Saptamatrika-Seven Mother Goddesses in Durga Saptashati

In Hindu Shaktism, some special forms of Adishakti are collectively called Matrika. As they are seven in number, they are also called Saptamatrika. They are: Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshvari, Indrani, Kaumari, Varahi and Chamunda. However, according to some, the forms of Matrika are eight in number and they are known as Ashtamatrika. Saptamatrika forms are worshipped in South India and Ashtamatrika forms are worshipped in Nepal. These forms are narrated in the Devi Mahatmyam or Markendeya Purana which is also known as Durga Saptashati, Saptashati, Chandi etc. This scripture is actually a part of Devi Bhagavata Purana or Devi Bhagavatam, one of most famous sacred scriptures in Hinduism. The brief description of Saptamatrika or seven mother-goddesses are presented below.

Brahmani

Goddess Brahmani is the first form of the Saptamatrika or seven mother-goddesses. It is said in Sri Sri Chandi that Brahmani is the Shakti (power) of Lord Brahma.

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Her appearance, adornment and vehicle remind us of Lord Brahma. She helped goddess Kaushiki in battle and disheartened Asuras (demons) to fight by sprinkling holy water from Kamandul.

Vaishnavi

She is one of the seven mother-goddesses described in the Durga Saptashati. Goddess Vaishnavi is the Shakti (power) of Lord Vishnu. Actually, the power by which Lord Vishnu preserves the world was appeared as Goddess Vaishnavi.

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Her Vahana is Garura (eagle). She appeared before Devi Chandika with Shankha (conch shell), Chakra (disc-like weapon), Gada (mace), Shringa (horn) and Talvar (sword) etc.in her hands.

Maheshvari

Goddess Maheshvari is one of the seven mother-goddesses created by Mahadeva (Lord Shiva) to drink the blood of Andhakasura (a malevolent demon named Andhaka).

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Sitting on Mahavrishava (ox), she appeared holding a Trishul (trident), a Chandra (moon), a Talvar (sword) etc. in her hands.

Indrani

Indrani is one of the Saptamatrika or seven mother-goddesses. She was born from the body of Devraj Indra (the king of the highest heaven).

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According to the Durga Saptashati, goddess Indrani participated in the battle against Asuras (demons) when innumerable Asuras (demons) were created from the blood flowing from the body of Andhakasura (a malevolent demon named Andhaka).

Kaumari

Goddess Kaumari, also known as Kumari, is considered as the Shakti (power) of Kartikeya. Kaumari appeared riding a peacock. She has four or twelve arms.

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In her various arms she holds Varsha (spear), Kuthar (axe), Trishul (trident), Dhanuk (bow), Teer (arrow), Talvar(sword), Dhal (shield), Gada (mace), Padma(lotus), Chakti (disc) Shankha (conch shell) etc. in her hands. She killed the Asura (demon) mentioned in the Durga Satashati. She is well-known as goddess Jagdamba.

Varahi

Goddess Varahi appeared as the Shakti of Varaha, the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Her Vahana (vehicle) is Mahisha (buffalo). Her appearance is associated with two stories.

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According to the first story, she appeared to help goddess Kaushiki in the battle. The second story says that she appeared along with other goddesses to kill Bhandasura (a demon named Bhanda).

Chamunda

Goddess Chamunda is one the Saptamatrika or seven mother-goddesses. She is also known as Chamundi, Chamundeshvari and Charchika.

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She is called Chamunda as she killed Asuras named Chanda and Munda (two malevolent demons).

Talker: Krishna Das

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