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Mahadevi (Sanskrit: महादेवी, IAST: Mahādevī), also referred to as Adi Parashakti, Adi Shakti, and Abhaya Shakti, is the supreme goddess in the Shaktism sect of Hinduism.[3][4] According to this tradition, all goddesses are considered to be manifestations of this single great Goddess, who is comparable to the deities of Vishnu and Shiva.[5] Vaishnavas consider her to be Lakshmi,[6] Shaivas consider her as Parvati, Durga, and Mahakali,[7] while Shaktas consider her to be Durga, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneswari, and Kali. Author Helen T Boursier says, "In Hindu philosophy both Lakshmi and Parvati are identified with the great goddess — Mahadevi — and the Shakti or divine power".[8]

Mother Goddess;
Para Brahman, Supreme Goddess of Hinduism
MET DT4003.jpg
An 18th century painting of Mahadevi from Bikaner, Rajasthan.
Devanagariमहादेवी/आदिशक्ति पराशक्ति
Sanskrit transliterationMahādevī / Ādiśakti / Parāśakti
MantraŌm āim hrīm śrīm klīm[1]
WeaponDevi Chakra, Pasha, Ankusha, Trishula (trident), Panchajanya
SymbolsOm, Sri Yantra
MountLion and Tiger
TextsDevi Mahatmya, Devi-Bhagavata Purana, Kalika Purana, Lalita Sahasranama, Soundarya Lahari, Shiva Purana, Shakta Upanishads such as the Devi Upanishad[2]
FestivalsNavaratri, Vasanta Panchami, Durga Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja, Durga Ashtami, Lalita Jayanti, Adi-Puram
Personal information
SpouseVsihwaroopa or Vishnu


The goddess Lakshmi is revered as Mahadevi in the Vaishnavite tradition, extolled to possess a thousand names and qualities such as the bestower of prosperity, the lotus-eyed one, the omniscient one, the one who meditates on the Ultimate Reality, as well as the one with the cosmic form.[9] Various texts like the Garuda Purana, Bhagavata Purana, and Lakshmi Tantra refer to Lakshmi as Mahadevi.

According to Sapta Sati, the iconographical characteristics of Lakshmi are as follows: "She bears 18 hands carrying a rosary, axe, mace, arrow, thunderbolt, lotus, pitcher, rod, shakti, sword, shield, conch, bell, wine-cup, trident, noose, chakra, and the discus".[10] Lakshmi is revered to be prakriti, the perfect creation: self-sustaining, self-contained Nature. She is worshipped as maya, the delightful delusion, the dream-like expression of divinity that makes life comprehensible, hence worth living. She is true shakti, energy, boundless and bountiful.[11]

इच्छारूपां भगवतस्सच्चिदानन्दरूपिणीम् । सर्वज्ञां सर्वजननी विष्णुवक्षस्स्थलालयाम् । दयालुमनिशं ध्यायेत्सुखसिद्धिस्वरूपिणीम् ॥

I always meditate on that Goddess who has the form of pleasure and salvation,

Who takes that form that is dear to the God, who is the form of divine joy, Who knows everything, who is the mother of all,

Who lives on the chest of Lord Vishnu and who is very merciful.

— Vyasa, Lakshmi Sahasranama Stotram, Skanda Purana


The Shiva Purana says Adi Parashakti incarnated in materialistic form as Parama Prakriti from the left half of Lord Shiva i.e.Parabrahman during the beginning of the Universe. The Linga Purana states that Adi Shakti brings forth the evolution of life in every Universe through the union of every Parvati and Shiva in all of the Universes.[12][13]


Shaktas conceive the Goddess as the supreme, ultimate, eternal reality of all existence, or same as the Brahman concept of Hinduism. She is considered to be simultaneously the source of all creation, its embodiment and the energy that animates and governs it, and that into which everything will ultimately dissolve. She has manifested herself as Shiva in male form. Her half is Shiva.[14]


In the Devi Gita, it is suggested that before incarnating as Parvati, she appeared to King Himalaya and revealed divine, eternal knowledge to him. She explained herself, in the words of the Vedas, as having neither beginning nor end. She is the only, eternal truth. The whole universe is her creation. She is the only victor and the manifestation of victory itself. She is a manifested, un-manifested and transcendent divinity. She then displayed her scarcely seen form to him: Satyaloka was located in her forehead; the created universe were her hairs; the sun and moon were her eyes; in her ears were the four directions; the Vedas were her words; death, affection and emotion were her teeth; maya was manifested by her smile.[15] The goddess Parvati as Kushmanda gives birth to the universe in the form of an cosmic egg which manifests as the universe. Ultimately, Adi Shakti herself is the zero energy which exists even after destruction of the universe and before its creation.[16]

