August 16, 2010

What's behind the (screen) name


A gentleman over at Tumblr just posted something highly relevant.  Every now and again I'm asked for an explanation of my intarwebs name.  I kind of hate to dispel the mystery, but for anyone who's ever wondered yet not asked, here's part of it.  But before you go thinking that this is how I grandiosely see myself, allow me to clarify-- These goddesses are symbolic references for me.  They are examples, not identifiers.  

In HinduismDurga (Sanskritदुर्गा, meaning “the inaccessible”  or “the invincible”; Bengaliদুর্গাdurga) orMaa Durga (Bengaliমা দুর্গাma durga, meaning “Mother Durga”) “one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress”. Durga is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having ten arms, riding a lion or atiger, carrying weapons and a lotus flower, maintaining a meditative smile, and practicing mudras, or symbolic hand gestures.
An embodiment of creative feminine force (Shakti), Durga exists in a state of svātantrya (independence from the universe and anything/anybody else, i.e., self-sufficiency) and fierce compassion. Kali is considered by Hindus to be an aspect of Durga. Durga is also the mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya.  She is thus considered the fiercer, demon-fighting form of Shiva’s wife, goddess Parvati. Durga manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion.
The word Shakti means divine feminine force, and Durga is the warrior aspect of the Divine Mother. Other incarnations include Annapurna and Karunamayi (karuna= kindness). Durga’s darker aspect Kali is represented as the consort of the god Shiva, on whose body she is often seen standing.
As a goddess, Durga’s feminine power contains the energies of the gods. Each of her weapons was gifted to her by various gods: Rudra’s trident, Vishnu’s discus, Indra’s thunderbolt, Brahma’s kamandalu, Kuber’s Ratnahar, etc.
According to a narrative in the Devi Mahatmya story of the Markandeya Purana text, Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight an asura (an inhumane force/demon) named Mahishasur. He had unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds, and he could not be defeated by any man or god, anywhere. The gods went to Brahma, who had given Mahishasura the power to be the invincible conqueror of the universe. Brahma could do nothing. They made Brahma their leader and went to Vaikuntha — the place where Vishnu lay on Ananta Naag. They found bothVishnu and Shiva, and Brahma eloquently related the reign of terror Mahishasur had unleashed on the three worlds. Hearing this Vishnu, Shiva and all of the gods became very angry and beams of fierce light emerged from their bodies. The blinding sea of light met at the Ashram of a priest named Katyan. The goddess Durga took the name Katyani from the priest and emerged from the sea of light. She introduced herself in the language of the Rig-Veda, saying she was the form of the supreme Brahman who had created all the gods. Now she had come to fight the demon to save the gods. They did not create her; it was her lila that she emerged from their combined energy. The gods were blessed with her compassion.
It is said that upon initially encountering Durga, Mahishasura underestimated her, thinking: “How can a woman kill me, Mahishasur — the one who has defeated the trinity of gods?” However, Durga roared with laughter, which caused an earthquake which made Mahishasur aware of her powers.
And the terrible Mahishasur rampaged against her, changing forms many times. First he was a buffalo demon, and she defeated him with her sword. Then he changed forms and became an elephant that tied up the goddess’s tiger and began to pull it towards him. The goddess cut off his trunk with her sword. The demon Mahishasur continued his terrorizing, taking the form of a lion, and then the form of a man, but both of them were gracefully slain by Durga.
Then Mahishasur began attacking once more, starting to take the form of a buffalo again. The patient goddess became very angry, and as she sipped divine wine from a cup she smiled and proclaimed to Mahishasur in a colorful tone — “Roar with delight while you still can, O illiterate demon, because when I will kill you after drinking this, the gods themselves will roar with delight”. When Mahashaur had half emerged into his buffalo form, he was paralyzed by the extreme light emitting from the goddess’s body. The goddess then resounded with laughter before cutting Mahishasur’s head down with her sword.

All text in this and the following post was lifted from Wikipedia.

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