(article written by Laura Kim)

It is very difficult to translate the ancient concepts of the Indian yoga world into modern languages. If in tantric texts, for example, Shiva is in dialogue with his wife Parvati, then we can talk about god and goddess, about the male and female principle, about the Father or Mother of all beings. At the same time, we must not forget that these are two sides of the same essence, and we call it Being, the Absolute or BRAHMAN. It is human nature to artificially divide everything into opposites in order to understand the One. For our modern scientific world, the origin of the world still lies in the darkness of obscurity. For this "Darkness" or "Night" in Sanskrit there is the word KALI. She is the dark goddess of mother nature from which all beings originated, but our mind cannot grasp her formlessness.
And if Shiva as the Creator, Preserver and Transformer dances, then nature is seen as the image of Kali standing on Shiva, who, like a dead man, lies on the ground. When considering such paintings, one should not forget that we are talking about the same deity, which can take any form. We will talk about the veneration of ten images of women, the so-called Mahavidyas.

MAHAVIDYA - "Maha" means "Great", and "Vidya" - "Knowledge". And so Mahavidya is ten great knowledge. Since these are female entities, then we are talking about Nature.

MAHAVIDIAS AS FORMS OF PARVATI. When Shiva and Parvati lived in her father's house, he wanted to leave the house one day. Parvati did not want to let him out and blocked ten exits from the house with terrible entities that she created from herself. These were the 10 mahavidyas.

MAHAVIDYAS AS FORMS OF KALI When Shiva lived with Kali in the approaching Kali Yuga, he remembered the Golden Age and decided to leave it. In any direction where Shiva entered, one of the forms of Kali arose, and he realized that the whole Universe is just some form of Kali, the desire to leave left him. But it is obvious that all Mahavidyas are connected with Shiva through his third eye.

So Mahavidyas are Kali, Tara, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala (Dark; Sympathetic; Beloved in the Three Worlds; Incarnation of the World: All-accepting: Self-sacrifice: Dark Old Woman; She who has a head Herons; Taming Elephants; Pure Love).

Goddess Kali - death and creation

In the image, Kali appears as a shameless woman, dark and terrible with three eyes, with a garland of skulls and a belt of human hands, with her tongue hanging out and red with blood, with wildly flying hair, dancing on the body of Shiva, In both left hands she holds a bloody the sword and the severed head of the asura Raktabiji, and both right ones are folded into the mudra of blessing and protection, as if she wants to say: “Do not be afraid of me.” The symbolism of her images is a huge potential for meditation. For example, her Third Eye is a symbol of the transition from duality to trinity or the Trinity, garlanded skulls and hands on her belt, this is nothing more than collected karma, Kali dances on Shiva, who sleeps and dreams. And sleep is a very common symbol that indicates a state of illusion that requires awakening.

Goddess Tara - sympathizer

At first glance, there is almost no difference between Tara and Kali. She is depicted with a sword, a knife, a skull cup and a blue lotus, her ornaments are snakes, skulls and an animal skin. Her tongue licks the blood, and she herself dances on the lifeless Shiva. She has a huge belly. This is a special symbol meaning the birth of a new life. Thus Death and Birth meet and thus close the circle of life. In Buddhism, Tara made an independent career. She is considered the female incarnation of the Buddha Avalokiteshvara or the Bodhisattva of Mercy. In China it is Kuan Yin.

Goddess Tripura Sundari - beloved of the three worlds

She embodies beauty, something that Kali and Tara did not have. She shines like the sun and holds a noose, a hook, a bow and arrows in her hands, she sits on a lotus growing from the belly of Shiva. Shiva lies on the throne, supported by the gods Sadashiva, Brahma, Rudra, Ishana and Vishnu. The symbolism is reminiscent of Vishnu, from whose navel a lotus grows, on which Brahma sits. Just as a lotus grows out of mud, so does Nature arise from the spirit of Shiva. The bow and arrows are reminiscent of the arrows of love, the loop indicates connection, and the hook is controlled by elephants. This symbolism indicates the task that Nature performs.

There is the following story about the appearance of Tripura Sundari. When Parvati took the form of Kali, Shiva began to name her Black, which she was offended by. Then she decided to get rid of blackness through asceticism. After the austerity, she returned home and Shiva did not recognize her. And only when he looked at her with the Eye of Wisdom did he recognize himself in her. He blessed her and said: “You are so beautiful that all the Three Worlds admire you, so you will bear the name of Tripura Sundari. And besides, you are as beautiful as a sixteen-year-old virgin, so you should also be called Shodashi.”

Goddess Bhuvaneshwari

Like Devi Shodashi, she also sits on a red lotus and holds a noose and a hook, her hands are folded in the mudra of protection and blessing. The red lotus and clothes symbolize the mode of passion (rajas), which, together with the modes of ignorance (tamas) and goodness (sattva), dominate the universe. In her hands she holds two interesting objects, a hook and a loop. The hook in India is controlled by elephants, it is a symbol of power. The elephant itself symbolizes strength. The loop is a symbol of taming; care and knowledge.

Goddess Bhairavi

Bhairavi reclines on the lotus of Creation. In her hands she holds a book and a mala. They are also symbols of Saraswati, the goddess of speech and knowledge. These symbols mean the laws of nature, the Vedas, knowledge, spiritual restraint, yoga and austerity. The other two hands are folded in the mudra of blessing and protection, she, like Shiva, has three eyes. Only the garland of skulls, which we have already seen in Kali and Tara, indicates another aspect of it. Bhairavi means "Wrathful". She is the female form of Bhairava, the wrathful aspect of Shiva associated with destruction, annihilation and death, that is, naked nature in the play of opposites.

