Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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Trimurti and Tridevi: Pavati / Shiva, Lakshmi / Vishnu and Saraswati / Brahma

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on December 7, 2019

The Trimurti of the three Hindu Gods: Brahmā, Vishnu, and Shiva

Trimurti and Tridevi

The Trimurti of the three Hindu Gods: Brahmā, Vishnu, and Shiva (left to right) at Ellora Caves, an archaeological site, 29 km (18 mi) North-West of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty (753–982).

Bilderesultat for tridevi

Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva seated on lotuses with their consorts, ca1770.jpg

Shakta Upanishads are dedicated to the Trinity (Tridevi) of goddesses – Lakshmi, Saraswati and Parvati.

Trimurti

The Trimūrti (English: ‘three forms’; Sanskrit: त्रिमूर्तिः trimūrti), also known as Tri Murati or Trimurati, is the concept of Triple deity of supreme divinity in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities, typically in the forms of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver and Shiva the destroyer or transformer though individual denominations may vary from that particular line-up.

These three gods have been called “the Hindu triad” or the “Great Trinity”, often addressed as “Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara”, all having the same meaning of three in One. They are the different forms or manifestation of one person, the Supreme Being, or Narayana/Svayam Bhagavan (“The Lord Himself”) – a Sanskrit theological term for the concept of absolute representation of God as Bhagavan – The Supreme Personality who possesses all riches, all strength, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation.

When all three deities of the Trimurti incarnate into a single avatar, the avatar is known as Dattatreya. One type of depiction for the Trimurti shows three heads on one neck, and often even three faces on one head, each looking in a different direction.

Dattatreya

Dattatreya, Dattā or Dattaguru or Duttatreya, is a God and paradigmatic Sannyasi (monk) and one of the lords of Yoga in Hinduism. He is popularly depicted as a reclusive and ascetical saadhu living in a forest or wilderness, suggestive of his renunciation of worldly comforts and possessions, and pursuit of a meditative yogi lifestyle.

In many regions of India and Nepal, he is considered a deity. In Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Gujarat, Dattatreya is considered to be an avatar (incarnation) of the three Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, collectively known as Trimurti. In other regions, and some versions of texts such as Garuda Purana, Brahma Purana and Sattvata Samhita, he is an avatar of Maha Vishnu.

His iconography varies regionally. In western Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, for example, he is typically shown with three heads and six hands, one head each for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and one pair of hands holding the symbolic items associated with each member of the Trimurti: The jaapmaala and water pot of Brahma, the conch and sudarshana chakra (discus) of Vishnu, and the trishula (trident) and two headed drum of Shiva.

In paintings and some large carvings, he is surrounded by four dogs and a cow, the dogs are not symbols for the four Vedas but Duttaguru’s teaching of similitude and equality among all creatures especially animals, right from the pure and holy cow to the dog, the least and lowest of lifeforms in Hindu thought; this exegesis was put forward by a charismatic personality, the avtari purush (godman) of the Dattatreya lineage, Shri Ramakrishna Saraswati Kshirsagar Swamiji of Ambikapur (Ahmednagar).

The cow is adored and reverenced mainly in North India as a symbol of the Mother Earth who nourishes all living beings. In the temples of southern Maharashtra, Varanasi (Benares), and the Himalayas, his iconography shows him with one head and two hands, with four dogs and a cow.

According to Rigopoulos, in the Nath tradition of Shaivism, Dattatreya is revered as the Adi-Guru (First Teacher) of the Adinath Sampradaya of the Nathas, the first “Lord of Yoga” with mastery of Tantra (techniques), although most traditions and scholars consider Adi Nath an epithet of Shiva. His pursuit of simple life, kindness to all, sharing of his knowledge and the meaning of life during his travels is reverentially mentioned in the poems by Tukaram, a saint-poet of the Bhakti movement.

Over time, Dattatreya has inspired many monastic movements in Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism, particularly in the Deccan region of India, south India, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Himalayan regions where Shiva tradition has been strong.

According to Mallinson, Dattatreya is not the traditional guru of the Nath Sampradaya, he was coopted by the Nath tradition in about the 18th century as a guru, as a part of Vishnu-Shiva syncretism. This is evidenced by the Marathi text Navanathabhaktisara, states Mallinson, wherein there is syncretic fusion of the Nath Sampradaya with the Mahanubhava sect by identifying nine Naths with nine Narayanas.

Several Upanishads are dedicated to him, as are texts of the Advaita-Dvaita Vedanta-Yoga tradition in Hinduism. One of the most important texts of Advaita and Dvaita Vedantas, namely Avadhuta Gita (literally, “song of the free”) is attributed to Dattatreya. An annual festival in the Hindu calendar month of Mārgaśīrṣa (November/December) reveres Dattatreya and is called Datta Jayanti.

Bhagavān

Bhagavān or Bhagwan is an epithet for deity, particularly for Krishna and other avatars of Lord Vishnu in Vaishnavism and for Lord Shiva in the Shaivism tradition of Hinduism. The term is used by Jains to refer to the Tirthankaras, particularly Mahavira and by Buddhists to refer to the Buddha in India.

In many parts of India and South Asia, Bhagavān represents the abstract concept of a universal God to Hindus that are spiritual and religious but do not worship a specific deity. The term Bhagavān does not appear in Vedas or in early or middle Upanishads. There is the use of “Bhag” Term in “Mundakopanishad”, but not for the term “God”. Even Ishwar word is not used in vedic scripture, except ishawasyopanishad.

The oldest Sanskrit texts use the term Brahman to represent an abstract Supreme Soul, Absolute Reality, while using names of deities like Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva to represent gods and goddesses. The term Ishvara appears in later Vedas and middle Upanishads where it is used to discuss spiritual concepts. The word Bhagavān is found in later Vedic literature, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Puranas.

In Bhakti school literature, the term is typically used for any deity to whom prayers are offered; for example, Rama, Ganesha, Kartikeya, Krishna, Shiva or Vishnu. A particular deity is often the devotee’s one and only Bhagavan. Bhagavan is male in Bhakti traditions, and the female equivalent of Bhagavān is Bhagavatī. To some Hindus, the word Bhagavan is an abstract, genderless God concept.

In Buddhism’s Pali scriptures, the term is used to denote Gautama Buddha, referring to him as Bhagavān Buddha (translated with the phrase ‘Lord Buddha’ or ‘The Blessed One’) and Bhagavān Shakyamuni. The term Bhagavān is also found in other Theravada, Mahayana and Tantra Buddhist texts.

Krishna

According to the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna is termed Svayam Bhagavan, which means God Himself. As stated in Bhagavata Maha Purana, Hindu Vedic Supreme God Parabrahman Adi Narayana (Maha Vishnu) appeared before Vasudeva and Devaki in his divine original four armed form before taking birth as Krishna. Vasudeva and Devaki after praising Vishnu, requested him to hide his divine form, which Maha Vishnu agreed to do, transforming himself into a small baby Krishna. According to this account, Krishna never took birth from the womb of His mother like a common baby.

Tridevi

The Tridevi (English: three goddesses; Sanskrit: त्रिदेवी, tridevī) is a concept in Hinduism joining a triad of eminent goddesses either as a feminine version of the Trimurti or as consorts of a masculine Trimurti, depending on the denomination. This triad is typically personified by the Hindu goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. In Shaktism, these triune goddesses are the manifestations of goddess Yogmaya also known by the names of Adi Parashakti, Devi.

In the Navaratri (“nine nights”) festival, “the Goddess is worshiped in three forms. During the first three nights, Parvati is revered, then Lakshmi on the fourth, fifth and sixth nights, and finally Saraswati until the ninth night.”

Whereas in androcentric denominations of Hinduism the feminine Tridevi goddesses are relegated as consorts and auxiliary deities to the more eminent masculine Trimurti gods, in the Shaktidharma denomination the feminine Tridevi goddesses are given the eminent roles of Creatrix (Mahasarasvati), Preservatrix (Mahalaxmi), and Destructrix (Mahakali), with the masculine Trimurti gods being relegated as the auxiliary deities as agents of the feminine Tridevi.

Shakti or Vimarsh is the power that is latent in pure consciousness, required to reach pure consciousness and essential to create, sustain and destroy. Just as Energy can never be created nor be destroyed, but changes from one form to another; Devi 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 Mahasaraswati, Mahalakshmi, and Mahakali.

That is to say, a 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 is also seen that God cannot create, generate or destroy because God does not possess any attribute. So True Energy or Adi Shakti does everything on God’s behalf.

Shiva

Shiva meaning “The Auspicious One”, also known as Mahadeva (“Great God”), is a popular Hindu deity. Shiva is regarded as one of the primary forms of God. He is the Supreme God within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta tradition, and “the Destroyer” or “the Transformer” among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine.

Shiva has many benevolent and fearsome forms. At the highest level Shiva is limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya and in fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts.

