DEVI. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] `The goddess,' or Mahadevi, `the great goddess,' wife of the god Siva, and daughter of Himavat, i.e., the Himalaya mountains. She is mentioned in the Mahabharata under a variety of names, and with several of her peculiar characteristics, but she owes her great distinction to the Puranas and later works.
As the Sakti or female energy of Siva she has two characters, one mild, the other fierce; and it is under the latter that she is especially worshipped. She has a great variety of names, referable to her various forms, attributes, and actions, but these names are not always used accurately and distinctively. In her milder form she is Uma, `light,' and a type of beauty; Gauri, `the yellow or brilliant;' Parvati, `the mountaineer;' and Haimavati, from her parentage; Jaganmata, `the mother of the world;' and Bhavani.
In her terrible form she is Durga, `the inaccessible;' Kali and Syama, `the black;' Chandi and Chandika, `the fierce;' and Bhairavi, `the terrible.' It is in this character that bloody sacrifices are offered to her, that the barbarities of the Durgapuja and Charakpuja are perpetrated in her honour, and that the indecent orgies of the Tantrikas are held to propitiate her favours and celebrate her powers. She has ten arms, and in most of her hands there are weapons. As Durga she is a beautiful yellow woman, riding on a tiger in a fierce and menacing attitude. As Kali or Kalika, `the black,' "she is represented with a black skin, a hideous and terrible countenance, dripping with blood, encircled with snakes, hung round with skulls and human heads, and in all respects resembling a fury rather than a goddess." As Vindhyavasini, `the dweller in the Vindhyas,' she is worshipped at a place of that same where the Vindhyas approach the Ganges, near Mirzapur, and it is said that there the blood before her image is never allowed to get dry. As Mahamaya she is the great illusion.
The Chandimahatmya, which celebrates the victories of loving names:
1. Durga, when she received the messengers of the Asuras.
2. Dasabhuja. `Ten-armed,' when she destroyed part of their army.
3. Sinhavahini. `Riding on a lion,' when she fought with the Asura general Raktavija.
4. Mahishamardini. `Destroyer of Mahisha,' an Asura in the form of a buffalo.
5. Jagaddhatri. `Fosterer of the world,' when she again defeated the Asura army.
6. Kali. `The black.' She killed Raktavija.
7. Muktakesi. `With dishevelled hair.' Again defeats the Asuras.
8. Tara. `Star.' She killed Sumbha.
9. Chhinnamastaka. `Decapitated,' the headless form in which she killed Nisumbha.
10. Jagadgauri. `World's fair one,' as lauded by the gods for her triumphs.
The names which Devi obtains from her husband are: Babhravi (Babhru), Bhagavati, Isani, Iswari, Kalanjari, Kapalini, Kausiki, Kirati, Maheswari, Mrida, Mridani, Rudrani, Sarvani, Siva, Tryambaki. From her origin she is called Adrija and Girija, `mountain-born;' Kuja, `earth-born;' Dakshaja, `sprung from Daksha.' She is Kanya, `the virgin;' Kanyakumari, `the youthful virgin;' and Ambika, `the mother;' Avara, `the youngest;' Ananta and Nitya, `the ever-lasting;' Arya, `the revered;' Vijaya, `victorious;' Riddhi, `the rich;' Sati, `virtuous;' Dakshina, `right-handed;' Pinga, `tawny, dark;' Karburi, `spotted;' Bhramari, `the bee;' Kotari, `the naked;' Karnamoti, `pearl-eared;' Padmalanchhana, `distinguished by a lotus;' Sarvamangala, `always auspicious;' Sakambhari, `nourisher of herbs;' Sivaduti, `Siva's messenger;' Sinharathi, `riding on a lion.' As addicted to austerities she is Aparna and Katyayani. As Bhutanayaki she is chief or leader of the goblins, and as Gananayaki, the leader of the Ganas. She is Kamakshi, `wanton-eyed;' and Kamakhya, `called by the name of Kama, desire.' Other names, most of them applicable to her terrible forms, are Bhadrakali, Bhimadevi, Chamunda, Mahakali, Mahamari, Mahasuri, Matangi, Rajasi, `the fierce;' and Raktadanti, `red or bloody toothed.'
Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM