Sati, the consort of Shiva was the daughter of Daksha Prajapati, a descendant of Brahma. Sati had married Shiva against the wishes of her father. The vain Daksha performed a great yagna with the sole aim of insulting Shiva , to which he invited all of the gods and goddesses except his son-in-law, Lord Shiva. Shiva said that Daksha was trying to insult him, and so even if Sati attended the yajna, the fruit of the sacrifice would not be auspicious. Therefore he bade Sati not to attend the yajna.
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The feminine divinity is a powerful entity. From mother nurturers to the destroyers, from knowledge to wealth, they encompass every aspect of the physical and spiritual realm.
A part of such a powerful entity is the Mahavidya. The ten Mahavidyas, or Wisdom Goddesses, represent distinct aspects of divinity intent on guiding the spiritual seeker toward liberation.
For the devotionally minded seeker, these forms can be approached in a spirit of reverence, love, and increasing intimacy. For a knowledge-oriented seeker, these same forms can represent various states of inner awakening along the path to enlightenment. A Dasa Mahavidya is one of 10 wisdom goddesses in Hinduism. Sati, the consort of Shiva was the daughter of Daksha Prajapati, a descendant of Brahma. Sati had married Shiva against the wishes of her father. The vain Daksha performed a great yagna with the sole aim of insulting Shiva , to which he invited all of the gods and goddesses except his son-in-law, Lord Shiva.
Shiva said that Daksha was trying to insult him, and so even if Sati attended the yajna, the fruit of the sacrifice would not be auspicious. Therefore he attempted to dissuade Sati from attending the yajna. Sati was furious because Shiva was treating her like an ignorant lady and not as the mother of Universe. So to show Shiva who she really was, she assumed a different form — the one of the Divine Mother.
The oceans raged, the mountains shook, and the atmosphere was filled with the wonder of her form. It is said that Shiva began to shake and tried to flee. But every direction that he tried to flee, the Divine mother stopped him.
The Divine Mother had multiplied herself into ten different forms, guarding each of the ten directions, and try as Shiva might, he could not escape from her, as she had blocked every escape route.
These ten forms of Divine Mother are known as the Dasa Mahavidya. Each form has her own name, story, quality, and mantras. First of all, Sati took the form of Kali. Her form was fearful, her hair untied and loose, her body the color of a dark cloud. She had deep-set eyes and eyebrows shaped like curved swords. She stood on a corpse, wore a garland of skulls, and earrings made from the bones of corpses. She had four hands — on one hand, she had the head of a skull, and the other a curved sword with blood dripping on it.
She had mudras on her other two hands — one giving freedom from fear and the other giving blessings. She roared and the ten directions were filled with that ferocious sound. In the series of the ten Mahavidyas or wisdom aspects of the Divine Mother, Kali comes first, for she represents the power of consciousness in its highest form. She is at once supreme power and ultimate reality, underscoring the fundamental Tantric teaching that the power of consciousness and consciousness itself are one and the same.
The Devimahatmya vividly depicts a scene with Kali and her associated goddesses ready to take on an army of demons. The battle culminates with the slaying of two demon generals, Chanda and Munda, and this act earns her the name Chamunda. In the next episode, Chamunda takes on the demon Raktabija. In the battle, he sheds blood profusely until the world is teeming with Raktabijas. Finally, drained of his last drop of blood, Raktabija topples lifelessly to the ground. The mind is constantly in motion, and one thought begets another in an endless succession.
The mind rarely rests and is never fully concentrated. When all mental activity chittavritti ceases, that state is called yoga: consciousness resting in its own infinite peace and bliss. As Dakshinakali , she is portrayed as young and beautiful, standing on the supine, ash-besmeared body of Siva, who looks up at her adoringly. Siva is absolute consciousness, ever blissful in its own glory. Kali is consciousness in motion—the overflowing joy that projects, sustains, and withdraws the universe.
Consciousness and its powers are one and the same reality. In general, we can say that all the dualities of life, the light and the dark, the beautiful and the fearsome, are united and reconciled in Kali. She represents supreme non-duality, for she is none other than Brahman.
At the same time, the duality of this world is nothing other than her own self-expression. From the Absolute to the relative and from the relative to the Absolute, Kali represents the power of transformation. For us, who wrongly think ourselves to be mere mortals, she holds out the promise of transformation from the human to the Divine.
The Goddess Tara is worshipped in both Hinduism and Buddhism as the goddess of compassion and protection. In Hinduism, she is a form of the female primordial energy known as Shakti. Tara first appeared as a deity in Hinduism but was later adopted by Buddhism. In fact, in some traditions, she is considered the female Buddha. In Tibetan Buddhism, she is the most popular deity worshiped today. Origin — It is said that during the churning of the milky sea when poison came out the ocean, Lord Shiva drank it to save the world from destruction.
But Lord Shiva fell unconscious under the powerful effect of the poison. At this point, Goddess Durga appeared as Tara and took Shiva on her lap and breastfed Him to counteract the effect of the poison. Hence Tara is said to be more approachable to the devotees because of her maternal instinct. In tantric traditions, she may be considered an incarnation of Durga , Parvati or Mahadevi. Goddess Tara protects those on their journey to enlightenment, as well as earthly travelers.
In some traditions, Tara appears in different forms; the two best-known versions of her are White Tara, the embodiment of compassion and peace, and Green Tara, who is the great protector and overcomer of obstacles. Images of Tara often show her seated on a white lotus in the midst of the primordial waters that envelop the entire universe.
From this, we understand that she is the Mother of the three worlds—of the heavens, the atmosphere, and the earth. Like Kali, Tara is sometimes shown wearing a girdle of severed human arms, a symbol of her ability to relieve us of the burdens of karma. The scissors and sword, rather than being understood as agents of death, should be thought of as tools to dismantle and remove the ego, the sense of mistaken identity that defines, limits, and binds. Tripura Sundari is also known as Goddess Shodashi.
As the name suggests Goddess Shodashi is the most beautiful in all three worlds. Mahavidya is Tripurasundari, also known as Kamala. A form of Mahalakshmi, She symbolizes wealth. This rosy color represents joy, compassion, and illumination. She is shown with four arms in which she holds five arrows of flowers, a noose, a goad and sugarcane as a bow. The noose represents attachment, the goad represents repulsion, the sugarcane bow represents the mind and the arrows are the five sense objects.
In the Sakta Tantra , it is Mother who is supreme, and the gods are her instruments of expression. Through them, she presides over the creation, maintenance, and dissolution of the universe, as well as over the self-concealment and self-revelation that lie behind those three activities.
Self-concealment is the precondition as well as the result of cosmic manifestation, and self-revelation causes the manifest universe to dissolve, disclosing the essential unity. Tripurasundari represents the state of awareness that is also called the sadasivatattva. Cosmic evolution is the outward flow of consciousness pravritti. Spiritual practice reverses that flow, so for the yogin, this stage is a very high level of attainment, close to final realization.
It is an experience of the universe within the unity of consciousness. Even in our ordinary state of consciousness, Tripurasundari is the beauty that we see in the world around us.
Whatever we perceive externally as beautiful resonates deep within. The fourth Mahavidya is Bhuvaneshvari, whose form closely resembles that of Tripurasundari. Her name consists of two elements: bhuvana, which means this living world—a place of dynamic activity—and isvari, which means the female ruler or sovereign.
It is the entire cosmos, the bhuvanatraya , consisting of the heavens, the atmosphere, and the earth. Because this is a living, dynamic phenomenon, Bhuvanesvari embodies all its characteristics and their interaction. Maya here is the power to create a magical appearance for the delight of the spectator; that is what a magician does. All that we experience in this life is, in fact, the Divine Mother. As Bhuvanesvari she is consistently associated with the here and now. Parameswari, pleased with his Tapasya responded to his invitation and came as Bhu Devi or Bhuvanesvari.
She is red in color, seated on a lotus flower. Her body is resplendent and shining with jewels. She holds a noose paasham and a curved sword ankusham in two of her hands and the other two assume the mudras of blessing and freedom from fear. Bhuvanesvari is the Supreme Empress of Manifested Existence, the exposer of consciousness.
Essentially, Bhuvanesvari, by her all-pervasiveness and identification with the universe, invites us to cultivate an attitude of universality. The third Mahavidya is Chinnamasta. She is also known as Prachanda Chandika. This is her story:. Parvati was feeling very happy and a lot of love was welling up inside which caused her complexion to darken and the feeling of love completely took over. Her friends, on the other hand, were hungry and asked Parvati to give them some food.
Parvati requested them to wait and said that she would feed them after a while, and began walking. After a short while, her friends once again appealed to her, telling her that she was the Mother of the Universe and they her children and demanded that their hunger be satisfied immediately. The compassionate Parvati laughed and with her fingernail cut her own head.
The Ten Great Cosmic Powers (Dasa Mahavidyas)
The feminine divinity is a powerful entity. From mother nurturers to the destroyers, from knowledge to wealth, they encompass every aspect of the physical and spiritual realm. A part of such a powerful entity is the Mahavidya. The ten Mahavidyas, or Wisdom Goddesses, represent distinct aspects of divinity intent on guiding the spiritual seeker toward liberation.
Dasa Mahavidya – The 10 aspects of Adi Parashakti
Great Wisdoms are a group of ten aspects of Adi Parashakti in Hinduism. They are all forms of goddess Parvati. After the decline of Buddhism in India , these forms of the Goddess began to be attested in the Kaula Tantrika literature. The development of the Mahavidyas represent an important turning point in the history of Shaktism as it marks the rise of the Bhakti aspect in Shaktism , which reached its zenith in CE.