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The 10 Mahavidyas in Hinduism

The 10 Mahavidyas in Hinduism

The 10 Mahavidyas are Wisdom Goddesses, who represent a spectrum of  feminine divinity, from horrific goddesses at one end, to the gentle at  the other.

The name Mahavidyas comes from the Sanskrit roots, with maha meaning ‘great’ and vidya meaning, ‘revelation, manifestation, knowledge, or wisdom

Mahavidyas (Great Wisdoms) or Dasha-Mahavidyas are a group of ten aspects of the Divine Mother Durga or Kali herself or Devi in Hinduism. The 10 Mahavidyas are Wisdom Goddesses, who represent a spectrum of feminine divinity, from horrific goddesses at one end, to the gentle at the other.

Shaktas believe, “the one Truth is sensed in ten different facets; the Divine Mother is adored and approached as ten cosmic personalities,” the Dasa-Mahavidya (“ten-Mahavidyas”). The Mahavidyas are considered Tantric in nature, and are usually identified as:

Kali:

Kali is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment
Kali is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment

The ultimate form of Brahman, “Devourer of Time” (Supreme Deity of Kalikula systems)
kali is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, shakti. She is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga (Parvati). The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death

Tara: The Protector

Tara The Protector
Tara The Protector

The Goddess as Guide and Protector, or Who Saves.Who offers the ultimate knowledge which gives salvation (also known as Neel Saraswati).
tara meaning “star”. As the star is seen as a beautiful but perpetually self-combusting thing, so Tara is perceived at core as the absolute, unquenchable hunger that propels all life.

Tripura Sundari (Shodashi):

Tripura Sundari
Tripura Sundari

The Goddess Who is “Beautiful in the Three Worlds” (Supreme Deity of Srikula systems) or Beautiful Goddess of the Three Cities; the “Tantric Parvati” or the “Moksha Mukta”.
As Shodashi, Tripurasundari is represented as a sixteen-year-old girl, and is believed to embody sixteen types of desire. Shodashi also refers to the sixteen syllable mantra, which consists of the fifteen syllable (panchadasakshari) mantra plus a final seed syllable.
Bhuvaneshvari: The Goddess Whose Body is the Cosmos

Bhuvaneshvari
Bhuvaneshvari

The Goddess as World Mother, or Whose Body is the Cosmos.
The Queen of the Universe. Bhuvaneshwari means the Queen or ruler of the Universe. She is the Divine Mother as the Queen of all the worlds. All the Universe is her body and all beings are ornaments on her infinite being. She carries all the worlds as a flowering of her own Self-nature. She is thus related to Sundari and to Rajarajeshwari, the supreme Lady of the Universe. She is capable of turning situations according to her wish. It is considered that even the navagrahas and Trimurti cannot stop her from doing anything.
Bhairavi: The Fierce Goddess

Bhairavi The Fierce Goddess
Bhairavi The Fierce Goddess

She is also called Shubhamkari, good mother to good people and terrible to bad ones. She is seen holding book, rosary, and making fear-dispelling and boon-conferring gestures. She is also known as Baala or Tripurabhairavi. It is believed that when Bhairavi entered the battle field, her horrible appearance made the demons become weak and very feeble, and it is also believed that most of the demons started panicking as soon as they saw her. Bhairavi is seen mainly as the Chandi in the Durga Saptashati version of slaying Shumbha and Nishumbha. However, she kills and drinks the blood of Chanda and Munda the Chieftains of asuras, so the Goddess Parvati gives her a boon that she would be called Chamundeshwari.
Chhinnamasta: The self-decapitated Goddess.

Chhinnamasta The self-decapitated Goddess.
Chhinnamasta The self-decapitated Goddess.

