Pratyangira Devi – The Hindu Goddess of Ceaseless Power and Vigour

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Pratyangira Devi – The Hindu Goddess of Ceaseless Power and Vigour

Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi, a powerful aspect of the Divine Mother, is the mother of Moksha (liberation). She frees Her devotees of their karmas and from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. She is the embodiment of Dharma (righteousness), Satya (truth), and impeccable justice.

Pratyangira Devi is a Hindu goddess who is mainly worshipped by the Kshatriyas, a race in the Hindu religion which is known for its expertise in warfare. She is known for her power that repels any misfortune or fatal incident that can be caused by the force of evil magic. However, she is also worshipped as a deity who blesses her devotee with boundless power and energy. Pratyangira Devi is a destroyer of evil forces and demonly negative energies. She is also known to show the right path to her devotees the same way she guided and advised Lord Narasimha to stop damaging the nature. Therefore, she has her own importance and reverence among the other Hindu deities.

Atharvana Bhadrakali, The Presiding Deity of Atharvaveda (Goddess Pratyangira)

She is a powerful goddess who supposedly destroyed Sarabheswara’s arrogance. Sarabheswara is a fierce form of Lord Shiva. She is also called Narasimhika, she who is the Ferocious Half Human Half Lion of Courage. The Atharva Veda is also called Atharv Angirasa. Angirasa Veda refers to witchcraft. Probably the name Pratyangira comes from this. The goddess is also associated with Sri Cakra. As mentioned above, she has the power to repel witchcraft. She protects devotees and shows them the right path. Devotees do Pratyangira sadhana to ward off evil attacks and for prosperity. It has many benefits. Pratyangira is often shown with a dark complexion and fierce aspect – she has a lion’s face with red eyes and rides a lion. She is either fully nude or attired in black garments and wears a garland of human skulls. In her four hands, she holds a trident, a hand-drum, a snake in the form of a noose and a skull. She is associated with Bhairava and is also called Narasimhi. She has another form, Atharvana-Bhadra-Kali.

Goddess Pratyangira is praised and described in the Adarvana Veda as Bhadrakali. That is the reason she is also called as Adarvana Bhadrakali. Further, as the Goddess protects us by residing in ourselves, at the same time destroying the enemies by suffocating them, the Goddess gets the name of Nikumbhila.

In the current Age, the mother is revealing Herself through Her Adiyargal (devotees and servants) Amma Adi Sakthi and Swami Shanmuga. They bring Her consciousness and energies into the world in a pristine and approachable manner.

One of the ancient temples associated with Goddess Narasimha is located at Aivar Padi near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. Here the deity is popularly known as Pratyangira Devi and has 18 hands. The major temples associated with the Goddess are as follows:

Maha Pratyangira Devi Temple, Ayyavadi, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu

Maa Pratyangira Kalika Temple, Moranapalli, Hossur, Tamilnadu

Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi – Gnana Muneshwara Temple, Jayanagar, Bangalore

Sri Pratyangiradevi Temple, Sholinganur, Chennai

Sri Pratyangira Devi Temple, Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad

Along with these temple, one can also find temples dedicated for this Goddess with in the Shaiva or shaktha peetas.

Legends Behind Pratyangira Devi

Narasimha is a fierce form (half man, half lion) of Lord Vishnu/Narayana. He took this avatar to kill the demon, Hiranyakashipu, who was tormenting his ardent devotee, Prahlada. Prahlada was actually the demon’s own son. After killing the demon, Narasimha became very bloodthirsty and destructive as he had drunk the blood of the demon. As he did not calm down, many great sages prayed that he would return to his peaceful form. They asked Lord Shiva to take a special form- Sarabha (a bird-like creature which could devour lions and elephants) with two wings representing Shakti, to calm Narasimha. Lord Shiva prayed to the three Shakthis (Parvati, Lakshmi, Saraswati). With the help of their combined powers, he turned into Sarabha Pakshi or Lord Sarabeshwarar. One wing represented Shoolini and the other, Pratyangira. When Sarabha approached Narasimha, however, he became even more fierce and assumed a special form, Ashta Muhka Ganda Berundha Narasimha, with 8 heads. When Sarabheshwara’s and Shoolini’s efforts failed to control Ugra Narasimha, Pratyangira emerged from his wing, taking the female form of Narasimha and calmed him down. Pratyangira was 1000 times larger than Sarabeshwarar. Her head towered above the clouds and her feet extended into the underworld. She had 1000 faces of roaring lions, 2000 blood-shot and protruded eyes, 2000 hands with several weapons and 1000 blood- stained tongues sticking out from her mouth.

