Tag Archive: brahma


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 Parvati

“Parvati’s themes are fertility, femininity, cleansing and devotion. Her symbols are lotus, elephants and dance.  The celebrated Hindu Goddess of women is the center of festivities in Nepal today. Parvati’s domain is that of faithful companionship and fertility as She is the consort of Shiva. Art often shows Parvati dancing in the company of Shiva or with an elephant’s head.

Try following Nepalese custom. Wash your hands and feet with henna (or henna-based soap product) for Parvati’s productive energy. Or, go out and swing on a swing set singing sacred songs; this draws Parvati to you.

Another way to invoke Parvati is by giving a special woman in your life (a friend, lover, relative, etc.) a gift of thankfulness for her companionship. The Goddess exists within that friendship and will bless the relationship. Take a ritual bath to cleanse yourself of negativity and problems of the last year. Water offerings are also a suitable gift to the Goddess. Pour a little bit on the ground and then drink some to internalize any of Her qualities that you need.

Wearing fine clothing and flowers is also customary, because all things of beauty please Parvati. So get out your finery for your celebrations and put on a boutonniere! Or wear something with a flower pattern to draw Parvati close to your side.”

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

“One of the greatest Goddesses of India is the daughter of the Himalayas, known as Uma, Gauri, and sometimes Shakti (‘energy’).  She was the consort and enlivening force of Shiva, the lord of life’s dance, and many myths surround Her.

She gained Shiva’s attention by practicing magical asceticism until She had such power that he could not resist Her.  Thereafter he spent this time sexually pleasing the Goddess.  Once, when interrupted before She was satisfied, Parvati cursed the gods so that their consorts were barren but they themselves were pregnant.  They were most miserable with the affliction, until Shiva allowed them to vomit up the semen that had impregnated them.

Parvati had one son of Her own.  It was no thanks to Her spouse, for Shiva did not want to be bothered with children.  As they argued about it one day, Parvati cried out that She wanted a child to hold and caress. Shiva teased Her, ripping a piece of Her skirt and handing it to Her, telling Her to fondle that.  Hurt and betrayed, Parvati grasped the red cloth to Her breast, and – touching the nipples of the mother Goddess – the cloth took form and began to nurse.  Thus was Ganesha, the benevolent god, born.  But Shiva, angry and jealous, found an excuse to behead the child, saying that he had slept in a ritually incorrect way.  Parvati was desperate with grief, and Shiva, ashamed, told Her he would find the boy another head.  The only one he was able to locate – Parvati must have received this news suspiciously – was an elephant’s.  And so Ganesha was reborn half human, half elephant.

Shiva’s Shakti is also called Kali and Durga, for She is at times a fierce form of femininity.  One legend explains how the Goddess divided Herself.  Originally, it seems, She had dark skin, about which Shiva teased Her once too often.  Furious at him – for She felt less than beautiful, wishing that Her skin was golden like his – She set off for the mountains, intending again to practice asceticism until She gained Her desire.  Ganesha accompanied Her; She left Viraka, Shiva’s attendant, to guard his bedroom so that he didn’t enjoy other women’s company during Her absence.  But a demon disguised as Parvati attempted to kill Shiva.  He lured the god to bed after loading his illusory vagina with real nails.  Shiva recognizing the deceit, put a sword on his penis and dispatched the demon.

Parvati’s informants spread the word that a woman had been seen entering Shiva’s bedroom, and Parvati exploded with anger.  Her anger shot out of Her mouth in the form of a lion; She cursed the false guardian Viraka to become a rock.  Then She continued practicing yoga until Brahma took pity on Her and asked Her what She wished.  When She said She wanted a pure golden skin, he blessed Her.  From Her body sprang another Goddess, one ugly and black, usually named Kali.

Now golden and beautiful, Parvati started home.  Viraka, still on guard, refused to let Her enter, not recognizing the Goddess in Her new skin.  Realizing that She made a mistake in cursing him – but unable, so powerful are a Goddess’ words, to recall Her ill wish – Parvati mitigated it by allowing him to be reborn as a girl named Rock” (Monaghan, p. 248 – 249).

