Many of the most beautiful tattoos are inspired by ancient, global spiritual practices.
There are many reasons behind this.
Firstly, most religious imagery is ornate and rich in symbolism.
Who wouldn’t want a beautiful, meaningful image as a tattoo?
Though tattoo inspiration could come from anywhere in the world- Asia seems to be a particularly inspiring place for artists and human canvases.
One popular tattoo is that of Durga, the “undefeatable goddess” in Hinduism.
Durga tattoos are beautiful, to be sure.
But what does Durga represent, and is it acceptable for just anyone to get a Durga tattoo?
These are all important questions to ask before getting under that needle.
Let’s explore the Goddess Durga, the Durga Tattoo, and the origins of the image.
Who is Durga, the Undefeatable Goddess?
Durga was created by Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu.
They combined forces with lesser gods and used their collected energy (or Shakti) to create someone stronger than all of them.
Durga was created to defeat Mahisasura, a buffalo demon in the Hindu faith.
Because the gods and lesser gods were powerless to defeat this demon, they created a fierce, powerful goddess who could slay the beast once and for all.
Common Themes in Durga Tattoos
It’s no surprise Durga is a popular model for modern tattoos- she is a complex figure with powerful signature imagery.
If someone is considering getting a Durga tattoo, they may consider the following images to accompany her.
Durga is depicted as a beautiful woman, usually riding a Lion.
She has 3 eyes, representing the sun, the moon, and the element of fire.
These elements together represent a divine balance between desire (the moon), action (the sun) and knowledge (fire).
She has 8 to 18 arms, and in each arm she holds a weapon.
These weapons are gifts from the gods who created her, and assist her in her fight against Mahisasura.
Among these weapons are:
A Sword: to symbolize wisdom and knowledge.
A Lotus Flower: to represent a loyalty to her divine nature.
A Thunderbolt: for unshakable confidence.
A Trident: to relieve suffering in the mind, the spirit, and the body.
A Discus: Durga spins a discus around one finger to represent that she has ultimate control over the universe.
A Conch Shell: the sound of the conch shell is the same as the sound Om, and reflects Durga’s divine nature.
A Bow and Arrow: represents a balance of energy between movement and stillness, tension and freedom.
Durga will often be associated with the colour red- representing passion.
So What does a Durga Tattoo Mean?
The balance represented in Durga’s bow and arrow are also reflected in her personality.
Durga may be a warrior goddess, but she is also a caring maternal figure.
She protects her people from evil.
Her riding a lion is another example of this balance.
She lives in harmony with nature and has a gentle mastery over even the most ferocious of beasts.
She represents a quiet feminine strength rather than more active masculine strength.
In Hinduism, gods and goddesses can appear on earth as other deities.
Durga can shapeshift into a number of other divine figures- including Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, and Rajeswari.
If you are looking to get a Durga tattoo, it would be a good idea to research these gods as well!
Should I get a Durga Tattoo, Even if I’m not Hindu?
This matter is up for debate.
There are those liberal minded Hindus who believe that if a Hindu icon means something to you, it is a beautiful cultural exchange to display that figure proudly on your body.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Hindu people are often discriminated against in Western countries for their beliefs.
A non Hindu could probably get a tattoo of a cool looking goddess without turning many heads, but there are those who would be bigoted against the same tattoo on a Hindu person.
Many people say it is acceptable to get a Durga tattoo, or a tattoo of any god or goddess as long as you understand the meaning behind it.
Spend some time thinking about why you are getting a Durga tattoo, what it means to you.
Does the imagery resonates with you on a deeper level, or is it just a fun image?
Perhaps you can look into your own background and find a kick-ass goddess in Norse mythology or Celtic traditions. (go to Celtic Tattoos for more!)
As with any religion, there are people within the Hindu faith who are more orthodox in their devotion.
To them, if would be an insult to see a non-Hindu get a Durga tattoo.
In this case, it may seem disrespectful, like you are turning a divine being into a fashion accessory.
There are also guidelines about where on the body to place a Durga tattoo.
The placement should be respectful, not anywhere too sweaty or unsanitary.
This only makes sense for a divine being, after all.
If you are a non-Hindu who connects with Durga at a spiritual level, have researched the heck out of her, and are ready to answer questions from people who may be insulted by your tattoo- then by all means.
There is no one who can tell you not to get a Durga tattoo.
Durga Tattoo Ideas
Are you ready to take the plunge, or still need some inspo?
Take a look at our beautiful Durga gallery for more images of this gorgeous goddess in tattoo form.