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|| Durga/Parvati/Amba ||

                       Goddess Parvati is regarded as the power and divine consort of Lord Shiva - the Destroyer. Like her consort Shiva, Goddess Parvati is said to have both mild and terrible aspects.

Goddess Parvati is known by different names like Lalita, Uma, Gauri, Kali, Durga, Haimavati etc. Two of her fierce but very powerful forms are Durga (Goddess beyond reach) and Kali (Goddess of Destruction). As the mother of the universe, Parvati is known as Amba and Ambika, which means 'mother'. As Lalita, she represents the aspect of beauty.

Appearance of Goddess Parvati
When shown along with Shiva, Goddess Parvati has only two hands, the right one holding a blue lotus and the left hanging loosely by the side. When represented independently, Parvati Ma is shown with four hands, two hands holding red and blue lotuses and the other two exhibiting the varada and Abhaya mudras.

Goddess Parvati has a charming personality. Married women adore Parvati for her happy married life. Picture of Lord Shiva, Parvathi and their sons Ganesha and Kartikeya depicts an ideal example of family unity and love.

Parvati as Sati or Dakshayani
According to Puranas, in her first incarnation, Parvati Devi was Sati or Dakshayani, the daughter of Daksa and was married to Lord Shiva. Once, Daksha performed a great yagna or sacrifice and insulted Lord Shiva by not inviting him or Sati. Even then, Sati went to attend the yagna. To her great disappointment, Daksha did not acknowledge her presence and did not offer prasad for Lord Shiva. Utterly depressed by the treatment meted out to her, Sati ended her life by igniting herself through the fire of yagna.

After the death of Sati, Lord Shiva became very sad and depressed. He renounced the world and went into deep meditation in the snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas. Meanwhile, the demons lead by Taraka, rose from the netherworld and drove devas out of the heavens. The gods sought a warrior who would help them regain the celestial realm. Lord Brahma said, only Shiva can father such a warrior, but he is oblivious of the world.

At the persistence of the Gods, Sati agreed to take a re-birth as Parvati, the daughter of Himavan and Mena. It was only after performing intense austerities that Goddess Parvathi succeeded in pleasing Shiva and making him accept her again as his consort.

The Divine Homemaker
With Parvati by his side, Shiva became a family man. Inspired by her beauty, Shiva became the fountainhead of the arts, dance and drama. But he did not abandon his ways as a hermit and continued to meditate. His carefree attitude and his refusal to shoulder household responsibilities sometimes angered Parvati. But then she would come to terms with his unconventional ways and make peace. The consequent marital bliss between Shakti and Shiva ensured harmony between Matter and Spirit and brought stability and peace to the cosmos. Parvati thus became Ambika, Goddess of the household, marriage, motherhood and family.

Ten Aspects of Parvati
  • Given here are the ten aspects of Parvati, termed as Dasamahavidyas. These are the representations of transcendent knowledge and power.
  • The first is Kali who is the goddess of time that destroys everything.
  • The second one, Tara is the power of golden embryo from which the universe evolves. She also stands for void or the boundless space.
  • The third one Sodasi literally means 'one who is sixteen years old’. She is the personification of fullness and perfection.
  • The fourth, Vidya Bhuvanevari represents the forces of the material world.
  • The fifth one, Bhairavi stands for desires and temptations leading to destruction and death.
  • The sixth Vidya Chinnamasta represents the continued state of self-sustenance of the created world in which is seen continuous self-destruction and self-renewal, in a cyclic order. She is a naked deity holding her own severed head in hand and drinking her own blood.
  • Dhumavati, the seventh one personifies the destruction of the world by fire, when only smoke (dhuma) from its ashes remains.
  • The eighth, Vidya Bagala is a crane - headed goddess. She represents the ugly side of living creatures like jealously, hatred and cruelty.
  • Matangi, the ninth Vidya is the embodiment power of domination.
  • The tenth and the last Vidya Kamala is the pure consciousness of the self, bestowing boons and allaying the fears of the supplicants. She is identified with Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune.

Goddess Kali is another form of Goddess Durga or Parvati.

Shree KALIMATHA (Calcutta West Bengal) temple known as Kalighat Temple situated in Calcutta is one of the 52 Sakti Peetas of India. It is situated in Alipore about 5 miles from Howrah. There is always a big crowd of devotees from all over the country to worship the Kali Mata. The poojas and other festivals of light, crackers and colorful processions connected with Navaratri celebrations are hallmarks and highlights of the festivals conducted in honor of the Goddess Kali.

