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.
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
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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