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Symbolism Of Dakinis In Hinduism – Dakini Worship

Dakinis hold significant symbolism in Hinduism, particularly within the tantric tradition and the worship of the Mother Goddess. These female spirits are depicted as attending upon major goddesses, such as Kali, in their fierce aspects. Dakinis are multifaceted beings, capable of both terrifying and benevolent actions, depending on the context.

In their fierce forms, Dakinis assume terrifying appearances to instill fear in those who pose a threat to the devotees of the goddesses they serve. They are protectors who confront adversaries and guide devotees along the right path. The origin story of Dakinis traces back to the derisive laughter of Shivaduti, an aspect of the goddess Durga, who birthed them to combat the demons in the armies of the demon king Ruru. This mythological narrative underscores their role as defenders against malevolent forces.

Iconographically, Dakinis are often depicted seated on lotus pedestals with sixteen petals, symbolizing various aspects of their nature. They are depicted with four hands, each holding symbolic objects. These may include a trishula (trident), representing power and destruction; a patra (vessel), which may contain either benevolent offerings like pudding or malevolent substances like blood; a khatvanga (magical wand), symbolizing spiritual authority; and a carma (shield), signifying protection.

While Dakinis can embody ferocity and power, they also serve as guardians of dharma (righteousness) and of their devotees. In this sense, they are akin to angels, offering guidance, protection, and spiritual support to those who venerate them. Their presence in Hindu mythology and tantric practices emphasizes the interplay between divine forces and human experience, highlighting the complex dynamics of devotion, protection, and spiritual evolution.