Mahavidya Yoga



by Dinu Roman

The Yoga of Inner Communion with the Ten Great Cosmic Wisdoms

In the Tantric vision, the Universe has a pyramidal vibratory structure. Different worlds are placed on different levels or strata. Each stratum has a definite rate of vibration and expresses a definite level of consciousness.

At the top of this gigantic pyramidal structure there are certain Cardinal Foci of Energy (Vidya-s) symbolically called “Cosmic Wisdoms” or “Goddesses”, which have a paramount role in creating, maintaining and reabsorbing the Cosmos.

The disciplines that lead to the inner communion with these Cosmic Wisdoms 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 the Everlasting Female Archetype, 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 the cosmic manifestation and over all creatures.

At the human scale, all women are parts of the Cosmic Goddess. The Ultimate Consciousness (Shiva) is grasped through Shakti.

It can be said that the Ten Great Feminine Cosmic Wisdoms (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 Wisdom of Time and The Night of Eternity
  • TARA – The Wisdom of Void and The Night of Anger
  • TRIPURA SUNDARI – The Wisdom of Absolute Splendor
  • BHUVANESHWARI – The Wisdom of Space and The Night of Perfect Realization
  • TRIPURA BHAIRAVI – The Wisdom of Death and The Night of Destiny
  • CINNAMASTA – The Wisdom of Sacrifice and The Night of Courage
  • DHUMAVATI – The Wisdom of Deprivation and The Night of Frustration
  • BAGALAMUKHI – The Wisdom of Instantaneous Stopping
  • MATANGI – The Wisdom of Domination and The Night of Illusion
  • KAMALATMIKA – The Wisdom 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.

The esoteric Tantric Tradition states that:

‘The highest form of worship (Param Puja) is not offering flowers, 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 uses the term “worship” with this meaning. In this way only, worship leads to spiritual knowledge, which imply the unification of subject and object by the relation of identity (samyama).

Maha Vidya Yoga consists in fact of ten different ways (paths) of understanding ourselves and the Universe through identification with ten fundamental energies-consciousness 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 in anyone of these Cosmic Foci of Wisdom.

God in Ten Parts


The terrible force of time, the grace of endless compassion, dazzling beauty, all-comprising vision, endless courage, capacity for self-sacrifice, fascinating brightness, sublime vacuity, expressive play, intoxicating harmony…all these are different aspects of the Supreme Feminine Energy and each of them may lead you to the experience of the Ultimate Reality.

In the context of this series of articles we will try to analyze the main philosophical and practical aspects that refer to the spiritual tradition of the Ten Great Cosmic Forces (Dhasha Mahavidya).

This tradition is essentially a Tantric practice whose purpose is to gain a “magic” control over the subtle energies and forces that animate both our inner microcosm and the Macrocosm in its various aspects of manifestation.

The fundament for this spiritual Tantric practice lies in the idea that one should not avoid the tests life puts us through isolating and retreating in a desert place in order to reach spiritual fulfillment.

Instead, the Tantric tradition asserts that Mahavidya Upasana should be performed in the context of the every-day life, which offers us the possibility of mastering our problems and transcending them.

In this respect, the Tantric tradition (Tantra Shastra) offers several methods suited to any type of situation and to any human type. It is therefore not necessary to seek a different method to evolve spiritually.

It is enough to activate as many sublime aspects of our superior nature, attempting to fulfill any positive, beneficial desire we have sublimating the energies that animate it.

The purpose is on one hand to experience a refined pleasure and on the other to experience the state of divine freedom.

Consequently, the Tantric spiritual practice is not meant only for those initiates, but it also offers amazing opportunities for those who ardently aspire to reach the state of ultimate freedom.

Although the Tantric texts are filled with cryptic expressions, with metaphors and allegories that represent obstacles that are unsurpassed for those who are not initiated, Tantra is not sorcery.

The misunderstandings of these metaphors have caused even reputed researchers to make huge mistakes in the interpretation of these sacred texts.

The most frequent error is that they are ignorant of an important aspect of the Tantric system – they consider the metaphorical language ad literam, attributing thus to the Tantric texts meanings they never had.

Consequently, they associate Tantra with “abominable practices” such as sacrificial rituals, orgiastic sexual practices, etc. Actually, one may describe the teaching of the Tantric tradition as transcendence of any phenomenal tribulations; it is thus a religious and philosophical system deeply non-dualistic (advaita).

The authentic Tantric spirituality has nothing in common with witchcraft or magic of some sects, which have deviated practices, often gruesome many times mistaken for the deeply spiritual Tantric doctrine.

The purpose of spiritual fulfillment through sadhana is the state of full union with the Supreme Reality of God, whose nature is Sat-Chit-Ananda (Pure Existence, Pure Consciousness, Pure Bliss).

In the Tantric tradition, this nature of the divine reality bears the name Cit and refers to the infinite force of God’s consciousness.

On a transcendent level, Cit (or the Absolute Consciousness of God) is associated with a tough, compact monolith, infinite in its splendor.

Nonetheless, this essential character differentiates in the creation under different aspects, as particular attributes and expressions, such as the expression of Maya, the force of illusion covering the intrinsic reality of all manifested things.

In fact, the Supreme Reality, which is beyond any attribute or conceptual understanding, projects itself in the creation in a finite and determined form through the aspect of dynamics of the Divine Consciousness as Force (Cit).

From this point of view, the Great Cosmic Forces (Mahavidya) represent reflections of Cit as idea or divine expressions in creation, consequently having a universal character.


The ten Cosmic Wisdoms are considered as feminine entities whose consciousness is quite close to the consciousness of God, and who are like “administrators” of the creation.

This is because their character is more subjective (in other words, the perception of their influence and of their manifestation is the subtle domain of consciousness) and less objective.

However, the Hindu pantheon contains plenty appearances of these feminine deities who illustrate each in a symbolic manner their main attributes and characteristics in the Macrocosm.

In the spiritual Tantric practice, the physical aspects constitute an important base in elevating one’s consciousness. Besides the various iconographic representations and graphical symbols (yantra, mantra), the Tantric tradition confers a tremendous importance to the devotion of the ten Great Cosmic Wisdoms.

The spiritual purpose of such a procedure is that starting from the physical level, the individual consciousness gradually accedes to the state of transcendence characteristic to the Great Cosmic Wisdom adored by the Tantric practitioner.

Then, in an ultimate spiritual effort, the Tantric will accede to the state of Supreme Transcendent Void, origin and quintessence of any divine energy.

Consequently, the principle at work in this case is that of gradual elevation of the consciousness, starting from the inferior levels up to the sublime, total experience of the divine transcendence, without neglecting, nor interdicting any “mundane” aspect.

This approach of the practice and experience of the ten Great Cosmic Wisdoms has a unitary, holistic character, in which the parts of the whole intermingle in harmony in order to create the image of the Whole.

This aspect is obvious mostly in the awakening and ascension of the Kundalini Shakti. For instance, this energy may be either latent, “sleeping” in Muladhara chakra, or it may become active, purifying, activating all the levels of our being.

This polarization of Kundalini has a different correspondent in the human being. Thus, when Kundalini Shakti is sleeping in Muladhara chakra the person is somewhat “awake” for the exterior world, even though this world is ephemeral considered through the point of view of the Supreme Transcendent Reality.

When this energy is awake and active, reaching as high as Sahasrara chakra, the practitioner becomes “dead” for the outer world, yet unbelievably lucid and awake from the point of view of the divine reality.

Each of the ten Great Cosmic Wisdoms (Kali, Tara, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshvari, Tripura Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi, and Kamalatmika) has a characteristic sadhana, but still each sadhana has 3 fundamental points:

1. Devotion to the image of the deity (that is the Great Cosmic Wisdom chosen for devotion at a certain time);
2. Concentration on the yantra (geometrical representation corresponding to the field of beneficial influence of a certain Great Cosmic Wisdom).
3. Mental emission of a mantra corresponding to a Great Cosmic Wisdom.

In the devotion for these ten Great Cosmic Wisdoms we have, nonetheless, to differentiate the Great Cosmic Wisdoms and Matruka.

The first represent the gigantic spheres of consciousness of the divine energy and they encompass the whole universe, while the later represent the cosmic forces of the most important gods of the Hindu pantheon, and in the Eastern tradition they are known as the consorts of those gods. They are: Maheshvari, Vaishnavi, Brahmani, Kaumari, Indrani, Narasimhi, and Varahi.

Thus, with some guidelines clearly cut through the Tantric tradition and through the practice of the devotion of the ten Great Cosmic Wisdoms, we will introduce brief and representative characteristics of each Great Cosmic Wisdom in the following articles of this section.