The many names of the Goddess are Adi Shakti, Shakti, Durga and Devi. Are they the same person? Here is what I have gathered from numerous sources such as Wikipedia:

  • Durga, who is known as Parvati, is known as Adi Shakti. If so,what about Lakshmi and Saraswati?

  • Who is Adi Shakti in the first place? Is she the supreme goddess?

  • If Adi Shakti is the supreme goddess, then does it mean that,

    1. Adi Shakti incarnates as Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati and the three goddesses are equal in power or does it mean that.
    2. Parvati is the same as Adi Shakti and she incarnates as Lakshmi and Saraswati, thus making Parvati the most powerful as Adi Shakti is supreme (if we assume so according to the question)
    3. Or is Adi Shakti just a synonym for Parvati and thus Adi Shakti/Parvati , Lakshmi and Saraswati are equal in power.
  • Only Parvati/Durga has many, many, many, many avatars. Why don't Lakshmi and Sarawati?

  • Shailaputri (a Navadurga) is Parvati (making Parvati Durga's avatar). However, normally it is vice versa.
  • In Devi Mahatmaya, Lakshmi is Durga (killer of Mahisasur) and Saraswati is Ambika (killer of Shumb and Nishumbh). Kali, or Parvati is merely helps Vishnu kill Madhu and Kathiba (she doesn't actually participate in the slaying). Normally however, Parvati is Durga (killer of Mahisasur) as well as Ambika (killer of Shumb and Nishumbh) while the other two hardly kill anybody.

    Please clear my doubts.Also please tell me which option,1,2 or 3 is correct.

  • 1
    You should stick to Shaiva or Shakti Perspective to understand this. I will tell you in Shiva Perspective, According to Shiavaite view, Adishakti is primordial power and half of Sada Shiva. Sada Shiva equals Shiva(male energy) and Sivaa (female energy). Sivaa (A = aa) is Adishakti from whom all Devis or female consorts came. Her Gnana aspect is married to Brahma, fortune aspect married to Vishnu and human aspect or love and fertility aspect married to Rudra (not Shiva). Generally, Shaivaites equate Rudra with Shiva and Parvati or Sati with AdiShakti or Devi. (1/3)
    – The Destroyer
    Feb 15, 2016 at 10:53
  • 1
    Kali and Durga can be said to be Adishakti (i think she is formless) in body of Parvati Devi. Devi Bagavatam generally consider Devi or Adishakti (with prefix Para before Shakti ) to be supreme. So, Devi Bagavatam gives importance to female Shaktis more and Lakshmi and Saraswati too are highlighted, May be person of Shakta sect can answer you clearly. (2/3)
    – The Destroyer
    Feb 15, 2016 at 10:57
  • See this answer which gives info about Devi. (3/3)
    – The Destroyer
    Feb 15, 2016 at 10:59
  • @AnilKumar Why do the Shaiviates equate only Parvati with AdiShakti?What about Lakshmi and Saraswati?Also,according to Devi Bagavatam which option,1,2 or 3 is correct?What do other scriptures say about the options?
    – user4627
    Feb 16, 2016 at 12:12
  • Can you also explain ther other poins in this question,like the last point(about Devi Mahatmaya).
    – user4627
    Feb 16, 2016 at 12:21

5 Answers 5


Goddess Durga herself is Adi Parashakti. In Sri Chandi (from the Markandeya Purana), she is described as the combined form of the 3 deities viz; Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati.

The Devi Atharva Sirsha describes Adi Parashakti's features as follows:

sābravīt- ahaṃ brahmasvarūpiṇī ।
mattaḥ prakṛtipuruṣātmakaṃ jagat ।
śūnyaṃ cāśūnyam ca ॥2॥

She said: I am an aspect of Brahma. From me this Universe, in form of Prakriti and Purusha, is generated; which is both void and non-void.

ahamānandānānandau ।
ahaṃ vijñānāvijñāne ।
ahaṃ brahmābrahmaṇī veditavye ।
ahaṃ pañcabhūtānyapañcabhūtāni ।
ahamakhilaṃ jagat ॥3॥

I am both bliss and non-bliss. I am knowledge and non-knowledge. I am Brahma and non-Brahma (the non-manifest state called Abrahma). I am the five primordial principles and non-principles. I am the whole perceived Universe.

vedo ̕hamavedo ̕ham।
ajāhamanajāham ।
adhaścordhvaṃ ca tiryakcāham ॥4॥

I am Veda (knowledge about Brahma) and non-knowledge. I am learning and ignorance. I am unborn and also born. I am up, down and in the middle.

