Categories: Hindu God and Goddess

Chinnamasta-The Sixth Manifestation of Dasa Mahavidyas

Chinnamasta, a revered Tantric Hindu goddess, stands as a unique manifestation of Goddess Parvati within the pantheon of the Dasa Mahavidyas. Renowned for her symbolism of self-control over sexual desires, her worship may not be widespread, yet she holds a special place among Tantrics. Resonating with the Buddhist goddess Chhinnamunda, Chinnamasta embodies the essence of transformation as one of the ten facets of Adi Parashakti, the primordial Divine Mother in Hinduism.

Chinnamasta

Nomenclature

The term “Chhinnamasta” finds its origin in two distinct components: “Chhinna,” which translates to “severed,” and “Masta,” meaning “the head.” Consequently, when combined, “Chhinnamasta” encapsulates the profound symbolism of “the one with a severed head.”

Different Names of Chinnamasta

Goddess Chinnamasta is celebrated under a multitude of names, with some of her notable appellations including Prachanda Chandika, Jogani Maa and Chinnamastika. These names reflect the diverse facets of her divine essence and her significance in various traditions.

Iconography of Chinnamasta

Goddess Chinnamasta’s imagery is deeply enigmatic, portraying her as a symbol of profound transformation. In her depiction, she holds her severed head, with disheveled hair, and wields a scimitar in her hand, signifying her dominance over the cycle of life and death. At times, she appears with four hands, adding complexity to her symbolism.

What sets her apart is her minimalist attire – a garland of skulls and a few modest ornaments. Intriguingly, three rivulets of blood spring from her neck, offering a captivating metaphor of the life force itself. Her decapitated head and two devoted attendants absorb this potent symbolism.

Beneath her feet, the imagery is thought-provoking, as she stands upon a coupling pair representing Kamdeva, the god of desire, and his wife, Rati. Sometimes, she takes a seat atop them, emphasizing her transcendence over worldly desires. Her vigilant attendants, armed and poised with a platter, remain a constant presence, underscoring her enigmatic and formidable nature.

Chinnamasta in Scriptures

In the sacred verses of the Shiva Purana and the enlightening words of Shakti and Sakta, we find the divine revelation of Goddess Chinnamasta, one of the ten radiant forms born from the primal energy of Kali. These celestial embodiments, including Kali, Tara, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Bharavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala emerged wielding mighty weapons, illustrating their awe-inspiring power.

Birth of Goddess Chinnamasta

There exist multiple stories narrating the birth of the goddess.

The Story from Pranatoshini Tantra

Once, while Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva and the reincarnation of Sati, was bathing in the Mandakini river, she experienced a moment of heightened emotion that temporarily altered her appearance. Simultaneously, her two devoted attendants, Jaya and Vijaya, who were also known as Dakini and Varnini, found themselves in the grip of hunger and beseeched Parvati for sustenance. In an act of immense generosity, the goddess willingly sacrificed herself by severing her own head to provide her attendants with her life-sustaining essence. It is said that, miraculously, Parvati reunited her head with her body after her attendants’ hunger was appeased, showcasing her divine power and compassion.

The Story from Svatantra Tantra

Once, Lord Shiva and Goddess Chandika engaged in an intimate union with a unique posture. However, a moment of anger on her part during a seminal event led to the emergence of Dakini and Varnini from her essence. The subsequent events align closely with the narrative found in the Pranatoshini Tantra.

Upon her return from bathing, Lord Shiva noticed a noticeable change in Goddess Chandika’s complexion, which ignited his fury. In response, he assumed the formidable form of Krodha Bhairava. The day marking the birth of the goddess is now celebrated as Viraratri day.

Oral Legends

There are at least two distinct oral legends that recount the goddess’s birth.

First Legend

During a formidable war between the gods and demons, where the demons seemed invincible, the gods sought assistance from Goddess Mahashakti. With her immense power, she vanquished all the demons on the battlefield. In a remarkable display of her divine strength and sacrifice, she severed her own head and consumed her own blood.

Second Legend

During the Samudra Manthana, as the elixir surfaced from the churning sea, Goddess Chinnamasta selflessly consumed the portion intended for the demons and subsequently severed her own head to thwart their access to it.

Symbolism

Symbolism plays a crucial role in Hinduism, with many stories in Hindu scriptures carrying deep symbolic or allegorical meanings. The story and iconography of Goddess Chinnamasta exemplify this symbolism.

The serpent coiled around the goddess’s neck is a representation of Kundalini Shakti. Meanwhile, the figures of Kama and Rati symbolize the human experience of sexual desire. The goddess’s nudity signifies the renunciation of worldly attachments. To awaken Kundalini Shakti, one must master and transcend sexual desires and shed ego.

The image of the goddess standing upon a couple signifies her complete control over her own sexual desires. The beheading of the goddess represents the elimination of ego, as the head symbolizes one’s ego. Her two attendants are symbolic of Ida and Pingala Nadis, while her severed head represents Sushumna Nadi. When Kundalini Shakti awakens, it is said to absorb the bodily fluids, represented by the three streams of blood flowing from her decapitated neck. This transformation is akin to a spiritual rebirth, with Goddess Parvati being reborn as Goddess Chhinnamasta.

While there are various interpretations associated with this goddess, the awakening of Kundalini Shakti is often considered the most fitting and profound symbolism within this narrative.

Benefits of worshiping the Goddess

The worship of Goddess Chinnamasta holds multifaceted significance in Hinduism. It serves as a means to remove obstacles obstructing one’s journey to success, to vanquish adversaries, and to awaken Kundalini Shakti, the spiritual energy within. Additionally, it symbolizes the mastery over one’s own sexual desires and ego. However, it’s worth noting that some individuals with malicious intent misuse the goddess’s worship for casting spells and practicing black magic.

Temples of Chinnamasta

Several revered temples across India and Nepal pay homage to Goddess Chinnamasta. In Rajrappa, Jharkhand, stands the Chinnamasta Temple, while Lerhitongri, Jharkhand, houses the Maa Chinmastike Mandir. In Nepal’s Sagarmatha region, the Sakhada Bhagawati Temple honors her. Bishnupur, West Bengal, boasts the Maa Chinnamasta Temple, while Chintpurni, Himachal Pradesh, houses the Maa Chintpurni Temple. Guwahati, Assam, hosts the Maa Chinnamasta Mandir within the Kamakhya complex, and in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, the Chinnamasta Mata Mandir can be found at Bada Chauraha on Shiwala Rd. These sacred places are significant centers of devotion and pilgrimage for followers of the goddess.

Mantras

1. Ekakshar Chhinnamasta Mantra (1 Syllable Mantra)

हूं॥

Hum॥

2. Tryakshar Chhinnamasta Mantra (3 Syllables Mantra)

ॐ हूं ॐ॥

Om Hum Om॥

3. Chaturakshar Chhinnamasta Mantra (4 Syllables Mantra)

ॐ हूं स्वाहा॥

Om Hum Svaha॥

4. Panchakshar Chhinnamasta Mantra (5 Syllables Mantra)

ॐ हूं स्वाहा ॐ॥

Om Hum Svaha Om॥

5. Shadakshar Chhinnamasta Mantra (6 Syllables Mantra)

ह्रीं क्लीं श्रीं ऐं हूं फट्॥

Hreem Kleem Shreem Aim Hum Phat॥

6. Chhinnamasta Gayatri Mantra

ॐ वैरोचन्ये विद्महे छिन्नमस्तायै धीमहि तन्नो देवी प्रचोदयात्॥

Om Vairochanye Vidmahe Chhinnamastayai Dhimahi Tanno Devi Prachodayat॥

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Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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