Vivid Tales of Pratyangira Devi in Ramayana

One can also find the details on Pratyangira devi as Nikumbhila in Ramayana. Ravana’s son indrajit got a boon from the God brahma on invincibility and the Maha mantra of Goddess Pratyangira and the details of her homa. God Brahma explained to Indrajeet that, whenever he performs the nikumbhila homa with utmost devotion, the devi will help you to win any war. This is the reason Indrajeeth was never defeated in war. Before his fight with the Rama and Lakshmana, Indrajit thought to perform the homam for Goddess Nikumbhila to win the war. However, Rama who came to know about this and unparalleled powers of Goddess Nikumbhila orders Lakshmana to disturb the customs of homam, so that the homa will not be completed. Lakshmana went with a great army and disturbed the customs of that Yagna. Which made indrajith to go to the war without fully performing the ritual. Later he was defeated and killed in that war.

Why the Name ‘Pratyangira’?

Two sages namely the Pratyangi (some say Pratya) and Angirasa meditated on the divine mother the moola Shakthi. In their meditation, they discovered a Goddess whom they never knew and looked so powerful with the faces of the lion and holding several divine weapons. They meditated on that Goddess, pleased by their devotion, she appeared and gave the boon of being called with their names as Pratyangira.

The Various Schools of Thought associated with the deity

The Vaishnava School of thought: The Vaishnava School of thought suggests that Goddess Narasimha appeared from Goddess Lakshmi me to keep in control Narasimha whose fury was about to engulf the universe.

Lord Narasimha with Goddess Lakshmi on a stylized Kirtimukha Throne (Hoysala Art)

The Shaivite School of thought: The Shaivite School of thought suggests that Goddess Narasimha is an incarnation of Goddess Shakti and she appeared from the wings of Sharabha – the form Shiva took to subdue the anger of Narasimha.

Stimulating Facets of Devi’s Characteristics

The Devi’s responsibility for her devotees’ Karmas

Pratyangira Devi devours a devotee’s karmas and answers their prayers so long as they hold pure intentions, take responsibility for their karmas, and walk the path of Dharma. She transforms negative energy by purifying it. The Mother gives Herself entirely as She is an ocean of Grace. She asks of us only our devotion, and in return She gives infinitely, revealing to us our True Nature. Wherever there is sincere devotion, Pratyangira Devi will reveal Herself. She is always by the side of Her devotees and protects them.

Rapid and influential energy whirlwind

As Pratyangira energy manifests, it’s often a swift and powerful current. Because the energy strikes at the roots of one's negative aspects, it is akin to pulling the rug underneath. The energy comes like a tornado, shakes one up from the inside, frees and energizes them quickly, and takes them towards their soul liberation.

Sri Pratyangira Sahasranamam: Protector of Evil & Negative Forces (Audio CD)

Steering in the Satya Yuga Vim

The Pratyangira aspect of the Divine Mother has been kept somewhat secret for much of history. This Mother takes form when there is much to be brought into balance in the world. She is the Goddess who ushers in Satya Loka energies amid Kali Yuga energies.

The Value of Pratyangira Devi Devotion and Worship

If the goddess’ mantra is used to cause harm to others for material benefit or take revenge, it affects the person performing such rites, negatively. In fact, many deities have both protective and destructive powers. The Pratyangira aspect of the Divine was shrouded in secrecy for many years. It was believed that only saints and Rishis had direct experience with this energy. It was felt that seeing Pratyangira in any form is an immense blessing.

One story goes that this goddess was revealed to two Rishis named Pratyangira and Angiras, during their deep meditation, long, long ago. Pratyangira Devi is very powerful and secretly protects her devotees. She exists within all living beings. The Siddha masters and great sages like Durvasa and Puli Paani Siddhar were her devotees. It is said that she came into being along with thunder and lightning. On seeing her, Narasimha realized the purpose of his incarnation and became calm immediately.

How to Worship Goddess Pratyangira

As in the case of Varahi Amman, most people feel scared to keep a picture of Prathyangira because she is believed to be a fierce form. The goddess is associated with Bhairavar and hence is called Bhairava Patni. She is regarded as the protector of the Universe. Like Lord Shiva, Pratyangira Devi gives us self-realization. She is not someone who is associated with Death. Worshipping her protects us from all kinds of dosham, enemies, accidents, diseases, curses, spells, wrath, and obstacles. On her body are 8 snakes and people with Sarpa Dosham who get nightmares involving snakes should worship Pratyangira for relief. Prathyangira devi brings respite for those with Rahu Dosham. Some devotees claim that sprinkling her kumkum all around the house or at the house entrance protects them and their house from evil spirits, snakes and other poisonous creatures.

