The Shakti manifests itself in various forms. It is known to complement the energy of Shiva. These manifestations are known by various names but in the core these are said to be rooted in the same energy which is close to Shiva. According to Puranic tales, Sati asked her husband if she could go and join the Yajna organized by her father Daksh. When Shiva denied her, she got angry and manifested ten Goddesses in 10 directions. Having no other option left, Shiva permitted her. Origin of these Goddesses have various other stories too. These Ten goddesses are-
She is the only common form of Goddess in Navdurga and 10 Mahavidyas. She is as Dark as night and represents immense potential and energy. She is symbolism of origin which was initially chaotic but became beautifully aligned into cosmos. She is naked and wears garland of skulls. She signifies mortality and her rolling red tongue denotes the power of speech to relate with truth. Her proximity with Time and Death signifies the ultimate truth.
She is considered as tantric form of Saraswati and is named as Neel Saraswati in many texts. Shyamala Dandakam written by Kalidas mentions Matangi the other Godess of this group as another tantric Saraswati form. She is worshipped in Buddhism in her Greenish form with the mantra Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha.
- Shodashi (Tripursundari)
Tripursundari is depicted as a young girl of 16 years old. Hence the other name Shodashi. Etymologically Tripur is made of two words Tri and Pur which collectively means Three forts. This is symbolic of three abodes made by the creator and the the three level of awareness (sleep,dream and awake) present in human mind. This form of Goddess inspires the worshipper to be victorious to these awareness and transcend them to attain siddhis.
Bhuvaneshwari is the goddess of all abodes. She resides in the Bhuvah word of Gayatri Mantra. She is believed to create matter in the universe. She is believed to remove obstacles in the path of worshippers and gives courage to her devotees.
This Goddess is another tantric representation. However the symbolism here is Yogic. Chhinmasta is represented as a Goddess who has chopped of her own head from her own sword and his holding her head in her left hand. Three streams of blood are seen spurting out of her neck which represents three nadis responsible for spiritual awakening. The blood from these three streams is being drunk by her own head and her two companion devis.
Bhairavi or Tripurbhairavi is considered as a contradiction to Tripursundari. As the name Bhairavi suggests she is the feminine energy of fierce Shiva known as Bhairav. She controls the death and destruction.
She is depicted as an old widow. She is taking the destruction a step ahead of Bhairavi. Her vehicle is crow which signifies the ability to survive with harshness. She is unbiased and thus her representation in Tantra gives value to the devoid as well.
She is also known by the name of Pitambara because of her yellow clothes and aura. She represents the energy of Manipur Chakra and is known to be the Goddess of Stambhan. Stambhan is a tantric Kriya of stopping the action of any other mystic kriya. She takes her devotee away from the enemies and makes him/her worthy of befriending everyone with a cordial attachment.
As discussed earlier she is considered to be a tantric representation of Goddess Saraswati but something noteworthy is the origin of her name. She is named after her father Matang Rishi who was an outcaste. She is thus sometimes referred as Chandika too. Her fierceness and power symbolizes the transcendental nature of wisdom and purity which is not bound to any caste in Tantra.
Kamla is a Gajlakshmi form of Lakshmi. She is seen with elephants holding Kalash in a lotus pond. She is the Goddess of tranquility, riches and wealth. This wealth need not be materialistic as this Goddess symbolizes completeness of life.
These ten Goddesses are the embodiment of ten mystical wisdom. Hence, the term Mahavidya. Doing there sadhna allows a sadhak to know the ultimate truth in its aspects. Knowing these ten mahavidya is to know the ultimate truth. Das Mahavidya sadhna should be done by a sadhak who intends to excel in the path of tantra. Navratri is the best time to do so. Apart from 10 Mahavidya it is also the best time to worship Navdurga. May your path gets guided by the ultimate wisdom which lies within.