Tag Archive: annapurna


Goddess Annapurna

“Annapurna’s themes are providence, prosperity and charity. Her symbols are corn and grain.  This Indian grain Goddess is kind and charitable, providing to those in need. According to tradition, Annapurna watches over the world’s storehouses when supplies wane, and over the storehouse of our soul when our spirits hunger.

The United Nations created World Food Day to draw public attention to the world’s food problems and promote cooperation among people to battle hunger and poverty.

Today is an excellent time to give some canned goods to a local food pantry or shelter, especially corn or grain products. The canning process preserves Annapirna’s energy for providence to help those less fortunate turn their lives around in powerful ways, or at least to reclaim some sense of dignity. Say a brief prayer over the goods before giving them away so the Goddess’s blessing will inspire renewal for those in need.

To keep Annapurna’s providence in your home, take any grain product and sprinkle it around the outside perimeter of the dwelling. The birds will carry your need to the Goddess. If you must perform this spell indoors, sweep up the grain in a clockwise manner and keep it in an airtight container to preserve its positive energy. Release a pinch of this to a northerly wind any time you need money quickly.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Annapurna or Annapoorna is the Hindu Goddess of nourishment. Anna means food and grains. Purna means full, complete and perfect. She is a form of Parvati [who is one of the numerous forms of Shakti], the consort of Shiva. Annapurna is eulogised in Annada Mangal, a narrative poem in Bengali by Bharatchandra Ray.

Annapurna is the Goddess of the city of Kashi (now known as Varanasi, U.P., India). Kasi is also known as the City of Light. Ka means the cause, a means the manifestation of consciousness, sa means peace and I is the causal body. Kasi is also the place which causes consciousness to manifest the highest peace of the causal body. And She is the Supreme Goddess of the City of Kasi.” [1]

Patricia Monaghan tells us that “‘Food giver’ was the name of this ancient Indian Goddess whom some scholars connect with Rome’s Anna Perenna.  A common household deity, often depicted enthroned and feeding a child from a full ladle, Anapurna was especially significant to the city of Benares, where harvest festivals honored Her.

The Hindus, finding it necessary to systematize their complex pantheon, called Her a form of Durga or of Devi, but She retained Her rulership over food production and distribution” (p. 48).

One of Her myths says that “once Goddess Parvati was told by Her consort Shiva that the world is an illusion and that food is a part of this illusion called maya.

The Divine Mother who is worshipped as the manifestation of all material things, including food, became angry. To demonstrate the importance of Her manifestation of all that is material She disappeared from the world.

Her disappearance brought time to a standstill and the earth became barren. There was no food to be found anywhere and all the beings suffered from the pangs of hunger.

Seeing all the suffering, Mother Parvati was filled with compassion and reappeared in Kasi and set up a Kitchen.

Hearing about Her return, Shiva ran to Her and presented his bowl in alms saying, ‘Now I realise that the material world, like the spirit, cannot be dismissed as an illusion.’ Parvati smiled and fed Shiva with Her own hands.

Since then Parvati is worshipped as Annapurna, the Goddess of Nourishment.

Annapurna has many names. The Annapurna Sahasranam presents Her one thousand names and the Annapurna Shatanama Stotram contains 108 of Her names. She is variously described as:

  • She who is full, complete and perfect with food and grains
  • She who gives nourishment
  • She who is the strength of Shiva
  • She who is the grantor of knowledge
  • She who takes away all fear
  • She who is the Supreme welfare
  • She who manifests truth and efficiency
  • She who is beyond Maya
  • She who is the cause of creation and dissolution
  • She who is adi sakthi

Physically, Annapurna is described as holding a golden ladle adorned with various kinds of jewels in Her right hand and a vessel full of delicious porridge in Her left. She is seated on a throne. In some depictions, Lord Shiva is shown standing to Her right with a begging bowl, begging Her for alms.

It is said that She does not eat a morsel unless all Her devotees have been fed in Her temple.

