The Purusha Sukta, An Aurobindonian Interpretation— The Fourfold Order and the Four Powers of the Divine Mother by RY Deshpande 5 December 2006 on Wed 06 Dec 2006 11:51 AM PST Permanent Link
About the “holocaust of Prakriti”, Sri Aurobindo mentions both the impersonal and personal aspects of the Sacrifice: “The Mother not only governs all from above but she descends into this lesser triple universe. Impersonally, all things here, even the movements of the Ignorance, are herself in veiled power and her creations in diminished substance, her Nature-body and Nature-force, and they exist because, moved by the mysterious fiat of the Supreme to work out something that was there in the possibilities of the Infinite, she has consented to the great sacrifice and has put on like a mask the soul and forms of the Ignorance. But personally too she has stooped to descend here into the Darkness that she may lead it to the Light, into the Falsehood and Error that she may convert it to the Truth, into this Death that she may turn it to godlike Life, into this world-pain and its obstinate sorrow and suffering that she may end it in the transforming ecstasy of her sublime Ananda.”
The three poises of the Consciousness-Force, the Divine Mother are: the Transcendental as the original supreme Shakti standing above the worlds and linking the creation to the ever unmanifest mystery of the Supreme; the Universal, the cosmic Mahashakti creating all these beings and these worlds, containing and entering, supporting and conducting all these million processes and forces; the Individual, she embodying the power of these two vaster ways of her existence, making them living and near to us and mediating between human personality and the divine Nature. It is all her work, extension and expansion of her dynamism. The Mahashakti, the universal Mother works out whatever is transmitted to her by the Supreme. Each of the worlds is one play of the Mahashakti, her chid-vilāsa. At the summit of this manifestation there are worlds of infinite existence, consciousness, force and bliss over which the Mother stands as the unveiled eternal Power. Nearer to us are the worlds of the supramental creation in which the Mother is the supramental Mahashakti, a Power of divine omniscient Will and omnipotent Knowledge always apparent in its unfailing works and spontaneously perfect in every process. But here are the worlds of the Ignorance, worlds of mind and life and body separated in consciousness from her source, of which the earth is a significant centre and its evolution a crucial process. This too is upheld by the Universal Mother, guided to its secret aim by the Mahashakti. This is what we have in Sri Aurobindo’s little Masterpiece The Mother.
The Mother’s powers and personalities here are for a cosmic work. Sri Aurobindo described four of them in his letter to Kapali Shastri which was included afterwards in that little Masterpiece. These four powers in the cosmic working are: Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasaraswati, they respectively having the qualities of Wisdom, Strength, Harmony, and Perfection. These four powers of the Mother are the fourfold soul’s forces and they operate variously in the cosmic scheme of things. It is because of them that the present cosmic order is functioning.
The equivalence of the terms Wisdom-Strength-Harmony-Perfection of The Mother and Brahmin-Kshatriya-Vaishya-Shudra of the Purusha Sukta is striking. In fact, both are the same: the Vedic phraseology based on the Purusha-principle as the Creator and the other viewing it as chid-vilāsa, the presentation of Consciousness-Force as the Executive She —both are one and the same. If the work of the highest Consciousness-Force, the Divine Mother, supreme Shakti is the work of manifestation, then that manifestation in the universe is through her four great powers as Maheshwari-Mahakali-Mahalakshmi-Mahasaraswati. The Shakti formulation given to us by Sri Aurobindo is practically absent in the Veda; but that does not mean that it does not recognise the aspect of manifestation through the creative power of the Being or Purusha. Essentially, both are describing the same reality. At a deeper level, the Will of the Purusha is put into action by the Prakriti: he wills; she executes,—that is the formula describing the entire design or system of operation. “His soul, silent, supports the world and her,” and “She through his witness sight and motion of might unrolls the material of her cosmic act.”
We may therefore with some justification use both the Purusha and Prakriti formulations interchangeably. Out of the Holocaust of Prakriti got established the Four Powers: Maheshwari-Mahakali-Mahalakshmi-Mahasaraswati. Out of the Sacrifice of the Purusha arose the Four Qualities: Brahmin-Kshatriya-Vaishya-Shudra. In the Sarvahuta Yajna the Gods and the Rishis and the Sadhyas willed their appearance, brought about from the body of the sacrificed Purusha this cosmic creation. If the Holocaust of the Prakriti is also the result of a similarly willed action, then the extent and the scope of work of the Four Powers are then necessarily governed by that will. No doubt, they are great Presences, and that the “human nature bounded, egoistic and obscure is inapt to support their mighty action.” But there are also “other great Personalities of the Divine Mother, but they were more difficult to bring down.” Sarvahuta Yajna is not adequate to bring them down in the cosmic functioning. The will of the Gods and the Rishis and the Sadhyas falls short of it.