He Ma Jagadambe

To the Divine Mother


from Devi Mahatmya

ya devi sarva bhuteshu
shakti-rupena samsthita
namastasyai namastasyai
namastasyai namo namaha

To the Goddess who is in all beings in the form of power,
I bow to her,
I bow to her,
I bow to her,
I bow,
I bow.

subsequent verses change:
shakti-rupena (power)
buddhi-rupena (intelligence)
shraddha-rupena (faith in the Higher Self)
kanti-rupena (beauty)
daya-rupena (kindness)

The Mahavidyas

In the bridge of the song, the Mahavidyas are invoked: 10 wisdom Goddesses worhsipped in Shakti and Tantric traditions. They are:

Kali, Devourer of Time
Tara, the Compassionate
Lalita Tripura Sundari, the Beautiful One of the 3 Worlds
Bhuvaneshwara, Mother of Being
Bhairavi, the Awe-Inspiring
Chhinnamasta, the Ego Destroyer
Dhumavati, the Widow
Bagalamukhi, who takes down enemies
Matangi, the Creator
Kamala, the Lotus


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He Ma Jagatambe O Divine Mother, Mother of the World

Aspects of the Divine Feminine

In some sects of Eastern thought, the Divine Feminine is considered the supreme guiding principle of the universe. In Shaivism, that being is Shivas; in Vashnaivism, he is Vishnu, and in Shaktism, she is the Goddess. It's fascinating to note that all Goddesses are aspects of Shakti, feminine power: Tara is the compassionate aspect, and Kali is the fierce aspect, with endless diversity. Furthermore, all the deities, are illusions of separation in what is known as Atman, or the Universal Self, so we have these multilayered modes of of contemplating and appreciating the nature of existence through these mantra.

The Story

The verses of this song come from the Devi Mahatmya, a section of a larger ancient text called the Markendaya Purana. Here's the gist:

The earth was being ravaged by Mahishasura the Buffalo Demon, who was granted the boon that he could not be killed by any masculine being. As the demon continued on his rampage, Indra summoned Brahma, Vishnu Shiva, and all the other devas to figure out a solution, but all they could conjure was anger. As their anger grew, light began to concentrate in the center of their circle and took the form of the protector goddess Durga, whose name means invincible. The devas gifted her with their weapons and with a lion as her vehicle.

As it is with chauvinists, Mahishasura underestimated the Goddess, thinking he closed all the loopholes with his boon that no man could kill him. But just like Eowyn in the The Lord of the Rings, she proclaimed, "I am no man!" And kicked that egomaniac of the island. In the afterglow, the devas sang the praises that make up the verses of this song.