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Compiled By K. Muralidharan Email: kmurali_sg@yahoo.com [November 2004]

Compiled By K. Muralidharan Email: kmurali_sg@yahoo.com [November 2004]

Compiled By

K. Muralidharan

Email: kmurali_sg@yahoo.com

[November 2004]

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Devi Mahatmyam (also known as Durga Saptashati and Chandi) describes the story and glory of
Devi Mahatmyam (also known as Durga Saptashati and Chandi) describes the story
and glory of Parashakti in the form of Chandika. Devi Mahatmyam is found in Markandeya
Purana, one of the Maha Puranas. Devi Mahatmyam, consisting of 700 verses (Slokas), is
considered to be the crown jewel of Markandeya Puranam in the same way as Bhagavat
Gita, also consisting of 700 verses, is considered the crown jewel of the greatest epic
Mahabharata.
The greatness of and importance attached to Devi Mahatmyam can be easily
understood by the sheer amount of Puranas and Tantras that refer to it – e.g. Katyayani
Tantram, Kataka Tantram, Kroda Tantram, Damara Tantram, Meru Tantram, Rudra
Yamalam, Marichi Kalpam, Chidambara Rahasyam, Bhuvaneshwari Samhita etc.
Damara Tantra declares that Devi Mahatmyam is the best of Stutis in the same way
as Ashwamedha Yaga is hailed as the quintessence of Kratu (Yaga/Yajna) and Hari
(Vishnu) is hailed as the quintessence of Devas. Bhuvaneshwari Samhita declares that
Saptashati is as beginningless as Vedas. Brahma Vidya and Sri Vidya are considered to be
one and the same in that the latter concerns with the experiential aspect of Brahma Vidya
expounded in the Vedantas.
Devi Mahatmyam also commands numerous commentary works such as Santanavi,
Pushpanjali, Ramashrami, Nagesi, Guptavati, Damhoddharam, Saptasahati Sarvasvam, etc.
There are also several books available on Durga Saptashati – in all languages.
& '
Devi Mahatmyam describes the story of Parashakti (Devi) conquering the evil forces
(Asuras) such as Madhu, Kaitabha, Mahishasura, Dhumralochana, Chanda, Munda,
Raktabija, Nishumbha, and Shumbha.
Devi Mahatmyam was revealed to King Surata by Sage Vasishta. At the end of
seventh Manvantara (Svarochisha Manvantara), King Surata reaches the hermitage of Sage
Vasishta in total desperation and dejection after losing his kingdom to his enemies and his
wealth to his own people. A Vaishya by name Samadhi also reaches the hermitage in a
similar state as the King after having been left in lurch by his wife and children. The King
and the Vaishya approach the Sage and enquire him why there are unable of overcome their
attachment (Moha) in spite of experiencing rejection and cheating by their own people.
The Sage explains that the entire universe is bound controlled by Maha Maya who is
the Yoga Nidra form of Maha Vishnu. People fall prey to their senses, desires and
attachment due to the plays of Maha Maya. The King and Vaishya request the sage to tell
more Maha Maya. The Sage’s narration about the story and glory of Maha Maya is Devi
Mahatmyam. The narration is organized into 13 chapters spread over 3 section.
The first section (Prathama Charitram), consisting of one chapter, describes the story
of Parashakti conquering Madhu Kaitabha. In this section, Parashakti is attributed in the
form of Maha Kali.
The second section (Madhyama Charitram), consisting of 3 chapters, describes the
story of Parashakti conquering Mahishasura and his army. In this section, Parashakti is
Page : 5
attributed in the form of Maha Lakshmi. The third section (Uttama Charitram), consisting of 9
attributed in the form of Maha Lakshmi.
The third section (Uttama Charitram), consisting of 9 chapters, describes the story of
Parashakti conquering Dhumralochana, Chanda, Munda, Raktabija, Nishumbha and
Shumbha. In this section, Parashakti is attributed in the form of Maha Saraswati.
( # ) *
Devi Mahatmyam is widely used for regular chanting (Parayanam) and performing
fire sacrifices (Homa/Yajna/Yaga) and is believed to give immense benefits to the chanter as
well as humanity.
Although Devi Mahatmyam itself consists of only 700 verses in 3 sections, the
chanting procedure usually includes several additional hymns before and after Devi
Mahatmyam. In other words, the chanting includes a Purva Bhaga (First Part), Devi
Mahatmyam and an Uttara Bhaga (Ending Part).
It must be noted that the actual selection of hymns and the order of chanting them
within Purva Bhaga and Uttara Bhaga vary according to different traditions
(Paddhatis/Kramas) in vogue. A detailed coverage of those traditions is beyond the scope of
this compilation. Readers are advised to consult knowledgeable sources for this purpose.
This compilation follows one of the traditions (Dakshinatya Krama). In this tradition,
the Devi Mahatmya Parayana Krama (i.e. chanting procedure and seqeunce) comprises of
five sections as given in the Table of Contents in the beginning of this book. A brief
description of each of them is given in relevant sections. In Uttara Bhaga, an additional
hymn “Siddha Kunjika Stotram” is also given although it is not included in the Dakshinatya
tradition simply for the reason it is considered by many as the Key for opening the Devi
Mahatmyam Jewel Box.
In the Appendixes Section, a few select Stutis on Durga are given. It also includes a
procedure for chanting “Durga Sapta Shloki” – a selection of seven most sacred and
important verses from Durga Saptashati. This is considered to be the essence of Durga
Saptashati and it is said that Durga Saptasloki chanting also gives equivalent benefits.
+ # #
Devi Mahatmyam may be chanted by adopting any of the following commonly
practiced methodologies as per one’s convenience:
1. Devi Mahatmyam can be chanted in full at a stretch – i.e. all five sections in
one go – but it is likely to take a few hours.
2. It can also be chanted over a period of one week in the following manner, if
time is a constraint:
Day
Portions To Be Chanted
1 Purva Bhagam
Devi Mahatmyam - Chapter 1
2 Devi Mahatmyam – Chapters 2-3
3 Devi Mahatmyam – Chapters 4
4 Devi Mahatmyam – Chapters 5-8
5 Devi Mahatmyam – Chapters 9-10
6 Devi Mahatmyam – Chapters 11
7 Devi Mahatmyam – Chapters 12-13
Uttara Bhagam
Page : 6