“Parvati represents the part of ourselves that creatively brings forth nourishment even in the midst of what seems to be rejection and disapproval. She is a wonderful affirmation that there are no limits to what a woman can do when she uses her spiritual energy in the pursuit of any goal she chooses.  When we embrace love, Parvati is there to bless us.” [1]

 

 

 
Sources:

Goddessgift.com, “Parvati: The Hindu Goddess of Love and Devotion“.

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

 

 

Suggested Links:

Goddessparvati.com, “Goddess Parvati“.

Kumar, Nitin. Exoticindiaart.com, “Parvati the Love Goddess: Tales of Marriage and Devotion in Art and Mythology“.

Lotussculpture.com, “Hindu Goddess Parvati – Daughter of the Mountain“.

Soulcurrymagazine.com, “Goddess Parvati – Wife of Lord Shiva“.

Wikipedia, “Parvati“.

Goddess Tamra

“Tamra’s themes are air, earth, nature, health, longevity, devotion, wishes and relationships.  Her symbols are feathers and birdseed.  In Hindu tradition, this Goddess was the ancestor of all birds, She can teach us their special language, which often bears communications from the divine. As the consort of the turtle god, Kashyapa, She also represents a potent union between earth and air elements.

People in Nebraska spend six weeks watching the cranes who rest and feed here during the migratory season. This region of the United States boats the largest group of sand hill cranes, about fifty thousand birds.

Magically speaking, these creatures represent health, longevity and devotion. Visualise a crane residing in your heart chakra anytime you need improved well-being.

Birds offer numerous magical applications. For warmth in a relationship, scatter feathers to the winds with your wish. The birds will use the feathers in their nests, symbolically keeping your nest intact and affectionate.

Or, disperse birdseed while thinking of a question. As the birds fly away, watch their movement. Flight to the right indicates a positive response; to the left is negative. If the birds scatter, things are iffy. If they fly straight up overhead, a heartfelt wish is being taken to Tamra.”

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

Yet, another Goddess that proved to be elusive.  Apparently, She was one of the 13 daughters of the Prajapati Daksha (AditiDitiKadruDanu, Arishta, Surasa, SurabhiVinata, Tamra, Krodhavaśā, Ida, Khasa and Muni) all of whom were given in marriage to Kashyapa.[1]  The only real mention I found of Her was in the Agni Purāṇa (a genre of Hindu religious texts, containing the descriptions and details of various incarnations (avatars) of Vishnu).  It states, “Kasyapa was the son of Marici, who was the son of Brahma. Kasyapa’s wife Tamra had many daughters like Kaki, Syeni, Bhasi, Grdhrka, Suki and Griva. From Kaki were born the crows in the world.” [2]

“Tamra had six daughters. These were the mothers of the birds and of goats, horse, sheep, camels and donkeys.” [3]

Sources:

Bharatadesam: everything about india, “Matsya Purana” (down to subheading “Daksha’s Descendants“).

Parmeshwaranand, Swami. Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Purāṇas: S-Z, “Kaka (Crow)” at p. 717.

Wikipedia, “Kashyap“.

Suggested Links:

Hamilton, Francis. Genealogies of the Hindus: Extracted From Their Sacred Writings… 

International Gita Society, “1. Brahma Purana

Yahoo! Answers: India, “Hinduism – Why the Crows are referred our ancestors? What about other birds?

Goddess Gauri

Maha Gauri

“Gauri’s themes are spring, protection, fertility, harvest, beauty, humor, youthfulness, wishes and equality.  Her symbols are balsam, golden-colored items, milk, mirrors and lions.  This fertile Hindu Goddess extends spring-like youth, beauty and tenderness into our lives. Gauri has a sympathetic ear for all human needs and wishes. In works of art She is depicted as a fair maiden, attended by lions and bearing wild balsam and a mirror. She was born of a milky sea, and Her name translates as ‘golden one’, indicating a connection with the sun. She is offered rice to ensure a good rice crop.

