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Navadurga Puja & The Navaratri Celebration

In the olden days in India, it was a common practice to do the Shakti Puja. In that Mahashakti Puja, many different murthis were worshipped. In the scripture of the Chandi Path, which is part of the Markandeya Purana, we find nine different forms of the Durga Devi enumerated, which are: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) Sailaputri Brahmacharini Chandraghanta Kushmanda Skandamata Katyayani Kalaratri Mahagauri Siddhidatri

It was the god, Brahma, himself, who revealed these nine names of Durga. The nine forms of Durga are worshipped continuously through the Navaratri (translated nine nights) period in the autumn season of each year. The actual time of the Navaratri starts from the pratipad, and continues through to the Navami tithi. For example, in the United States this year (2005) , the Navaratri dates are from October 3rd through October 11, 2005. Each puja performed during these nine days may be called the Navadurga Puja. In preparation for this puja, it was the custom of the cultivators or the farmers, previously in India, to gather together nine different plants that were thought to contain the Goddess Durgas divine energy. The farmers of old thought that all of these plants represented different aspects of Ma Durga, and that these particular plants would be especially pleasing offerings to her. When these nine plants are bound or offered together in the puja, this is called nava patrika, and it is a symbol of Ma Durga. Each of these nine plants and their associated form of Durga are given here: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) a small banana tree - Brahmani a kachu plant - Kalika (or Kali Durga) a tumeric plant - Durga covered in tumeric a jayanti plant - Skandamata (or Jayanti) bilva or bell tree - Shiva a darim plant - Raktadantika an ashok tree - Shokarahita a mankachu plant - Chamunda a danya (rice) plant - Mahalakshmi

If you would like to perform the worship of Nava Durga at your home altar or in your temple during this upcoming Navaratri period, you may want to follow the basic puja format and mantras outlined in Swami Satyanandas Beginner Durga Puja

(Devi Mandir Publications). Then, to offer a complete and meaningful worship of Nava Durga, you would want to add to this puja by reciting the specific mantras and offering a flower for each of the nine forms of Durga, as well as reciting the specific mantras and offering the plants (or substituting a flower for each plant) which make up the nava patrika offering. The additional mantras for the worship of Nava Durga, and the Nava Patrika Puja are included in the Samasti Upasana or Cosmic Puja (Devi Mandir Publications, 2001). And you will find those specific mantras have been included for your convenience near the end of this article. The Navaratri period is an especially auspicious time for the manifestation of Durgas divine energy! And for those of us who are drawn to worship God as Mother, this spiritual festival offers us a great opportunity to cultivate our knowledge and understanding of, and devotion to this form of the Divine Mother. When we put our full attention on Her, when we sincerely call her by chanting and singing Her divine names, when we recite the special mantras that carry Her vibrations and energy, then She manifests her energy in our hearts and in our actions. In Swami Satyanandas publication of the mantras for the nava patrika offerings, he translates nava patrika as containers of divinity. If we call on Durga during this holy season, and sincerely surrender all of our confusion and difficulties to Her, we, ourselves, can become containers of Her divinity in the world. The following section of this article provides a brief description of each of the nine forms of Durga as well as color-images of each (which you can print out) to enhance your worship. SAILAPUTRI The first form of Durga is Sailaputri; she was the daughter of the king of the Himalayan Mountain. She became so pleased by the tapasya performed by the couple, Himalay and Manoka, that she took birth as their daughter, Sailaputri. She sits on a bull, and in her right hand she holds a trishul, while in her left hand she holds a lotus flower. At the time of Dakshas yagnya, when Sati (Lord Shivas wife) died, then she was reborn as Sailaputri, and once again she married Shiva. BRAHMACHARINI The second form of Ma Durga is known as Brahmacharini. Brahma means tapasya (or meditation), and this Durgas activities were all tapasya (spiritual austerities). In her right hand she holds a mala for japa, and in her left hand she holds a kamandalum (water-pot). This devi is Mahashakti. If you worship her, she will give you the energy and inspiration to strive for the highest liberation. Through tapasya, she will give you knowledge of the Divine. This is the duty of Brahmacharini. CHANDRAGHANTA The third form of Durga is Chandraghanta. Due to her countenance, which is so fair like the moon, she is extremely peaceful and always bestowing the highest blessings.

