The image of the goddess is enigmatic, being a spiritual metaphor synthesising a quantum leap from matter to spirit in and through an evolutionary process. To a man with an empty stomach, food is God and hence the first human worship had always been towards nurturing nature, worship of trees giving fruit as food. On the first day on mahashasti worship is made to wood-apple tree as the abode of the goddess. On mahasaptami, the second day of the puja, nine leaves and a banana tree called navapatrika are placed for worship.
The paradoxical presence of the four offsprings of the goddess in the battlefield is symbolic and we need to decipher the meaning. When subtle intelligence represented by Ganesha is applied to nurturing nature, wealth in the form of Lakshmi evolves. Material prosperity begets two associates – learning and fine arts represented by goddess Saraswati and military prowess for protection and preservation represented by Kartikeya. All these four offsprings of the goddess are worshipped for worldly achievements.
Material prosperity and military prowess invariably beget arrogance and egotism unless these are accepted as gifts of the Divine and used as stepping-stones for further progress. But the pernicious ego, under the sway of beastly ignorance (buffalo in the image) and identifying itself to be omnipotent, breaks the natural law of harmony and peace. At this stage of spiritual crisis, primordial nature, in the form of Goddess Durga, intervenes to vanquish the ego and makes it surrender to her. It is victory of the universal life force over individual egoism and upholding of cosmic cause over untoward interests of the indomitable ego.
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