— © Dr. Satya Prakash Choudhary
This brings us to an interesting question. Is God male or female? Most religions say male, few religions say Female, while some might say neither.
Hinduism makes room for various conceptions of Ultimate Reality in which the feminine is one of the prominent ones. The Supreme Being is both Nirguna (Without Form) And Saguna (With Form). Nirguna is beyond the confines of gender. However as Saguna, The Divine can be Masculine or Feminine. The Devi Mahatmyam, being a Sakta text, conceptualizes Ultimate Reality As Feminine. Though other schools or world-views too speak of the Immanent Nature Of The Goddess, The Sakta world-view is explicit in establishing The Goddess or the Feminine as the Ultimate Transcendent Reality as well. Instead of Brahman, here it is Adya Sakti, the Mother of all origins, The Matrix Of The Unborn.
Goddess worship does not belong to any particular cult. It is true that the Sakta places the Feminine at centre stage. However The Goddess is worshipped by all irrespective of any distinction. In fact it is Shakti worship that is a common feature of most Hindu schools irrespective of whether they are Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakta or Ganapatya. The Divine Mother is synonymous with Shakti, The Unifying Force Of Existence. Shakti is the Divine Power of Creation, Sustenance And Transformation. In other words Shakti worship is nothing but worshipping the inherent Power of the Supreme Divine. According to a particular view prevalent among both scientists as well as spiritualists, everything in the universe is a manifestation of Imperishable Energy. According to the Shakta this energy is nothing other than The Manifestation Of The Divine Shakti, which Exists in every Form of existence.
Since this Shakti (Power or Energy) cannot be worshipped in its essential nature, it is worshipped through various symbolic manifestations that symbolise Shakti in its various phases. Thus truly speaking, all beings of the universe are Shakti worshippers, for there is none in this world who does not love power or energy in some form or the other.
Ma Durga, Chandi, Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati are HerDivine Forms. Each Form of The Devi Has a Distinctive Role meant for a Definite Purpose. YetEvery Form Is also identified as The Ultimate Reality of the universe. Each form of the Divine Mother Is Thus An Embodiment Of The Supreme Divinity.
One Form may Appear Different From The Other. But in spirit, Each Such Form Is One More Manifestation Springing From The One Source, Verily The Supreme Primordial Prakriti. She Is The One Without The Second, The Unmanifest. Hers Is The Cosmic Womb That Gives Birth To the entire universe. She not Only Begets The Universe but Also Resides In it through Her Power Of Veiling. Behind the veils of the Myriad Deities In Human And Non-Human Forms, there is The One formless Being, call it what you want to, be it Brahman, or Satchidananda (Being-Consciousness-Bliss) or The Supreme Being or Simply Being.