Mahavidyas – The Divine Goddesses
When we think of the Goddess, we imagine her as epitome of beauty, nurturing like mother and possessing a soft look. But when we talk about ten Mahavidyas, 10 forms of great wisdom as goddesses then we will learn that they are pictured as wearing garland of skulls, drinking blood, in white clothes like a widow and cutting the tongue of enemy. Why they are presented like this? Why they are considered as the highest form of wisdom? Of course there must be some reason behind this.
Meaning of 10 Mahavidyas
In other words 10 Mahavidyas are the esoteric form of Shakti. And specifically tantra reveals their mysterious, powerful and true form. If we try to understand the word meaning of ‘Dus Mahavidya’ then it will be number 10 as ‘Dus’, great as ‘Maha’ and knowledge or wisdom as ‘vidya’, that together means ‘ten great knowledge’. Therefore these 10 forms are the manifestation of supreme consciousness. In other words we can say the true self manifests as 10 mahavidyas.
Everything is matter in this world and consciousness is unseen yet present there. The matter is Shakti and consciousness is shiva.
Origin of Goddesses (Mahavidyas)
One story behind the origin of 10 mahavidyas is famous and that is as follows. Goddess Sati is the consort of Lord Shiva. Once her father arranged a yagya (sacrifice) and therefore invited all the Gods except her daughter sati and shiva. Daksha, the father of sati did so because he did not consider shiva as the god. Due to Shiva’s appearance and lifestyle daksha had that belief. Thus he invited other gods and sages to his yagya. Not being invited Sati still wanted to attend the yagya at Daksh’s place. Shiva tried to dissuade sati from attending the yagya, knowing that result would not be good if sati goes there. But Sati still wanted to go, so she manifested herself into 10 forms guarding the 10 directions and making shiva to stay there so that he could not stop her going there.
These 10 forms of sati are the 10 mahavidyas portraying all the extremes; from nurturer to destroyer; physical aspect to spiritual aspect; gentle to fierce, everything is the form of 10 mahavidyas.
Mahavidya Tantra Sadhana
The tantra sadhakas are the practitioners of tantric sadhana of mahavidyas. These practices are the secretive thus should be initiated to sadhak by the master only. This sadhana is said to be ugra sadhana so it is advised to practice under the guidance of master or guru. The practice includes the use of yantra, mantras and other rituals. Sadhana of 10 mahavidyas give various siddhis and finally enlightenment. Because the sadhana (practicing mahavidya mantra) is quite powerful thus it can give much amplified results in comparison to other sadhana(practices). The sattvic tantric whose mind and intentions are pure can do lot more and can inspire others for the sadhana of these 10 goddesses in the right direction.
Mahavidyas & Kundalini
Kundalini is also a form Shakti which resides in everyone. Once the kundalini gets awaken and arises to its final destination one can experience the immense power and self realisation happens. Similarly the dus mahavidya sadhana leads to various siddhis and knowing self. So in other words, practicing the mahavidya sadhana awakens the kundalini.
Mahavidyas & Planets
Planets are the part of the creation and these mahavidyas are the cause of creation. So if one does mahavidya mantra chanting as the remedy for harmful effects of nine planet, he or she will get the blessing from the goddesses and his/her problems related to planets will be solved.
Worshipping mahavidyas will impart true knowledge associated with each mahavidya as the fruit of sadhana. In many shakti peetha across India and other countries, sages perform the rituals of tantric sadhana of respective Mahavidya Goddesses.
Names & Other Things To Be Taken Care Of
Names of 10 Mahavidyas are : Kali काली, Tara तारा, Sodashi षोडशी, Bhuvaneshwari भुवनेश्वरी, Bhairavi भैरवी, Chinnamasta छिन्नमस्ता, Dhoomavati धूमावती, Baglamukhi बगलामुखी, Matangi मातंगी, and Kamala.
This is Gupt Vidya so it is advisable to practice secretly under the guidance of master, guide or guru with full devotion and concentration.
Whether the practitioner practices goddesses for worldly gains, for supernatural powers (siddhi) or for spiritual goals, he should take care of few things.
Important Things For Mahavidyas Sadhana
- Correct recitation of mantra
- Correct yantra
- Place for worship
- Sitting posture
- Correct image or idol of goddess
- Correct things to offer in pooja and correct vision.
Choose the sadhana of a particular mahavidya according to the goal you have in mind. This sadhana unites the practitioner to the goddess.
Moreover each aspect of 10 mahavidyas also breaks the societal norms. They represents the powers of women over men to convey no one should be differentiated on any basis of gender and looks. Denying the social norms these mahavidyas represent the form of Shakti. She has many colours, she is warrior, protector, epitome of beauty, giver of all material comforts, nurturer of nature, and giver of salvation.
