Weekly Deity: Matangi


Matangi is the Hindu goddess of inner thought and speech and primordial sound.  Her name means “elephant,” and she is also a goddess of knowledge.  She is known as the Dark One, the Outcast, She Who Vanquishes Deceit.

Attributes

Matangi is shown as a beautiful woman with either a dark blue or dark green complexion.  She has long black hair and a sensuous body.  Often Matangi is shown with a goad, a noose, a sword, and a sarod (a musical instrument).  Most importantly, Matangi has three eyes, with the third placed vertically on her forehead.

Mythology and Worship

The father of Matangi is the Rishi Matang (aka Matang Rishi), a man from the lowest caste who wanted to achieve brahminhood through his karma.  Matangi is considered to be outside the caste system (which some sources say could point to her origins as being a non-Vedic deity).

Matangi is an incarnation of Saraswati (the goddess of knowledge, music, and all creative arts).  She is also one of the ten Mahavidyas, which are 10 mysteries and 10 essential energies that are also ten goddesses.  The worship of these goddesses can interact, but each goddess is separate and whole in and of herself.  She is associated with the full moon and the throat chakra (the chakra of communication).  In Hindu religion, Matangi represents the power of the intellect–there are none to match her intellectually.  She enhances creativity and harmony as well as all powers of speech and communication and especially truth.  The wisdom associated with Matangi’s Mahavidya is: “speaking truth purifies”.

Matangi is called on to invoke creativity, knowledge, or power over speech (in any form).

Another website I found said that Matangi is the guardian of outsiders and misfits, and that she favors those kinds of people over the socially acceptable peoples of the world.

Light and Dark Side

The mythology I was able to find was scarce for Matangi, despite her apparent importance.  It’s possible that she simply doesn’t figure in many or any myths.  Based on the conventional knowledge of what she is supposed to be like, she seems like a benevolent goddess.  Despite the epithet “Dark One”, Matangi seems to be very Light in her duties.  There is nothing saying she treats others negatively.  But there is also nothing to say that she treats others positively either, or uses her gifts for good or bad ends.  However, as the goddess of inner thought and speech, of vast wisdom and knowledge, and as one of the Mahavidyas representing essential wisdoms, it’s implied that she’s a Light goddess.

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2 responses to “Weekly Deity: Matangi

  1. Well, in many religions, especially Eastern, “Dark” is less about evil (if at all about evil) and much more about something mysterious and not understood. It is likely because of the lack of mythologies that she earned the name “The Dark One”. I would argue that because of this title, it is difficult if not impossible to assign a moral zone or side to this Goddess, because she is a mysterious figure.

    • Aha! Thank you for clearing that point up! I could not find anywhere an explanation for calling her the Dark One, and I was getting confused because it seemed completely at odds with everything else about her.
      I think that even with the mystery to her, Matangi could still be classified (loosely and subject to interpretation, of course) based simply on her duties. But instead of pushing her to one side or the other of the moral scale, I would place her more in the middle, the gray area, because her gifts could be used for good or evil. Maybe just to the right of center in the Light section, because she is She Who Vanquishes Deceit. But without a myth of some kind to tell us what kind of personality she is, I agree that we can’t ever really know, we can only guess.

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