Similar to Varahi Amman, many people fear to keep a photo of Prathyangira because she is once again thought of as a Ugraha Deivam or Dushta Deivam. People who think like that are ignorant of her karunai, azhagu, mahimai. "Aval Samaanya Patta Deivam Illai.... Maha Mayee"... When we look at her, we often find her mouth wide opened, and this makes many fear her. There are two version that I have heard about this roopam. One is that with her mouth wide open, she sucks in all the Dushta Shakthi, Valvinaigal, Theeya Shakthis and releases her bhakthas from Dhrishti and Seivinai. In her Potri Malai, she is described as "Val Vinaigal Yaavaiyume Theerpavale Potri, Engal Annai Sri Prathyangira Potri".

Second interpretation is that she is in a state of Dhyanam. When one reaches the liberation point or Uccha Dhyana Nilai, it is believed that the mouth is widely opened. Prathyangira forever performs Dhyanam or Yoga for us, for her bhakthas. She is Sri Chakra Swaroopini. "Ksham" is her Bheeja Mantram. While talking about Prathyangira Amman, she is often associated with Bhairavar.. She is called Bhairava Pathnee or Atharvana Bhadra Kali (since Kali is considered to be Bhairavar's wife). In her Potri Malai, she is described as "Bhairavar Manam Niraindhai Potri". She is considered to be the protector of the Universe, the Nayaki of Atharvana Vedam. In Ayyawadi, Thanjavur, she is seated in the middle of a graveyard.

प्रत्यंडिंगरा सम्पूर्ण प्रयोग: Method of Worshipping Goddess Pratyangira

The message we need to understand from this is not that she is a Dushta Devadhai, but like Lord Shiva, she is the Amman who gives us Gnyanam, self-realization. She is not to be mistaken as someone who causes Death or is associated with Death. By living in the graveyard, surrounded by skulls, bones and burning pyres, she is revealing the truth associated with Maanida Janmam. We would have heard of this Siddhar Padal "Nandavanathil Ore Andi, Avan Naalu Aru Madhangalai Kuzhavanai Vendi, Kondu Vandhaan Oru Thondi, Adhai Koothaadi Koothaadi Pottu Udaithaandi" which conveys that Anyone Born Has to Die one day... burnt ashes is the Truth of Life.

Worshipping Prathyangira Amman relieves us from all kinds of dosham, accidents, enemies, diseases, wrath, curses, obstacles, hardships. She bears 8 snakes on her body. Her Potri Malai describes her as "Ashta Nagam Konda Kali Thirisuli". Those who have Sarpa Dosham or often get scary dreams involving Snakes can worship Prathyangira Devi for instant relief. It is believed that Prathyangira Amman relieves us from Rahu Dosham and Varahi Amman relieves us from Ketu Doshams. Devotees who have experienced her Mahima have shared stories wherein by just spreading her kumkumam around the house or at the entrance of the house acts like a barrier and protects the house and family from Dushta Atma, snakes and other Visha (poisonous) Jeevangal.

Descriptions in Hindu Scriptures

In the Shaiva tradition, the Goddess Pratyangira is mainly treated as a Krutyas. and she is also worshipped as Kali or Adarvana Bhadrakali. In the Adarvana Veda, the details of Pratyangira devi are present within the rukhs explained by the Muni Pippalada. Goddess Pratyangira can also be seen widely linked with Kali or the Kali sects. Tantra shastras like sammohana depicts her as one of the 9 kalikas along with Sankarshini, Siddhakali, Sundari, Kubjika, Siddhakaralika, Mahaakhiladevesi, Sesika and Sesamantra. The Niruttala tantra mention that this Goddess is linked with Kali-kula path of worship. Sometimes, Pratyangira is depicted as a powerful yogini in Hindu scriptures like Mantra Mahodhadhi. Also, the Pratyangira Devi acts as one of the presiding deities in Vimsamsa division of Rasis as per the Parasara hora shastra. She is also prayed for the removal of Rahu graha doshas.

The majestic forms of Goddess Pratyangira

Usually, Goddess Pratyangira is mainly described in 2 forms. One, the commonly seen form of the Goddess with four hands, seated on a lion. The other one is a greater form called Maha Pratyangira devi with multiple faces of lions and numerous hands. Several Saktha books also describe other forms like Aghora Pratyangira, Baggala Pratyangira, Lakshmi, Narayani Pratyangira, pancha-vimsatyakshari etc.

Devi Pratyangira with Kirtimukha Prabhavali | Handmade | Madhuchista Vidhana (Lost-Wax) | Panchaloha Bronze from Swamimalai

Iconography of Pratyangira Devi:

Devi Pratyangira is usually depicted as one with four hands, the left two hands holding a trident and a damaru while the right ones holding a noose and head of a beheaded demon.