The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead, the snake Vasuki around his neck, the crescent moon adorning, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru as his instrument.

The Puranic period (c. CE 300-1200) saw the rise of post-Vedic religion and the evolution of what R. C. Majumdar calls “synthetic Hinduism.” This period had no homogeneity, and included orthodox Brahmanism in the form of remnants of older Vedic faith traditions, along with different sectarian religions, notably Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktismthat were within the orthodox fold yet still formed distinct entities. One of the important traits of this period is a spirit of harmony between orthodox and sectarian forms.

Regarding this spirit of reconciliation, R. C. Majumdar says that: It’s most notable expression is to be found in the theological conception of the Trimūrti, i.e., the manifestation of the supreme God in three forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva… But the attempt cannot be regarded as a great success, for Brahmā never gained an ascendancy comparable to that of Śiva or Viṣṇu, and the different sects often conceived the Trimūrti as really the three manifestations of their own sectarian god, whom they regarded as Brahman or Absolute.

Maurice Winternitz notes that there are very few places in Indian literature where the Trimurti is mentioned. The identification of Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma as one being is strongly emphasized in the Kūrma Purāṇa, where in 1.6 Brahman is worshipped as Trimurti; 1.9 especially inculcates the unity of the three gods, and 1.26 relates to the same theme.

Historian A. L. Basham explains the background of the Trimurti as follows, noting Western interest in the idea of trinity: Early western students of Hinduism were impressed by the parallel between the Hindu trinity and that of Christianity. In fact the parallel is not very close, and the Hindu trinity, unlike the Holy Trinity of Christianity, never really “caught on”.

All Hindu trinitarianism tended to favor one god of the three; thus, from the context it is clear that Kālidāsa’s hymn to the Trimūrti is really addressed to Brahmā, here looked on as the high god. The Trimūrti was in fact an artificial growth, and had little real influence.

Freda Matchett characterizes the Trimurti system as one of “several frameworks into which various divine figures can be fitted at different levels.” The concept of Trimurti is also present in the Maitri Upanishad, where the three gods are explained as three of his supreme forms.

Vishnu

Vishnu, also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. The “preserver” in the Trimurti, Vishnu is revered as the supreme being and identical to the metaphysical concept of Brahman (Atman, the self, or unchanging ultimate reality) in the Vaishnavism Tradition. Lakshmi is the wife of Vishnu.

He is notable for adopting various incarnations (avatars such as Rama and Krishna) to preserve and protect dharmic principles whenever the world is threatened with evil, chaos, and destructive forces. In the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism Vishnu is also one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja.

The Vishnu Sahasranama declares Vishnu as Paramatman (supreme soul) and Parameshwara (supreme God). It describes Vishnu as the all-pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, preserves, sustains and governs the universe and originates and develops all elements within.

Though he is usually depicted as light blue, as are his incarnations some other depictions of Vishnu exist as green-bodied, and in the Kurma Purana he is described as colorless and with red eyes. In Hindu sacred texts, Vishnu is usually described as having the divine pale blue color of water-filled clouds and as having four arms.

He is depicted as holding a padma (lotus flower) in the lower left hand, a unique type of mace used in warfare known as a Kaumodaki gada in the lower right hand, a Panchajanya shankha (conch) in the upper left hand and a discus weapon Sudarshana Chakra in the upper right hand.

Vishnu is also described in the Bhagavad Gita as having a ‘Universal Form’ (Vishvaroopa or Viraata Purusha) Vishvarupa which is beyond the ordinary limits of human perception or imagination. It is said that he owns five weapons (pancha ayudham): Sudarshanam, Panchajanyam, Komodaki, Nandakam, and Sharangam.

Adherents of Hinduism believe Vishnu’s eternal and supreme abode beyond the material universe is called Vaikuntha, which is also known as Paramdhama, the realm of eternal bliss and happiness and the final or highest place for liberated souls who have attained Moksha.

Vaikuntha is situated beyond the material universe and hence, cannot be perceived or measured by material science or logic. Vishnu’s other abode within the material universe is Ksheera Sagara (the ocean of milk), where he reclines and rests on Ananta Shesha, (the king of the serpent deities, commonly shown with a thousand heads).

In almost all Hindu denominations, Vishnu is either worshipped directly or in the form of his ten avatars, the most famous of whom are Rama and Krishna. The Puranabharati, an ancient text, describes these as the dashavatara, or the ten avatars of Vishnu. Among the ten described, nine have occurred in the past and one will take place in the future as Lord Kalki, at the end of Kali Yuga, (the fourth and final stage in the cycle of yugas that the world goes through).

These incarnations take place in all Yugas in cosmic scales; the avatars and their stories show that gods are indeed unimaginable, unthinkable and inconceivable. The Bhagavad Gita mentions their purpose as being to rejuvenate Dharma, to vanquish those negative forces of evil that threaten dharma, and also to display His divine nature in front of all souls.

Vishnu is also venerated as Mukunda, which means God who is the giver of mukti or moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirths) to his devotees or the worthy ones who deserve salvation from the material world.

Brahmā

Brahmā is the creator god in Hinduism. Brahmā’s wife is Saraswati, also known by names such as Sāvitri and Gāyatri. Being the husband of Saraswati or Vaac Devi (the Goddess of Speech), Brahma is also known as “Vaagish,” meaning “Lord of Speech and Sound.”

He is also known as Svayambhu (self-born) or the creative aspect of Vishnu, Vāgīśa (Lord of Speech), Vedanatha (god of Vedas), Gyaneshwar (god of Knowledge), Chaturmukha (having Four Faces), Brahmanarayana (half Brahma and half Vishnu) etc. He is the creator of the four Vedas, one from each of his mouths.

He is more prominently mentioned in the post-Vedic Hindu epics and the mythologies in the Puranas. In the epics, he is conflated with Purusha.  Although Brahma is part of the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva Trimurti, ancient Hindu scriptures mention multiple other trinities of gods or goddesses which do not include Brahma.

He does’nt enjoy popular worship in present-age Hinduism and has lesser importance than the other members of the Trimurti, Vishnu and Shiva. Several Puranas describe him as emerging from a lotus, connected to the navel of Lord Vishnu. Other Puranas suggest that he is born from Shiva or his aspects.

According to the Brahmā Purāņa, he is the father of Manu, and from Manu all human beings are descended. In the Rāmāyaņa and the Mahābhārata, he is often referred to as the progenitor or great grandsire of all human beings. He is not to be confused with the Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hindu Vedānta philosophy known as Brahman, which is genderless.

Brahma, along with other deities, is sometimes viewed as a form (saguna) of the otherwise formless (nirguna) Brahman, the ultimate metaphysical reality in Vedantic Hinduism. In an alternate version, some Puranas state him to be identified with or the father of the Vedic god Prajapati. He is also linked to Kama and Hiranyagarbha (the cosmic egg).

Prajapati (Prajāpati-Rajjan or Rajanya, “lord of creation and protector”). Prajapati connotes many different gods, depending on the Hindu text, ranging from being the creator god to being same as one of the following: Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Agni, Indra, Vishvakarma, Bharata, Kapila and many others. According to George Williams, the inconsistent, varying and evolving Prajapati concept in Hindu mythology reflects the diverse Hindu cosmology.

Prajapati is a compound of “praja” (creation, procreative powers) and “pati” (lord, master). The term means “lord of creatures”, or “lord of all born beings”. In classical and medieval era literature, Prajapati is equated to the metaphysical concept called Brahman as Prajapati-Brahman (Svayambhu Brahman), or alternatively Brahman is described as one who existed before Prajapati.

In the later Vedic texts, Prajapati is a distinct Vedic deity, but whose significance diminishes. Later, the term is synonymous with other gods, particularly Brahma or Vishnu or Shiva. Still later, the term evolves to mean any divine, semi-divine or human sages who create something new.

The origins of Prajapati are unclear. He appears late in the Vedic layer of texts, and the hymns that mention him provide different cosmological theories in different chapters. He is missing from the Samhita layer of Vedic literature, conceived in the Brahmana layer, states Jan Gonda.

Prajapati is younger than Savitr, and the word was originally an epithet for the sun. His profile gradually rises in the Vedas, peaking within the Brahmanas. Scholars such as Renou, Keith and Bhattacharji posit Prajapati originated as an abstract or semi-abstract deity in the later Vedic milieu as speculations evolved from the archaic to more learned speculations.

A possible connection between Prajapati (and related figures in Indian tradition) and the Prōtogonos (lit. “first-born”) of the Greek Orphic tradition has been proposed. Protogonos is the Orphic equivalent of Vedic Prajapati in several ways: he is the first god born from a cosmic egg, he is the creator of the universe, and in the figure of Dionysus— a direct descendant of Protogonos—worshippers participate in his death and rebirth.

