Goddess Durga: Mother of the Universe
Goddess Durga is the mother of the universe and believed to be the power behind the work
of creation, preservation and destruction of the world. In Hindu culture she is worshipped as the supreme power of the Supreme Being.
The word “Durga” in Sanskrit means a fort, or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of “Durga” is “Durgatinashini,” which literally translates into “the one who eliminates sufferings.” Hindus believe that goddess Durga protects her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.
There are many incarnations of Durga: Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, Rajeswari, etc. Durga incarnated as the united power of all divine beings, who offered her the required physical attributes and weapons to kill the demon “Mahishasur.” Durga is depicted as having eight or ten hands which represent eight quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism and suggests that she protects devotees from all directions.
Goddess Durga is often seen riding a lion which represents power, will and determination and her mastery over all these qualities. Some suggest that one has to possess all these qualities to get over the demon of ego. Like Shiva, Durga is also referred to as “Triyambake” meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).
In many ways, Durga represents the innate power and strength we all possess. From that strength she shows us we can overcome any challenge and event “slay” our own demons.