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Mahavidyas – About 10 Goddesses who are Manifestations of Goddess Sati

Mahavidyas are the collective term used to refer to the ten goddesses who are manifestations of Mothers Goddess Shakti. As per some scriptures it is believed that they are manifestations of Goddess Sati. Other scriptures state that they are forms of Goddess Durga. The Mahavidyas are:

Goddess Kali
Tara
Chinnamasta
Bhuvaneshwari
Bagala
Bhairavi
Dhumavati
Kamala
Matangi
Shodashi

Daksha, father of Goddess Sati, conducted a yajna and invited all except Shiva and Sati. Daksha wanted to insult Shiva. Sati who came to know about this wanted to go to the yajna and ask why Shiva was not invited.

Shiva was against Sati going to the Daksha Yajna. It is said that Goddess Sati assumed ten forms in order to get permission to go to the yajna. Some of these forms are fearful and beyond imagination. Shiva is believed to have then given permission to Sati to attend the yajna.

The ten forms that Goddess Sati took are the Mahavidyas.

Another legend has it that the Mahavidyas appeared from Goddess Durga to defeat the demon Durgamma and his army.

Mahavidya means ‘the great wisdom.’ The ten goddesses are seen as 10 ways to attain self realization.

There is another school of thought which suggests that the Mahavidyas are associated with the 10 avatars of Vishnu.

Today Mahavidyas are mainly worshipped by tantrics. The pujas and rituals are different from normal methods. They are mostly part of Tantric worship. Some are even grotesque. Pujas are performed to gain power, to defeat enemies and to find hidden treasure.

In some regions Mahavidyas are offered prayers during Navratri by householders.