(‘Mistress of the universe’)

If the fatherhood of God is accepted, why not motherhood too? Hindu religious scriptures have often projected the śakti or the divine power of God, as the female consort.

God creates this universe (sṛṣṭi), sustains it for one cycle of creation (sthiti) and then destroys it or withdraws it (laya or pralaya) into himself. These three aspects of God are sometimes pictured as three different deities—Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara or Śiva—with their consorts Sarasvatī, Lakṣmī and Pārvatī.

Pārvatī, also called Śakti, forms the basis of the Śākta cult and has innumerable emanations or manifestations, widely worshipped all over India.

One such celebrated aspect, quite commonly worshipped, is Bhuvaneśvarī or ‘Mistress of the universe’. She is worshipped not only in the Devī temples but also in one’s own home.

She is sometimes classed among the Daśamahāvidyās, ten aspects of transcendental knowledge and power. (See DAŚA-MAHĀVIDYĀS.) She is the ruler over the caturdaśabhuvanas or the fourteen worlds from Brahmaloka to Pātāla; hence the name Bhuvaneśvarī. She is the presiding deity over all the forces of the material world, which can be obtained by propitiating her.

Iconographically, she is represented as of the colour of the rising sun. Extraordinarily beautiful, she is seated on a lotus seat, has three eyes and four arms, and is bedecked with an array of ornaments. A crescent moon adorns her crown. She is holding a pāśa (noose) and an aṅkuśa (goad) in two hands, the other two hands exhibiting the varada (boon-giving) and abhaya (protection) mudrās.