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Dasha Mahavidya

 Hindu Of Universe  “

God’s light is within you, It never leaves you.”

The Dasha Mahavidya, a set of spiritual practices within Sanatana Dharma, has faced significant misinterpretation and undue criticism, primarily influenced by the actions of some specific practitioners.

Often wrongly linked to black magic, these practices suffer from a lack of proper understanding among many.

Tantra, a fundamental aspect of these practices, has been secretly protected and maintained within certain traditions for centuries. Its origins trace back to a time when spiritual knowledge was closely guarded and passed down through select lineages.

As it spread geographically, Tantra absorbed and integrated the cultural nuances of the regions it reached, thereby becoming a practice rich in diversity and adaptability.

This evolution allowed Tantra to gain acceptance in various cultures, each adding its unique interpretation and methods to the core principles.

Kashmir, in particular, stands out as a historically significant centre for the development and propagation of Tantra.

In this region, Tantra flourished and reached a zenith of philosophical and practical development under the patronage of local rulers and spiritual leaders.

The Kashmiri interpretation of Tantra contributed significantly to its spread across the then-known world, influencing various other spiritual traditions and practices.

This rich heritage of Kashmiri Tantra is a testament to the depth and versatility of these spiritual practices, underscoring their significance in the broader tapestry of Sanatana Dharma.

In addition to the Shaiva Agamas, two other prominent schools emerged in Kashmir, eventually evolving into distinct traditions.

These are the Srikula and Kalikula schools.

There is some debate about whether they originated in Kashmir.

Still, they both found a nurturing ground for growth and acceptance there.

Over time, Srikula migrated towards the southern regions of India, where it became widely known as Srividya.

On the other hand, Kalikula evolved into what is now recognized as Dasha Mahavidya.

Each of these schools, with their unique philosophies and practices, significantly contributed to India’s rich tapestry of spiritual traditions.

Kamakhya, the pivotal centre for Dasha Mahavidya sadhanas, is uniquely positioned in spiritual traditions.

The deity Devi Kamakhya manifests in ten distinct forms, collectively called the Dasha Mahavidya.

The Kulacara Tantra Marga of Kamakhya has evolved into a distinctive Shakta Tantrika Tradition today as the only surviving Tantra Marga in its purest form.

This particular Tantra Marga, also known as Yogini Kaula, represents a complex amalgamation of Hindu and Buddhist influences enriched by the contributions of practitioners from diverse tantric streams.

The teachings, rituals, and techniques specific to the Kulacara Tantra Marga of Kamakhya have been meticulously preserved as closely guarded secrets by its initiates. These esoteric practices are transmitted through the Guru-Shishya Parampara.

In this revered teacher-student tradition, knowledge is primarily passed down orally from the Guru to the initiate.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Kulacara Tantra Marga is its inclusive approach towards caste and gender. In this tradition, individuals from any caste and gender are eligible to receive initiation from a Guru.

Once initiated, all caste distinctions dissolve, uniting the initiates into a single collective known as Sadhakas.

Every initiated sadhaka is granted equal rights to partake in the rituals taught by their Guru.

This inclusive and universal approach is a defining characteristic of the Kulacara Tantra Marga of Kamakhya, reflecting its deep-rooted equality and spiritual unity principles.

Mahavidya – 10 Forms of Goddess Shakti

Goddess Kali

Goddess Tara

Goddess Shodashi

Goddess Bhuvaneshvari

Goddess Bhairavi

Goddess Chhinnamasta

Goddess Dhumavati

Goddess Bagalamukhi

Goddess Matangi

Goddess Kamala

Our ancient texts mention about ten Mahavidya who are worshipped to seek all sorts of powers.

Mahavidya worship is known as Sadhana in which worshipper concentrate on a single Goddess to please and to seek Her blessings.

In any Sadhana, Yantra and Mantra are considered very effective mediums through which worshippers can reach his target and fulfil his motive to perform it.

In Hinduism, specific Yantra and Mantra are assigned to each deity and those are used as medium to reach the deity to fulfill the motive.

Each Goddess along with her Yantra is worshipped through fixed procedure, steps and rituals.

The Origin of Dasa Mahavidya:

It is believed that Sati, the daughter of Prajapati Daksha, married Shiva against her father’s wish and permission.

To take a revenge, with the sole aim of insulting Shiva, Daksha organised a great yagna (fire sacrifice).

Except Shiva and Sati, all the Gods and Goddesses were invited.

When Sati came to know about the yagna, she wanted to attend it saying, “A daughter doesn’t require an invitation from her father”. 

Moreover, she wanted to ask her father why her husband was not invited. 

Shiva did not want that to happen. He tried to dissuade her in every possible way.

Being the Mother of the Universe, Sati became furious by Shiva’s actions.

Her fury transformed her into the Dasa Mahavidya.

Shiva tried to flee.

But for every direction (North, South, West, East, North-East, South-East, South-West, North-West, upward and downward) there was a Mahavidya stopping him.

Finally, Shiva had to give her the permission and the consequences are known to all.

Daksha insulted Sati and her husband.

To uphold the honour of her husband, the humiliation made her kill herself by self-immortalization in the yagna.

