Devi Mahatmya - Adyashakti Durga

 

In Tantrism goddesses like Mahakali, Lalita and Durga ( the hard to access, the hard to grasp ) are looked at as highest Shakti or Adyashakti.

Durga is depicted in the Hindu pantheon as a Goddess riding a lion or tiger, with many arms each carrying a weapon, often defeating Mahishasura (lit. buffalo demon), the  representative of the lower instinctual nature.

In the Devi Mahatmya of the Markandeya Purana Durga has 9 manifestations. During the festival of Navratri each of the nine manifested forms are venerated respectively for each night. These 9 manifestations fight in the Devi Mahatmya against certain Asuras. The story of the slaying the Buffalo demon Mahishasura  is widely known in India.

== Navadurga ==

  • 1 Shailaputri (Daughter of the mountains; moon) - Her vahana is nandi
  • 2 Brahmacharini
  • 3 Chandraghanta
  • 4 Kushmanda Ma Durga (sun) - eight-handed with 2 blood cups in her lotus hands. She rides a lioness and holds Kamandalu, Dhanush, Bada and Kamal in her right hands. Her left hands hold Amrit Kalash (pot of nectar), Japa Mala, Gada and Chakra.
  • 5 Skandamata
  • 6 Katyayani - with shining sword Chandrahasa, riding on a magnificent lion - destroying the demons.
  • 7 Kalaratri
  • 8 Mahagauri - (Rahu) - rides a white Vrishaba ox and wears spotless white clothing. She always stays pure and ensures the everlasting bliss of God Shiva
  • 9 Siddhidhatri - Siddhidayini Ma Durga (Ketu) - the victorious who is worshiped by the hordes of the Siddhas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras and Devas. She sits on a lotus or rides a tiger or lion. She has a gada and a chakra in her right hands, a lotus and a shankha in her left hands.

1. The first story of the Devi Mahatmya depicts Devi in her form as Mahakali. Here Devi is the power that induces Narayana's deep slumber on the waters of the cosmic ocean prior to the manifestation of the Universe, which is a continuous cycle of manifestation, destruction and re-manifestation. Vishnu manifests from all pervading Narayan and goes into deep slumber on Adi Sesha. This sleep symbolizes step 11.2 of the universal path.

Two demons, Madhu('Sweet, delicious, honey; delusion, desire') and Kaitabh (Insect; stinging thorn; aversion), arise as thoughtforms out of the ears of Vishnu's sleeping body and endeavour to vanquish Brahma, who is preparing to create the next cycle of the Universe. Brahma sings to the Great Goddess, asking her to withdraw from Vishnu, so he may awaken and slay the demons. Devi agrees to withdraw and Vishnu awakens and vanquishes the demons. 

2. The middle episode presents goddess Mahalakshmi in  the form of  avatar of Durga. She represents divine anger and the lethal energy against evil. The episode stages a world under attack by a form-shifting Mahishasura(Buffalo demon), an evil demon who uses deception to disarm his opponents, ultimately taking the form of a buffalo demon. - This episode represents the lunar step 12.1 of the universal path.

3. During the final episode  Devi appears in her form of Mahasaraswati. She  arises from the koshas of Devi Parvati, and hence she is named as Devi Kaushiki.  After the 7. day the goddess Ambika had destroyed Dhumralochana ('fully foggy view') and his huge army, Shumbha (Skt. Śumbha m.; 'Who makes his own self shine', self-imagination, self-doubt) and Nishumbha ('self-disapproval', doubts about others) sent their generals Chanda and Munda with a strong army.

They came across the Devi, who was sitting on a lion on a huge mountain. Some asuras immediately tried to capture them. When Ambika's face got angry, the goddess Kali emerged from her forehead.

Kali, in the form of Chamunda, emerges from Devi's eyebrows as a burst of psychic energy. Kali overpowers and beheads Chanda and Munda, and when she delivers their severed heads to Devi, she is dubbed Chamunda.

During a fierce battle in which the Great Goddess demonstrates her omnipotence by defeating powerful demons who terrify the devas, she encounters the fierce Raktabija. Every drop of blood Raktabija sheds transforms into another demon as it touches the earth. A unique strategy has to be devised to vanquish him. A fiery burst of energy emerging from Devi's third eye takes the dark skeletal form of goddess Kali. With her huge mouth and enormous tongue she ferociously laps up Raktabija's blood, thus preventing the uprising of further demons.

The story continues in which Devi, Kali and a group of Matrikas destroy the demonic brothers Sumbha (chapter 10) and Nisumbha (chapter 9). In the final battle against Shumbha, Devi absorbs Kali and the matrikas and stands alone for the final battle.

From the esoteric sight this story symbolizes the steps 11 and 12 of the universal path. Tarotcard 11 shows a similar virgin who tames lion. Step 12 deals with the esoteric qualities of the blood.

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