Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Hinduism’s female principle

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 27, 2014

Devi

God and gender in Hinduism

Indo-Aryan

In Hinduism, Durga represents the empowering and protective nature of motherhood. From her forehead sprang Kali, who defeated Durga’s enemy, Mahishasura. Kali (the feminine form of Kaal” i.e. “time”) is the primordial energy as power of Time, literally, the “creator or doer of time”—her first manifestation after time, she manifests as “space”, as Tara, from which point further creation of the material universe progresses.

The divine Mother, Devi Adi parashakti, manifests herself in various forms, representing the universal creative force. She becomes Mother Nature (Mula Prakriti), who gives birth to all life forms as plants, animals, and such from herself, and she sustains and nourishes them through her body, that is the earth with its animal life, vegetation, and minerals.

Ultimately she re-absorbs all life forms back into herself, or “devours” them to sustain herself as the power of death feeding on life to produce new life. She also gives rise to Maya (the illusory world) and to prakriti, the force that galvanizes the divine ground of existence into self-projection as the cosmos. The Earth itself is manifested by Adi parashakti. Hindu worship of the divine Mother can be traced back to pre-vedic, prehistoric India.

The form of Hinduism known as Shaktism is strongly associated with Samkhya, and Tantra Hindu philosophies and ultimately, is monist. The primordial feminine creative-preservative-destructive energy, Shakti, is considered to be the motive force behind all action and existence in the phenomenal cosmos.

The cosmos itself is purusha, the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality that is the Divine Ground of all being, the “world soul”. This masculine potential is actualized by feminine dynamism, embodied in multitudinous goddesses who are ultimately all manifestations of the One Great Mother.

Mother Maya or Shakti, herself, can free the individual from demons of ego, ignorance, and desire that bind the soul in maya (illusion). Practitioners of the Tantric tradition focus on Shakti to free themselves from the cycle of karma.

Devi or the divine feminine is an equal counterpart to the divine masculine, and hence manifests herself as the Trinity herself – the Creator (Durga or the Divine Mother), Preserver (Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati) and Destroyer (Mahishasura-Mardini, Kali and Smashanakali).

Tridevi

The Tridevi (English: three goddesses) is a concept in Hinduism conjoining the three consorts of the Trimurti (Great Trinity), that are personified by the forms of Hindu Goddesses: Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati/Durga. They are the manifestations of the Adi Parashakti, i.e. (Divine Mother).

Saraswati the goddess of learning and arts, cultural fulfillment (consort of Brahmā the creator). She is the cosmic intelligence, cosmic consciousness, cosmic knowledge.

Lakshmi the goddess of wealth and fertility, material fulfillment (consort of Vishnu the maintainer or preserver). However, she does not mean mere material wealth like gold, cattle, etc. All kinds of prosperity, glory, magnificence, joy, exaltation, or greatness come under Lakshmi.

Parvati/ Mahakali (or in her demon-fighting aspect Durga) the goddess of power and love, spiritual fulfillment (consort of Śhiva the destroyer or transformer). She also depicts transformative power of Divinity, the power that dissolves multiplicity in unity.

In the Navratri (“nine nights”) festival, “the Goddess is worshipped in three forms. During the first three nights, Durga or Parvati is revered, then Lakshmi on the fourth, fifth and sixth nights, and finally Sarasvati until the ninth night.”

Typically, Shakti is associated with Shiva. Mother Shakti or Durga is the energy aspect of the Lord. Without Shakti, Shiva has no expression; and, without Shiva, Shakti has no existence. Shakti is identical with Shiva. Lord Shiva is only the Silent Witness. He is motionless, absolutely changeless. He enjoys the cosmic play and Shakti does everything.

Siva is omnipotent, impersonal, inactive. He is pure consciousness. Shakti is dynamic. The power, or active aspect, of the immanent God is Shakti. Shakti is the embodiment of power. She is the eternal consort of Lord Shiva.

There is no difference between Shiva and Shakti. Shakti or Durga is co-existent with Shiva. Just as you cannot separate heat from fire, so also you cannot separate Sakti from Shiva, the Generator of Shakti. Note that Shiva is not creator of Shakti but he only generates. Shiva is transcendent divinity and Shakti is the one who made him that. Siva and Sakti are one. Siva is always with Sakti. They are inseparable. Worship of Durga or Parvati or Kali is worship of Lord Siva. Worship of God Shiva is Worship of Goddess Shakti.

Shakti or Vimarsh is the power that is latent in pure consciousness, required to reach pure consciousness and essential to create, sustain and destroy. Energy can never be created and nor be destroyed, but changes from one form to another; likewise, Adi Parashakti took many incarnations to do different tasks. God is both male and female. But all different forms of energy or powers of God are with the trimurti in the form of Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati and Mahakali.

That is to say, Non – dimensional God creates this world through Srishti-Shakti (Mahasaraswati or Sound or knowledge), preserves through Sthiti-Shakti (Mahalakshmi or Light or resources), and destroys through Samhara-Shakti (Mahakali or Heat or Strength).

It also true that God can’t create, generate or destroy because God does not possess any attribute. So True Energy or Adi Shakti does everything on God’s behalf. Parabrahman Adi Parashakti herself creates three bubbles that are source and energy to be generated.

From, 1st Bubble which is expansion of same seed complete, arose Pratham Purush and Pratham Prakriti i.e. Narayana and Narayani (not to confuse with Goddess Lakshmi, Narayani here is identified as Goddess Parvati, the sister of Lord Vishnu).

Narayani is also known as Gowri Devi This time she was not evolved in sakaar swaroop. When Shiva worshipped Adi shakti, then Gowri Devi arose from the left half of Shiva in sakaar swaroop.

Since both (Narayna and Gowri) arose from same seed so they are considered to be cosmic brothers and sisters. Second Bubble is transformer and complete knowledge i.e. Shiva and Saraswati.

Shiva is evolved from the seed as “Pradhan Purush” and Goddess Saraswati was evolved in nirakaar swaroop and given birth to four Vedas. Her Sakaar swaroop took birth on the day of Vasant Panchami, when Brahma required complete knowledge.

Last Bubble was evolved from Narayana comprises Manifested form and Adi Shakti created Shri devi by herself i.e. Brahma and Lakshmi. Brahma was appeared as Father to create the universe and laxmi was appeared to provide him resources.

There are three eternal Siblings: Narayana (Pratham Purush or Unmanifested form of Brahman) and Gowri Devi/Durga (Shakti Swaroop of Adi shakti), Shiva (Pradhan Purush or Transcendent form of Brahman) and Saraswati (Gyan Swaroop of Adishakti) and Brahma (Param Pitamah or Manifested form of Brahman) and Laxmi (Shri swaroop of Adi shakti).

Vishnu sustains universe, thus requires complete resources to sustain. Likewise Brahma needs Complete Knowledge to create and Shankar also requires a complete source of power to lead change in beings from life to death, so requires Parvati/Gowri/Durga.

Saraswati

Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and nature. She is a part of the trinity of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. All the three forms help the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in the creation, maintenance and destruction of the Universe. The Goddess is also revered by believers of the Jain religion of west and central India.

The Sarasvati River is an important river goddess in the Rigveda. The Sanskrit name means “having many pools”. She is also addressed as Sharada (the one who loves the autumn season), Veena pustaka dharani (the one holding books and a Veena), Vaakdevi, Vagdevi, Vani (all meaning “speech”), Varadhanayagi (the one bestowing boons).

Saraswati is strongly associated with flowing water in her role as a goddess of knowledge. She is depicted as a beautiful woman to embody the concept of knowledge as supremely alluring. She possesses four arms, and is usually shown wearing a spotless white sari and seated on a white lotus or riding a white swan.