Chhinnamasta can be easily identified by her fearsome iconography. The self-decapitated goddess holds her own severed head in one hand, a scimitar in another. Three jets of blood spurt out of her bleeding neck and are drunk by her severed head and two attendants. Chhinnamasta is usually depicted standing on a copulating couple.
Chhinnamasta is associated with the concept of self-sacrifice as well as the awakening of the kundalini – spiritual energy. She is considered both as a symbol of self-control on sexual desire as well as an embodiment of sexual energy, depending upon interpretation. She symbolizes both aspects of Devi: a life-giver and a life-taker. Her legends emphasize her sacrifice – sometimes with a maternal element, her sexual dominance and her self-destructive fury.
Dhumavati: The Widow Goddess,or the Goddess of death.

Dhumavati The Widow Goddess
Dhumavati The Widow Goddess

She is often portrayed as an old, ugly widow, and is associated with things considered inauspicious and unattractive in Hinduism, such as the crow and the Chaturmas period. The goddess is often depicted on a horseless chariot or riding a crow, usually in a cremation ground.
Dhumavati is said to manifest herself at the time of cosmic dissolution (pralaya) and is “the Void” that exists before creation and after dissolution. She is often called tender-hearted and a bestower of boons. Dhumavati is described as a great teacher, one who reveals ultimate knowledge of the universe, which is beyond the illusory divisions, like auspicious and inauspicious. Her ugly form teaches the devotee to look beyond the superficial, to look inwards and seek the inner truths of life.
Dhumavati is described as a giver of siddhis (supernatural powers), a rescuer from all troubles, and a granter of all desires and rewards, including ultimate knowledge and moksha (salvation).
Bagalamukhi: The Goddess Who Paralyzes Enemies

Bagalamukhi
Bagalamukhi

Bagalamukhi Devi smashes the devotee’s misconceptions and delusions (or the devotee’s enemies) with her cudgel.
Matangi: – the Prime Minister of Lalita (in Srikula systems)

Matangi
Matangi

She is considered to be the Tantric form of Sarasvati, the goddess of music and learning. Like Sarasvati, Matangi governs speech, music, knowledge and the arts. Her worship is prescribed to acquire supernatural powers, especially gaining control over enemies, attracting people to oneself, acquiring mastery over the arts and gaining supreme knowledge.
Kamalatmika: The Lotus Goddess; the “Tantric Lakshmi”

Kamalatmika
Kamalatmika

Kamalatmika has a golden complexion. She is being bathed by four large elephants, who pour kalashas (jars) of amrita (nectar) over her. She has four hands. In two hands, she holds two lotuses and her other two hands are in abhayamudra (gesture of giving assurance) and varamudra (gesture of conferring boons) respectively. She is shown as seated in padmasana (lotus posture) on a lotus,[1] symbol of purity.
The name Kamala means “she of the lotus” and is a common epithet of Goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi is linked with three important and interrelated themes: prosperity and wealth, fertility and crops, and good luck during the coming year.

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Who Founded Hinduism? The Origin Of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma-hindufaqs

Introduction

What do we mean by Founder? When we say a founder, we mean to say that someone has brought into existence a new faith or formulated a set of religious beliefs, principles and practices which were not in existence before. That cannot happen with a faith such as Hinduism, which is considered eternal. According to the scriptures, Hinduism is the religion of not just humans. Even gods and demons practice it. Ishwar (Ishwara), the Lord of the universe, is its source. He also practices it. Hence, Hinduism is God’s Dharma, brought down to the earth, just as the sacred River Ganga, for the welfare of the humans.

Who is then the Founder of Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma)?

 Hinduism is not founded by a person or a prophet. Its source is God (Brahman) himself. Hence, it is considered an eternal religion (Sanatana dharma). Its first teachers were Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma, the creator God revealed the secret knowledge of the Vedas to gods, humans and demons in the beginning of creation. He also imparted to them the secret knowledge of the Self, but due to their own limitations, they understood it in their own ways.

