Alongside Hinduism’s trinity of Gods, we have the Goddesses who rule beside them – they say that behind every great man is a great woman! These leading ladies have a number of other incarnations and names, but for now let’s learn the basics. Who are the Hindu Goddesses?
“Om Shiva Shakti Namah”
The Goddess Parvati is known for being the counterpart of Shiva. She is the goddess of all things love and nature: romance, happy marriage, grace, fertility and children. She is the perfect wife and mother, but she’s also so much more than that.
Parvati is the embodiment of “shakti” or the feminine force, the divine mother, the energy that gives us all life. She is often depicted with a lion to show the power of the feminine force. Like a lioness, Parvati is a strong wife, mother, leader, lover and fighter. Femininity is all of these things and all of them together make up the shakti force.
Without shakti, nothing lives or changes. It’s something that exists within us all and it’s also the reason Parvati has a deeper connection with Shiva. In Vedic wisdom, the symbolism of shiva-shakti is the balance of primordial masculine and feminine energies, which leads to creation.
It’s said that certain meditations and practices lead to “kundalini awakenings”, which is the rising of our natural but dormant shakti energy, all the way up the spine, to the crown chakra where Shiva resides. When the two meet, there’s an explosion of wisdom, tranquillity and peace – or enlightenment as some call it!
Each one of the Hindu Goddesses is actually an embodiment of Shakti, but with different qualities.
For example, Parvati is Shakti, but she is also Durga, who is also Kali, and Shakti is also the other two main goddesses: Saraswati and Lakshmi. It sounds confusing, but if you just think of Shakti as a feminine force that exists in all of us, the gods and goddesses included, and that everyone can embody femininity in their own way, we can get to know the goddesses for their own energy, while still understanding that they are, at their very core, Shakti.
““Om Hreem Shreem Kreem Shreem Kuberaya Ashta-Lakshmi Mama Grihe Dhanam Puraya Puraya Namah”
So, understanding that each of the goddesses is a representation of one aspect of Shakti, we have the lovely Lakshmi.
Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, which of course, includes money, and you’ll always see her surrounded by gold. But it’s not all about money! Lakshmi also rules over health, since this is a type of wealth, as well as courage, beauty and happiness.
You can recognise Lakshmi for her gold, pink and red surroundings, and her elephant friend, a sign of her royal status. She sits inside a lotus flower, which symbolises beauty and rebirth, since the world is continually recreated from a lotus flower growing from her husband, Lord Vishnu’s belly button.
She is the wife of Lord Vishnu, the sustainer, and together they make quite the power couple! Both gorgeous and successful, Vishnu and Lakshmi are prayed to when, quite frankly, we need something. Of course, they’re always there helping and protecting us, and it’s good to thank them regularly even when we’re not in need, but there are ways we can petition them to help us a little more.
Goddess Lakshmi likes to live in a clean and tidy home, she doesn’t favour those who are dirty or lazy. For example, little things like getting up late or eating from the pan you cooked your food in can really annoy Lakshmi.
Money is seen as a manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi, and we should be careful to respect it. Keep your money folded nicely and if you drop it or touch it with your foot, apologise to the money! It might sound odd but treat money well and Lakshmi will repay you with more.
“Om Aing Mahasaraswatyai Namah”
And last but by no means least, is the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. If Lakshmi is the pretty sister and Parvati is the nice sister, then Saraswati is the smart one.
She is the wife of Brahma, the creator, and rules over intelligence. Goddess Saraswati is always pictured with her veena, a musical instrument similar to a sitar which represents, among many other things, her skill and creativity. Her friend is a beautiful white swan, which refers to her purity, since knowledge is always pure – it’s what we do with it that turns it into something else.
According to the Vedas, Goddess Saraswati gifted us with speech and her energy resides in the throat chakra. Just like knowledge, which is pure, but can be used for negative purposes, speech can be used for good or bad, we can say nice things or nasty things! So, to embody the energy of Saraswati, we should always make sure we are speaking from a place of high conscience, with good intentions and truth in our hearts.
Since Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge and all the Vedic scriptures exist because of her, across India and Nepal, children chant Saraswati mantras before starting school, requesting that they be enlightened with intelligence, as well as the purity of heart to know how to properly use that knowledge.
If you’re smart, good at writing, music or speaking – make sure to really use this gift and you’ll make Saraswati very happy, she’ll surely bless you with good memory, epic concentration and/or recognition for your efforts.
So, each of these goddesses is one aspect of the shakti force that gives us life and because of this, the gods themselves cannot exist without their lady lovers!
All three main Hindu deities: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, are nothing without their shakti counterpart. This is because the masculine energy is stillness, whereas feminine energy is movement – so without the feminine, there is no change, no growth and no life.
Without Saraswati, Brahma cannot create, without Lakshmi, Vishnu cannot sustain and without Parvati, Shiva cannot destroy and renew – their powers are made redundant without the energy of the goddess.