DECEMBER  2001
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DECEMBER 2001 Contents


 Joseph Allen Stein
 A tribute by Ram Rahman

A Spiritual Activist
 Rozalia Radhika Priya


 Ghulam Ali

 Prem Joshua
 (Listen to the track
 'Lahore Connection')

 (Listen to the track
 'Moria Badnawa')


 Telecoms & Software
 - Trends in south Asia

 Value/Wealth Creators

 Narayana Murthy - Infosys

 Sam Pitroda - C-DOT

 Aziz Premji - Wipro

 Sunil Mittal - Bharti Mittal

 Ambanis - Reliance

 Safi Qureshi

 Hassan Ahmed - Sonus

 Atiq Raza - Raza Foundries



 'It was five past midnight
 in Bhopal' - Lapierre

Performing Arts

 Simplifying Ramayana
 - Bharatiya Kala Kendra


 Islam's middle-path


 Sakti - Mother Goddess


 Nandita Das


 Wharton India Economic
 Forum Conference

 Editor's Note


the craft shop

the print gallery


Silk Road on Wheels

The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in Bangladesh


Page  1  of  2


Sakti - the Mother Goddess


Dr. Manoshi Bhattacharya


Mother Goddess - in the form of Durga

Tracing the evolution of Sakti (the all-powerful  Female Goddess) , in India, from the ancient texts

The mother Goddess in India is seen as one with many forms combining both the fertility and nurturing image as well as a dynamic virgin warrior representing the ‘Sakti’ or the combined strength  of the entire pantheon.

Some scholars have traced the origin of the mother Goddess to Prevedic times. J. Marshall who excavated the Indus Valley felt that the Sakti cult evolved from the Mother goddess cult associated with the proto Siva cult (2600 BC –2000 BC)

Vedic Texts

In the Rig Veda (the earliest known text- the first book of Knowledge) and  the Samahitas there is no mention of Sri or Laxmi. The Rig Veda represents the time of the Aryan movement into India. The ten chapters describe the lands they occupied in a sequence from Sind, Kashmir, the areas near the rivers Beas and Sutlej, Baluchistan the Swat valley etc.  The tenth chapter, which includes the Sri sukta describing her glory, appears to be a late supplement to the Rig Veda differing both in language and in subject. Khilaratri sukta – mentions the Goddesses Mahalaxmi ,Mahasaraswati and Mahakali

  Yajur Veda (the second book of Knowledge) - Shatpat Brahman (a part of the white Yajur Veda) says when Prajapati, tired of creating beings, relaxed, Sri came forth from him. The Gods were jealous and wanted to kill her but Prajapati intervened and saved her life. Taittirya aranakyas (a part of the black Yajur Veda) is the first to mention the name Durga.

  Sama Veda – is the earliest known text where Sakti is acknowledged by the Aryans. Kena Upanishad (dated 7th Century BC? –a part of the Sama Veda the third Veda) tells of how the Aryan Gods had no knowledge of the Brahman and failed to recognise or acknowledge that their powers were granted by the ‘Brahman’. Hinduism is principally monotheistic. There is but one supreme life force and that is the ‘Brahman’. Agni (Fire) was unable to burn the straw offered by the ‘Brahman’. Vayu  (Wind) failed to blow it away. Finally Indra went to test this unknown power and found instead Uma – Himavati (the daughter of the Mountain) who taught him the concept of the ‘Brahman’.

. Epics 

– In Mahabharata, archeologicaly thought to be older than the Ramayana, - Durga is mentioned in Arjun’s Hymn. Yudishtra invokes her as the Mahisasura Mardini with 4 arms & 4 faces holding a noose, bow and arrow and a disc.

  -Ramayan - Before starting for his battle with Ravana, Rama wanted the blessings of Devi Durga . He came to know that the Goddess would be pleased only if she is worshipped with one hundred 'NeelKamal' or blue lotuses. Rama, after travelling the whole world, could gather only ninety nine of them. He finally decided to offer one of his eyes, which resembled blue lotuses. Durga, being pleased with the devotion of Rama, appeared before him and blessed him.


Puranas were  written during the Gupta Period beginning 320 AD. Before the Guptas, India was under predominantly Buddhist/ Jain influence. The Guptas were the first strong Hindu rulers and they ordered their scholars to commit to writing the ancient Hindu teachings and epics. The Puranas were a product of these times and they elevated Durga to the highest position, abandoning with enthusiasm the entire male pantheon. The Mother who was denied by the Patriarchal Aryans was now firmly back on her throne. She now evolved into two forms

1.       Mahisasura Mardini – the virgin warrior.

2.       Uma/ Sati/ Parvati/ Himavati – the fertile nurturing form of the goddess - the devoted wife of Siva

-          Markandya Puran – she first appears while Vishnu is asleep and she kills the demons or the Asuras, Madhu and Kaiatabha. Devi Mahatmya section describes Mahisasura Mardini as we know today. She is called Sivaduti , as Siva was her messenger

-          Vamana Puran – Pulatsya tells Narad of the origin of Mahisasura Mardini here called Katayani .As Kaushiki she slays Sumbha and Nishumbha.

-          Devi Bhagwat Puran - origin of Mahisasura Mardini

-          Siva puran - origin of Mahisasura Mardini

-          Skanda Puran – Kartik explains to Agastya as to why his mother is named Durga. The demon Durg misusing a boon granted by Brahma conquered the 3 worlds, banned all vedic practices and forced the earth to bear fruit out of season. Parvati, unable to defeat him in her form as Kalratri, assumed her 1000 armed form and defeated him. Skanda also goes on to say that Mahisasura sent a proposal of marriage to Gauri who was performing a tapasya for a brave husband. In having to prove his valour Mahisasura was forced into combat with Gauri.

-          Chandi Mahatyama – celebrates the victories of the goddess under the following names – Durga, Dasabhuja, Mahisasura Mardini, Simhavahini, Jagadhatri, Kali, Muktakesi, Tara, Chinnamosta, Jagad gauri.

Varaha Puran – Siva (Pinaki) created Kumari, with dark skin and curly black hair, to kill Andhaka. Varaha Puran talks of the 8th goddess Yogeshwari  who leapt from the flames emanating from Shiva’s mouth.

The individual mothers are identified by their weapons, ornaments   and mounts.

This cult disappears by the 11th century AD absorbed by the growing  worship of Sakti in the combined form




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