Vishnu is the preserver. He preserves the knowledge of Hinduism through countless manifestations, associated gods, aspects, saints and seers to ensure the order and regularity of the worlds. Through them, he also restores the lost knowledge of various Yogas or introduces new reforms. Further, whenever the Hindu Dharma declines beyond a point, he incarnates upon earth to restore it and revive its forgotten or lost teachings. Vishnu exemplifies the duties which humans are expected to perform upon earth in their individual capacity as householders within their spheres.

Shiva too plays an important role in upholding Hindu Dharma. As the destroyer, he removes the impurities and confusion that creeps into our sacred knowledge. He is also considered the universal teacher and the source of various art and dance forms (Lalitakalas), Yogas, vocations, sciences, farming, agriculture, alchemy, magic, healing, medicine, Tantra and so on.

Thus, like the mystic Ashvattha Tree which is mentioned in the Vedas, the roots of Hinduism are in heaven, and its branches are spread out on earth. Its core is divine knowledge, which governs the conduct of not only humans but also of the beings in other worlds with God acting as its creator, preserver, concealer, revealer and remover of obstacles. Its core philosophy (the shruti) is eternal, while it changing parts (smriti) keep changing according to the time and circumstances, and the progress of the world. Containing in itself the diversity of God’s creation, it remains open to all possibilities, modifications and future discoveries.

Also Read: Prajapatis – the 10 sons of Lord Brahma

Many other divinities such as Ganesha, Prajapati, Indra, Shakti, Narada, Saraswati and Lakshmi are also credited with the authorship of many scriptures. Apart from this, countless scholars, seers, sages, philosophers, gurus, ascetic movements and teacher traditions enriched Hinduism through their teachings, writings, commentaries, discourses and expositions. Thus, Hinduism is derived from many sources. Many of its beliefs and practices found their way into other religions, that either originated in India or interacted with it.

Since Hinduism has its roots in the eternal knowledge and its aims and purpose are closely aligned to those of God as the Creator of all, it is considered an eternal religion (Sanatana dharma). Hinduism may disappear from the face of the earth due to the impermanent nature of the world, but the sacred knowledge which forms its foundation will remain forever and keep manifesting in each cycle of creation under different names. It is also said that Hinduism has no founder and no missionary goals because people have to come to it either by providence (birth) or personal decision due to their spiritual readiness (past karma).

The name Hinduism, which is derived from the root word, “Sindhu” came into usage due to historical reasons. Hinduism as a conceptual entity did not exist until the British times. The word itself does not appear in literature until the 17th Century A.D. In medieval times, the Indian subcontinent was known as Hindustan or the land of Hindus. They were not all practising same faith, but different ones, which included Buddhism, Jainism, Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Brahmanism and several ascetic traditions, sects and sub sects.

The native traditions and the people who practiced Sanatana Dharma went by different names, but not as Hindus. During the British times, all the native faiths were grouped under the generic name, “Hinduism” to distinguish it from Islam and Christianity and to dispense with justice or settle local disputes, property and tax matters.

Subsequently, after the independence, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism were separated from it by enacting laws. Thus, the word Hinduism was born out of historical necessity and entered the constitutional laws of India through legislation.

Hinduism - Core Beliefs, Facts & Principles -hindufaqs

Hinduism – Core Beliefs: Hinduism is not an organised religion, and its belief system has no single, structured approach to teaching it. Nor do Hindus, like the Ten Commandments, have a simple set of laws to obey. Throughout the Hindu world, local, regional, caste, and community-driven practices affect the understanding and practice of beliefs. Yet belief in a Supreme Being and adherence to certain principles such as Reality, dharma, and karma is a common thread across all these variations. And belief in the power of the Vedas (sacred scriptures) serves, to a large degree, as the very meaning of a Hindu, although it can differ greatly in how the Vedas are interpreted.

The major core beliefs that Hindus share includes the following listed below;

Hinduism Believes that Truth is Eternal.

Hindus are seeking knowledge and comprehension of the facts, the very existence of the world and the only truth. Truth is one, according to the Vedas, but it is expressed in a number of ways by the wise.

