The Many Forms of Durga

- October 17, 2020

According to the Puranas, Goddess Durga was born from the powers of the supreme trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, to defeat the powerful buffalo demon, Mahishasura. Because she is a consolidation of their collective energy, she is also known as Shakti and is greater than any of them. Perceived as Devi and the Goddess Parvati, Goddess Durga is the creator and the protector of the universe and the destroyer of evil, the perfect confluence of the Hindu trinity. She is usually depicted as having eight to ten arms, with just as many weapons gifted to her by various gods to destroy Mahishasura. Her mount is usually a lion or a tiger. Goddess Durga has many forms, nine manifestations to be exact, together called Navadurga. They are worshipped during the nine days of Navratri in the order below, with different prayers dedicated to each Navadurga during the festival. Siddhidatri Illustration: Ramesh C. Siddhidatri is the Adi Shakti avatar of Durga. She existed as pure energy and had no physical form. Lord Rudra worshipped her for  creating the universe and she appeared from the left half of Shiva. That is why she and Shiva represent the duality of the universe in the form of masculine and feminine energies. They unite to form Ardhanarishwara. Devi Siddhidatri sits on a lotus and rides a lion. Kushmanda Illustration: Sanjhiya Mayekar When Siddhidhatri took a physical form, she created the universe from her smile. ‘Ku’ means ‘a little’, ‘Ushma’ means ‘warmth’, and ‘Anda’ indicates the ‘cosmic egg’. Goddess Kushmanda had started living in the center of the sun, helping him radiate energy. She has eight hands and rides a tiger. Brahmacharini Illustration: Ramesh C. Born to Prajapati Daksha, this mother goddess is the form of Goddess Parvati called Sati. She was determined to marry Lord Shiva. In order to fulfil her aim, she performed severe penance. Pleased by her faith and devotion, Lord Brahma stated that her unmarried form will be worshipped as Brahmacharini, the ascetic woman. Eventually, she did get married to Lord Shiva, but during a subsequent ceremony, her father insulted Shiva. Furious, she immolated herself with a wish to have a father who would respect her divine husband and her in her next birth. Brahmacharini is depicted having two hands and walking bare feet. Shailaputri...

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Prahlad drove his monstrous father to a murderous rage. He insisted on praising Lord Vishnu who was considered a sworn enemy by his father Hiranyakashipu. When he tried to punish his disobedient son, Hiranyakashipu's potent poisons turned to nectar while his lethal weapons fell harmlessly away. In this tale of bloodthirsty revenge, Prahlad's only defence is his devotion which dramatically puts an end to all evil.

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