Anagha Lakshmi Devi
Who is Anagha Devi?
(By Sri Kuppa V. Krishna Murthy)
Is God male or female? This question pops up in one's mind at one time or the other. Such a question is natural because, all the differentiation and classification are man made except the differentiation of gender, for which alone nature is responsible The differentiation based on gender is not unique to mankind, but is seen in all living beings. Because God is responsible for this, it is possible that even the Almighty falls inside the purview of this classification. Thus, the above question seems quite natural.
But, we will face a contradiction if we think the Almighty to be either male or female. If the Almighty was to be male or female just like us humans, then it follows that the Almighty too should have parents. If the Almighty was to have a father, then who created the father? This question will remain unanswered. Thus, it is not possible for the Almighty to be a male or a female.
Many religions use masculine gender while referring to God. The Vedas, the oldest literature known to humankind has used both the genders while referring to the Almighty. At some places, they used even used the neuter gender. By this, our question becomes even more complicated.
Therefore, it becomes inevitable for us to seek other means to find out the answer. If we can first understand who the Almighty is, then we can try to know if the Almighty is male or female. Let us try this path. To understand completely about a substance, we need to know, in addition to its external form, its composition also. To find out the composition, we have to disintegrate the substance into small particles and then analyze them. Because we believe that the whole creation came from the Almighty, it follows that if we analyze the creation in detail, we will come to know about its basis, namely the Almighty.
Creation is so vast that we can not analyze in detail each and every object. But there is a way out. There may be innumerable objects in this creation. But every object is a combination of one or more elements. Today a hundred and odd elements are known to us. There may be many more. Be that as it may, if we analyze further, we will come to know that atoms of every element are made up of sub atomic particles such as electrons, protons, neutrons, etc. If we analyze even further, we will observe that what remains in the end is only energy, which, unlike a solid object, does not have form.
After Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of our era, gave us the equation E=mc2, it was established that the omnipresent energy, on account of some unknown reason, will transform itself into different kinds of atoms.
What then is energy? Is it Light? Sound? Heat? Electrical energy? All these are different forms of energy, but none of them can be called the fundamental form of energy. It means that there is a kind of fundamental energy, which we cannot see, but the manifestations of which can be seen in the form of light, sound etc. The same energy takes the form of protons, electrons, and other particles to form an element. Thus, however vast the universe may be, we can say that all the objects have come from the same fundamental energy. This is the truth that modern science has established.
The same truth has been narrated in our ancient scriptures. They have referred to this fundamental energy as Bhagavanta. The fundamental cause for all the objects in this creation is the same energy - say our scriptures. This is exactly what the modem science says!
This concept has been expressed in an episode in Chandi Saptashati, a famous treatise of ancient India. The situation is that of a demon wanting to fight against Goddess Saraswati, who is surrounded by different goddesses. The demon chides her saying, "what is so great about fighting with so many energies helping you?" The goddess smiles and says, "You are not capable of seeing the reality. So you are seeing so many energies, The fact is that only I am here." - so saying, the Goddess drew all the energies represented by different goddesses into herself, stood alone and killed the demon,
Does not this story make it amply clear to us that though the energy manifests differently, it is only one in its fundamental form? Is this not what today's science has established? The basis for the whole creation is that energy. That itself is called as Bhagavanta. It now becomes irrelevant to know the gender of that energy because it is meaningless to attribute gender to energy.
If the fundamental energy does not have differentiation such as masculine or feminine or neuter, how then can the creation, which is its product, have beings with such a classification? A good question indeed. The fundamental energy has no form. When the fundamental energy has no form, how then did the atoms (which came from it) gain form? This is an important question in Vedanta and is beyond the scope of this article. We do not know how it happened. But we know that it has happened. Similarly, from the fundamental energy which was asexual came the creation which consists of heterosexual beings.