Saraswati, the flowing one, is one of the most celebrated goddesses from the Vedic period through current times. She has been repeatedly mentioned in the Rig Veda, and has been identified with the Saraswati River.

Over a period of time, in later Hinduism, her connection with a river decreased considerably, and she is no longer a goddess who embodies sacrality of a river, but has acquired her independent history and attributes.

She is the goddess of speech and learning, and is the creator of Sanskrit, the language of the Vedas. She is the consort of Brahma, the creator and member of the Hindu Trinity. She is equally revered by Hindus, Jains and the Buddhists.

Her iconography depicts her association with art, science and culture, which is dramatically different from some other major goddesses who are identified with fertility, wealth, and battles. She is shown as having four arms, and the most common items held by her in her hands are a book, a vina (lute), a mala, and a water pot.

The book signified art, science and learning; the vina associates her with music and performing arts; and the prayer beads and water pot signify her association with religious rites. She is worshipped on the fifth day of the spring according to Hindu calendar, called the Basant Panchami.

Lakshmi

Shri, commonly known as Lakshmi and also called Shri Lakshmi, is the Hindu Goddess of wealth, love, prosperity (both material and spiritual), fortune, and the embodiment of beauty. She is the wife of Vishnu. Also known as Mahalakshmi, she is said to bring good luck and is believed to protect her devotees from all kinds of misery and money-related sorrows. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments.

Lakshmi is called Sri or Thirumagal because she is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities, or Gunas, and also because she is the source of strength even to Vishnu. When Vishnu incarnated on the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi took incarnation as his consort. Sita (Rama’s wife), Radha (Krishna’s lover), Rukmini ( the principal wife and queen of Krishna) and Satyabama are considered forms of Lakshmi.

Lakshmi is worshipped daily in Hindu homes and commercial establishments as the goddess of wealth. She is also worshipped as the consort of Vishnu in many temples. The festivals of Diwali and Kojagiri Purnima are celebrated in her honour.

Both Lakshmi and Saraswati are forms of Durga or Shakti or Tridevi the eternal consort power of Parabrahman the Trimurti. By the help of the Supreme soul (Adi Purusha) to create the Supreme Power (Adi-shakti), three other shapes have been created from the Supreme Power.

She is seen in two forms, Bhudevi and Sridevi, both either side of Sri Venkateshwara or Vishnu. Bhudevi is the representation and totality of the material world or energy, called the aparam Prakriti, in which she is called Mother Earth. Sridevi is the spiritual world or energy, called the Prakriti. Most people are mistaken that they are separate beings although they are one, that is, Lakshmi. Lakshmi is the power of Vishnu.

Mahalakshmi’s presence is also found on Sri Venkateswara (at Tirumala) or Vishnu’s chest, at the heart. Lakshmi is the embodiment of love, from which devotion to God or Bhakti flows. It is through Love/Bhakti or Lakshmi that the atma or soul is able to reach God or Vishnu.

Lakshmi plays a special role as the mediator between her husband Vishnu and his worldly devotees. Lakshmi represents a more soothing, kind, warm and approachable mother figure who willingly intervenes in the lives of devotees. When asking Vishnu for grace or the forgiveness, the devotees often approach Him through the intermediary presence of Lakshmi. She is also the personification of the spiritual Fulfillment.

Also, she embodies the spiritual world, also known as Vaikunta, the abode of Lakshmi-Narayana or Vishnu, or what would be considered Heaven in Vaishnavism. She is also the divine qualities of God and the soul. Lakshmi is the embodiment of God’s superior spiritual feminine energy, Param Prakriti, which purifies, empowers and uplifts the individual. Hence, she is called the Goddess of Fortune. She is believed to be the mother of the universe.

Lakshmi, is one of the most popular and widely worshipped Devi in Hindu tradition since pre-Buddhist period. Her name is the basis for “Lady Luck (Lakshmi)” in the Christian West and her form of rising from water is depicted as Venus.