Hinduism Believes that Brahman is Truth and Reality.

As the only true God who is formless, infinite, all-inclusive, and eternal, Hindus believe in Brahman. Brahman which  is not an abstract in notion; it is a real entity that encompasses everything in the universe (seen and unseen).

Hinduism Believes that The Vedas are the Ultimate Authorities.

The Vedas are scriptures in Hindus containing revelations that ancient saints and sages have got. Hindus claim that the Vedas are without beginning and without end, the believe is that Vedas will remain until all else is destroyed in the universe (at the end of the period of time).

Hinduism Believes that Everyone Should Work Hard to Achieve Dharma.

The understanding of dharma concept allows one to understand the Hindu religion. No single English word, sadly, adequately covers its context. It is possible to define dharma as right conduct, fairness, moral law, and duty. Everyone who makes dharma central to one’s life seeks to do the right thing at all times, according to one’s duty and skills.

Hinduism Believes that Individual Souls are Immortal.

A Hindu claims that there is neither existence nor destruction of the individual soul (atman); it has been, it is, and it will be. The soul’s actions when living in a body require the same soul in a different body to reap the effects of those actions in the next life. The process of movement of the atman is known as transmigration from one body to another. Karma decides the kind of body the soul next inhabits (actions accumulated in previous lives).

The individual soul’s objective is moksha.

Moksha is liberation: the release of the soul from the death and rebirth period. It happens when, by recognize its true essence, the soul unites with Brahman. To this awareness and unification, many paths will lead: the path of obligation, the path of knowledge, and the path of devotion (unconditionally surrender to God).

Also Read: The Complete Story Of Jayadratha (जयद्रथ) The King Of Sindhu Kingdom

Hinduism – Core Beliefs: Other beliefs of Hinduism are:

  • Hindus believe in a single, all-pervading Supreme Being, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality, who is both immanent and transcendent.
  • Hindus believed in the divinity of the four Vedas, the most ancient scripture in the world, and as equally revealed, venerate the Agamas. These primordial hymns are the word of God and the cornerstone of the eternal faith, Sanatana Dharma.
  • Hindus conclude that infinite cycles of formation, preservation and dissolution are undergone by the universe.
  • Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each human, by his thoughts, words and deeds, creates his own destiny.
  • Hindus conclude that, after all karmas have been resolved, the soul reincarnates, developing over multiple births, and moksha, freedom from the rebirth cycle, is achieved. There will not be a single soul robbed of this destiny.
  • Hindus believe that there are supernatural forces in unknown worlds and that with these devas and gods, temple worship, rites, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion.
  • Hindus believe that understanding the Transcendent Absolute is necessary to an enlightened lord, or satguru, as is personal discipline, good behavior, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation, and surrender to God.
  • In thought, word and deed, Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be cherished and respected, and thus practice ahimsa, nonviolence.
  • Hindus believe that no religion, above all others, teaches the only way to redemption, but that all true paths are facets of the Light of God, worthy of tolerance and understanding.
  • Hinduism, the oldest religion in the world, has no beginning—it is followed by recorded history. It doesn’t have a human creator. It is a spiritual religion that leads the devotee to experience the Reality personally inside, eventually achieving the peak of consciousness where one is man and God.
  • There are four major denominations of Hinduism—Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism.
How old is the word Hindu? Where does the word Hindu comes from? - Etymology and History of Hinduism

We want to build on the ancient word “Hindu” from this writing-up. The Communist historians of India and the Western Indologists say that in the 8th century the word “Hindu” was coined by the Arabs and its roots were in the Persian tradition of replacing “S” with “H. The word “Hindu” or its derivatives were, however, used by many inscriptions over a thousand years older than this time. Also, in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat in India, not in Persia, the root of the word most probably lies. This particular interesting story is written by the uncle of Prophet Mohammed, Omar-bin-e-Hassham, who had written a poem to praise Lord Shiva.