THE DASA MAHAVIDYA –

1. Kali or Mahakali:

Goddess Kali, also known as Mahakali, Bhadrakali and Kalika, is believed to be the most superior one among the Dasa Mahavidya.

The earliest appearance of Kali is from Shiva. She is the Shakti of Shiva. Mahakali is the Goddess of war, anger, time, change, creation, destruction and power.

The Goddess destroys the evil to save the innocents. She is the divine protector who bestows moksha (liberation).

The other roopa (forms) of Kali are – Dakshina Kali, Samhara Kali, Bhima Kali, Raksha Kali, Bhadra Kali, Guhya Kali.

According to different traditions, Kali is believed to have 8, 12 and 21 different forms. The popular among them are – Adya Kali, Chintamani Kali, Sparshamani Kali, Santati Kali, Siddhi Kali, Dakshina Kali, Bhadra Kali, Smashana Kali, Adharvana Bhadra Kali, Kamakala Kali, Guhya Kali, Hamsa Kali, Shyama Kali, and Kalasankarshini Kali.

2. Tara or Neela Saraswati:

Goddess Tara is the goddess of compassion and protection.

She is worshiped both in

Hinduism and Buddhism.

She is sometimes considered as the female Buddha too.

During Samudramanthan (churning of the sea), when poison came out and Shiva drank it

to save the universe, he fell unconscious.

Devi Durga, taking the form of goddess Tara,

appeared. To diminish the effect of the poison, she took Shiva on her lap and breastfed

him.

Devi Tara is worshiped for her maternal instinct.

3. Tripura Sundari:

Goddess Tripura Sundari, also known as Shodashi, is the most beautiful one in the trilok (three worlds).

She represents Devi Parvati, the wife of Mahadev.

Her complexion shines with the light of the rising sun.

The rosy radiance represents joy, compassion and illumination.

She has four arms in which she holds five arrows of flowers (represents the five sense organs), a noose (represents attachment), a goad (represents repulsion) and sugarcane as a bow (represents the mind).

Devi Tripura Sundari is also known as Lalita, the one who plays, and Rajarajeshwari, the queen of the queens.

She represents sadasivatattva (the state of awareness).

Goddess Tripura Sundari is the beauty that we see in the world around us.

4. Bhuvaneshwari:

Goddess Bhuvaneshwari (bhuvana = the living world; ishwari = the female ruler) is considered as the ‘Mistress of the Entire Universe’.

She is the Supreme Empress of Manifested Existence, the exposer of consciousness.

She resides in the heart of Shiva.

Devi Bhuvaneshwari 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.

She is also popular by the names Mahamaya (the one with great magical powers), Sarvarupa (the one who is everything) and Viswarupa (the one who appears as the universe).

According to Pranatoshini Grantha, when Lord Brahma created the universe, he invoked Devi Bhuvaneshwari.

5. Chhinnamasta:

Devi Chhinnamasta is both a life-giver and a life-taker.

She is also known as Prachanda Chandika and Jogani Maa.

Once, Devi Parvati went to take bath in the Mandakini River along with Dakini and Varnini (also known as Jaya and Vijaya).

While returning, Jaya and Vijaya became hungry and asked Parvati for food. 

Parvati asked them to wait until they reach home.

They could not bear their hunger. 

Devi then cut her own head with her fingernails and offered her blood to satisfy their hunger.

Devi Chhinnamasta‘s blood represents the prana (life force).

6. Bhairavi:

Devi Bhairavi is known as the fierce Goddess, the female counterpart of Bhairav.

Like Kali, she has four hands.

According to the best known iconography, she holds a sword, a demon’s head and a book signifying knowledge in her three hands.

The forth hand presents abhayamudra, urging devotees to have no fear and anxiety. 

Devi Bhairavi is also called Sakalasiddhibhairavi, the provider of all the perfections.

7. Dhumavati:

Terminologically “Dhumavati” means “she who is made of smoke”. 

Dhumavati, who arises when Lord Shiva cursed Devi Sati to be a widow for swallowing him to satisfy her excessive hunger and then disgorging him, is associated with darkness of life, negativity, anger, hunger, misery, fear, exhaustion, restlessness, poverty.

For being characterized as a widow, Dhumavati possesses a distinct nature as a Mahavidya.

She is often portrayed riding a huge crow or sitting on a horse-less chariot with an emblem of a crow as a banner. 

Dhumavati delivers the lesson of seeking our eternal truth.

8. Bagalamukhi or Pitambari:

Devi Bagalamukhi, also called “The Vanquish”, is the Goddess who paralyzes and silences her enemies, controls the tongues of all evil beings.

The name is derived from “Bagala” meaning the bridle used to control a horse.

She is shown pulling out a demon’s tongue with her left hand and beating him with a cudgel in her right hand.

She is also known as “Pitambari” for her yellowish complexion.

According to the mythology, the Gods did sadhna (propitiation) to yellow water, after being very anxious by the activities of a very powerful ashura, Ruru, who performed various penance to please Brahma.

Being pleased with their sadhna, the Divine Mother appeared from the “pita” (yellow) water as Bagalamukhi.

9. Matangi:

Goddess Matangi is also known as Chandalini, the Goddess of the outcastes. According to the mythology, once Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi visited Shiva and Parvati. While eating they dropped some food on the ground.

From the “ucchishta” (leftovers) a maiden appeared and asked for their leftovers.

 From the day she was known as Ucchishta-Matangi or Ucchishta-Chandalini.

She is representative of lower caste Hindu society and associated with pollution. Matangi,

The Tantric form of Saraswati, is also the Devi of knowledge, music and art.

She incorporates the knowledge which is beyond mainstream Hindu society.

10. Kamala:

Devi Kamala (The Lotus Goddess), the Tantric form of Lakshmi, is one of the most important and widely worshiped Goddesses in Hinduism.

She is the Devi of wealth and prosperity, daughter of sage Bhrigu.

Kamala has four hands.

She sits on a “kamal” (lotus) in Padmasana Posture, generally surrounded by two elephants and holds two lotus flowers in her two upper hands. Lower two hands display ‘varamudra’ (boon-giving) and ‘abhyamudra’ (having no fear) gestures.

Her other forms are Rudra (the howling one), Ghora (the terrifying one), Tamasi (the dark one).

Though often considered as Devi Lakshmi, Kamala has distinct differences with Lakshmi according to Dasa Mahavidya. 

Kamala is only a giver, who performs to ensure devotee’s prosperity.

Dasha Mahavidya – The Ten Great Sources of Wisdom

The central theme of traditional tantra is the knowledge of the Self through adoration of Shakti; Sri Vidya Sadhana is one such path to the Self.

Along this path of diving deeper into one’s own self, Shakti manifests in several forms of knowledge/intuitive wisdom. These forms are known as “Dasha Mahavidya”, where ten primary forms/sources of knowledge are known deeply personally and experientially.

These Mahavidyas are: Kali, Tara, Tripurasundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Tripura Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Baglamukhi, Matangi and Kamalatmika.

They are called “maha” (great) because each is a complete path and destination.

Each one opens to knowledge of the remaining nine, as well as the Bindu of the Sri Yantra.

It is said that devotion to and practice of any one of these will reveal our true nature and the reality of all of creation.

There are volumes written about the Dasha Mahavidyas, encompassing points of view of the yogas, tantras and the Upanishads.

Scholars spend their entire lifetimes dedicated to understanding and grokking the significance of each of these Mahavidyas. My somewhat hesitant writings here thus pale in comparison.

Everything expressed here is what has risen from my own practice of tantra, usually in times of intense clarity and insight that happen spontaneously.

As with all of the paths of self-unfoldment, these insights will also evolve and refine.

The basis of these writings are the tantric practices of Tattwa Shuddhi and Sri Vidya Sadhana.

Tattwa Shuddhi (literally, cleansing of elements) comprises of dissolution of elements corresponding to the various chakras into progressively subtler elements and then into the mahatattva (great element), Prakrithi (Shakti) and Purusha (Shiva).

After internal cleansing rituals, the elements are returned to rest in the opposite direction.

In the “dissolution” part of this practice, it gradually becomes intuitively known that Shakti/Prakrithi is the witness, the first separation from the Absolute.

Even when we become aware of “witnessing”, there is a sense that it is not all, or the final “it”.

With deepening inquiry, one is eventually propelled to ask,

“Who is aware of the witness?” and in time, we open up to the direct knowing of this awareness, that is, Purusha/Shiva.

While it feels that Shakti is the “individual” witnessing principle, with a retained “I” in it, the individuality of the witness collapses as Shiva, and there is only knowing awareness that is not fixed to this and that, I and not I.

In witnessing, there remains an experience, and a knower of the experience.

However, with further openings and deeper delving into this knowing awareness (Shiva, in this analogy) to be one’s true self/identity, we gradually come to see that every experience that arises is awareness itself, only seemingly separated from the knower.

In every experience, when we look deeply, the “knower” is added ad hoc, in a swift play of illusion by the mind, the master magician.

If we can stay with the experience, free from the mind’s interference, the knower is not seen to be separate, but known directly to have risen as the experience itself.

Thus, Shakti is never separated from Shiva.

If Shiva is the void, Shakti is what makes up the contents of the void, giving it form; yet, the void and the form are known via each other.

Shakti is indeed Shiva, like the waves of the ocean being the ocean itself.

As in Tattwa Shuddhi, we then return to daily life, elements aligned once again as before.

However, there is a distinct difference in how these elements are “held” in experience; they are transparent and not as solid/real as they did on the way up.

The borders between “in here” and “out there” become blurred and disappear.

Along this path of openings and awakenings arise the Mahavidyas, setting the inner void ablaze with intuitive arisings and wisdom.

They reveal themselves as the inner essence of time, vibration, space, silence, wisdom, compassion, oneness, dissolution, eternity, and beauty.

Each of these powerful forms of Shakti is a complete path, leading to Shiva and back into Herself; each will bring the sadhaka to his/her knees in awe and surrender.

Dasa Mahavidya Temple

Delve into the profound realms of worship, where Lord Shiva’s tranquil presence beckons seekers to embrace stillness and surrender to timeless rituals.

