Our Symbol: Devi Ashtabhuja- the eightfold personality
From time immemorial, the Hindu tradition has given the utmost venerating regard for the qualities of women. The basic premise of Rashtra Sevika Samiti, started by Vandaneeya Mausiji, was the practice and promotion of Hindu tradition in its relevance to modern times. To set the proper example for Hindu women, Mausiji introduced Devi Ashtabhuja as a symbol of the ideal Hindu woman and realization of a Hindu woman’s image. This is no blind idol worship nor is it following blind faith. This is a worship of eight (ashta) specific virtues – chastity, purity, boldness, affection, alertness, able character, courage and perseverance – that every woman should have. Mausiji firmly believed that it is the divine maternal power that can build a vibrant, character-based society.
Because a concrete form is more inspiring than an abstract idea, deep thought was given in designing the idol of Devi Ashtabhuja, which means goddess with eight hands. Devi Ashtabhuja is depicted as sitting on a lion, which denotes freedom and control of our senses, and residing under a banyan tree, which denotes the all-encompassing Hindu Dharma. The hands denote working capacity and that one should perform the duties in harmony. The objects in each hand carry some implied meaning.
Abhayahast (blessing hand) – no fear, helps us to proceed further confidently
Japmala (beads) – Constant focus on our work and aim in life
Agni Kunda – The Kunda controls the fire and signifies purity and radiance. The rising flames signify that we must progress constantly.
Khadga (sword) – Used for the protection of one’s self and dharma, also use to destroy adharma, must not be used to acquire power and for self-motives.
Bhagwa Dhwaj – Universal guru, omnipresent and denotes knowledge, respect and renunciation that all must be imbibe
Bhagwad Geeta – stands for knowledge and dharma
Ghanta (bell) – the sound from it helps concentrate our mind to the divine, also used to awaken society and to create fear in the enemy’s eye
Lotus – The abode of Lakshmi, symbolizes the basic concept of unity in diversity
The Ashtabhuja Stotra a prayer dedicated to Maa Shakti, was composed in Hindi and it is recited during the shakhas. This prayer of 13 verses in a rhythmic poetical form describes Devi Ashtabhuja and asks the Devi to give blessings to Sevikas who are aspiring to attain her ideal virtues.
Mausiji’ s far-sightedness thus gave the Sevikas an ideal and idol whom they can relate with in any time and age. Devi Ashtabhuja stands as a symbol of inspiration for thousands of Sevikas around the world.