By Swami Harshananda
Bhuvaneśvari literally means ‘Mistress of the universe’.
Scriptures often project the śakti or the divine power of God, as a female.
God creates this universe (sṛṣti), sustains it for one cycle of creation (sthiti) and then destroys it or withdraws it (laya or pralaya) into himself. These three aspects of God with their consorts are sometimes pictured as three different deities:
Pārvatī, also called as Śakti forms the basis of the Sākta cult and has innumerable emanations or manifestations widely worshiped all over the country. One such celebrated aspect, quite commonly worshiped is Bhuvaneśvari or ‘Mistress of the universe’.
Pārvatī is worshiped not only in the Devi temples but also in one’s own home. She is sometimes classed among the Daśamahāvidyās, ten aspects of transcendental knowledge and power. She is the ruler over the caturdaśabhuvanas or the fourteen worlds from Brahmaloka to Pātāla. Hence she is also called as the Bhuvaneśvari. She is the presiding deity over all the forces of the material world which can be obtained by propitiating her.
Iconographically, she is represented as the color of the rising sun. Extraordinarily beautiful, she is seated on a lotus seat and has three eyes and four arms. She is bedecked with an array of ornaments. A crescent moon adorns her crown. She is holding a pāśa (noose) and an aṅkuśa (goad) in two hands, the other two hands exhibiting the varada (boon-giving) and abhaya (protection) mudrās.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore