The oldest concepts of yoga are sometimes difficult to translate into modern languages. In the tantric texts we read how God Shiva dialogues with his consort, Goddess Parvati, and then we can interpret such a plot in very different ways. Symbolically, God Shiva is consciousness and Goddess Parvati is the manifested universe. The dialogue of Shiva and Parvati is the relationship between the masculine and feminine principles of the universe or the communication between the soul and God. Behind beautiful legends always hides deep symbolism, many levels of understanding of nature and meaning.

The masculine and feminine principles of the universe are two sides of the same entity which we call the Absolute (Brahman). It is human nature to artificially divide into opposites what is essentially originally one. What does classical science know about consciousness, the soul, and God? These questions elude scientific research, at least for the time being.

Vedic science has used poetic images and symbols since time immemorial to describe cosmic processes, the evolution of consciousness and matter. All gods are different aspects of consciousness and all goddesses are aspects of cosmic energy. God Shiva dances mystical dances (tandava) and the manifested nature as the image of numerous goddesses creates an amazing diversity of the universe, different types of energy, numerous worlds, space and time.

When considering the many images and symbols, one should not forget that we are talking about the same deity, which can take any form. The Mother Goddess manifests in many forms and aspects carrying all kinds of vibrations and qualities. We will talk about worshiping the ten images of the Mother Goddess, the so-called Mahavidyas, in this article.

Mahavidya - Maha means great and Vidya means knowledge.
And so, Mahavidya is the ten great knowledge, manifesting in the ten archetypes of the goddesses.

MAHAVIDYAS AS THE FORMS OF PARVATI. According to one legend, one day God Shiva wanted to leave the house. Goddess 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 ten Mahavidyas, which symbolize the ten directions of space.

Symbolically, this story signifies the opening (or blocking) of one's spiritual space. It should not be forgotten that God Shiva is the symbol of each person's consciousness. Goddess Parvati is a symbol of energy, which ultimately signifies the energy of each person. Behind the beautiful legends, one must always understand the signs of spiritual processes within a person's inner space.

MAHAVIDYAS AS THE FORMS OF KALI. When God Shiva was living in Kali Yuga (Dark Age) with Goddess Kali, he suddenly remembered the Golden Age. Intrigued by such thoughts, God Shiva decided to leave Goddess Kali. In whatever direction Shiva tried to direct his feet, one of the forms of Goddess Kali appeared. Shiva realized that the entire universe was made up of many forms of the great Goddess Kali. It must be remembered that Goddess Kali and the main deity of Kali Yuga (the age of material decay) are not the same but two different archetypes. In this legend, God Shiva was able to pave the way to the fused space with the help of the power of ten Mahavidya, he was able to successfully perform these practices with the help of the power of his third eye.

It goes without saying that the ten goddesses that comprise the number of Mahavidyas are necessarily aspects of Goddess Parvati or Goddess Kali. There are fields of yoga, among the ten goddesses there are aspects of Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Lakshmi. In different systems of yoga and tantra, there are methods of working with the energies of the ten goddesses, and various bija mantras are also used to perform this practice. Such diversity should not create confusion. Practices related to Dasha Mahavidya can be found in many Tantras of Shaktism, Shaivism, Kriya Yoga, Siddhanta.

In some Mahavidya traditions these are Kali, Tara, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala. According to other canons, these are Saraswati, Shakti-Durga, Dakshina-Kali, Uma-Parvati, Ashta-Lakshmi, Tripura-Bhairavi, Tara, Chinnamasta, Lalitta, Maheshvari.

We see Kali as an angry goddess, she has dark skin, she is amazing with three eyes, and a garland of skulls around her neck. She is belted with a belt made of human hands, her mouth wide open with a blood-red tongue, depicted dancing over the body of the sleeping God Shiva. She has four arms, her left hand holding a bloody sword and the severed head of the demon Raktabija, and her right hands clasped in a gesture of blessing and protection. As to say: "Don't be afraid of me, I am your protector." Goddess Kali is the protector and destroyer of illusions.

The symbolism of Goddess Kali creates great potential for meditation. For example, the third eye of the Goddess is a symbol of the transition from duality to unity, and the protruding tongue is a symbol of the Khechari Mudra (a special position of the tongue used to activate the pituitary gland). Garlanded skulls and severed hands at the waist were nothing but accumulated evil karma. Goddess Kali dances on God Shiva, who is sleeping and having lucid dreams.

Goddess Kali is the mother of the whole universe

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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 animal skins. Her tongue licks the blood and she herself dances to the lifeless Shiva (who is actually sleeping soundly). This is a special symbol signifying the birth of a new life.
Goddess Tara brings yogis from this illusory world to the other shore, symbolizing enlightenment. In the symbolism of Goddess Tara, death and birth meet, thus closing the cycle of life. Goddess Tara is famous not only in Hinduism but also in several other religious traditions. In Buddhism, Goddess Tara is a particularly important deity. She is considered the female incarnation of Avalokitesvara (Bodhisattva of Compassion). In China, it is sometimes associated with Guanyin, although this is still controversial.

The goddess shines like the sun, holding in her hand a noose, a hook, a bow and arrow, sitting on a lotus growing from the belly of Shiva. Shiva sits on the throne, supported by gods Sadashiva, Brahma, Rudra, Vishnu. This symbol is somewhat similar to that of Vishnu, from his navel grows a lotus, on which Brahma resides. The manifested universe was born from the spirit of God Shiva. Bows and arrows are a reminder of concentration, the noose signifies communication and the removal of obstacles, and the elephant is controlled with a hook, signifying a powerful energy source.

Goddess Tara - the path to enlightenment

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There is a story about the appearance of Goddess Tripura Sundari. Goddess Parvati took the image of Goddess Kali and God Shiva started calling her Goddess of Darkness, which offended her. She then decided to escape the darkness through asceticism. After her ascetic practice, she returned home and Shiva did not recognize her. It was not until he looked at her with the Eye of Wisdom that he recognized himself in her. Shiva blessed her and said: "You're so beautiful that all three worlds admire you, that's why you're called Tripura Sundari." The name also means to activate three main energy points: in the center of the head, in the solar plexus, and in the lower abdomen.

The Goddess sits on a red lotus, holding a noose and a hook, her hands clasped in a gesture of protection and blessing. The red lotus flower and the clothes symbolize the positive energy of spiritual transformation. In her hands she holds two objects, a hook and a noose. Hook in India is ruled by elephants. The hook on the Goddess's hand is a symbol of power, honor and strength.

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Goddess Tripura Sundari - beloved of the three worlds

Goddess Bhuvaneshwari - Mother Earth

Some goddesses have a noose in their hand, a symbol of the path to freedom; mindfulness, concentration and knowing the truth. Bhuvaneshwari is the goddess of planet Earth, she blesses and protects all living things on Earth.

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Goddess Bhairavi leans on the lotus of Creation. IIn her hands she holds a book and a mala (rosary). These symbols signify the laws of nature, the wisdom of the Vedas, divine knowledge, spiritual practices, restraint, yoga, and asceticism. The other two hands of the goddess are folded into a mudra (gesture) of blessing and protection, she, like God Shiva, has three eyes.

The goddess is depicted with a garland of skulls, signifying the destruction of illusions and attachments. Goddess Bhairavi carries in her "wrath energy", that is, the positive energy of consciousness transformation. She is the feminine form of the angry aspect of Shiva, associated with the destruction of ignorance, the destruction of negative qualities. When dealing with so-called forms of anger, we must remember that it is a subtle symbol of positive energy, a transformation of consciousness, and protection from potential negative influences. It is anger that is not directed at you but is intended to protect and purify you from ignorance.

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Goddess Bhairavi - Spiritual Instructions

One day, Goddess Parvati bathed with her two maids Jaya and Vijaya at the Mandakini River. After bathing, her body was filled with love for all living things, her body became red, in the world of gods signifying the activation of energy. After a while her maids said: "We're hungry, feed us." Goddess Parvati replied: "Be patient, I will find a solution." The maids continued to demand.