And more:

ahaṃ rudrebhirvasubhiścarāmi ।
ahamādityairuta viśvadevaiḥ ।
ahaṃ mitrāvaruṇāvubhau bibharmi ।
ahamindrāgnī ahamaśvināvubhau ॥5॥

I move about in form of Rudra and Vasu. I move about as Aditya and all the Gods. I sustain Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Agni and both the Ashvinas.

ahaṃ somaṃ tvaṣṭāraṃ pūṣaṇaṃ bhagaṃ dadhāmi।
ahaṃ viṣṇumurukramaṃ brahmāṇamuta prajāpatiṃ dadhāmi ॥6॥

In me there are Soma, Tvasta, Pusha and Bhaga. In me there are Vishnu with wide footsteps, Brahma and Prajapati.

saiṣāṣṭau vasavaḥ।
saiṣaikādaśarudrāḥ ।
saiṣā dvādaśādityāḥ ।
saiṣā viśvedevāḥ somapā asomapāśca ।
saiṣā yātudhānā asurā rakṣāṃsi piśācā yakṣāḥ siddhāḥ । saiṣā sattvarajastamāṃsi ।
saiṣā brahmaviṣṇurudrarūpiṇī।
saiṣā prajāpatīndramanavaḥ ।
saiṣā grahanakṣatrajyotīṃṣi ।
kalā kāṣṭhādikālarūpiṇī।
tāmahaṃ praṇaumi nityam |
pāpahāriṇīṃ devīṃ bhuktimuktipradāyinīm ।
anantāṃ vijayāṃ śuddhāṃ śaraṇyāṃ śivadāṃ śivām॥17॥

She is the eight Vasus. She is the eleven Rudras. She is the twelve Adityas. She is the all the Gods, drinking Soma or non-drinking. She is Yatudhan, Rakshashas, Asuras, Pishachas, Yakshas and Siddhas (kinds of demonic or malicious beings). She is Satva, Rajas and Tamas. She is Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. She is Prajapati, Indra and Manu. She is the planets, stars and constellations. She is various measures of Time. She is destroyer of sins, giver of both enjoyment and Moksha, without end, giving victory over distractions of Samsara, pure, worth taking refuge, giver of peace, peace personified, we pray to Her.

And, then finally it says, that she is Durga only or known by that name.

yasyāḥ svarūpaṃ brahmādayo na jānanti tasmāducyate ajñeyā ।
yasyā anto na labhyate tasmāducyate anantā ।
yasyā lakṣyaṃ nopalakṣyate tasmāducyate alakṣyā ।
yasyā jananaṃ nopalabhyate tasmāducyate ajā ।
ekaiva sarvatra vartate tasmāducyate ekā ।
ekaiva viśvarūpiṇī tasmāducyate naikā ।
ata evocyate ajñeyānantālakṣyājaikā naiketi ॥23॥

Even Brahma and the other Devas do not know her real form, so she is called Ajñeya. We do not find its limit, so she is called Ananta. We can not find the meaning, so she is called Alakshya. Her birth is not known, so she is called Aja. She is found everywhere, so she is called Eka, the One. She has taken up all the various forms, so she is called Naika. Because of this she is called these various names.

mantrāṇāṃ mātṛkā devī śabdānāṃ jñānarūpiṇī ।
jñānānāṃ cinmayātītā śūnyānāṃ śūnyasākṣiṇī ।
yasyāḥ parataraṃ nāsti saiṣā durgā prakīrtitā ॥24॥

Amongst the mantras She is the original sounds, in the words She is the essence of knowledge. Amongst the knowledge She is beyond what is comprehensible by analysis and by deep meditation, She is the witness to that state. She is well known as Durga, there is nothing better than her.

tāṃ durgāṃ durgamāṃ devīṃ durācāravighātinīm ।
namāmi bhavabhīto ̕haṃ saṃsārārṇavatāriṇīm ॥25॥

I, afraid of the Samsara, offer my salutations to Durga, difficult to know, destroyer of sins and pilot while crossing this sea of Samsara.

