Devi





Devi is the major goddess in the Hindu pantheon. Known both as Devi (goddess) and Mahadevi (great goddess), she takes many different forms and is worshiped both as a kind goddess and as a fierce one. In all of her forms, she is the wife of the Shiva, the god of destruction.

pantheon all the gods of a particular culture

In the form of Durga, Devi is a warrior goddess charged with protecting the gods and the world from powerful demons. The gods used their combined strength to create Durga when they were unable to overpower a terrible buffalo demon named Mahisha. They gave Durga ten arms—so she could hold many weapons—and a tiger to carry her into battle. Durga and Mahisha fought a long, terrible, and bloody battle in which the two opponents changed

Devi, a major Hindu goddess, appears in many different forms. This color print shows a man worshiping Devi as Parvati, the beautiful and loving wife of Shiva.
Devi, a major Hindu goddess, appears in many different forms. This color print shows a man worshiping Devi as Parvati, the beautiful and loving wife of Shiva.
shape many times. Durga finally managed to kill the demon by piercing his heart with her trident and cutting off his head.

Devi also takes gentler forms. As Sati, a loyal wife to Shiva, she burned herself alive to defend his honor and prove her love. When Shiva refused to let go of Sati's burning body the god Vishnu * had to cut her body out of his arms. Her remains were then cut into 50 pieces and scattered to different places that became shrines. As Parvati, Devi is a gentle and loving wife who went through great sacrifice to win Shiva's love. Parvati has a softening influence on the harsh god and is often portrayed as an idealized beauty or pictured with Shiva in domestic scenes.

Another, and quite different, form of Devi is the fierce Kali. Like Durga, Kali defends the world from demons, but she can go into a rage and lose control. When she blindly begins to kill innocent people, the gods have to intervene. On one occasion, Shiva threw himself among the bodies she was trampling to bring her out of her madness. Images of Kali show her with black skin, three eyes, fangs, and four arms. She wears a necklace of skulls and carries weapons and a severed head. She is usually portrayed with her tongue hanging out in recognition of her victory over the demon Raktavira. To make sure that Raktavira was truly dead, Kali had to suck the blood out of his body because any drop that fell to the ground would produce a duplicate of him.

trident three-pronged spear, similar to a pitchfork




There are numerous other forms of Devi. As Urna, she appears as the golden goddess, personifying light and beauty. As Hariti, she is the goddess of childbirth. As Gauri, she represents the harvest or fertility, and as Manasa, she is the goddess of snakes. When she takes the role of mother of the world, Devi is known as Jaganmata.

See also Hinduism and Mythology ; Shiva ; Vishnu .



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