Then, full of sympathy, 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 flowed from her neck, the left and right streams directly into the mouths of her maids as food, and the middle one fed her own head. Thus, everyone was fed and returned home, and Goddess Parvati received the name Chinnamasta, or the one whose head is cut off. The deep meaning of this strange story lies in the destruction of the ego and everything illusory on the spiritual path. This Goddess also signifies adherence to the truth.
In the images of Goddess Chinnamasta, we see how Goddess Parvati cuts off her head with a sword. She stands on the red lotus of Creation, which leans against the God of love, Kame, united in love with her spouse Rati. It symbolizes the destruction of desire and the perfect control over all desires. The maids of Goddess Jaya and Vijaya face each other. One has a white body and the other has a black body, along with the red body of Goddess Chinnamasta, reminiscent of the three gunas. The names Jaya and Vijaya mean Victory and Great Victory. Victory is associated with victory and success in the physical world, and Great Victory means victory in the spiritual world, i.e. enlightenment.

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Goddess Chinnamasta - Destroying Illusion

The most complex symbolism of some of the images and practices of Dhumavati brings about the complete destruction of ego and ignorance as well as numerous obstacles on the spiritual path. In the images, the Goddess holds a person with her tongue, which is a symbol of taste and communication, truth and lies, eloquence and poetry, the tongue is also a symbol of high spiritual development, as well as power. Goddess Dhumavati is probably the only Goddess depicted as an old grandmother living in the crematorium. This symbol indicates awareness of eternal values ​​and priorities on the divine evolutionary path.

God Shiva and Goddess Parvati lived on the sacred Mount Kailash. Goddess Parvati was hungry and asked Shiva for food, but instead of feeding her, Shiva fell into deep meditation. Then Parvati, who could no longer bear the hunger, devoured Shiva himself. Dense smoke rose from her body, and Shiva, opening a third eye in the Goddess' intestines, loudly said that without him the world would have no consciousness, only a physical nature. So the Goddess turned into a thin and terrible widow in a ragged dress.

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Goddess Dhumavati - spiritual liberation

In one hand the Goddess holds a basket for sowing grain, and the other hand is folded in a gesture of asking for alms. A basket for winnowing grain is a symbol of the crops of karma. The man whose tongue is held by the Goddess is depicted in dark blue clothes representing the illusion, in his hands are a shield and a sword. This person represents the ego.

By studying the myths about the appearance of the many goddesses and deities of Hinduism as well as examining the complex symbols, we have a unique opportunity to understand the deeper meaning of the process of spiritual evolution using symbols. Sometimes it helps if you try to come up with your own interpretation of these symbols, and sometimes you can just silently admire their mystery and beauty, experiencing deep meditative states.

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Goddess Bagalamukhi - transformation

We see a beautiful Goddess, who looks like a sixteen-year-old girl, with a bright third eye on her forehead, in her numerous hands 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 an interesting story about him. One day, Goddess Parvati wished to visit the home of her father, the God of the Himalayas. God Shiva allows but asks her to come back soon or else he will come and take her home by force.

When Goddess Parvati did not return in time, Shiva transformed into a low-caste jeweler, knocking on the door and presenting Parvati with the finest and most expensive jewels. Parvati chose the jewelry and asked the price. The merchant replied that he would give them to her if she gave him her love. Of course, Parvati recognized her husband, laughed and told him to wait a moment. God Shiva went into the forest to await Goddess Parvati. Meanwhile, Parvati transformed into a beautiful girl of lower caste and went into the forest, she started dancing in front of God Shiva, and he asked her who she was. Parvati said she went to the forest to repent of her sins. Shiva replied that she would receive the fruit of repentance from him if she gave her love to him. She would instantly transform into Goddess Parvati, but Shiva already knew who that girl really was.

According to another legend, Goddess Matangi is the embodiment of Goddess Saraswati, wife of God Brahma. Such diverse assumptions and myths should not be confusing, for Vedic philosophy does not seek clear answers and meanings but welcomes diversity. According to this legend, Goddess Matangi symbolizes the Goddess of science and art Saraswati, who took on an angry form to help spiritual seekers accelerate the path of evolution. It's a beautiful story about how the Goddess realized the Supreme God in all its forms. To do this, she wields an illusion-breaking mace and a sword of knowledge. Her jewelry is a symbol of the fulfillment of all good wishes and the destruction of all false desires. Her body is green, the color of nature in bloom and hope. In other images, her body is blue, a symbol of purity. She holds the skull as a symbol of spiritual purity and breaking the limits of the mind. The Goddess plays the lute, a symbol of God's divine game in the manifested universe.

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Goddess Matangi - gaining wisdom