The face of the Goddess represents a lion and looks fierce for the wicked. She is depicted as three eyed and riding on a lion.

In some scriptures, she is also shown in a greater form called Maha Pratyangira

Often the Goddess Maha Pratyangira is linked with removing the effects of sorcery and witchcraft as her power in destroying such practices is unequalled with any other vidyas.

Pratyangira Sadhana – A Challenging Vidhya

Pratyangira Sadhana is considered as one of the popular, powerful and most difficult vidhya’s. It can be practiced either in Dakshanachara or Vamachara. A very few people know about the actual process of sadhana. However, there are recorded literature that depicts the sadhana of this devi. There are different forms of Pratyangira’s and about 64 Kruthyas. Upasana of each form varies and differs.

Following strict rules while doing sadhana is necessary.

A devotee can normally recite Pratyangira kavacham, stotras and mantras for the mercy of the divine Goddess. Mantra shastras says that Pratyangira sadhana is one of the fastest and powerful among the vidyas. It is so powerful that it can remove all the prayogas, even the ones done by sudarshanastra or karthaveeryarjuna vidyas. Usually, the Goddess is even invoked to do good for the devotee or to destroy the enemies. In recent time, Pratyangira homam, pujas and sadhanas are reviving back mainly in south India. At the same time, several dedicated temples are also established for worship.

श्री प्रत्यंगिरा साधना -रहस्य: Secrets of Sri Pratyangira Sadhana

Vishesha Abhisheka is performed on Ashtami, Dashami and Chaturdashi days. If these days fall on Sundays, abhisheka to Pratyangiraa devi will be done in Raahukaala just prior to the Abhisheka of Sharabheshwara.

The following are Prathyangira Devi's favorite foods:

Panakam (jaggery crushed in pure water, flavoured with cardamom, dried ginger)

Paruppu-Vellam Payasam (made with Kadalai Paruppu, Paitham Paruppu, Jaggery, Coconut and Pure Milk)

Ulundu Vadai

Ellu Urundai

Red Banana (Chevvazhai Pazham)

Pomegranate

Dates

The following are Prathyangira Devi's favourite colors (for sarees):

Deep Red (preferred by Shantha Prathyangira & Ugraha Prathyangira)

Purple (preferred by Shantha Prathyangira)

Yellow (preferred by Shantha Prathyangira)

Black (preferred by Ugraha Prathyangira)

The following are special days for pooja for Prathyangira Amman:

Amavasya

Ashtami

Sunday

Tuesday

Friday

Achieving the Pratyangira consciousness

The easiest way to transcend normal levels of consciousness and elevate to the Pratyangira consciousness is the practice of the simple yet profoundly powerful Ksham Meditation. This transformational practice helps one attain a state of stillness in their mind and to be in their bliss body. Ksham Meditation has been formulated by the Adiyargal Amma Adi Sakthi and Swami Shanmuga. It is an all-encompassing practice and is the only practice needed to realize Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi.

Misconceptions attached with the attributes of Devi

There are many misconceptions about Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi and people try to misuse Her energies. A common misconception is that She is the deity for the removal of black magic or to perform black magic. Pratyangira Devi is the all-powerful Goddess, the giver of Moksha, liberation. She is the protector of Dharma or Righteousness and, therefore, how can She be associated with black magic?

Pratyangira Devi is often called Ugra Devata, or the wrathful Goddess, and people are asked to not pray to Her as harm would befall them. The Devi sure is fierce, but Her fierceness is because She eats ones' negativity and raises them further into the path of Dharma. But if one is deceitful in their ways and tries to propitiate the mother and use Her energies for adharmic purposes, they will reap the negative effects of it in a magnified way. There is a misconception that one should not have pictures of Pratyangira Devi in their home. This a grossly misplaced notion of the mother; She is an ocean of grace, and can only shower one with Her love and grace.

14" Superfine Statue of Pratyangira Devi | Incarnation of Goddess Chandni/Durga | Brass Statue | Made in India | Handmade

Interestingly, her roots are not only restricted to the Indian subcontinent, but find relevance in other cultures, too. Ancient traditions and civilizations like Egypt and Tibet have recognized the energy of Pratyangira Devi, and refer to this mother as Sekhmet and Simhamukha, respectively. Their traditions talk about the astounding potency of this aspect of the Divine Mother.

References and Further Readings:

Max Muller (1897), ‘The Hymns of the Atharva-Veda: The Sacred Books of the East’.

Dr Ramamurthy (2016), ‘Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi: Holy Divine Mother in Ferocious Form’.

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