Devi: The Great Goddess
Devi (in Sanskrit and in English)
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Aspects of Devi
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Markama. Photo by Cornelia Mallebrein.
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Cosmic Force
Dayini
Heroine
Local Protector
Semi Divine
Woman Saints
Aspects of Devi
There are many approaches to looking at Devi: chronological, religious, or by function. Here we have chosen to observe Devi through her six main functions, beginning with her most forceful and dynamic form and moving toward less potent forms.
Devi is first seen as cosmic force, where she destroys demonic forces that threaten world equilibrium, and creates, annihilates, and recreates the universe. Next, in her gentle, radiant dayini form, she is the gracious donor of boons, wealth, fortune, and success. As heroine and beloved, Devi comes down to earth and provides inspiring models for earthly women.
Devi is then seen as a local protector of villages , towns, and individual tribal peoples, where she is concerned only with local affairs. In her fifth aspect, Devi appears as semi-divine force, manifesting herself through fertility spirits, and other supernatural forms. Finally, she is also represented in woman saints, who are born on earth but endowed with deep spirituality and other-worldly powers.
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The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560.
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