Ninth Devi of the Mahavidyas
Mantra: Aim, Aum Hring Kling Hum Matangaiye …
Matangi is one of the Daśa Mahāvidyāḥ (Ten Mahavidyas), ten Tantric goddesses and a ferocious aspect of Devi, the Hindu Divine Mother. She is considered to be the Tantric form of Sarasvati, the goddess of music and learning. Like Sarasvati, Matangi governs speech, music, knowledge and the arts.
Ucchishta-Matangini is one of the most popular forms of the goddess. Matangi is seated on a corpse and wears red garments, red jewellery and a garland of gunja seeds. The goddess is described as a young, sixteen-year-old maiden with fully developed breasts. She carries a skull and a sword in her two hands, and is offered leftovers.1
According to the Dhyana mantras of the Purashcharyarnava and Tantrasara, Matangi is blue in colour.23 A crescent moon adorns her forehead. She has three eyes and a smiling face. She wears jewellery and is seated on a jewelled throne. In her four arms, she carries a noose, a sword, a goad, and a club. Her waist is slim and her breasts well-developed.
The Dhyana Mantra of Raja-matangi from the Purashcharyarnava describes Matangi as green in colour with the crescent moon upon her forehead. She has long hair, a smiling expression and intoxicated eyes, and wears a garland of kadamba flowers and various ornaments. She perspires a little around the face, which renders her even more beautiful. Below her navel are three horizontal folds of skin and a thin vertical line of fine hair. Seated on an altar and flanked by two parrots, she represents the 64 arts. The Saradatilaka, adds to this description that Raja-Matangi plays the veena, wears conch-shell earrings and flower garlands, and has flower paintings adorning her forehead.
According to the Shyamaladandakam, Matangi plays a ruby-studded veena and speaks sweetly. The Dhyana Mantra describes her to be four-armed, with a dark emerald complexion, full breasts anointed with red kumkum powder, and a crescent moon on her forehead. She carries a noose, a goad, a sugarcane bow and flower arrows, which the goddess Tripura Sundari is often described to hold. She is also described to love the parrot and is embodied in the nectar of song.
The green complexion is associated with deep knowledge and is also the colour of Budha, the presiding deity of the planet Mercury who governs intelligence. Matangi is often depicted with a parrot in her hands, representing speech. The veena symbolizes her association with music.
A list contained within the prose of the Mundamala equates Vishnu’s ten avatars with the ten Mahavidyas. The Buddha is equated to Matangi. A similar list in the Guhyatiguhya-Tantra omits Matangi altogether, however the scholar Sircar interprets the goddess Durga – equated to the avatar Kalki in the list – as an allusion to Matangi.