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Goddess Durga

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Sat Sep 21 1996 - 04:54:25 PDT

Regarding Sri Vijay Srinivasan's Questions , 
I would like to make the following observations .

!. Shantha Durga form is indeed the form consecrated 
in South Indian Temples . She is some times called
Vaishnavi or NarayaNiin the context of her being the 
Vishnu MayA . At the 51st of the 108 Sakthi peetams near Madras ,
, Ambattur (iympatthu onru =51) , She is worshipped as Vaishnavi .
I have  written extensively on the 108 sakthi Peetas of India and 
Devi Worship in India in special articles for a  Tattva Loka 
issue devoted to Navarathri . There  is a Vast literature in 
Agamas as well on Durga and Devi . 

2. One can also see Shantha Durga in the Northeastern 
Prakaram of SarangapaNi temple at KumbakoNam . It 
is a small shrine , ten feet above ground in a samll niche . 
Durga and her association with temples of Kanchi and Thirukovilur 
are refeerred to in the Sthala PuraNas . In North American Temples ,
the trustees take into account worshippers of different traditions .
Hence the range of deities consecrated is wide . 
The Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple to be built at Pomona, NY , 
is one temple that will be a replica of the traditions of 
Srirangam temple .

3. I will include here two views on Durga  , One from Devi Upanishad 
and the other from Markandeya PuraNa. Devi Upanishad 
passage says : " In all knowledge , She is the transcendant 
consciousness; in all voids , She is the void. She, beyond whom 
there is no beyond is sung as " Beyond -Reach "(DURGA) .

4. Markendaya PuraNam passage describes the Mahishasura 
Mardini form consecrated in a beautiful icon at the Thyagaraja/
Kamalaambha temple at ThiruvArur in ChoLa Desam .It says:
" A long war had been waged between the Gods , led by Indra
and the antigods . The king of antigods, the genie Mahisha 
(the powerful ) , won the war and established himself in the 
kingdom of Devas . The Gods wandered homeless on the earth.
They approached Siva an d Vishnu for help. Guided by Siva and Vishnu ,
they concentrated their powers  which came from their mouth 
in the form of  a jet fire. These flames united into a blazing sphere
which took the shape of a Goddess. The power of Siva formed 
the head, that of Yama the hair, that of Vishnu the arms, that of moon 
the breasts , that of Indra the waist , that of Brahma the feet . 
>From the power of Sun came the toenails , from Vasus the fingernails ,
from Kubera the nose , from Prajapati the teeth , and from Agni the eyes,
from the twilight (Sandhya) the brows , from Vayu the ears . Each God
handed over their weapons to the Goddess . The conception of Her 
creation reminds one of Purusha Sooktham somewhat .

Riding  a lion , the Goddess , whose name is Durga (Beyond Reach ) ,
defeated the enemies of the Gods and destroyed Mahisha , who
took the form of a Buffalo and restoreed the kingdom of Gods to Indra .

Durga Sapthsathi , Devi Bhagavatam and Maha Bharatham give 
this description as well . She is prayed therefore for victory in
battles and the reference of Parthasarathy directing Partha 
to offer worship to Durga  at the beginning of the mighty war 
probably refers to this tradition . 

The rendering of Mahishasura Mardini slokams by Brahma Sri
(late ) Sengalipuram Anantha Rama Dikshithar and the singing 
by Bombay sisters in that tradition are  delightful to listen to .