Katyayani: mother as bestower of paradise

Katyayani Navadurga Maata, Boodram, Creative Commons
Katyayani Navadurga Maata, Boodram, Creative Commons

Carl Jung noted a relation between the mother and paradise [1]. In the Hindu tradition, there is a word svarga or swarga meaning ‘paradise’ or ‘heaven’. In the Devi-Mahatmyam, the mother goddess (Devi) is honored as the bestower of paradise (svarga) and liberation. In Verse 11, 7 we read:

Sarva bhootha yada devi svarga mukti pradhayani, Thwam sthutha sthuthaye ka va bhavanthu paramok thaya.
When You are being praised as the embodiment of all beings, the Devi, the effulgent One, and the bestower of paradise and liberation, what words however excellent, can praise You.
In this passage, the Devi in the form of Katyayani is praised. We find an image of Katyayani as mother goddess (Devi) above. The mother goddess is both the bestower of paradise (Svarga) and of liberation (moksha).
In Hindu cosmology, Svarga is one of the seven Lokas or planes. Svarga is a heavenly realm that is said to exist above Mt. Meru. De Nobili explains the etymology of the word. The word svarga derives from the Tamil word ‘Cuvarkam’ which can be divided into two parts: ‘cu’ meaning pleasure and ‘kam’ meaning to attain [2]. Svarga is the plane of paradise which the soul may attain after death as a reward for their virtue. In Svarga, they will find themselves having bodies of light, surrounded by the pleasures of the gods.
Svarga, as paradise, is transitory place. It is a place for the virtuous souls who have performed karma, but who are not ready for moksha. The aim of enlightenment is not pleasure, but liberation (moksha).
The goddess may bestow upon us either (svarga) paradise or (moksha) liberation. Svarga is still in the realm of karma. After some time of pleasure we may find ourselves again back in the cycles of birth and death. It is only through moksha that we find true release from the cycles of pain and suffering.


  1. Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious by Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 156.
  2. Dharma, Hindu and Christian According to Roberto de Nobili By Soosai Arokiasamy




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