Durga, Parvathi & Shakti:
The Indian system of beliefs refers to the female aspect of
divinity as Shakti or the manifestation of energy. Parvati, the
consort of Shiva or Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu are enshrined
in temples and all over India. Some of these shrines are referred
to as Shakti Peethams, (or the sites where the parts of
Sati's body fell as in the legend of Daksha's yagna).
Others are ancient shrines closely tied to local legends and
Shakti, the mother Goddess, also known as Ambaa (mother), or
Devi (Goddess) is considered to be the personification of Cosmic
Energy in its dynamic form. It is believed that Shakti is the
power and energy with which the Universe is created, preserved,
destroyed and recreated (by the trinity of Hinduism Bhrahma,
Vishnu and Shiva).
Shakti is worshipped in several forms. As Rajarajeswari or
Kamakshi, she is the Universal mother. As Uma or Parvati, she is
the gentle consort of Shiva. As Meenakshi - she is the queen of
Shiva. As Durga, she rides the tiger, and bears weaponry. In the
angry and terrifying form of Kaali, she destroys and devours all
forms of evil. As Kaali, she is also the personification of time,
her dark form being symbolic of future which is beyond our
knowledge. Shakti is the mother of Skanda and Ganesha.
Shakthi Peethams are centers of Shakti worship, representing
sites related to the legend of Daksha Yagna, Shiva and Sati his
consort. Belief has it that Shiva performed the rudra tandava
dance, carrying the dead body of his consort Sati. The Universe
unable to bear the fury of the dance requested Vishnu to
intervene, and Vishnu used is chakra to tear the body into
several pieces, and bring down the fury of Shiva's tandavam.
The severed pieces of Sati's body are believed to have landed
in several spots across the region, and these are referred to as
Belief in Shakti or the feminine aspect of Divinity is an
integral (and popular) element of the religious fabric of the
entire subcontinent. Female guardian deities are revered in all
parts of India. The Shakta Agama deals with the worship protocol
adhered to in Devi temples. There is a shrine to Shakti, or the
consort of Shiva in virtually all Saivite temples throughout the
Tantric practices involving chants, gestures and yantras
(geometric shapes) also govern the worship of Shakti. Local forms
of Shakti, not conforming to Agamic or Tantric rules are also
widely prevalent throughout the region.
Goddess Durga [ Goddess of Shakti ] :
The deity has eight arms, and holds on the left trident,
sword, snake and bell, and on the right, drum, shield, cup and
water pot; she is seated in sukhasana posture on a double lotus
throne and wears a garland of skulls. The torana at the back is
similar to those shown on plates 10 and 33 with the addition of
the conch shell (right) and wheel (left) symbols usually
associated with Vishnu and often held by Durga.Just visible below
her left knee, next to the lotus throne is the figure of a lion,
(sometimes the mount of Durga).
Durga is a female deity whose relation with her closest male
deity (Shiva) is sufficiently remote for her to be worshipped in
her own right. It is likely that, not long after female deities
appeared as shaktis of male deities, goddesses were elevated to
the status of independent deities. It is not known which of them,
in the earlier stages of this development, first achieved the
further distinction of having a temple in which they were the
main icon that would give undoubted evidence of final
This may have taken place about the 7th or 8th century A.D. as
the shakti of the Impersonal Absolute is referred to as Durga in
the Narayana Upanishad and as being susceptible to worship for
the acquisition of material gain in this world and spiritual
advancement in the next.
Yet, in whatever form, Devi's magic still remains. As the
Great Triple Goddess she is today widely worshipped throughout
To her followers, she is both the Energy which is life itself
and the Source to whose depths all living things return.
At the time of Kali Yurga, or cosmic dissolution, her devotees
believe the physically manifested universe will once again
withdraw itself into the formless depths of the Goddess until a
new gestation period commences and the cyclic rhythm of creation
is once again set into motion.
"Who dares misery, love
And hug the form of death,
Dance in destruction's dance
To him the Mother comes."