She is worshipped through the recitation of Her thousand names and her one hundred and eight names. The Sri Annapurna Ashtakam composed by Shankaracharya is chanted by several devout Hindus around the world as a prayer for nourishment, wisdom, and renunciation. Before partaking of any food, Hindus chant the following prayer:

‘Oh Annapurna, who is always full, complete, and perfect. Beloved energy of Lord Shiva, for the attainment of perfection in wisdom and renunciation, give me alms, Parvati.

My mother is Goddess Parvati, my father is the Supreme Lord Maheswara (Shiva). My relatives are the devotees of Lord Shiva, and the three worlds are my Motherland.’

The Annapurna Vrat Katha containing stories of Her devotees are also recited by Her devotees.

The most well-known temple dedicated to Goddess Annapurna is in Varanasi, U.P., India. Adjacent to the Sanctum of the Goddess is the Kasi Viswanath temple. The two are separated by only a few yards. Annapurna is regarded as the queen of Varanasi alongside Her husband Vishweshwar (Shiva), the King of Varanasi.

In the temple, at noon time, food offerings to the Goddess are distributed to the elderly and disabled daily. During the Autumn Navaratri food is distributed on a larger scale.

The other famous temple is Annapoorneshwari Temple, situated at Horanadu in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, where evening prayers are held after the devotees are fed. Another famous temple of the Goddess is situated in Cherukunnu, Kannur, Kerala.” [2]

“The Annapurna Ashtakam is one of the shlokas or hymns to Dea or Devi in Her personification as Annapurna, composed in Sanskrit by the great eighth century enlightened sage (jnana), vedanta philosopher, religious reformer and monastic Sri Adi Shankara.” [3]  Click here to view a beautiful rendition of The Annapurna Ashtakam on Youtube (It’s in 2 parts).

 

 

Sources:

Eternalfeminine.wikispaces.com, “Annapurna Ashtakam of Sri Adi Shankara“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Anapurna”.

Wikipedia, “Annapoorna devi“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Bharath.K. Bharathkidilse.blogspot.com, “Annapoorneshwari Devi“.

Chatterjee, Aparna. Ayurveda-florida.com, “Annapurna Devi“.

Hindudevotionalblog.com, “Sri Annapurna Ashtakam Lyrics and Video Song“.

Festivals.igiftstoindia.com, “Annapurna“.

 

Goddess Durga

“Durga’s themes are power over evil and negativity, knowledge and sustenance. Her symbols are fire, yellow-colored items, lions, rice bowls and spoons.  The Hindu warrior Goddess Durga is typically depicted as a beautiful woman with ten arms that bear divine weapons to protect all that is sacred – including you. Her role in Indian mythology is so powerful that the national anthem sings Her praises as a guardian. According to the stories, Durga overpowered the great demon who threatened to destroy not only the earth but the gods themselves.

Durga’s festival (Durga puja or Durgotsava) comes during the early fall, when the skies are growing darker. As this happens, she offers to zealously defend goodness against any malevolence that dwells in those figurative shadows.  If there is a special person or project that you want protected, pray for Durga’s aid today. Light a yellow candle (or any candle) and say:

‘Durga, protectress and guardian
Watch over (person, situation or project)
with all due diligence
Take the sword of truth
the power of justice
and the light of decency
to stand guard against any storms that come
So be it.’

Blow out the candle and relight it anytime you need safety.

To encourage Durga’s providence, set a bowl of rice on your altar with a spoon today. This is the symbol of Annapoorna, an aspect of Durga who supplies daily food.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“All Goddesses in Hindu belief are ultimately the same Goddess, often called simply ‘the Goddess’ or ‘Devi.’ But She appears in different forms with different names. One of the fiercest of Devi’s forms is Durga. She was also the eldest: during the primordial war between gods and antigods, Durga was the first manifestation of Goddess-energy. The war was a standoff; neither side was winning, and the battles dragged on without victory. Almost hopeless, the gods gathered and concentrated their energies. Flames sprang from their mouths and formed Durga, the first female divinity in the universe. Although produced by the gods, the Goddess was stronger than any of them, or all of them together, and She was fiercely eager to fight.

