Greek and Hindu Goddesses: Which One Are You?
When I was a little girl, I was discontented with the images of what a girl/woman was supposed to be.
I was never a girl who wanted to sit in a nice dress and wait for the hero to come back from his adventures. Don’t get me wrong — I liked the dresses, and I liked the boys, but I wanted my own adventures.
I remember once reading a book about pirates that I had found in my grandfather’s closet, and at the age of nine, I decided to be a pirate. It was a complicated decision because there were no pirate-girls around, and I wasn’t sure how I could do all the pillaging and traveling on a sailing ship in a nice dress yet command respect among the bearded pirates.
You see my dilemma?
Fortunately, at the same time, my mum gave me a book on ancient Greek gods and goddesses. It was the discovery of a lifetime for me. In it were goddesses who didn’t sit around and wait for the gods to come back from their adventures. They had adventures themselves.
I’ll give a brief tour of the ancient Greek goddesses. There was Athena — the goddess of wisdom, Hera — the goddess of the hearth and a wife and mother, Aphrodite — the beautiful goddess of love who had unending love affairs and was certainly no virgin, and there was Artemis — the goddess of the hunt but really an adventuress and very independent goddess who preferred to live outdoors and create her own adventures rather than sit on Mt Olympus and polish her nails. There were so many to choose from — I was in heaven!
As I grew up and became interested in spirituality, I began to be somewhat dissatisfied with theses goddesses because they were not goddesses of any conscience, and although they were immortal, they had absolutely no spiritual insight and could offer no guidance.
This is where the Hindu goddesses come in. In many ways, they are very similar to the ancient Greek goddesses, as they occupy very similar domains. Saraswati, like Athena, is a learned goddess of wisdom but primarily of letters and music. Parvati is a bit like Hera the wife. Radha is the romantic lover like Aphrodite. Sundari is the sensual aspect of Aphrodite (often shown in a sexual act on top of Shiva). Durga/Kali — the tiger-riding goddess — is a more powerful version of the adventurous but short-tempered Artemis. Except there is one significant difference: they have the spiritual insight, they have the spiritual significance.
The goddesses of ancient Greece are like Hollywood stars, while the Hindu goddesses have a connection to the divine realm and their actions are focused on the domain of the Self, of spiritual improvement, of reaching oneness with the Divine. Saraswati studies the scriptures and her domain is sacred wisdom. Radha is a lover but she is also a bhaktin, as she represents the love and bliss of being within proximity of the Divine. Sundari is sexual but also very powerful, and uses sexuality to reach the Divine.
Thus, all of them share one purpose: to bring us closer to our highest spiritual potential through whatever gifts and means we have — intellectual prowess (Saraswati), heightened sexuality (Sundari), romantic longing (Radha), domestic chores (in a sense, Parvati is the domestic goddess), the ability to create abundance (Lakshmi), and the ability to bring change even by drastic means (Kali).
This is an oversimplification, but with good reason. What does this all mean for us — women and men?
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychotherapist and a rebellious student of Freud, thought that these kinds of primeval images are really archetypes in our psyche and they offer us choices and, in some circumstances, can also offer us guidance. Indeed, they can be used in deep analysis. So the question is: what goddess have you been unconsciously imitating in your psyche and consequently in your life?
The same question applies to men, as men can also be uncomfortably caught in a particular masculine archetype that does not serve them or testify to who they really are or aspire to be.
Alternatively, what goddess have you been trying to unconsciously manifest in your life as a partner?
The answer to these two questions (depending on your gender and sexual preference) is very important.
Why? Because if these choices were made unconsciously, this is where your unhappiness with your life and your romantic choices lies.
Once you identify your goddess — the one whom you have unconsciously imitated or invited into your life — change her by bringing her to your awareness. This means you should now make a conscious choice, an aware choice within and without, in both your inner and in your outer life.
The following questions should help you identify your archetype and uplift it to another level.
Are you a talented writer and speaker (good with words and concepts) or are musically talented? If so, the archetype is Athena/Saraswati, and you can ask yourself how you can uplift/use these qualities to experience transcendence, the communion with the Divine, or service to the world (perhaps writing on spirituality, studying and teaching about spiritual paths and traditions, or use your musical talents for similar purposes?).
Are you an activist, a destroyer of old or outdated values that do not serve us anymore? A passionate fighter for a cause? If so, the archetype is Kali, and you follow the principles of change and justice. Your goal might be to embrace everyone, even the enemies of the cause, and experience oneness of all creation.
Are you endlessly caught in romantic relationships that go nowhere? If so, the archetype is Aphrodite/Radha. You might want to uplift the romantic longing and high to the longing for the Self because this is what you are really looking for on the deepest level: the oneness with the Beloved.
Are you experimenting sexually? If so, the archetype could be Sundari, and you are really looking for the beautiful principle of Spanda — the feeling of heightened perception when you are one with another. In spiritual tantra, Spanda is the very vibration of the Universe and its creative power.
If you are a domestic goddess, the archetype is Hera/Parvati, and you are like the Mother Earth. You might extend your divine qualities of caring and compassion to all creation in the understanding that on the deepest level we are all one.
Are you a talented visual artist or are capable of creating effortless abundance in your life? If so, the archetype is Lakshmi, and you can use your manifesting talents to bring abundance and beauty to the world.
Are you an adventurer and traveller? If so, your archetype is Artemis/Durga. How can you bring the world together with your unique perspective of diversity and oneness as a divine calling?
Goddesses — who are you?
Dr. Joanna Kujawa is the author of Jerusalem Diary (a spiritual travelogue) and many short stories, essays and academic pieces. She sees herself as a Spiritual Detective who asks difficult questions about spirituality, such as ‘Can spirituality and sexuality be experienced as one?’, ‘Who was the real Mary Magdalene?’, ‘How can we include eco-spirituality in our belief systems?’ and ‘How can we bring back the Divine Feminine to create a more balanced and interconnected world?’ Her goal is to create and participate in the shift in consciousness about spirituality, our connection to nature, and our place in the Universe. She has PhD from Monash University, and MA and BA from the University of Toronto. She is immoderately passionate about her Goddess News blog. You could connect with her via her website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.