The Ten Maha Vidyas
In the Tantric vision, the Universe has a vibratory structure much like a pyramid. Different worlds are placed on different levels or strata. Each stratum has a definite rate of vibration and expressesa definite level of consciousness. At the top of this gigantic pyramid like structure there are certain Cardinal Focuses of Energy (Vidya-s) symbolically called "Cosmic Powers" or "Goddesses", which have a paramount role in creating, maintaining and re-absorbing the Cosmos.The disciplines that have an inner communion with these Cosmic Powers are known as Maha Vidya Yoga or Shri Vidya Yoga. These are the supreme fundamental ways (paths) of profound knowledge and wisdom. The Tantric tradition is characterized by the central place given to Everlasting Female Archetypes, to the Supreme Goddess, the Mother of the Universe, i.e. the essential femaleness as a creative and dynamic Power which complements the stillness of the Consciousness.In this vision, each female is a Shakti. She embodies and manifests the secret fundamental subtle forces which animate and control the Cosmos. The Tantric adepts see the whole Cosmos, with its visible and invisible worlds, as a Supreme Mother Goddess ( Parashakti ), which holds ultimate and omnipotent power over cosmic manifestation and over all creatures. On a human scale, all women are part of the Cosmic Goddess. The Ultimate Consciousness (Shiva) is grasped through Shakti.It can be said that the Ten Great Feminine Cosmic Powers (Dasha Maha Vidya-s) are the ten fundamental aspects of the Supreme Cosmic Mother's personality. Nevertheless, each Goddess has a specific cosmic function in the universal harmony. The traditional sequence of the ten Goddesses is:KALI - The Power of Time and The Night of Eternity TARA - The Power of Void and The Night of Anger TRIPURA SUNDARI - The Power of Absolute Splendor BHUVANESHWARI - The Power of Space and The Night of Perfect Realization TRIPURA BHAIRAVI - The Power of Death and The Night of Destiny CHINNMASTA - The Power of Sacrifice and The Night of Courage DHUMAWATI - The Power of Deprivation and The Night of Frustration BAGALAMUKHI - The Power of Instantaneously Stopping MATANGI - The Power of Domination and The Night of Illusion KAMALATMIKA - The Power of Perfect Happiness and The Night of Paradise The cluster of the ten Maha Vidya-s reflects the dynamic unity of existence, in which all aspects of life - the darkest, the purest, the most forceful and the inert - are combined to form a whole, a vision of unity in diversity. DEFINITION OF "WORSHIP"The esoteric Tantric Tradition states that:'The highest form of worship ( Param Puja ) is not offering flowers, fruits, etc., to any image, but it is the grasp of the true nature of [the Deity as being the Self]. It does not need any definite place or time: it is to be performed wherever and whenever possible' We use the term "worship" with this meaning. This way, worship leads to spiritual knowledge, which implies the unification of subject and object by relation of identity ( samyama ). In fact Maha Vidya Yoga consists of ten different ways (paths) of understanding ourselves and the Universe through identification with ten fundamental energies-consciousnesses of the Cosmos. Therefore our purpose is self-knowledge through specific ways which are related to our affinity i.e., which best fit our personality. Tantra reveals that the Supreme Being can be reached through any of these Cosmic Focuses of Power.