Goddess Durga is the mother of the universe and believed to be the power behind the work of creation, preservation, and destruction of the world. Since time immemorial she has been worshipped as the supreme power of the Supreme Being and has been mentioned in many scriptures – Yajur Veda, Vajasaneyi Samhita and Taittareya Brahman.
Durga (Hindustani pronunciation: [ˈd̪ʊrɡaː],
Sanskrit: दुर्गा Durgā “Invincible”)
is the principal form of the Goddess, also known as Devi and Shakti in Hinduism. Durga the mahashakti, the form and formless, is the root cause of creation, preservation and annihilation.
According to legend, Durga (some traditions states that Parvati and Durga are same) manifested herself for the slaying of the buffalo demon Mahisasura from Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and the lesser gods, who were otherwise powerless to overcome him. She is pure Shakti, having manifested herself within the gods so that she may fulfil the tasks of the universe via them. At times of distress, such as the mahishasura episode, to protect the universe she manifests herself via the gods.
Durga is depicted as having eight or ten hands.
These represent eight quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism. This suggests that she protects the devotees from all directions.
Like Shiva, Mother Durga is also referred to as “Triyambake” meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).
Durga is often depicted riding a lion and is considered her vehicle.