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Durga
Vengeance / Victory
Devanagari दुर्गा
Bengali দুর্গা
Affiliation Avatar of Devi
Abode Kailash
Mantra Om Dum Durgayei Namaha Om Aing Hring Kling Chamundayei Vichche
Weapon Trishula (trident), Chakram,
Scimitar, Snake,
Conch shell, Mace,
Bow, Talwar (longsword),
lotus, Thunderbolt
Consort Shiva
Mount Dawon (tiger or lion)

In Hinduism, Durga (दुर्गा, "the inaccessible"[1] or "the invincible") or Maa Durga (Mother Durga) "one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress".[citation needed] Durga is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having ten arms, riding a lion or a tiger, carrying weapons (including a lotus flower), maintaining a meditative smile, and practicing mudras, or symbolic hand gestures.

An embodiment of creative feminine force (Shakti), Durga exists in a state of svātantrya (independence from the universe and anything/anybody else, i.e., self-sufficiency) and fierce compassion. Durga is considered by Hindus to be an aspect of Kali, and the mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya.[2] She is thus considered the fiercer, demon-fighting form of Shiva's wife, goddess Parvati. Durga manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion.

Contents

Legend

The word Shakti means divine feminine force, and Durga is the warrior aspect of the Divine Mother. Other incarnations include Annapurna and Karunamayi (karuna = kindness). Durga's darker aspect Kali is represented as the consort of the god Shiva, on whose body she is often seen standing.

Durga's form is blindingly bright, as a radiant goddess (devi), with three lotus-like eyes, ten powerful hands, lush hair with beautiful curls, a red-golden glow from her skin and a quarter moon on her forehead. She wears a shiny attire emitting fierce rays. Her jewellery is beautifully made of gold with ocean pearls and precious stones embedded in it.

Durga Slays Mahisasura, Mahabalipuram sculpture.

As a goddess, Durga's feminine power contains the energies of the gods. Each of her weapons was gifted to her by various gods: Rudra's trident, Vishnu's discus, Indra's thunderbolt, Brahma's kamandalu, Kuber's Ratnahar, etc.

According to a narrative in the Devi Mahatmya story of the Markandeya Purana text, Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight an asura (an inhumane force/demon) named Mahishasur. He had unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds, and he could not be defeated by any man or god, anywhere. The gods went to Brahma, who had given Mahishasura the power to be the invincible conqueror of the universe. Brahma could do nothing. They made Brahma their leader and went to Vaikuntha — the place where Vishnu lay on Ananta Naag. They found both Vishnu and Shiva, and Brahma eloquently related the reign of terror Mahishasur had unleashed on the three worlds. Hearing this Vishnu, Shiva and all of the gods became very angry and beams of fierce light emerged from their bodies. The blinding sea of light met at the Ashram of a priest named Katyan. The goddess Durga took the name Katyani from the priest and emerged from the sea of light. She introduced herself in the language of the Rig-Veda, saying she was the form of the supreme Brahman who had created all the gods. Now she had come to fight the demon to save the gods. They did not create her; it was her lila that she emerged from their combined energy. The gods were blessed with her compassion.

It is said that upon initially encountering Durga, Mahishasura underestimated her, thinking: "How can a woman kill me, Mahishasur — the one who has defeated the trinity of gods?"[citation needed] However, Durga roared with laughter, which caused an earthquake which made Mahishasur aware of her powers.

And the terrible Mahishasur rampaged against her, changing forms many times. First he was a buffalo demon, and she defeated him with her sword. The he changed forms and became an elephant that tied up the goddess's tiger and began to pull it towards him. The goddess cut off his trunk with her sword. The demon Mahishasur continued his terrorizing, taking the form of a lion, and then the form of a man, but both of them were gracefully slain by Durga.

Then Mahishasur began attacking once more, starting to take the form of a buffalo again. The patient goddess became very angry, and as she sipped divine wine from a cup she smiled and proclaimed to Mahishasur in a colorful tone — "Roar with delight while you still can, O illiterate demon, because when I will kill you after drinking this, the gods themselves will roar with delight". When Mahashaur had half emerged into his buffalo form, he was paralyzed by the extreme light emitting from the goddess's body. The goddess then resounded with laughter before cutting Mahishasur's head down with her sword.

Thus Durga slew Mahishasur, thus is the power of the fierce compassion of Durga. Hence, Mata Durga is also known as Mahishasurmardhini — the slayer of Mahishasur. According to one legend, the goddess Durga created an army to fight against the forces of the demon-king Mahishasur, who was terrorizing Heaven and Earth. After ten days of fighting, Durga and her army defeated Mahishasur and killed him. As a reward for their service, Durga bestowed upon her army the knowledge of jewelry-making. Ever since, the Sonara community has been involved in the jewelry profession [3].

The goddess as Mahisasuramardhini appears quite early in Indian art. The Archaeological Museum in Matura has several statues on display including a 6-armed Kushana period Mahisasuramardhini that depicts her pressing down the buffalo with her lower hands [4]. A Nagar plaque from the first century BC - first century AD depicts a 4-armed Mahisamardhini accompanied by a lion. But it is in the Gupta period that we see the finest representations of Mahisasuramardhini (2-, 4-, 6-, and at Udayagiri, 12-armed). The spear and trident are her most common weapons. a Mamallapuram relief shows the goddess with 8 arms riding her lion subduing a bufalo-faced demon (as contrasted with a buffalo demon); a variation also seen at Ellora. In later sculptures (post-seventh Century), sculptures show the goddess having decapitated the buffalo demon.

Worship

A priest worshipping a contemporary image of Durga during Durga Puja

The four day long Durga Puja is the biggest annual festival in Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, and Assam. It is celebrated likewise with much fervour in other parts of India, especially the Himalayan region, but is celebrated in various forms throughout the Hindu universe.

The day of Durga's victory is celebrated as Vijayadashami (Bengali), Dashain (Nepali) or Dussehra (Hindi) - these words literally mean "the Victory Tenth" (day).[5]

In Kashmir she is worshipped as shaarika (the main temple is in Hari Parbat in Srinagar).

The actual period of the worship however may be on the preceding nine days (Navaratri) followed by the last day called Vijayadashami in North India or five days in Bengal (from the sixth to tenth day of the waxing-moon fortnight). Nine aspects of Durga known as Navadurga are meditated upon, one by one during the nine-day festival by devout Shakti worshippers.

In North India, the tenth day, signifying Rama's victory in his battle against the demon Ravana, is celebrated as Dussehra - gigantic straw effigies of Ravana are burnt in designated open spaces (e.g. Delhi's Ram Lila grounds), watched by thousands of families and little children.

In Mysore Karnataka, she is worshipped as Chamundeshwari, the patron goddess of the city during Dussehra

In Gujarat it is celebrated as the last day of Navaratri, during which the Garba dance is performed to celebrate the vigorous victory of Mahishasura-mardini Durga.

The Goddess Durga is worshiped in her peaceful form as Maha Gauri, The Fair Lady, Shree Shantadurga also known as santeri, is the patron Goddess of Goa. She is worshiped by all Goan Hindus.

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Notable temples in India and Indonesia

Durga sculpture, British Museum

See also

A dancer portrays Durga with a Trident

References

  1. ^ "Durga". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/174252/Durga. Retrieved October 7, 2009. 
  2. ^ McDaniel, June. Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal. p. 225. 
  3. ^ G. S. Purswani "Incredible Origin and History of Khudabadi Sindhi Swarankar"-2005 Jaipur
  4. ^ R. C. Agrawala, "The Goddess Mahisasuramardini in Early Indian Art", Artibus Asiae, Vol. 21, No. 2 (1958), pp. 123-130
  5. ^ Esposito, John L.; Darrell J. Fasching, Todd Vernon Lewis (2007). Religion & globalization: world religions in historical perspective. Oxford University Press. p. 341. ISBN 0195176952. 

Further reading

  • Durga Puja: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Sudeshna Banerjee, Rupa and Co, Calcutta, 2004. (ISBN 81-291-0547-0)
  • Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions, David Kinsley. (ISBN 81-208-0379-5)
  • Grace and Mercy in Her Wild Hair : Selected Poems to the Mother Goddess, Ramprasad Sen (1720–1781). (ISBN 0-934252-94-7)
  • Durga Puja Beginner, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir, 2001. (ISBN 1-887472-89-4)
  • "Chandi Path", Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir (ISBN 1-877795-52-6)
  • "Chandi Path: Study of Chapter One", Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir (ISBN 1-877795-58-5)
  • "Chandi Path: Study of Chapter Two", Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir (ISBN 1-877795-60-7)
  • Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal, June McDaniel, Oxford University Press, 2004. (ISBN 0195167910)
  • "Pronunciation and the Chandi Samputs", Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir (ISBN 1-877795-61-5)
  • "Devi Gita", Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir (ISBN 1-877795-56-9)
  • The Bond Between Women: A Journey to Fierce Compassion, China Galland, Riverhead Trade Publishing, U.S., 1999.
  • Mahishasura Mardini Stotram (Prayer to the Goddess who killed Mahishasura), Sri Sri Sri Shankara Bhagavatpadacharya

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

DURGA, or Devi (Sanskrit for inaccessible), in Hindu mythology, the wife of Siva and daughter of Himavat (the Himalayas). She has many names and many characters. As Durga (so named from having slain the demon Durga) she is warlike and ferocious, and to her in this form are offered bloody sacrifices, and such ceremonies as the Durgapuja and Churrukpuga are held in her honour (see Kali). The chief festival in Bengal - sometimes termed the Christmas of Bengal - celebrates the goddess's birth in the sixth Hindu month (parts of September and October). Durga is pictured, ill spite of her fierce nature, with a gentle face. She has ten arms, holding each a weapon, while her attendant lions and giants are grouped on each side.


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Simple English

Durga is one of the goddesses in Hinduism and is a form of Devi, the supreme goddess. In Bengal, she is said to be the mother of Ganesha, Kartikeya as well of Saraswati and Lakshmi.

Durga is seen as a warrior woman riding a lion or a tiger with many hands carrying weapons and assuming mudras, or symbolic hand gestures. This way, the Goddess is the embodiment of feminine and creative energy (Shakti).

According to the narrative from the Devi Mahatmya of the Markandeya Purana, the type of Durga was made as a warrior goddess to fight a demon. The demon's father Rambha, king of the demons, once fell in love with a water buffalo, and Mahishasur was born out of this union. He is therefore able to change between human and buffalo form at will (mahisha means "buffalo"). Through intense prayers to Brahma, Mahishasura had the boon that he could not be defeated by any man or god. He unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds.









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