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The Tridevi (English: three goddesses; Sanskrit: त्रिदेवी tridevī) is a concept in Hinduism joining a triad of eminent goddesses either as a feminine version of the Trimurti or as consorts of a masculine Trimurti, depending on denomination. This triad is typically personified by the Hindu goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati (Durga/Mahakali). In Shaktism, these triune goddesses are the manifestations of Mahashakti, the supreme divinity.
In the Navratri ("nine nights") festival, "the Goddess is worshiped in three forms. During the first three nights, Durga or Parvati is revered, then Lakshmi on the fourth, fifth and sixth nights, and finally Saraswati until the ninth night."
As the feminine Trimurti
Whereas in androcentric denominations of Hinduism the feminine Tridevi goddesses are relegated as consorts and auxiliary deities to the more eminent masculine Trimurti gods, in the feminist Shaktidharma denomination the feminine Tridevi goddesses are given the eminent roles of Creator (Mahasarasvati), Preserver (Mahalaxmi), and Destroyer (Mahakali), with the masculine Trimurti gods being relegated as the auxiliary deities as agents of the feminine Tridevi.
As consorts of the Trimurti
Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, fertility, and material fulfillment, as well as consort of Vishnu, the maintainer or preserver. However, Lakshmi does not signify mere material wealth, but also abstract prosperity, such as glory, magnificence, joy, exaltation, and greatness.
Parvati, or in her demon-fighting aspect, Durga, is the goddess of power, love, and spiritual fulfillment, as well as consort of Śhiva, the destroyer or transformer. She also represents the transformational power of divinity, the power that dissolves the multiplicity of the Hindu gods into their unity.
Shiva and Shakti
Typically, Shakti is associated with Shiva, the supreme god within Shaivism. Shakti, or Durga, is the energy aspect of the Hindu deities. Without Shakti, Shiva has no expression, and without Shiva, Shakti has no existence means in sagun swaroop, otherwise nirgun form of shakti i.e. energy can neither be created nor be destroyed.
Shiva is omnipotent, impersonal, and inactive, essentially the concept of pure consciousness. On the other hand, Shakti, as the power or active aspect of the immanent God, is dynamic. Shakti is the embodiment of power and the eternal consort of Shiva.
In Hinduism, there is no difference between Shiva and Shakti. Shakti, or Durga, is co-existent with Shiva and the two are inseparable concepts. This nature is similar to the Christian concept of the hypostatic union, in which Christ's humanity and divinity are inseparably unified. Shiva is a transcendent divinity and Shakti is the one who made him as such. Worship of Durga, Parvati, or Kali is equivalent to the worship of Lord Shiva, and the worship of Shiva is worship of Shakti.
Importance of Tridevi
Shakti or Vimarsh is the power that is latent in pure consciousness, required to reach pure consciousness and essential to create, sustain and destroy. Just as Energy can never be created nor be destroyed, but changes from one form to another; Adi Parashakti took many incarnations to do different tasks. God is both male and female. But all different forms of energy or powers of God are with the Trimurti in the form of Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati and Mahakali. That is to say, a non-dimensional God creates this world through Srishti-Shakti (Mahasaraswati or Sound or knowledge), preserves through Sthiti-Shakti (Mahalakshmi or Light or resources), and destroys through Samhara-Shakti (Mahakali or Heat or Strength). It is also seen that God cannot create, generate or destroy because God does not possess any attribute. So True Energy or Adi Shakti does everything on God's behalf. Parabrahman Adi Parashakti herself creates three bubbles that are the source and energy to be generated. From the first Bubble which is expansion of same seed complete, arose Pratham Purush and Pratham Prakriti i.e. Narayana and Narayani (not to confuse with Goddess Lakshmi, Narayani here is identified as Goddess Parvati, the sister of Lord Vishnu). Narayani is also known as Gowri Devi. This time she was not evolved in Sakaar Swaroop. When Shiva worshiped Adi Shakti, then Gowri Devi arose from the left half of Shiva in Sakaar Swaroop. The second Bubble is the transformer and complete knowledge i.e. Shiva and Saraswati. Shiva is evolved from the seed as "Pradhan Purush" and Goddess Saraswati was evolved in Nirakaar Swaroop and gave birth to four Vedas. Her Sakaar Swaroop took birth on the day of Vasant Panchami, when Brahma required complete knowledge. The third and last Bubble evolved from Narayana comprises Manifested form and Adi Shakti created Shri Sevi by herself i.e. Brahma and Lakshmi. Brahma appeared as the Father to create the universe and Lakshmi appeared to provide him with resources.
- Narayana (Pratham Purush or Unmanifested form of Brahman) and Gowri Devi/Durga (Shakti Swaroop of Adi Shakti).
- Shiva (Pradhan Purush or Transcendent form of Brahman) and Saraswati (Gyan Swaroop of Adi Shakti).
- Brahma (Param Pitamah or Manifested form of Brahman) and Lakshmi (Shri Swaroop of Adi Shakti).
However Vishnu sustains the universe and thus requires complete resources to sustain it. Likewise, Brahma needs Complete Knowledge to create; and Shankar requires a complete source of power to lead change in beings from life to death. Parvati/Gowri/Durga require the same.
The Tridevi outside India
Via Buddhism and syncretism with Japanese Shinto deities, the Tridevi entered Japanese mythology as the goddesses Benzaitennyo 弁財天女 (Sarasvati), Kisshoutennyo 吉祥天女 (Laxmi), and Daikokutennyo 大黒天女 (Mahakali).
- Fukujin (福神) deities
- Buddhist Tenbu (天部) deities
- Triple deities
- Bindudham (a temple of Tridevi)
- Mahalaxmi Temple (Mumbai)
- "Navaratri", in Hinduism Today magazine, October/November/December 2008.
- Brahmand Purana, Srimad Devi Bhagwat Purana