She is more beautiful than the moon, and her love is full for everyone. Her form is golden; she sits on a lion, and she has ten arms. In her ten hands she is holding weapons. Some of the weapons include a curved sword, a spear, a trishul, a club, and a lotus. If the disciple prays to her, all obstacles are removed. KUSHMANDA The fourth form of Durga is Kushmanda. Ku means bad, and ushma means the remover of pain and sorrow. When she takes all of our pain, sorrow, and negativity into herself, she bears the whole universe within herself. So she is called Kushmanda. At the beginning of time everything was dark, then Kushmanda came and gave rise to all creation. From infinite energy, she created this universe. This goddess lives in the realm of the Suja Lok (the sun), and from this heavenly place she draws all her power. She distributes this energy among all the living beings and materials of the universe. Kushmanda has eight hands, so she is also called Ashtalya (which means the one with eight arms). She sits on a lion. In her eight hands she carries the following items: a water-pot, bow, an arrow, a club, a lotus, a container of holy nectar, a mala for japa, and a chakra. If you pray to Kushmanda, all of your sorrows will be lifted, and she will give you good health and fulfillment in your life. SKANDAMATA The fifth form of Durga is Skandamata. After Durga and Shiva married, they desired to give birth to a son, whose name would be Kartikeya. He became a general in the army of the gods. During the battle between the devas and the asuras, the devas wanted a strong general to help them conquer the asuras. For this Kartikeya took birth. Another name for Kartikeya is Skanda and so his mother (Durga) is also known as Skandamata. In the form of a little boy, Kartikeya sits on the lap of this Durga. Skandamata sits on a lion, and she has four hands. In each of her two upper hands, she holds a lotus flower. With her lower-left hand she is giving blessings, and with her lower-right hand she is holding her young son in her lap. If you pray to Skandamata, all your desires will be fulfilled. KATYAYANI Katyayani is the sixth form of Ma Durga. The story behind her manifestation is very inspiring. One muni named Katyayan made an ashram in the Himalayan Mountains, and there he did very strong tapasya. For many years he worshipped the Divine Mother Durga, and one day she appeared to him in a human form, because she wanted to do Gods work. He welcomed her and accepted her like a daughter, and so she became known as Katyayani. One day in Katyayans ashram, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva appeared. They told Katyayan that they wanted some help to kill one infamous asura, named Mahishasur. The three gods had seen all of the destruction caused by Mahishasur, and this aroused in

them great anger. Out of the united anger of the three gods, one Spirit full of light and shakti became manifested here. This occurred in the month of Ashwin on Krishna Chaturdashi tithi. Then Katyayan Muni proceeded to worship this form of Durga for the three days of Navaratri which were Saptami, (the seventh day), Ashtami(the eighth day), and Navami (the ninth day). After this, on the tenth day known as Dashami, this Devi killed Mahishasur to fulfill the wishes of the gods. The goddess Katyayani has four hands. In her upper-right hand she is displaying the mudra to dispel fear, and with her lower-right hand she is giving the mudra for blessings. In her upper-left hand she holds a sword, and in her lower-left hand she carries a lotus flower. If you pray to Katyayani, she will fulfill the four objectives of life: dharma (ideal of perfection), artha (to acquire the resources necessary to maintain that ideal, kama (the cessation/fulfillment of all desires, except the desire for unity, and moksha (liberation/self-realization). This goddess also takes away sickness, sorrow, and all negativities. KALARATRI Durga Devis seventh form is known as Kalaratri. This form of Durga is very angry and very strong, and she manifests to help us slay the darkness within ourselves. She is of black color, and her hair is wildly flying in all directions. Her garland is dazzling like lightening. And her whole body is like fire. Kalaratri rides on a donkey, and she has four hands. With her upper-right hand she gives the mudra for blessings, and with her lower-right hand she is displaying the mudra to dispel all fear. In her upper-left hand she holds a curved-sword, and in her lower-left hand she holds an iron loha kata (a multi- pronged tool strong enough to cut through steel). She is looking very dangerous, but she bestows good will to all. For this reason, she is called Bhayankari. True disciples do not fear her. If you pray to her, she removes all obstacles, and takes away the fear of ghosts, goblins, snakes, dangerous animals, fire, and floods. MAHAGAURI The eighth form of Durga is Mahagauri. In the first incarnation of the devi, Parvati, her color was black. So Mahadev called her Kalika. Being called black saddened her. In order to get a brighter, pure white color, she started to perform tapasya. When Mahadev was pleased with her tapasya, he purified her with the water of the Ganga. Then she became white in color. From then on, her name was Mahagauri. She is riding on a bull, and she has four hands. With her upper-right hand, she is offering the mudra of protection, and in her lower-right hand she carries a trishul. In her upper-left hand she holds a damaru (small drum), and in her lower-left hand she is displaying the mudra that gives blessings. If you pray to Mahagauri, she relieves all guilt, and she takes away all pain, sorrow, and poverty.

SIDDHIDATRI The name of the ninth form of Durga is Siddhidatri. She gives special blessings to disciples and saddhus, It was her special blessing to take the combined form of halfdevi and half- Shiva. This form of Shiva is known as Ardhanarishwar. Siddhidatri has four hands, and her conveyance is the lion. She is often depicted sitting in a lotus. In her lower-right hand she holds a chakra, and in her upper-right hand she displays a club. In her lower-left hand she holds the conch shell, and in her upper-left hand she carries a lotus flower. For those devotees who perform worship to Siddhidatri, she has promised to fulfill all their desires in this lifetime, and the next. On the following pages you will find individual photos of the nine forms of Durga, which you may want to enlarge and/or print out to enhance your worship. SAILAPUTRI

BRAHMACHARINI

CHANDRAGHANTA

KUSHMANDA

SKANDAMATA

KATYAYANI

KALARATRI

MAHAGAURI

SIDDHIDATRI

MANTRAS OF THE NAVA PATRIKA PUJA


(worship of the nine containers of divinity)

Om Oh Goddess Durga, come here and reside in my thoughts. In the form of beauty everywhere make peace. I bow to you.

Om thus is sung a hymn to Beauty. I bow to the Creative Energy.

In the battle with the Great Ego, you shined upon all existence, oh One of Excellent Vows. For the purpose of my advancement, come oh Beloved of Vishnu.

Om thus is sung a hymn to the Shining One. I bow to She who is Beyond Time.

Oh Goddess covered in tumeric, in the form of Uma you give boons, oh One of Excellent Vows. Destroy all of my obstacles. You be pleased, oh Beloved of Vishnu.

Om thus is sung a hymn to the Goddess covered in tumeric. I

bow to the Reliever of Difficulties.

You destroy Self-Deprecation and Self-Conceit along with the multitude of the armies of the Gods. You are being worshipped along with those who are victorious. Give us boons.

Om thus is sung a hymn to the Goddess of Victory. I bow to the Ever Pure One.

She is the beloved of Mahadeva (Shiva), and She is always beloved of Vasudeva (Vishnu). Uma loves this tree. In the form of bilva I bow to you.

Om thus is sung a hymn to the Bilva. I bow to Shiva (Divine Mother).

You fought with the multitudes of Raktabijas facing you. In order to perform the work of Uma, always protect me.

Om thus is sung a hymn to the Multitudes. I bow to She with Red Teeth.

Hara (Shiva) loves this tree, yesterdays grief and all grief it destroys. Durga especially loves this, so make me eternally free from grief.

Om thus is sung a hymn to Freedom from Grief. I bow to She who makes us free from grief.

Upon this leaf from the tree of thought, the Goddess sits, the beloved of Saci (Indras wife). For the purpose of my progress please accept my worship and be pleased with me.

Om thus is sung a hymn to Thoughts. I bow to She who moves in the paradigm of Consciousness.

This giving of wealth is beloved by Uma. It protects the life force of the perceivable universe and proves the validity of the Supreme Divinity. Please protect me always.

Om thus is sung a hymn to the Giving of Wealth. I bow to the Great Goddess of True Wealth.

MANTRAS FOR THE NAVA DURGA PUJA


(worship of the nine forms of Durga)

Om the Infinite Beyond Conception, the gross body, the subtle body and the causal body. Goddess of Inspiration, come here, stay here. I bow to the Goddess of Inspiration. I invite the Goddess of Inspiration and establish Her within. You are being worshipped with water for washing your feet.

Om You are worshipped in the world, praised in the world, as the intrinsic nature of all energy. Oh Ever Pure One, please accept this worship. We bow to you, oh Mother of the universe.

Om the Infinite Beyond Conception, the gross body, the subtle body and the causal body. Goddess of Learning, come here, stay here. I bow to the Goddess of Learning. I invite the Goddess of Learning and establish Her within. You are being worshipped with water for washing your feet.

Om You are the residence of the three cities, the support of the three gunas, the intrinsic nature of the road to Wisdom. The Goddess who is praised in the three worlds, oh Image of the Three, I am worshipping you.

Om the Infinite Beyond Conception, the gross body, the subtle body and the causal body. Goddess of Practice, come here, stay here. I bow to the Goddess of Practice. I invite the Goddess of Practice and establish Her within. You are being worshipped with water for washing your feet.

Om You divide Time, but remain beyond division, Welfare in the heart of Lord Siva. Always grant Welfare, oh Divine Mother, I worship the Goddess of Welfare.

Om the Infinite Beyond Conception, the gross body, the subtle body and the causal body. Goddess of Refinement, come here, stay here. I bow to the Goddess of Refinement. I invite the Goddess of Refinement and establish Her within. You are being worshipped with water for washing your feet.

Om you give rise to the qualities of every atom, the eyes that

perceive all form. You distinguish the infinite energy, oh Eyes of Desire, I am worshipping you.

Om the Infinite Beyond Conception, the gross body, the subtle body and the causal body. Goddess who Nurtures Divinity, come here, stay here. I bow to the Goddess who Nurtures Divinity. I invite the Goddess who Nurtures Divinity and establish Her within. You are being worshipped with water for washing your feet.

Om you are the warrior against anger, the limitation of anger, the stupidity of anger you cut asunder. I bow to Her, the Supreme Goddess, I worship She who Tears Apart Thought.

Om the Infinite Beyond Conception, the gross body, the subtle body and the causal body. Goddess who is Ever Pure, come here, stay here. I bow to the Goddess who is Ever Pure. I invite the Goddess who is Ever Pure and establish Her within. You are being worshipped with water for washing your feet.

Om the Bliss of happiness, Cause of Peace, all the Gods continually bow to you. You are the soul of all existence, oh Goddess, you who belong to Siva, I worship you.

Om the Infinite Beyond Conception, the gross body, the subtle body and the causal body, Dark Night (surrendering the ego), come here, stay here. I bow to the Dark Night. I invite the Dark Night and establish Her within. You are being worshipped with water for washing your feet.

Om you are the warrior against anger, the limitation of anger, you cut asunder the Seed of Desire. I bow to Her, the Supreme Goddess. I worship Gayatri, the three forms of wisdom.

Om the Infinite Beyond Conception, the gross body, the subtle body and the causal body. The Great Radiant Light, come here, stay here. I bow to the Great Radiant Light. I invite the Great Radiant Light and establish Her within. You are being worshipped with water for washing your feet.

Om Beautiful with a golden-colored body, bestower of happiness and beauty. Oh Mother of the Universe, the Goddess of Contentment, I worship the Excellent of excellence.

Om the Infinite Beyond Conception, the gross body, the subtle body and the causal body. The Grantor of Perfection, come here, stay here. I bow to the Grantor of Perfection. I invite the Grantor of Perfection and establish Her within. You are being worshipped with water for washing your feet.

Om You are the Destroyer of fear from difficulties for me, from the effects of wickedness. I always worship with devotion the Reliever of Difficulties, who destroys all difficulties.

Om First is the Goddess of Inspiration, and second the Goddess of Learning; third is the Goddess of Practice, the Goddess of Refinement is fourth.

Fifth is the Goddess who Nurtures Divinity, sixth is the One Who is Ever Pure; seventh is the Goddess of the Dark Night of Surrendering the Ego, the Goddess of the Great Radiant Light is eighth.

Ninth is the Goddess who Grants Perfection. The nine Durgas, Relievers of Difficulties, have been enumerated, and these names have been revealed by the great soul of the Supreme Himself.

We bow to the Respected Reliever of Difficulties. This article was contributed by Kamala Nanda, with the generous assistance of Malabika (Khuku)Bhattacharjee for help with Bengali translation. Sincere gratitude also goes to Shreenath Routh for his excellent publication of Shri Shri Chandi (a Bengali translation of Markendeyas Chandi Path), and for his authorization to use the photos of the nine forms of Durga.