Shakta PuranasEdit

The Devi Bhagavata Purana described her in the form of Bhuvaneshvari. It mentioned that Shiva worshipped and meditated on Adi Parashakti for thousands of years, using the beeja mantra "Hreem". The Goddess Adi Parashakti is also considered to be both the truly supreme spirit without form (Param Atman) and Saguna with form. In her Saguna form she is described as the Mother of the Universe and is residing in Sarvaloka Manidweepa above all of the other realms. She is the Great Goddess, and all other goddesses and even all the Gods are her various forms, says the Devi Gita. In Devi Mahatmyam, Trimurti and demigods praises Adi Shakti.[citation needed]

गायन्ती दोलयन्ती च बालभावान्मयि स्थिते ।
सेयं सुनिश्चितं ज्ञातं जातं मे दर्शनादिव ।।
कामं नो जननी सैषा शृणु तं प्रवदाम्यहम् ।
अनुभूतं मया पूर्व प्रत्यभिज्ञा समत्थिता ॥

Now I recollect all what I felt before at Her sight and recognize that She is the Bhagavati. These very things I now communicate to you. Hear attentively that She is this Lady and She is our Mother.

— Srimad Devi Bhagavatam Canto 03, Chapter 03, Verse 66:67

Role in creationEdit

In Third canto of Srimad Devi Bhagavatam Devi addressed Trimurti as follows:[17]

There is oneness always between me and the Purusha; there is no difference whatsoever at any time between me and the Purusha (the Supreme Self). Who is I, that is Purusha; who is Purusha, that is I. The difference between force and the receptacle of force is due to error. He who knows the subtle difference between us two, is certainly intelligent; he is freed from this bondage of Samsara; there is no manner of doubt in this. The One Second less Eternal ever lasting Brahman substance becomes dual at the time of creation.

— Srimad Devi Bhagavatam Canto 03, Chapter 06, Verse 02:03

According to the Tripura Rahasya, only goddess existed before the beginning of the universe. She created the Trimurti and began the creation of the universe.[18]

Long ago, at the time of creation, Tripura the Universal Consciousness was all alone. There was nothing other than Her. She, the embodiment of Power, who is Self independent wanted to create; the desire developed. From desire, knowledge was born and then action. From Her three glances the three gods were born. Pashupati represented desire, Hari knowledge and Brahma action. They were looked at by Sankari and became naturally powerful and Truth abiding.

— Shri Tripura Rahasya (Mahatmya Khanda), Chapter 10, Verses 18 to 22

Adi Parashakti's formsEdit

As Parvati, she is kind and tender and represents motherhood.
As Kali, she is ferocious and destroys evil.

Devi Parvati is the complete incarnation of Adi Parashakti.[21] Parvati was Sati in her previous birth. Sati was also a direct incarnation of Adi Parashakti. However, Sati died and was reborn as Parvati. Parvati is shown as kind and loving mother goddess. Mahadevi can take various forms including Kali, Durga, Chandi, etc.

According to Shakta traditions, Devi is the ultimate goddess and complete physical embodiments of Adi Parashakti. Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva of this Brahmanda are her subordinates and cannot function without her power. Thus, she is considered the supreme Goddess and primary deity in Shaktism as she is the nearest representative of Adi Parashakti who further incarnated as Parvati. Whatever deity one is worshiping, ultimately, they are worshiping Adi Parashakti.[22] According to the Srikula tradition in Shaktism, Tripura Sundari is the foremost of the Mahavidyas, the highest aspect of Mahadevi and also the primary goddess of Sri Vidya. The Tripura Upanishad places her as the ultimate Shakti (energy, power) of the universe.[23]

She took various incarnations over a period of time for upholding Dharma. As per the yogis of the highest order, she is the power who resides in the Kundalini in the form of Amba, she is 31/2 coil in size and when the Kundalini is raised from the sacrum bone of every human being by a highly realized soul whose kundalini is also awakened then she rises through the back bone of the human opening all chakras mooladhara, Swadisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddi, Agnya and finally through sahasrara chakras and connects the soul to the all pervading power (or collective consciousness) of the divine.[24]

On the three nadis, Ida (Left channel- Tamo guna), Pingala (Right channel-Rajo Guna) and Sushumna (central channel-Sattva guna), the kundalini passes through the central channel balancing all the left and right channel.[25]

Kali is another form of Mahadevi. She is the goddess of power, spiritual fulfillment, time, as well as presiding over the destruction of the universe. She gives salvation to mankind. She is the incarnation of Parvati and consort of Shiva's incarnation Mahakala. She helped Lord Maha Vishnu slay the demons Madhu and Kaitabha in the form of Mahamaya. It is she who also slew Shumbha and Nishumbha in the form of Kaushiki, who are symbols of ignorance. She is also known as Yogmaya. She is also called as Tamsi Devi and Chandi Devi as per Durga Saptashati. She wears red or black and presides over the Tamas Guna.


The Sri Yantra in diagrammatic form, showing how its nine interlocking triangles form a total of 43 smaller triangles.

Shaktas claim that it is assumed that indirectly or directly, everybody worships her. When, someone is utilizing their energy in positive aspects of life then they are worshiping her. Hypothetically Shaktas assume, since, she is absolute Energy, so when one knows how to raise their inner energy and knows how to balance that energy for daily work then ultimately, they are worshiping her. To balance Energy for day-to-day life, people worship their personal gods/God as per their religion, enlighten candles and lamps at home, do good work for society and much more. All these activities either energize them or serve as methods to gain motivation.[citation needed]

Many scholars like Swami Vivekananda prefers meditation as best practice to stop mental impurities as he said Holy meditation helps to burn out all mental impurities and claims that to know one's own energy is best method to worship Divine Mother.[citation needed]

Though core shakta people believe in direct worship of Adi Shakti through Meditation and Samadhi, Tantra, Sri chakra and traditional deity worship. While worshiping her through yoga, Samadhi or through Tantra, one needs proper adherent guru, who himself or herself must know all the rules and rituals.[unreliable source?] If someone who doesn't have proper guru, then one can also worship her by singing her praise.[citation needed]


Adi Parashakti is generally seen as an abstract goddess but her appearances is described in the Devi Bhagavata Purana, Kalika Purana, Markandeya Purana-Devi Mahatmya, Brahmanda Purana-Lalita Sahasranama, and the Tripura Rahasya. According to the Devi Bhagavata Purana, the goddess once invited the Trimurti to Manidvipa. The Trimurti saw the supreme goddess Bhuvaneshvari sitting on a jeweled seat in a throne. Her face contained the radiance of millions of stars and her celestial beauty was so great that the Trimurti were not able to look at her. She carries the abhaya and varada mudra, pasha, ankusha. They then realized that she was the energy responsible for creating, preserving, and destroying the whole universe.[26]


Mahadevi is known by many names. She is commonly known as Mulaprakrti ('she who is primordial matter') and Mahamaya ('she who is great maya').[21] The Devi Bhagavata Purana and Lalita Sahasranama describe Mahadevi's numerous epithets. These names include her divine and destructive characteristics.[21] In the Devi Bhagavata Purana she is described as 'the mother of all', 'the life force in all beings', and 'she who is supreme knowledge'. The Lalita Sahasranama also describes her as Visvadhika ('she who transcends the universe'), Sarvaga ('she who is omnipresent'), Vishvadharini ('she who supports the universe'), Raksasaghni ('she who slays demons'), Bhairavi ('the terrible one'), and Sarhharini ('she who destroys').[21] Mahadevi's destructive features are further described in a hymn called Aryastava, calling her Kalaratri ('night of death') and Nistha ('she who is death').[21]


With incarnations of VishnuEdit

The Guhyati guyha-tantra associates the Mahavidyas with the ten avatars of Vishnu, and states that the Mahavidya forms of Mahadevi are the source from which the avatars of Vishnu arose.

The ten corresponding Avatars with Mahavidyas
no. Goddess names Avatar names
1. Kali Krishna
2. Tara Rama
3. Shodashi Kalki
4. Bhuvaneshvari Varaha
5. Tripura Bhairavi Narasimha
6. Chhinnamasta Parashurama
7. Dhumavati Vamana
8. Bagalamukhi Kurma
9. Matangi Buddha
10. Kamalatmika Matsya

With DemigodsEdit


Adi Parashakti is the one who actually creates maya for gods and teaches them what to do and what not to do so that they can be connected to the ultimate God. She helped Lord Vishnu to slay the demons Madhu and Kaitabha to save the world. Moreover, she is also the one that who takes Lord Vishnu to mystic sleep hence called Yoganidra of Lord Narayana. It is required by yogis, sages and bhaktas, so that they can be connected to God. Shaktas consider her to be goddess Durga.[citation needed]


She is the goddess that destroys the upfold of illusion. She is the one that creates and destroys maya. She is controlled by Yogmaya and hence subordinate to Yogmaya and senior to Maya.[citation needed] She emerges as seven mothers to destroy evil forces of Shumbha and Nishumbha, with Chamunda being one of them. She is required to gain physical strength, health, satvika attributes and demotes anger, greed and arrogance Shaktas consider her as form of Durga.[27]


She is the one who deludes living beings from god and takes any being to the world of illusion. She promotes greed, anger, and arrogance. It is assumed that in the Age of Kali Yuga, her effect is highest.[28]

In popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ Swami Narayanananda (1960). The Primal Power in Man: The Kundalini Shakti. Health Research Books. p. 50. ISBN 9780787306311.
  2. ^ Jones, Constance; Ryan, James (2014). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. p. 399. ISBN 978-0816054589.
  3. ^ Vanamali (21 July 2008). "3. Mahadevi". Shakti: Realm of the Divine Mother. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-59477-785-1.
  4. ^ Dalal, Roshen (6 January 2019). The 108 Upanishads: An Introduction. Penguin Random House India Private Limited. ISBN 978-93-5305-377-2.
  5. ^ Hay, Jeff (6 March 2009). World Religions. Greenhaven Publishing LLC. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-7377-4627-3.
  6. ^ Pintchman, Tracy (21 June 2001). Seeking Mahadevi: Constructing the Identities of the Hindu Great Goddess. SUNY Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-7914-5007-9.
  7. ^ Bonnefoy, Yves (15 May 1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-226-06456-7.
  8. ^ Boursier 2021, p. 30.
  9. ^ "Lakshmi Sahasranama Stotram - Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia". Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  10. ^ D. R. Rajeswari (1989). Sakti Iconography. Intellectual Publishing House. p. 19. ISBN 9788170760153. According to Sapta Sati the iconographical characteristics of Lakshmi are as follows: She is having 18 hands carrying rosary, axe, mace, arrow, thunderbolt, lotus, pitcher, rod, Sakti, Sword, Shield, Conch, bell, wine-cup, trident, noose and the discus
  11. ^ Pattanaik, Devdutt (2002). Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Fortune: An Introduction. Vakils, Feffer and Simons. ISBN 978-81-8462-019-1.
  12. ^ Shastri, J. L. (1970). English translation by J. L. Shastri (ed.). The Shiva Purāṇa (includes glossary) – via Wisdom Library.
  13. ^ Shiva Mahapurana | Gitapress Gorakhpur
  14. ^ Dikshitar 1999, pp. 77–78.
  15. ^ "The Devi Gita index". Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  16. ^ Bonnefoy, Yves (15 May 1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-226-06456-7.
  17. ^ "Cosmology". Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother. 9 May 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  18. ^ Rao, T.B. Lakshmana (2011). Shri Tripura Rahasya (Mahatmya Khanda). Sri Kailasamanidweepa Trust, Bengaluru. p. 108.
  19. ^ Vasantānanta (Swami.), Nā Irāmaccantiraṉ (1993). Sri Lalita Sahasranamam: Nama-wise Commentary in English with Text in Sanskrit. p. 358.
  20. ^ Śaṅkarācārya; Tapasyananda (Swami.); Lakṣmīdhara (1987). Saundarya-lahari of Sri Sankaracarya: with text and translation, and notes based on Lakṣmīdhara's commentary. Sri Ramakrishna Math. p. 70. ISBN 9788171202447.
  21. ^ a b c d e Kinsley, David (1998). HinduGoddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 978-81-208-0394-7.
  22. ^ Bonnefoy, Yves (15 May 1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-226-06456-7.
  23. ^ Mahadevan 1975, pp. 235.
  24. ^ Bonnefoy, Yves (15 May 1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-226-06456-7.
  25. ^ Bonnefoy, Yves (15 May 1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-226-06456-7.
  26. ^ Kinsley, David (1998). Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 978-81-208-0394-7.
  27. ^ The Heart of Hinduism: The Eastern Path to Freedom, Empowerment and Illumination. Stephen Knapp. 2005. ISBN 9780595350759. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  28. ^ Bhagavata Purana, Part 1 (Motilal English Full ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. 1950. 1999 reprint.
  29. ^ "on writing a book with the core theme of sacred feminism - The News Now". Retrieved 12 July 2022.