Matrikas (Sanskrit: मातृका (singular), IAST: mātṝkās, lit

“divine mothers”) also called Matar or Matri, are a group of mother goddesses who are always depicted together in Hinduism

The Matrikas are often depicted in a group of seven, the Saptamatrika(s) (Seven Mothers)

However, they are also depicted as a group of eight, the Ashtamatrika(s)

In the Brihat Samhita, Varahamihira says that “Mothers are to be made with cognizance of (different major Hindu) gods corresponding to their names

" They are associated with these gods as their spouses or their energies (Shaktis)

Brahmani is a form of Saraswati emerged from Brahma, Vaishnavi form of Lakshmi from Vishnu, Maheshvari form of Parvati from Shiva, Indrani form of shachi from Indra, Kaumari form of Devsena and Valli from Skanda, Varahi also form of Lakshmi from Varaha and Chamunda from Devi, and additionals are Narasimhi also a form of Lakshmi, Vinayaki from Ganesha Originally believed to be a personification of the seven stars of the star cluster the Pleiades, they became quite popular by the seventh century and a standard feature of goddess temples from the ninth century onwards

In South India, Saptamatrika worship is prevalent whereas the Ashtamatrika are venerated in Nepal, among other places

The Matrikas assume paramount significance in the goddess-oriented sect of Hinduism, Tantrism

In Shaktism, they are described as “assisting the great Shakta Devi (goddess) in her fight with demons

" Some scholars consider them Shaiva goddesses

They are also connected with the worship of warrior god Skanda

In most early references, the Matrikas are associated with the conception, birth, diseases and protection of children

They were seen as inauspicious and the “personification of perils”, propitiated in order to avoid those ills, that carried off so many children before they reached adulthood

They come to play a protective role in later mythology, although some of their early inauspicious and wild characteristics continue in these legends

Thus, they represent the prodigiously fecund aspect of nature as well as its destructive force aspect