A guy at my high school always used to say to me, “You run like a girl.”
What does that even mean?
And how weird would it be if I ran like a man? (or talked like one or walked like one…)
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, they say.
You gotta hustle to get a dollar and that means keeping up with the boys, right? (yawn)
We chip away pieces of ourselves and squeeze other parts to make them fit someone else’s idea of how we should be living our lives.
Why do we even do this?
It’s no wonder we all light up at the idea of evoking the feminine. There’s a whole lot of macho to balance out there.
And you don’t have to be a feminist to want to tap into your feminine power.
There is no shortage of inspiring queens these days and you can get your dose of female empowerment with a simple scroll of your screen or the latest Beyonce banger, but don’t you want something deeper?
What if we looked back to the original queens; the Goddesses of the world’s third largest religion, Hinduism.
Hinduism sure isn’t short on deities. There are 330 million of them.
That’s a whole lot of divine.
Can you handle the knowledge and power the Hindu Goddesses be bringing?
Are you up for channelling more material wealth, meaning, and good fortune into your life?
You don’t want to miss out on the world of possibilities Hindu mythology has to offer.
The traditions of Hindu mythology go way back. And I mean way back.
Some people say for several thousands of years, but ask someone in India and they might tell you their mythology is eternal.
It’s stood the test of time that’s for sure, tolerating many traditions and religions along the way; merging and influencing each other.
One of the main sacred texts in Hinduism is the Vedas. It details the customs, religions and philosophy of ancient civilization in India, about 4000 years ago.
Think prayers, hymns, mantra and, poems, stories and spells.
It was first passed on by word of mouth, from teacher to trusted student.
Much later on, it was written down in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, and girl aren’t we glad it was!
The first evidence of Hinduism was found in the Indus Valley somewhere between 2300 B.C. and 1500 B.C. near modern-day Pakistan.
Hinduism developed alongside many other religions in India, and was significantly influenced by the cultural and political changes that took place.
So what is Hinduism all about anyway? Is it just Gods and Goddesses and magical stories?
Hindus believe the universe is governed by the karmic law of cause and effect.
Most people are familiar with this concept, although nowadays it seems to be taken out of context.
It means what is happening to you right now, is a direct consequence of your past actions. And in the same way, so will your current actions be your future karma.
It doesn’t mean, you can take karma into your own hands, as it’s a law governed by forces outside of your body and it will just happen, one way or the other!
Another core belief is that of a divine soul, the atman, that resides in all living beings. It’s the idea that our basic nature is not the mind, or the body, but the divine soul. The atman is also part of the absolute soul.
The mission, if you choose to accept it, is liberation (moksha) from the never-ending cycle of life-death-rebirth (samsara). When the soul does achieve salvation it rejoins the absolute soul.
That’s right, if we’re good, we get to go past the twinkly lights, the spirit in the sky, out into the cosmos.
Are you coming?
There are four different routes to salvation:
- Raja Yoga – this is a systematic approach, using meditation, purity and, mental control.
- Jnana Yoga – this is the path of intellect and knowledge. This is the one for those who have to know everything and always have questions. Using the intellect to remove illusion.
- Bhakti Yoga – the path of devotion. This means doing everything through the eye of love, in the name of your God.
- Karma Yoga – this is the yoga of action; selfless service. It means doing things for others, without expecting anything in return; seeing yourself as the instrument of the Gods.
Whichever path people choose they have one way of living in common, that transcends these categories, that of dharma.
Dharma is the moral foundation of life. Due to the law of karma, Hindus strive live their lives in a way that keeps order in the universe. That means being virtuous, adhering to laws, and fulfilling your responsibilities and duties.
Basically, striving to be an awesome human, living in harmony with the world around you.
What Role Do Deities Play in Hinduism?
So how does it work with all these deities? And don’t people get confused with so many?
First of all, there actually is one supreme power, transcendent of the whole universe, Brahman. Brahman is responsible for the ultimate reality and is not considered a God.
That’s a pretty epic concept for us humble human beings to comprehend!
The thing is: Brahman manifests in everything in creation, including the Hindu deities.
Just as your Uncle John isn’t called ‘Uncle’ by his wife or kids, there is a special role and relationship for each manifestation of Brahman. Hence, those 33 million Gods.
Each deity represents different qualities and paths that lead to an understanding of the supreme power, Brahman.
Most Hindus choose one or two Gods to focus their worship on.
Different strokes for different folks.
