spiritual practices) sádhakas (spiritual aspirants) have to take the help of Vidyámáyá or introversive force though finally they have to forgo her also.”

This Máyá (creative principle) is the Mother of the individuality of the unit entity, for without Máyá individuality does not come into being. The absence of motivity means the absence of creation. Had there been no Máyá, the potentiality of the individuality would have ever remained in Shiva or Cosmic Consciousness. Máyá is the causal matrix of the creation of this disparate, illusory world. Everything of this evolved world is the manifestation of her heterogeneous forms, her playful diversion.”

from “The Intuitional Science of the Vedas – 6” (1956), published in Subháśita Saḿgraha Part 3 [2]

For more explanations of Puruśa/Prakrti (Shiva/Shakti) see the article “Duality and Interaction

[1] Avadhutika Ananda Mitra Ac., The Spiritual Philosophy of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti: A Commentary on Ananda Sutram, 2nd Edition, Ananda Marga Publications, ISBN 81-7252-119-7

[2] You can obtain Shrii Shrii Anandamurti’s publications from Ananda Marga Books.


About Suresh Emre

I have worked as a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory. I am a volunteer for the Renaissance Universal movement. My main goal is to inspire the reader to engage in Self-discovery and expansion of consciousness.
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