Goddess Chinnamasta

The following story is known about its origin. One day, Parvati went to bathe with her maids Jaya and Vijaya on the Mandakini River (the heavenly Ganges). After bathing, her body was filled with love for all things and turned red. After a while, her maids said, "We are hungry, feed us." Parvati replied: “Be patient, I will find a solution.” The maids continued to demand. Then, full of complicity, Parvati laughed and cut off her head with two nails like a sword, she caught it with her left hand, and three streams of blood poured from her neck, the left and right streams directly into the mouth of her maids as food, and the middle one fed her own head. Thus, everyone was fed and returned home, and Parvati received the name Chinnamasta, or the one whose head was cut off.

Accordingly, on the icon we see how Parvati cuts off her head with a sword, she stands on the red lotus of Creation, which in turn rests on the god of love Kame united in love with his wife Rati. The maids Jaya and Vijaya stand opposite each other. One with a white and the other with a black body, which, together with the red body of the goddess, recalls the three gunas: goodness is white, passion is red, ignorance is black. The names Jaya and Vijaya mean Victory and Great Victory. Victory is associated with victory in the material world, and the Great Victory with victory in the spiritual world.

Goddess Dhumavati

The story of Dhumavati continues and it is said that Parvati who swallowed Shiva became known as Bagalamukhi, or who swallowed her husband whole as a heron swallows a fish. So we see on the icon a goddess in a yellow robe, which is carried by a dead man brandishing a club, and to whom does nature threaten death? The one who feeds his ego, for it is the ego that brings age and death. On the icon, the goddess holds a person by the tongue, which is a symbol of taste and communication, truth and lies, rhetoric and poetry, before the tongue was also a symbol of high spiritual development, as well as commanding others. Thus the goddess has the mystical power to deprive of speech and to paralyze the whole body.

Goddess Bagalamukhi - the one with the head of a heron

One day, when Shiva and Parvati lived in Kailash, Parvati got hungry and asked Shiva for food, but Shiva plunged into meditation. Then Parvati, whose hunger was no longer bearable, swallowed Shiva. Smoke came out of her body, and Shiva, opening the Third Eye in the entrails of the goddess, spoke: “Without me, there will be no Purusha or Spirit in the world, but only Prakriti or Nature.” So the goddess turned into a thin and terrible Widow in a tattered dress. She has lost the Third Eye and sits on a broken wagon, the banner depicts ravens, a symbol of transience. In her hands is a basket for winnowing, grain, and the other hand is folded in a gesture of demand. The winnowing basket is a wonderful symbol for finding the paths of karma.

The man whom the goddess holds by the tongue is depicted in green clothes - the color of hope, but it is dark green, the color of illusion, in his hands is a shield and a sword. This person symbolizes our ego. And Nature does not fight him honestly, since he can be defeated only by dishonest means.

Goddess Matangi - knowledge

We see a beautiful goddess, she is 16 years old, she has the Third Eye, in her hands is a sword, a mace, a noose and a hook for taming an elephant. Her body is green or blue, she sits on a throne and has a lute in front of her. There is a story about her. One day Parvati wished to visit her father's house. Shiva allowed, but asked her to return soon, otherwise he would come and take her himself. And when Parvati did not return, Shiva turned into a seller of low caste jewelry, knocked on the house and offered Parvati the finest jewelry. Parvati chose jewelry and asked about the price. The merchant replied that he would give them to her as a gift if she gave him her love.

Parvati, of course, recognized her husband, laughed and told him to wait a bit. Shiva went to the forest waiting for Parvati. Meanwhile, Parvati turned into a beautiful girl from the Chandala caste and went to the forest, she began to dance in front of Shiva, and he asked her: Who is she? Parvati said she came to the forest to repent of her sins. Shiva replied that she would receive the fruits of repentance from him if she gave him her love. She would simply turn into Parvati, Shiva assured her. Parvati realized that Shiva recognized her even in disguise and was delighted.

This is a beautiful story about how Prakriti recognizes Purusha in any disguise. For this, she wears a mace that breaks illusions and a sword - the sword of knowledge. Her jewelry is a symbol of the fulfillment of all desires. Her body is green, it is the color of Nature, of hope. In other images, her body is blue, and blue is a symbol of wind, lightness, the sky of heavenly hope. She holds a skull as a symbol of spiritual purity. And she plays the lute, which is the symbol of Leela.

Goddess Kamala - pure love - liberation

The beautiful goddess smiles and beams. In her two hands are lotuses, and the other two are folded in the mudra of blessing and protection. The name Kamala comes from the root "Kama" or love, but it is also used to refer to the pink lotus, which is a symbol of purity. Many here see the goddess Sri or Lakshmi, who bestows any wealth. And it is true that Pure Love united with Pure Spirit transforms Nature into Paradise.
More articles:
Kriya yoga: what is it?
What is known about Prema Sai
Prema Sai continued discussion
Gunaparthi, birthplace of Prema Sai
Sathya Sai Baba
Best self-development
Kriya yoga and the origin of tradition
Sathya Sai Ashram - Puttaparthi
Esotericism - the path of self-development
Mantras and Mantra Yoga
Kriya Yoga Meditation is the Science of Breathing
Dubyanskiy ART: Calligraphy and Yantras

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