The Devi Puja during Navratri festival is not considered complete without recitation of the Devi Mahatmya. Recitation of verses of Devi Mahatmya is one of the most important aspects of “Chandi homa”. The Devi Mahatmya (also called as the Durga Saptshati or Chandi) is an ancient Sanskrit text dedicated to the glory of Mother Divine.
Devi Mahatmya is divided into 13 chapters consisting of 700 Shlokas (verses). (Therefore the title Saptashati). Three aspects of the Divine Mother have been depicted in this great work. These are –
- Mahakali (The Tamasik form of Devi)
- Mahalakshmi (The Rajasik form of Devi) and
- Mahasarasvati (The Satvik form of Devi)
Devi Mahatmya has multiple dimensions, some comprehensible and some beyond comprehension. For a simpleton, the Devi Mahatmya is full of awe-inspiring descriptions of the glory of the Devi and fascinating stories of battles fought by the Devi with the Asuras (Demons). For a Bhakta (Devotee) the Devi Mahatmya is the main pillar of strength for his faith. For a seeker, these stories depict the inner battle going on in human psyche and how the Devi shows the ways to emerge victorious in these battles. For some the Devi Mahatmya is like beautiful Sanskrit poetry and for others it contains powerful sacred mantras (incantations). Some consider the entire Devi Mahatmya as one single Mantra. One thing is for sure, the chanting of Devi Mahatmya has a definite positive impact on all levels existence.
The sacred text of Devi Mahatmya begins with the story of powerful King Suratha who lost his kingdom first due to external enemies and then due to his own powerful, vicious and evil-disposed ministers. The King goes to the forest and stays in the hermitage of Sage Sumedha (proper intellect). Even there the King continuously thinks about his kingdom and becomes miserable. One day he meets a merchant near the hermitage, whose name was Samadhi. Samadhi tells the King that he is a wealthy merchant who has been deprived of all his wealth and cast out by his greedy and wicked wife and sons. Now he is very sad and miserable because he does not know the welfare of his family and sons, whether they are living a good life or evil life? His mind is still attached to his wife and sons.
To get rid of their mental agony both Suratha & Samadhi approach Sage Sumedha and ask the Sage, “Both of us are drawn by attachment towards objects whose defects we do know and are exceedingly unhappy. How this happens, then Sir, that though we are aware of it, this delusion comes?” Sage Sumedha tells them, “Men are hurled into the whirlpool of attachment, the pit of delusion, through the power of Mahamaya, who makes the existence of the world possible. Marvel not at this. This Mahamaya is the Yoganidra, of Vishnu, the Lord of the world. It is by her the world is deluded.”
The King asks the Sage, “’Venerable Sir, who is that Devi whom you call Mahamaya?” The sage then narrates to them the story of the Devi, her glory and her victories over the Asuras (demons). Hearing this story both Suratha and Samadhi pray to the Devi, undertake penances and with controlled minds propitiate the Devi for three years and she appears before them in visible form as Devi Chandika and asks them to choose their boons.
Both have heard the same story yet the King saw the Devi vanquishing the Asuras. He saw that the people who had usurped his kingdom had done an evil act. So he was inspired to pray to the Devi for justice. He asks to become ruler not only in this birth but also in the next. The Devi blesses him with the same.
Samadhi is a businessman. (Yet his name suggests otherwise) Being in the material, his sights are firmly on the spiritual. All it takes is a little push for Samadhi to come searching for truth. Realising that the negative forces are within, he seeks pure wisdom and devotion which is the highest wealth. The Devi is pleased and grants his wish too and Samadhi gets enlightenment.
The Devi is like a wish fulfilling tree. It is up to us what we seek.
Second Navadurga : Brahmacharini
On the second day of Navaratri, the second Navadurga Brahmacharini is worshipped and honoured. Brahmacharya is celibacy. Celibacy brings strength, lot of strength. Brahmacharya has higher meaning than just celibacy. Brahma means “infinity” charya means “moving” – Brahmacharya means “moving in infinity”. Knowing your vast nature, not thinking that you are just the body; you walk like you are a glow of light; you move in the world as though you are space. The more joyful you are, the less you feel the body. The more you are in the infinite consciousness the less you feel the tension or the physical weight of the person – that is “Brahmacharya”
This aspect of the Mother Divine is present in the Svadhisthana Chakra. Invoking the qualities of this Devi our consciousness is expanded to infinity; starts moving in infinity, in our true nature; in that space you become vast and powerful with a lot of vigour, valour and strength.
दुर्गायै दुर्गपारायै सारायै सर्वकारिण्यै ।
ख्यात्यै तथैव कृष्णायै धूम्रायै सततं नमः ॥४॥
Durgaayai Durga-Paaraayai Saaraayai Sarva-Kaarinnyai |
Khyaatyai Tathaiva Krssnnaayai Dhuumraayai Satatam Namah ||4||
4.1: (Salutations to) Durga, Who helps us in Crossing over the Difficulties and Dangers of Life and Who is the Essence of All Causes.
4.2: Salutations Always to Her, Who is Renowned and Widely Known Outside (in Creation) Just As She is Dark and Smoky and Difficult to Know Inside (in Meditation).
अतिसौम्यातिरौद्रायै नतास्तस्यै नमो नमः ।
नमो जगत्प्रतिष्ठायै देव्यै कृत्यै नमो नमः ॥५॥
Ati-Saumya-Ati-Raudraayai Nataas-Tasyai Namo Namah |
Namo Jagat-Pratisstthaayai Devyai Krtyai Namo Namah ||5||
5.1: Salutations to Her Who is Extremely Gentle like the Moon and also Extremely Terrible like Rudra,
5.2: Salutations to the Devi Who is the Supporter of the Universe and Salutations to Her Who is the Creator of the Universe.
या देवी सर्वभुतेषु विष्णुमायेति शब्दिता ।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥६॥
Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Vissnnumaayeti Shabditaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||6||
6.1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Called Vishnumaya,
6.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, I bow down to her again and again.
Also Read Significance of Navaratri – Day 1