Holi is India’s most colorful festival, filled with Gauri’s equitable spirit. It celebrates an epic tale in which the sun (Gauri) is freed from a god’s mouth by getting him to laugh! Customarily, caste restrictions are shed today in order for people to simply have fun. Everyone squirts colored water at one another, and by the end of the day, no one can tell who is a servant and who is a king! This translates into a good-humored water-balloon toss. Focus on a goal while you play. When a balloon breaks, it releases Gauri’s youthful joy and productivity into your life.

Hindu custom suggests eating sweets to generate Gauri’s beauty and pleasantness in your spirit today. Or, pour Her a libation of milk while making a wish for something you’d like to ‘harvest’ in your life. Hang balsam in your home to foster Gauri’s fairness in your family’s interactions.”

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

Goddess Gauri is one of the manifestations of Goddess Parvati.  She is the divine energy, Mother Goddess.  She is considered as a perfect wife for Her husband, Lord Shiva.  She is a clear representation of purity and austerity.  She is the Kanya (Kumari or unmarried girl) who performed severe tapas (penance) to marry Lord Shiva.  After the conclusion of Her ferocious form Goddess Kali, She observed a severe penance to get rid of Her black complexion.

In another version I read, Parvati first sought out Shiva to seduce him, Shiva found Her dark skin to be unattractive. Parvati retreated into the forest, where She lived a very austere life, developing Her spiritual powers. Brahma took notice of Parvati’s mastery of Her physical self, and decided to grant Her one wish. Parvati asked that Her dark skin be taken away, so that Shiva would love Her. Brahma took the darkness and created the Goddess Kali with it, leaving Parvati with golden skin, and She became the Goddess Gauri.   Because of Her golden color, She is associated with rice and grains, taking on the role of a fertility Goddess.

Gauri Worshipping Lord Shiva

Gowri Puja is an important ritual during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.  Married women worship Goddess Gowri with Sindoor or kumkum for their sowbhagyam (marital bliss).  Unmarried girls worship Her in order to get virtuous husbands.  One prays to Goddess Gauri because according to Puranas, She is the Divine Mother and the origin of the Universe.  Mother Goddess, Shakti, has various celestial manifestations like Goddess Sri Raja Rajeshwari, Goddess Gauri, Lalitha Tripura Sundari Devi, etc. [1][2][3]

 

 

Sources:

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Gauri“.

The Hindu Universe, “Goddess Gauri“.

Hindupad, Goddess Gauri – Gowri Devi“.

Goddess Kali

“Kali” by Lisa Iris

“Kali’s themes are rebirth, cycles, joy, courage, hope, cleansing and change.  Her symbols are flowers, dance, iron, swords, peacock feathers and honey.  Kali, a Hindu Goddess whose name means ‘time’, is the genetrix of natural forces that either build or destroy. Even in destruction, however, She reminds us that good really can come of bad situations. If you find your hopes and dreams have been crushed, Kali can change the cycle and produce life out of nothingness. Where there is sorrow, She dances to bring joy. Where there is fear, She dances in courage.

During the Festival of Shiva, or Maha Shivratri, Hindus gather at Shiva’s temples to honor this celestial dance of creation, and Kali dances with them in spirit. Beforehand, they fast and bathe in holy waters for purification. Doing similarly (in your tub or shower) will purge your body and soul of negative influences. Add some flower petals or sweet perfume tot the bath to invoke Kali’s power.

To invoke Kali’s assistance in bringing new life to stagnant projects or ruined goals, leave her an offering of honey or flowers, and make this Kali amulet: Take any black cloth and wrap it around a flower dabbed with a drop of honey, saying:

 ‘Kali, turn, dance, and change
Fate rearrange
End the devastation and strife
what was dead return to life.’

Carry this with you until the situation changes, then bury it with thankfulness.”