She has a considerable body of mythology and history. The earliest legend states that Shri is born as a result of austerities of Prajapati, and she represents ten qualities and objects, namely, food, royal power, universal sovereignty, knowledge, power, holy luster, kingdom, fortune, bounteousness, and beauty.

Shri appears in several Vedic hymns, and Shri is indicative of several positive attributes including beauty, glory, power, capability, and higher rank. In later Vedic literature, Shri signified the ruling power and the majesty of kings.

Shri-Sukt, a hymn appended to the Rig Veda, is a famous Vedic chant, extolling Shri, and presents a detailed account of her, both conceptually and visually. The hymn also associates her with lotus and elephant – an association, which has not changed in subsequent history.

By the late epic period (400 AD), Lakshmi became associated with Vishnu, and emerged as his wife or consort, and acquired – in addition to her earlier attributes – characteristics of a model wife. She is worshiped on Diwali, a new moon night, to symbolize that her presence is enough to dispel all the darkness from the hearts of her devotees.

Parvati

Parvati is known as the motherly form of Mother Goddess Gauri Jagadamba, Parvati is another form of Shakti, the wife of Shiva and the gentle aspect of Maha Devi or Durga, the Great Goddess.

Parvati is considered to be a complete incarnation of Adi Parashakti or Goddess Durga, with all other Goddesses being her incarnations or manifestations.

Parvati is nominally the second consort of Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction and rejuvenation. However, she is not different from Sati, being the reincarnation of Shiva’s first wife.

Parvati is the mother of the Gods Ganesha, Kartikeya, Ashoka Sundari. Some communities also believe her to be the sister of Vishnu. She is also regarded as the daughter of King Himavan.

Parvati, when depicted alongside Shiva, generally appears with two arms, but when alone, she is depicted having four, eight or ten arms, and is astride on a tiger or lion.

Generally considered a benevolent Goddess, Parvati also has wrathful incarnations, such as Durga, Kali, Tara, Chandi, and the Dasha Mahavidyas (ten great wisdoms), Tripur Sundari (Shodashi), Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagla Mukhi, Matangi and Kamala, as well as benevolent forms like Katyayani, Maha Gauri, Kamalatmika, Bhuvaneshwari and Lalita.

Parvati is the daughter of the mountains (the Himalayas), and manifests the aspect of the goddess as the wife of Shiva. She is generally considered a benign goddess. She is one of the principal deities of Shaktism and sometimes considered the essence of Shakti herself, i.e. Adi-shakti.

She has been identified as a reincarnation of Dakshayani or Sati, Shiva’s first wife, who destroyed her by self-immolation because her father, Daksha, had insulted Shiva.

Parvati, when depicted alongside Shiva, appears with two arms, but when alone, she is shown having four arms, and riding a tiger or lion. She is also known by a number of other names, including Durga (Goddess Beyond reach)Ambika (mother), Gauri (golden), Shyama (dark complexioned), Bhavani (Mother of Universe) Bhairavi (awesome) and Kali (black-colored or Goddess of Time). She is also identified as Mahadevi.

In classical Hindu mythology, the raison d’être of Parvati, and before that of Sati, is to lure Shiva into marriage and thus into a wider circle of worldly affairs. With the plays of Kalidas (5th-6th centuries) and the Puranas (4th through the 13th centuries) the myths of Sati, Parvati and Shiva acquired comprehensive details.

Durga

Durga, meaning “the inaccessible” or “the invincible”, is the most popular incarnation of Devi and one of the main forms of the Goddess Shakti in the Hindu pantheon. Navadurga, which literally means nine Durgas, constitute the manifestation of Durga in nine different forms. Navadurga are famously worshipped during the Autumn Navaratri or the Nine days, initiating the devotees into a period of festivities according to Hindu calendar.

Durga is the original manifested form of Mother Adi-Parashakti. Durga is Adi-Parashakti herself. The Devi Gita, declares her to be the greatest Goddess. Thus, she is considered the supreme goddess and primary deity in Shaktism, occupying a place similar to Lord Krishna in Vaishnavism.

