Durga is represented as a woman who rides a tiger, with numerous arms gripping different types of weapons. Durga has in any case several places of worship in the East, West, South and the North of India, and is already the patron goddess of Bengal. Also know by Druj or Drauga, Durga was a warrior who fought and slayed the Asura Mahisha, who unleashed a reign of terror in his kingdom. Mahishasura wished to marry her but she told him that if he beat her in combat, then he would have what he wanted. Then she killed him, bringing joy to the inhabitants.
The day of the killing of Mahishasura by Durga is celebrated as Vijaya Dashami in eastern and southern India, Dashain in Nepal and Dussehra in northern India. The real period of worship, however, is during the nine days of Navratri in northern India and five days in Bengal from the sixth to the tenth day of the full moon in the month of Ashvin.
Throughout the more than three thousand years of Indian history, she has been one of the most important deities of the region, and has also been adopted in several neighboring countries, where she has been likened to local goddesses. She also picked up by syncretism different aspects of Indian goddesses, and is worshiped in several major religious centers, sometimes taking various features depending on the location where her cult is.
For this, she illustrates the complexity of the designs, practices and religious exchanges and many of her aspects are and will remain a topic of discussion. In Kashmir, she is worshiped as shaarika with the main temple being in Hari Parbat in Srinagar. As per the legend of Ramayana, Rama invoked the goddess Durga during his battle against Ravana.
Durga is symbolized corresponding to the Sumerian goddess Inanna, Hurrian Shaushka and Ishtar, a Semitic warrior of Mesopotamian origin, venerated by Akkadians, Babylonians and Assyrians. There are variations in her name across India with more than 100 names prevalent till now. As a major goddess of the Indian pantheon, she often plays the role of a supreme deity.
Another salient feature of her personality is more complex to understand, that is to have the ability to combine opposites and even cause their reversal and break taboos. More broadly, her symbolic role is to be a woman, to embody the image of a female often free of any male guardianship, so the inverse of the standard in a patriarchal society. There was no fixed tradition on family relationships, which were able to vary according to place and time.
She is not associated with a single divine spouse and certainly in the Indian tradition her relationship with Shiva is strong, but their relationship is ambiguous. Some texts ascribe children in general to her as Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya, but again this relationship is also ambiguous. The animal attributed to Durga is sometimes the lion and sometimes the tiger and her name means a fortress.
The story of Durga is rich and complex, which clearly determines her personality as much. She is probably a figure born from the meeting of several goddesses by syncretism, and thereby her personality has all its components and not necessarily constitute a coherent whole. Several issues related to history and the formation of her complex personality arise to which no clear answer is given
How the goddess has found an important place in many pantheons, assimilating other goddesses probably present before, to the point of becoming the only major female figure of the Indian pantheon, existing for itself without a significant male companion and how this complex history has produced the rich personality of the goddess. As a result, she has also been adopted by the neighboring people of countries, following similar procedures.
The origin of Durga is impossible to determine with certainty because she occurs in periods for which written documentation is absent, and too limited archaeological documentation to be familiar with the religious universe. She occurs in the specific cultural context of the prehistoric Harappan era.
Whatever her origins, Durga, from archaic times, was the first to be able to offer a comprehensive panorama of the Indian religious world, as the main goddess of India. Durga also features prominently in the mythology from the time it begins to be in writing. So there is clearly a set of similar goddesses whose origin dates back to prehistoric times that cannot be approached through research, probably having a common origin but that erupted from the beginning of the historical period in a myriad of local events, each of which seem present to specific aspects that individualize compared to others, even if it rarely appears clearly in theology.
This has not prevented the emergence of a goddess without local base, which certainly appears in religious literature as a single figure, who admittedly has a complex personality but not necessarily without consistency. Anyway, her supremacy is affirmed in the following centuries. Durga is not only the main goddess of India, but it became the goddess par excellence, obscuring most of the other female figures of the pantheon, sometimes presented as events of Durga.
This concentration contrasts with the fact that other major goddesses of the Indian pantheon like Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Manasa, Ganga, etc. saw their role declined. Durga, which was already the largest, remained the only female figure in the pantheon to take a leading role along with, to a lesser extent, Kali, and became the embodiment of the goddess or woman in the Indian mythological tradition from that period.
Literature would then reinterpret objects related to the sexuality as relating to this aspect of her cult. But this is still poorly understood and debated. Durga is not a goddess of marriage, nor is a mother goddess. This patronage and staff indicate Durga gradually becoming a divinity related to the margins, with a subversive potential. This makes the end of close consideration, particularly because they are determined by the passions and reflect the exalted temperament of the goddess and several myths and hymns are as capricious, or more generally disruptive of the established order.
The various aspects of Durga, and her disruptive nature and often subversive caught the attention of researchers who have attempted to better characterize how they coexist. Durga can also be seen as a goddess of marginality, not valued for her role as wife or mother according to the Indian social ideal and represented by many other goddesses, but rather associated with conflict. The cult of Durga also seems to refer to his abnormality and the confusion it flows into the established order, with a carnival aspect, involving the characters and remains poorly understood by modern scholars.
The androgyny of Durga, the way she transcends genres, being female and male both reflects its ability to bring in it that is opposed, as well as the fact that it is sometimes a factor order, sometimes a disruptive factor, a guarantor of social convention or a representative subversive margins of society.
Giving a general interpretation of Durga, she is the image of a free woman, a feminine ideal that accompanies the course of a lifetime, to the exclusion of birth and death and the exhibition allows to expel completely free woman equal to man, who speak the top of the social field and in real life.
Durga is a woman, so different than others in Indian patriarchal society, who represents the essence of femininity, and therefore is seen as the quintessential symbol of all the excess and what is out of control. She has the ability to destroy the social order, but also allows to trace the limits, at least a rhetorical perspective, by identifying what is normal and what is abnormal.
The richness of the figure of Durga, chief goddess and her status among other major figures almost exclusively male, have made her a favorite character of Indian scholars. She is generously offered to the imagination of mythopoetic overflowing personality. She therefore appears as primary or secondary character in several mythological and epic narratives, and also in hymns and prayers that were addressed to her by the faithful, the first being kings.
Durga has many places of worship in different countries of India, and even beyond if we take into account other deities to which she is highly assimilated. The question arises to what extent these deities were considered different while being fundamentally the manifestation of the same deity. But so far we do not really see the difference in the theology of these variants that would make the original figures properly, or at least incarnations of a specific aspect of the Goddess as there may be, and who also have dedicated places of worship.
These deities reflect the complexity of the history of Durga, how the worship spread, often taking up where other similar deities existed. The latest evidence of the existence of Durga seem to be in the inscriptions of the Mauryan period.
Since the rediscovery of the Indian civilization and the importance that Durga has in the religious world of the latter, particularly in mythology, the goddess, like many other ancient goddesses, exercised an obvious fascination both in the midst of scientific research as to other audiences. This fascination is particularly linked to the traits attributed to the eastern woman in the Western imagination.
In South India, Durga is also associated to Dravidian Korravai, who is the mother of Murugan and people adore her as the female mountain warrior, victory, to whom was sacrificed buffalo, later translated into Sanskrit as Uma.