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

Who can comprehend the Divine Paradox of Mother Kali?  Fierce, black in color, large, shimmering eyes, destructive, triumphantly smiling amidst the slaughter of billions of demons, wearing a necklace of skulls and a skirt of severed arms, glowing effulgently like the moon in the night sky, holding the head of a demon, a Trident that flashes like lightning and a knife etched with sacred mantras and infused with Divine Shakti, Kali stands peaceful and content, suffused with the fragrances of jasmine, rose and sandalwood!

Goddess Kali

Goddess Kali is equated with the eternal night, is the transcendent power of time, and is the consort of the god Shiva. It is believed that its Shiva who destroys the world, and Kali is the power or energy with which Shiva acts. Therefore, Kali is Shiva’s Shakti, without which Shiva could not act. Frequently, those not comprehending Her many roles in life call Kali the Goddess of death and destruction.  It is partly correct to say Kali is a Goddess of death, but She brings the death of the ego as the illusory self-centered view of reality. Nowhere in the Hindu stories is She seen killing anything but demons nor is She associated specifically with the process of human dying like the Hindu god Yama (who really is the god of death). It is true that both Kali and Shiva are said to inhabit cremation grounds and devotees often go to these places to meditate. This is not to worship death but rather it is to overcome the I-am-the-body idea by reinforcing the awareness that the body is a temporary condition. Shiva and Kali are said to inhabit these places because it is our attachment to the body that gives rise to the ego. Shiva and Kali grant liberation by removing the illusion of the ego. Thus we are the eternal I AM and not the body. This is underscored by the scene of the cremation grounds.

According to Hindu myth, The Goddess Kali is an incarnation of Parvati. She assumed this form in order to vanquish the demon Raktabija, whose name means “the seed of blood”. The gods could not kill the demon Raktabija because he had received from Brahma the boon of being born anew a one thousand times more powerful than before, each time a drop of his blood was shed. Every drop of his blood that touched the ground transformed itself into another and more powerful Raktabija. Within a few minutes of striking this demon the entire battlefield covered with millions of Raktabija clones. In despair, the gods turned to Shiva. But Shiva was lost in meditation at the time and the gods were afraid to disturb him. Hence they pleaded with his consort Parvati for Her assistance.

“Kali” by maigo-no-kirin

The Goddess immediately set out to do battle with this dreaded demon in the form of Kali or “the Black One”. Her eyes were red, Her complexion was dark, Her features gaunt, Her hair unbound, and Her teeth sharp like fangs. As Kali came in to do battle, Raktabija experienced fear for the first time in his demonic heart. Kali ordered the gods to attack Raktabija. She then spread Her tongue to cover the battlefield preventing even a single drop of Raktabija’s blood from falling on the group. Thus, She prevented Raktabija from reproducing himself and the gods were able to slay the demon. Another form of the legend says that Kali pierced Raktabija with a spear, and at once stuck Her lips to the wound to drink all the blood as it gushed out of the body, thus preventing Raktabija from reproducing himself.

Drunk on Raktabija’s blood, Kali ran across the cosmos killing anyone who dared cross Her path. She adorned herself with the heads, limbs and entrails of her victim. The gods were witnessing the balance of the universe being shattered. As a last resort they had to rouse Shiva from his meditation. To pacify Her, Shiva threw himself under Her feet. This stopped the Goddess. She calmed down, embraced Her husband, shed Her ferocious form to became Gauri, “the Fair one”.

Kali intends Her bloody deeds and destruction for the protection of the good. She may get carried away by Her gruesome acts but She is not evil. Kali’s destructive energies on the highest level are seen as a vehicle of salvation and ultimate transformation.  She destroys only to recreate, and what She destroys is sin, ignorance and decay. The Goddess Kali is represented as black in color. Black in the ancient Hindu language of Sanskrit is kaala –the feminine form is kali – so She is Kali, the black one. Black is a symbol of The Infinite and the seed stage of all colors. The Goddess Kali remains in a state of inconceivable darkness that transcends words and mind. Within Her blackness is the dazzling brilliance of illumination. Kali’s blackness symbolizes Her all-embracing, comprehensive nature, because black is the color in which all the colors merge; black absorbs and dissolves them.