According to Skanda Purana, the goddess Parvati accounted the name “Durga” after she killed the demon Durgamaasura. Goddess Parvati is considered to be the complete incarnation of Adi Parashakti or Goddess Durga, with all other goddesses being her incarnations or manifestations.

Adi Parashakti or Mahadevi, the supreme power, is called Durga Shakti as per Devi-Mahatmya. Adi Parashakti or Devi Durga is a Hindu concept of the Ultimate Shakti or Mahashakti, the ultimate power inherent in all Creation.

This is especially prevalent in the Shakta denomination within Hinduism, which worships the Goddess Devi in all her manifestations. She is Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati in her mild form; Goddess Kali and Goddess Chandi in her wrathful form. Durga is also called Padmanabha-Sahodari and Narayani, the sister of Lord Vishnu.

Many texts, myths and rituals concerning goddesses subsume them all under one great female being, named generally as Mahadevi or Devi. Early Hindu traditions as reflected in the Vedas speak of discrete goddesses like Parvati and Lakshmi.

Later, there emerged a tendency to relate all goddesses to one ultimate goddess, the best example of such texts being the Devi Mahatamaya. Another important feature of Mahadevi mythology and theology is the insistence that assumes both benign and terrible aspects of Mahadevi.

According to Shaivism and Shaktism she is supreme, but to bring back lord Shiva in Sansar, she took birth as human form (Sati and Parvati) to marry Shiva. Durga gave birth to his first child called Kartikeya.

Durga is one of the most popular goddesses, and her creation takes place in the context of a cosmic crisis. The asuras were on the ascent, and they had become a threat to cosmic stability. The male gods were unable to contain and subdue them.

A number of male gods having failed to subdue the demons led by Mahishasura, assembled into a conclave and emitted their energies together which took the form of the warrior goddess, Durga, that is, the invincible.

Vedic literature does not have any particular goddess matching the concept of Durga though it has references to certain goddesses as slayers of demons. Taitriya-aranyaka mentions Durga, but not in a manner comparable to Durga of later Hinduism. Around the 4th century AD, images of Durga slaying Mahishasura begin to become common in many palaces in the Indian subcontinent.

The theology underlying Durga’s emergence and exploits are revealed in Devi Mahatmyam, the most famous text extolling her exploits, and is described: “Though she is eternal, the goddess becomes manifest over and over again to protect the world”. This makes her on par with various Avatars of Vishnu.

One of the most famous festivals associated with her is Durga Puja celebrated in the month of Ashvin (September–October), and is also called the Navaratri festival.

Devi

Devi, the Sanskrit root-word of Divine related to the masculine term Deva, is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents consciousness or discrimination, remains impotent and void. Goddess worship is an integral part of Hinduism.

Devi is, quintessentially, the core form of every Hindu Goddess. As the female manifestation of the supreme lord, she is also called Prakriti, as she balances out the male aspect of the divine addressed Purusha.

Devi or Durga is the supreme Being in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, while in the Smartha tradition, she is one of the five primary forms of God. In other Hindu traditions of Shaivism and Vaishnavism, Devi embodies the active energy and power of male deities (Purushas), such as Vishnu in Vaishnavism or Shiva in Shaivism. Vishnu’s shakti counterpart is called Lakshmi, with Parvati being the female shakti of Shiva. As per Devi the Supreme power is called Durga or Shakti.

Shakti

The abstract power has been imagined by the Hindus as Durga Shakti. Shakti (from Sanskrit shak, “to be able”), meaning “Power” or “empowerment,” is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism.

Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as ‘The Great Divine Mother’ in Hinduism, also known as Adi Parashakti and recognized as Para Brahman or Parama Brahman (the Highest Brahman), a term often used by Vedantic philosophers as to the “attainment of the ultimate goal”. She is also known as Adyashakti Mahamaya, the name of ultimate Shapeless form of Divine supreme mother Goddess.

