Mahavidyas-Ten Divine Wisdoms
Mahvidyas are ten different aspects of AdiShakti, representing ten different cosmic personalities and qualities. They are Tantric Goddesses and are of utmost importance in the Shakta tradition.
All Mahavidyas have unique characterstics varying from fierce and volcanic form of Devi Bhairavi to the loving and protecting form of Devi Tara and from frightful looking Chinnamasta to the supremely beautiful Tripura Sundari.
Mahakali or Kali is the head of the Ten Mahavidyas . She is the supreme personality , the Brahman in Shaktism. She is the one who is unaffected by three Gunas and is the devourer(destroyer) of time.
While different religious texts of Shaktism like declare different Goddess as supreme , it is important to note that all these ten forms are the manifestation of Adi-Parashakti, the energy that is the creator of universe, the female energy that created the Trinity of Brahma ,Vishnu and Shiva.
All ten Mahavidyas resides in a divine island known as Manidweep.
Manidweep- Residence of Mahavidyas
Manidweepa is the place where the ten Mahavidyas resides . According to Devi Bhagwatam , this place is even superior to Kailash ,Goloka and SatyaLoka.
Devi Bhuvaneshwari is the empress of Manidweep . She is the one who created the island and is also responsible for the creation of every other God and life form .
She created all Lokas from Satyaloka to PatalLoka . It is under the influence of her Maya(illusion) , that multiple universes gets created and destroyed repeatedly by Brahma ,Vishnu and Shiva.
सर्वदो निजवासार्थ प्रकृत्या मूलभूतया ।
कैलासादधिको लोको वैकुण्ठादपि चोत्तमः ॥
गोलोकादपि सर्वस्मात्सर्वलोकोऽधिकः स्मृतः ।
नैतत्समं त्रिलोक्यां तु सुन्दरं विद्यते क्वचित् ॥
In the very beginning, the Devi Mula Prakriti Bhagavati built this place for Her residence, superior to Kailaska, Vaikunta and Goloka. Verily no other place in this universe can stand before it. Hence it is called Manidvipa or Sarvaloka as superior to all the Lokas
— Canto 12, Chapter 10, Verses 03:04
Origin of Mahavidyas
Unlike the other forms of Durga , like Matrikas, Mahavidyas were never created for a purpose. They are always unified in Adi-Shakti , and are different aspects of her.
According to a popular legend, when Daksha Prajapati was performing a Yajna and invited all Gods in it , except Shiva, Sati asked Shiva to let her go and attend the Yajna.
Shiv did not allow her ,knowing that Daksha would insult Sati and him. But , Devi Sati thought that Shivji was unaware of her strength and divine powers .
To show her powers and capability to Shiva, Sati expanded her divine forms and generated the ten Mahavidyas, surrounding Shiva from all sides. Shiva knew the power of Sati and allowed her to go.
Importance of Mahavidyas in Tantra
When studied deeply ,the ten Mahavidyas , reflects the dynamic unity of existence in which all aspects of life – the darkest, the purest, the most forceful and the inert – are combined to form a whole, a vision of unity in diversity.
Tantra simply means a system , and here it refers to a system for attaining the supreme state of consciousness and merging into the divine mother, by removing the effects of three Gunas.
Although the rituals like animal sacrifice, is a part of Tantra , but it has nothing to do with the Sadhana performed for attaining supreme consciousness.
Tantra defines ‘Worship’ as :
‘The highest form of worship (Param Puja) is not offering flowers, etc., to any image, but it is the grasp of the true nature of [the Deity as being the] Self. It does not need any definite place or time: it is to be performed wherever and whenever possible’.
Maha Vidya Yoga consists in fact of ten different ways (paths) of understanding ourselves and the Universe through identification with ten fundamental energies-consciousness of the Cosmos.
Therefore our purpose is self-knowledge through specific ways which best fit our personality. Tantra reveals that the Supreme Being can be reached in anyone of these ten Cosmic centres of Wisdom.
Detailed Information of 10 Mahavidyas