is a term used by followers of Hinduism to refer to the Mother of the Universe. She is also referred to as various manifestations of the Divine Feminine as Shakti
(the Mother of the Universe), Parvati (the wife of Lord Shiva), Saraswati (consort to Lord Brahma and Goddess of Knowledge and Speech), Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth), and Durga (Goddess of Protection). Mother Divine is also referred to as Uma. Refer to Hinduism
Another use of the term is used by followers of the International Peace Mission movement to refer to either of the wives of Father Divine, an African American religious leader prominent in the 1930s.
Father Divine controversially claimed to be God, so this conferred his wife special status in the movement. The theology of the movement held Reverend Major Devine to be "heavenly father", so logically his wife was "Mother". Adherents were by extension called "children" although they're also sometimes referred to as "angels" reflecting their supposedly heavenly parentage.
Father Divine had Platonic relationships with each of his two wives in accord with his "international chastity code". He claimed that his second wife, Edna Rose Ritchings, was the reincarnated spirit of his first wife, Peninniah who died in 1943 about three years before his marriage to Ritchings in 1946, although reincarnation was not previously part of Father Divine's doctrine. Indeed, he often taught on the "absurdity" of an afterlife. It's believed that Father Divine's acceptance of another wife after the previously inconceivable death of Peninniah forced him to reckon with his own mortality. After Father Divine's death in 1965, Mother Divine (Ritchings) led the dwindling following which she continues to do as of 2004.
Father Divine's wives
- Father Divine's first wife, Peninniah, was a heavyset black woman several decades older than Father Divine. At the time of their 1910s marriage she helped silence rumors of sexual impropriety between Father Divine and his many young female followers. Although her birth name is not known, she was apparently from Macon, Georgia.
- His second wife, Edna Rose Ritchings, was about forty years younger than Father Divine, only 21 when they were married in 1946. A slender white woman from Ontario, Canada, their marriage started more unflattering rumors about Father Divine than it put to rest. Called "Sweet Angel" in the movement (the movement encouraged followers to take new names), she is sometimes called "Mrs. S. A. Divine" to differentiate her from Peninniah.
In 1970 George Harrison
composed and recorded an acoustic demo of the reverential song "Mother Divine" for possible inclusion in his All Things Must Pass
triple album. It was never released.
- Avalon, Arthur (Sir John Woodroffe), Shakti and Shakta, Dover Publications, New York, 1978
- Dash, Durgamadhab God as Divine Mother, Orissa Review, vol LXI, no.3 October 2004
- Gupta, Sudhir Ranjan Sen. Mother Cult. Firma Klm Private Ltd.: Calcutta, 1977
- Singh, Jaideva, Pratyabhijnahrdayam – the Secret of Self-Recognition, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 3rd ed. 1980