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Goddess Durga


Enrich your knowledge about Goddess Durga and a few of her various forms: Kali, Chamunda, Kaushiki, Mahamaya.

Goddess Durga is possibly one of the most powerful of all Indian Goddesses. She is worshipped in numerous forms and personas. The Goddess is seen by many of her devotees to be the supreme deity, as powerful as the supreme male deity. Although many Goddesses have consorts, Goddess Durga is independent. One of the many popular images of Goddess Durga is that of her slaying a demon. This is the buffalo demon Mahishasura who, upon being slayed by the Goddess, begged her forgiveness, and asked that he too be worshiped along with her. As a result, three of her forms often depict her slaying the demon, or with the demon at her feet.


Kali

According to Legend, Durga is a fierce Goddess and she created Goddess Kali to help her in her battles. As Kali, she is the destroyer of all evil. She is black, and wears a garland of skulls around her neck. Kali was created to destroy the demon Raktavera. If a drop of his blood would spill on the floor, another demon would sprout forth from this drop. Unknowingly, Goddess Kali attacked Raktavera, and soon she was surrounded by numerous demons or asuras. Kali then went on to swallow the asuras. She then pierced Raktavera with a spear, and drank his blood as it gushed out, until not a drop of blood was left. The blood-smeared image of Kali which is often seen in pictures and in temples depicts this scene.


Kaushiki and Chamunda

When two demon brothers, Shumbha and Nishumbha, forcibly drove the gods out of heaven, they prayed to the mother Goddess to help them. Parvati heard their prayers when bathing, and shed her skin to create the beautiful Kaushiki. Kaushiki was spotted by Chanda and Munda, two assistants of Shumbha and Nishumbha. Chanda and Munda were astounded by her beauty, and praised her to Shumbha and Nishumbha, who sent a message via Chanda and Munda that she marry them. A battle then assumed, and Kaushiki wiggled her eyebrows. Out of her third eye sprung an elderly black Goddess, who slayed Chanda and Munda and brought them to Kaushiki. Kaushiki was pleased at her work, and bestowed on her the name of Chamunda. Chamunda is a persona of Goddess Kali. While Goddess Kali is young and may be portrayed as beautiful, Chamunda is portrayed as old and frightening. Kaushiki then killed Nishumbha and when she defeated Shumbha, the other personas merged into Kaushiki, and she killed Shumbha.


Mahamaya

Durga is also equated with the Goddess Mahamaya, the creator of illusion and attachment. According to legend, Goddess Mahamaya once granted a boon to two demons of choice of death. These two demons then started disrupting the universe. Lord Vishnu tried to slay them, but could not as they were protected by the boon. He then approached Mahamaya for help. Using the power of illusion, she tricked the demons into allowing Vishnu to kill them. However, they laid forth the condition that he did so only where there be no earth, water, air, ether, mind, intelligence or false ego. Taking this opportunity, Lord Vishnu squashed the two demons on his thigh, since Lord Vishnu's was a transcendental body.

Goddess Parvati and her previous incarnation Sati, the consorts of Lord Shiva, are also forms of Goddess Durga.

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