According to Robert Graves, the name of /PRA-JĀ[N]-pati/ (‘progeny-potentate’) is etymologically equivalent to that of the oracular god at Colophon (according to Makrobios), namely /prōtogonos/. The cosmic egg concept linked to Prajapati and Protogonos is common in many parts of the world, states David Leeming, which appears in later Orphic cult in Greece.

Parvati

Parvati, or in her demon-fighting aspect, Kali, is the goddess of power, beauty, love, and spiritual fulfillment, as well as consort of Shiva, the destroyer of evil or transformer. She also represents the transformational power of divinity, the power that dissolves the multiplicity of the Hindu gods into their unity. She is a direct incarnation of Adi Parashakti.

Parvati, Uma or Gauri is the Hindu goddess of fertility, love, beauty, marriage, children, and devotion; as well as of divine strength and power. “Parama” means absolute, “Satya” means “Truth” as per many Shakta texts. She is the Mother goddess in Hinduism, and has many attributes and aspects. Each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 100 names in regional Hindu stories of India.

She is the daughter of the mountain king Himavan and queen Mena, and the wife of Shiva – the protector, the destroyer (of pure evil) and regenerator of the universe and all life. She is the divine energy between a man and a woman, like the energy of Shiva and Shakti. The Puranas also referenced her to be the sister of the preserver god Vishnu.

With Shiva, Parvati is a central deity in the Shaiva sect. In Hindu belief, she is the recreative energy and power of Shiva, and she is the cause of a bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release. In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Shiva, she is symbolically represented as the argha.

She is one of the central deities of the Goddess-oriented Shakta sect. She is also one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism. Known by many other names, she is the gentle and nurturing aspect of the Supreme Hindu goddess Adi Parashakti.

It is also believed that Goddess Parvati is the complete and direct incarnation of Adi Parashakti. The Devi-Bhagavata Purana states that Adi Parashakti (Shivasakthi) is the original creator, observer and destroyer of the whole universe.

Durga, identified as Adi Parashakti, considered the Supreme Being in the Shaktism sect of Hinduism, and popularly referred to as “Parama Shakti”, “Adi Shakti”, “Maha Shakti”, “Mahadevi”, “Mahagauri, “Mahasaraswati”, “Mahalakshmi”, “Mahakali” Satyam Shakti or even simply as “Shakti”, is a principal and popular form of the Hindu Goddess.

She is a goddess of war, the warrior form of Parvati, whose mythology centres around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity, and Dharma the power of good over evil. Durga is also a fierce form of the protective mother goddess, who unleashes her divine wrath against the wicked for the liberation of the oppressed, and entails destruction to empower creation.

Durga is depicted in the Hindu pantheon as a Goddess riding a lion or tiger, with many arms each carrying a weapon, often defeating Mahishasura (lit. buffalo demon). She is a central deity in Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, where she is equated with the concept of ultimate reality called Brahman. She is revered after spring and autumn harvests, specially during the festival of Navratri.

One of the most important texts of Shaktism is Devi Mahatmya, also known as Durgā Saptashatī or Chandi patha, which celebrates Durga as the goddess, declaring her as the supreme being and the creator of the universe. Estimated to have been composed between 400 and 600 CE, this text is considered by Shakta Hindus to be as important a scripture as the Bhagavad Gita.

The three principal forms of Durga worshiped are Maha Durga, Chandika and Aparajita. Of these, Chandika has two forms called Chandi who is of the combined power and form of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati and of Chamunda who is a form of Kali created by the goddess for killing demons Chanda and Munda.

Maha Durga has three forms: Ugrachanda, Bhadrakali and Katyayani. Of these, Bhadrakali Durga is also worshiped in the form of her nine epithets called Navadurga (lit. Nine forms of Durga), which are nine manifestations of the goddess Durga in Hinduism, especially worshipped during the festival of Navratri where each of the nine manifested forms are venerated respectively for each night.

Navaratri is a Hindu festival that spans nine nights (and ten days) and is celebrated every year in the autumn. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian cultural sphere.

Theoretically, there are four seasonal Navaratri. However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharada Navaratri that is the most observed in the honor of the divine feminine Devi (Durga). The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.

Celebrations include stage decorations, recital of the legend, enacting of the story, and chanting of the scriptures of Hinduism. In all cases, the common theme is the battle and victory of Good over Evil based on a regionally famous epic or legend such as the Ramayana or the Devi Mahatmya.

The nine days are also a major crop season cultural event, such as competitive design and staging of pandals, a family visit to these pandals and the public celebration of classical and folk dances of Hindu culture.

