In the Hindu tradition, mother is first guru (teacher) and in the Yoga tradition, proper respect of yoginis is a necessary part of the path to liberation. A yogini is the sacred feminine force made incarnate, an enlightened woman with exuberant passion, spiritual powers and deep insight, capable of giving birth to saints, peacemakers, and yogis.
The yogini, having a female body that is a matrix for menstruation and childbirth transformation through an awakened mooladhara (root chakra, which is the actual physical cervix in women), thereby has an advanced physical foundation for the cultivation of various other physical, mental, and spiritual yogic powers (siddhis) that take the male practitioner much longer to cultivate.
In the mythological context, the word yogini may indicate an advanced yoga practitioner who is one or more of the following:
In a wider and general context, a yogini is a woman who may possess supernatural powers, including the ability to transcend the normal aging process via internalization of the reproductive power known as urdhva-retas (upward refinement of the seed-force) and even death, attaining divya sharira (immortal divine body).
During the Hindu goddess Durga’s battles with the forces of inhumanity (asuras), eight yoginis are described emanating from the body of Durga, and they assisted her in the battle. In later texts, the number of yoginis increased to sixty-four. All these yoginis represented forces of vegetation and fertility, illness and death, Yoga and magic. All yoginis are worshipped collectively and together, each one is enshrined in an individual position in a circular temple open to the sky (Sri Yantra).
Two notable yogini temples in Madhya Pradesh are the 9th century CE Chaunsath yogini temple to the southwest of the western group of temples in Khajuraho, near Chhatarpur in Chhatarpur District and the 10th century CE Chaunsath yogini mandir in Bhedaghat, near Jabalpur in Jabalpur district.
The iconographies of the yogini images in four yogini temples are not uniform. In Hirapur yogini temple, all yogini images are with their vahanas (vehicles) and in standing posture. In Ranipur-Jharial temple the yogini images are in dancing posture. In Bhedaghat temple yogini images are seated in Lalitasana.
Often the Matrikas are confused with the Yoginis which may be sixty-four or eighty-one. In Sanskrit literature the Yoginis have been represented as the attendants or various manifestations of Durga engaged in fighting with the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha, and the principal Yoginis are identified with the Matrikas. Other Yoginis are described as born from one or more Matrikas. The derivation of 64 Yogini from 8 Matrikas became a tradition. By mid- 11th century, the connection between Yoginis and Matrikas had become common lore. The Mandala (circle) and chakra of Yoginis were used alternatively. The 81 Yoginis evolve from a group of nine Matrikas, instead of seven or eight. The Saptamatrika (Brahmi, Maheshvari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani (Aindri) and Chamundi) joined by Candika and Mahalakshmi form the nine Matrika cluster. Each Matrika is considered to be a Yogini and is associate with 8 other Yoginis resulting in the troupe of 81(nine times nine).
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