There are two Durgās—Yogamāyā and Mahāmāyā. Yogamāyā is beyond this material world. She does not control the material worlds, but controls those who like to serve Kṛṣṇa. She descends as Yogamāyā and gives much energy and strength to the devotees, who wish to realize Kṛṣṇa. But, the shadow of Yogamāyā is called Durgā, Mahāmāyā, who can give facilities for the soul’s desires of sense gratification. And this desire for happiness and pleasure in this world is illusory. She cannot give spiritual happiness, peace and tranquility. This has been declared in the Brahma-saṁhitā. Thus, if you want to know the real meanings, then you will have to seek the shelter of a bona fide Vaiṣṇava who has realized this tattva (philosophical understandings grounded in spiritual reality). By your own efforts, by the mind, you will not be able to touch the real meanings of the statements quoted by the śāstras and the Vaiṣṇavas. So, my request to you is that when I have time, you can come and we can discuss about these subject matters. Then I will help you understand better.
Now, I will have to give class.
Devotee: That’s what I want to know about Yogamāyā. Many books don’t explain the position of Yogamāyā.
Śrīla Gurudeva: The position of Yogamāyā has been clearly explained in Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and other corollary scriptures. Yogamāyā—yoga means combining or tying two things together. yoga is the combination of four things or numerous things. On one side is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the process by which all the conditioned souls of this world can be connected to Him is called yoga. Māyā means the power, śakti of Kṛṣṇa. The potency who combines or links all the jīvas with Kṛṣṇa is called Yogamāyā. The souls of this world are against the service of Kṛṣṇa, they have forgotten Kṛṣṇa and they always want material happiness and pleasure. Keeping Kṛṣṇa behind, their desires are separate from loving devotion unto the Lord. Then the shadow of Yogamāyā becomes Durgā or Mahāmāyā. Thus, the conditioned souls are trapped in the wheel of repeated birth, death, sorrows, and sufferings. By constantly undergoing miseries, if any conditioned soul understands and realizes, “We are helpless!” because the conditioned souls have to repeatedly take birth, become old, undergo suffering and sorrows and finally die. Realizing your helpless state, if you cry out, “Anyone please help me!” then even so, Durgā will not hear your cries. Durgā punishes and controls the souls so much that the souls will realize how helpless they are and if in that state of despair, they call out to their Prabhu-Kṛṣṇa, then Kṛṣṇa removes the influence of māyā on them. This has been told in Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, 9.11:
avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā
mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam
paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto
Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature as the Supreme Lord of all that be.
Kṛṣṇa has also said in the Bhagavad-gītā, 7.14:
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante
māyām etāṁ taranti te
This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.
The meaning of this śloka is that Durgā says, “If anyone takes shelter of my master, I lift that person up from the dark, blind well of saṁsāra. Otherwise, he will continue to suffer the punishment of the cycle of birth, death, sorrows, and sufferings.”
The souls will not emerge from Māyā-devī’s clutches without the help of Kṛṣṇa. For many lives, they will continue suffering. So, you should take shelter of the real form of Durgā-devī who is Yogamāyā. She will connect us to Kṛṣṇa and we will be offered to His lotus feet. On being offered to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, we will be so happy and we will find ourselves out of this miserable world.
Devotee: The devotees have told me that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I can’t argue them, but I still don’t know why I feel attraction for Durgā-devī.
Śrīla Gurudeva: You should have attraction, no harm. You can have some attraction for Durgā and her manifestations like Kali, Caṇḍī, Bhairavī; but only if you know them to be maidservants of Kṛṣṇa. Then you can have a good, loving relationship with them. If you realize that Durgā is a goddess who always serves Kṛṣṇa and follows the orders of Kṛṣṇa, then your worship of her is not independent. Kṛṣṇa tells Durgā-devī, “Those who are against Me should be punished.” Kṛṣṇa orders Durgā-devī and she follows all the orders of Kṛṣṇa very well. So, she should be respected. She is the warden or superintendent of this prison house of material existence. We should pray to Durgā-devī, “O Devī! You should excuse me. I beg for your mercy and fall at your feet so that my mind is turned towards Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. You are very merciful. You are not the warden of this prison house, you are the manifestation of Yogamāyā.” Yogamāyā is only one śakti. She is the parā-śakti of Kṛṣṇa. There are many divisions in the Lord’s department of administration. There is a lot of difference between the responsibility of the prime minister and the chief minister. Different departments of the Lord’s administration have different responsibilities. Yogamāyā has been given the responsibility of the department that watches over this material creation and how the conditioned souls can turn towards Kṛṣṇa. If it is not possible to change the conditioned souls by love and affection, then they are made Kṛṣṇa conscious by punishment. Her duty is to rectify the conditioned souls and make them realize where their real self-interest lies. The souls should realize their folly, come forward and say, “Please excuse me. I want to serve Kṛṣṇa,” this way she rectifies the conditioned souls.
Thus, she is a servant of Kṛṣṇa; she is a power of Kṛṣṇa. She is a vibhūti (opulence) of Kṛṣṇa as Kṛṣṇa has Himself said in Bhagavad-gītā. So, we are not unfavorable to Durgā, we are not opposite to Durgā. But, Durgā should be especially be worshiped in her root Yogamāyā feature. Otherwise, if you want problems, she will give problems, and you will think that you should solve these problems and die. We have nothing to do with this. If you want problems through wealth, she will give problems. But, Kṛṣṇa and His devotees do not invite such problems. So, offer your praṇāma to Durgā and Śaṅkara. We should come in their line and worship the worshipful deity of Durgā and Śaṅkara. Śaṅkara always chants, “Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa,” in Durgā’s ears. Have you seen Gopeśvara Mahādeva in Vṛndāvana?
Sadāśiva is a manifestation of Gopeśvara Mahādeva. Mahādeva (Śaṅkara) wanted to serve Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana and Yogamāyā told Mahādeva, “You should be out of Vṛndāvana.”
On listening to Yogamāyā give this order, Mahādeva began to weep. Yogamāyā then asked Mahādeva, “What benediction do you want?”
“I want to be in Vṛndāvana and watch rāsa-līlā of Kṛṣṇa one day. I want to see Kṛṣṇa dancing with the gopīs.”
“Oh come on!”
Mahādeva performed many austerities for millions of years to have this chance come before him. Yogamāyā then made Mahādeva dip himself in Brahma Kuṇḍa. On emerging out of the pond, Mahādeva became a very beautiful gopī.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]
17 May 1996 Radlett