Mahavidyas (Great Wisdoms) are aspects of Devi in Hinduism. The Ten Mahavidyas are known as Wisdom Goddesses. The spectrum of these ten goddesses covers the whole range of feminine divinity, encompassing horrific goddesses at one end, to the ravishingly beautiful at the other. The name Mahavidyas comes from the roots maha (great) and vidya (revelation, manifestation, knowledge, wisdom).

In the Tantric tradition, these are identified as:

  1. Kali
  2. Tara
  3. Tripura Sundari
  4. Bhuvaneshvari
  5. Bhairavi
  6. Chhinnamasta
  7. Dhumavati
  8. Bagalamukhi
  9. Matangi
  10. Kamalatmika

The Mahabhagavata-purana and Brhaddharma-purana provide a slightly different list of the Mahavidyas: Kali, Tara, Chinnamasta, Bhuvanesvari, Bagala, Dumavati, Kamala, Matangi, Sodasi, and Bhairavi.

The Guhyatiguyha-tantra associates the Mahavidyas with the ten avatars of Vishnu, and states that the Mahavidyas are the source from which the avatars of Vishnu arose.

All ten forms of the Goddess, whether gentle or terrifying, are worshiped as the universal Mother.

Birth of Das Mahavidyas

Once during a game of dice, things got out of hand between Shiva and Parvati. Shiva lost the game, and Parvati asked for the crescent moon which adorns his hair as payment. When he refused, she got angry. What had started in jest turned into a serious matter with an incensed Shiva threatening to walk out on Parvati. No amount of coaxing or cajoling by Parvati could reverse matters. Left with no choice, Parvati multiplied herself into ten different forms for each of the ten directions. Thus however hard Shiva might try to escape from his beloved Parvati, he would find her standing as a guardian, guarding all escape routes.

Each of the Devi's manifested forms made Shiva realize essential truths, made him aware of the eternal nature of their mutual love and most significantly established for always in the canon of Indian thought the Goddess's superiority over her male counterpart. Not that Shiva in any way felt belittled by this awareness, only spiritually awakened. This is true as much for this Great Lord as for us ordinary mortals. Befittingly thus they are referred to as the Great Goddesses of Wisdom, known in Sanskrit as the Mahavidyas. Indeed in the process of spiritual learning the Goddess is the muse who guides and inspires us. She is the high priestess who unfolds the inner truths.

Another story (told in several of the puranas) involves an argument between Shiva and Sati (Dakshayani), an earlier incarnation of Parvati. When Shiva and Sati were wed, Sati's father Daksha disapproved of the match and organized a great sacrifice to which he invited everyone except for the newlywed couple. Sati, incensed, insisted on attending the sacrifice, which Shiva forbade until Sati transformed herself into a terrible appearance and multiplied into the ten Mahavidyas, whereby she subdued Shiva's resistance and attended the sacrifice.

Worship of Das Mahavidyas

In their strong associations with death, violence, ritual pollution, and despised marginal social roles, they call into question such normative social "goods" as worldly comfort, security, respect, and honor. The worship of these goddesses suggests that the devotee experiences a refreshing and liberating spirituality in all that is forbidden by established social orders.

The central aim here is to stretch one's consciousness beyond the conventional, to break away from approved social norms, roles, and expectations. By subverting, mocking, or rejecting conventional social norms, the adept seeks to liberate her or his consciousness from the inherited, imposed, and probably inhibiting categories of proper and improper, good and bad, polluted and pure. Living one's life according to rules of purity and pollution and caste and class that dictate how, where, and exactly in what manner every bodily function may be exercised, and which people one may, or may not, interact with socially, can create a sense of imprisonment from which one might long to escape. Perhaps the more marginal, bizarre, "outsider" goddesses among the Mahavidyas facilitate this escape. By identifying with the forbidden or the marginalized, an adept may acquire a new and refreshing perspective on the cage of respectability and predictability. Indeed a mystical adventure, without the experience of which, any spiritual quest would remain incomplete.

Note:Atma in Dasa Maha Vidyas is called as Mother with 10 different names with 10 types of Major dimensions. Shiva being in Yoga Nidra appears with his energy like a Beautiful Mother(nature). When one's illusion surrenders to the Mother by following any one of 10 Maha Vidyas, will realize that she is none other than shiva. Shiva externally appears as Mother but internal is Siva. This is the secret meaning of all Maha Vidyas. It is also important to understand that one who follows these vidyas should understand the mind beyond the mundane.

See also

Search another word or see Mahavidyaon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature