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Sharada Of Kashmir: The Goddess That Is India

On March 22 of 2023 a newly revived temple will be inaugurated for Sharada, the Goddess of learning, in Kashmir.

The sacred idol of the Goddess comes from Sringeri of Karnataka.

This is a reassertion of the spiritual and cultural unity of India.

The unity of India is not a mere nation-state unity. It is unity in diversity.

'Unity in diversity' is a basic fundamental nature of life itself in all its manifestations. It is not an imposed unity of an artificial contract but an inherent unity of organic existence.

Goddess Sharada through the ages has become the embodiment of this unity.

The importance of the name Sharada can be gauged by the fact that the name of the Goddess in Kashmir has also emerged as the name of a Kshetra; as a name of a river; and later as a name of the script of a people.

Who is Sharada? In Srimad Bhagavatam (SB) Yogamaya plays a very important role, both in the cosmic domain and also in the very personal relations that Sri Krishna Leela builds with the devotees.

With respect to former, Vishnu as the supreme personality of Godhead, declares that the Godly Maya (bhagavato māyā) is unknown even to Himself (3.6.39).

With respect to the latter, it is because of Her that the divine qualities of Sri Krishna get veiled from others—particularly those who are His intimate devotees, like His foster mother Yashoda and the Gopikas.

It is Yogamaya who proclaims the advent of Sri Krishna to Kamsa.

After Yashoda had seen the universe inside the mouth of the infant Krishna, Yogamaya again veils the intelligence of Yashoda to make her believe that Krishna was a mere boy.

Yogamaya also plays an important role in the enactment of Rasa Leela. SB speaks of Sri Krishna Himself taking refuge in Yogamaya so that the Divine can bestow upon the devotees the blissful ecstasy: (yoga-māyām upāśritaḥ 10:29:1).

The Srimad Bhagavata explicitly states that this Yogamaya is worshipped in different regions, by different people on the surface of the earth with different names. And these different names are:

So Sharada as Yogamaya both conceals and reveals the Divine to the seeker. In this capacity, She naturally becomes the Divine as well as the experiential knowledge of the Divine.

It is in this context we should remember that in the collective Hindu consciousness, Sharada is the Goddess of knowledge. She is the Goddess of all spiritual streams.

The famous biography of Adi Sankara, reveals unwittingly the universal nature of the temple of Goddess Sharada.


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