Shakti is the universal mother goddess, who is the source of energy for everything, living and non-living, divine and non-divine? She manifests in numerous forms like Parvati, Kali, Saraswati, and Lakshmi. She’s, loving, caring, and nourishing, yet at the same time can be ferocious, menacing, and destructive. Just like how energy has the potential to either create or destroy, Durga is one such ferocious form of the mother goddess. Who is renowned for her battle prowess? The half buffalo and half asura Mahishasura, who was the king of asuras, easily defeated the devas due to a boon from Brahma the boon granted the asura partial immortality, as only a woman could slay the asura.
The defeated devas asked that Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva help the three supreme gods with their combined powers and summoned a pillar of brilliant light, from which Shakti in the form of Durga, the ten-armed goddess of war, appeared. The ten arms symbolize how the goddess protects her devotees in all ten directions: the four cardinal directions, the four ordinal directions, and also above and below the living realm. The gods, who witnessed the creation of Durga, offered their powerful weapons and adorned the ten arms of the divine mother with the power to destroy the tyrant asura
1. Shiva’s Trishul
Shiva, the god of destruction, gifted Durga, with his Trishul or trident. The three prongs of the weapon symbolize multiple important trinities in the Hindu philosophy, the most common interpretations being the three Gunas Satwa, Rajas, and Tamas, the three-time periods past present, and future, and the universal cycles, creation, preservation, and destruction. The wielder of the Trishul is considered to be the master of all such trinities. During the battle, the goddess used their weapon to land the finishing blow on Mahishasura.
2. Vishnu’s Sudarshan Chakra
The god of preservation, Vishnu offered his divine discus, the Sudarshan Chakra to the goddess, the discus, with more than a million sharp spikes, has the power to decapitate the enemy beyond resurrection. According to Linga Purana, Vishnu obtained the Chakra from Shiva and since then has used this weapon to defeat countless asuras and rakshasas in his various avatars. The imagery of the Disk spinning around Durga's finger is a symbolic representation of how the energy provided by the goddess sets the universe in motion.
3. Brahma’s Kamandala
Brahma, as the god of creation, does not carry any weapons. Instead, he offered his Kamandala, a water pot to the goddess. The pot containing holy water symbolizes purity, wisdom, and life, and Brahma uses it to create various life forms by chanting different mantras. Durga's possession of the Kamandala, which plays a crucial role in the creation of the universe, explains the importance of the existence of shakti in the universe.
4. Indra’s Vajra
Vajra, the thunderbolt is Indra's signature weapon and he offered this mighty weapon to Durga. The weapon was specifically made by Vishwakarma out of sage Davichi's bones so that Indra could defeat Vrita, an asura, who is an embodiment of droughts in the Rigveda. The vajra is used to punish sinners. In Sanskrit, the word vajra also means a diamond which is the hardest material found in nature to symbolize the weapon’s strength and indestructibility.
5. Vayu’s Bow and Quiver of Infinite Arrows
The god of wind, Vayu provided the goddess with a bow and a quiver with unlimited arrows. The weapon set is a great representation of how goddess shakti exists as different forms of energy. The bow and the arrow represent potential and kinetic energy respectively. Before the arrow is launched from the bow, it contains potential energy, but the moment it gets launched towards the target. The potential energy is converted into kinetic energy and thus the goddess being an adept archer is a symbol of how the universe functions due to the conversion of one form of energy to another.
6. Varuna’s Conch
Varun, with his role as the god of water bodies in marine life, offered his auspicious quench to the goddess. When blown inside a conch, it produces a sound of Om which in Hinduism is the primordial sound of creation. Water and creation have close ties with each other, as, according to modern science life on earth started in the oceans. The conch was also used as a trumpet during the start of a war or to declare victory at the end, which is appropriate for Durga, as she is the goddess of war.
7. Agni’s Burning Spear
Agni, the god of fire, and a deity associated with sacred Yagyas offered his peer with a burning head to Durga the projectile weapon with a sharp-pointed head and enveloped in scratching flames can impale the target with complete accuracy when launched the weapon is a symbol of power, valor, and courage. The burning flames of the spear signify the role of shakti as the ultimate source of energy.
8. Yama’s Sword
Yama, the god of death, gave his water to the warrior goddess. The sword is an embodiment of both aspects of death and justice. The weapon is utilized by the god to punish the sinners and bring justice to the world a sword, symbolizes bravery authority, and power.
9. Viswakarma’s Axe
Brahma's son, Vishwakarma, who was the engineer and carpenter of the gods, was responsible for constructing numerous divine weapons. He gifted the goddess, an Axe that symbolizes the creative and destructive aspects of energy. An Axe used to bring down a tree represents destruction, but using the same Axe to chop wood to construct a house represents creation, thus symbolizing the dual nature of shakti in the universe.
10. Surya’s Sunrays
The radiant Surya, the celestial sun god and the ruler of the Navagraha bestowed his blinding sun rays on the goddess. The blinding radiance of the goddess signifies her duty as the goddess of war to banish evil and darkness in all 10 directions.
Since every living creature is dependent on sunlight for survival, the light emanating from Durga can also be a representation of her nurturing and nourishing nature. As a mother goddess, it also symbolizes her role as the universal source of energy after obtaining offerings in the form of divine weapons and other divine objects from the Trimurti and the devas. The king of the mountains, Himavan offered Durga a Vahana, the lion with her ten arms equipped with the power offered by different gods, Durga, who was as radiant as the sun rode on her line and arrived on the battlefield she challenged, the buffalo asura and after a fierce battle that lasted for nine days, Durga defeated Mahishasura, restoring peace in all the three Lokas