“Goddess Durga is so named because this material world is like a big fort where the conditioned soul is placed under her care.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 21.53 Purport)
The material creation is under the control of Durga Devi. She is also known by other names, such as Parvati, Bhavani, and Ambika. She is the devoted wife of Lord Shiva, who is steady in his vow to have only one wife. After all, he is the conqueror of desire personified, Kama Deva, so even when he gets married he remains in dharma. He is always virtuous in his devotion to the Supreme Lord, and that devotion is there in his wife as well.
Durga Devi carries a trident in her hand, the trishula, which symbolizes the threefold miseries of life. There are miseries caused by the devatas, or celestial beings. Think of the “natural disaster” clause in an insurance policy. These point to hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other things that are considered to be divine in origin, uncontrollable by man.
There are miseries caused by other living entities. Think of the aggressors that invade the home, the community, or even the nation. There are also miseries caused from within. Think of the worry and panic over the uncertain outcome related to something important. Think of the disease that attacks from within the body.
Durga Devi’s favor lessens the intensity of these miseries. The pain and suffering don’t vanish completely, as the material world is still like a prison. The literal meaning to the Devi’s name is “difficult to overcome.” The land over which she has jurisdiction is like a fort, with very high and seemingly unscalable walls. The walls are there to keep the people in. Within can be found repeated birth and death, with temporary ups and downs in between. There is constant hankering and lamenting. For temporary relief one may humbly approach Durga Devi.
In recent times, a hot topic for discussion in the United States is illegal immigration. People are entering the country undetected, mainly through the southern border. They are not going through the typical process of immigration screening. Hence the people in charge can’t keep track of who is in the country. The vulnerability is one an enemy to the nation can easily exploit.
Politicians have long since suggested the idea of erecting a fence along that portion of the border to solve the problem. A recent candidate for president has gone one step further. “Build a wall,” he says. Very confident that such a wall will be built, he goes one step further by promising that the bordering nation will foot the bill. They will pay for the wall. To opponents, this is illogical. Why would the nation sending the people to enter illegally pay for a mechanism to prevent it from happening?
As far as the material realm goes, the people inside of Durga Devi’s fort are most certainly paying for the wall. They don’t realize it, but through continued antagonism towards the author of all things, the person whom both Parvati and Shiva worship constantly, the wall continues to stay up.
Mukunda is a name for the Supreme Lord. This means “one who grants mukti,” which is liberation. A common understanding of liberation is the release from the cycle of birth and death. Moksha is synonymous with mukti, and the literal definition of moksha is “to release.” Using the fort analogy, we understand exactly from what the release comes.
“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoofprint. Param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or Vaikuntha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.14.58)
Another analogy used to explain the material existence is a vast ocean. It’s an ocean of suffering, samsara. You need a boatman to take you across. In Vedic literature it is said that if you have the favor of Mukunda, then the material creation shrinks in size. No longer a vast ocean, it becomes the size of a puddle contained within the hoofprint left by a calf.
The desire to compete with God pays for the walls of the fort to stay up. As soon as the desire changes, the walls come down. Bhakti, or devotion, facilitates legal entry into the spiritual kingdom, where there is constant enjoyment in service to the Divine. The Supreme Lord welcomes back His sons and daughters, who return to His shelter through their own choosing. Those who truly understand Durga Devi know that devotion to God is her main function in life. Rather than seek temporary relief from the threefold miseries of life, such wise souls seek her blessings to continue in devotion. They ask that she kindly use her trident to stamp out the desires for material gain, renunciation and mystic perfection.
To block illegal entry’s way,
To build a wall with Mexico to pay.
Why the other side to foot the bill?
Illogical and against interest is it still.
Similar like a fort is the material land,
Governed by Durga with trident in hand.
By desires of inhabitants the wall is paid,
From devotion easy exit to other side is made.