Supreme Mother Goddess Devi is the most complex of all goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. She mirrors the various roles of Mahadeva, the Supreme Purusha. As Prakriti, Devi balances the male aspect addressed as Purusha. As Lord Shiva’s consort, She is Shakti. She is the one who gives life energy or Shakti to all beings and without her, all beings are inert. Parvati is Shakti herself, who actually lives in all beings in the form of power. Without power, one can do nothing, including yoga. Being the physical manifestation of Goddess Devi, Parvati is the Goddess of Power.
Shakti is needed by all beings, whether the Trimurti, the devas, humans, animals, or even plants. Parvati is the provider of shakti. Without her, life is completely inert. This power is required to see, to hear, to feel, to think, to inhale and exhale, to walk, to eat, and to do anything else. The goddess is worshiped by all gods, the Trimurti, rishis, and all other beings. But in each of her roles, Parvati has a different name to represent her mild and fierce forms.
DEVI BHAGAVATA PURANA: Goddess Parvati is linear progenitor of all other goddesses according to Devi Bhagavata Purana. This is also the Shaiva Siddhanta stand which extends to Shakta beliefs of holding her as a Universal Mother. She is one who is source of all forms of goddesses. She is worshiped as one with many forms and name. Her different mood brings different forms or incarnations.
PURANAS: Parvati takes several forms as reflected by the myths. She is not really a benign goddess but one who has a violent and dark side when it comes to beating up demons. She then crystallizes into a dark, blood thirsty, tangled-hair Goddess with an open mouth and a drooping tongue, the mark of Mahakali. But it would not be second before Parvati reverts to her true Self, the pure energy of Shakti.
LINGA PURANA: On the request of Shiva, Parvati summons Kali to destroy Daruka. After killing the demoness, Kali's wrath could not be controlled as She ran around trilokhas in blind fury. This endangered the Universe. All that Shiva could do was appear as crying baby in the middle of the battlefield. Even before she could invoke he motherliness, she steps on the baby Shiva and upon realising lolled her tongue. Then she started breast-feeding Shiva and resorted as Parvati and her original form.
SKANDA PURANA: Demon called Durg, assumes the form of a buffalo. Therefore, Parvati assumed the Durga form of a warrior-goddess and defeated him. Thereafter, she is known by the name of Durga. Parvati sheds her outer sheath, which takes an identity of its own as a warrior goddess. This is again another Durga assumption to defeat Sumbha and Nisumbha.
SRIKULA – KALIKULA: Each of her forms is backed up by Puranic myths. Parvati is also synonymous with Kali, Durga, Kamakshi, Meenakshi, Gauri and host of forms. For instance, while Shiva Purana holds Gauri as the younger version of virgin Parvati, other myths attribute the golden skin Goddess Gauri’s to the story of Parvati casting off her unwanted dark complexion after Shiva teased her. Another version is that Gauri is in essence a fertility Goddess. Here she is venerated as a corn mother. This is a suggestion that her golden skin represents hues of ripening grain, for which she is propitiated.
SRIKULA: Parvati has two main forms. As Srikula family of shaktism, She is Lalita Tripurasundari, the Supreme Mother. Her school is the Srividya which is one of Shakta Tantrism. Its central symbol is the Sri Chakra, the most visual image of Hindu tantrism. In Srikula practice all aspects of Goddesses are identified with Lalita Tripurasundari. Srividya paramparas are subdivided into Kaula and Samaya practices.
KALIKULA: In Kalikula, Parvati manifests as Kali, Chandi and Durga. Durga is demon fighting form of this Goddess, and some texts suggest Parvati took the form of Goddess Durga to kill Demon Durgam. Kali is another aspect that was assisted by Goddess Chandi while fighting with rakta bija. Goddess Chamunda comes in this list also. These goddesses share some common iconography as goddess Kali who is nobody but an aspect of Parvati in ferocious form.
TANTRA: Generally the Tantra discipline is governed by both Sri Kula and Kali Kula. Among the Dasa Mahavidyas Kali, Tara, Bhuvaneswari and Chinnamasta are said to come under Kali Kula. Likewise, Tripur Sundari, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala come under Srikula. The dividing line is a controversial one.
SHAKTI PEETHAS: Sati manifesting in 52 Shakti peeths are expansions of Parvati. However there are also milder incarnations such as Meenakshi and Kamakshi and a range of goddesses manifesting from Parvati.
DASA MAHAVIDYAS: This does not mean, just the ten aspects of Goddess Parvati. These are Tantra vidya goddesses being representation of transcendent knowledge and power. Mantra vidya means divine knowledge. These mantras cannot be understood by reasoning. Contrary to what is published here and there, Tantra is not paper based learning. The inherent meanings of mantras are revealed by gurus to deserving sadhaks. What is a ‘deserving sadha’ is a subjective issue.
Mantra Sakti opens the gate of truth, revealing the true nature and essence of the universe. This is the underlying principle behind all the Mahavidya upasana. The Mahavidya Mothers or ten manifestations of Goddess Parvati are: Tara, Sodasi, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagala, Matangi, Kamalatmika and Kali.
KALI: The first is Kali who is the goddess of time that destroys everything. She is the ultimate form of Brahman, ‘Devourer of Time’. In the Kalukula system, Kali is the Supreme Deity.
TARA: The second one, Tara is the power of golden embryo from which the universe evolves. She also stands for void or the boundless space. She is the Goddess as Guide and Protector who offers ultimate knowledge which gives salvation. She is also known as Neela Saraswati.
TRIPURASUNDARI OR SODASHI: The third one Sodasi literally means 'one who is sixteen years old’. The Mahabhagavata Purana lists Tripurasundari as Sodashi. (Also see Brhaddharma Purana). She is the personification of fullness and perfection. She is the Goddess who is Beautiful in the Three worlds. In the Srikula system, she is the Supreme Deity. She is also the Moksha Mukta in Shaivism or Tantric Parvati.
BHUVANESHWARI: The fourth, Vidya Bhuvanevari represents the forces of the material world. She is the Goddess or World Mother, or whose body is the Cosmos.
BHAIRAVI: The fifth one, Bhairavi stands for desires and temptations leading to destruction and death. She is the Fierce Goddess.
CHINNAMASTA: The sixth Vidya Chinnamasta represents the continued state of self-sustenance of the created world in which is seen continuous self-destruction and self-renewal, in a cyclic order. She is a naked deity holding her own severed head in hand and drinking her own blood. She is the Self-Decapitated Goddess.
DHUMAVATI: Dhumavati, the seventh one personifies the destruction of the world by fire, when only smoke (dhuma) from its ashes remains. She is the Widow Goddess or the Goddess of Death.
BAGALA: The eighth, Vidya Bagala is a crane - headed goddess. She represents the ugly side of living creatures like jealously, hatred and cruelty. She is the Goddess Who Paralyzes.
MATANGI: Matangi, the ninth Vidya is the embodiment power of domination. She is known as the Prime Minister of Lalita in the Srikula system; also known as Tantric Saraswati.
KAMALA: The tenth and the last Vidya Kamala is the pure consciousness of the self, bestowing boons and allaying the fears of the supplicants. She is identified with Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune. She is the Lotus Goddess or Tantric Lakshmi.
The details of the Dasa Mahavidyas have been posted as separate slots. There are some writings and justifications to state that the Mahavidyas are avatars of Vishnu with some tantra attributed to this claim. These are later additions to the original Mahavidya Tantric science. These are best left to the individual sadhak’s truth finding, even if there is an Eskimo mahavidya list in the making and an ‘ice-cold’ Kali.....
Hara Hara Mahadeva
(draft Parvati forms) by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi