Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Navadurga - the nine forms of Devi Shakti

The Navadurga - the nine forms of Devi Shakti

Durga Face


Maa Durga, the inaccessible one or the invincible one, is believed to be the "one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress". The supremely radiant Mother Goddess is portrayed as having ten arms, riding a lion or tiger, holding several weapons like Shiva's Trident, Rama's bow, Vishnu's Conch and Discus, Indra's Vajra (lightning bolt) and Kubera's mace. She additionally holds a Kamandalu (water pot) given to her by Brahma and a lotus flower. She wears a meditative smile and practices Mudras or symbolic hand gestures.

A complete embodiment of the Sacred Feminine, Durga is forever in a state of svaatantrya (self sufficient; independent of all other things in the Universe). Hindu philosophy considers the Warrior Goddess Durga as an aspect of Kali. She undertakes a severe Vrata (penance) for nine days and on the tenth, she faces the terrible Mahishasura, the demon who could turn himself into a man or buffalo at will.

When the Devas realized that they would be no match for the Asura's strength, they approach the Devi, who then manifests as Durga, taking her strength from the combined energies of all the Gods mentioned above. Durga slayed Mahisha and hence, is known as Mahishasura Mardini.

Durga Mata


Devi Bhadrakali (or the "Beautiful Kali") is worshipped in Kerala and is one aspect of Goddess Kali. This consort of Virabhadra, it is believed, was born out of the Devi Sati's anger when her husband, Shiva, was insulted by her father, Daksha, during the Ashwamedha Yagna.

Kali is a terrible aspect of Devi and is shown having blue-colored skin, with three eyes and four, twelve or eighteen hands. Flames emanate from her head and she has deep fangs protruding from her mouth. She is often portrayed with a garland of skulls around her neck, holding a severed human head in her hands, with her tongue hanging out. Kodavas and Nairs mainly worship the deity.

Badra Kaali

Amba or Jagadamba

Amba or Jagadamba, yet another of the Devi's aspects, is venerated as the Mother of the Universe, who immediately protects those who come to her for succor.


Annapurna Devi

Devi Annapurna, the literal meaning of which is "Full of Food", is also considered to be the Goddess of Harvests, fertility and agriculture. This Goddess of Kashi (now, Varanasi) is symbolic of One who grants complete nourishment. Legend has it that she once even gave bhiksha (alms) to her own consort, Lord Shiva.


Sarvamangala literally means "the One who gives all auspiciousness and joy". This aspect of the Devi is venerated as the Bestower of all good, all prosperity and all happiness.



Bhairavi is the terrible consort of the Wrathful Bhairava, an aspect of Shiva. Almost indistinguishable from Kali, Bhairavi is associated with Kaal Ratri (literally, "black night of destruction"), a dark force, often identified with Kali. Bhairavi is also associated with the Mahapralaya, the great dissolution of the universe at the conclusion of each cosmic cycle.

Bhairavi is also called Shubamkari, the Mother to the Good People and the Terrible One to the bad ones. In the battlefield, she kills the terrible asuras (demons), Chanda and Munda, and drinks their blood. Hence, she is also referred to as Chamundeshwari. Though associated with destruction, Bhairavi is portrayed as a young, beautiful Goddess.

Chandi or Chandika

Chandi or Chandika, is also known as Durga Sapthashati. Chandi is believed to be a combination of Mahakali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati. The Murti Rahasya hails her as Ashtadasa Bhuja Maha Lakshmi (the Lakshmi with eighteen arms), bearing weapons. While the Devi Mahatmya (a Hindu text, which describes the true power of the Mother Goddess, Durga) gives the origin of the Goddess in the second chapter, some other scriptures portray her as an "assistant" to Kali; helping her in her battle with the demon, Raktabija. He was an asura who had a boon of generating a duplicate of himself from each drop of blood he shed in the battlefield. When Kali was busy drinking his blood, Chandi destroyed the many several demons created from his blood, before finally killing Raktabija himself.


Lalita (the 'She' Who Plays), who is also called Tripura Sundari, Rajarajeshwari and Shodashi, is one of the group of ten Goddesses in Hindu tradition, which is collectively known as the Mahavidyas. The other nine Mahavidyas are Tara, Bhuvaneshwari, Kali, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Chhinnamasta, Bagalamukhi, Kamalatmika and Matangi.

Sri Vidya fiercely guards the panchadashakshari mantra vidya. As the Lalita Sahasranama says, "Na shathaya na dushtaya na vishwasaya karhichith sri mathra bhakti yuktaya sri vidya raja vediney", which means, that the vidya or divine knowledge should be bestowed only on someone truly deserving, as this is the king of all vidyas. It should not be given away arbitrarily to the wicked or sinful. Lalita holds in her hands five flower arrows, bow, goad and noose. Lalita is described as being very attractive, sensuous and also erotically inclined.


Bhawani is again a powerful aspect of the Devi. Her name literally means, "The Giver of life", and so, she is considered to be the very source of all creative energy. This aspect of Parvati is vastly worshipped in Maharashtra. She was said to be the guiding force behind Shivaji Maharaj, the Maratha leader, to whom she even presented a sword.


Mookambika prominently features in the states of Kerala and Karnataka. It is said that Adi Shankara himself installed her idol at the temple in Kollur, about 12 centuries ago. The Mookambika Devi is revered as one of the most powerful goddesses. The Temple of Mookambika is considered to be one of the "Seven Muktisthala" sites. Devi Mookambika is also worshipped for developing better learning abilities and to beget knowledge.

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