Devi: The Great Goddess
Devi (in Sanskrit and in English)
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Who is Devi
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Lakshmi Poster.
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Manifestations of Devi
Who Is Devi
The Great Goddess, known in India as Devi (literally "goddess"), has many guises. She is "Ma" the gentle and approachable mother. As Jaganmata, or Mother of the universe, she assumes cosmic proportions, destroying evil and addressing herself to the creation and dissolution of the worlds. She is worshiped by thousands of names that often reflect local customs and legends. She is one and she is many. She is celebrated in songs and poems.
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Dancing Bhadrakali Adored by the Gods. Lent by a private collection on loan to Museum Rietberg, Zurich.
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Parvati. Lent by a private collection.
Devi is all-important in Hinduism, but there are also forms of female divinity in Buddhism and Jainism. Today millions of Hindu men and women conduct regular pujas to Devi through one of her many manifestations. For some she is their primary deity while for others she is part of a greater pantheon. All Hindu goddesses may be viewed as different manifestations of Devi. In some forms she is benign and gentle, while in other forms she is dynamic and ferocious, but in all forms she is helpful to her devotees.
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The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560.
All presented material is copyright © Smithsonian Institution, 1999 except where otherwise noted.