One of the beautiful things about the Hindu goddesses is that by worshiping them, we honor their individual traits and characteristics. In doing so, we embrace our own potential to embody these characteristics, too. This makes us more likely to manifest in our lives all the wonderful things they represent.
So, how do you choose which goddess to worship? Review our guide here of four of the most popular Hindu goddesses and decide who resonates most with you!
Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of fortune and wealth. She is the goddess to worship for all those who seek true prosperity, both of the material and spiritual kind. She is the consort of the god, Vishnu, and is considered to be his energy.
Lakshmi’s name comes from the Sanskrit, laksya, which means “aim” or “goal.” As a domestic goddess, Lakshmi is the household goddess in most Hindu families, worshiped in order to bring prosperity and well-being to the whole family. She is also highly regarded by business men and women.
Lakshmi is depicted as a beautiful, golden woman sitting on a lotus and holding the bud of the flower, which represents her purity and fertility. Her clothes and the items she is depicted with all represent the wealth that Lakshmi brings her devotees. Her hands are often shown full of gold coins. Her clothes are red, lined or embroidered with gold, which symbolizes both activity and prosperity. And her four arms represent the four important aspects of human life in Hinduism: dharma (righteousness), kama (desires), artha (wealth) and moksha (soul's liberation).
(Continue reading about this special goddess in Abundance-Boosting Mantra & Meditation of Goddess Lakshmi.)
Durga is considered to be the mother of the universe and embodies supreme power. As the consort of Shiva, it is Durga who is regarded as the power behind the creation, preservation and destruction of all. She is also sometimes called Parvati. Durga’s name in Sanskrit means “fort” or “invincible.” It can also be translated to mean “the one who eliminates suffering.”
Worshiping Durga is said to annihilate the powers of evil. She protects her devotees from all directions, as is shown by her eight or 10 hands. Through Durga, we can rise above the demon of the ego, conquering the negative energies of pride, anger, greed and lust. She is often depicted riding a lion, which symbolizes her mastery of willpower and determination, qualities which devotees need in order to overcome their egos.
Durga is noted for her ability to be simultaneously loving yet fierce. She teaches us to eliminate suffering and evil through power and force.
(Learn more about this powerful goddess and about Invoking Durga Within You.)
Kali is an incarnation of Durga who is sometimes referred to as the Dark Mother. She is perhaps the fiercest and most frightening looking of all the deities, and yet to her devotees, she is a deeply caring and loving mother. Kali is the destroyer not of you, but of all that may try to destroy you.
Kali’s name comes from the Sanskrit, kala, meaning “time” or “black,” which is said to be because she is beyond time. She devours time, residing in a dark, infinite formlessness. Her three eyes represent the three parts of time: past, present and future.
Kali is depicted as wearing a garland of 50 severed human heads, which signify liberation from karma and suffering through destroying the illusions that bind us. They also represent the 50 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and, thus, symbolize her infinite knowledge. Kali’s sword ruthlessly destroys false consciousness and she is free beyond any illusions. Her white teeth represent her inner purity.
To worship Kali is to worship the fierce power of love, and to call upon her ability to destroy all that binds you to suffering and keeps you away from true knowledge.
Saraswati, daughter of Shiva and Durga, and consort of Brahma, is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, learning, music and the arts. In the earliest texts, she is referred to as a river deity, and the "Rig Veda" calls her the “best of mothers, of rivers, of goddesses.” Her name can be translated as “one who leads to the essence of Self-knowledge.” Some believe that it is only Saraswati who can grant us the soul's final liberation.
Saraswati is worshiped by those who wish to find knowledge and experience the highest truth and reality. She is particularly revered by scholars and may be worshiped by students to bring success in exams. The festival in her honor, Vasant Panchami, is celebrated by helping school children learn to write.
Saraswati's name is also a composite word that means “one with plenty of water.” Her watery nature can be seen as representing the free flow of greater consciousness and wisdom. Saraswati is often depicted seated on a white lotus, which represents truth. Her white clothing symbolizes her purity and discrimination of knowledge. Finally, her four arms represent all aspects of the human personality when learning: the mind, intellect, alertness and ego.
You may have discovered that more than one or all of these leading goddesses resonate with you, or you may find that some may be closer to your heart at different times in your life. Whatever it is you feel you need more of in your life that these divine devas can provide, try calling upon them through their mantra and/or by meditating upon their symbolic images, and experience their positive effects.
(For details on how to call upon these dynamic deities, read on in Invoking the Divine Feminine in Yoga.)