Durga’s Weapons Of War
- May 21, 2021
By Shivam Pathania
Shakti is the universal mother goddess who is the source of energy for everything; living and nonliving, divine and non-divine. She manifests in numerous forms like Parvati, Kali, Saraswati, and Lakshmi. She is loving, caring, nourishing, yet at the same time can be ferocious, menacing and destructive. Just like how energy has the potential to either create or destroy.
Durga is one such ferocious form of the mother goddess who is renowned for her battle prowess. The half buffalo and half asura, Mahishasura who was the king of asuras, easily defeated the devas due to a boon from Brahma. The boon granted the asura partial immortality as only a woman could slay the asura. The defeated devas asked the Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva for help. The three supreme Gods, with their combined powers, summoned a pillar of brilliant light from which Shakti, in the form of Durga, the ten-armed Goddess of war, appeared. The ten arms symbolise how the Goddess protects her devotees in all 10 directions; the 4 cardinal directions, the 4 ordinal directions and also above and below the living realm. The gods who witnessed the creation of Durga, offered their powerful weapons and adorned the ten arms of the divine mother with the power to destroy the tyrant asura.
Illustration: Souren Roy | Script: Subba Rao
Shiva, the God of Destruction, gifted Durga with his trishul or trident. The three prongs of the weapon symbolize multiple important trinities in the Hindu myth and philosophy. The most common interpretations being the three Gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas), Time periods (past, present and future) and the universal cycles (creation, preservation and destruction) and the wielder of the Trishul is considered to be the master of all such trinities. During the battle, the Goddess used the weapon to land the finishing blow on Mahishasura.
Vishnu’s Sudarshan Chakra
The God of preservation, Vishnu, offered his divine discus, the Sudarshan chakra, to the Goddess. The discus, with more than a million sharp spikes, has the power to decapitate the enemy beyond resurrection. According to Linga Purana, Vishnu obtained the chakra from Shiva and since then has used this weapon to defeat countless asuras and rakshasas in his various avatars. The imagery of the disc spinning around Durga’s finger is a symbolic representation of how the energy provided by the goddess sets the universe in motion.
Brahma, as the God of creation, does not carry any weapons. Instead, he offered his Kamandala, a water pot, to the Goddess. The pot containing holy water symbolises purity, wisdom and life and Brahma uses it to create various life forms by chanting different mantras. Durga’s possession of the Kamandala, which plays a crucial role in the creation of the universe, explains the importance of the existence of Shakti in the universe.