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Mahanavami: Invoking Shakti for eradication of Evil; Scriptural reference of the feminine power

Ramanuj Goswami

Ramanuj GoswamiOct 14, 2021, 09:55 AM IST

Mahanavami: Invoking Shakti for eradication of Evil; Scriptural reference of the feminine power

According to the description of the Rig Veda, Goddess Durga is just like devastating fire and She kills the demons. Besides in Narayana Upanishad also, we can find out that, Goddess Durga just burns the enemies (i,e the Asuras) and She is the judge of all types of work, done by us (it may be bad or good).


Goddess Durga is called as ‘Mahisasuramardini’. She abolishes all types of evils. Hence she is called as ‘Durgatinashini’. She is the creator of this whole universe. Actually she is both the form as well as content of this world. She is the creator, She is the protector and on the other hand, she is the destroyer. It is only because of Her divine power  that the earth is moving and life is going on. She is ‘Adishakti’ and ‘Mahamaya’. According to the Rig Veda, we can get three names of Devi Durga. They are ‘Viswa Durga’, ‘Sindhu Durga’ and ‘Agni Durga’. According to the description of the Rig Veda, Goddess Durga is just like devastating fire and She kills the demons. Besides in Narayana Upanishad also, we can find out that, Goddess Durga just burns the enemies (i,e the Asuras) and She is the judge of all types of work, done by us (it may be bad or good).

In the Sama Veda, the name of ‘Uma Haimavati’ is found. Kenopanishad gives evidence about this. Now I am going to mention about a very important and well-known scripture about Devi Chandi or Devi Chandika. She is no other than Goddess Durga. The famous scripture is Sri Sri Chandi. According to Swami Abhedananda, “The 125th hymn belonging to the tenth mandala of the Rig Veda constitutes Devi-Sukta ’’. This Devi-Sukta plays a very vital role to worship Goddess Durga and it is included in Sri Sri Chandi. This Devi-sukta actually states the original divine identity of Devi Durga. It says that : “I wander in the forms of the Rudras, the Vasus, the Adityas and the Lord of the Universe. I bear Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Agni and the two Aswinis. (Rig Veda 10/125/1).

I hold the Soma, the Yaga, the Tvasta, the Pusha and the Bhogs and also hold them who performed the Soma-sacrifice for conferring upon them the fruits or results of the Yagas. (Rig Veda 10/125/2)

I am the queen of the entire universe and giver of wealth. I am the knowledge of Brahman incarnate and the foremost among the deities worthy of being invoked to sacrifice. I exist in different forms and abide in the soul of all being. I am adored by the Yajmans (worshippers) of many lands. (Rig Veda 10/125/3)

My power it is that enables all animals to perform the functions of their sense-organs–taking food and drink, seeing, hearing and breathing . I am thus immanent in all beings. Those who do not know me and may pervasive presence within everything become low and feeble-O friend, listen with attention, I offer you the essence of Brahman which can be attained with faith and care. (Rig Veda 10/125/4)

I am myself the quintessence of Brahman and I am served by the Gods like Indra and others and by the human beings. I make him the greatest of all, whom I wish to protect and I make him supreme like Brahma, saintly and wise. (Rig Veda 10/125/5)

It was I who, in the battle for the conquest of Tripura, bent the bow for Rudra and annihilated the Asuras of Tripura, the evil-doing haters of the Brahman. For man’s welfare I fight against enemies. It is I who pervade heaven and earth. (Rig Veda 10/125/6)

I have given birth to the great heaven placed father-like above the world system. Since I emanate from the occan of the Paramatman, I am immanent in all created beings of the universe. It is the power of my cosmic illusion which has brought forth and pervaded all things of the heaven and the three worlds. (Rig Veda 10/125/7)

Like the winds that blows of its own accord, I bring this world-system into being at my own sweet will and then stay unconcerned beyond the space (akasha). I am never at anybody’s beck and call. Manifest on the entire world is my greatness’’. (Rig Veda 10/125/8)

–Truly speaking, this Devi-sukta of ‘Devi-Mahatmyam’ or Sri Sri Chandi entirely expresses the divine spirit of Devi Durga.

From the ancient era, in Hinduism only, we can find out the worship of God as Universal Mother. It has been said that–‘‘From the Vedic age onwards, Hinduism alone has sought to popularise the worship of this Mother of the universe. In no other religious scripture of the world is to be found any evidence of discovering the mother in God”. That is why in the famous mantra of Sri Sri Chandi, it has been said that–

“ ya devi sarva bhutesu matrrupena samsthita
“Ya ̅ dev sarva btu ̅tesu mtrru ̅"""""/""""""
namastasyai, namastasyai, namastasyai namo namah.’’
                                (Sri Sri Chandi 5/71-73)

It means that, “Salutations again and again to the Devi who abides in all beings in the form of a mother’’.

According to Devi-Mahatmyam, the Goddess Mahisasuramardini has eighteen hands. She holds “rosary, axe, mace, arrow, thunderbolt, lotus, bow, picher, rod, sakti, sword, shield, conch, bell, wine-cup, trident, noose and the discus Sudarsana’’. But, usually, we worship Devi with ten hands. In India and abroad, we have found out several idols of the Goddess with four, six, eight, ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen and eighteen hands. As we have noted earlier that, Devi has infinite names and infinite forms.

Devi Durga came to destroy the fierce Mahisasura (who was the son of Rambhasura). By the extreme penace of Lord Brahma, Mahisasura became able to satisfy the God and was able to achieve a great boon. The boon was that, no male being of the universe will be able to destroy him. After that, the demonking Mahisasura began tyranny throughout the world. He become able to conquer the whole world and the religious activities were entirely stopped under the fear of Mahisasura. Now he attacked the heaven. According to Sri Sri Chandi, the battle between the devas and asuras was going on for more than hundred years. Finally, devas were being defeated by the asuras. Then all the devas along with Brahma went to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. They informed Shiva and Vishnu about the terrible tyranny of Mahisasura. Hearing this Vishnu and Shiva became very angry and their face became ‘fierce with frowns’. After that, a terrible light, full of anger came from the face of Vishnu, along with Brahma and Shiva too. A great light came from Indra and other devas also and all these light united together.

Now I am going to describe the advent or the manifestation of Devi Durga and in this context,  I am going to refer Devi-Mahatmyam, so that it becomes true and authentic. Sri Sri Chandi says that–“The devas saw there a concentration of light like a mountain blazing excessively, pervading all the quarters with its flames. Then that unique light, produces from the bodies of all the devas, pervading the three worlds with its lustre, combined into one and became a female form’’.

In the second chapter of Sri Sri Chandi, it has been stated that–“By that which was Siva’s light, her face came into being ;by Yama’s (light) her hair, by Visnu’s light her arms; and be Candra’s (light) her two breasts. By Indra’s light her waist, by Varuna’s (light) her shanks and thighs and by earth’s (light) her hips.

By Brahm’s light her feet came into being; by Surya’s light her toes, by Vasus’ (light) her fingers, by Kubera’s (light) her nose; by Prajapati’s light her teeth came into being and similarly by Agni’s light her three eyes were formed. The light of the two Sandhyas became her eye-brows, the light of Vayu her ears; the manifestation of the lights of other devas too (contributed to the being of the) auspicious Devi’’.

This was the clarification of the manifestation of Goddess Durga. One may surely ask about the divine weapons, which Devi holds in Her hands and now I am going to discuss about it. Sri Sri Chandi describes that–“The bearer of Pinaka (Siva) drawing forth a trident from his own trident presented it to her and Visnu bringing forth a discus out of his own discus gave her. Varuna gave  her a conch, Agni a spear and Maruta gave a bow as well as two quivers full of arrows.

Indra, lord of Devas, bringing forth a thunderbolt out of (his own) thunderbolt and a bell from that of his elephant Airavata, gave her. Yama gave a staff from his own staff of Death and Varuna, the Lord of waters, a noose and Brahma the Lord of beings, gave a string of bead’s and a water-pot.

Surya bestowed his own rays on all the pores of her skin and Kala (Time) gave a spotless sword and a shield.

The milk-ocean gave a pure necklace, a pair of undecaying garments, A divine crest-jewel, a pair of car-rings, bracelets, a brilliant half-moor (ornament), armlets on all arms, a pair of shining anklets, a unique necklace and excellent rings on all the fingers. Visvakarman gave her a very brilliant axe, weapons of various forms and also an impenetrable  armour. The ocean gave her a garland of unfading lotuses for her head and another for her breast, besides a very beautiful lotus in her hand. The (mountain) Himavat gave her a lion to ride on and various jewels.’’

In this way, Devi Durga appeared from the lights of the devas and She became honoured and prepared by such divine weapons given by the devas.  Finally She began a devastating battle in against the army and warriors of Mahisasura and destroyes all of them in no time. Then Mahisasura came and started to fight in against of Goddess Durga. Mahisasura, with the help of his own maya (illusion) took the form of lion, elephant and sometimes a man  with a sword. But, Devi with her various divine weapons destroyed those asuras (forms) always. Finally, ‘‘.... She jumped and landed herself on that great asura, pressed him on the neck with her foot and struck him with her spear.

And thereupon, cought up under her foot. Mahisasura half issued forth (in his real form) from his own (buffalo) mouth, being completely overcome by the valour of the Devi.

Fighting thus with his half-revealed form, the great asura was laid low by the Devi who struck off his head with her great sword’’. Thus Mahisasura was killed by the Goddess and in this way she became the Mahisasuramardini.

Devi Durga or Devi

Mahisasuramardini protects Her devotees from ten sides (We have to remember that the total number of sides (i.e north, south etc is ten). This is reflected in the deity of ‘Dashabhuja’ (Devi with ten hands).

The universal Mother comes at every age to protect Her devotees and to destroy all the bad things or persons. That is why we can see the arms in Her hands. A very ancient custom or tradition of Hindu society is to worship the weapons. Nowadays so many people who have no knowledge or regards about Hinduism are trying to oppose this culture. This is ridiculous. Besides, in the name of ‘theme’, so many puja-committees are making peculiar deities which have no connection with the scriptures or Hinduism. Actually, they are expressing negligence to Devi Durga which should not be tolerated at all.

At the time of ‘Navaratri’, we worship Devi Mahamaya by Her nine different forms. One should follow the religious rituals on every aspect, as mentioned in scriptures as far as possible. Just after the next day of ‘Mahalaya’,  the festival begins and it continues for the next nine days. Now I am going to mention these nine names. They are respectively as–Sailaputri, Brahmacarini, Candraghanta, Kushmanda, Skhandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri. Lord Brahma Himself declared this to Markandeya.

When we are discussing about Devi Durga and Her glory, then if we do not discuss about Sri Rama, then this writing will be just incomplete from one side. Sir Rama worshipped Devi Durga and He did the worship at the autumn which was not the scheduled time for the worship. At that time, the actual or appropriate time for the worship was spring. That is why, another name of Devi is ‘Goddess Basanti’. But, Sri Rama had to do it because He had to defeat Ravana which was not possible without the blessings of Devi. By His great worship, Devi became satisfied and She appeared in front of Sri Rama. It is told that, it was from then, Durgapuja or the worship of Goddess Durga is being done during the autumn and it is known as ‘Akalbodhana’. With the blessings of Devi, Sri Rama slayed Ravana and finally achieved victory. Though, we cannot find out this incident in the Valmiki-Ramayana, but the Bengali Ramayana as well as various puranas also support the fact.

However, we have come to an end of our discussion. It is not possible to discuss every thing of the greatness of Devi Durga within a short article. Yet, we have to stop our discussion at some time. Finally, we offer our namaskar and pranam to Devi Durga or Devi Mahisasuramardini by saying that– 

“Devi prapannartihare prasida
Prasida matarjagato'khilasya
Prasida visvesvari pahi visvam tvamisvari devi caracarasya" (Sri Sri Chandi 11/3)
–“O DevType equation here.- “ O Devi, you who remove the sufferings of your suppliants, be gracious. Be propitius, O Mother of the whole world. Be gracious, O Mother of the universe. Protect the universe. You are, O Devi, the ruler of all that is moving and unmoving.’’

[Writer is an  eminent litterateur and researcher]    



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Adieu to Goddess Durga on 'Vijayadashmi', the day that marks the triumph of good over evil

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