And so is Goddess Parvati, because as per the Puranas, Lord Shiva did some severe penance and that's how obtained Adi Parashakti as his consort. This story i have mentioned in some other answer of mine.

So, that's why Goddess Durga, Goddess Parvati are only said to be Adi Parashakti.

  • So, then if Durga is the wife of Shiva, what is Mahakali's role?
    – user4627
    Dec 25, 2017 at 10:50
  • Lord Shiva is difficult to understand because he has many forms. For example Goddess Lalita's consort is Sadashiva. But same LAlita is also said to create the Trinties and their respective consorts from her eyes.Mahakali's consort is Mahakala a form Lord Shiva. Anyways when we say Adi Parashakti we mean Durga, Lalita, Chandika, Parvati etc only. And all of them are wives of Lord Shiva's one form or the other. @Vick
    – Rickross
    Dec 25, 2017 at 12:36
  • @Vick Suppose someone is a worshipper of Lakshmi. Will u call him a Shakta? NO of course. He will be called a Vaishnava only because for Lakshmi alone there isn't any sect. She is worshiped along with her consort in Vaishnavism. But what will u call someone who worships Gauri? A Shaivaite? NO of course. He will be called a Shakta then. (1)
    – Rickross
    Dec 27, 2017 at 8:53
  • 1
    @Vick So, the point is Goddess Durga, Chandika, Lalita etc are Adi Parashakati only, where as Goddess Sati, Parvati are full forms of Adi Parashakti, only difference is in that they were born. Other Goddesses are just part or aspect of Mother Goddess. For example, Lakshmi, Saraswati are just two eyes of Mother Lalita. And they constantly serve Mother Lalita. But Lalita's consort is Lord Shiva's one form only. (2). See this pic where u can see Goddess Lalita being served by Lakshmi and Saraswati: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/…
    – Rickross
    Dec 27, 2017 at 8:53

According to Shakta traditions, Adi Shakti exists before, during and after the existence of everything else but she is most commonly associated with Parvati as evidenced by the various episodes of the Devi Bhagwat Puran. In fact how she gets the title of Durga is also mentioned in one of the episodes.

Devi Bhagwat Book 5 Chapter 23 mentions:

1-7. Vyâsa said :-- O King! When the tormented Devas praised thus, the Devi created from Her body another supremely beautiful form. This created form, the Ambikâ Devî, became known in all the worlds as Kaus’ikî, as She came out of the physical sheath of the Devî Parvatî. When Kaus’ikî was created out of the body of Parvatî, the Parvatî’s body became transformed and turned out into a black colour and became known as KâIikâ. Her terrible black appearance, when beheld, increases the terror even of the Daityas. O King! This Devî is now become known in this world as Kâlarâtri, the night of destruction, at the end of the world, identified with Durgâ, the Fulfiller of all the desires.

Goddess is named Durga:

In Devi Bhagwat Book 7 Chapter 28 Goddess Parvati transforms into Shatakshi (one with a thousand eyes) & Shakambhari who then faces the demon DURGAM:

There, Goddess Parvati went to Himalayas where Gods were praying to her. Gods informed her about the drought condition over the earth. Seeing the dreadful condition of the earth, she created innumerable eyes within Her body and became visible. That Upholder of the Universe, showed Her form and began to shed waters from Her eyes. For nine nights continuously, the heavy rains poured down out of the waters flowing from Her eyes. Seeing the misery of all the people, out of pity, She showered incessantly tears from Her eyes; and all the people and medicines were satisfied. What more than this, out of those tears, the rivers began to flow. The Gods that remained hidden in the mountain caves, now came out. Then the sages, united with the Gods, began to praise and sing hymns to the Goddess.

Then, Shatakshi Devi transformed her appearance into a wonderful form, her eight hands held foods like grains, cereals, vegetables, greens, fruits, meat and other herbs, she wore a beautiful garment, this new form of Goddess is known as Shakambhari. Goddess Parvati transformed her appearance. Now she looked ferocious in her new appearance. She was well equipped with all sorts of lethal weapons and was mounted on a lion. She thundered loudly and challenged Durgamasur.

It is after she destroys Durgam that she gets the epithet of Durga.

Furthermore, in the same episode, there is also the appearance of many other goddesses from Shakambhari Devi which shows that she is no different from the Adi Shakti:

At this moment, came out of the body of the Devi, the principal Shaktis (forces incarnate) named Kali, Tarini, Tripura-Sundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamalatmika. The Navadurgas Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri, Siddhidatri and Matrikas Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshwari, Kaumari, Indrani, Varahi, Narasimhi, Shivadooti, Chamundai also came out of the Goddess.

69-73. The Devas said :-- “O Auspicious One! Thou art the only Cause of this Illusion of this world, presenting an unreal appearance. So Thou art the Lady of all the beings. So, Obeisance to Thee, the S’âkambharî! Hundred-eyed! O Auspicious One! Thou art sung in all the Upanisadas; The Destroyer of the Durgama Asura! We bow down to Thee, the Lord of Mâyâ, the Dweller in the five sheaths Anna, Rasa, etc. We meditate upon Thee, the Lady of the universe, as demonstrated by Pranava Aum, whom the chief Munis meditate with their Nirvikalpa hearts. Thou art the Mother of the endless crores of universe! Thou assumest the Divine Bodies at times for our welfare! Thou art the Mother of Brahmâ, Visnu and others; we bow down to Thee with all our heart.

74-80. Vyâsa said :-- O King! Thus when Brahmâ, Visnu, Hara and the other Devas praised and chanted various hymns to the Devî and worshipped Her with various excellent articles, She became instantly pleased. Then the Devî, graciously pleased, handed over the Vedas to the Brâhmanas. At last, She, the Cuckoo-voiced, made a special address to them. “These Vedas are the excellent parts of My body. So preserve these with your greatest care. The more so, when you all have seen with your own eyes what a great calamity befell on you when these Vedas went away out of your hands! You should all worship and serve Me (the Controller of the Space) always; there is no other thing higher than this that I can advise you for your welfare. Read always these My excellent glorious deeds. I will be pleased thereby and will destroy all your bad calamities and misfortunes. My name is Durgâ, because I have killed this demon Durgama; so he, who will take My name Durgâ and S’atâksî, he will be able to unveil my Mâyâ and walk freely. No use in telling more than this that I tell you now, O Devas, the Essence of all essences :-- Both the Suras and the Asuras would always serve Me and Me, alone.”

Also, Lakshmi and Saraswati find representation among the Dash Mahavidyas - Tara is known as Neel Saraswati and Goddess Kamala is the Tantrik version of Lakshmi

So going by all these concepts, it would appear that your second option is the most accurate one.

  • Who is adi Shakti in relation to all of the tridevis
    – user4627
    Sep 6, 2017 at 23:52
  • 1
    @KVickneshvara as I mentioned she is the original form of Parvati or in other words she is best represented by Parvati. Lakshmi and Saraswati are also her expansions just like other forms of the goddess but Parvati is the closest. Sep 7, 2017 at 4:55

The basis of all Divinity in a feminine sense is called citśakti. From that point on everything and everything associated with Creation (Śruti), Relalities (Jagath), 5-Elemental creation (Prapancha), and more are collectively called as Prakriti. Prakriti means that which came before. The eternal illusion is perceived by individualized consciousness (Chitta) titles Her as Maya, on contrary only She removes the veil of Her Maya hence the Upanishad terms Her as Brahmāvidyā. She is the abode in which everything resides and since we are the beings of Earth and Earth “bears us” She is called Bhu. Respectively all Rivers, Go, Land, nature become Feminine except Sea (which is Masculine) because Rivers merge back to the Sea, analogous to citśakti repose back into citananda. śakti is the only source of Creation in the form of resonance (Chaitanyam) again She is the only witness to dissolution hence the title Mahapralaya:Sakshini.

citśakti is a Yogic vocabulary. But Brahman has no Gender. Hence, its called Pāraśakti (Para is just an emphasis adjective) or AdiPāraśakti (Again Adi is also an emphasis to denote primary or principle). In the Puranic realm, She is called Pāradevata.

So Devi is how She is addressed by Vedas like Devi Suktam and further as Devi Bhagavatam or Devi Sahasranama. Based on the īśvari tatva (principle authority) the word Devi is preceded with Lakṣmī or Sarasvatī or Pārvatī. In emotional and devotional terms She is called Bhagavati (Based on Bhavana).

As and when a characteristic or set of characteristics amplify a persona takes shape, Durga is one such a case. Same goes for Bhairavi, Kalaratri, Katyayani, Kamashi and so on.

So, She (citśakti) doesn't have a given name, She is a principle, but when certain characteristic amplify in expression, then an epithet takes shape. If its Śiva then She is Śivā (ā emphasis denotes feminine). Rudra, She is Rudrā, Aditya She is Adityā. In Upanishad, She is called UMA (the Mangala/Soubhagya/Auspicious one).

Kenopanishad (2nd prominent Upanishad) says it with crystal clarity:

“Uma daughter of Himavat, said to Indra, ‘It is the Eternal. Of the Eternal is this victory in which ye shall grow to greatness.’ Then alone Indra came to know that this was the Brahman”


According to Shaktism and Hindu mythology, Adi Para Shakti—the Goddess, Devi—is the Supreme Being. She is also popularly referred to as "Adi Shakti", "Parama Shakti", "Maha Shakti", "Mahadevi", or even simply as "Shakti". "Parama" means absolute, "Satya" means the Truth as per many shakta texts.

Source wikipeida

Durga (Hindustani pronunciation: [ˈd̪ʊrɡaː]; Sanskrit: दुर्गा), meaning "the inaccessible" or "the invincible", is the most popular incarnation of Devi and one of the main forms of the Goddess Shakti in the Hindu pantheon. Durga is the original manifested form of Mother Parvati or Adi-Parashakti.

Source wikipeida


lakshmi is durga or adi shakti according to DEVI BHAGWAT as NARAYANA(vishnu) is supreme god acc to GITA. he is SATYANARAYNA . SHIV BRAHAMA INDRA VAYU and all other gods his mild form means gets their duty and power from vishnu like this LAKHSMI is VISHNU shakti (yognidra OR adi shakti) and PARVATI SARASWATI SHACHI(indra wife) and other goddess her mild form means gets power and duties from her. every girl(human) called and devi thatswhy called 'lakshmi ka roop'AND "HAR NAR ME NARAYAN HAI>when lakshmi got engry became DURGA collect other dev powers given by narayna(DURGA SAPTSHATI) with her powers and first sent parvati giving power of KALI if needed more sent SARASWATI giving power of ambika if more needed comes herself as DURGA THEREFORE said PARVATI IS NOT KALI EVERY TIME BUT KALI APPEARS in Her MEANS KALI PRAKAT HUI THI THEREFORE KALI IS NOT SAID SHIVA WIFE BUT PARAVATI SAID. SITA also turned kali to kill SHAHATRA-RArVAN(ACC TO ADBHUT RAMAYAN). sita is incarnation of lakshmi.Narayna has power of THREE GODS AND lakshmi has THREE DEVIS POWER.in end of world lakhshmi dissapear in narayna and PRAKRITI and PURUS leads to a new SHRISTI(WORLD).so he is SATYANARAYNA(only true start and end and all world is VISHU MAYA(LAKSHMI-power,position etc.RAM NAAM SATYA after death called because ram human form of vishnu.


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