Mahashakti is the source of the entire manifestation. The three divinities Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva including all other Devatas have all emerged from her own parts. She is Tripura Parameshwari the queen of the entire cosmic creation. This is the conviction of the followers of Shakta Sampradaya. The Shakta Sampradaya is a widespread cult in the country. You will also find a large number of Shakti Peetha. Shakti can be worshipped in three modes- In the Satvik, Rajasik and Tamasik mode. Based on each mode you have three different Shakta Sampradayas namely Dakshinachara, Veerachara and Vamachara. Out of these, the Veerachari and Vamachari Sampradayas hide from the common public. Because their procedure of worship is detested by the common people and is quite opposed to the laws of the nation. The Human sacrifice tradition of the Veerachar sect has been long since abolished.
Creation, maintenance and destruction
Aadhya Shakti assumes 3 forms for the purpose of creation, maintenance and annihilation. She assumes the Sarasvati form for creation, the Lakshmi form for sustenance while the Mahakali form for annihilation. It is essential to know that these forms of Sarasvati, Lakshmi and MahaKali are different from the consorts of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Durga Saptashi explains the procedure of meditating on these three forms-
- Mahasarasvati- She rides a lion and has 8 arms
- Mahalakshmi- She rides a lion and has 18 arms
- Mahakali- She has 10 heads and 10 feet
10 Mahavidya and Nava durga Mahashakti
Mahashakti is believed to have 10 Mahavidyas and 9 forms of Durga. The 10 Mahavidya forms of Mahashakti are-
1) Kali (काली) 2) Tara (तारा) 3) Shodashi (षोडशी) 4) Bhuvaneshwari (भुवनेश्वरी) 5) Bhairavi (भैरवी) 6)Chinnamasta (छिन्नमस्ता) 7) Dhumavati (धूमावती) 8) Bagala (बगला) 9) Matangi (मातङ्गी) 10) Kamala (कमला)
9 Forms of Durga (Navadurga)
While the Navadurgas are- 1) Shaila putri (शैलपुत्री) 2) Brahmacharini (ब्रह्मचारिणी) 3) Chandraghanta (चन्द्रघण्टा) 4) Kushmanda (कुष्माण्डा) 5) Skandamata (स्कन्दमाता) 6) Katayayani (कात्यायनी) 7) Kalaratri (कालरात्रि) 8) Mahagauri (महागौरी) 9) Siddhidatri (सिद्धिदात्री)
Even Kali (काली), Neela (नीला), Mahadurga (महादुर्गा), Tvarita (त्वरिता) Chinnamasta (छिन्नमस्ता) Vaga (वाग), Vadini (वादिनी), Annapoorna (अन्नपूर्णा), Pratyangira (प्रत्यंगिरा), Kamakhya (कामाख्या), Vasali (वासली), Bala (बाला), Matangi (मातङ्गी) Shailavasini (शैलवासिनी) are said to be Mahavidyas in Tantra.
According to Tantra- It is Kali who assumes the Dashavatar- And the order is-
1) Kali Krishna (काली-कृष्ण) 2) Tarini Rama (तारिणी-राम) 3) Neela Kurma (नीला-कूर्म) 4) Dumavati-Matsya (धूमावती-मत्स्य) 5) Chinnamasta Nrasimha (छिनमस्ता-नृसिंह) 6) Bhairavi Varaha (भैरवी-वाराह) 7) Tripura Parashurama (त्रिपुरा-परशुराम) 8) Bhuvaneshwari Vamana (भुवनेश्वरी-वामन) 9) Kamala Buddha (कमला-बुद्ध) 10) Durga Kalki (दुर्गा-कल्कि)
Shakti, the supreme authority, assumes the forms in three modes of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas for Creation, maintenance and annihilation respectively. Out of these forms the one at the level of Brahman, Shveta Varna (श्वेत वर्ना) represents Sattva, Rakta-Varna (रक्त-वर्णा) represents Rajas while Krishna varna (कृष्ण-वर्ना) is for Tamas. Lord Shiva is the Soil while Shakti is the Seed, their union gives rise to the Nada (Cosmic sound). Through this Nada, emerge the Trishakti. The Trishaktis are Ichashakti (The ability to desire), Kriyashakti (The ability to act), and Jnanashakti (The ability to derive knowledge). Shakti has 9 forms in this universe- 1) Vaishnavi (वैष्णवी) 2) Brahmani (ब्रह्माणी) 3) Raudri (रौद्री) 4) Maheshwari (माहेश्वरी) 5) Narasinhi (नारसिंही) 6) Varahi (वाराही) 7) Indrani (इन्द्राणी) 8) Kartiki (कार्तिकी) 9) Sarvamangala सर्वमंगला (भैरवी)
There are 50 Vishnu Shaktis-
1) Kirti (कीर्ती) 2) Kanti (कान्ति) 3) Trushti (तृष्टि) 4) Pushti (पुष्टि) 5) Dhruti (धृति) 6) Shanti (शान्ति) 7) Kriya (क्रिया) 8) Daya (दया) 9) Medha (मेधा) 10) Shraddha (श्रद्धा) 11) Lajja (लज्जा) 12) Lakshmi (लक्ष्मी) 13) Sarasvati (सरस्वती) 14) Priti (प्रीति) 15) Riti (रीति) 16) Rama (रमा) 17) Jaya (जया) 18) Durga (दुर्गा) 19) Prabha (प्रभा) 20) Satya (सत्या) 21) Chanda (चण्डा) 22) Vani (वाणी) 23) Vilasini (विलासिनी) 24) Viraja (विरजा) 25) Vijaya (विजया) 26) Vishva (विश्वा) 27) Vinada (विनदा) 28) Sunada (सुनदा) 29) Smruti (स्मृति) 30) Riddhi (ऋद्धि) 31) Samriddhi (समद्धि) 32) Shuddhi (शुद्धि) 33) Bhakti (भक्ति) 34) Mukti (मुक्ति) 35) Mani (मनि) 36) Kshama (क्षमा) 37) Rama (रमा) 38) Uma (उमा) 39) Kledini (क्लेदिनी) 40) Klinna (क्लिन्ना) 41) Vasudha (वसुधा) 42) Sukshma (सूक्ष्मा) 43) Sandhya (संध्या) 44) Pragya (प्रज्ञा) 45) Nisha (निशा) 46) Amodha (अमोधा) 47) Viddhuta (विद्धुता) 48) Para (परा) 49) Parayana (परायणा) 50 Parama (परमा)
The Vaishnav Acharyas accept three primary Shakti’s of Bhagavan. These are- 1) Samvit (संवित) 2) Samdhini (संधिनी) 3) Hladini (हलाधिनी)
Even Lord Shiva has 50 Shaktis. They are called Rudra Shakti-
1) Gunodagi (गुणोदगी) 2) Viraja (विरजा) 3) Shalmali (शाल्मली) 4) Lolakshi (लोलाक्षी) 5) Vartulakshi (वर्तुलाक्षी) 6) Deergh Dhona (दीर्घ धोणा) 7) Sudeerghamukha (सुदीर्घमुखा) 8) Gomukhi (गोमुखी) 9) Deerghajivha (दीर्घजिव्हा) 10) Kundodari (कुण्डोदरी) 11) Urdhvakeshi (ऊर्ध्वकेशी) 12) Vikrut Mukhi (विकृत-मुखी) 13) Jvala Mukhi (ज्वालामुखी) 14) Ulfa Mukhi (उल्फामुखी) 15) Sushreemukhi (सुश्रीमुखी) 16) Vidhamukhi (विधामुखी) 17) Mahakali (महाकाली) 18) Sarasvati (सरस्वती) 19) Gauri (गौरी) 20) Lambodari (लम्बोदरी) 21) Dravini (द्राविणी) 22) Naagari (नागरी) 23) Khechari (खेचरी) 24) Manjari (मञ्जरी) 25) Rupini (रूपिणी) 26) Chitrani (चित्रणी) 27) Kakodari (ककोदरी) 28) Putana (पूतना) 29) Bhadrakali (भद्रकाली) 30) Yogini (योगनी) 31) Shankhini (शंखिनी) 32) Garjani (गर्जनी) 33) Kubjini (कुब्जिनी) 34) Kapardini (कपार्दिनी) 35) Jaya (जया) 36) Revati (रेवती) 37) Madhavi (माधवी) 38) Varuni (वारुणी) 39) Varshavi (वर्षवी) 40) Kalaratri (कालरात्रि) 41) Vraja (व्रजा) 42) Sumukheshwari (सुमुखेश्वरी) 43) Lakshmi (लक्ष्मी) 44) Sati (सती) 45) Parvati (पार्वती) 46) Kotara (कोटरा) 47) Jyeshta (ज्येष्ठा) 48) Chamunda (चामुण्डा) 49) Pishachini (पिशाचिनी) 50) Bhadra (भद्रा)
There was only 1 Shakti at the beginning. But after creating the universe, she came to be known as Kamakala (कामकला) and Shringarkala (शृंगारकला).
Story of Sati
1)There is a story- The two Lords Brahma and Vishnu had accepted their consorts, but Lord Shiva was absorbed in penance. Lord Shiva had to accept the life of a householder for the creation process to commence. But there was no woman who could attract Lord Shiva. So Lord Brahma venerated Adi Shakti and also convinced Daksha to do so. After a long span of a thousand years, Mahashakti was pleased. She accepted to be the daughter of Daksha. Thus she was born as Daksha Kanya Sati. During the Daksha Yagya, When Sati Devi witnessed the humiliation of her husband Lord Shiva and saw that her father had not kept a share of sacrificial offering for her Lord since he was a Kapali (who seeks alms), she offered her body in the sacrificial fire. Lord Shiva, in pangs of separation from his consort hung her body on his shoulders and began to wander in the different lokas. Brahma, Vishnu and Shani dev entered the scene and divided the body of Sati Devi into small fragments and dropped them on earth. Wherever these divine fragments fell, that site popularized as a Mahapeeth. Even Lord Shiva resides in each divine abode bearing different forms.
Sati devi incarnates as Parvati
Thereafter, Sati Devi reincarnated as the daughter of Himavan and Menaka. She was born on the auspicious day of Navami in the spring season. Her father christened her name as Kali but since she was Parvat Putri (The daughter of a mountain) she came to be known as Parvati. On the guidance of Narad muni, Parvati devi performed severe penance and procured Lord Shiva as her husband. One day, in mount Kailsh, Lord Shiva mocked at Devi Parvati’s dark complexion. Upset at such a remark Parvatiji hid herself for a few days. She then performed severe penance in Mount Himalayas and became fair.
Shakti kills Mahishasura
2) Mahishasura had obtained a boon that no male could kill him. He had defeated the Devatas. The perturbed Devas then approached Brahma for advice. Even Lord Vishnu and Shiva had assembled. Their Shakti detached from their bodies as a glow and assumed a majestic female form. She is Bhagavati Lakshmi. She is the bearer of 18 arms. The Devi Bhagavat elaborately explains which part was formed by which deva’s Shakti. Some sources say that Mahishamardini bore 18 arms while others due to a different kalpa even speak of a thousand arms. Devi assumed the Ugrachandi form with 18 arms in the beginning of Creation, the 16-armed Bhadrakali form in the second kalpa and the 10-armed Durga form in the present kalpa and killed the demon Mahishasura. In all the three forms you will notice an idol of Mahisha lying under the feet of devi. Devi has granted this boon to Mahishasura.
3) The demon Durg, (son of Ruruka) had grown immortal by the fruit of his penance. So at the request of the Devatas, Lord Shiva sent Devi to kill him. Devi sent Kalaratri to get a hold on the Asura. The Asura was enchanted by Kalaratri and ran to hold her, but Kalaratri killed all his associates. Kalaratri then reported back to Devi. The Asura while following Kalratri confronts the thousand- armed Mahashakti in the Vindhya Mountains. The Asura finally dies in a battle with her. Hence, she is known as Durga since she killed the demon Durg.