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Veera Mata Lalita: The Mother-Matrix of the Hero’s Adventure

Updated: May 17

An image of the goddess Lalita smiling sitting on a throne.
Ckvicky1992 • CC BY-SA 4.0

Raised with stories of the gallant of Sri Ram who battled Ravana or Sri Krishna, who shielded his people from the incessant rain (caused by the anger of Lord Indra) by lifting the humongous Govardhan Parvat (mountain) in protection, I have been fascinated with the concept of the hero for most of my life. With Campbell’s much celebrated work on the hero as the base, I took to the Vedas, my sacred homeground, to celebrate the very idea of how a hero is personified. The Sanskrit term Veera is how the archetypal hero is referred to, the one who is brave and shines like the sun and in whose radiance we thrive. Veera is the one with the knowledge of being, the adventurer, the boon seeker, who fights and toils for the people. Lord Indra, in the Vedas is mentioned as an exemplar hero, the Veera who slayed the demon Vritra to release the confined waters that he had captured. Vritra tasted dust when Lord Indra struck him with his thunderbolt, Vajra (Rig veda 1.32 n.d.). This imagery echoed to me of the supreme protectresses, the goddesses who have often engaged in fierce battles with demons possessing powerful weapons as well as might, and then have taken charge when the gods couldn’t.

Deconstructing the Hero through Janani Mien and Might

This was the inception of my voyage to rethink the idea of the hero through the eyes of the Janani, the divine mother-goddess that manifests it all, including the hero. I thought of the divine yoni, the abode of all existences, and Tripura Sundari-Goddess Lalita, was the vehicle of my calling to know the larger Self through her heroic splendor. The call to dive deep and discern the qualities of what makes of a hero and understand the ultimate boon of the hero, Maa Lalita. It is an endeavor to know the feminine as a divine blessing. With a sugarcane, arrows, book, flowers, chalice, conch, noose, a goad in her hands and exuding the divine essence of her three children, the Trimurti (Lord Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva), as mediums channeling the universe, she perfectly models the archetypal heroic mien, qualities and aura. Her iconography is symbolic of control, wisdom, beauty, guidance and preparedness that a hero needs, and does, display.

Om Sri Matre Namah 

“... So when you are meditating on a deity, you are meditating on powers of your own spirit and psyche, and on powers that are also out there” (Campbell. Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine, 14). Beholding the magnanimous supreme, Goddess Lalita, the Great Mother, who juggles the dance of creation-destruction-sustenance, the full circle of life, I delve into all her facets in all her glory as the life narrative for mankind. 

The Divine Womb: The Heroic Matrix- where it all begins…

Campbell, speaking with Bill Moyers in The Power of Myth, gave yet another interesting take on the act of giving birth as heroic. On how mothers are heroes first, as they are the gateway for their child to become the chosen one. From her unfolds the be all and end of all there is. “The psyche is part of the inmost mystery of life, and it has its own peculiar structure and form like every other organism. Whether this psychic structure and its elements, the archetypes, ever "originated" at all is a metaphysical question and therefore unanswerable. The structure is something given a priori, the precondition that is found to be present in every case. And this is the mother, the matrix, the form into which all experience is poured” (Jung, CW9i, §187). As the life for the life to begin, breathing the cosmos alive, Sri Lalita knows how it all is, how it will be, and how it’s going to be, just like Gaia (Lovelock et. al, Atmospheric Homeostasis by and for the Biosphere: The Gaia Hypothesis). The “realm of the Mothers” has not a few connections with the womb, which frequently symbolizes the creative aspect of the unconscious (Jung, CW5, §182). It makes me think of how if mothers are the first heroes then heroes also emulate her, acting motherly. They take on an unprecedented path as seekers of greater knowledge which helps all as questers with a primal wise experience of life. The Mother-Matrix encapsulates the way of life, the know-hows of survival and maps out the larger good through the chosen one. 

