The Bible and the Bhagavad Gita 34: The Womb of Creation

 
The_babe_in_the_womb;_Leonardo_da_Vinci_(1511)

The Babe in the Womb, by Leonard da Vinci. From Wikimedia Commons

 

In these two aspects of my nature is the womb of all creation. The birth and dissolution of the cosmos itself takes place in me. There is nothing that exists separate from me, Arjuna. The entire universe is suspended from me as my necklace of jewels.  (BG, 7:6-7) 

I want to talk about these feminine images: the womb and the necklace.

In Christianity, we are so used to Father language that we often miss places in the Bible where God is a mother. Consider:

From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven? (Job 38:28-29, NRSV)

and:

Before the mountains were born, before you birthed the earth and the inhabited world—from forever in the past to forever in the future, you are God. (Psalm 90:2, CEB)

The Hebrew word translated as “compassionate” or “merciful” also shares the root for womb, as when God is described as being “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6, NRSV).

Our English language and sexist traditions prevent us from seeing these feminine images of God. Even though the Bible starts off in Genesis 1:27 by telling us that both man and woman are made “in the image of God”—implying that God is both—religious authoritarians reject or obscure this feminine image at every turn.

Eastern religions (in general) are more comfortable with female, gender-bending, or queer images of the divine. The bodhisattva [divine sage] Guanyin, or Avalokitasvara, appears as male, female, and androgynous.

And while a necklace in the above passage is not explicitly feminine (men wear necklaces in both the Hebrew Bible and Indian literature), the idea of the universe as jewelry for our divine Mother is certainly provocative. The sense of all these images is one of continuity and dependence. God births the universe, and so the universe (and we humans) contain some divine DNA. Our moment-to-moment existence is sustained by her. Our universe de-pends (the English verb mean to hang, like a pendant) from her like jewels on a string.

There is some metaphysical stuff here, as well, which I will dig into tomorrow. But for now, listen and reflect on these feminine images of God: The womb of creation. A necklace of jewels hanging from her shoulders.

Prayer:
Merciful Mother, hold us close.