The Devi Bhagwata Mahapurana suggests that Adi Parashakti is the original creator, observer and destroyer of the whole universe. Today’s Scientist call her Supreme Intelligence or Sacred Energy, and she is known commonly around the world simply as God. It is she who created everything which exists in the Universe.

On the earthly plane, shakti most actively manifests through female embodiment and creativity/fertility, though it is also present in males in its potential, unmanifest form. Not only is Shakti responsible for creation, it is also the agent of all change. Shakti is cosmic existence as well as liberation, its most significant form being the Kundalini Shakti, a mysterious psychospiritual force. Shakti exists in a state of svātantrya, dependence on no one, being interdependent with the entire universe.

In Shaktism and Shaivism, Shakti is worshipped as the Supreme Being. Shakti embodies the active feminine energy of Shiva and is identified as Mahadevi or Parvati. The Shakti goddess is also known as Amman (meaning ‘mother’) in south India, especially in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.

There are many temples devoted to various incarnations of the Shakti goddess in most of the villages in South India. The rural people believe that Shakti is the protector of the village, the punisher of evil people, the curer of diseases, and the one who gives welfare to the village.

They celebrate Shakti Jataras with great interest once a year. Some examples of incarnations are Ganga Ma, Aarti, Kamakshi Ma, Kanakadurga Ma, Mahalakshmi Ma, Meenatchi ma, Manasa Ma, Mariamman, Yellamma, Poleramma, Gangamma and Perantalamma.

Devas and asuras

Devas (gods) and asuras (demons) were both mortal at one time, in Hinduism. Amrit, the divine nectar that grants immortality, could only be obtained by churning the Kshirsagar (Ocean of Milk). The devas and asuras both sought immortality and decided to churn the Kshirsagar. The samudra manthan commenced with the devas on one side and the asuras on the other.

Vishnu incarnated as Kurma, the tortoise, and a mountain was placed on the tortoise as a churning pole. Vasuki, the great venom-spewing serpent, was wrapped around the mountain and used to churn the ocean. A host of divine celestial objects came up during the churning. Along with them emerged the goddess Lakshmi. In some versions she is said to be the daughter of Varuna, the sea god since she emerged from the sea.

In the Vishnu Purana, Garuda Purana, Linga Purana and Padma Purana she is said to have been born as the daughter of the divine sage Bhrigu. In the Vishnu Purana, she was born to Bhrigu and his wife Khyaati and was named “Bhargavi”. According to the Vishnu Purana, once when the sage Durvasa was once traversing the earth he saw a celestial garland in the hands of a celestial maid and requested her to give it to him.

The nymph agreed and gave the garland to Durvasa who placing it on his head yielded to its influence and wandered about inebriated. While wandering he met Indra who was accompanied by the Devas and gave the garland to him. Indra then placed the garland on his elephant Airavata where it shined brightly and blinded Airavata who seized the garland with his trunk and threw it to the ground. Durvasa on seeing this becomes infuriated and curses the whole universe to be devoid of “Shri”.

The Devas unable to bear this told about the matter to Brahma and he instructed them to request Vishnu to help them solve this situation. Vishnu agreed and instructed them to seek the help of the Asuras and churn the Ksheera Sagara in order for the effect of Durvasa’s curse to be removed.

The Devas and the Asuras together churned the cosmic ocean. First to come out of the ocean was the divine cow Kamadhenu, then Varuni, then the tree Parijat, then the Apsaras, then Chandra (the moon), then Dhanvantari with Amrita (nectar of immortality) in his hand. Then Lakshmi appeared seated on a lotus and placed herself on the chest of Vishnu.

Matrikas

David Kinsley mentions the “shakti” of Lord Indra’s as Sachi (Indrani), meaning power. Indrani is part of a group of seven or eight mother goddesses called the Matrikas (“mother”), which include Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshvari, Indrani, Kumari, Varahi and Chamunda and/or Narasimhi, who are considered shaktis of major Hindu gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Skanda, Varaha/Yama and Devi and Narasimha respectively).