Rooted in Tantra Shastra, the ancient wisdom unveils three sacred vidyas—Hadi,

Kali, and Sadi, each carrying its own lineage and traditions. Matsyendranath’s propagation of the Kaula Chara tradition underscores the timeless pursuit of spiritual enlightenment.

Above all practices, the Dasa Mahavidya stands supreme, offering seekers a path to complete spiritual fulfillment.

Meanwhile, the divine mother Goddess Shakti guides seekers through varied practices, accompanying them on their spiritual journey.

Worship of Shakti and Shiva, the presiding deities of each planet, promises solace from Navagraha dosham, while the Dasa Maha Vidyas, representing ten divine manifestations, illuminate the path with their unique wisdom, all emanating from the eternal wisdom of Adi Shakti.

Dasa Mahavidya – Incarnation

Once, when Daksha Prajapati failed to extend an invitation to Satidevi and Maha Rudra for a grand yagna, Satidevi pleaded with Maha Rudra multiple times to attend.

However, despite her earnest requests, Maha Rudra remained enraged.

In response, Satidevi herself became furious, leading to the incarnation of Dasa Mahavidya surrounding Maha Rudra, who sat facing west.

The powerful Mahakali Mahavidya and Chinnamasta Mahavidya stood before him, while Bhagalamukhi Mahavidya stood behind.

The divine mothers, representing various aspects of cosmic energy, encircled Maha Rudra in each direction, along with the Navadurgas manifested by Parvathi Devi for the world’s benefit.

Thus, Satidevi, also known as Adishakthi, embodied the formidable form of Dasa Mahavidya, marking a pivotal moment in divine mythology.

Important Note

Only from Siddhagurus or Enlightened masters should a seeker learn the worship of these deities.

He should become a disciple and follow the Guru’s instructions exactly as they are.

Dasa Mahavidya mantra contains the word ‘Beejakshara,’ that ought to be chanted flawless.

World’s first 7 Feet Dasa Mahavidya Idols

Discover the unique pilgrimage destination of Ramaneswaram, standing as a rare testament to devotion and spirituality.

 Founded in 2015 by Siddhaguru Sri Ramanananda Maharshi, this sacred abode is home to revered deities and Siddhagurus.

It holds the distinction of being one of the few temples worldwide dedicated to the worship of Dasa Mahavidyas, with each idol towering at 7 feet tall.

Upon entering the main arch, devotees are greeted by the Adiparashakti Sannidhanam on the right, where they offer prayers through Kumkum pooja.

Moving to the left, they are immersed in the divine presence of Navadurgas and the Dasa Mahavidyas, each meticulously crafted in marble according to Tantric sciences. Consecrated by Siddhaguru Sri Ramanananda Maharshi on, these deities bestow blessings and fulfill the wishes of their devoted followers.

Dasa Mahavidya Anushtanam

Mantram

✼ Hridayam

✼ Kavacham

✼ Ashtottaram

✼There are three levels in Dasa Mahavidya.

The first level includes the above four parameters; second level includes the last two parameters, and the third includes attaining divinity.

As on date Siddhaguru is providing the first and second levels of Dasa Mahavidya wisdom that can be digested and easily perceived by the seeker.

The seeker should follow these six parameters to become fully aware of each deity’s worship.

  1. Dhyana Sloka of each deity.
  2. To perceive the nature and appeal of each deity.
  3. The Hridayam of each deity.
  4. The Kavacham of each deity.
  5. The Ashtottara Nama Stotra of each deity, (Chanting108 names of deity)
  6. The Sahasra Nama Stotra of each deity (Chanting108 names of deity)

Sankalpam

Stipulations for chanting Sri Dasa Mahavidya Anushtanam

  • To receive complete blessing of Dasa Mahavidya, the seeker should themselves become a disciple of a self-realized guru (or a Siddhaguru).
  • If your Guru is self-realized, seek permission from your guru to learn Sri Dasa Mahavidya Anushtanam from Siddhaguru Sri Ramanananda Maharshi.
    Else chant:

Yetat kshanamapi aham sri ramanananda maharshinaha nijasishyaha bhavami.
(At this moment itself, I wholeheartedly accept “Siddhaguru Sri Ramanananda Maharshi” as my guru.

  • Promise him that you never trouble him, submit to him with utmost devotion on him and eventually endeavor to become enlightened.
  • Light three Agarbattis at your pooja mandir.
  • One who performed the death rituals should not chant this mantra for 3 months and his family for 11 days.
  • Women are not permitted to chant this mantra during menstruation.
  • These mantras can be chanted aloud(if you are alone) or softly under breath.
  • Communicating mantras to anyone is strictly prohibited.
  • Seekers not aware of their Janma Nakshatram (star at the time of their birth) and time shall worship her.

What Does Dasha Mahavidya Mean?

dasha mahavidya is one of Hinduism’s 10 wisdom goddesses.

The term comes from the Sanskrit, dasha, meaning “ten,” maha, meaning “great” and vidya, meaning “knowledge.”

 Each mahavidya is a form of the Divine Mother.

In Hindu mythology, the dasha mahavidyas were created after a disagreement between Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati (a form of Shakti).

Parvati manifested herself in ten forms to keep Shiva from leaving.

The Shaktism branch of Hinduism worships the female aspect of the divine, Shakti, as the personification of the universe’s primordial energy, and therefore, the source of all creation.

Explains Dasha Mahavidya

The dasha mahavidyas are:

  • Kali – the goddess who represents empowerment and destruction.
  • Tara – the goddess of compassion and protection.
  • Tripurasundari or Shodashi – the goddess of wealth and beauty.
  • Bhuvaneshvari – ruler of the universe and source of creation.
  • Bhairavi – the fearsome aspect of the goddess who also represents kundalini energy.
  • Chhinnamasta – the goddess who decapitated herself and who represents transformation.
  • Dhumavati – the widow goddess who represents death.
  • Bagalamukhi – the goddess who paralyzes her enemies. She is also frequently associated with yogic paranormal powers, or siddhis.
  • Matangi – known as the Tantra form of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and the arts.
  • Kamala – known as the Tantra form of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and abundance.

Some Hindu traditions separate the mahavidyas into the benevolent wisdom goddesses (Tara,

Tripurasundari,

Kamala,

Bhuvaneshvari, and Matangi) and the fearsome wisdom goddesses (Kali,

Dhumavati, Bhairavi,

Chhinnamasta, and Bagalamukhi).

During These Times of Stress and Uncertainty Your Doshas May Be Unbalanced.

To help you bring attention to your doshas and to identify what your predominant dosha is, we created the following quiz.

Try not to stress over every question, but simply answer based off your intuition.

After all, you know yourself better than anyone else.

Dasa Mahavidya – The 10 aspects of Adi Parashakti

The Mahavidya is a group of ten powerful goddesses in the Hindu Dharma.

They encompass every aspect of the physical and spiritual realm, from motherhood and nurturance to destruction and wealth.

The ten Mahavidyas, or Wisdom Goddesses, represent various aspects of divinity that help guide the spiritual seeker on their journey to liberation.

The seeker focused on devotion (Bhakti) may approach these forms with reverence, love, and increasing intimacy.

The seeker focused on knowledge (Jnana) may view these forms as representing various states of inner awakening along the path to enlightenment.

The term “Dasha Mahavidya” comes from the Sanskrit, Dasa, meaning “ten,” maha, meaning “great,” and Vidya, meaning “knowledge.”

The Mahavidyas are different forms of the Divine Mother, Adi Shakti, or Parashakti.

According to Hindu Puranas, the Dasa Mahavidya was created after a disagreement between Lord Shiva and Goddess Sati (a form of Shakti).

Origin Story of Dasa Mahavidya

The consort of Lord Shiva, Goddess Sati, was Daksha Prajapati’s daughter, a Brahma descendant. Sati had married Shiva against the wishes of her father.

The arrogant Daksha performed a great yajna (with the sole intention of insulting Shiva), to which he invited all of the gods and goddesses except his son-in-law, Lord Shiva.

Narad Muni told Shiva about the Daksha’s Yajna, and Sati asked for Shiva’s permission, saying that a daughter does not need an invitation from her father.

Shiva said that Daksha was trying to insult him, so even if Sati attended the yajna, the outcome of the sacrifice would not be positive.

Therefore he tried to dissuade Sati from attending the Yajna.

Sati was enraged because he did not want to be in the Daksha’s Yajna and did not treat Sati as the mother of the Universe.

She assumed different forms of the Adi Shakti to show Shiva her divine form.

The oceans raged, the mountains shook, and the atmosphere was filled with wonder at her form.

It is said that Shiva was trying to escape, but the goddess Shakti stopped him each time he tried to go in a different direction.

Goddess Shakti multiplied herself into ten different forms, guarding each of the ten directions.

These ten forms are known as the Dasa Mahavidya.

Each form has its own name, story, quality, and mantras.

Each form of the Divine Mother is a Mahavidya. The Dasa Mahavidyas are:

Kālī (Sanskrit: काली) ,

Bagalāmukhī (Sanskrit: बगलामुखी),

Chinnamastā (Sanskrit: छिन्नमस्ता) ,

Bhuvaneśvarī (Sanskrit: भुवनेश्वरी),

Mātaṃgī (Sanskrit: मातंगी),

Ṣodaśī (Sanskrit: षोडशी),

Dhūmāvatī (Sanskrit: धूमावती),

Tripurasundarī (Sanskrit: रिपुरसुन्दरी), Tārā (Sanskrit: तारा),

Bhairavī (Sanskrit: भैरवी)

1. Goddess Kali

First of all, Goddess Sati took the form of Kali.

Her form was fearful, her hair wild and loose, her body as dark as a storm cloud.

She had eyes that were set deep into her face and eyebrows shaped like curved swords.

 She stood on a corpse and wore a garland of skulls and earrings made from the bones of corpses. 

Goddess Kali had four hands – on the one hand, she had the head of a skull, and on the other, a curved sword with blood dripping.

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 fearsome sound.

In the series of the ten Mahavidyas or wisdom aspects of the Divine Mother, Goddess Kali comes first, for she represents the universal consciousness where there is no time and space.