3. Only Madhyama Charitram (Chapters 2-4) can be chanted daily, if time availability is a constraint.

4. Durga Saptashloki may be chanted at least 3 times daily using the procedure given in Appendix.

, - # . / 0 )+ ! *

There are varying and contrasting opinions as to whether Devi Mahatmyam can be chanted by all and what pre-requisite qualifications one must have in order to be eligible to chant it.

The opinion at one end of the spectrum stipulates that Devi Mahatmyam must never be chanted by those who are not initiated into it by a Satguru. Further the chanter must have performed Chandi Navakshari Japam for 9 lakh times before chanting Devi Mahatmyam.

The opinion at the other end of the spectrum is of the view that Devi Mahatmyam can be chanted by one and all as long as self-purification, self-improvement and pure Bhakti are the overriding reasons for chanting.

But, it may be worthwhile to note that there is no specific injunction within Devi Mahatmyam that its usage is restricted to qualified people only. In fact, the 12 th Chapter (Phala Stuti) recommends Devi Mahatmyam chanting/listening by all if they are overcome by tribulations, limitations, fears, enemies, adversities, etc.

The compiler of this book possesses neither authority nor scholarship to accept or refute the above views. Perhaps, it is possible that the pre-requisites are made necessary due to the contents included in Purva and Uttara Bhaga – especially the Chandi Navakshari Mantra Japam. There can be no two opinions about the fact that Mantras are never taken by one himself but are given by a Satguru.

Further the compiler is unable to get a conclusive opinion, as of the moment of compiling this book, as to whether it is permissible to skip only those portions that need initiation (e.g. Chandi Navakshari Japam).

Therefore it would suffice and be apt to mention that those who aspire to chant Devi Mahatmyam would do well to seek the guidance and approval from learned people before venturing into Devi Mahatmya Parayanam.

Page : 7

1 & ' The Purva Bhaga consists of SIX chapters viz. Parayana Kramam, Devi Kavacham,
1 & '
The Purva Bhaga consists of SIX chapters viz. Parayana Kramam, Devi Kavacham,
Argala Stotram, Kilaka Stotram, Ratri Suktam and Navakshari Nivechanam. As mentioned
before, there are variations about the sequence in which these chapters are chanted but the
tradition followed in this compilation recommends the above sequence.
2
This chapter consists of a set of preparatory steps - the most important being the
Sankalpam. This is followed by a few mantras to be repeated for the specified number of
times basically to prepare oneself for performing Devi Mahatmya Parayanam.
2
Devi Kavacham, from Varaha Puranam, is considered one of the most sacred and
potent armour stutis (Kavacham) on Parashakti composed by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
The Stuti requests Devi to protect the chanter from all evils. The elaborate Phala Shruti
speaks for the potency of this stuti.
- $
Argala Stotram prays Devi to remove all ills and obstacles. The last sloka stipulates
that Argala Stotram must be chanted prior to Devi Mahatmya Parayanam.
2 - 3 $
Kilaka Stotram is said to fulfill one’s wishes. Chanting this stotram is said to give full
benefits of chanting Devi Mahatmyam even if Chandi Navakshari Mantra Japam is not
performed as per procedure (perhaps because the chanter is not initiated into Chandi
Navakshari Mantra Japam).
. $ 3
Ratri Suktam is from Rig Veda. Ratri Suktam is also known as Vanadurga Suktam.
Ratrik Suktam prays Devi for enlightenment by removing the darkness arising out of
ignorance (Avidya) and inner enemies such as lust.
As Ratri Suktam from Veda, it must be chanted as per vedic meter and shruti. If the
chanter is not familiar with this, he may substitute Ratri Suktam with Pauranika Ratri
Suktam which is nothing but a selection of 18 slokas from Devi Mahatmyam Chapter 1.
4 3# 4
This involves meditating (Japam) upon Devi using Chandi Navakshari Mantram as
per the procedure given. It is extremely important that this Mantra Japam must be
performed by only those who have been initiated into this mantram. The mantra should
be chanted for at least 1 mala (108 times) although 10 Malas (1008) would be highly
preferable.
Page : 8
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selection is known as Pauranika Ratri Suktam.
Page : 21

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++++ ---- ==== @@@@ YYYY ==== >>>>???? FFFF 5 The Prathama Charitram (i.e. the first
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5
The Prathama Charitram (i.e. the first portion of the story) consists of one chapter
and describes the destruction of Madhu Kaitabha. As mentioned before, Devi is attributed in
the form of Maha Kali/Durga in this section.
# ! ) ! *
The Prathama Charitra starts with the description of how Devi Mahatmyam was
revealed to King Surata, as explained before in the introductory chapter.
At the end of (previous) Kalpa, the entire universe was submerged in water and Lord
Mahavishnu went into Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep) state. Two Asuras (Demons) by name
Madhu and Kaitabha came into existence from the excreta secreted from Lord Maha
Vishnu’s ears. They tried to kill Brahma who was seated in the Lotus abdominal portion
(Nabhi Kamalam) of Maha Vishnu. Lord Brahma prays Yoga Nidra Devi, the Vishnu Maya
to come to his help. At the end of Brahma’s prayer, Maya Devi appeared in front of Brahma
by emanating from Lord Maha Vishnu’s body. Lord Maha Vishnu also wakes up from His
Yoga Nidra by this time and fights with Madhu and Kaitabha for one thousand years. At
one point of time, Madhu and Kaitabha offered a boon to Lord Maha Vishnu. Lord Maha
Vishnu requests the destroyal of both of them as boon. Madhu and Kaitabha accepted to
their killing by Lord Maha Vishnu in a place where there is no water. Lord Maha Vishnu
immediately kills them by placing them on His lap with His Sudarshana Chakra.
The following is a Dhyana Sloka for Prathama Charitram where Maha Maya is
worshipped as Maha Kali.
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