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Hindu Goddesses and Divine Females

Updated on April 28, 2012
Goddess Kali is the terrible form of World Mother in Hinduism
Goddess Kali is the terrible form of World Mother in Hinduism | Source


The Sanskrit word for human beings is manav, which comes from Hindu King Manu. The legend of Manu is similar to Noah, who saved the humanity in his ark. Manusmiriti, the most sanctified Hindu book of law, is ascribed to King Manu. In the book the wise king says, “The deities delight in places where women are revered, but where women are not revered all rites are fruitless. Where women of the family are miserable the family is soon destroyed.”

Though the Hindu society basically is patriarchal, the religious doctrines emphasize on matriarchy. The Vedas, that were believed to composed between 1200-1500 BCE mention about the Gods such as Indra, Som (Moon), Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire) but these all Gods worship Aditi, the Mother of all Gods. Uma, also called Parvati in Puran, is another Vedic Goddess. Rig Veda mentions about Eight Mother-Goddess called Asta Matrika.

Women are idealized as Goddesses in Hinduism. It is harder to say when a common woman becomes divine, but Hindu scriptures mention about lots of women Seers. They composed mantras in Vedas and discussed philosophical ideas in the Upanishads.


Women Seers in Hindu Religion

Gargi, also called Vidushi Gargi – literally, wise Gargi – is probably the most controversial women figure in Hindu Scriptures. According to the Upanishads she had participated in the philosophical debate in the Court of Janaka and defeated many savants of the time. It is even hinted that Yagyavalka, one of the three sages who devised Hindu book of laws called Yagyavalka Smriti, could not answer Gargi and he just said her to shut her mouth.


Laksmi is the Goddess of Wealth in Hindu religion. She is consort of Lord Vishnu
Laksmi is the Goddess of Wealth in Hindu religion. She is consort of Lord Vishnu | Source
Durga is the benevolent form of World Mother in Hindu religion
Durga is the benevolent form of World Mother in Hindu religion | Source
Sarasvati is Goddess of wisdom and intellect
Sarasvati is Goddess of wisdom and intellect | Source



Divine Females in the Mahabharata

The heart of Hindu culture, tradition and religion lie in the epic Ramayana by Valmiki and Veda Vyasa’s Mahabharata. The Mahabharata, one of the oldest stories in the world, is also the longest at over one hundred thousand stanzas, about seven times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined. According to the Hindu myth, the Ramayana which has 24,000 couplets divided into seven books is older than the Mahabharata, central events of the Mahabharata is ascribed to 1300 BCE. However, the present version of the Ramayana, literally romance of Rama, and the Mahabharata, epic of Bharata dynasty, is believed to be composed around 300 BCE.

Draupadi is one of the central characters in the Mahabharata. She was born out of sacrificial fire, and married to Pandavas, five sons of king Pandu. One of the reasons for the war between Pandavas and their cousins Kaurava was because they had humiliated her. In her idealized form she is taken as childhood friend of Lord Krishna. In her terrible form she is also symbolized as Bhairavi, consort of Bhairav, where Bhimsen, one of the five husbands of Draupadi is Bhairav. Though Draupadi is more human than divine, she is defied for her power to change the course of history. Draupadi-Bhimsen cult is very popular in Nepal.

Apart from Draupadi, there are other divine women in the Mahabharata. Satyavati is the matriarch. She is not only the mother of the poet Veda Vaysa, who composed the Mahabharata but also the mother of two brothers whose children fight in the epic war.



Divine Female in the Ramayana

Sita is the Divine Female in the Ramayana. Sita, personification of wifely allegiance and self-surrender, was married to Rama. When Vishnu took incarnation of Rama then Laksmi, consort of Vishnu, also took the form of Sita. She was a small child, when King Janka found in the furrow while he was plowing the farm (Literal meaning of Sita is furrow). So, Earth is said to be Sita’s mother. At the end of the story in the Ramayana, she asks Mother Earth to let her in, Earth Goddess opens her chest and then Sita vanishes into the cracks.

Sita, like the Mother Earth, is the perfect example of endurance. She accompanied Rama when he was banished from his kingdom for fourteen years. While in exile, she was abducted by demon king Ravana. After Rama killed Ravana, Sita had to go into the ordeal of fire to prove her purity. She was rejected and sent to the jungle by Rama when people began to talk about her chastity. However, throughout her life she maintained her devotion to Rama.

