By Swami Harshananda
According to tantras, Ḍākinis are texts of the Mother cult, a class of female spirits attending the major goddesses in their fierce aspect like Kālī. Their function is to assume terrible forms to instill fear in the hearts of people who are inimical to the devotees. They can also be benevolent spirits who guide the devotees along the right path.
These ḍākinīs are supposed to have burst forth from the derisive laughter of Śivadutī (an aspect of Durgā) and fought with the rākṣasas or the demons in the armies of the demon king Ruru. A ḍākinī is shown as a goddess seated on a lotus pedestal with sixteen petals. She has four hands holding triśula (trident), pātra (vessel), khaṭvāṅga (magical wand) and carma (shield). The vessel is filled with pudding. She is pictured as a malevolent and benevolent goddess with blood. Sometimes they are described as the guardian deities of dharma and devotees.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore