Goddess Durga is the
mother of the universe and believed to be the power behind the work of
creation, preservation, and destruction of the world. Since time
immemorial she has been worshipped as the supreme power of the Supreme
Being and has been mentioned in many scriptures - Yajur Veda, Vajasaneyi
Samhita and Taittareya Brahman.
The Meaning of "Durga"
The word "Durga" in Sanskrit means a fort,
or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of "Durga" is
"Durgatinashini," which literally translates into "the one who
eliminates sufferings." Thus, Hindus believe that goddess Durga protects
her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes
The Many Forms of Durga
There are many incarnations of Durga:
Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java,
Rajeswari, et al. Durga incarnated as the united power of all divine
beings, who offered her the required physical attributes and weapons to
kill the demon "Mahishasur". Her Nine
appellations are Skondamata, Kusumanda, Shailaputri, Kaalratri,
Brahmacharini, Maha Gauri, Katyayani, Chandraghanta and Siddhidatri.
Tales of Nine Incarnations
Durga's Many Arms
Durga is depicted as having eight or ten
hands. These represent eight quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism.
This suggests that she protects the devotees from all directions.
Durga's Three Eyes
Like Shiva, Mother Durga is also referred
to as "Triyambake" meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye
represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun),
and the central eye knowledge (fire).
Durga's Vehicle - the Lion
The lion represents power, will and
determination. Mother Durga riding the lion symbolises her mastery over
all these qualities. This suggests to the devotee that one has to
possess all these qualities to get over the demon of ego.
Durga's Many Weapons
The conch shell in Durga's hand
symbolizes the 'Pranava' or the mystic word 'Om', which indicates her
holding on to God in the form of sound.
The bow and arrows
represent energy. By holding both the bow and arrows in one hand
"Mother Durga" is indicating her control over both aspects of energy -
potential and kinetic.
signifies firmness. The devotee of Durga must be firm like thunderbolt
in one's convictions. Like the thunderbolt that can break anything
against which it strikes, without being affected itself, the devotee
needs to attack a challenge without losing his confidence.
The lotus in Durga's
hand is not in fully bloomed, It symbolizing certainty of success but
not finality. The lotus in Sanskrit is called "pankaja" which means
born of mud. Thus, lotus stands for the continuous evolution of the
spiritual quality of devotees amidst the worldly mud of lust and
or beautiful discus, which spins around the index finger of the
Goddess, while not touching it, signifies that the entire world is
subservient to the will of Durga and is at her command. She uses this
unfailing weapon to destroy evil and produce an environment conducive
to the growth of righteousness.
The sword that Durga
holds in one of her hands symbolizes knowledge, which has the
sharpness of a sword. Knowledge which is free from all doubts, is
symbolized by the shine of the sword.
Durga's trident or "trishul"
is a symbol of three qualities - Satwa (inactivity), Rajas (activity)
and Tamas (non-activity) - and she is remover of all the three types
of miseries - physical, mental and spiritual.
Devi Durga stands on a
lion in a fearless pose of "Abhay Mudra", signifying assurance of
freedom from fear. The universal mother seems to be saying to all her
devotees: "Surrender all actions and duties onto me and I shall release
thee from all fears".
Goddess Durga Roop
Goddess Tripura Sundari
Goddess Tripura Bhairavi