Durga is a vicious form of Hindu Goddess Devi, known for her indestructible nature. She is commonly depicted with 18 arms all carrying weapons as she rides atop a fierce tiger. She carries a weapon given to her by each of the Gods including Hindu God Indra’s (God of Destruction) lightning bolt and Hindu God Vishnu’s (The Preserver) Discus. These weapons are endeared to her as a defender of the world. She is frequently seen slaying demons especially the buffalo demon known as Mahishasura. It is said that she was created in order to fight off the incredible might of the asura Mahishasura, who could not be defeated by any male or god alike. Mahishasura had been reigning incredible terror upon the earth and as the gods became helpless, Hindu God Shiva turned to his wife Parvati for help. Parvati responded by traveling to an ashram to take on the role as female goddess warrior. The Gods also turned to Brahman, the supreme creator of all gods, for help and together they banned together emitting beams of light from their bodies. The beam of light expanded to the Ashram where Hindu Godess Parvati had ventured and out of the light Durga was born, a fierce and eager female warrior goddess. She was formed of the female aspects of Brahman just as Shiva had once been formed of Brahmans male counterparts. The gods were blessed and endeared by her. As she fought with the revered Mahishasura she exclaimed:
“Roar with delight while you still can, O illiterate demon, because when I will kill you, the gods themselves will roar with delight”.
Eventually paralyzed by the blinding light constantly emanating from Durga’s body, the buffalo demon was slain with one swift slice of her sword as she erupted in laughter.
This account of her ferocious stand off and conquering of the buffalo demon is celebrated annually in the national festival Durga Puja, which falls on October 19-24th of 2012. As an endeared Goddess, Durga’s divine feminine energies are thought to be a manifestation of all the gods.
Shiva, Hindu God of Destruction, is also known as Nataraja, Lord of Dancers, in one of his most popular forms. He is depicted as sacred dancer, dancing to restore the universe of its fatigued nature making way for Brahma to create within the universe. He has a restorative power revitalizing the universe and preparing for growth. Shiva as Lord Nataraja is his most popular within Hindu temples. His likeness is often sculpted in bronze as Shiva dances around a ring of flames. His left leg is often raised balancing over a lesser being that stands as a metaphor for the ignorance of the world. Shiva as Nataraja is a powerful symbol of Indian culture for its spirit and energetic nature. He represents the precise flow and generation of the universe. Shiva as Nataraja is perhaps the most renowned symbol of Hindu art.
View our statues of Nataraja the Lord of Dance
Shiva’s dance is often said to come in two forms. The first form represents the gentle, or the nature associated with creation upon the earth, while the second from is said to be that of violence as he destroys the tired and suffocating ways of the universe. Shiva terminates what is weary in order to create what is profound. He tears down the old in order to make way for the new.
Legend has it that one day Shiva journeyed to a thick forest in the South of India in order to confute with the multitude of heretical sages that lived within. Traveling with him was Hindu God Vishnu, The Preserver, disguised as a woman. Upon arrival, the sages became very angry towards Shiva and attempted to destroy him via powerful incantations. They first induced a violent tiger which was no match as he skinned it in one foul swoop and draped it around his body like a blanket. Next appeared a deadly serpent of which Shiva quickly overtook and hung like a necklace about his neck. Through all their confrontation simply Shiva danced about their ring of fire laughing, destroying everything they threw his way. Thus, Shiva became the lord of dancers, a symbol of the divine.