On the final day, called the Vijayadashami or Dussehra, the statues are either immersed in a water body such as river and ocean, or alternatively the statue symbolizing the evil is burnt with fireworks marking evil’s destruction.

The festival also starts the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated holidays, Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after the Vijayadashami or Dussehra or Dashain.

Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, fertility, and material fulfillment, as well as consort of Vishnu, the maintainer or preserver. However, Lakshmi does not signify mere material wealth, but also abstract prosperity, such as glory, magnificence, joy, exaltation, and greatness. She is the wife of Vishnu. She is also considered as the daughter of Durga in Bengali Hindu culture.

Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, good fortune, prosperity and beauty. Lakshmi in Sanskrit is derived from the root word lakṣ and lakṣa, meaning to perceive, observe, know, understand and goal, aim, objective respectively.  These roots give Lakshmi the symbolism: know and understand your goal. A related term is lakṣaṇa, which means sign, target, aim, symbol, attribute, quality, lucky mark, auspicious opportunity.

The image, icons, and sculptures of Lakshmi are represented with symbolism. Her name is derived from Sanskrit root words for knowing the goal and understanding the objective. She is depicted in Indian art as an elegantly dressed, prosperity-showering golden-coloured woman with an owl as her vehicle, signifying the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, her ability to move, work and prevail in confusing darkness.

Her four arms are symbolic of the four goals of humanity that are considered good in Hinduism – dharma (pursuit of ethical, moral life), artha (pursuit of wealth, means of life), kama (pursuit of love, emotional fulfillment) and moksha (pursuit of self-knowledge, liberation).

She typically stands or sits like a yogin on a lotus pedestal and holds a lotus in her hand, symbolizing fortune, self-knowledge and spiritual liberation. Her iconography shows her with four hands, which represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life: dharma, kāma, artha and moksha.

Archaeological discoveries and ancient coins suggest the recognition and reverence for Lakshmi by the 1st millennium BCE. Her iconography and statues have also been found in Hindu temples throughout Southeast Asia, estimated to be from the second half of the 1st millennium CE. The festivals of Diwali and Sharad Purnima (Kojagiri Purnima) are celebrated in her honor.

She is also called Sri or Thirumagal because she is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities, or gunas, and is the divine strength of Vishnu. In Hindu religion, she was born from the churning of the primordial ocean (Samudra manthan) and she chose Vishnu as her eternal consort.

When Vishnu descended on the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi descended as his respective consort as Sita and Radha ,Rukmini. In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi. The marriage and relationship between Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband is the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in Hindu weddings.

Lakshmi is also an important deity in Jainism and found in Jain temples. She has also been a goddess of abundance and fortune for Buddhists, and was represented on the oldest surviving stupas and cave temples of Buddhism. In Buddhist sects of Tibet, Nepal and Southeast Asia, goddess Vasudhara mirrors the characteristics and attributes of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi with minor iconographic differences.

Saraswati

Saraswati is the goddess of learning, arts, and cultural fulfillment, as well as consort of Brahma, the creator. She is cosmic intelligence, cosmic consciousness, and cosmic knowledge. She is the Hindu goddess of wisdom, knowledge, learning, music, art and cultural fulfillment. She is cosmic intelligence, cosmic consciousness, and cosmic knowledge. She is the consort of Brahmā, the creator god in Hinduism.

In Shanti Parva of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Saraswati is called the mother of the Vedas, and later as the celestial creative symphony who appeared when Brahma created the universe. She has taken different forms throughout history. She is usually depicted near a flowing river or another body of water, which depiction may constitute a reference to her early history as a river goddess.

Saraswati is often depicted as a beautiful woman dressed in pure white, often seated on a white lotus, which symbolizes light, knowledge and truth. She not only embodies knowledge but also the experience of the highest reality. Her iconography is typically in white themes from dress to flowers to swan – the colour symbolizing Sattwa Guna or purity, discrimination for true knowledge, insight and wisdom.

The earliest known mention of Saraswati as a goddess is in the Rigveda. She has remained significant as a goddess from the Vedic period through modern times of Hindu traditions. The Goddess is also revered by believers of the Jain religion of west and central India, as well as some Buddhist sects.

Some Hindus celebrate the festival of Vasant Panchami (the fifth day of spring, and also known as Saraswati Puja and Saraswati Jayanti in so many parts of India) in her honour, and mark the day by helping young children learn how to write the letters of the alphabet on that day.

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