There are so many websites saying that Kaba was an ancient temple of Shiva. They are still thinking what to make of these arguments, but the fact that the uncle of Prophet Mohammed wrote an ode to Lord Shiva is definitely incredible.

The anti-Hindu historians like Romila Thapar and D.N. The Antiquity and Origin of the Word ‘Hindu’ In the 8th century, Jha thought that the term ‘Hindu’ was given currency by the Arabs. However, they do not clarify the basis of their conclusion or cite any facts to support their argument. Not even Muslim Arab writers make such an exaggerated argument.

Another hypothesis advocated by European authors is that the term ‘Hindu’ is a ‘Sindhu’ Persian corruption arising from the Persian tradition of substituting ‘S’ with ‘H.’ No proof is cited even here. The word Persia itself actually contains ‘S’ which, if this theory was right, should have become ‘Perhia’.

In the light of epigraph and literary evidence available from Persian, Indian, Greek, Chinese and Arabic sources, the present paper discusses the above two theories. The evidence appears to support the hypothesis that ‘Hindu’ has been in use since the Vedic period like ‘Sindhu’ and that while ‘Hindu’ is a modified form of ‘Sindhu’ its root lies in the practice of pronouncing ‘H’ instead of ‘S’ in Saurashtran.

Epigraphic Evidence of the word Hindu

The Persian king Darius’s Hamadan, Persepolis and Naqsh-I-Rustam inscriptions mention a ‘Hidu’ population as included in his empire. The date of these inscriptions is between 520-485 B.C. This reality indicates that, more than 500 years before Christ, the word ‘Hi(n)du’ was present.

Xerexes, successor of Darius, gives names of countries under his control in his inscriptions at Persepolis. ‘Hidu’ requires a list. Xerexes ruled from 485-465 B.C. There are three figures above on a tomb in Persepolis in another inscription attributed to Artaxerexes (404-395 B.C.), which are labelled ‘iyam Qataguviya’ (this is Satygidian), ‘iyam Ga(n)dariya’ (this is Gandhara) and ‘iyam Hi(n)duviya’ (this is Hi(n)du). The Asokan (3rd century B.C.) inscriptions frequently use phrases such as ‘Hida’ for ‘India’ and ‘Hida loka’ for ‘Indian country’.

In the Ashokan inscriptions,’ Hida’ and her derived forms are used more than 70 times. For India, the Ashokan inscriptions determine the antiquity of the name ‘Hind’ to at least the third century B.C. The king has the titles shakanshah hind shakastan tuxaristan dabiran dabir, “king of Shakastan, minister of ministers of Hind Shakastan and Tukharistan,” in the Persepolis Pahlvi inscriptions of Shahpur II (310 A.D.).

The epigraphic evidence from the documents of the Achaemenid, Ashokan and Sasanian Pahlvi established a condition on the hypothesis that in the 8th century A.D. the word ‘Hindu’ originated in Arab use. The ancient history of the term ‘Hindu’ takes literary evidence back to at least 1000 B.C. Yeah, and maybe 5000 B.C.

Evidence from Pahlvi Avesta

Hapta-Hindu is used for Sanskrit Sapta-Sindhu in the Avesta, and the Avesta is dated between 5000-1000 B.C. It means that the word ‘Hindu’ is as old as the word ‘Sindhu.’ Sindhu is a concept used in the Rigveda by the Vedik. And thus, as old as the Rigveda,’ Hindu’ is. Veda Vyas talks of the visit of Veda Vyas to the court of Gustashp in the Avestan Gatha ‘Shatir’ 163rd verse and Veda Vyas introduces himself in the presence of Zorashtra saying ‘man marde am Hind jijad.’ (I am a man born in ‘Hind.’) Veda Vyas was an elder contemporary of Shri Krishna (3100 B.C.).

