Mother's name implies Eternal Limitless Power, the Power Beyond the Universe. Mother is the power of Para Brahman. All other deities are forms, extensions and manifestations of Her. She is the active energy to create and destroy. As such Devi Bhagawata Mahapurana describes Her as Param Prakriti. Adi Parashakti is often mistaken for Shakti. Mother Adi Parashakti is spirit without form. Shakti refers to power or material energy of the Trimurtis or other deities. She is present in everything we see. She is represented in plants, the animals, the birds, the sea, the sky and the holy river. Thus Mother is Sakthi Power who drives this world. It is gainsaid that She is the mother of the mankind. Parashakti is made to appear as saguna form for the purposes of expression and visibility to her children. It is the same with art and sculptures.
For instance, Goddess Parvathi is a saguna manifestation Mother Adi Parashakti possessing gunas. To assign the role in the Universe, in Devi Bhagavatam, Mother tells the Trimurthis: ‘I am Adi Parashakti, goddess Bhuvaneshvari. I am the owner of this universe. I am the Absolute Reality. I am dynamic in feminine form and static in masculine form. You are three parts of me. You all are my partial expansions. You have appeared to govern the universe under my jurisdiction. You are the masculine form of Absolute Reality, while I am the feminine form of that Reality. I am beyond form, beyond everything, and all the powers of God are contained within me. You will admit that I am the Eternally Limitless Power.’
Thereafter Parashakti assigns each Deity their respective roles. Thus Mother rules the three lokhas and performs the material tasks of the Trimurthis. In Devi Bhagavata Purana 4.44-50: Bhagavan Narayana tells Brahma the warning tale ...You are the Creator, I am the Preserver and Rudra is the Destroyer; yet it is to be known that the saints, versed in the Vedas, have come to this conclusion by inference from the Vedas that creation, preservation and destruction are performed by creative force, preservative force and destructive force. The Rajasik creative force residing in you, the Sattvik preservative force residing in me, and the Tamasik destructive force residing in Rudra are the all-in-all. When the Shaktis become absent, you become inert and incapable to create, I to preserve and Rudra to destroy....”
DEPICTION: Adi Parashakti's appearance is described variously in the Devi Bhagavata Purana, Lalita Sahasranama and Kalika Purana. She is said to be the goddess sitting on a jeweled seat in a chariot drawn by seven lions. Her face contained the radiance of millions of stars and her celestial beauty was so great that even the Trimurti were not able to look at her directly. Then then concede that She is the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the whole universe. She is said to reside in Akshara Dhaam, the Imperishable Abode. Mother is also depicted in the Auspicious and Inauspicious nature.
BHAGAVATA PURANA: The Supreme Cosmic Form of Adi Parashakti is described in Devi Bhagavata Purana 7.33.1-21 to be: “The Satyaloka is situated on the topmost of Her head; The Sun and Moon are her eyes; The quarters of the sky are Her ears; The Vedas are Her words; The Universe is Her heart; The Earth is Her loins; The space between earth and sky is Her navel; The constellations are Her Thighs; The Maharaloka is Her neck; The Janarloka is Her face; Indra and the Devas of the Svarloka are her arms; Sound is the organ of Her ears; Fire is within her Face; Day and Night are Her wings; The mountains are Her bones; The rivers are Her veins, And the trees are the hairs of Her body. Childhood, youth, and old age are Her finest modes; The two twilights are Her raiment; And the Moon is the mind of the Mother of the Universe.”
AUSPICIOUS NATURE: Manifesting as Lakshmi, Sati-Parvati and Prthivi, She plays the positive roles of protection, fertility and establishment of dharmic order, cultural creativity, wifely duty and material abundance. These are seen as three aspects of Adi Parasakthi.
(1) Wisdom, Learning and Liberation: based on three aspects: The Mahabaratha states Mother to be liberator and mother of the Vedas. She is also the destroyer of ignorance. Lalita Sahasranama describes as Mahabuddhi – great intelligence; Vijnanabhanarupini – Mass of Knowledge form; Prajnatnika – Wisdom itself and Pasupasavimocini – Releases from bondage.
(2) Embodiment of Female Beauty: The Saundaryalahari describes her to be divine beauty; In Lalitha-Sahasranama she is stated to be Ramya-beautiful one; Kanta – loveliness; Vamanayana – Beautiful eyes and Ratirupa – the form of Rati.
(3) Food and Nourisher: Mother is associated with Prithvi- Earth. Lalitha Sahasranama describes Mother as Annanda – Giver of food; Pusti – gives nourishment; Satakasi – hundred eyes; Sakambari – bestows vegetables; Annapurna – abundant food and Jagaddhatri – supports the world.
INAUSPICIOUS NATURE: Mother Adi Parashakti, through her manifestations depicts terrible and ferocious appearance. Her shaktis, Durga, Kali and Bhairavi are associated with war, blood, destruction and death. They enter into fierce battles against demonic characters. They assert the spiritual power of Para Brahman or Lord Shiva by their material energy. They maintain peace and order. Anger is reduced to calmness and lead aspirants to higher spiritual levels.
SHAKTI MANIFESTATIONS: The sect of Hinduism that devotes to the goddess is known as Shaktism, and a member of this sect is called a Shakta. Shakti is divine, or sacred feminine power of Hindu Shaivite and Vaishanavite Goddesses. As consorts they compliment Virya, the power of male Gods in their life force, creative and procreative power. Virya is authority or energy that tames, directs, constructs, and gives purpose to the Shakti power and energy. However in Shaktam, goddesses play an independent role outside the male domain. They hold that Shakti is taken to be an abstract and all-pervasive power. For instance, Durga and Kali and not depicted with Shiva. Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi also stand independent in various roles. Indeed they are equal partners in the divine power-play. One without the other is redundant divinity. Therefore it is Shakti and Shakti alone that is the ultimate feminine power behind all creations. This is the concept of Adi Parashakti.
Shakta theology sees the threefold power and nature ie creation, preservation and destruction, as a positive, creatively potent illusory power, rather than a crafty, deceptive power. Prakrti is nature, or the material manifestation of Maya and Shakti. Maya is illusion, the illusory power of the goddess. Prakrti is both the body of the goddess, and all other material forms, as these are part of her body. Mother also has a lila function or divine play. Its purpose is to bring pleasure which again is part of maya. Thus Adi Parashakti is Shakti, creating all the material forms as Prakriti or Nature which is the goddess herself with Maya, the illusion that these forms have an existence apart from her; for the purpose of her own divine pleasure which is lila. For this Mother takes four main manifestations.
1. SATI-PARVATHI: The original manifested form of Adi Parashakti is Gauri, the virgin Parvathi and Durga. She is declared to be the greatest Goddess by the Devi Bhagavatam. They are beyond reach even to Lord Shiva, Brahma or Vishnu. Thus she is considered to be the Supreme Goddess, the parallel being Lord Krishna of the Vaishnavites. Her mild form is represented by Lakshmi and Saraswathi; the wrathful form by Kali and Chandi. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are her masculine forms. Mother’s colour is white and she is the embodiment of purity, love and bliss.
2. MAHASARASWATI: She is the first expansion of Adi Parashakti and the shakti of Brahma. She represents Sattva guna. Mother is the goddess of wisdom, creation, and learning. She is the source of all of the arts. She removes darkness; hence she slew Sumbha and Nisumbha who symbolized ignorance and ego. Mahasaraswati was created from the body of Mother Parvati. Industry, spirituality and devotion is attributed to her. Her colour is yellow. When she is formless, she becomes the Pranava Om.
3. MAHALAKSHMI: Mother is the second expansion of Adi Parashakti. She represents Raja guna. As goddess of wealth, she preserved the material world b bringing fortune and spiritual satisfaction. She is the Shakti of Lord Vishnu. Mother is born from Goddess Parvathi’s mind and advents as Katyayani. When mother is formless, she becomes Light.
4. MAHAKALI: Mother is the third expansion of Adi Parashakti. She represents Tamas guna. She is the shakti of Shiva. In her ferocious demeanor, Mother presides over destruction of the universe, thus paving the way for new creations. Mahakali is the goddess of spiritual fulfillment. She is born from Parvathi’s eyes. The demons, Madhu and Kaitabha represent ego and evil. Mother slew them symbolically to compliment Vishnu’s preservation powers. Her colour is dark blue or black. When mother is formless, she becomes Heat.
SHAKTI PEETHS: Mother Goddess Adi ParaShakti or Adi Maya Shakti manifests as various forms of Goddess devi. Brahma, Vishnu and Siva reacted to her splendor and celebrated Her. While male-god temples made room for Mother Goddess, the reverse was always not true. Mother worship was redefined and in her sacred seats, especially in the Shakti Peeths. Mother Goddess stood independently with the exception of their companions or attendants ‘moved to the courtyard’.
Some 108 temples are said to be exclusive to Mother Goddess. Of these 51 are attributed to Shakti’s manifestation from Sati’s severed body. Out of these 18 are very prominent Peeths. These Shakti temples are spiritually energetic places of worship; something that the male god temples did not really enjoy. They were personification of Goddess Adi Parasakthi’s various iconic forms, Her bounty, wisdom and mystery. It would appear that the great acharya Adi Shankara, while strongly propounding advaita vedanta, consecrated several Shakti temples and sang beautiful Shakti hymns.
SAPTH MATRIKAS: The classic text of the Devi Mahatmya, tells a story of Saptha Matrika’s Shakti Energy. Each shakthi possessed the form, ornament, and mount of the particular god. These are the goddesses who serve Adhi parasakthi and carry out her functions. The Saptha Matrikas are: 1. Brahmani, 2.Vaishnavi, 3.Indrani, 4.Chamunda, 5.Maheswari, 6.Kumari and 7. Varahi. They represent eight mental qualities which are morally wanting: Yogeswari – kama or desire; Maheswari – krodh or anger; Vaishnavi – lobha or coveatness; Brahmani – mada or pride; Kaumari – Moha or illusion; Indrani – Matsarya or fault finding; Yami or Chamunda – tale bearing and Varahi – asuya or envy.
DASA MAHA VIDYAS: The Ten Mahavidyas are known as Wisdom Goddesses. Dasa means Ten. ‘Maha’ means great. Vidya means 'revelation, manifestation, knowledge, or wisdom’. It is a total representation of Goddesses of Great Knowledge. Thus Dasa Mahavidyas means the Great Wisdoms of the ten aspects of the Divine Mother or Devi in Hinduism. The ten manifestations are also believed to be that of the Divine Mother Kali in ten different facets or cosmic personalities. These personifications are Tantric in nature and also what is hidden, secret, subtle and sensitive, what has to be searched out and discovered.
The Maha Vidyas represent knowledge, teaching and comprehension. Thus they are inner guiding power through ten wisdom forms which teach intellectually. This is a challenge to look deeper. Their forms may be disturbing and difficult to bear. Indeed they are not meant to be merely present but to jolt one from ignorance or to awaken the coiled serpent called kundalini. They inspire and promote the deepest spiritual inquiries in their ambiguous, contradictory, even paradoxical forms. The Dasa Mahavidyas are provocative Shakti energy of Mother Adi Parashakti.
TEN MAHA VIDYAS: 1. Kali - the Eternal Night; the ultimate form of Brahman; Devourer of Time; the Supreme Deity of Kalikula systems; 2. Tara the Compassionate Goddess; the Goddess as Guide and Protector; 3. Lalita Tripurasundari, Shodashi the Goddess who is Sixteen Years Old, referred as the"Beautiful in the Three Worlds" 4. Bhuvaneshvari the Creator of the World
5. Chinnamasta, the Goddess who cuts off her Own Head 6. Bhairavi, the Goddess of Decay; The Fierce Goddess 7.Dhumawati the Goddess who widows Herself 8. Bagalamukhi the Goddess who seizes the Tongue,Paralyzes Enemies 9.Matangi the Goddess who Loves Pollution; The Outcaste Goddess 10. Kamala the Last but Not the Least; The Lotus Goddess; the "Tantric Lakshmi"
GROUP DIVERSIONS: Apart from the major forms of Parvathi, Mahasaraswathi, Mahalakshmi and Mahakali, Adi Para Shakti also takes several manifestations and diverts into groups. Some of Her manifestations are Saranya – wife of Sun God; Rohini – favourite of the Moon God; Svaha – Consort of the Fire God; Sachi – the Divine Queen; Manasa – the Serpent Goddess; Jivantika – the Divine Midwife; Vedavati – the Hermit Woman; Sita – the Devoted Wife; Rukumani – Krishna’s Queen; Radha – the Beloved of Krishna; Revati – Balarama’s Wife; Yamuna – the River Goddess; and Ganga – the River of Heaven.
VILLAGE GODDESS: Adi Parashakti is all mercifull to cater all levels of bhaktas. She also becomes a village Goddess, the Grama Devi who is affectionately called Ma, Mata, Ambe, Ayi, Amma or Amman. Being a popular and soothing saguna form, rural population had their local manifestation of Shakti. Notable ones are Bahuchara of Gujarat, Ammavaru, Kanyakumari of TamilNadu, Vaishnavi of Jammu, Meenakshi of Madurai, Mariamman of Karnataka, Pattini of TamilNadu, Hidimbi of Himachal Pradesh, Renuka-Yellamma of Belgaum, Ganamma of Andhra Pradesh, Bhagavati of Kerala and Kumari of Nepal. Sometimes they were village or locality name origins. Thus we have Kali of Calcutta, Mumba of Mumbai, Chandika of Chandigarh, Bhavani of Bhavnagar and Syamala of Simla.
Om Shakti, Om Para Shakti,Om Maya Shakti
(draft Gods and Goddesses)
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi