Bagalmukhi is a tantric deity in the Dasha Mahavidyas pantheon. She has a distinct iconography she is said to have a crane head giving her name “Bagalamukhi or crane headed. She is a three-eyed goddess depicted having golden skin and wearing bright yellow clothes. A crescent moon adorns her head. She is seated on a corpse or on a golden throne holding the tongue of a demon and striking with a Club like weapon. Signifying the ability to paralyze the speech of demon and cause confusion. In the Sankhyayana-tantra, Bagala is connected to Brahmastra. Mritunjay Shiva is the consort of Goddess Bagalamukhi, and she represents the Rajasika guna.
Bagalamukhi is also the goddess of opposites, she is the secret presence of the opposites wherein each thing is dissolved back into its un-manifest state. The represents knowledge that everything has it’s opposite hidden inside and time will turn things the other way around. There is sorrow in happiness and, in success, there is a failure, life is death also vice versa. She also turns speech into silence and silence into speech, ignorance to knowledge and knowledge to ignorance. The un-manifest lies in manifest and manifest in unmanifest.
The are many legends connected with the origin of Bagalamukhi.
As described in Swatantra Tantra once upon a time in Satya Yuga during the time of great deluge a cosmic storm threatened to destroy the Universe. Many of the creators of the Universe and people were killed in that storm. Lord Vishnu went to the holy pond named Haridrakhya or Turmeric ocean, a yellow color pond, in the state of Saurashtra and prayed to Aadi Shakti to find a solution to this problem and started penance. Aadi Shakti became pleased with Lord Vishnu’s penance and appeared as Bagalamukhi and starts playing in that turmeric pond.
As a result, strong dashing rays came out of that yellow pond and spreads over in every direction, which controls that pacified storm and saves the Creation from destruction. Therefore she is also known as “Pitambari “That strong and powerful rays that measured the universes became the Brahmastra, no one in three worlds is able to stands when the weapon is detonated. The goddess is also known as Brahmastra Rupini or form of weapon Brahmastra.
Once a demon called Madan performed great penance and got the boon that whatever he said would come true. After receiving the great power he started troubling the innocent and the pious ones. All the humans and the gods prayed to Adi Shakti and the supreme Goddess, took the form of Baglamukhi who pulled out the tongue of the demon to still it. When Baglamukhi was about to kill the demon, he surrendered to the goddess and asked her to bless him to attain an exalted position. Since then he is also depicted with Bagalamukhi.
According to Narada Pancaratra once Sati or Parvati, the spouse of Lord Shiva sat near him in Kailash. She was extremely hungry and her body racked with pain. She urged Lord Shiva to give her something to eat, as she was starving. Lord Shiva, told her to be patient and to wait for some time, after which he would give her whatever she wanted to eat. Saying this, he went back to continue with his meditation. She appealed, again and again, urged her husband to provide her with some food to eat, but Shiva again told her to wait for a while.
After urging for a long time, she lost her patience as she felt that she would starve to death. Lord Shiva was also not paying proper attention towards her asking for food. Soon she became indignant and put Shiva himself inside her mouth and gulped him down. After a little while, Lord Shiva persuaded her to disgorge him, as smoke began to rise from Parvati’s body. She appeared with smoke covering her entire body; this smoke was her Maya or Magical Power of illusion. Then Lord Shiva came out of her body and shouted, O Devil! You are a woman without a husband, it’s called a widow. She must remove her ornaments and marks of married women. That woman, who you left her husband by swallowing or before she ate, she is a Baglamukhi and the smoke from her became Dhumavati.
The moola mantra of Bagalamukhi is:-
Om Hreem Baglamukhi Sarvadustanaam Vaacham Mukham
Padam Stambhay Jihvaam Kilay Budheem Vinashay Hreem Om Swaha
Oh Mother Baglamukhi, I take refuge in you. Let the speech, feet, and organs of my enemy is stilled and let his intelligence be disabled so that he does not move further to harm me.
She is associated with Stamban, i.e to stop, immobilize or paralyze the enemies, she is invoked if the Sadhaka needs to immobilize someone’s thoughts, actions or desires. Bagalamukhi represents the power of speech that stuns others and leaves them gasping for words. Using Stamban any individual, army, fire, water or even the devatas can be immobilized. She is a woman with immense beauty who can transfix or lure anyone. The head of the crane signifies her deceitful nature, just as a crane with its ability to stand still attracts its prey, lures it into a false sense of safety and then devours it quickly.
She can lure her enemies and then immobilize their speech and thought in one strike of her weapon. Along with the ability to immobilize she has the ability to grant Vak-Siddhi, the power to make everything one utters come true. She is also invoked for granting success in speech, debates, bargains, paralyzing the enemy.
Bagalamukhi wrenching the tongue of the demon with her club is symbolic of removing the impurities associated with speech and tongue. The tongue is the organ of speech and taste. And, often it is involved in telling lies or concealing the truth. The tongue, therefore, could unwittingly get caught up with mischief, vanity, and deceit. The pulling of the tongue is a symbolic act of punishing the demon and cleansing his impurities.
Bagalamukhi is often called Pitambari Devi, the yellow hued. Her complexion, clothing, ornaments, and garlands are in varying shades of yellow. Her devotees are dressed in yellow, wear the rosary of turmeric and offer her yellow things. Yellow is also the color of attraction, energy, and luring. The color if overused has a disturb focus and consciousness. Too much yellow causes loss of focus and makes it hard to complete a task. This also signifies her ability to confuse and make the enemies loose focus.
Bagalamukhi sitting upon a corpse while pulling the tongue of the ‘enemy’ is interpreted in many ways. The corpse stands for inert or static matter, as also for ignorance. The death of the flesh also means the liberation of the spirit. A corpse is, therefore, a symbol of death and a new beginning for the spirit. This is also said to be associated with the extreme tantric ritual of Shava-sadhana. The tantric texts mention specific guidelines to do the shava sadhna- the location of cremation ground or forest is to be chosen.
The right kind of corpse has to be arranged. It is mentioned that the corpse should be undamaged and preferably of a young Candala (untouchable or the outcast) who has committed suicide, drowned, died from a snake bite or lightning, or killed in a battle. The corpse of an immoral person, one died of starvation, one who was famous or one who was lusty has to be avoided. The Sadhaka would then sit on the corpse and do the Japa. After the Japa, the Sadhak has to do 1/10th yagya, 1/10th Marjan, 1/10 tarpan, and 1/10 charity. The Sadhna has to be done in the night, wearing yellow clothes, with a rosary of turmeric. This tantric ritual is that it transforms the aspirant, awakening in him or her to an expanded consciousness; and grants him a new identity.