Durga Puja Significance, Spiritual Importance of Navratri (Shri Devi Pooja Mahatmyam)

Durga Puja Significance, Spiritual Importance of Navratri (Shri Devi Pooja Mahatmyam) is discussed in this article..

Durga Navratri Durga Puja is the most auspicious time to worship the Mother Goddess. During these days, Durga will be in full swing and her powers are very active to bless her devotees and to destroy the evil forces.

Devi Mahatmyam or the Chandi Path, also known as Durga Saptashati, gives full details about her power, knowledge and merits of Durga Puja.

Subrahmania Bharati invokes Mahashakti: “Mind and words are powerless/ to encompass your glory/ whose extent is as immeasurable/ as that of cosmic Cosmic energy in full play during navratri.”

Devi is beautiful and bountiful, beneficent and terrifying, compassionate and ruthlessly righteous. She is Durga and Kali in Bengal, Ambika and Bhadrakali in Gujarat, Vaishnodevi in Jammu and Kashmir, Chamunda in Karnataka, Santoshi Ma and Bhavani in Maharashtra and Kamakhya in Assam. She is invoked in many more forms that symbolize the Devis characteristic attributes. To most of us she is just Ma, the universal mother, who is conceived as protector of those who need her protection.

The 700 verses of the Devi Mahatmyam, also called Durga Saptasati or Chandi Path, of the Markandeya Purana , is recited during Durga Puja. She is hailed as the origin of all the worlds, and is said to have all the three gunas of sattva , rajas and tamas , that is, purity, passion and inertia. Yet she is without defects as the primordial matter, Prakriti , the ultimate resort of all and incomprehensible even to the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara .

The Devi Mahatmyam projects a three-fold vision of the goddess in three main episodes. First, Vishnu kills the two demons deluded by Mahamaya, Madhu and Kaitabha. In the second story, Mahishasura, the buffalo-demon with his gang of desperadoes creates havoc in heaven and drives out the gods from their abode. The Devi Chandi, created by the combined effulgence of the gods, mounted on a lion and equipped with their diverse weapons, kills the buffalo demon and his aides after a protracted and gruesome battle.

In the third and final episode, the longest one, she overcomes the ferocious Shumbha and Nishumbha along with their aides Chanda and Munda. She is therefore called Chamunda. Central to her identity is her victory over the buffalo-demon, his annihilation and subsequent restoration of cosmic balance. It is her emergence as Mahishasuramardini which is etched in the popular imagination and this is what is mainly celebrated during the Navratri festival.

The composite imagery of the supreme Shakti with the powers of all the gods concentrated in her, marking a shift of the power paradigm from the all-male preserve to the feminine dimension of divinity, is a unique aspect of the Hindu polytheistic pantheon. Devi Durga flanked by Saraswati, the goddess of learning, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and Kartikeya, the god of prowess, and her vaahan or vehicle, the lion, take on the buffalo demon to overpower him. This is a part of the iconographic representation of the cosmic struggle enacted every autumn during the Durga Puja. It is of great symbolic significance. The desire for wealth and power has to be regulated and integrated with the need for self-restraint through education and true learning to ensure the individuals balanced growth. The lion overpowering the buffalo demon conveys the strength and determination with which the irrepressible ego and unbridled lust have to be curbed for good.

Mahashakti could have reduced the demons to ashes by merely looking at them. But she chooses to engage them in mortal combat and directs her weapons at them thus purifying them in the process with her divine touch to absolve them of their sins. There is no vendetta, only compassion. Eradicate the sin, not the sinner, seems to be the message. Shakti is also closely associated with vegetation and nourishment, so important for energy; hence her appearance around the harvest season.

First day of Navratri

Second day of Navratri

Third day of Navratri

Fourth day of Navratri

Fifth day of Navratri

Sixth day of Navratri

Seventh day of Navratri

Eighth day of Navratri

Ninth day of Navratri

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