Dus mahavidyas in tantra
Once during their numerous love games, things got out of hand between Shiva and Parvati. What had started in jest turned into a serius matter with an incensed Shiva threatening to walk out on Parvati. No amount of cajoling by Parvati could reverse matters. Left with no choice, Parvati multiplied herself into ten different form for each of the ten directions. Thus however hard Shiva might try to escape from his beloved Parvati, he would find her standing as a guarding all escape routes.
Each of the Devi’s manifested forms made Shiva realize essential truths, made him aware of the eternal nature of their mutual love and most significantly established for always in the cannons of Indian thought the Goddess’s superiority over her male counterpart. Not that Shiva in any way felt belittled by this awareness, only spiritually awakened. This is true as much for this Great Lord as for us ordinary mortals. Befittingly thus they are referred to as the Great Goddess’s of Wisdom, known in Sanskrit as the Mahavidyas. Indeed in the process of spiritual learning, the Goddess is the muse who guides and inspires us. She is the high priestess who unfolds the inner truths.
Kali is mentioned as the first amongst the Mahavidyas. Black as the night (ratri) she has a terrible and horrific appearance. The word ‘ratri’ means “to give,” and is taken to mean “the giver” of bliss, of peace and of happiness.
Literally the word ‘Tara’ means a star. Thus Tara is said to be the star of our aspiration, the muse who guides us along with the creative path.
The word ‘Shodashi’ literally means sixteen in Sanskrit. In human life sixteen years represent the age of accomplished percection after which decline sets in. This girl of sixteen rules over all that is perfect, complete and beautiful.
The beauty and attractiveness of Bhuvaneshwari may be understood as an affirmation of the physical world, the rhythms of creation, maintenance and destruction, even the hankerings and sufferings of the human condition is nothing but Bhuvaneshvari’s play, her exhilarating, joyous sport.
Goddess Kamlaa is sitted on the Lotus. She wears red colour clothes, having four arms. She is worshipped for wealth and property.
The image of Chinnamasta is a composite one, conveying reality as an amalgamation of sex, death, creation, destruction and regeneration. It is stunning representation of the fact that life, sex and death are an intrinsic part of the grand unified scheme that makes up the manifested universe.
Bhairavi embodies the principle of destruction and becomes present when the body declines and decays. She is an ever-present goddess who manifests herself in and embodies the destructive aspects of the world. Destruction, however, is not always negative, creation cannot continue without it.
She is the embodiment of “unsatisfied desires.” Her status as a widow itself is curious. She makes herself one by swallowing Shiva, an act of self-assertion and perhaps independence.
The pulling of the demon’s tongue by Bagalamukhi is both unique and significant. Tongue, the organ of speech and taste is often regarded as a lying entity, concealing what is in the mind. The Bible frequently mentions the tongue as an organ of mischief, vanit and deceitfulness. The wrenching of the demon’s tongue is therefore symbolic of the Goddess removing what is in essentiality a prpetrator of evil.
Texts describing her worship specify that devotees should offers her uccishtha (leftover food) with their hands and mouths stained with leftover food i.e., worshippers should be in a state of pollution, having eaten and not washed. This is a dramatic reversal of the usual protocols.