The deities all symbolize different aspects of life; different ideologies and philosophies.
Through ritual, specific to the God being worshiped, devotees strive to unite with Brahman. This kind of worship is called puja and involves a prayer ritual, which could take place at home, at temple or one of the many many festivals.
With so many Gods and such a long rich history that has influenced things, the possibilities are endless.
Still.. we’re only human and many humble devotees pray to their God asking for help with everyday problems, hopes, and dreams.
Which Goddesses you choose, is up to you!
It’s like having a pick and mix with 330 million flavors of candy. That’s a lot to candy to choose from. So you wanna make sure you like the ones you pick.
There are some key players in Hindu mythology though; the Gods that got picked first for gym class, who everyone wanted on their side.
Maybe you’ve heard of Ganesha before, the God depicted with an elephant head? Don’t worry if not.
Ganesha is the God of health and wealth and one of the more popular Gods amongst Hindus. And can you blame them? Sounds like a good move to me.
Yogis look to Shiva for inspiration, as he was the first yogi and guru.
But it’s not just about the boys, oh no.
All Gods have a masculine and feminine counterpart which complement each other. The Goddesses represent Shakti, the cosmic feminine energy in the universe.
Now we’re talking!
The Goddesses symbolize the different qualities of a woman. They are key to the creation, protection and destruction of the universe.
They’re super important, powerful, and highly respected.
And for the modern day gal, feminist or not, they are fascinating and seriously empowering!
7 Most Notable Hindu Goddesses
The three supreme Goddess combo, or tridevi, seems like as good a place to start as any.
Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati are the three Goddesses that make up this powerhouse trio and are all separate Goddesses in their own right. When they come together, they are literally conjoined into one. Think of it like a 3-in-1 combo.
They are the female balancing act of the great trinity, and what a powerhouse they are.
The great trinity, or trimurti, is the male counterpart of the tridevi. Tridevi consists of the Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who are creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe.
So we’ve got male and female counterparts, Shakti, the cosmic energy of the divine feminine, and a double act of 3-in-1 powerhouses?
Woah. It goes further…
Each Goddess can also have multiple avatars. That’s right, avatars. Not those blue ones you’re thinking of though.
In Hindu mythology, avatars are different forms or reincarnations of the same God. But, it’s true that some deities are blue!
If things are starting to go over your head, fear not, the same thing happened to me when I first started getting to know the Goddesses.
The more you know, the less you know. You know? Haha.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be focusing on one Goddess at a time and will share a family tree so you can see the bigger picture.
1. Devi – Goddess of Existence
As if being the Goddess of existence wasn’t kickass enough, the word devi literally means Goddess. Also known as Mahadevi, or Great Goddess, Devi fights to restore dharma. She can create, maintain, dissolve and destroy. She can be gentle, she can be ferocious.
3. Saraswati – Goddess of Knowledge and the Arts
Saraswati is that friend you had who was good at every subject at school, from science and math, to art and music. She is often depicted with four hands and holding a musical instrument with two of them. In her other hands she holds other symbolic items.
4. Parvati – Goddess of Love and Devotion
Parvati is the wife of Shiva and mother of Ganesha. She is part of the tridevi, along with Lakshmi and Saraswati. Parvati represents the caring motherly aspects of the feminine but there’s much more to her story than first meets the eye.
5. Durga Goddess – The Mother of the Hindu Universe
Sometimes referred to as Mother Durga, Durga represents the divine forces of feminine power. Durga actually is Parvati in demon-fighting mode. She uses her powers against evil and protects her followers from negative forces, keeping them safe.
Kali is the most ferocious Goddess and seriously badass. She is commonly depicted with a necklace of skulls; warrior attire complete with bowl and knife in hand, often dripping with blood. She fights demons and loyally protects her devotees. She also symbolizes time, due to her powers of might.
7. Sita – Goddess of Devotion and Mystical Submission
Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi. She is one of the main characters in the Ramayana, one of two main Sanskrit poems and captivating stories. In the story, she is abducted by Ravana and eventually saved by Rama, not without her help though! She symbolizes virtue and feminine power.
So whether you’re in need of charging your intellect, tapping back into a place of love and care, or slaying some demons, look no further than these 7 seriously kickass Hindu Goddesses. They’ve got you covered, and so do you!
Some days you’ve got to be a fighter, a mother and a lover all at the same time. So step into your divine truth and right as a multidimensional, ever-changing woman.
You are the universe in divine motion!