Last Updated: September 2, 2017

Definition - What does Matrika mean?

Matrika is a Sanskrit word that means “mother” or “divine mother.” In Hinduism, it refers to a group of mother-like goddesses always depicted together and known as the matrikas. There are usually either seven matrikas (saptamatrika) or eight (ashtamatrika).

Matrika is also a name of the Hindu goddess of the alphabet and letters (she may also be known as Lalita), and matrika shakti is the sound energy in the letters. The Sanskrit language has eight letter groups, which are symbolized by the eight little mothers, or matrikas.

Yogapedia explains Matrika

Hindu texts give different stories of the origin of the matrikas. A common one says that Shiva created the matrikas to help him battle the demon, Andhaka. Another says Brahma created the matrikas to kill the demon, Nirrita. A third story has the matrikas originating from the mind of the goddess, Vaishhavi and then helping her in battle.

Although the names and number of matrikas vary, six are accepted by most Hindu texts:

  • Brahmani or Brahmi (representing the shakti power of Brahma).
  • Vaishnavi (shakti of Vishnu)
  • Maheshvari (shakti of Shiva)
  • Indrani (shakti of Indra)
  • Kaumari (shakti of the god of war, Kumara)
  • Varahi (shakti of the god of death, Varaha)

The seventh matrika is sometimes listed as Chamunda or Yami, while if an eighth matrika is included, she could be Narasimhi, Yogishwari or Maha-Lakshmi.

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