Kali’s nudity has powerful meaning. In many instances She is described as garbed in space or sky clad. In Her absolute, primordial nakedness She is free from all covering of illusion. She is Nature (Prakriti in Sanskrit), stripped of ‘clothes’. It symbolizes that She is completely beyond name and form, completely beyond the effects of maya (illusion). Her nudity is said to represent totally illumined consciousness, unaffected by maya. Kali is the bright fire of truth, which cannot be hidden by the clothes of ignorance. Such truth simply burns them away.

“Kali” by Dazy-Girl

She is full-breasted; Her motherhood is a ceaseless creation. Her disheveled hair forms a curtain of illusion, the fabric of space – time which organizes matter out of the chaotic sea of quantum-foam. Her garland of fifty human heads, each representing one of the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, symbolizes the repository of knowledge and wisdom. She wears a girdle of severed human hands – hands that are the principal instruments of work and so signify the action of karma. Thus the binding effects of this karma have been overcome, severed, as it were, by devotion to Kali. She has blessed the devotee by cutting him free from the cycle of karma. Her white teeth are symbolic of purity (Sans. Sattva), and Her lolling tongue which is red dramatically depicts the fact that She consumes all things and denotes the act of tasting or enjoying what society regards as forbidden (i.e. Her indiscriminate enjoyment of all the world’s “flavors”).

Kali’s four arms represent the complete circle of creation and destruction, which is contained within her. She represents the inherent creative and destructive rhythms of the cosmos. Her right hands, making the mudras of “fear not” and conferring boons, represent the creative aspect of Kali, while the left hands, holding a bloodied sword and a severed head represent Her destructive aspect. The bloodied sword and severed head symbolize the destruction of ignorance and the dawning of knowledge. The sword is the sword of knowledge, that cuts the knots of ignorance and destroys false consciousness (the severed head). Kali opens the gates of freedom with this sword, having cut the eight bonds that bind human beings. Finally Her three eyes represent the sun, moon, and fire, with which She is able to observe the three modes of time: past, present and future. This attribute is also the origin of the name Kali, which is the feminine form of ‘Kala’, the Sanskrit term for Time.

Kali is considered to be the most fully realized of all the Dark Goddesses, a great and powerful black earth Mother Goddess capable of terrible destruction and represents the most powerful form of the female forces in the Universe. Worship of the Goddess Kali is largely an attempt to appease Her and avert Her wrath. Her followers gave her offerings of blood and flesh, which was important in Her worship, just as blood sacrifice was important in worship of the early Biblical God, who commanded that the blood must be poured on his alters (Exodus 29:16) for the remission of sins (Numbers 18:9).  As mistress of blood, She presides over the mysteries of both life and death.  Regardless, Her followers still found Her to be a powerful warrior Goddess and found Her greatest strength to be that of a protector.

Kali is not always thought of as a Dark Goddess.  Despite Kali’s origins in battle, She evolved to a full-fledged symbol of Mother Nature in Her creative, nurturing and devouring aspects. Some groups of people, unfamiliar with the precepts of Hinduism, see Kali as a satanic demon probably because of tales of her being worshipped by dacoits and other such people indulging evil acts. By not understanding the story behind Mother Kali it is easy to misinterpret Her iconography. In the same way one could say that Christianity is a religion of death, destruction and cannibalism in which the practitioners drink the blood of Jesus and eat his flesh.  Of course, we know this is not the proper understanding of the communion ritual. Rather, She is referred to as a great and loving primordial Mother Goddess in the Hindu tantric tradition. In this aspect, as Mother Goddess, She is referred to as Kali Ma, meaning Kali Mother, and millions of Hindus revere Her as such.

