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Nava-Durga and Dasha-Mahavidya : Durga Puja - Netglimse.com

Celebration begins on: October 10, 2013
Celebration ends: October 14, 2013

Goddess Durga has been glorified by 10 different aspects of the manifestation her "Shakti" or 'Power', called "Dasha-Mahavidya" as also Her 9 different forms called "Nava-Durga", without knowing which, trying to know the real power and divinity of Durga will be in vain.

In Tantra, worship of Devi-Shakti is referred to as a Vidya. Of the hundreds of tantrik practices, the worship of the ten major Devis is called the Dasa Mahavidya. These major forms of the goddess are described in the Todala Tantra. They are Kali, Tara, Maha Tripura Sundari (or Shodasi-Sri Vidya), Bhuvaneshvari, Chinnamasta, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi, and Kamala. These ten aspects of Shakti are the epitome of the entire creation. Chapter 10 also outlines their consorts, although Dhumavati, the widow form, is not allocated a consort. There are several "levels" at which these Devis can be worshiped with the prescribed Mantra and Yantra. Like a simple worship of the yantra with the mantra recitation, as a remedial astrological measure, elaborate worship with all tantrak rituals for attaining various siddhis associated with these tantras and for spiritual salvation. Successful sadhana of these Vidyas gives several boons to the practitioner. The Tantrik-Yogi who has control over his senses and positively inclined uses the boons to guide people and for the benefit of mankind. The ones whose head starts spinning with success use them for the gratification of the senses, gather a bunch of disciples around them and become fake gurus.

The last chapter of todala Tantra equates Vishnu's ten incarnations with the ten Mahavidyas as follows:

"Shri Devi said: Lord of Gods, Guru of the universe, tell me of the ten avatars. Now I want to hear of this, tell me of their true nature. Paramesvara, reveal to me which avatar goes with which Devi.

"Shri Shiva said: Tara Devi is the blue form, Bagala is the tortoise incarnation, Dhumavati is the boar, Chhinnamasta is Nrisimha, Bhuvaneshvari is Vamana, Matangi is the Rama form, Tripura is Parashurama, Bhairavi is Balabhadra, Mahalakshmi is Buddha, and Durga is the Kalki form. Bhagavat‘ Kali is the Krishna murti". (Todalatantra, chapter 10)



The Dasha-Mahavidya :

Kali (the Eternal Night) : The first Mahavidya is Kali. Seated on a corpse, greatly terrifying, laughing loudly, with fearful fangs, four arms holding a cleaver, a skull, and giving the mudras bestowing boons and dispelling fear, wearing a garland of skulls, her tongue rolling wildly, completely naked (digambara - clad in the directions), with just a garland of demon-hands round her waist, with heaped locks of a black cascade of hair. Thus one should meditate on Kali, dwelling in the centre of the cremation ground.



Tara (the Compassionate Goddess) : Tara is the second of the mahavidyas. She is described as seated in the pratyaaleerrha asana, on the heart of a corpse, supreme, laughing horribly, holding cleaver, blue lotus, dagger and bowl, uttering the mantra Hum, coloured blue, her hair braided with serpents, the Ugratara. She is the bestows all supernatural powers. She is the tantric form of the Goddess Saraswati.



Shorashi (the Goddess who is Sixteen Years Old) : The third Mahavidya is Shorashi (16-year-old lass), also known as Tripura-Sundari and Lalita, among a string of other names. She is the zenith of the creative cycle when the entire universe, like a flower, is in full bloom. She is the chief deity of the Sri Vidya form of worship, and is contacted either in the central circuit of the Sri Yantra, or in her own yantra, the Nava-Yoni Chakra. Her anthropomorphic qualities are brilliancy, manifestation, sweetness, depth, fixity, energy, grace, and generosity. She is seated on the lotus, that has bloomed out from the navel of Lord Shiva. She is a beautiful young girl of 16 years with four arms. Her complexion is like molten gold and Her beauty is continuously being viewed by Lord Shiva. She is, at one point, being made one with Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu.



Bhuvaneshwari (the Creator of the World) : Means the Queen of the Universe, Maya, power of love, peace within, as void. She is like the red rays of the rising sun, with the moon as her diadem, and with three eyes, a smiling face, bestowing boons, holding a goad, a noose and dispelling fears. On the right side of Bhuvaneshvari, who in the heavens, on earth, and in the underworlds is known as the Adya, worship Tryambaka. She is the fourth Mahavidya.



Chhinnamastaa (the Goddess who cuts off her Own Head) : The fifth Mahavidya, Chhinnamastaa, looks like the red hibiscus. Her left foot forward in battle, she holds her severed head and a scimitar. Naked, she drinks voluptuously the stream of the blood nectar flowing from her beheaded body, along with her two female celestial companions. The jewel on her forehead is tied with a serpent. She has three eyes. Her breasts are adorned with lotuses. Inclined towards lust, she sits erect above the god of love - Madana, who shows signs of lustfulness, engaged in the act of love with his consort Rati. The image of Chinnamasta is a composite one, conveying reality as an amalgamation of sex, death, creation, destruction and regeneration. It is stunning representation of the fact that life, sex, and death are an intrinsic part of the grand unified scheme that makes up the manifested universe.



Bhairavi (the Goddess of Decay) : Tripura Bhairavi is Supreme Energy, Supreme Goddess of speech, as Tapas, as woman warrior. Her head garlanded with flowers, she resembling the red rays of 1,000 rising suns, smeared with red, holding milk, book, dispelling fears and giving boons with her four hands, large three eyes, beautiful face with a slow smile, wearing white gems. Bhairavi embodies the principle of destruction and arises or becomes present when the body declines and decays. She is an ever-present goddess who manifests herself in, and embodies, the destructive aspects of the world. Destruction, however, is not always negative, creation cannot continue without it.



Dhoomavati (the Goddess who widows Herself) : The colour of smoke ("dhoom"), wearing smoky clothes, holding a winnowing basket, dishevelled clothes, deceitful, always trembling, with slant eyes, inspiring fear, terrifying, sitting in a chariot, with the symbol of a raven on her chariot-flag. Symbolically, she has devoured her own husband Lord Shiva in hunger, and hence, in the form of a lustreless widow. This symbolises the supremacy of the Devi (Nature) over all other forces (even Shiva, who himself is the cosmic force of destruction). She is the great death of the death himself. She is the embodiment of "unsatisfied desires". Her status as a widow itself is curious. She makes herself one by swallowing Shiva, an act of self-assertion, and perhaps independence.



Bagala (the Goddess who seizes the Tongue) : Bagala or Bagalamukhi is the eighth Mahavidya in the famous series of the 10 Mahavidyas.She is identified with the second night of courage and is the power or Shakti of cruelty. She is described as the Devi with three eyes, wearing yellow clothes and gems, moon as her diadem, wearing champaka blossoms, with one hand holding the tongue of an enemy and with the left hand spiking him, thus should you meditate on the paralyser of the three worlds. Bagalamukhi means "The Crane-Headed One". This bird is thought of as the essence of deceit. She rules magic for the suppression of an enemy's gossip. These enemies also have an inner meaning, and the peg she puts through the tongue may be construed as a peg or paralysis of our own prattling talk. She rules deceit which is at the heart of most speech. She can in this sense be considered as a terrible or Bhairavi form of Matrika Devi, the mother of all speech. According to Todala Tantra, her male consort is Maharudra. Seated on the right of Bagala is the Maharudra, with one face, who dissolves the universe. The pulling of the demon's tongue by Bagalamukhi is both unique and significant. Tongue, the organ of speech and taste, is often regarded as a lying entity, concealing what is in the mind. The Bible frequently mentions the tongue as an organ of mischief, vanity and deceitfulness. The wrenching of the demon's tongue is therefore symbolic of the Goddess removing what is in essentiality a perpetrator of evil.



Matangi (the Goddess who Loves Pollution) : Dusky, beautiful browed, her three eyes like lotuses, seated on a jewelled lion-throne, surrounded by gods and others serving her, holding in her four lotus-like hands a noose and a sword, a shield and a goad, thus I remember Matangi, the giver of results, the Modini. Texts describing her worship specify that devotees should offer her uccishtha (leftover food) with their hands and mouths stained with leftover food; that is, worshippers should be in a state of pollution, having eaten and not washed. This is a dramatic reversal of the usual protocols. She is the ninth Mahavidya.



Kamala (the Goddess of creation, sustenance and prosperity) : Kamala, the tenth, or the last of the Mahavidyas, is with a smiling face. Her beautiful lily-white hands hold two lotuses, and show the mudras of giving and dispelling fear. She is bathed in ambrosia by four white elephants and stands upon a beautiful lotus. She is the real embodiment of Goddess Lakshmi ("Kamalekamini"), the consort of Lord Vishnu. The name Kamala means "she of the lotus" and is a common epithet of Goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi is linked with three important and interrelated themes: prosperity and wealth, fertility and crops, and good luck during the years to come.

In their strong associations with death, violence, pollution, and despised marginal social roles, they call into question such normative social "goods" as worldly comfort, security, respect, and honor. The worship of these goddesses suggests that the devotee experiences a refreshing and liberating spirituality in all that is forbidden by established social orders. The central aim here is to stretch one's consciousness beyond the conventional, to break away from approved social norms, roles, and expectations. By subverting, mocking, or rejecting conventional social norms, the adept seeks to liberate his or her consciousness from the inherited, imposed, and probably inhibiting categories of proper and improper, good and bad, polluted and pure. Living one's life according to rules of purity and pollution and caste and class that dictate how, where, and exactly in what manner every bodily function may be exercised, and which people one may, or may not, interact with socially, can create a sense of imprisonment from which one might long to escape. Perhaps the more marginal, bizarre, "outsider" goddesses among the Mahavidyas facilitate this escape. By identifying with the forbidden or the marginalized, an adept may acquire a new and refreshing perspective on the cage of respectability and predictability. Indeed a mystical adventure, without the experience of which, any spiritual quest would remain incomplete.



The Nava-Durga :



Shailaputri - Goddess Durga‘s first form in the Nava-Durga series of divine forms, amongst the nine, is Shailaputri. She was nomenclatured as Shailaputri after being born in the house of the king of the mountains, Himalaya. In this mold the mother is seen holding a trident in her right hand and a lotus in her left and she is mounted on an ox. In the past life she was the daughter of Daksha, the son of Lord Brahma. She was known as Sati then. As the daughter of Daksha she was married to the God of Gods, Mahadeva. Daksha once arranged for a ceremony of the holy fire (Yagna), and chose not to invite his daughter and son-in-law. Sati was restless to join the ceremony at her father‘s place and even defied her husband‘s advice of not attending the Yagna without an invitation. On going uninvited to the ceremony, she felt that everyone was giving her a cold shoulder except her mother who greeted her with a hug. Her siblings too were no exception and were sarcastic in their remarks. The guests too present in the function were uttering disrespectful comments about her husband. To her surprise her father too was harsh and rude in his approach. She was dejected and was so heart broken that she burnt herself to ash in the holy fire. Shiva, on hearing this incident was enraged and ordered his followers to immediately demolish the Daksha Yagna. After burning herself to death, Sati was reborn as the daughter of the king of the mountains, Himalaya and became known as Shailaputri. Thus amongst all the nine forms of Devi Durga, Shailaputri is the most powerful and glorified of all. She is worshiped in the first day of the Navratri celebrations. According to the Upanishads this form of Durga broke the pride of the Gods by assuming the mold of Haimabati.



Brahmacharini - Durga‘s second appearance is in the form of Brahmacharini. Here "Brahma" means meditation. That is, the Goddess is the meditator or a practitioner of penance. She is seen here holding a string of rosary beads in her right hand and a Kamandalu (an urn containing holy water) in her left hand. In her previous life, when she was reborn as the daughter of Himalaya, she performed severe penance to have Mahadeva as her husband. The sage God Narada advised her to take up meditation to win Shiva. For undergoing strict meditation she was known as Brahmacharini or Tapasyacharini. Ignoring the beating sun and thundershowers, she began a three hundred year meditation living only leaves that fell on the forest floor. She furthered her penance making it even stricter by relinquishing food and water for another few hundred years. As she gave up eating leaves she is also referred to as "Aparna". Practicing this painstaking contemplation she became weak and skinny. Unable to withstand the plight of her daughter her mother, Manoka requested her to give up her resolution. Shocked at the sight of Durga she exclaimed "u" and "ma". In Sanskrit 'u' is a word of address, and 'ma' means 'don't' or 'not wanted'). That is why Durga is also called "Uma". On the other hand overwhelmed by Durga‘s devotion and perseverance, all the Gods and sages in the heaven were placated. At last, grandfather Brahma, pleased with devi‘s austerities made an oracle, "O maiden! No one could achieve or endure the penance you have performed till date. I am captivated by your meditation and devotion. Your wish will be fulfilled and you will certainly have Shiva as your husband. You may now return home and rest. Your father will come soon to take you". This form of Durga gives the devotees everlasting success. Worship of this appearance enriches the faculties of sacrifice, honesty and self-discipline. In times of utter distress the worship of this form gives success and the willpower to come out victorious. This form of Durga is worshiped in the second day of the Durga puja.



Chandraghanta - Mother Durga‘s third form is known as Chandraghanta. This name finds its justification in the half moon seen on the temple of the Goddess that resembles a bell. The deity has ten arms. The ten hands of the Goddess brandish ten different weapons. Mounted on a lion this form of the mother is worshiped on the third day of the Navratri celebration. It is believed that a devotee who manages to earn the devi‘s blessings can set himself free from his sins and hazards that he has committed or may face in his life. The devotee gains the power to sense the supernatural, to see it and even smell the eternal fragrance. He is also able to distinguish the otherwise inaudible celestial sounds. This is the time when the devotee should be alert. Although the deity is always envisaged in the fearsome mood of demolishing the evil, her appearance always spreads a calm and eternal peace all round. Mother Chandraghanta‘s devotees spread peace and happiness wherever they go. We should all whole-heartedly worship the mother with a devoted soul. Worship of the deity helps one eliminate the sorrow, hazards and dangers in ones life.



Kushmanda - The fourth appearance of the devi is in the form of Kushmanda. The mother gets the name as she created the universe with a smile. When there was darkness everywhere and there was no existence of the universe she created the universe with a smile. She is believed to be the source of eternal power. The Goddess has eight arms and that is why she is also known as "Ashtabhuja". The deity‘s seven hands hold the holy urn (Kamandul), a bow, an arrow, a lotus, a pot containing wine, a disc and a club. The eighth hand holds a string of rosary beads that is believed to provide success and prudence. Pumpkin is termed as "Kushmandam" in Sanskrit. Amongst the sacrificial vegetables that are offered in the worship of the Goddess (naibidhya), pumpkin is the most important vegetable with which Devi Kushmanda is most placated. That is why she is named "Kushmanda". She is worshiped on the fourth day of the Navratri celebration abiding by the rituals that are described in the Sashtra and the Purans. Worship of this form of the Devi exterminates sorrow and diseases and augments life, fame and strength. Mother Goddess is appeased with the slightest of devotion and if any one whole-heartedly worships the deity he will certainly gain her favour.



Skandamata - Fifth form of the mother is known as Skandamata. Kumar Kartik‘s other name is Skanda. As devi Durga is the mother of Kartik, she is referred to as "Skandamata". This form of the deity has four arms. The mother is seen holding her son Skanda with the top right hand and she is holding a lotus in her lower hand. The top left hand is positioned in a blessing gesture and the other hand holds a lotus. The goddess is fair and sits on a lotus. That is why the devi is also known as "Padmasana". Here she is seen mounted on a lion. If anyone worships her whole-heartedly, she fulfills the wish of the devotee.



