The One Truth is sensed in ten different facets; the Divine Mother is approached as ten cosmic personalities. (S. Shankarnarayanan).
Navratri (Navaratri) starts tomorrow April 7 in US/April 8 in the UK and India, Asia, and Australia! It is the festival dedicated to the worship of the Divine Feminine Creative Power of the Universe known as Shakti and Maha Devi. She is said to come down and walk among us at this time, to help cleanse, bless, and heal the Earth and its inhabitants.
There are five Navaratri celebrations every year. The one in springtime is Vasant or Chaitra Navaratri. It is customary for devotees to worship Durga the first three nights; Lakshmi the second three nights; and Saraswati the last three nights. Others propitiate nine forms of the goddess Durga, and some worship the Das Mahavidya or the Ten Mahavidyas.
Worshiping these Mahavidyas bestows many gifts and removes certain obstacles on the path of life. The Mahavidyas are considered Tantric in nature, and represent the “Great or Transcendental Wisdom (Maha-Vidya), and are aspects of inner transformation. They are usually identified as:
1. Kali—The power behind time, the energy of spiritual transformation with destruction of ego
2. Tara—The Guiding Star who delivers us from darkness and samsara, the wheel of birth and death,
3. Tripura Sundari (Shodashi and Sri Vidya)—The 16-year old maiden who represents divine perfection of Adi Shakti, the female embodiment of creativity and fertility. She is also Lalitha, She who Plays, also known as Maha Maya, as She plays with us and through us in Her lila or divine play.
4. Bhuvaneshvari—The Goddess as World Mother, who is the reflection of Divine Wisdom, whose body is the whole cosmos.
5. Bhairavi—the Power of Death. She is Fierce.
6. Chhinnamasta—The self-decapitated form of Maa who holds Her own severed head, signifying the ultimate power of self-sacrifice.
7. Dhumavati—The Widow Goddess, also Goddess of Death as well as Renunciation.
8. Bagalamukhi—She is also Pitambaradevi or Brahmastra Roopini and she represents the knowledge of Duality. She is in the still point between dualities and helps us to master them. She also helps us destroy lies and evil.
9. Matangi—She is the outcaste form of Saraswati (Chandalini), who dwells outside normal society. She is the power of dominion which can dispel evil.
10. Kamala—She is often identified as Lakshmi who bestows great fortune.
(This Ten Mahavidyas print is from the Calcutta Art Studio).