Raksha-Kari Maayi (the protector)- The Heroic Steer on the adventure

Lalita “Sahasranama” (meaning thousand names of the goddess in Sanskrit) sings praises of Goddess Lalita as she describes the charms needed by the hero as the adventure awaits. These charms are gifts of guidance by the guardian to the hero without which, the tasks of the adventure are hard to navigate. As heroic herself, the Great Mother with valor, has already trod the path the hero is to unveil. His journey is one of exploring the powers given by her as aids for the Self-soul and archetypal life escapade ahead. Campbell noted that in the spirit of the venture “against the dragon” the supernatural aid appears as the king maker. The aid not only guides the hero, but is a realization of the heroic Self that equips him to overcome the dragons and demons (Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, 63-66). 

Sarva Shakthi Mayi- all strength: The Quintessence force in the transition to the yonderland 

To blaze forward, to leave the familiar, to experience the new, what does the hero need?. Campbell answers that it is the purposive heroic strides taken to break free from the monotony of life and rethink our existence. What is this that challenges us and drags us into such strange and novel states? It is our inner mother that takes us to the higher realm, without which the adventure of life would never begin? Goddess Lalita evinces the larger life force, the capacity for heroism. She as the Samharini (the destroyer), the Pancha Krithya Parayana (the five elements of creation, being and destruction), the Vignanasin (obstacle remover), and Twan (manifesting you and me) is the transformative core-creatrix that precincts and gives life to the voyage of the unknown to be known. 

Thamopaha: Goddess clearing the path of the unknown 

It's never easy to bridge over to the unknown, the dark, the dangerous or the completely chaotic. Campbell clarifies that the uncharted territory has its own blunders that can be and will be comprehended by the hero despite all his stumbles. Why the hero first? Why does he need to go through this? It’s because he is the one who can achieve the boon of mastering life in its fullness through his own life-giving, renewing energy, which he as an initiate accesses over and over to overcome the falls and stumbles. He is also the archetypal exemplar of knowing how, when, and why to harness the inner strength, to bring light to the darkness. Darkness is not for the hero, who is the pursuer of sunshine. Goddess Lalita is the forerunner of what the hero tries to achieve, to remove the dark clouds and clear the skies of life. She is the primordial inner strength of the wellspring of growth and fertility as boons and so is called Varadha, the boon-giver (The Hero with a thousand faces , 46-52).

The Prodigal Return in the Reign of the Hero, Lalita Amba

Bhanda! Bhanda! (well done) exclaimed Lord Brahma as a witness to the three boons received by the Asura (demon) from Lord Shiva. Bhandasura caused a Kama-Pralaya (dissolution) and Lord Shambhu-Shiva knew that his defeat awaited him at the hands of goddess Lalita-parmeshvari as the resurgent creation. This is the classic primal resonance of the cyclical pattern of the hero’s adventure. She is the prodigal return, an elixir for the chosen one to follow her footsteps. What we experience here is the magic of the maternal, the hero of the hero who has been through it all, symbolizing our own transcendent self engagement, our own inner connectedness. In accordance with the Sanskrit text, the harmony of the masculine only resides in the feminine as is conveyed in its contingent essence. Only when Sakti fuses with Shiva can he earn the privilege to be a Lord! (Sastrī & Ayyaṅgār, Saundarya-Laharī, 8-9).


A collage featuring The Hero's Adventure

This MythBlast was inspired by The Power of Myth Episode 1, and The Hero With a Thousand Faces.


Latest Podcast

This bonus episode of Pathways is the audio from a slideshow presentation that followed the lecture that he gave at Skowhegan on July 27th 1987. The lecture was our podcast Episode 27: Artists, Poets, & Writers. Even though we cannot see the slides that professor Campbell is showing, his rich description is able to guide us through the presentation. This was one of the last public presentations that Campbell gave before his death in October of the same year.


This Week's Highlights

A casual picture of Joseph Campbell

“The hero’s journey always begins with the call. One way or another, a guide must come to say, 'Look, you’re in Sleepy Land. Wake. Come on a trip. There is a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that’s not been touched. So you’re at home here? Well, there’s not enough of you there.' And so it starts.”

- Joseph Campbell - A Joseph Campbell Companion, p.77


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