While stories of traditional archetypes or Gods and Goddesses can be elaborate and even confusing, I hope to offer some background information on ancient Hindu stories and myths in a way that allows us to relate the information to our modern day lives. These myths offer us an outer form or monologue to talk about our own journeys in the here and now. While we may not fight demons or ride lions, we are each faced with battles against negativity or unique personal struggles that call upon our strengths and highlight our weaknesses. It is not necessary to have certain beliefs or customs to enjoy contemplating and perhaps even working with these energies. In this post we explore the story of Mother Durga.
I Am Woman Hear Me Roar (in a very compassionate way)!!!
Ancient stories tell us that there was once a demon who wanted to take over the heavens. This demon, named Mahish, had been granted a very special gift: the ability to live through any attack by the male Gods. Mahish, represents our own negative energies that often threaten our “heavens” or happiness. In this story, he was making fast progress and needed to be stopped. The Gods were not about to lose their world to Mahish, so they decided to create a female warrior who could destroy the demon.
Through this intention they created Mother Durga, a fierce warrior Goddess who cuts through negativity with compassion. She is made of the Gods, and therefore she was gifted with many powers and abilities. She has six arms, said to be a gift from Lord Brahma, and many weapons. She also carries a chakra-balancing disk, reminding us that many of our battles are with our own energy, or inner demons. She easily took down Mahish and returned balance to the heavens.
When we think about an energy that can save the world from demons, it makes sense that Durga is said to be the goddess behind dramatic breakthroughs (Sally Kempton 2005). While Durga’s face always remains peaceful, she rides a fierce lion. This lion is said to be fierce so that it can wake us up from our illusions, just in time for Durga to slice them away with her sword.
Durga’s energy is so strongly tied to transformation and the destruction of negativity that this energy can often be misunderstood as harshness. However, in reality the Durga energy looks to unburden us of our own illusions and she does this in the same way she killed Mahish, with compassion. Our illusions mask our true desires and when this mask is taken from us, we are able to live in the moment and ultimately have a deeper understanding of ourselves.
Durga’s story reminds us that, in the battlefield of life, it often takes strength to be compassionate with both our words and actions. If you are looking to bring these qualities into your life try this five-minute meditation:
Begin by finding a comfortable seat. Feeling physically comfortable and supported will allow you to truly relax into your meditation. Allow your gaze to soften and bring your attention to your breath. Start to feel your chest expand on your inhales and contract on your exhales. Allow yourself to be however you are in this moment.
Imagine that your breath is beginning to move in and out of the center of your chest, your spiritual heart. Allow for every inhale you take, from this place of awareness, to fill you with the love and compassion of Mother Durga and for every exhale you release, to help you let go of staleness or negativity. When you feel your meditation coming to an end simply ask Mother Durga for what you need and allow this breath to help you remain open to receiving it.
Thank you for practicing, on and off the mat!
Love & Gratitude,