A Brief Introduction To Mahavidyas
Kali word come from Kala, which means ‘black, death and time’. Therefore she is the wisdom of time and death. In addition she has the most dreadful appearance. On the battlefield she drinks blood of enemies and wears the garland of skulls, has long open hair, and a lolling tongue. Her image depicts that she stays in the places like battlefield and cremation ground, which are at the periphery of worldly society. This furious form of her shows that if it is required to drink blood to save the society or her children she will do that too. So she is the fierce form of mother.
She is the goddess who protects and saves. Shiva drank the poison which came out of ocean while ocean churning (samudramanthan) to save the world from destruction. But then his throat turned blue as he kept the poison in his throat, not letting it to go down to save the body. Upon doing this he fell unconscious under powerful effect of poison. Then there Tara Ma appeared and took Shiva in her lap. She fed him milk as a mother does to her child for cancelling the negative effects of poison. Moreover she is the devi of knowledge who knows the right solutions.
Kali and Tara are interconnected; both wear the garland of skulls and have fierce look and lolling tongue. In Buddhism also, Mother Tara is popular having a calm and composed look with fierce attributes.
Goddess SHODASHI (Tripura Sundari)
Shodashi means of sixteen 16, the young, beautiful and dynamic. She is the goddess of beauty like the 16 year old girl. She is the beauty of three lokas, three worlds as her name ‘Tripura Sundari’ suggests. Above all her essence lies in the trilogy of nature: rajas, tamas and sattva; earth, heaven and paataal; kriya Shakti, gyan Shakti and chitta Shakti.
This world (Bhuvan) is the her creation, she is the God of this world. One who is Goddess of Bhuvan is bhuvneshwari. In fact she herself is the cosmos and thus considered mother of cosmos.
Bhairavi is again the fierce form of Goddess. She wears red clothes and a garland of severed heads. She is the feminine energy of Bhairav.
She is the embodiment of courage and sacrifice, she is the great nurturer who can feed even with her blood to satisfy the thirst and hunger of children. Chhinnamasta is beyond body & mind and has no self attachment. In pictures of her she herself cut her head and fed her blood. Therefore she is the supreme form of non detachment.
She represents the widowhood. Widowhood is taken as the deprivation of beauty. It represents sorrowness, separation and eventually deprivation of worldly things. Therefore Goddess Dhumavati is the wisdom of deprivation. She wears white clothes, crow accompanies her, no ornaments or nothing like the symbol of beauty she possesses. In other words she is opposite of Goddess Lakshmi. Old, matted hair, wearing white clothes are the physical identification of the goddess. Dhoom or Dhum means Smoke, thus Dhumavati is ‘the smoky one’. Other names of Dhumavati are Nirrti, Jyestha and Alakshmi.
Her supernatural powers to paralyse and to master over the opponents are for the protection of the devotees from the enemies. Pitambari is the another name of goddess Baglamukhi which means the yellow. Devotees worship her to receive the supernatural power to paralyze and to control over enemies. On the other aspect, bagalamukhi sadhana gives power to stabilize and paralyze our own thoughts. It gives control over the mind & senses heightening the concentration. To know more about the Goddess Baglamukhi and her mantras click here.
She again demystifies the societal norms and rules. Goddess Matangi is free from all the rules and is the ruler herself. She is associated with out-caste people who are the victim of societal discrimination. She provides all kind of material comforts to them and all without discrimination. Matangi is the goddess of knowledge playing veena (musical instrument). Most important thing is she is beyond the orthodox rules of society and represents the higher wisdom ‘all are same and one’.
She is the epitome of grace and wealth. Kamala is the tantric form of Goddess Lakshmi. She is happiness in all form, giving joy, comforts and prosperity. Goddess Kamala sits on the blossomed lotus untouched by water or mud, living in the mud. Same is she, she represents the detachment from world in spite of having all the worldly comforts. Thus teaching us the right way of living in the world. She is the higher wisdom teaching the art of living.
In conclusion, the dus mahavidyas are the ten fundamental energies/knowledge of the cosmos. Doing the sadhana of a mahavidya reveals the true aspect to the devotee. While Kali, Tara and Bhairavi are the fierce powerful forms; Tripura Sundari (shodashi), Kamala and Bhuvaneshwari are the soft forms having fierce qualities. On one side chinnamasta is highest form of nurturing and detachment but on the other Dhumavati is showing the different aspect of woman, the widowhood. Matangi is beyond the social norms and represents the highest form of wisdom, the nada while Bagalamukhi is the highest form of concentration and control. Devotees worship all or any mahavidya as per their spiritual and material goals. They all are the epitome of wisdom and interconnected.