Is Durga devi a demigodess in the category of jiva tattva?
Transcribed by : Shalini Ahluwalia
Question: Does Durga devi fall in the category of demi-god and is she shakti-tattva?
Answer: Actually there are two different things here. There are these three tattvas primarily – jiva tattva, shambhu tattva and Vishnu tattva. Now even shambhu tattva is considered to be a demi-god sometimes. Lord Shiva is often classified as a demi-god. Now the shakti tattva specifically whether it is a separate category itself apart from these three categories or it is more a term used to refer to the energy of the energetic. That means if you see we say that all the consorts they are manifestation of Shrimati Radharani. So then in one sense just as we say that Shiva is one sense the manifestation of Vishnu, transformed, similarly Parvati is the manifestation of Radharani or Laxmi devi also. But then we say that Shiva is shiva tattva. So now Parvati, she is in my understanding – you know I have not come across any direct specific reference to the specific word shakti tattva as a distinct category apart from the three categories of these three. So it basically indicates, now the word is used ofcourse no doubt, but specifically you know like we have these three categories or these four categories – four kinds of seekers, four kinds of people who don’t surrender to Krishna. So like that as a fourth category apart from these three I have not across anywhere as shakti tattva. The word is used more to refer to the energy of an energetic person. So just as Shiva can be called as a demi-god so similarly Durga can also be called a demi-goddess and infact we see this – devi mahesh haridham sute suteshu – so in that hierarchy Mahesh is put and below that in one sense devi is put. So devi’s dham is lower. She is definitely not like a, she is much more powerful then the other demi-gods like say Indra or Chandra because she is the foundation of material existence. But still, now if you see another problem is that the word demi-god itself is not there in Sanskrit. Demi-god is actually Prabhupada’s rendition of devata. And the previous acharyas as far as I have seen – BhaktiSiddhant Saraswati and BhaktiVinod Thakur – have not used that word, they have simply used devata only directly or sometimes they use the word Gods. So now if we consider demi-god as devata then devi will naturally be demi-goddess so in that sense Durga devi can be also called as demi-goddess. So I would say that – no, I don’t think she will be jiva tattva because she is a….my understanding is whichever category the consort belongs to that is the category of shakti tattva also because at one level we say…I don’t see any place where specifically she is mentioned as jiva tattva or anything like that. Infact the ChaitanyaCharitamrita is quite clear that Radha and Krishna are non-different so if they are like one person in two forms then Radha Krishna ek atma dui deh dhari. So that means she is almost having all the potencies though for the rasa she does not exhibit all the potencies always. So my understanding would be that she is also, usually the shakti tattva will belong to the category to which the shaktimaan belongs. So Parvati will belong to the tattva to which her Lord Shiva belongs. Now I don’t have any specific reference but I would definitely say that calling her a jiva tattva would be wrong because if we see that in the eighth Canto in the thirteenth- fourteenth chapter is described the system universal management and future Manus. So there the change with every manvantar is described and Indra and Chandra and other devatas change, the Manus change but there is no indication of the devi changing and we know Brahmaji also changes after the end of a kalpa but even when a new creation happens whether there is a new devi there is no exact mention like that. We know that Rudra comes from Brahmaji and we can say that after Rudra appears devi can also appear. Now Rudra we know is a manifestation of Sadashiv who is having his own abode at the junction of the material and spiritual world. So just as that Rudra manifests over here similarly his consort will also manifest over here. So I think we can positively say that Durga devi is not a jiva tattva because there is no reference like the other devatas or jiva tattvas of her being a post which keeps changing with different people occupying that post. So just as Sadashiv is eternal so his consort is also eternal in the eternal abode but just as Sadashiv when he manifests in the material world as Rudra – the eleven Rudras – those Rudras are not eternal, they exist as long as the universe exists. So similarly that manifestation will be temporary also, the manifestation of Durga devi in the material world as the consort of the Rudras, that will be temporary.