Power of Three: Goddesses in the Mythology

There are always three sides to everything: my truth-the way I see, perceive and understand; your truth- the way others see, perceive and understand and the third, The Truth.

Similarly, all good stories have a beginning, middle and end. There is something about the power of three. 

In the mythical world across many cultures, the concept of Trinity comprises three Gods and Goddesses.

The tri line is an important symbol that frequently appears in the upper Palaeolithic and Neolithic times has a strong association with Goddess writes Marija Gumbatas in her book, ‘The Language of Goddess’. She says the upper sign is between two breasts, and the lower is above the vulva on the abdominal area. The trim lines are common on vases, dishes, pots, and other pottery forms used for Goddess rituals. Tri lines also symbolize the mouth of the Goddess and two springs emerging from her mouth. The triple lines also suggest the dynamic life flow that flows from the body of the Goddess, the sustainer and giver of life.

In the Hindu paradigm, three main gods represent different functions of the one Parambrahm. ParamBrahm is undefinable and incomprehensible to the human mind. Parambrahm is beyond our sensory perceptions, and there is no known or definite way to understand him/her.

He/She is beyond all known binary concepts of him/her, day/night, white/black. He is neither ‘this’ nor ‘that’. 

But we know that he/she indeed performs these three functions: Creation, Preservation and Destruction. 

Hence Hindus have three Prime Gods to perform these roles: Brahma- Creation, Vishnu- Preservation and Shiva-Destruction. They have their respective consorts or partners to support them in their work. 

GodRoleGoddessRole
BrahmaCreatorSaraswatiIntelligence, Knowledge, Arts
VishnuPreserverLaxmiWealth, Prosperity   
ShivaDestructionKaliDeath 

Saraswati, Laxmi and Kali or Durga are the three prime Goddesses in the Hindu religion. As Hinduism is a vast and diverse religion, many other Goddesses have different names but more or less similar functions.

Before the rise of Islam in the Arabic peninsula, the worship of various Gods and Goddesses was common and predominant.

The three Goddesses commonly worshipped by the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina were al-Lāt, al-‘Uzzā, and Manāt or Manah. 

Devotees often shaved their heads and offered sacrifices at local shrines and temples such as the Kaaba. 

These three Goddesses were primarily worshipped by the Quraysh, as they were also the guardians of the Kaaba.

The ‘Book of Idols’ by Hisham ibn al-Kalbi details the various gods and goddesses worshipped in pre-Islamic Arabia.

After the advent of Islam, goddesses were considered she-devil, and idol worship was forbidden. All the shrines, temples and idols were demolished with the conquest of Mecca.

Vajrayogini is an all-knowing Buddhist Tantric Goddess who has attained perfection and an indestructible state of enlightenment.

Miranda Shaw, in her book ‘Buddhist Goddess of India’ mentions her three bodies of the Tantrik Goddess or Dakini: Dharam Kaya or the ultimate formless body; Sambhoga Kaya or the subtle bliss body that is evoked in a divine form and Nirmala Kaya or the transformation body that appears in numerous human forms.

The ancient Celtic Trinity Knot symbolizes the Maiden, the young girl, Mother- the birth giver and Cronewho is old and nearing death of the neo-pagan triple Goddess. The three points of the knot represent the three life cycles of a woman with the moon’s phases. Brigit, the Irish Goddess, is defined as three sisters symbolizing energy responsible for birth, death and renewal of life.  

Many local Goddesses have three heads, and many temples have three shrines and three columns.

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