What is the Tridevi?

Anika: I think that almost every Indian knows about the All-Powerful Tridev, consisting of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. There has been endless literature written about them, but not many focus on their female counterparts in the mainstream. So, I thought we could talk about the Tridevi and their impact on Hinduism. The Tridevi is a concept in Hinduism joining a triad of eminent goddesses either as a feminine version of the Trimurti or as consorts of a masculine Trimurti, depending on the denomination. This triad is typically personified by the Hindu goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati.

Saptaparna: Saraswati, the goddess of education, creativity, and music; Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune; and Parvati, the goddess of the Himalayas, are often overlooked as a result of their husbands and consorts. However, without these Goddesses, Hindu Mythology would make as much sense as babies make to me. Like, why do they cry for no reason? And what is up with the drama that just comes naturally to them? While we're on that matter, physics is a confusing piece of shit too! Why are there so many laws?! Like, Newton, that apple fell on your head, okay, what was the need to invent gravity?! You could have simply become unconscious-

Anika: Umm. . . Saptaparna? *elbows her*

Saptaparna: I’m getting off track, yep I know. Uh, anywho, back to the topic. As Anika was saying, ahem, the Tridevi is personified by the aforementioned Goddesses. The goddesses have their own mounts as well! It's such a brilliant concept. Goddess Saraswati mounts on the beautiful white swan, Goddess Lakshmi has taken to an owl and Goddess Parvati has conquered the ever- majestic lion. There's something my mother told me once. Wherever good goes, trouble follows. Now, I'm just paraphrasing but she told me that before Goddess Lakshmi will bring good fortune and wealth to a home, it will first be visited by the owl, i.e. something bad.

Anika: Well, there are tons of stories about the Tridevi. And, a lot of them talk about their different avatars.

Saptaparna: Exactly! We need more stories about Parvati's true form. Did you know, she was actually a reincarnation of Shiva's first wife, Sati. She, ironically, burned herself to death!

Anika: Wait, What? I didn't even know that! That’s kinda hardcore to be honest.

Saptaparna: Yep, that's true! So, what happened was that she learned that her father had not invited Shiva to a great sacrifice, a yagna, as far as my knowledge goes. She grew so mortified and lit herself on fire in a rage. She was then born again as Parvati.

Anika: Yikes. Talk about unapproving parents.

Saptaparna: I know! And, Toxic alert! Everyone at that sacrifice then experienced Shiva's power and brutality, and don't even get me started on how furious he was. What a couple!

Anika: They really are kind of like that power couple that everyone is scared of.

Saptaparna: Definitely.

Anika: Okay, what about Saraswati? She symbolises education right?

Saptaparna: Yeah?

Anika: Don’t you think it’s a little weird that she is the consort of Brahma? Like, education is supposed to happen in one’s youth, so she kind of symbolises youth to me. And Brahma is an old man. Like, really old.

Saptaparna: Oh my God. *giggles* I totally see it now! A little creepy, if I’m being honest.

Anika: Exactly! Anyway, Saraswati was first mentioned in the Rigveda, and her other names include Sharada, Savitri, Brahmani, Bharadi, Vani and Vagdevi. She is the goddess of knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning. She’s generally shown to have four arms, holding a book, prayer beads, a water pot, and a musical instrument called Veena. Also, apparently, Shiva is her brother.

Saptaparna: What? Why am I just finding this out?

Anika: Honestly, I didn't even know about that until I did some research.

Saptaparna: Wow. It has always amused, rather, fascinated me how all the Gods are interconnected. It's like a… ah, yes! It's like a royal family, there are so many secrets hidden behind the curtain. So, like you were saying, Saraswati holds four different things in her hands. They have to have a meaning. Obviously. Nothing is without meaning. Anyways, The prayer beads signify the importance of meditation while the water shows that Saraswati helps to purify people’s thoughts. Saraswati’s four arms represent the mind, the imagination, reasoning and self-understanding. She is portrayed wearing white.

Anika: Umm . . . Isn’t white for funerals?

Saptaparna: Well, she is imbued with all white. The colour white signifies purity, true knowledge and divine wisdom. The water on which her lotus seat is erected symbolises the perennial flow of knowledge. Hansa or “Swan” is the carrier of Saraswati. Even her mount is white! So, tell me something about Lakshmi.

Anika: Okay, so. Lakshmi is the goddess of good fortune and wealth. Being the wife of Vishnu, she is said to be his strength. She is shown either standing or sitting in a lotus flower. For Hindus, the lotus represents spirituality, self-understanding and success. Like Saraswati, Lakshmi is also shown with four hands, which represent the four goals of a Hindu’s life: dharma – or good conduct; kama – longing or desire in life; artha – earning money legitimately and moksha – liberation from birth and death.

Saptaparna: Woah. You really are like a human encyclopaedia. How sanskari!

Anika: Whatever. *rolls eyes*

Saptaparna: So, I think that covers our little conversation about the Tridevi. There are so many more stories to weave into one, yet if we start writing, I believe no one is going to bother reading something so long.

Anika: Haha. That’s what she said. *snorts*

Saptaparna: Ugh. Anyway, this is where we bid each other farewell. I do hope to see you again.

Anika: Hey, you should write a book, “How to be a Dramatic Queen 101" by Saptaparna C.

Saptaparna: Okay. Bye.

Anika: Bye!

Authors: Anika Garg and Saptaparna Chakraborty

Editor: Zoyah Virani

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