Chapter 2:
Background Information for Teachers


How do I identify Devi: the Hindu goddess?

Today hundreds of millions of Hindu men and women conduct regular pujas to the deity known as Devi, or sometimes simply the Goddess. For some she is their primary deity, while for others she is part of a greater pantheon. Embodying the feminine principle, she has innumerable aspects and manifestations. All Hindu goddesses, in fact, can be seen as different forms of Devi. In some she is benign and gentle, while in others she is dynamic and ferocious, but in all forms she is helpful to her devotees. Primarily she is the Mother Goddess, from whom all creation is born. For many Hindus, however, the most important aspect of the Goddess is Durga, the warrior deity who fights adversity. The Goddess may also appear as the consort or feminine complement of a major male deity.

Goddess worship was widespread in early prehistoric India. Later, invading populations brought with them new ideas and elevated the popularity of male gods. Although the primary deity worshiped in most major Hindu temples today is masculine, worship of the Goddess coexists in shrines and temples throughout India.

Forms of the Goddess

The Goddess has innumerable forms and manifestations. Nearly every Hindu community in India has its own specific deity that governs its existence, and usually that deity is considered a goddess.


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