Definition - What does Durga mean?
Durga is a Sanskrit word meaning “inaccessible fortress” and “the one who takes us through difficulties." Durga is also the principal form of the Hindu goddess known as Devi or Shakti. She is believed to be the mother of the universe, and the cause of creation, preservation and destruction (as represented by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). Durga is pure shakti, which is primordial cosmic energy, or divine feminine creative power. She is manifested in the gods and fulfills the tasks of the universe through them.
The goddess Durga is usually illustrated with eight to 10 arms, each holding a special weapon from one of the gods. Her arms also represent the eight quadrants or 10 directions in Hinduism, so she can protect her devotees from all directions. The lion she rides represents power, will and determination, and her three eyes represent desire, action and knowledge.
It is possible to connect with the energy of Durga through yoga practice and meditation. Meditation on this goddess can help the individual recover their shakti, or feminine power.
Yogapedia explains Durga
There are many temples dedicated to Durga and her worship is celebrated annually at a four-day festival known as Durga puja.
Durga protects mankind from evil and misery by destroying negative forces such as selfishness, jealousy, prejudice, hatred, anger and ego. The conch shell that is often depicted in her hand symbolizes pranava, or the mystic word Om, which is God in the form of sound. The three prongs of her trident represent three qualities that need to stay in balance with each other -- satva (goodness), rajas (passion) and tamas (darkness). The Sudarshan Chakra, which is a discus that spins on her index finger, shows that she controls the world. One of her hands is always poised in abhayamudra, a gesture of reassurance and safety toward her devotees.
Durga is a goddess of power, truth, and victory of good over evil. Her power and energy is often discovered in yoga practice -- especially in Goddess yoga, wherein the practitioner dedicates their practice to a specific goddess. Durga, or shakti, is a feminine power that is often denied or rejected. Yoga teaches men and women alike to reclaim the shakti that lies within everyone. It is said that Durga is beyond any change -- immutable and unattainable, except through yoga practice.
There are several mantras for invoking Durga, but the simplest mantra is: Om Sri Durgaya Namah. It is believed that regular chanting of this mantra will remove the physical, mental and worldly problems in the chanter's life.