We assume you are busy pandal hopping, frolicking in fresh and fragrant new clothes, feasting or fasting depending on which part of Bharat you belong to. But have you ever wondered where did Maa Durga even come from and why does she hold so many weapons?
The Making of Maa Durga
King Rambha was passionate about his extreme ambition of conquering the universe. To realize this ambition, he took on a severe penance to satisfy Agni Dev and get the boon of an invincible son who would stay undefeated by all. Agni Dev revealed to him that the boon can be more powerful if the son is blessed by Bhagwan Brahma.
Thereupon, Mahishasura, the son King Rambha obtained from Agni Dev’s boon, dedicated himself to please the creator of the universe, Bhagwan Brahma. Contented by Mahshasur’s austerities, the Parampita blessed him with invincibility which would keep him indomitable by any man, God, or animal.
Mahishasura, now geared up to achieve his ultimate ambition, conquered the earth and was determined to expand his kingdom to the heaven by overthrowing Indra Dev. Realizing that the undefeatable demon was beyond any known strength, Indra Dev appealed to the Tridev – Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, who located a loophole in the boon: The one unsurmountable by God, animal or man, could be defeated only at the hands of a woman.
Adi Shakti was thus evoked, and all the might and arms of the great Gods of Hindu Dharma were bestowed upon her to raise her as the ultimate feminine warrior, Maa Durga. The primordial feminine power, durgati-nashini, the protector of all things good and destroyer of all evil forces.
The Durga we see in Pandals and pictures is armed with a legion of weapons, and bears a tender smile on her kind face. Each of these weapons signify a human virtue that all humans are empowered with, but only through the righteous and judicious application of them will we be able to defeat the evil and protect the sinless.
Significance of Maa Durga’s Weapons
The Trishul (trident) gifted to her by Bhagwan Shiva, with its three sharp heads, symbolizes the state of Tamas (lethargic tendencies), Rajas (hyperactivity), and Sattva (purity).
Bhagwan Vishnu handed her the Sudarshan Chakra, the sharp-edged discus as you may recognize it. It denotes that Durga is the center of the universe, and the entire creation revolves around her.
Indra Dev gave the mother goddess his sturdy Vajra, the thunderbolt to fight the beastly attacker of his Indralok. This all-defeating arm stands as an embodiment of perseverance in one’s character, and one’s determination.
The Shankh that she holds in one of her arms, produces the sanctified sound of ‘Aum’. This is the very sound the omnipotent source of all energy, the Sun, emanates through its light waves. The conch, thus, manifests the sound of creation.
Agni Dev presented his Bhala, the spear to the mother goddess. The weapon embodies purity and all-devouring power that the Hindus associate with fire.
The sharp sword that she holds up, bespeaks intellect and wisdom. It is the ability to discern the good from the bad. One who holds the sword assumes the responsibility to demolish the bad and guard the good.
The devata of wind, Vayu, empowered Durga with his teer-dhanush. The bow is an implication of potential energy and the arrow signifies kinetic energy.
Bhagwan Vishwakarma armed her with his axe. One can use the axe as a weapon of destruction as well as a device for creation. The axe in the hands of Maa Durga suggests that she can destroy as well as create.
Most of the murtis of Maa Durga have one hand risen in the mudra of blessing. In that hand she also, in some manifestations, holds a snake, as a representation of Bhagwan Shiva. It indicates the upward movement of human consciousness.
Maa Durga also carries a lotus as a symbol of Bhagwan Brahma. The lotus encourages us to stay detached from worldly bindings, much like the flower itself steers clear of all the muck that surrounds it. Detachment will usher us toward liberation, moksha.
The Devi is the single omni-potent co-joined power of all divine forces in and beyond the universe, that emboldens us to be righteous in our deeds, but not to cower down in the face of evil and unruliness.
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