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Mahavidyas (Great Wisdoms) or Dasha-Mahavidyas are a group of ten aspects of the Divine Mother Durga or Kali herself or Devi in Hinduism. The 10 Mahavidyas are Wisdom Goddesses, who represent a spectrum of feminine divinity, from horrific goddesses at one end, to the gentle at the other.[1]

The development of Mahavidyas represents an important turning point in the history of Shaktism as it marks the rise of Bhakti aspect in Shaktism, which reached its zenith in 1700 CE. First sprung forth in the post-Puranic age, around 6th century C.E., it was a new theistic movement in which the supreme being was envisioned as female. A fact epitomized by texts like Devi-Bhagavata Purana, especially its last nine chapters (31-40) of the seventh skandha, which are known as the Devi Gita, and soon became central texts of Shaktism.[2]


Kali – The first of the Ten Mahavidyas

The name Mahavidyas comes from the Sanskrit roots, with maha meaning 'great' and vidya meaning, 'revelation, manifestation, knowledge, or wisdom.[2]


Shaktas believe, "the one Truth is sensed in ten different facets; the Divine Mother is adored and approached as ten cosmic personalities," the Dasa-Mahavidya ("ten-Mahavidyas").[3] The Mahavidyas are considered Tantric in nature, and are usually identified as:[4]

  1. Kali – The ultimate form of Brahman, "Devourer of Time" (Supreme Deity of Kalikula systems)
  2. Tara – The Goddess as Guide and Protector, or Who Saves.Who offers the ultimate knowledge which gives salvation (also known as Neel Saraswati).
  3. Tripura Sundari (Shodashi) – The Goddess Who is "Beautiful in the Three Worlds" (Supreme Deity of Srikula systems); the "Tantric Parvati" or the "Moksha Mukta".
  4. Bhuvaneshvari – The Goddess as World Mother, or Whose Body is the Cosmos
  5. Bhairavi – The Fierce Goddess
  6. Chhinnamasta – The self-decapitated Goddess[5]
  7. Dhumavati – The Widow Goddess,or the Goddess of death.
  8. Bagalamukhi – The Goddess Who Paralyzes Enemies
  9. Matangi – the Prime Minister of Lalita (in Srikula systems); the "Tantric Saraswati"
  10. Kamala – The Lotus Goddess; the "Tantric Lakshmi"

The Mahabhagavata Purana and Brhaddharma Purana however, list Shodashi (Sodasi) as Tripura Sundari, her another name.[1] The Guhyatiguyha-tantra associates the Mahavidyas with the ten Avatars of Vishnu, and states that the Mahavidyas are the source from which the avatars of Vishnu arose. All ten forms of the Goddess, whether gentle or terrifying, are worshiped as the universal Mother.


  1. ^ a b Kinsley, David R (1987). Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass Publication. pp. 161–165. ISBN 9788120803947. 
  2. ^ a b Brown, Charles Mackenzie (1998). The Devī Gītā: The Song of the Goddess. SUNY Press. p. 23. ISBN 9780791439401. 
  3. ^ Shankarnarayanan, S (1972). The Ten Great Cosmic Powers: Dasa Mahavidyas (4 ed.). Chennai: Samata Books. pp. 4–5. ISBN 9788185208381. 
  4. ^ Kinsley, David R (1997). Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 302. ISBN 9780520204997. 
  5. ^ Daniélou, Alain (1991). The Myths and Gods of India: The Classic Work on Hindu Polytheism from the Princeton Bollingen Series. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. pp. 284–290. ISBN 978-0-89281-354-4. 

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3 news items

The Hindu
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 12:20:12 -0700

Saptasati parayana, moola mantra havan, mahavidya parayana etc are some of the rituals that would be conducted on the second day. The saptasati parayana, mahavidya parayana, santi poushtika homam, etc. are scheduled to be organised on the third day ...

Indo American News

Indo American News
Fri, 27 Jun 2014 08:46:32 -0700

It was a fascinating combination of sculpturesque postures with swift and precise footwork resulting in a spectacular feast for the eyes. She followed it with Mahavidya – incarnations of Shakti, in which she stunned the audience by transforming from a ...
The New Indian Express
Mon, 07 Jul 2014 06:52:30 -0700

For Shatki there are 10 MahaVidya and NauDurgas. The same way there are many avatars of Ganesh and Shiv. PC: There are 33 crore deities in the Sanatan Dharma. Aren't people free to worship the deity they want to? SS: There are yantra,mantra and the ...

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