The Matrikas are always depicted together. Since they are usually depicted as a heptad, they are called Saptamatrika(s) (“seven mothers”). However, they may sometimes be eight (Ashtamatrika(s): ashtamātṝkāh, “eight mothers”). Whereas in South India, Saptamatrika worship is prevalent, the Ashtamatrika are venerated in Nepal.

The Matrikas assume paramount significance in the goddess-oriented sect of Hinduism, Tantrism. In Shaktism, they are “described as assisting the great Shakta Devi (goddess) in her fight with demons.” Some scholars consider them Shaiva goddesses. They are also connected with the worship of warrior god Skanda.

In most early references, the Matrikas are described as having inauspicious qualities and often described as dangerous. They come to play a protective role in later mythology, although some of their inauspicious and wild characteristics still persist in these accounts. Thus, they represent the prodigiously fecund aspect of nature as well as its destructive force aspect.

In the 6th century encyclopedia Brihat-Samhita, Varahamihira says that “Mothers are to be made with cognizance of (different major Hindu) gods corresponding to their names.” They are associated with these gods as their spouses or their energies (Shaktis). Originally believed to be a personification of the seven stars of the star cluster the Pleiades, they became quite popular by the seventh century and a standard feature of goddess temples from the ninth century onwards.

Kali

Kali is one of the most significant divinities, and many texts and contexts treat Kali as an independent deity, not directly associated with a male god. In case she is associated with a male god, it is invariably Shiva. In this aspect, she represents the omnipotent Shakti of Shiva. She holds both the creative and destructive power of time.

The earliest reference to Kali in Hindu tradition dates back to the 6th century, and locate her in the battle fields fighting asuras. Her temples are recommended to be built away from human habitations. Vana Bhatta’s 7th century drama Kadambari features a goddess named Chandi, an epithet of both Kali and Durga.

Kali’s most famous appearance in battle contexts are found in the text Devi Mahatmya when during the battle with asuras, Durga becomes angry. Her face turns pitch dark, and suddenly Kali springs forth from Durga’s forehead.

She is black, wears a garland of human heads, is clothed in a tiger skin, and wields a staff topped by a human skull. She destroys the asuras. Later, Durga seeks her assistance once more to annihilate Raktabija. Kali’s mythology recounts several such appearances, mostly in terrible aspects.

Mahavidyas

Mahavidyas, that is the supreme knowledge, revelations and manifestations, and refer to a group of the ten goddesses Kali, Tara, Chinnamasta, Bhuvanesvari, Bagla, Dhumavati, Kamla, Matangi, Sodasi, and Bhairavi.

They constitute an important aspect of Mahadevi theology, which emphasizes that the Devi has a tendency to manifest and display herself in a variety of forms and aspects. Mahavidyas find no mention in the earliest Hindu texts, but appeared relatively late in Hindu tradition. Seven of them represent creative forces embodied in Kali, and the remaining three embody her destructive nature and aspects. In the context of Hindu mythology, the origin of the ten Mahavidyas takes place in the story of Sati and Shiva.

Ushas

Ushas is the beautiful Goddess of dawn in the Rig Veda, and there are a number of hymns especially for her. It seems that later when the conflict developed between the priests who spoke Sanskrit and those who spoke Avestan, the Ashuras (a later form of the name) were demonized in the later Sanskrit literature (see the Pandemonium, below).

There is evidence of an alternative form with an intrusive -t- between -s- and -r-, in the name Atri (RV 2.85), which was the name of a fire demon. The Sanskrit speakers continued to worship fire and use fire in worship, as all Indo-Europeans did, but the old name was replaced with Agni, the God of fire in the Rig Vedas. Later still, Agni is effectively replaced by Ganesha, but each of these deities remains the first to receive offerings because fire was the medium through which food offerings were made to the Gods.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: