Goddess Durga and Her Symbolism
Goddess Durga is known as Shakti that is, the divine energy symbolizes the divine forces (positive energy). Durga is a warrior goddess to fight the negative forces of Asura (the demoniac) named Mahishasura. All the gods came together and combine their energies to create goddess Durga. No gods could defeat Mahishasura. In these circumstances, Durga comes to light. To fight against the evil and wickedness, gods empowered the Durga with powerful weapons that symbolize the divine strength. With these weapons, goddess Durga annihilates Mahishasura.
Each of the Durga’s weapons comes from gods and has certain importance:
- Sword (Khadga) – Khadga – the sword in the hands of the goddess symbolizes not only strength but also wisdom and is aimed to destroy ignorance. The shine of the sword is the symbol of knowledge free from illusion. In other words, it represents clarity.
- Bow and Arrow – Dhanush, the bow and Tir, the arrow held by the goddess are gifts bestowed by the gods “Vayu” and the “Surya”. These gods symbolizes two aspects of energy namely, the potential energy representation of the bow and the kinetic energy, which is symbolized by the arrow. By handling both them in one hand goddess Durga is showing her control over the both aspects of energy.
- Goad (Ankush) – Ankush, the goad represents the power and action of the goddess Durga.
- Thunderbolt – The Thunderbolt represents the firmness that is required in convictions. The firmness conveys that like thunderbolt, people should attack their fears and destroy them with firmness (unyielding confidence).
- Axe (Parashu) – This weapon is known to destroy ignorance and evil.
- Trident (Trishula) – Trishula, the Trident symbolizes three qualities: Satwa (inactivity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (non-activity). The Trishula is aimed to remove the three miseries of life – physical, mental and spiritual. The three qualities are briefly discussed here.
- Satwa – Balanced, alert but stable (Inactivity or the ideal state of mind defined by purity of thought and awareness). Satwic individuals are hardworking, generous and alert. They always work for the welfare of the world.
- Rajas – It is energy or activity associated with desires, ambitions and wishes. It is the force that upholds the activity of the other aspects of the nature. If a person tends to be active, passionate, the person is said to have the power of Rajas.
- Tamas – Tamas is a quality important to counter evil. It is a force that promotes dissolution, darkness, destruction, ignorance, sloth, death and resistance.
- Conch – The shell of conch in the Durga’s hand represents the mystic word “OM” or “Pranav”, which shows her holding on to god in the form of sound.
- Lotus – Also called “Pankaja” (born from mud), the lotus in the hands of goddess is not fully bloomed, which represents evolution of spirituality. Though many don’t consider lotus as a weapon, it stands for success and its certainty. Thus, it stands for continuous evolution of spiritual quality of the devotees amidst the worldly mud of greed and lust.
- Sudarshan-Chakra (Discus) – The beautiful discus that spins around the Maa Durga’s finger without touching it represents the world spinning around her and she is the commander of all that is happening. She uses this weapon to destroy all the evil and make an environment contributing to the growth of righteousness.
- Lion – Goddess Durga is pictured as riding a lion. The lion symbolizes the uncontrolled animal tendency (such as, anger, selfishness, jealousy, arrogance and desire to harm others etc.). Goddess Durga sitting on the lion reminds us to control all these qualities, so that we are not controlled by them.
- Red Sari – Goddess Durga is clad in a red sari. The red color symbolizes action and the red clothes signify that she destroys the evil and protects the mankind from suffering and misfortune.
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