She is the ultimate power and reality at the same time, emphasizing the basic tantric teaching that the power of consciousness and consciousness are one.

The  Devimahatmya vividly depicts a scene with Kali and her associated goddesses ready to take on an army of Asuras.

The battle culminates with the slaying of two asura generals, Chanda and Munda, and this act earns her the name Chamunda.

In the next episode, Chamunda takes on the Raktabija. He bleeds profusely in battle until the world is teeming with Raktabijas (Seeds of Raktabija).

Just when the battle looks hopeless and the gods watching in despair,

Chamunda roams the battlefield, eagerly drinking the blood and crushing the young demons between her grinding teeth.

Finally,

Raktabija falls to the ground and dies after losing all his blood.

Significance: Raktabija’s ability to create his replicas represents the human mind’s ordinary state of awareness.

The mind is constantly in motion, and one thought leads to another in endless succession.

The mind is always active and never fully concentrated. Metaphorically,

Chamunda is the power to restrain the mind’s endless modulations, to stop them altogether.

When all mental activity (Chittavritti) ceases,

this is called yoga: consciousness resting in its own infinite peace and bliss.

As Dakshinakali, she is portrayed as young and beautiful, standing on Siva’s supine, ash-besmeared body, who looks up at her adoringly.

Siva is the highest form of consciousness, always content in its own greatness.

Kali is consciousness in action that creates, maintains, and destroys the universe.

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.

2. Goddess Tara

The Goddess Tara is revered in Hinduism and Buddhism as the goddess of compassion and protection.

In Hindu Dharma, she is a manifestation of the primordial female energy known as Shakti. 

The name derives from the Sanskrit root “tar,” meaning “protection.”

The name translates to “star” in other Indian languages.

Tara’s name is derived from tri, which means “to go across.”

One of her epithets is “Samsaratarini,” meaning “she who takes across the ocean of worldly existence.”

Tara is, therefore, the all-gracious liberator.

Tara was originally a Hindu deity but was later adopted into Buddhism.

In some traditions, she is even considered the female Buddha.

Today, she is the most popular deity worshiped in Tibetan Buddhism.

Origin – It is said that during the churning of the milky ocean (Samudra Manthan) when poison came out of 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 took Shiva on her lap, and breastfed Him to counteract the effect of the poison.

Hence Tara is said to be more approachable to her 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 and earthly travelers.

In some traditions, Tara appears in different forms; the two best-known versions of her are White Tara and Green Tara.

White Tara is known for the embodiment of compassion and peace, while Green Tara is known for being a great protector and overcoming obstacles.

Images of Tara often show her seated on a white lotus in 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.

Much of Tara’s symbolism can be related to death—but in its broadest perspective.

It refers to the death of the ego, the false idea of selfhood that keeps the individual in bondage, ever reactive, and thralldom to all life’s ups and downs.

Like Goddess Kali, Tara is sometimes shown wearing a girdle made of severed human arms, symbolizing her ability to relieve us of the burdens of karma.

The scissors and sword can be seen as tools to help eliminate the ego, which is the sense of mistaken identity and source of illusion.

3. Goddess Tripura Sundari

Tripura Sundari, also known as  Goddess Shodashi, is the most beautiful of the three worlds.

In Mahavidya, She represents Goddess Parvati or also known as Tantric Parvati.

Goddess Tripura Sundari is also known as Lalita and Rajarajeshwari, meaning “the one who plays” and “queen of queens,” respectively.

Tripurasundari is also known as Kamala, a form of Mahalakshmi; she symbolizes wealth.

According to the description in her dhyana mantra, Tripurasundari’s complexion shines with the rising sun’s light.

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, Goddess Tripura Sundari is supreme, and the gods are her instruments of expression.

Through them, she presides over the universe’s creation, maintenance, and dissolution and the self-concealment and self-revelation that lie behind those three activities.

Self-concealment is the precondition and result of the cosmic manifestation, and self-revelation causes the manifest universe to dissolve, disclosing the essential unity.

With this in mind, the eighteenth-century commentator Bhaskararaya proposed that the name Tripurasundari should be understood as “she whose beauty precedes the three worlds,” meaning that she is divinity in its transcendental glory.

However, the name is usually taken in an immanent sense to mean “she who is beautiful in the three worlds.”

Present here is the idea of a triad, a grouping of three that plays out in many different aspects of the phenomenal world.

Tripurasundari represents the state of awareness that is also called the Sadasivatattva. It is characterized as “I am this” (Aham Idam).

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 we see in the world around us.

Whatever we perceive externally as beautiful resonates deep within.

4. Goddess Bhuvaneshvari

The fourth Mahavidya is Goddess Bhuvaneshvari, whose form resembles 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.

The name “Bhuvanesvari” is often translated as “Mistress of the World,” but Bhuvana is more than the earth we stand upon.

The entire cosmos, the Bhuvanatraya, consists of the heavens, the atmosphere, and the earth.

Because this is a living, dynamic phenomenon, Bhuvanesvari embodies all its characteristics and interactions.

She is called Mahamaya (“she whose magical power is great”).

Maya is the power to create a magical appearance for the spectator’s delight; that is what a magician does.

