Symbolism of goddess Durga

Symbolism of goddess Durga

The goddess Durga is portrayed with ten hands. The ten hands represent the control acquired by the spiritual seeker (sadhaka) of the ten divisions including prana or vital energy, apana or downward breath, vyana or outer flowing air, udana or outer flowing air, samana or balanced air, naga or eructation, kurma or opening of eyes, krikara or inducing hunger and thirst, devadatta or yawning and dhanamjaya or decomposition of the body. The lion lying at the feet of the Goddess represents passion.  The goddess restrains the king of the jungle; he is not annihilated him but She has him under control. She is in the act of spearing the asura (demon). The demon represents anger; the spiritual seeker needs to overcome anger and negativity.

Goddess Lakshmi is on the right side and her mount is the owl. In his search for the Lakshmi state, the seeker should not become like the owl because it is a nocturnal bird and is practically blind during the day. The seeker is further warned that when he achieves spiritual and material wealth, he does not attain the state (of blindness) of the owl.

Goddess Saraswati is on the left side and her mount is the swan. The swan is known for its ability to separate water from milk if the two are mixed. When a seeker reaches such an exalted state, he acquires the faculty of viveka or discrimination which gives him the ability to extract the essence from the murky water of worldly existence much like the mud fish that lives in the mud but does not allow the mud to stick to it.

But the seeker has to proceed further because he is not yet completely immersed in the world of non-duality. Next to Saraswati is Kartikeya, the commander in chief of the Gods. Kartikeya symbolizes heroism.  A seeker who is steadfast in his spiritual practice makes himself worthy of salvation. The deity who grants him success in this endeavour is Lord Ganesha, whose mount is the mouse. The mouse represents restlessness; the seeker must guard against doing harm. Finally, Siva is the essence of the Supreme Self. Even while He is Vishwanath and is the Controller of the Universe, He has no place to dwell as nothing belongs to Him. When the seeker is irreversibly established in non-duality, he merges into the Siva essence and becomes everything.

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