goddesses in tantra

Goddesses in Tantra

The Ten Divine Paths of Knowledge of the Dasha Maya Vidyas (Part 1)

Author: Stefanie Aue
Category: Vedas/Yoga
Issue No: 94

Tantra is known, among other things, for the special worship of the female part of God, “Maha Shakti” in Sanskrit. On the path to the highest Absolute, the Tantra practitioner chooses one of the ten facets of Maha Shakti to approach his goal, enlightenment, in the way he prefers. Each of these ten facets, or “Dasha Maha Vidyas,” connects the manifestation with the very highest Divine and therefore represents the possibility of becoming a unique path of realization for the practitioner. This first part of the article is dedicated to the first five of the Dasha Maha Vidyas and the potential that lies hidden within them.

Hindu Tantrism speaks of “Shiva” and “Maha Shakti” as the male and female principles of the universe.

The Shiva principle represents the part of the Absolute that is connected with consciousness, while Maha Shakti is the power that expresses itself as energy and permeates the entire manifestation. She is the Holy Spirit who completes the Trinity with Father and Son. Maha Shakti, in turn, according to the Tantric tradition, has ten specific aspects that perform certain tasks of the Divine Mother. Each of these ten aspects is reflected in every detail of creation, in every tree, in every leaf, and in every cell. At the same time, each of these ten aspects also has its share in the absorption of creation. In other words, the divine mother expresses herself in ten different hypostases, which in Tantra can be worshipped in the personified form of ten different goddesses. In order to get to know and harmonize with each one of these ten goddesses, also called in Sanskrit “Dasha Maha Vidyas”, the ten great paths of knowledge or the ten Great Macrocosmic Forces, the Tantra practitioner performs meditations, rituals and exercises of attention and transfiguration in order to approach the chosen goddess and receive her grace. In turn, the goddess helps the practitioner to become more and more self-aware. First, the practitioner perceives the corresponding goddess in the supposed external, in order to then experience her through identification, “samyama” in Sanskrit, with her in one’s own inner being.



Kali, the Great Macrocosmic Force of Time and Transformation



In order for this identification to succeed in an easy way, it is helpful to have a precise idea of that Great Macrocosmic Force with which we wish to come into harmony. In this way, it is easier for us to relate to the Divine Mother. Each of the goddesses of the Dasha Maha Vidya canon, therefore, personifies what would otherwise remain abstract reality for us without their pictorial representations. In this way, it is easier for the practitioner to come into contact with higher spiritual truths and to establish a personal relationship with the respective goddess, so that he can experience her cosmic truth directly within himself. Spiritual practice with the ten Great Macrocosmic Forces is therefore not so much an external worship, but rather an internal worship in the form of meditation, identification and devotion.

From this tradition, it is also understandable why Tantra is often associated with the worship of the Divine Mother, the feminine aspect of the Godhead: Tantra affirms the manifestation that springs from energy, Shakti, and in this way can be experienced by us daily. At the same time, nevertheless, it also acknowledges the synonymous masculine part of the universe, Shiva.

In fact, the masculine and feminine principles support each other and they can be worshipped together.

Together, Shiva and Maha Shakti arise from the very highest and absolute reality of God.

Since Maha Shakti is connected to both the Most High and manifestation, she can guide the tantric practitioner on his path of knowledge from the concrete material world to pure consciousness.

Just as Maha Shakti is connected to the gross, as well as the subtle, so are her ten divine aspects, the Dasha Maha Vidyas. Each one of them leads the practitioner who turns to them on a direct path back to the source of existence, to God Himself.



Tara embodies compassion and divine grace



The ten Great Macrocosmic Forces can be divided into benevolent and terrible goddesses, for some of these Great Macrocosmic Forces are not only inspiring but also quite terrifying, and it takes a fair amount of courage to face them. Moreover, their symbolic manifestations are not necessarily meant to give us pleasure, but rather to challenge us and awaken our minds. For example, they can neutralize our thought processes and free us from the patterns of our mind. Because of this immense influence on our being, it is important not to approach the Ten Great Macrocosmic Forces only superficially, but to surrender ourselves fervently to the Divine Mother in order to come into the full enjoyment of her grace, and then be blessed with the transformation of our being by her.

This was the first part of the article. The second will follow in Tattva Viveka 95.
The article was written with the collaboration of Chloe Hünefeld.

A practical approach to the Dasha Maha Vidyas is offered by the Yoga and Tantra courses of the German Academy for Traditional Yoga. More about this at: traditionelles-yoga.de

About the author: Stefanie Aue

Stefanie Aue is editor of Tattva Viveka and a freelance journalist. As a social and media scientist as well as a yoga teacher and tantra-for-women group leader, she is interested in social and individual transformation processes.

This article has also been published on the German Website: https://www.tattva.de/goettinnen-im-tantra/

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