She is called Sarvarupa (“she whose form is all”) and Visvarupa (“she whose form is the universe” or “she who appears as the universe”).

All that we experience in this life is, in fact, the Divine Mother.

As Bhuvanesvari, she is consistently associated with the here and now.

According to “Pranatoshini Grantha”, Brahma wanted to create the Universe and did intense Tapasya to invite the energy of Creation, Kriya Shakti.

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 four hands, and the other two assume the mudras of blessing and freedom from fear.

She resides in Shiva’s heart.

Bhubaneswari is the Supreme Empress of Manifested Existence, the exposer of consciousness.

Essentially, Goddess invites us to cultivate an attitude of universality through her all-pervasiveness and identification with the universe.

5. Goddess Chinnamasta

The third Mahavidya is Chinnamasta.

She is also known as Prachanda Chandika.

Chinnamasta (“she who is decapitated”) is a form of the Divine Mother shown as having cut off her own head.

This is her story:

Origin Story: According to Panchatantra Grantha, once Parvati went with her friends Dakini and Varnini to take a bath in the Mandakini River.

Parvati was feeling very happy and filled with love, which caused her complexion to darken, and the feeling of love completely took over.

On the other hand, friends were hungry and asked Parvati for food.

Parvati requested them to wait, said she would feed them shortly, and began walking.

After a short while, her friends again asked for food, telling her that she was the Mother of the Universe and that they needed food now.

Goddess Parvati laughed and, with her fingernail, cut her own head.

The blood spurted out in three different directions immediately.

Her two friends drank the blood from two directions, and Goddess drank from a third direction.

Since she cut her own head, she is known as Chinnamasta.

Chinnamasta shines like a lightning bolt from the Sun.

She demonstrates the rare courage needed to make the highest possible sacrifice.

The severed head, as an iconographic symbol, represents liberation.

 Each person’s individual identity is a state of conditioning or limitation, dependent on qualities.

By severing the head, the Mother reveals herself in her true being, which is unconditioned, infinite, and boundlessly free.

Her nudity reinforces the idea of freedom, symbolizing that she cannot be covered or contained by any garment.

Because she is infinite, she is also autonomous.

Dakini, on the left, is black; Varnini, on the right, is red.

Chinnamasta, in the middle, is white.

Black, red, and white represent the three gunas or basic universal energies (Sattva, Rajas, Tamas). 

Sattva, symbolized by White, is the highest gunas, but all three belong to the Prakriti. Nothing exists apart from the Mother, whose ability to take many forms manifests as the grandeur of the universe.

The blood spurting from Chinnamasta’s neck represents the life force (prana) or cosmic energy that animates the universe and sustains all life.

The first stream flows into Chinnamasta’s own mouth.

She is self-existent and dependent on no other.

The streams flowing into her attendants’ mouths represent the life force in all living creatures.

6. Goddess Bhairavi

The name Bhairavi means “frightful,” “terrible,” “horrible,” or “formidable.” 

Goddess Bhairavi provokes different fear, for she is said to shine with the effulgence of ten thousand rising suns.

She has many names, including Tripura Bhairavi,

Sampath Praja Bhairavi,

Kaulesh Bhairavi,

Siddhida Bhairavi,

Bhay Vidwamsi Bhairavi,

Chaitanya Bhairavi,

Kameshwari Bhairavi, Nitya Bhairavi, and Rudra Bhairavi.

Bhairavi is seen mainly as the Chandi in the  Durga Saptashati who slays Chanda and Munda.

Sometimes she is in the cremation ground, seated on a headless corpse.

She has four arms.

With two hands, she holds the sword of knowledge and the Rakshyasa’s head, representing the ego’s destruction.

Her other two hands may display the abhayamudra, urging us to have no fear, and the Varadamudra, the gesture of granting boons.

They often hold a mala, signifying devotion, and a book, signifying knowledge.

The trident represents the threefold nature of her manifestation and can be interpreted in various ways.

It is often said that Bhairavi represents divine wrath, but this is only because of her fierce, maternal protectiveness to destroy ignorance that keeps us in bondage or in Samsara.

In that aspect, she is called Sakalasiddhibhairavi, the granter of every perfection.

7. Goddess Dhumavati

Goddess Dhumavati represents the dark side of life.

Dhumavati means “she who is made of smoke.”

One of the effects of fire is smoke.

It is dark, polluting, and concealing; it is emblematic of the worst facets of human existence.

Origin Story: According to Pranatoshini Tantra, once Devi Sati, due to satiate her extreme hunger, swallowed Lord Shiva.

At Lord Shiva’s request, She later regurgitated Him.

After this incident, Lord Shiva rejected her and cursed her to take a form of a widow.

A common feature associated with Dhumavati is a crow.

The crow sometimes appears on her banner; sometimes, it sits atop it.

Occasionally the bird is shown as huge, serving as her mount (Vahana).

She is associated with poverty, needs, hunger, thirst, quarrelsome, anger, and negativity.

She is consistently shown as old and ugly, with sagging breasts and crooked or missing teeth.

She is dressed in filthy rags.

Dhumavati embodies the destructive force of time that takes away our loved ones, physical strength and energy, health, and anything else that contributes to our happiness.