Of all the forms of Devi, She is the most compassionate because She provides moksha or liberation to Her children. She is the counterpart of Shiva the destroyer. They are the destroyers of unreality. The ego sees Mother Kali and trembles with fear because the ego sees in Her its own eventual demise. A person who is attached to his or her ego will not be receptive to Mother Kali and she will appear in a fearsome form. A mature soul who engages in spiritual practice to remove the illusion of the ego sees Mother Kali as very sweet, affectionate, and overflowing with incomprehensible love for Her children.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Bijjam Snaps, The Story of Kali

The Buddha Garden, The Hindu Goddess Kali

Dolls of India, Kali the Goddess: Gentle Mother…Fierce Warrior

Exotic India, Mother Goddess as Kali – The Feminine Force in Indian Art

Infinite Goddess – Embracing the Divine Mother, Kali Goddess

Mythical-Folk, Kali Ma

Rise of Womanhood, Goddess of Destruction

Sathya Sai Baba, Hindu Gods & Goddesses in India – Hinduism, Mother Kali – Goddess Kalika Devi

 

 

Suggested Links:

Kila. Matrifocus: Cross-Quartly for the Godess Woman, “Reconciling Kali and Gauri: Goddess Thealogy and the Art of Peace“.

Pirera, Anna. Goddess Gallery, “Kali“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Kali: chaotic kindess“.

Stolan, Mihai. Liveonlineyoga.com, “Yoga of the Ten Great Cosmic Powers“.

Goddess Sarasvati

“Goddess Saraswati”

“Sarasvati’s themes are learning, wisdom and communication.  Her symbols are white flowers (especially Lotus), marigolds and swans. A Hindu Goddess of eloquence and intelligence, Sarasvati extends a refreshing drink from her well of knowledge to complete the month with aptitude. In Hindu tradition, Sarasvati invented all sciences, arts and writing. In works of arts she is depicted as white-skinned and graceful, riding on a swan or sitting on an open lotus blossom.

Today is an excellent time to embark on any course of study or to reinforce your learning in a specific area. In Hindu tradition, Sarasvati’s festival is held on or around this date. During the celebration, students gather in the Katmandu Valley (Nepal) bearing gifts for the Goddess, who visits here today. Traditional offerings at the temples include lotus and marigold blossoms and incense, while students often bring pens or books to invoke Sarasvati’s aid with their studies.

Adapting this a bit, try dabbing your personal tools or educational books with a little lotus oil, and burn any sweet-scented incense to improve your awareness (rosemary is a good choice).

To generate Sarasvati’s assistance in matters of communication, find a white flower and remove its petals. Place these in any moving water source, saying something like:

‘Sarasvati, let my words bear gentle beauty and truth
falling lightly on other’s ears
even as these petals to the water.’

Let the water (which also represents this Goddess) carry your wish.”

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

Patricia Monaghan wrote: “As every Hindu god must have a Shakti, or enlivening female force, to function, so Brahma the creator needed Sarasvati for the world to come into being. She is not only the water Goddesses, one of the trinity that also includes Ganga and Yamuna, but She is also the Goddess of eloquence, which pours forth like a flooding river.

Inventor of all the arts and sciences, patron of all intellectual endeavors, Sarasvati is the very prototype of the female artist. She invented writing so that the songs She inspired could be recorded; She created music so the elegance of her being could be praised. In her identity as Vach, Goddess of speech, She caused all words to come into being, including religious writings. Sometimes it is said that She is the rival of Laksmi, Goddess of material wealth; if anyone has the favor of one Goddess, the other will turn away so that no one is ever blessed with both Sarasvati’s genius and Laksmi’s blessing” (p. 273).