The scheme by which the differentiation of gender entered creation is called as 'Eshwara Sankalpa' in the Shastras. It means that it did not take place without the knowledge of the Almighty. It was on account of conscious effort by Eshwara that gender was created. It means that the factors responsible for the differentiation, namely the energy hidden in the X and Y chromosomes, are inherent in that energy. Therefore, when that energy wants to take a form, it can take the form of Anda (ovum) or Jeevakana (sperm). Therefore the Almighty manifests itself sometimes in masculine form and sometimes in feminine form. Irrespective of the manifestation, the original form of the Almighty (i.e,, the fundamental energy) is beyond the differentiation of gender. Therefore the Vedas have referred to the Almighty in neuter gender in addition to masculine and feminine genders.
The same concept is echoed in an episode in the Dattatreya Purana. When Lord Dattatreya, the combined incarnation of the Trinity, was a child of five years, many old sages spotted His greatness and started insisting Him to show them the path of Yoga. The child Datta wanted to test them. He disappeared into a pond and remained there for one hundred years. Some of the sages waited for Him on the banks of the pond while the infant Datta was in a state of complete Samadhi for hundred years. Even after coming out of the pond he continued to test the sages.
Dattatreya, who was 105 years old then, brought out His Yogic energy through His Brahma Randhra (an astral orifice found in the center of the skull, through which Yogis can leave the body), and gave it the form of a woman. Because the energy came out from Him, He was its natural owner. He declared her to be His consort. In order to test the sages, she drank wine and started dancing.
She was born as a youthful woman. Seeing her drink wine, some of the sages called her Madhumati. Others called her 'Nadee' becuase looking at her dance which resembled the dancing movements of a flooded river. Still others realized that she was none other than the Yogic Energy of Lord and prayed to Him. Some others went away.
Then Lord Dattatreya came out of Samadhi. She now appeared as an ascetic. Lord Dattatreya named her as Anagha. Those who called her as Madhumati and Nadee had identified her as one who possessed sin. But in reality she was sinless. Therefore Dattatreya had named her as Anagha (Sinless, Pure). Those who had recognized her to be the energy of Dattatreya, obtained the true vision of the Lord and could transcend all sorrows. In other words, because of her their sorrows (Agha or sin and sorrow) disappeared. This was another reason why Dattatreya named her as Anagha (one who removes sorrows).
Etymologically, the word Agha means that which comes to the experience of the doer (kartaaram anghaati iti agham. Aghi gatow). He who thinks that he is the doer, will experience pain and pleasure. According to vedantic view, even the worldly pleasure, is in fact pain. Thus, one who thinks oneself to be the doer is always suffering. That energy which removes the feeling of doership is Anagha.
According to another etymology, Agha means that which causes sufferings to remain forever. (Na jahaati duhkham it agham. 0 haak tyaage) Sorrow is caused by poverty, disease, fear of enemies, greed, ignorance etc. That which removes sorrow by bestowing prosperity, health, affection, contentment, wisdom, etc. is Anagha.
With all these ideas in mind, Lord Dattatreya called her as Anagha. Those sages who could comprehend this could see her as the manifestation of energy and could attain positive benefits. The demons who could not comprehend the reality only saw her as a dancer and therefore were annihilated. You may have read about this in detail in Sri Datta Darshanam written by our Gurudeva Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji.
This particular episode makes it clear to us that those who thought the Almighty to be merely a female caused their own destruction. Those who consider the Almighty to be male only also accounted for their own doom. Those who could realize that the Almighty was above such differentiation and was of the form of fundamental energy could transcend affinity and aversion. They alone could experience unalloyed bliss.
We can appreciate this concept in the incarnation of Anagha more than any other incarnation. Therefore Sadguru Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji is popularizing the worship of Dattatreya accompanied by Anagha throughout the world. Dattatreya is popularly known as a Yati (Ascetic) and an Avadhoota (one who has withdrawn himself from worldly feeling and obligation). "How then can he have a consort?" is one of the frequently asked questions. This question will not arise in the minds of those who have read the Datta Purana. Only those who consider Anagha to be a separate entity will raise this question. Only when we realize that Anagha is the manifestation of His own energy will we understand that His ascetic nature will not be disturbed when Anagha is seated next to Him.