YS 208 | Devīmāhātmya: Greatness of the Goddess

Taught by Dr. Raj Balkaran

Now available for self-study.  


What is the Indian Goddess tradition? Who is the Goddess? How is she understood, celebrated, and worshipped? What can she teach us today? 

Join Dr. Raj Balkaran and a global cohort of students for a captivating journey into the tales of the Goddess as recounted in the Devīmāhātmya.  

The Greatness of the Goddess

This course offers an in-depth study of the Devīmāhātmya, the foundational Sanskrit text of Indian Great Goddess worship. Composed some fifteen centuries ago, it signals the Brahmanical sanctification and crystallization of indigenous Great Goddess traditions thriving on the Indian subcontinent for untold centuries prior.

We will perform a close reading and analysis of the monumental feats of the Goddess Durgā, who quells demonic forces and restores the sovereignty of the gods. She is the refuge of all, restoring order to the cosmos in times of peril. We will also examine the four hymns to the Goddess incanted by the gods throughout the text, paying special attention to the theological vision of the feminine divine they advance.

Reading the Devīmāhātmya

Beyond the “world within the text”, we will also look at the “world beyond the text”, turning out attention to the vibrant ritual life of the Devīmāhātmya during the Nine Nights autumnal Goddess festival, and the role the text plays in the worship of the Goddess across the Hindu world.

In this course, we will be reading selections of the Devīmāhātmya in English translation based on the Thomas Coburn edition. 

Course Modules

  • Frame Narrative: The Merchant and the King
    • Episode I (Chapter 1): Brahmā Hymns the Devī at Pralaya
    • Hymn I: Brahmā Stuti
  • Chapter 2 – Slaying Mahiṣā’s Army
  • Chapter 3 – Slaying Mahiṣa
  • Chapter 4 – Praise by Indra and the Gods
    • Hymn II: Śakrādi Stuti
  • Mahiṣāsura-Mardinī Iconography
  • Chapter 5 – The Goddess and the Messenger
    • Hymn III: Aparājitā Stuti
  • Chapter 6 – The Slaying of Dhūmralocana
  • Chapter 7 – The Slaying of Caṇḍa and Muṇḍa
  • The Birth of Kālī
  • Kālī Iconography
  • Chapter 8 – The Slaying of Raktabīja
  • Chapter 9 – The Slaying of Niśumbha
  • Chapter 10 – The Slaying of Śumbha
  • Chapter 11 – Hymn IV: Nārāyaṇī Stuti
  • Durgā Iconography
  • Chapter 12 – The Promise of Blessings
  • Chapter 13 – The Granting of Boons
  • Tantric Themes
  • Ritual Life
  • Narrative Structure
  • Purāṇic Context
  • Theological Vision

All students enrolled in this course will receive:

  • 12 pre-recorded class sessions (90 min each)
  • 5 YS Credits
  • 18 Hours of CE credit with YA
  • Course Syllabus (PDF)
  • Sanskrit Translation (PDF)
  • 6 Multiple Choice Quizzes (for fun)
  • Yogic Studies Certificate upon completion (PDF)
  • Access to the private Yogic Studies Online Community Forum

Your Instructor

Dr. Raj Balkaran

Dr. Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Indian mythology and a spiritual adept. A seasoned online educator, he is also the Founder of the online School of Indian Wisdom where he creates and delivers original online courses integrating scholarship, storytelling and spirituality to apply Indian wisdom teachings to modern life. Beyond teaching and research, Dr. Raj runs a thriving life coaching practice, delivers public talks, and hosts the Indian Religions podcast. See https://rajbalkaran.com for more information.

Enrollment is OPEN!

Sign up today and reserve your spot in the course.

Regular Tuition



• Lifetime access to YS 208


Regular Tuition

$100 x 2


• Lifetime access to YS 208





 Access to YS 208

 Access to all YS courses—including future offerings.


This course is eligible for 18 hours of Continued Education (CE) credits with Yoga Alliance

"A course for our times. The power of the divine feminine shines through the playful erudition of Raj Balkaran. Highly recommended!"

Dr Simon Shaw
New Zealand

"Simply - an amazing class! As a man, I learned the significance of the divine feminine existence in all souls. More importantly, the need to cultivate the feminine nature in our actions, thoughts and how we love and care for each other & Mother Earth.I highly recommend that all men take this class to gently open our eyes."

Tim Mills
Lecturer, Harvard University

"Dr. Raj is an amazing teacher and the engagement of students really helped. The content and depth and just the utter beauty and power of the DM shone through. I’ve learned and loved so much throughout (and I was in another time zone catching only the recording!)"

YS 208 Student

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