Everything we rely on for safety is, by nature, temporary.

In the end, we all have to confront our own mortality.

That is the fundamental issue of human existence.

8. Goddess Bagalamukhi

She is also known as Bagala for short and as the “goddess who paralyzes enemies.”

In later tantric yoga, Bagalamukhi is associated with the practice of pranayama.

Her name is a combination of Bagala and Mukhi. Bagala, which is the distortion of the original Sanskrit root Valga (वल्गा), means bridle.

The headgear used to control a horse is known as a bridle.

Hence Bagalamukhi means the Goddess who has the power to control and paralyze the enemies.

Due to her capturing and paralyzing powers, She is also known as Devi of Stambhana.

In some traditions, she is an incarnation of the goddess Kali. Bagalamukhi translates as “the one who checks the mouth.”

She is so-named for her power to silence speech and still the mind.

In yoga, such a state helps the yogi find peace and higher states of consciousness.

Origin Story: Once, an asura named Ruru, the son of Durgam, performed severe penance to win the favor of Brahma.

Since Ruru was already very powerful, the Gods became very apprehensive of what might happen if he obtained a boon from Brahma.

So they did Aradhana (propitiation) to yellow water (Shree Maa says here that yellow intuitively means peace).

Pleased with their Tapasya, the Divine Mother appeared as Bagala.

Bagala is the Goddess who stops all motion at the appropriate time, silences the mouths and words of all evil beings, and controls their tongues.

May that Goddess bless us with stillness when it is appropriate!

9. Goddess Matangi

The Shaktisamgama-tantra narrates the birth of Ucchishta-Matangini.

Once, the god Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi visited Shiva and his second wife Parvati (a reincarnation of Sati) and gave them a banquet of fine foods.

While eating, the deities dropped some food on the ground, from which arose a beautiful maiden who asked for their leftovers.

The four deities granted her their leftovers as prasad, food made sacred by being first consumed by the deity.

This can be interpreted as the Ucchishta of the deity, although due to its negative connotation, the word Ucchishta is never explicitly used in connection to Prasad.

Shiva decreed that those who repeat her mantra and worship her will have their material desires satisfied and gain control over foes, declaring her the giver of boons.

From that day, the maiden was known as Ucchishta-Matangini.

Matangi is often described as an outcast and impure.

Her association with pollution mainly stems from her relation to outcast communities, considered polluted in Hindu society.

These social groups deal in occupations deemed inauspicious and polluted, like the collection of waste, meat processing, and working on cremation grounds.

Matangi is regarded as a Tantric form of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and the arts of mainstream Hinduism, with whom she shares many traits. Both embody the music and are depicted playing the veena.

They are also both said to be the Nada (sound or energy) that flows through the Nadi channels in the body through which the life force flows.

Both are related to rain clouds, thunder, and rivers.

Though both govern learning and speech, Saraswati represents the orthodox knowledge of the Brahmins, while Matangi the wild and ecstatic outcast embodies the “extraordinary” beyond the boundaries of mainstream society, especially inner knowledge.

10. Goddess Kamala

Kamala is the tenth of the ten Mahavidya Goddesses. 

Goddess Kamala is considered the supreme form of the goddess in the fullness of Her graceful aspect.

She is not only compared with Goddess Lakshmi but also considered Goddess Lakshmi.

She is also known as Tantric Lakshmi.

The goddess in the form of Kamala bestows prosperity and wealth, fertility and crops, and good luck.

Hence She is Devi of both Dhan and Dhanya, i.e., wealth and grains.

Kamala is portrayed as making the gestures of boon-giving and fearlessness. 

She sits on a lotus and holds lotus blossoms in her two upper hands.

Even her name means “lotus.”

She is flanked by two elephants.

Kamala is Lakshmi, who is portrayed identically, but in the context of the Mahavidyas, there are also significant differences.

Kamala is not a divine consort but an independent and all-supreme Divine Mother. She is not the spouse of any male deity.

Interestingly, she rarely identifies with the other female forms found in orthodox Vaisnavism, such as Sita, Radha, or Rukmini.

However, Kamala is not completely auspicious or one-sided.

Sometimes she is called Rudra (“the howling one”), Ghora or Bhima (“the terrifying one”), or Tamasi (“the dark one”).

Like Kali, the Tantric Kamala embraces the light and the darkness, for she is the totality.

Kali represents unfettered absolute reality;

Tara is an expanded state yet bound by the physical;

Bagalamukhi the fierce concentration;

Kamala and Bhairavi with the satisfaction of physical well-being and worldly wealth; while the other Mahavidyas symbolize the worldly needs and desires that eventually draw into Kali.

Also, Kali, Chinnamasta, Bagalamukhi, and Dhumavati are characterized by their power and force – active and dormant.

Tara has certain characteristics of Kali and certain others of Sundari.

And she is also related to Bhairavi, Bagalamukhi, and Matangi in aspects of sound force (Sabda) expressed or implied.

Whereas Sundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Matangi, and Kamalatmika have qualities of light, delight, and beauty.

The Tantras speak of Kali as dark, Tara as white, and Sundari as red.

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