Who Is Ma Durga?

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Durgā (a fort)

Ma Durga Definition

Ma Durga is an invocation of the Mother Goddess Durga. Ma means ‘mother’ in Sanskrit, as well as referring to rebirth and renewal.

She is the Hindu Goddess of strength, protection, destruction, motherhood, and valor; one of the most powerful deities in the Hindu religion. Ma Durga is the epitome of the power of Shakti – the unconquerable feminine.

Ma Durga Deep Dive

The Legend of Durga

Legend has it that Durga was created by the combined energies of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and other Gods who were trying and failing to slay the shapeshifting demon, Mahishasura.

Mahishasura unleashed his anger and tormented beings across all of the earth and heavens. He could not be defeated by any man that was sent to stop him. Enter Durga.

It is said that her characteristics were created out of each of the Gods’ powers – ten arms from Lord Vishnu, her feet from Lord Brahma, and her face from Shiva. Depicted usually with 8-10 arms, in her possession were weapons given to her by the Gods.

With Mahishasura sending his best commanders to fight the mighty Goddess riding in on her lion, it was an epic battle that lasted for ten whole days.

On the tenth day, she finally slayed him. The 9 days of battle prior to his death have become what we now know as Navaratri, an annual Hindu celebration in honor of the warrior Goddess Durga.

statue of ma durga

10 Weapons Of Durga

Ma Durga holds 10 divine weapons that she used to slay the demon, each having their own significance.

Her 10 arms and weapons enable her to protect devotees from every direction, including above and below (earth and heaven).

WeaponGiven bySignificance
Khanda (Sword)Lord GaneshWe should rid ourselves of illusions preventing us from carrying out our duties
Trishula (Trident)Lord ShivaIt’s three points representing the past, present, and future – we should stay in presence-awareness. It’s also thought to symbolize the three Gunas
Sudarshan ChakraLord VishnuSymbolizing creation and destruction
Vajra (Thunderbolt)Lord IndraDetermination, firmness of character, and spirit
Bow and arrowVeyu DevTo stay focused on our goals and aims
Bharji (Spear)Agni DevRepresenting fire and power necessary to overcome obstacles
Shankh (Conch)Varuna DevBelieved to be where the sound Aum originated, the primordial sound of all creation
LotusLord BrahmaLiberation through wisdom and knowledge
Khitaka/Parashu (Axe)Vishwakarma The power to destroy evil
Snake Lord ShivaThe energy of Shiva and consciousness
Durga’s Weapons & Their Significance

9 Avatars of Durga

Particularly during Navaratri, there are nine different manifestations of Durga that are worshipped and celebrated. These are considered the stages of her 9-day-long battle against Mahishasura before slaying him on the 10th day.

Each avatar has its own color and symbolism.

1. Shailaputri – Daughter of Mountain

This is Durga in the stage of childhood, it is one of the most prominent forms of Ma Durga.

  • Color: orange
  • Represents: success and happiness

2. Brahmacharini – Mother of Devotion

The aspect of Durga who devoted herself to Lord Shiva, showing severe self-discipline and practicing Brahmacharya (renunciation of worldly pleasure).

  • Color: white
  • Represents: grace, peace, and prosperity

3. Chandraghanta – Destroyer of the Demons

Often depicted in this form riding a tiger or a lion, this is Durga in the form of pure Shakti.

Chandraghanta shows fierceness towards evil but compassion for her devotees.

  • Color: red
  • Represents: passion, courage, and fearlessness

4. Kushmanda – Goddess of the Cosmic Egg

The source of Lord Surya‘s power, she bestows her followers with riches, strength, and well-being.

  • Color: royal blue
  • Represents: prosperity and energy

5. Skandamata – Goddess of Motherhood and Children

This is Durga in her motherhood stage, as Mahadevi or Adi Shakti (the Superior One).

  • Color: yellow
  • Represents: immense love and affection

6. Katyayani – Goddess of Power

One of the fiercest manifestations of Durga. This is the Goddess in her warrior stage, able to remove obstacles for her devotees and destroy evil.

  • Color: green
  • Represents: new beginnings, intelligence, and peace

7. Kalratri – Goddess of Auspiciousness and Courage

Seated on a donkey, this is Durga in the form of destruction!

  • Color: grey
  • Represents: destruction and grounding

8. Mahagauri – Goddess of Beauty and Women

Graceful, bright, and feminine, Mahagauri is Durga returning to health.

  • Color: purple
  • Represents: the inner beauty of everything

9. Siddhidharti – Goddess of Siddhis (Supernatural Powers)

This is her highest and most supreme form of Shakti, Durga is also the giver of siddhis.

  • Color: peacock green
  • Represents: bliss, grace, and integrity
the different incarnations of ma durga statue

Incarnations of Durga

As mother of the universe, Ma Durga has many other different incarnations.

There are 108 different names for Durga that are included in prayers and offerings to the Goddess. It is said that Lord Shiva called the Mother Goddess Durga 108 names in order to please her!

The manifestations of Durga include:

  • Parvati
  • Renu
  • Bhagvati
  • Bhavani
  • Ambika
  • Kandalini
  • Buddhi
  • Kriya
  • Jaya

Ma Durga In Your Life

The Great Liberator

As I’m sure you can see by now, Durga is a fierce, compassionate, and graceful force.

Calling upon Ma Durga can help remove the obstacles in your life that are hindering you from self-realization or destroy limitations in situations that may feel insurmountable.

Her presence and embodiment bring peace, power, and strength, enabling us to calmly and confidently face our fears and difficulties.

Mantras for Ma Durga

Mantras are sacred words or phrases that contain within them the vibrations of spiritual significance, they are a great way to call honor and call upon the strength of deities.

As the root of all creation, Ma Durga is particularly good to call upon if you are facing any challenges in all areas of your life or to ask for protection.

She empowers us to stand in our truth and fight for what is right, in the current climate it feels that the collective needs to call on the power and wisdom of Durga more than ever.

1. Hey Ma Durga – हे मा दुर्गा

2. Om Sri Durgaya Namah or Om Dum Durgayei Namaha – ॐ दुं दुर्गायै नम

3. Durga Dhyan Mantra – दुर्गा ध्यान मंत्र

4. Devi Stuti Mantra – देवी स्तुती

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To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and timeless yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.

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Liz is a Qigong and Yoga teacher based in Gloucestershire with a love for all things movement, nature & community. She strives to create a trauma-informed space in which everyone is empowered to be their authentic selves. www.elizabethburns.co.uk

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