Katyaayani Katyaayani is the sixth form of Devi Durga. Sage Katyaayan was the son of the great sage Kat. Sage Kattayan was born in the "Katya" clan. He was engaged in rigorous penance and worship of "Bhagavati Paramba". His prayer was all about requesting the mother to appear in his house-hold as his daughter. Mother Bhagavati obliged him. After some time, when, the world was terrorized of Mahishasura, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva with their divine powers gave form to a Goddess to combat asura and destroy him. Katyaayan was the first to worship her and that is why she is known as "Devi Kattayani". It is mentioned in the Shastra that Katyaayani was born as the daughter of the sage Kattayan. Taking birth on the fourteenth day of the new moon in "Aashwin" (September-October), she accepted the worship of the sage Kattayan on Saptami, Astami and Navami and ultimately slew Mahishasura on Dashami. The deity‘s complexion is as bright as gold. She has four hands. The top right hand is positioned in a gesture of providing courage and the other hand is positioned in a gesture of rendering a boon. The top left hand is holding a sword and the other holding a lotus. The Goddess is mounted on a lion and she is worshiped on the sixth day of the Durga puja. If one worships the deity with a pure soul he attains success in religion, wealth, passion and salvation. Disease, sorrow and fear are eliminated. Worship of this deity helps one to emancipate himself from the sin he may have committed over the cycle of his births and rebirths. We should all devote our prayers to the mother to lead a better life.



Kaalratri - Mother Goddess's seventh form is "Kaalratri". Her complexion is as dark as the night. Her cascading hair is let loose and she is seen wearing a garland that radiates light as bright as lightning. She is fearsome with her menacing three eyes, radiating fire. She is mounted on an ass. She has four hands, of which, the top right hand is in a gesture of rendering boon to all. The other hand on her right is rendering fearlessness. The top left hand is holding an iron dagger and the other hand is holding a sickle. Although she has a menacing appearance, she always delivers favorable results and her devotees need not fear her manifestations is holding an iron dagger and the other hand is holding a sickle. Although she has a menacing appearance, she always delivers favorable results and her devotees need not fear her manifestations. She is worshiped on the seventh day of the Durga puja. Devi Kaalratri destroys the evil. If anyone whole-heartedly pleads of saving him from any impending danger, she protects him. As and when the Goddess is called, the evils instantaneously disappear from the place. By the Goddess's grace, the devotees overcome their fear of fire, water, animals and foes.



Mahagouri - The Mother's eighth form is known as "Mahagouri". Her complexion is totally white. Her garments are also white. She is mounted on an ox and has four hands. Her top right hand is rendering fearlessness and the hand below holds a trident. The top left hand holds a "Damru" and the hand below is in a gesture of giving a boon. To have Shiva as her husband she went through a rigorous penance in the form of "Parvati". As a result of this arduous meditation her complexion turned dark. Lord Shiva, pleased with the devotion of Parvati, bathed her in the holy water of the Ganges. As she bathed in the holy water she turned fair. From then onwards she became known as "Mahagouri". She is worshiped on the eighth day of the Durga puja. The devotee is benefited on all fronts as he worships the deity. Due to the Goddess's grace the devotee attains supernatural salvation, he is relieved from all his pains and fatigue and can set himself free from his previous sins. He is never faced with sorrow and poverty and never commits any sin. The devotee wins pure and endless virtue.



Siddhidatri - Durga's ninth mold is the form of "Siddhidatri". She delivers success. According to "Markendeo Puran" there are eight types of success, such as "Anima", "Laghima", "Prapti", "Prakashya", "Mahima", "Ishhattya", "Bashittya", "Sarvakaam bashayita" and "Sarvagyata". But in the "SriKrishna Janmakhanda" of the "Brahmavaivarta Puran", there are another ten types of success such as "Doorsravan", "Parakayaprabeshan", "Baksiddhi", "Kalpavrikshattwa", "Srishti", "Samharkaransamartha", "Amarattwa", "Sarvanaykattwa", "Bhavna" and "Siddhi". Thus there are eighteen types of successes. Mother Siddhidatri is capable of rendering all these forms of successes to her devotees. According to the Purans, Lord Shiva achieved salvation by the grace of this deity. The deity is seen sometimes sitting on a lotus and sometimes mounted on a lion. She is four armed. The lower right hand of the Goddess holds a disc and the upper right hand holds a club. The lower left hand holds a conch shell and the upper hand holds a lotus. She is worshipped on the ninth day of the Durga puja. She is the ultimate form of the Goddess among the Navadurga. After having performed the worship of the other forms of the Goddess according to the rituals mentioned in the Sashtra, the devotee can then start the worship of this deity. Those who worship the Goddess with full devotion are bestowed with all the success. She has been unified with the forces of sustenance and salvation of the great Lord Vishnu.

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