Daśa Mahāvidyā दश महाविद्या
7. धूमावती Dhūmāvatī
Dhūmāvatī is the seventh of ten Mahāvidyā-s. Dhūma means smoke and Dhūmāvatī is said to be in the form of smoke, mostly relating to funeral pyre. Out of the ten Mahāvidyā-s, only Dhūmāvatī is considered as inauspicious. She looks very aged, wearing rags, unkempt hair, wrinkles on her face and all over the body. She travels in a small four wheeled chariot, which has a flag bearing an image of crow and a banner also containing images of crows. It is said that this chariot is drawn by big sized crows. There are opinions that she has no one to draw this chariot. She is depicted as very old, with shrivelled skin and as a widow. The main reason of depicting her in such an inauspicious form could be due to the fact that our lives contain both good and bad; both auspicious and inauspicious; both right and wrong, etc. In the higher levels of spiritual attainments, one does not differentiate between dichotomies. For them the entire universe is only Shiva, which means Shiva is control of all dichotomies. Śrī Rudraṁ is a typical example how Shiva prevails both as good and bad. Otherwise, His omnipresence will become disputable. In Śrī Rudraṁ, anuvāka 3 says, “Obeisance to the occasional cheater, who cheats all the time and who is the Lord of those who steal…..Lord of forest thieves….Lord of destroying others…..” If we go to anuvāka 8, it says, “Salutation to the one who is seated with Umā…to the one who gives happiness, to the one who is the Lord of all beings….” Thus Shiva does not represent only good; He also manifests as bad because He alone is omnipresent in truest sense. This is one of the reasons for projecting Dhūmāvatī having worst appearance. She is said to live in crematoriums.
As she is considered as highly inauspicious, she is compared to three of the most inauspicious goddesses. Nirṛti (dissolution, destruction, calamity, evil, and adversity), Jyeṣṭhā (misfortune, personified as the elder sister of Lakṣmī) and Alakṣmī (evil fortune, bad luck, distress, poverty and causing misfortune) are the three powerful inauspicious goddesses. There are several mythological stories about her origin. It is said that she came out during churning of ocean and she was given in marriage to a sage who understood that she cannot be pious and divinely. The sage approached Vishnu, who asked him to take his wife to all those places that are full of inauspiciousness. After that both of them could not live together and got separated. She went to Vishnu and told Him about her plight. Vishnu told her that all women will take care of her. But, women also did not take care of her and thus she appears in such an ugly and pathetic form. The main reason being that she is not auspicious for the rationalities discussed above.
Apart from her appearance, her eating habits are also said to be appalling. She has strange liking for bones and blood. She is depicted with carrying a broom stick, garland made of skulls, chewing corpses, etc. It is said that she was born in the place where Pārvatī, Consort of Shiva, immolated herself in homa fire of her father Dakṣa, by entering into the sacrificial fire. From the fire, thick smoke came and this is said to be Dhūmāvatī. There is another story wherein Shiva cursed her to become a widow.
Thus, Dhūmāvatī is not generally worshiped, except in rare cases. For those who believe in evil acts such necromancy and black magic. She is mostly worshiped through rigorous tantric path. At the same time, it is said that she is the highest level of spiritual attainment, as one’s consciousness transcends all dualities of the material world. But, this aspect is rarely looked into in her worship. Everyone looks at her only as an embodiment of negativity and inauspiciousness.
धूं धूं धूमावती स्वाहा॥ dhūṁ dhūṁ dhūmāvatī svāhā ||
As per tantra, the following mantra is used
धूं धूं धूमावती ठः ठः॥ dhūṁ dhūṁ dhūmāvatī ṭhaḥ ṭhaḥ ||
Dhūmāvatī Sahasranāma and kavacam are available.