Saraswati, known as Sraosha in Zoroastrianism is the guardian of earth. Sraosha (“obedience”) is also the wife and messenger of Ahura Mazda, and her role as the “Teacher of Daena”, Daena being the hypostasis of both “Conscience” and “Religion”. She also guides the souls of the deceased to find their way to the afterlife. Her symbolic animal is the peacock, whose crowing calls the pious to their religious duties. She is also called Druga for fighting off Drug (Drug, the name for female demon in ancient Veda, from the Sanskrit root druh “to be hostile”). The name Druga is made of Sanskrit dru or dur “with difficulty” and gā or jā (“come”, “go”). Saraswati is known as a guardian deity in Buddhism who upholds the teachings of Gautama Buddha by offering protection and assistance to practitioners. She is known in Burmese as Thurathadi or Tipitaka Medaw, Chinese as Biàncáitiān (辯才天), in Thai as Surasawadee (สุรัสวดี) and in Japanese as Benzaiten (弁才天/弁財天). In the East Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa: Saraswati is considered to be a daughter of Lord Shiva and Durga along with her sister Lakshmi and her brothers Ganesha and Karthikeya. [1]

It is believed that Goddess Saraswati endows human beings with the powers of speech, wisdom and learning. She has four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness and ego. [2]

“Sarasvati is one of the many faces refelceted in the image of the Divine Mother.  Called the Goddess of the Word, Sarasvati means “the one who gives the essence (Sara) or our own Self (Swa).”  She is also known as the Goddess of Learning and is the consort (wife) of the Hindu God Brahma (the Creator).

Considered knowledge itself personified as a feminine deity, Sarasvati is closely identified with culture, language, speech, wisdom, intellect, creativity and inspiration.  She contains all forms within Her, pervades all creation and is the power of intellegence and thought.” [3]  She is the Goddess of eloquence, and words pour from Her like a sweetly flowing river. One myth of this Goddess is that She is a jealous rival of the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, and that pursuing wealth alone will assure that Sarasvati’s gifts will desert you.

“She holds in her four hands a vina instrument, an akshamala (prayer beads) in the right hand, and a pustaka (book) in the left, which represents the knowledge of all sciences. Holding the book or scriptures in one hand also indicates that this knowledge alone can bring us to the Truth. The vina shows the beauty of learning the fine arts. Playing her vina, she tunes the mind and intellect with her knowledge, and thus the seeker can be in harmony with the universe. The prayer beads represent all spiritual sciences, like meditation and japa (chanting the holy names of God), and, being held in the right hand, that it is more important than the secular knowledge contained in the book in her left hand. Her four arms represent her unrestricted power in the four directions. She also represents creativity, or the combination of power and intelligence, the basis of creativity.” [4]

The following popular ‘pranam mantra’ or Sanskrit prayer, Saraswati devotees utter with utmost devotion eulogizes the goddess of knowledge and arts:

Om Saraswati Mahabhagey, Vidye Kamala Lochaney |

Viswarupey Vishalakshmi, Vidyam Dehi Namohastutey ||
Jaya Jaya Devi, Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Shobhita, Mukta Haarey |
Vina Ranjita, Pustaka Hastey, Bhagavati Bharati Devi Namohastutey ||

The beautiful human form of Saraswati comes to the fore in this English translation of the Saraswati hymn:

“May Goddess Saraswati,
who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon,
and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops;
who is adorned in radiant white attire,
on whose beautiful arm rests the veena,
and whose throne is a white lotus;
who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me.
May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance.”
[5]

I had to throw this in.  Looking at the Hindu Sarasvati, Goddess of learning and the creative arts, She bears some striking resemblances to Brigit, as well as some important differences. Click here to read further in exploring  the image of Sarasvati as She appears in the Vedas and is developed in later Hinduism, compared images of  Brigit.

Sources:

Das, Subhamoy. About.com, “Saraswati: Goddess of Knowledge & Arts“.

Knapp, Stephen. Stephen-knapp.com, “Sarasvati, the Goddess of Learning“.

Prophet, Elizabeth & Mark L. Sacredwind.com, “Sarasvati“.

Wikipedia, “Saraswati“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Faerywillow. Thegoddesstree.com, “Sarasvati“.

Wood, Hilaire. Brigitsforge.co.uk, “Sarasvati, Brigit and the Sacred Word“.

Yarber, Angela. Feminismandreligion.com, “Painting Saraswati By Angela Yarber“.

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