Goddess Durga

Durga mata

In India "the Goddess" is known by the names such as Durga, Kali, Amba, etc. and whether referred to by her Greek name, Gaia, her African name, Ashun, her Egyptian name, Isis, or any of the hundreds of names by which she is known throughout the world, the Goddess is enjoying great popularity today everywhere, especially in the United States and Europe.The popularity of the Goddess is understandable. The material world is her domain, her jurisdiction given to her by Krishna.

The Brahma-samhita (5.43), one of the oldest scriptures known to man, describes four levels of existence: The highest is Krishna's own abode, the kingdom of God in its most profound manifestation; just below that is Hari-dhama, the place of the other spiritual planets; lower still is Mahesa-dhama, the dwelling place of Shiva and his devotees; and finally there is Devi-dhama, the material world, where the Mother of the Universe, the Goddess, controls the living entities who have chosen to try to enjoy separately from Krishna. Devi-dhama consists of fourteen planetary systems, from the lowest planet in the material world to the highest. The Supreme Lord's external potency, who is the shadow of His knowledge potency, is worshiped by all people as Durga, the creating, preserving, and destroying agent of this mundane world.

When people in India speak of Devi, "the Goddess," they generally mean Durga, who creates, maintains, and destroys within the material sphere. Durga is elaborately described in many of the Vedic books known as Upa-puranas, or "lesser Puranas," particularly in the Devi Bhagavata Purana. As the consort of Shiva, she is known as Parvati, Gauri, Uma, Devi, and Bhavani. She has thousands of other names and forms as well. Durga's characteristics are diverse, and they appear differently according to the aspect on which her worshiper chooses to focus. Gauri, Uma, and Parvati are the most benevolent, often portrayed as loving and kind. Durga is often represented as a heroic fighting goddess and to people who don't know the purpose behind her actions, she or her alter ego Kali may sometimes even seem bloodthirsty.

Durga is also identified with prakrti (material nature) and maya (illusion). Indeed, two of her more popular names are Mulaprakrti ("The Embodiment of Primordial Matter") and Mahamaya ("The Great Illusion"). In Bhagavad-gita (9.10) Krishna says, mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram: "The material energy [prakrti] is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, and is producing all moving and unmoving beings." Prakrti is Durga. So Krishna is in control, giving direction to Durga, His subordinate. And when one doesn't acknowledge that, Durga becomes Mahamaya she places us under illusion.

View names of Goddess Durga

A photo of the Nine Forms of Goddess Durga