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The Glorious Nav Durgas

Maa Durga is worshipped in different forms. SHE is a form of "Shakti. Maha Saraswati, Maha Laxmi and Maha Kali are the 3 main forms of "Shakti" associated with Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh respectively. Each of these 3 deities gave rise to 3 more forms and hence in all, these 9 forms together are known as Nav-Durga.

Nav durgas in a nice mithila painting

Maa Shailaputri The first form of mother Durga among the nine is Sailaputri. She is known as such, because she has incarnated from Himalaya the Emperor of mountains. Mounting a bullock the mother has a half moon in her forehead, a lance in her right hand and the lotus flower in the left. She is the first one among the nine aspects of Durga. She; she is mounted on the bullock and holds a lance in her hand. In her previous life she took birth from Daksa, the Prajapati as his daughter. Then she was known as Sati. The first and the most prominent among Nava Durgas, Sailaputri is of immense importance and her glories are endless. On the first day of Navratra worship it is she who is worshipped. In this puja of the first day Yogi's keep their mind concentrated on Muladhara. This is the starting point of their spiritual discipline.

Maa Brahmacharini Brahmacharni is the second phase of nine Durgas. Here Brahma means penance. So, Brahmacharini is one who practices penance. It is said - Veda, Tattva and Tapa are synonyms for Brahma. The form of Brahmacharini is tremendously effulgent and extremely majestic. She holds a rosary in her right hand and Kamandal in her left. This second aspect of Brahmachaini Durga is capable of providing unending benefit. By worshipping her the person inculcates doing penance, renouncing, dispassion, ethical conduct and restraint in himself. Even in the most critical periods of struggle the mind remains unshaken and he does not deviate from the path of duty. By the grace of mother Brahmacharini he gets success and

victory always and everywhere. On the second day of Durgapuja it is the Brahmacharini aspect of mother Goddess Durga that is worshipped. This way the mind of the striver moving upward is established in Swadhisthana Chakra. The Yogi, who makes his mind stay in this Chakra, gets the devotion and blessings of the Goddess.

Maa Chandraghanta The third aspect of Goddess Durga is Chandraghanta. On the third day of Navaratra worship her Vigraha (image) is worshipped. This particular aspect of the Goddess gives extreme peace and provides ultimate good. She has a half moon in her forehead in the shape of a bell. This is why she is called Chandraghanta. The hue of her body is golden bright. She has ten arms. In her ten hands, she holds weapons like sword etc., and missiles like arrow etc. Her vehicle is the lion. She is always in a gesture as if prepared for fighting. Her roaring voice is like a tumultuous sound of a bell that always causes the atrocious Danava, Daitya and Raksasas- all to tremble. In the worship of Navaratri, the third day worship is of great importance. This day the mind of the devotee enters Manipura Chakra. At this stage by the grace of mother Chandraghanta he becomes capable of seeing unearthly and divine things. He smells the divine fragrance and many types of divine sound become audible to him. On this day and in this stage of discipline the striver is required to be most careful. By the grace of Mother Chandraghanta all the sins of the striver are burnt up and obstacles removed. Her worship is instantly fruitful. She is always in a gesture as if ready to proceed for the battlefield and thus she removes the difficulties of devotees very promptly. Her vehicle is lion and so her worshipper becomes valorous and fearless like a lion. The sound of her bell always protects her devotees from evil spirits. As soon as the striver invokes her, her bell immediately becomes active and starts ringing to protect the devotee under her shelter.

Maa Kushmanda On the fourth day of Navratra, Maa Kushmanda is worshipped. When there was only a void full of darkness, at that time, when even time was not there, the mother Kushmanda created the universe with her Sankalpa as a mental projection. Before her advent there was neither Sat nor Asat. She has her abode in the inner portion of Surya-Loka. Only she could live there and no one else. The hue and luster of her body also is just like that of the Sun glowing and effulgent, incomparable with any other god or goddess-herself being her own match. All the ten quarters are illuminated with her effulgence. Whatever brilliance is observed in the world-in living beings or objects is simply a reflection of her splendor. She has eight arms. In her seven hands she holds Kamandal, bow, arrow, lotus, a jar of nectar, discus, mace, respectively. In her eighth hand there is rosary capable of giving eight Siddhis and nine Nidhis. Her vehicle is lion. Kushmanda in Sanskrit stands for pumpkin, which she likes most as a sacrificial offer. On the fourth day, the mind of the striver enters and stays in Anahata Chakra. So we are required to meditate on this aspect of the Mother with a steady mind. As a result of her worship the devotees get rid of all ailments and sorrows and life span, name, strength and health are granted. The mother Kushmanda is easy to propitiate. If some body surrenders before her guilelessly, he is sure to reach her Supreme abode.

Maa Skandamata The fifth aspect of Mother Durga is known as Skandamata. She is the mother of Kumara or Skanda or Kartikeya, who was chosen by gods as their commander in the war against the demons. Thus being the mother of Skanda she is Skandamata. The Mother has four arms. She holds Lord Skanda in her right upper arm and a lotus flower in her right lower hand, which is slightly raised upward. The left upper arm is in a pose to grant boon and in left lower hand, which is raised, she again holds lotus. The hue of her body is very bright. She is seated on lotus flower so she is called Padmasana. The scriptures are very eloquent in glorifying the fifth day of Navaratra period. As the mind of the aspirant, on this day, is in the Visuddha Chakra. So all his actions internal as well as external completely stop and the mind bereft of all thoughtwaves, is calm like a wave less ocean. By worshipping the goddess in the form of Skandamata, the devotee gets all his desires fulfilled. He starts tasting the Supreme joy even in this very mortal world. The gateway for salvation to him is spontaneously opened. Her worship automatically includes the worship of Lord Skanda in his child form. Only she has got this pride of place. So the striver should particularly be attentive to her worship. Being the presiding deity of sun god, she bestows an uncommon luster and radiance on her devotee. He is always surrounded by an invisible divine halo, which always maintains his 'Yoga-Ksema'. Maa Katyayani The sixth form of Mother is known as Katyayani. She is ever unfailing in granting the wishes of the devotees. The Gopis worshipped this very goddess with a desire to have Sri Krisna as their husband. She is an established presiding deity of that area. Her form is extremely divine and radiant. Her complexion is golden bright and radiant. She has to use arms. Her right upper hand is in a pose of allaying all fears and the lower one is in a pose of granting boon. In her left upper hand she holds a sword and a lotus flower adorns her lower left hand. Her vehicle is lion.

On sixth day of Navaratra it is her Katyayani form that is worshipped. That day the mind of the striver stays in Ajna Chakra. If the devotee makes a complete surrender and offers himself to the goddess and then such a devotee very easily gets the direct vision of the mother Katyayani. He becomes immune from all diseases, sorrows and fears etc. One may worship mother Katyayani for the destruction of sins accumulated in the previous lives.

Maa Kaalaratri Kaalaratri form of mother Durga is her seventh form in the sequence of Navaratra worship. Her bodily complexion is that of thick darkness and black. She has disheveled hair. A necklace flashing like lightning adorns her neck. She has three eyes, which are circular in the form like cosmic egg, which always eject rays shining like lightning. Terrible flames appear when she inhales or exhales air through her nostrils. Her vehicle is a donkey. Her raised right hand always seems to grant boons to all and sundry. Her right lower hand is in the pose of allaying fears. Her left upper hand holds a thorn-like weapon made of iron and in the lower left hand there is dagger. A form of mother, Kaalaratri may be frightening but she is always auspicious in effect. This is why she is otherwise known as Subhankari (doing good). On the seventh day of Navaratra the worship of Kaalaratri form is performed. This day the mind of the striver reaches Sahasrara Chakra. For such a striver the door of all Siddhis of the universe start opening. This day the Sadhaka with all his faculties is identified with the mother Kaalaratri. As a result of her direct vision

the devotee becomes quite fit to earn all sorts of virtues. All his sins and obstacles in his way are completely destroyed. He attains the abodes, which are the fruit of inexhaustible virtues. The mother, Kaalaratri destroys the wicked. Danava, Daitya, Raksasa, Bhuta, Preta and all other evil spirits are terrified and run away as soon as the devotee remembers Kaalaratri. She is also the remover of planetary evil effects. Her worshipper has no fear from fire, water, wild beings, enemy or night. By her grace he always remains unmindful of any fear. Maa Mahagauri The eighth form of mother is Mahagauri. Her complexion is extremely fair. So it is compared with the conch, moon and Kunda flower. She is supposed to be eight year old always. All her garments and ornaments are also white. She has four arms. Her vehicle is a bullock. Her right upper hand is in the pose of allaying fear and right lower hand holds a trident in it. The left upper hand holds a Damaru and the lower one is in the pose of granting boon. Her appearance is very calm and serene. In her Parvati form she practiced severest possible penance with a desire to have Lord Siva as her divine consort. She took a vow. Due to the severe penances her body became black. Lord Siva was pleased in the end. He himself washed her body with the holy water of Ganga. Then her complexion was changed into a shining one like a lightning flash. Since then she was known as Mahagauri. The worship of Mahagauri is done for the eighth day of Navaratri. Her power is unfailing and instantly fruitful. All sins of devotees are washed away with the result of her worship. Even accumulated sins get destroyed and in future no sins or sufferings come to him. He gets purified in all respects and becomes fit for inexhaustible virtues. Divine Siddhis are obtained from her grace. A devotee should always meditate on her lotus-feet single-mindedly.

Maa Siddhidatri The ninth form of mother is Siddhidatri. She is capable of giving all sorts of occult powers. According to Markandeya Purana there are eight types of siddhis - Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Isitwa and Vasitwa. Siddhidatri is competent enough to give all Siddhis to the strivers and her devotees. According to Devi Purana the Lord Siva acquired these powers only by the grace of this goddess alone. Only due to her grace the Lord Siva became Ardhanariswara. The mother Siddhidatri is fourarmed. Her vehicle is lion. She is seated on a lotus flower. She holds a Chakra in her right lower hand and a mace in the upper. In the left lower hand there is a conch and in her upper left hand a lotus flower. On the ninth day of Navaratri she is worshipped. There remains nothing unattainable in the universe. The devotee develops competency to conquer the whole universe. By her grace only a devotee crosses the ocean of miseries and remaining quite untainted, enjoying all worldly pleasure attains Moksa in the end. Among nine Durgas, Siddhidatri is the last. After having worshipped the eight forms in an appropriate manner on the ninth day devotees undertake her worship. After the completion of Siddhidatri's worship the devotees get all their desires, mundane or otherworldly fulfilled. For a true devotee, however, there remains no such desire which he may want to fulfill. Such a devotee transcends all material desires and necessities. Spiritually he moves in the divine abode of the Mother. He becomes completely devoid of lust and enjoyment. The absolute nearness of the goddess becomes the only aim of his actions. After acquiring this position there remains nothing for him to require.

Compiled by Neelam Gupta