Goddess worship has long been an integral part of Hindu culture. Here, devotees think of them as the ultimate divine mother, who is responsible for both the creation of the universe, and its protection from the opposite side of evil forces.
There are many goddesses who are shown with multiple heads and arms, to convey their strength and power. However, those extra hands of these goddesses only come up visible, either when they are engaged in a war against the demons, or busy battling the universal cosmic forces for the benefit and well-functioning of the entire creation.
Having many arms is a distinguishing characteristic of Hindu deities, that sets them apart from other religions. In the Hindu pantheon, some are represented with even ten to twelve arms. In this post, we’ll look at five such goddesses who have multiple arms.
Durga is one of Hinduism’s primary goddesses. Sometimes, she’s also called Devi, or Shakti, which represents her character as the protective mother of the universe. The word “Durga” is a Sanskrit word. It literally means – a fort or a place that is very difficult to overrun, indicating her fearsome nature.
Apart from being a goddess, she’s also the consort of Lord Shiva. In most of her imagery or idols, Durga can be shown sitting on a lion, with ten hands holding many divine weapons, and ready to engage in a war against the evil forces of Asuras. Because of this, she is also known as “Durgatinashini”, which translates as the one who removes sufferings.
Mahakali is one of the few Hindu goddesses that receives the most conflicting opinions. The world knows her best as the hindu goddess of destruction, who slays asuras and drinks their blood. Out of all the forms of Mahakali, this is the most fiercest one. In the traditions of Shaktism and Transtrim, she is also revered as the goddess of universal power, who represents time, death and birth, and moksha.
Her first mention can be found in the Atharva deva. However, there she’s not described as a goddess, but rather as a fierce black tongue, which is one of seven belonging to Agni, the Hindu deity of fire. It’s only 400 years ago when she was described as an individual goddess personifying the rage of Durga in her own right.
Goddess Gayatri is the divine consort of Lord Brahma, and an incarnation of Devi Saraswati. According to the scriptures, she is the personified form of the Gayatri Mantra, a popular sacred hymn in Hinduism.
Goddess Gayatri is worshiped as the devi who represents the never-ending pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, because she is a form of Goddess Saraswati herself. According to legend, she appeared before Lord Brahma when he was looking for a suitable woman who could replace Saraswati as his wife, and assist him in performing his yajna (offerings to surya deva).
Saraswati is one of the most important goddesses in hindu mythology. She is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, wisdom, music, and elegance. The first mention of Devi Saraswati can be found in the Rigveda. In various other texts, she’s also said to be the inventor of the sanskrit language.
She rarely wears jewels or embellishes herself with ornaments. Goddess Saraswati prefers to dress in white sarees, which reflect her inherent purity. As a result, some people of the Jain religion worship her as well.
Lakshmi is the hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, power, fertility, and auspiciousness. Devotees regard her as the source of all material fulfillment and contentment. Lakshmi is very famous in Hinduism. Her popularity can be presumed from the fact that her sacred name is Shri, which appears at the top of most important business documents.
Before addressing a god, teacher, or any revered individual, the word “Shri” or “Shree” is also used. She is the divine consort of Lord Vishnu, and is said to have taken different forms in order to be with him in each of his incarnations.