By Swami Harshananda
Daśamahāvidyās literally means ‘ten great representations of knowledge’.
Ten aspects of Śakti, sometimes described in tāntric works, are termed as ‘Daśamahāvidyās’. These mahāvidyās are the representations of transcendental knowledge and power. It is the sources of all that is to be known. These daśamahāvidyās are described below:
- Kālī - She is the first goddess representing the goddess of time which destroys everything.
- Tārā - She represents the power of the golden embryo (Hiraṇyagarbha) from which the universe evolves. She also stands for void or the boundless space.
- Soḍaśī - The word literally means ‘one who is sixteen years old.’ She is the personification of fullness and perfection.
- Bhuvaneśvarī - This goddess represents the forces of the material world.
- Bhairavī - This goddess stands for desires and temptations which leads to the destruction and death.
- Chinnamastā - She is the naked deity holding her own severed head in hand and drinking her own blood. She represents the continued state of self-sustenance of the created world in which continuous incessant self-destruction and self-renewal is seen in a cyclic order.
- Dhumāvatī - She personifies the destruction of the world by fire. After the destruction, only smoke (Dhuma) from its ashes remains. She is sometimes identified with Alakṣmi or Jyeṣṭhādevī.
- Bagalā - She is a crane-headed goddess who represents the ugly side of living creatures like jealousy, hatred and cruelty.
- Mātaṅgi - This goddess is the embodiment of the power of domination.
- Kamalā - She is the pure consciousness of the Self, bestowing boons and allaying the fears of the supplicants. She is identified with Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore