The Tridevi Concept in Hindu Mythology

The Tridevi Concept in Hindu Mythology

Deepthi K

Hindus use the Tridevi concept to address the three main goddesses, Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. These goddesses are the consorts of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva, respectively, who are collectively known as the Trimurti or Trinity. Hence, they are associated with the same roles as their partners. Saraswati is represented as the Creator while Mahalaksmi or Lakshmi is said to be the Preserver. On the other hand, Parvati or Kali is referred to as the Destroyer.

Read on for some interesting facts about each of these goddesses.

Goddess Saraswati

Hindus associate Saraswati with learning, music, and arts. She is epitomised as cosmic knowledge, intelligence, and consciousness. Rig Veda refers to this goddess as the best of goddesses, best of rivers and best of mothers.

The goddess is portrayed as sitting with a folded leg or standing on a white lotus and clad in a white sari. The white colour denotes pure thought and knowledge. She has four arms representing imagination, mind, self-understanding, and reasoning. 

She holds a veena with her upper left hand and lower right hand. The upper right hand holds a chain of prayer beads while the lower hand has a book that is said to be a holy scripture. The prayer beads stress on the significance of meditation. Some pictures also show her with a water pot near her. It is said that this water is used to purify the minds of people.

There are a few instances where she is depicted sitting on a stone. This is to stress on the fact that the quest for knowledge can at times be hard like the surface of a stone.

According to mythology, Saraswati resides in Satyaloka and uses as a swan as her vehicle. 

Goddess Lakshmi

Hindus relate Lakshmi with wealth and good fortune. She is also considered to symbolise light, spiritual and material fulfilment, fertility, and auspiciousness. Wealth does not represent material wealth but also greatness, glory, joy, and magnificence. Hindu scriptures refer to her as the strength of Lord Vishnu. 

The goddess is dressed in a red sari and stands or sits on a red lotus. Like Goddess Saraswati, Lakshmi also has four arms. The four arms represent the four goals in a person’s life. They are good conduct or dharma, desire or kama, earning money by legitimate means or artha and liberation from the birth and death cycle or moksha.

Her upper hands hold a lotus each while the lower two hands tilt a gold pot overflowing with gold coins. Some illustrations show her with her lower right palm facing upwards and the lower right palm facing downwards. Gold coins flow from both the palms. She is also depicted with an elephant on either side in some pictures. 

Lakshmi’s abode is Vaikuntha and her mount is primarily an elephant. She also uses Garuda as her vehicle sometimes.

Goddess Parvati

Hindus connect Parvati with love, power, beauty, fertility, devotion, and war.  She represents the transformational power associated with divinity and the continuity of life. The Puranas refer to her as the sister of Lord Vishnu and River Ganges.

She is also portrayed as the Shakti form of Brahman. The term Shakti denotes a feminine power that is capable of bringing the universe into existence. Shakti and Shiva depend on each other for existence. They are two facets of the same Brahman and one cannot exist as a whole without the other.

She is the mother of Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya. Parvati is often portrayed wearing a red sari and is considered to be the gentle, benevolent, beautiful, and fair form of Devi Shakti. She is portrayed with two hands when she is with Lord Shiva and sometimes with four hands when she is alone.

Parvati lives on Mount Kailash and she rides a lion when she takes the form of Kali.

The Navaratri festival is celebrated in honour of the three goddesses. The first three days are celebrated in honour of Goddess Parvati and the next three days are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. The last three days focus on Goddess Saraswati.

These goddesses are given key importance in the Shakthism cult. They are highlighted to be various manifestations of their supreme power called Adi Parashakti. Shakthas chant the Om Tridevibhayah Namah mantra as a mark of obeisance to their favourite deity. They also recite the chalisas such as Saraswati chalisa, Lakshmi chalisa and Durga chalisa dedicated to each goddess with full fervour, especially during any ritual.