by Jayaram V
Parvathi is the consort of Siva. She got her name because she is the
the mountains (parvatha) and also because she as Prakriti
occupies one half (parva) of the universe while the other half is
occupied by Siva in his aspect as Iswara or Purusha. She
is known by many names and worshipped by many both as a consort of Siva and
also independently as the Mother Goddess. We do not come across any direct
reference to her in the Rigveda, but in the Kenopanishad
she is mentioned as Uma Haimavathi,
the daughter of Himavat,
who declares to the gods the greatness of Brahman.
to Hindu mythology Parvathi was Dakshayani in her previous incarnation.
Dakshayani was the
daughter of Daksha and Prasuti.
She became the wife of Siva much against her father's wishes. The
story is that Daksha once
performs a sacrifice and invites all gods to grace the occasion. During
the ceremony, infront every one
he speaks insultingly about Siva who has not been invited to attend the
function. Unable to bear the insult to her husband, Dakshyani
immolates herself infront of every one.
In her next birth she is born again as Parvathi and through her austerities
and penances she wins over Siva and marries him again.
is generally shown seated by the side of her husband or in the company
of her children and husband. She is also shown separately as a Shakti,
seated on a pedestal, or a lion or a tiger with four hands and a cheerful face. Two of her
hands hold lotus flowers while the remainign two are in the abhaya
and varada mudras (postures). Parvathi is also
known by many other names such as Uma, Amba or Ambika and Gauri.
Brahmi, Mahesvari, Kaumari, Vaisnavi, Vahahi, Narasimhi and
Aindri are considered be the seven manifestations of Kali, who is
Parvathi in her terrible form. These goddesses were actually created by
the combined energies of seven different gods (Brahman, Siva, Kumara,
Vishnu, Varaha ) who wanted to help Kali who was fighting Raktabija a
powerful demon. These goddesses display the basic attributes of the gods
from which they descended and also carry the same weapons as their
The Tantras speak of ten powers, known as dasamahavidyas
or ten great branches of knowledge. These are Kali, Tara, Sodasi,
Bhuvanesvari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavathi, Bagala, Matangi and
is also known and worshipped as Annapurna, Aparajita, Bala, Bhadrakali,
Bhutamata, Chamunda, Gayatri, Indrakshi, Jagadhatri, Kamesvari,
Katyayani, Manonmani, Rajarajesvari and Sivaduti. As Annapurna she is
the personification of food and source of all food. The Kasi Annapurna
is very popular. Gayatri, is the presiding deity of the Gayantri Mantra.
Durga is the Mother Goddess aspect of Parvathi. A whole lot of tradition
associated with her, which goes back to the prevedic period. The
Devibhagavatham , a purana,
is entirely dedicated to her. So is the case
with Devimahatyam, also known as Durgasaptasathi. Durga is the Mother of
all, universal love personified, who is considered by her followers to
be superior to even the Trinity. She slew the demon Mahishasura, the
bull headed demon who was troubling all the worlds and whom no god was
able to fight.
Riding on a ferocious lion, holding innumerable weapons, and with
several hands, she fought the demon and put an end to him. The
festival Dussehara, one of the most popular Hindu festival, is
observed to celebrate the victory of good over the evil. Because of this
victory, Durga is also called Mahishasuramardini (slayer of Mahisha).
She also slew several demons, like Chanda and Munda, Sumbha and
Nisumbha and earned her reputation as terror to all the evil in the
as the controller of the universe and the Highest Self has a trinity of
her own represented by Mahasarasvathi, Mahalakshmi and Mahakali. They
are not counterparts to Brahma, Vishnu and
Mahesh, but considered by
her worshippers as the Trinity Itself, representing the creative,
preservative and destructive aspects of Durga as Iswari or Mahadevi.
Durga has many aspects some of which we have already mentioned while
dealing with the aspects of Parvathi. Mahakali is her most terrible
aspect. Mahakali is a ferocious goddess, dark blue in color, with ten
faces and feet, with a garland of skulls or slain heads dangling around
her neck, her hands holding various kinds of destructive weapons, with
one feet resting on the body of a fallen Siva.
Lalitha is all that is beautiful, brilliant, soft and refined in the
manifestation of Durga. She is worshipped mostly in South India and is
associated with Sri
Chakra. According to mythology she was born out of a
sacrifice performed by Indra, from the midst of a disc of brilliance.
She married Kamesvara, who is Lord Siva in his sensuous aspect. She is
also credited with the slaying of a demon Bhandasura and destruction of
his city Sonitapura. She resides in Sripura, a city built by Visvakarma
along with her husband. In the images Lalitha is depicted as beautiful
goddess, holding a stem of sugarcane, arrow, the goad (ankusa) and
noose, with Srichakra drawn at her feet.
Sri Chakra is a geometric pattern believed to be invested with the power of the Devi and possess the capacity to manifest desired reality if it is worshipped in a proper manner accompanied by appropriate mantras. People use these patterns knows as yantras as amulets and protective devices against evil spirits and adverse conditions. Each devi
has her own Yantra. People are advised to exercise caution while dealing with these powerful sources of spiritual energy for they may cause immense harm to an innocent worshipper if he or she does not know how to worship them or use inapproptiate mantras or rituals. What we have presented here is a copy of the Sri Chakra
without the associated sacred syllables.
Suggested Further Reading