The 10 Mahavidya are the terrifying aspects of the Devi, the Prakruti, the manifested creation. Their names are Mahakali (Kali), Tara, Tripursundari (Shodashi), Bhuvaneshvari, Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, Dhoomavati, Bagalamukhi (Valagamukhi), Matangi, and Kamala.
Some people consider the Mahavidya-s into two divisions, as the less strict Tara, Tripurasundari, Kamala, Bhuvaneshvari, and Matangi. And the more terrifying Kali, Dhoomavati, Bhairavi, Chhinamasta, and Bagalamukhi. In my opinion all are equally terrifying and you should not do anything with them unless you are 100% sure of what you are doing. They are very deeply linked into your energy. If you mess up here, it will take you several lives to recover. They are not just idols or representations, they are all aware and very fierce, Ugra.
- Dasha दश – 10, time period, fate, condition, perception, edge, position, pin-point, etc
- Maha महा – great, huge, vast, light, joy, seed, intelligence, extreme, etc
- Vidya – विद्या knowledge, skill, magic, mantra, gain, that which ignites, existence, to unbind or make free, pierce, the present instant, the combined act of starting, existing and the conclusion all together, etc.
This is how the 10 Mahavidyas were created. The story/allegory as per the Devi Puran. Devi Shakti/ Sati married Shiv against the wishes of her family and went to live with him at Kailas. Sati’s father Prajapati Daksh later planned a massive Yadnya at Kankhal, Hardwar but he did not invite Sati-Shiv to the ceremony. He didn’t like Shiv and after her marriage, didn’t want to see Sati either. But Sati wanted to go. Shiv was like, ‘you haven’t been invited so you shouldn’t go’. But Sati got cross, her logic being that Daksh was her own father, so why does she need an invite to go to her father’s house! Sati, in her rage, then created the 10 Mahavidya-s and they all surrounded Shiv and argued on her behalf. Ultimately Shiv gave in and told her to do whatever she wanted to, but there would be problems. And there were terrible consequences later. (There is a deep esoteric meaning to all this.)
These दश महा विद्या are generally taken to represent the 10 disha दिशा. They are considered to be 10 physical directions, east, west, north, south, NE, NW, SE, SW, up and down. This word दिशा means direction, region, scene, assignment, exhibition and most importantly, dimension. There are 10 dimensions of this manifested creation represented by the 10 Mahavidya energies. Each dimension is intelligent, aware, conscious and full of energy. The conscious energies of the 10 manifested dimensions are the 10 Mahavidya. The Bindu is the conscious origin of everything and beyond the concept of ‘dimension’. Now modern quantum physics and the string theory has also calculated that there are 10 dimensions. Physics has become metaphysics and will ultimately become Sanatan Dharma as the scientists get more deeply into the nature of intelligence and consciousness. The 10 dimensions ie the Dasha Mahavidya are a play of space and time plus awareness, intelligence and consciousness. Each one of them is roaring with power. It is a heady and exciting feeling to be face to face with their Vigraha where you can feel their energy pulsing.
The 10 Mahavidyas are not just the dimensions, they are the actual pran/ vital energy flowing in your body. The five main pran, are Pran, Apan, Vyan, Saman, and Udan. Their five sub-pran/ upa-pran are Kurma, Naag, Devdatt, Krkara and Dhananjai. I have written about the five main pran in my post here. The Dasha Mahavidya-s are present in your body as these 10 pran types and connect your mind/ body to the 10 dimensions of the manifested creation.
- Mahakali and Tara are located in the lower part of the body below the navel and reproductive systems as Apana and Kurma respectively.
- Shodashi and Bhuvaneshwai are Prana and Naag respectively and located in the upper regions of the body above the navel.
- Bhairavi and Chinnamasta are respectively Udan and Devdatta and these move upwards, they are more prominent in the throat and upper parts of the body.
- Dhoomavati and Bagalamukhi reside in the navel region and expand outward from it as Saman and Krkara respectively.
- Matangi and Kamala reside in the upper parts of the body including the head regions as Vyan and Dhananjai respectively.
The vital energies are derived from the source called the mukhya-pran ie OM. (Your soul is connected to the Bindu/Om, but to reach there the dimensions have to be navigated and their energies made use of first.)
We exist in each of these dimensions and also in the central Bindu which is beyond these dimensions. The 10 Mahavidyas and the Om are all within you. Their derived pran are also flowing within you. When you stand in front of the Vigraha of the Dasha Mahavidya-s or recite their mantras or do their Sadhana, you are working on your own energies in a very complicated way. You are entraining your vital energies to the dimensions. You are entraining your pran to the highest energies possible. eg If you are doing Bagalamukhi sadhana you will be focusing on the Saman and Krkara vayu-s and intensely linking them to the highest possible levels.
Mahavidya Sadhana or tantra is a part of the Shri-vidya. If you succeed you get a massive one-up. Tantra is an aspect of spiritual sadhana which is very rare now. There are rare Guru-s who know how to perform these rituals correctly and with the precise intention. And there are the rare aspirants who actually need to do these type of sadhanas. Generally 99.99% of us do not need to do Mahavidya related practices. The regular shaant/ benign forms of the Devi, ie Sarasvati, Laxmi and Parvati are more than sufficient for regular householders like us.
The internet has several dowsy sites which give tantric mantras for vashikaran, ucchatan, stambhan, etc. (There are 6 types of mantras.) I saw a video where the lady was giving out some creepy mantra for hypnotising someone. Someone else was saying that you don’t need a Guru for doing Bagalamukhi Sadhana and stuff. Avoid these sort of sites and their so-called mantra, you might get yourself and your target both into serious trouble.
If you are interested in doing any Sadhana related to the Mahavidyas, first entrain your energies to the Navavarna mantra. A initial 9 lakh repetition of the Navavarna is essential, else you might not be able to handle the further energies you evoke. eg Mahakali is the foremost Mahavidya. She is depicted in a very fierce manner. Her dangerous form is Smashan-Kali and her somewhat milder but still terrifying form is Dakshin-Kali. She is always depicted unclothed ‘dig-ambar’ दिगम्बर. She literally ‘wears the dimensions’, ‘clothed in the energy of space-time and more’, ‘secret of the dimensions’, ‘defined limits of manifested creation’. She is also the ‘inner core around which the manifested creation is created’. (I know an incident where the aspirant did an extremely complicated ritual to call Her. She came and asked him what he wanted. But the aspirant was so scared just seeing Her, that he ran away.) These rituals are a potent but often fraught with dangers. A specific life-style has to be adopted, there are strict energy rituals, specific and very typical ingredients, typical locations, then the appropriate time for doing this, etc are needed. Even the yantra or moorti/ vigraha that you will use as a focus point has to be made in a specific way. If you can use the mantra, tantra and yantra the way it is supposed to be, any of these Mahavidya-s can grant you everything including the ultimate Moksh.
Every aspect of Sanatan Dharm is designed to take you to your own reality, to achieve Moksh. Even from Ayurved, Rishi Patanjali has written that there are certain herbs Oushadhi, which if used in the correct way can grant deepest levels of Samadhi and further Moksh. But we do not have the herbs, nor the detailed knowledge on how to use them now. And the mantra, tantra and yantra system is also not available so easily. So in this present ‘modern age’ it is best to stick to Gayatri mantra and the Soham/ Hamsa practice. Focus on the the Bindu which is beyond the dimensions. This might take years or even a few lives, but you will reach there. The concepts of Kundalini, Moksh, Mahavidya-s, etc are not prizes, they cannot be shown-off as achievements. So be very clear why you want to do all this first, your intention and resolve will be tested on every step of the way.