            Gayatri is the name of one of the most important Vedic hymns consisting of twenty-four syllables. This hymn is addressed to Lord Surya (Sun) as the supreme generative force. The hymn says, "We meditate on that glorious light of the divine Surya, may he, the lord of light illuminate our minds".
                One of the sacred texts says, "The Gayatri is Brahma, Gayatri is Vishnu, Gayatri is Shiva, the Gayatri is Vedas" Gayatri later came to be personified as a Goddess. She is shown as having five heads and is usually seated within a lotus. The four heads of Gayatri represent the four Vedas and the fifth one represents almighty God. In her ten hands, she holds all the symbols of Lord Vishnu. She is another consort of Lord Brahma.

                Annapoorneswari is the presiding Goddess of Kashi (Varanasi-- Uttar Pradesh). The Divine mother of the universe not only gives food and riches to her children, but also takes care of their spiritual emancipation by bestowing the nectar of Atma Gnana - the knowledge of the self.
                Adi Sankara who had immortalized the power and glory of Annapoorneswari in his immortal hymns Annapoornastakam - eight verses rendered there, implores on our behalf the grant of Gnana Vairagyam -- the steadfastness born out of realization. The beautiful golden image of Annapoorneswari in the temple, which is hundred yards away from the Visweswara Temple is thrown open for darshan to the devotees during Deepavali festival on Dhanathriodasi Day when Pooja is performed for the golden idol and throughout next day on Chotti Deepavali Day it is kept open for public darshan. According to the Sthala Puranam -- the universal mother, who started on a journey down south from Badrikasramam decided to stay at Varanasi because of the drought for twelve years.

                Ganga The Goddess Ganga, representing the river Ganga (Ganges) is shown white in color, wearing a white crown, sitting on the sea animal crocodile, holding in her right hand a water lily and in her left hand a lute.
                Rig Veda mentions the name Ganga only twice but in the later Puranic period, Ganga assumes great importance as a Goddess. She is called Mandakenee in the heaven and Bhagirathi in patal. Purans declare that the sight, the name and the touch of Ganga takes away all sins and that bathing in Ganga bestows blessings of the highest order. The cremation of a dead body at the banks of Ganga and the immersion of the remains of a dead in its water after cremation elsewhere is considered propitious. Gangajal, the water of Ganga, is very sacred, and is used for many pujas (religious ceremonies). Those who die within specified limits of Ganga, called Gangakshetra (the land of Ganga), are believed to go to the heavenly world and all their sins washed away. The other sacred rivers for Hindus are, Yamuna, Saryu, Sindhu, Godavari, Kaveri, Narmada, Gomti, and Brahmaputra.

Sri Meenakshi Devi
                Sri Meenakshi Devi is the incarnation of Parashakti. The sthala purana has it that the King Malaya Dhwaja, a great devotee of Lord Shiva was childless and hence conducted Puthra Kameshti yagna. Goddess Parvathi was born and named as Meenakshi (Her eyes+ being in the shape of fish).
                Meenakshi was a great devotee of Lord Sundareswara (Shiva) and the Lord comes in disguise followed by many thrilling episodes known as (sixty four tiruvilayadals), before manying the goddess Meenakshi. Many poets adorned the court of Pandya Kings and Madurai was the seat of Tamil literature. It was also popularly known as the birthplace of Tamil Sangam. Shri MEENAKSHI (Madurai --Tamil Nadu) : Madurai is about 492 Kms. from Madras. This town is famous for Goddess Meenakshi temple and was capital of Pandya Kingdom.

                Shree PADMAVATHI (Tiruchanur -- Andhra Pradesh) : Three miles from Tirupathi town in Andhra Pradesh, is Tiruchanur, where the temple of Alarmelu Mangai is situated. She is the consort of Lord Venkatachalapathi. She is also known as Padmavathi Thayar, as she is believed to have been born out of a Lotus flower.
                 There is a legend, that soon after the marriage, the Lord and his consort fell out, because of a feud that ensued between them. The spirit of the legend is even today preserved in the form of pooja prevalent in the Shrines. While Vaikhanasa form of worship is done for Venkateswara, on the hills, the Pancharatra is observed for his consort at the foot of the hills.

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