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    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      @Mary, I'm glad that you found this interesting and you tried to understand the basis of Hindu religion. Thanks for your comment.

      @Mr. Happy, when the Hindu religion evolved the society was matriarchy. That's why religious doctrines emphasize on matriarchy. Later men took control over everything including religion and they molded the society on the basis of patriarchy.

      Hindu religion put lots of emphasis on sexual purity. Since Sita was kidnapped and lived within the confinement of Demon king, after she was rescued and went to live with her husband, people thought that she was not sexually pure any more.

      Thnaks for your interest.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      "Though the Hindu society basically is patriarchal, the religious doctrines emphasize on matriarchy." - Why the confusion? If the spiritual books teach matriarchy, how come the society is set-up on the patriarchal platform?

      "She was rejected and sent to the jungle by Rama when people began to talk about her chastity." - Can You explain this part? I am not sure what is meant by chastity here.

      Thank You for putting this piece of writing together. I appreciate it.

      Cheers! : )

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      I have to tell you I read this Hub, and found it very interesting. I won't say I understand it all, but I sure tried. The different religions of the world have always fascinated me. In some cultures women are revered, other cultures they are considered worthless.

      I voted this UP

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      TToombso, thanks for reading and leaving a wonderful comment.

      Cheers

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Very interesting and insightful, Vinaya. Thank you for enlightening me to the beautiful Hindu Goddesses and Divine Females. Voted up and more. :)

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hi Angel, Hinduism is basically polytheism. There are hundreds of thousands Gods and Goddess in myriad forms. Thanks for reading and leaving comment.

      Cheers

    • Angelme566 profile image

      Angelme566 5 years ago

      I know only some Goddesses , Like Sita , only now i know so many are there..wish i can live life like the way they did..Great hub writer !

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Dear Safa, thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Safa bird 5 years ago

      Great article, Vinaya. Very interesting

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Rajan, thanks for reading and commenting.

      Cheers

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Vinaya, nice and interesting information. Thanks for sharing.

      Voted up & interesting.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      B. Lekley,

      I understand what you mean. When I set to read about Greek Gods and Goddesses I face the same problem.

      Cheers

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      It's hard to keep track of all the characters. The topic is interesting. I look forward to reading more hubs on Hinduism.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello Christy, I'm glad that you found this article interesting.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Cheers

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      How interesting Vinaya, I did not know any of this information. I vote up and 'interesting', I like the hub.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Irena, thanks for coming back.

    • Irena Petlaca profile image

      Irena Petlaca 5 years ago

      Thank you I appreciate that!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello Irena Petlaca, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad that you enjoyed this article.

      Thanks for following me, I will follow you back.

    • Irena Petlaca profile image

      Irena Petlaca 5 years ago

      I have enjoyed from the beginning til the end. Quite new for me and interesting as well. Beautifully transferred! Excellent writer.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello SanneL, I feel delighted that this hub could hold your attention. We all are here to learn and share. I learn from you, you learn from me.

      Cheers

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 5 years ago from Sweden

      This hub caught my interest from the very beginning until the very end! I learned things about the Hindu religion and culture I know little about. Well done!

      Voting up and interesting!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello Radha

      I agree with you about Clinton and Ms Obama. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

      I believe there must be emphasis on sisterhood to uplift women's status in the society.

    • profile image

      radhapriestess 5 years ago

      I think President Obama appreciates Hillary Rodham Clinton as his Secretary of State. Both Hillary and Michelle Obama are the two most admired women in the world. As a woman manager I always made sure I did a good job because I was the first woman in the position. I wanted other women to have my opportunity.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Mrslagibb, I understand what you were trying to convey. Around the world, there are many women like MS Thatcher, who made great impact on politics, Benezir Bhutto of Pakistan is one example, Indira Gandhi, the late Prim Minister of India was another great icon. In my country, in Nepal, thought women have not achieved this sort of position, 33 percent of the members of parliament are women.

    • mrslagibb profile image

      Mrs L A Gibb 5 years ago

      What I am trying to say is. If Women like Mrs Thatcher the former Prime Minister of britain, can make a career in politics, and can sort of be worshiped, praised, because she made something of herself. Then Why can't it be like this for the ordinary women all over the world, instead of being treated with no respect. People all over the world should in in my opinion take a High View of Hindu Goddesses and divine females.

      I hope you can understand what I have tried to say. the post comment played up on me when I was trying to edit it.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello mrslagibb, I have read about Thatcher, even watched the biopic, that is all rage these days.

      I do agree that women are not regarded highly in many cultures and country.

    • mrslagibb profile image

      Mrs L A Gibb 5 years ago

      Hi Vinaya, I have seen a lot of women not regarded highly, in some situations. Some men, I have seen knock women when they want a career for themselves. I know I am straying away from your hub. But to me, Women are not treated properly in some situations. In Britain have you ever heard of Mrs Thatcher, the Iron Lady the Prime Minister back in the 80's. This is what brought me to say what I am saying now. perhaps you would like to read Cut backs, because I have a theory over politics and religion.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello Philly, I don't know about situations of women in India, but in Nepal, my country, women are regarded highly. There is still a custom where, a girl is worshiped as a Goddess, even President bows to her.

      Regards

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      So my question to you would be, How are women regarded today in India? Do these beliefs have any bearing on the society of today?

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello Sheila, thanks for being supportive and leaving appreciative comments here, there, everywhere.

      Cheers

    • sheilanewton profile image

      sheilanewton 5 years ago from North Shields, UK

      Great piece of history and mythology. Wonderful.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello Phyllis, thanks for reading this hub. I have read you hub about Mother Goddess, and I have been enlightened.

      Ramayana and Mahabharata are much appreciated epics in the Indian subcontinent.

      Thank you very much for highlighting me on your profile page.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 5 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Voted Up and all except Funny.

      Vinaya, this is a wonderful hub. You know I like reading and writing about goddesses and I find this hub very enlightening. I am anxious to study "Ramayana by Valmiki and Veda Vyasa’s Mahabharata". I spend most of my research time in ancient mythology, religions and philosophy. Thank you for such an interesting hub.

      PS: I started a new weekly 'highlight a hubber' in my profile and you, kind sir, are this week's favorite.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello alocsin, thanks for you appreciative comment.

      Cheers

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      A nice introduction to the Hindu pantheon. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Rosemary.

      thanks for sharing your perspective. I appreciate your comments.

      Cheers

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      A fascinating hub Vinaya. We learn so much of your culture and beliefs through you.Thank you for sharing.

      “The deities delight in places where women are revered, but where women are not revered all rites are fruitless. Where women of the family are miserable the family is soon destroyed.”

      Women are the centre of the family, and women who have the honour of carrying new life into this world. A woman will always put her family before herself.

      A very interesting hub and well present as always

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
      Author

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello mrslagibb, your concern about feminine aspect of divinity is appreciative. Thanks for sharing your point of view.

    • mrslagibb profile image

      Mrs L A Gibb 5 years ago

      What a very imformative article and full of learning about another religion. I myself only know two religions, but they do not have more Godesses than gods, nor do they teach of how to resepect a woman as a godess. The religions I know is to respect the most highest divine of all religions 'God' and the mother of Jesus Christ his son. But These days some men and women don't see it as Respect, or as respect for another person, or even treating a women like a godess.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Epi, I'm blessed and honored.

      Thanks you very much.

      Regards

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      ..often I just come to your hubs to learn - to listen/read and to be a child of wonder - and I will most sincerely post this marvel of enlightenment to my Facebook page with a direct link back here - at lake erie time ontario canada 5:54am and sending you warm wishes and good energy .....

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello Kitty,

      Interestingly, I'm so much in love with your work. There is so much to learn for your hubs on religion and philosophy categories. I did not know about Wicca and Paganism before reading your articles.

      Thanks for leaving a wonderful comment.

      Cheers

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

      I've heard the story of Rama before...but never the story of the beautiful Hindu Goddess Sita...or the other Hindu goddesses mentioned in this article. Lovely hub, Vinaya! I'm so happy to be a follower...I love learning about the Hindu religion. So...how are you doing?

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      @Movie Master

      @radha

      @Flora

      Thanks for your wonderful comments. I'm blessed and honored to have friends like you.

      Cheers

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

      You always teach me so much about other faiths, Vinaya. Thankyou.

    • profile image

      radhapriestess 5 years ago

      Vedic Philosophy is one word some have used. Meaning it's a way of life, as opposed to a religion or culture.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Vinaya, thank you for another wonderful hub, I'm learning something new and you always make it so interesting.

      Reading about 'divine women' was fascinating and voted up.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      @radha, thanks for sharing your own interpretation of Mother Goddess. Feminine aspect of Divinity is very popular in Hinduism. Today Hindus around the world celebrate more festivals attributed to Goddess than Gods. I agree with your view on matriarchy and India. I believe Indian sub continent is the right word to use when someone is talking about Hindu civilization, culture and philosophy.

      @always exploring, thank you very much for being with me.

      May the World Mother bless you.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is very interesting..I learn so much rrom reading your hubs. Thank you again for sharing...

    • radhapriestess profile image

      radhapriestess 5 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Nice to see the combination of forms of the Mother. India in ancient times was more matriarchial than today. Women had the right to marry their own husbands. There were great female sages, as you mentioned Gargi, etc. I personally think she was the great sage of the age because she could ask such pointed questions of every one and no one could answer her. India would be so great if they returned to the matriarchy. Sita was a great Shakti and did not always do what Ram wanted her to do. For example she followed him into the forest, which he did not want her to do because he thought she was too delicate. This is only one of the many examples. Rama is like many rulers concerned with his image with the people, but in the end Sita triumphed with her Mother Bhumi. Justice was restored.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      @Allana Calhoun

      @AudreyHowitt,

      thanks for sharing your views. I appreciate your comment.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      I lament the loss of the divine feminine in the west--thank you so much for sharing this information~

    • Allana Calhoun profile image

      Allana Calhoun 5 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      Wow, lots of info. I love mythology of all cultures (especially ancient ones). It is all so fascinating! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      @Bell

      @Frank

      Thanks for reading and leaving appreciative comments.

      Happy hubbing!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      another one of your top shelf hubs up and awesome my friend :)

    • bell du jour profile image

      bell du jour 5 years ago from Ireland

      Hi Vinaya, I really enjoyed your article, very interesting and very well put together. Thanks for sharing:-)

      Bell

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      @blaise25, I'm very delighted that this topic interest to you.

      @Sueswan,yes I believe women hold the family together.

      @Cardisa, thanks for sharing your view. Thanks for appreciating my work.

      Thank you all for reading and leaving wonderful comments.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      The Rastafarians in our culture refer to their females and empresses or queens. This is very interesting and enlightening and you title was really captivating. You are a very intelligent man and good writer.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Vinaya

      "Where women of the family are miserable the family is soon destroyed.” I agree. I think women are the peace makers and hold the family together. They put their family needs ahead of their own.

      Voted up and awesome

      Enjoy your day.

    • blaise25 profile image

      Fehl Dungo 5 years ago from close to you...

      one of the most fascinating topics I wanna read..

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hello nityanandagaurang, thanks for stopping by.

    • nityanandagaurang profile image

      nityanandagaurang 5 years ago

      very interesting blog

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
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      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      @carolinemd21

      @ishwaryaa22

      @anupama

      @asmaiftikhar

      @Eddy

      @Dale Hyde

      @mckbirdbks

      Hinduism is an ancient belief that is largely matriarchal. There are more goddess than gods.

      Thank you very much for reading and leaving wonderful comments.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 5 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      This work is filled with interesting information regarding a belief system, I know little about. Thanks for your hard work.

    • Dale Hyde profile image

      Dale Hyde 5 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

      Always wonderful to see such hubs! Spirituality in various forms is a past time of mine, and I have pulled from many Paths and incorporated it into my own spiritual path, a rather eclectic mix. Thanks!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      A great hub Vinaya ,thank you for sharing.

      Has to have that up up and away vote.

      Take care and enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • asmaiftikhar profile image

      asmaiftikhar 5 years ago from Pakistan

      That's an informative article and good to increase the knowledge.Thanks for the information.keeeeeeeeeep it p!

    • anupma profile image

      Dr Anupma Srivastava 5 years ago from India

      Very informative article. Thanks for sharing it.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Very Insightful and well-informed Hub! Interesting. Vote Up.

    • carolinemd21 profile image

      Caroline Marie 5 years ago

      Great article Vinaya! Learned a lot. Thank you for sharing.