Maa Durga’s Many Arms :
The consort of Lord Shiva is depicted as having eight or ten hands. These represent eight quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism. This suggests that she protects the devotees from all directions.
Maa Durga’s Three Eyes :
Like Shiva, Durga is also referred to as “Triyambake” meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).
Maa Durga’s Vehicle – The Lion :
The lion represents power, will and determination. Durga riding the lion symbolises the Goddess’ mastery over all these qualities. Devi Durga is portrayed standing on a lion in a fearless pose of “Abhay Mudra” signifying assurance of freedom from fear. The universal Mother seems to be saying to all her devotees : “Surrender all actions and duties onto me and I shall release thee from all fears”.
Maa Durga’s Many Weapons:
1) The ‘conch shell’ in Durga’s hand symbolizes the ‘Pranava’ or the mystic word ‘Om’, which indicates her holding on to God in the form of sound.
2) The ‘bow and arrow’ represent energy. By holding both the bow and arrow in one hand, “Mother Durga” indicates her control over both aspects of energy – potential and kinetic.
3) The ‘thunderbolt’ signifies firmness. One must be firm like thunderbolt in one’s convictions. Similar to thunderbolt that can break anything against which it strikes without being affected itself, the devotee should to undertake a challenge without losing his confidence.
4) The ‘lotus’ in Durga’s hand is not in full bloom which symbolizes the certainty of success but not finality.
The “Sudarshan-Chakra” which spins around the index finger of the Goddess signifies that the entire world is subservient to the will of Durga and is at her command. She uses this unfailing weapon to destroy evil and produce an environment conducive to the growth of righteousness.
5) The ‘sword’ that Durga holds in one of her hands symbolizes knowledge, which has the sharpness of a sword.
Durga’s ‘trident’ or ‘trishul’ is a symbol of three qualities – Satwa (inactivity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (non-activity) – and that she is the remover of all the three types of miseries – physical, mental and spiritual.