The Mother Divine
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By Haridas Chatterjee

God is omnipotent. He is the sole repository, the original and eternal fountainhead of power. Not to speak of the common man, the mightiest monarch strutting on the face of the earth and even the most powerful Devas shining with all brilliance in the highest heavens are but playthings in His hand. They possess no power of their own; whatever power they wield is derived from God Himself. The moment it pleases Him to withdraw His power from them, helpless and motionless they will lie where they are.

This all-important truth, is, however, often loft eight of not only by men but by the Devas as well. They delude themselves into the belief that the power they have is inherent in them and is not the gift of the Supreme Being. Puffed up with pride they think too much of themselves and act and behave in a manner which only brings into bold relief their colossal ignorance and foolishness. But pride has its inevitable fall and God soon puts them in their proper places.

A story at once interesting and instructive, intended to illustrate the omnipotence of God, is related in the Kenopanisad.   It runs thus:

There was a time when the Devas were at war with the Asuras. Both sides were well-matched in strength and it was a fierce battle that they fought. The Devas found in the Asuras formidable foes, and at one stage it looked as if the latter would get the better of the former in the trial of strength. Tne Asuras were the embodiments of evil. They were always bent upon riding roughshod over the laws of God and inflicted untold tyranny and oppression on all. If, therefore, they succeeded in defeating ths Devas, it would spell disaster for the world and its inmates. Feeling concerned at the possible fate of the Devas its effect on His own creation, God in His infinite Mercy was pleased to come to their aid and, without their knowing it, and He transfused into them some of His own power. This charged with power divine the Devas soon gained a decisive victory over the Asuras.
It was a great day for the Devas. As was but natural, this unexpected victory of theirs was made the occasion for great rejoicings in their camp. But they did not content themselves with mere jubilation. Not realising that it was God's Grace which was the root cause of their success, they went about boasting and bragging that it was the power of their own arms that had won them this glorious victory. By so doing they were only ridding for a fall. It was thus that it came about.

While the Devas were thus parading their might, God was smiling in His sleeves at the magnitude of their folly, and He hit upon a novel plan to bring them to their senses. Assuming a moat charming form He made His appearance a short distance away from the Devas, who gazed and gazed in wonder at its radiating brilliance.

"Who is this effulgent Being?" — That was the question on their lips, and at last they commissioned Agni to go and find out who He was. Though one of the most powerful of the Devas, Agni approached the Form he became seized with some unaccountable fear and his heart began to sink within itself.
"Who are you?", presently asked the Form in a tone firm and grave. "Agni is my name", came the reply. "What are you capable of doing?"

"In a split second I can reduce to ashes everything on the face of this earth.

"Well then, burn this tiny blade of grass, will you?"

With all his might Agni tried again and again, but his efforts proved a dismal failure. With shame and humiliation written large on his face he returned to the Devas and reported his discomfiture.
Their next choice fell on Vayu who proceeded to the spot. Asked by the Form what he could accomplish, he said "I won blow away all things, big or small, in the twinkling of an eye.
"If that is so, do please blow away this little blade of grass." Vayu exerted his utmost but met with no better fate than Agni, and came back to the Devas disappointed.

Taking counsel amongst themselves, the Devas then approached Indra. "Thou art Devaraj  Indra", said they, "Unparalleled is thy power. We beg of thee to go and find out who this wonderful Being is."
"As you all please", said Indra and proceeded on his way, with an air of confidence in his ability to succeed where the others had failed. But how did he fare? Incredible though it may seem, even a worse fate was in store for him, Agni and Vayu had at least the privilege of being spoken to by the Form, but even this small courtesy was denied to Indra. Not only that. Seeing Indra coming up, the Form turned back and in a trice vanished into the heavens. Dumbfounded at this strange phenomenon and humbled to the dust, as Indra stood there, low and behold, there appeared before him an exquisitely beautiful female figure bedecked in gold. Indra recognised her to be no other than Uma, the daughter of the Himalayas.

"He is Brahman, God Himself", said Uma in response to Indra's query. "Ye Devas", she continued, "Take it from Me that it is His power that has vanquished the Asuras. The victory won is His victory and its glory is His glory. But in- your false pride and ignorance you were appropriatng 'the credit to yourselves. In reality, you Devas were acting merely as His instruments. He is the sole and supreme source of all power, so, boast and brag no more."