Greek Usage (Indoi)

The Greek word ‘Indoi’ is a softened ‘Hindu’ form where the original ‘H’ was dropped as there is no aspirate in the Greek alphabet. Hekataeus (late 6th century B.C.) and Herodotus (early 5th century B.C.) used this word ‘Indoi’ in Greek literature, thereby indicating that the Greeks used this ‘Hindu’ variant as early as in the  6th century B.C.

The Hebrew Bible (Hodu)

For India, the Hebrew bible make use of the word ‘Hodu’ which is a ‘Hindu’ Judaic type. Earlier than 300 B.C., the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is considered Hebrew spoken in Israel today uses Hodu for India as well.

The Chinese Testimony (Hien-tu)

The Chinese used the word ‘Hien-tu’ for ‘Hindu’ around 100 B.C.11 When explaining the Sai-Wang (100 B.C.) movements, the Chinese annals note that the Sai-Wang went south and entered Ki-Pin by passing Hien-tu. Later Chinese travellers Fa-Hien (5th century A.D.) and Huen-Tsang (7th century A.D.) use a slightly changed ‘Yintu’ word, but the’ Hindu’ affinity is still retained. Until today, this word ‘Yintu’ continues to be used.

Also Read : https://www.hindufaqs.com/some-common-gods-that-appears-in-all-major-mythologies/

Pre-Islamic Arabic Literature

Sair-ul-Okul is an anthology of ancient Arabic poetry from the Makhtab-e-Sultania Turkish Library in Istanbul. A poem by Uncle Omar-bin-e-Hassham of the Prophet Mohammed is included in this anthology. The poem is Mahadev (Shiva) in praise, and uses ‘Hind’ for India and ‘Hindu’ for Indians. Here are some verses quoted:

Wa Abaloha ajabu armeeman Mahadevo Manojail ilamuddin minhum wa sayattaru If, with dedication, one worships Mahadev, the ultimate redemption will be achieved.

Kamil Hinda e Yauman, Wa Yakulam na latabahan foeennak Tawajjaru, wa sahabi Kay yam feema. (Oh Lord, grant me a day’s stay in Hind, where spiritual bliss can be attained.)

Massayare akhalakan hasanan Kullahum, Summa gabul Hindu najumam aja. (But one pilgrimage is worthy of all, and the company of great Hindu saints.)

Another poem by Labi-bin-e Akhtab bin-e Turfa has the same anthology, which is dated 2300 years before Mohammed, i.e. 1700 B.C. ‘Hind’ for India and ‘Hindu’ for Indians are also used in this poem. The four Vedas, Sama, Yajur, Rig and Athar, are also mentioned in the poem. This poem is quoted in columns in New Delhi’s Laxmi Narayan Mandir, commonly known as Birla Mandir (Temple). Some verses are as follows:

Hinda e, wa aradakallha manyonaifail jikaratun, Aya muwarekal araj yushaiya noha minar. (O Hind’s Divine Country, blessed art thou, thou art the chosen land of divine knowledge.)

Wahalatjali Yatun ainana Sahabi akhatun jikra, Hindatun minal Wahajayahi yonajjalur rasu. (That celebratory knowledge shines with such brilliance in the fourfold abundance of the words of the Hindu saints.)

Yakuloonallaha ya ahlal araf alameen kullahum, Veda bukkun malam yonajjaylatun fattabe-u jikaratul. (God enjoins all, follows the direction shown by Veda with divine awareness with devotion.)

Wahowa alamus Sama wal Yajur minallahay Tanajeelan, Yobasshariyona jatun, Fa e noma ya akhigo mutibayan. (Sama and Yajur for Man are filled with wisdom, brothers, following the path that leads you to salvation.)

The two Rigs and Athar(va) also teach us brotherhood, sheltering their lust, dissipating darkness. Wa isa nain huma Rig Athar nasahin ka Khuwatun, Wa asanat Ala-udan wabowa masha e ratun.

Disclaimer: The information above is collected from various sites and discussion forums. There are no solid evidences which will back any of the above points.

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