Recognizing Her power, the gods handed their weapons to Durga. She mounted a lion to ride toward the antigods’ chief, the demon Mahisa. That magical being, terrified of this new apparition, used his powers to assume one fearsome form after another. Still the Goddess advanced, until finally, as the demon assumed the form of a buffalo, Durga slaughtered him. The demon nonetheless tried to escape through the dying beast’s mouth, but Durga caught him by the hair and butchered him, thereby freeing the earth for the gods to inhabit.

The Goddess in this form not only symbolizes the fierce power of the combat against evil but also the rule of the intellectual sphere, for Durga (‘unapproachable’) represents the end of all things; to seek to understand Her is to engage in the most powerful intellectual exploration possible” (Monaghan, p. 106 – 107).

Shri Gyan Rajhans explains the Mother Goddess Durga and Her symbolism: “The word ‘Durga’ in Sanskrit means a fort, or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of ‘Durga’ is ‘Durgatinashini,’ which literally translates into ‘the one who eliminates sufferings.’ Thus, Hindus believe that Goddess Durga protects Her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.

 The Many Forms of Durga

There are many incarnations of Durga: Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, Rajeswari, et al. Durga incarnated as the united power of all divine beings, who offered Her the required physical attributes and weapons to kill the demon ‘Mahishasur‘. Her nine appellations are Skondamata, Kusumanda, Shailaputri, Kaalratri, Brahmacharini, Maha Gauri, Katyayani, Chandraghanta and Siddhidatri.

Durga’s Many Arms

Durga is depicted as having eight or ten hands. These represent eight quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism. This suggests that She protects the devotees from all directions.

Durga’s Three Eyes

Like Shiva, Mother Durga is also referred to as ‘Triyambake’ meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).

Durga’s Vehicle – the Lion

The lion represents power, will and determination. Mother Durga riding the lion symbolizes Her mastery over all these qualities. This suggests to the devotee that one has to possess all these qualities to get over the demon of ego.

 

Durga’s Many Weapons

  • The conch shell in Durga’s hand symbolizes the ‘Pranava’ or the mystic word ‘Om’, which indicates Her holding on to God in the form of sound.
  • The bow and arrows represent energy. By holding both the bow and arrows in one hand ‘Mother Durga’ is indicating Her control over both aspects of energy – potential and kinetic.
  • The thunderbolt signifies firmness. The devotee of Durga must be firm like thunderbolt in one’s convictions. Like the thunderbolt that can break anything against which it strikes, without being affected itself, the devotee needs to attack a challenge without losing his confidence.
  • The lotus in Durga’s hand is not in fully bloomed, It symbolizing certainty of success but not finality. The lotus in Sanskrit is called ‘pankaja’ which means born of mud. Thus, lotus stands for the continuous evolution of the spiritual quality of devotees amidst the worldly mud of lust and greed.
  • The ‘Sudarshan-Chakra’ or beautiful discus, which spins around the index finger of the Goddess, while not touching it, signifies that the entire world is subservient to the will of Durga and is at Her command. She uses this unfailing weapon to destroy evil and produce an environment conducive to the growth of righteousness.
  • The sword that Durga holds in one of Her hands symbolizes knowledge, which has the sharpness of a sword. Knowledge which is free from all doubts, is symbolized by the shine of the sword.
  • Durga’s trident or ‘trishul’ is a symbol of three qualities – Satwa (inactivity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (non-activity) – and she is remover of all the three types of miseries – physical, mental and spiritual.

Devi Durga stands on a lion in a fearless pose of ‘Abhay Mudra’, signifying assurance of freedom from fear. The universal mother seems to be saying to all Her devotees: ‘Surrender all actions and duties onto me and I shall release thee from all fears’. [1]

 

 

Here is a beautiful rendition of the Shree Durga Chalisa for your listening and viewing pleasure

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Durga”.

Rajhans, Shri Gyan. About.com – Hinduism, “The Goddess Durga“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Dollsofindia.com,Goddess Durga: the Female Form as the Supreme Being“.

Jade. Order of the White Moon, “Durga“.

Koausa.org, “Goddess Durga“.

Kumar, Nitin. Exoticindiaart.com, “Goddess Durga – Narrative Art of Warrior Goddess – Exotic India Art“.

Laka. Order of the White Moon, “Durga“.

Wikipedia, “Durga“.

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