Navdurga: the 9 Forms of Durga

The Navratri festival in India is a celebration of the nine nights of the Divine Mother.  The Mother Goddess manifests in many different forms. In Hindu culture, each of the nine nights is associated with a particular form of the Mother Goddess, Durga or Shakti (Navdurga).

Day-1 Shailaputri

“Daughter of the mountain”

Worshipped on the 1st day of Navratri as the first form of Shakti.  She is the daughter of Hemavan, the king of the Himalayas and is also known as Sati, Parvati, Bhavani or Hemavati. In the yogic understanding what is being referred to is energy at it ‘peak’ (not the literal mountain peaks) which gives birth to Goddess Durga.

Devi Shailaputri is connected with the Muladhara chakra (base of the spine) and associated with the element of earth. She is mythically depicted as holding a trident and a lotus flower.

Mantra: 

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु प्रकृति रूपेण संस्थिता,
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः।|

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Prakriti Rupena Samsthita। 
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah॥

Day-2 Brahmacharini

“One pursuing the sacred knowledge of Brahman or the Absolute”

This is the second aspect of Durga or Parvati as an ascetic who engages in serious austerities (tapa) to attain Shiva. The yogic meaning is energy that moves in the Infinite whole, in Brahman.

Devi Brahmacharini is invoked for knowledge, meditation and vairagya (non-attachment). She is connected with the Swadhisthana chakra and associated with the element water. She is depicted as wearing white, holding a japa mala in her right hand and a kamandal (water vessel) in her left.

Mantra: 

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु सृष्टि रूपेण संस्थिता,
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः।|

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Srishthi Rupena Samsthita। 
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah॥

Day-3 Chandraghanta

“the bell of the moon”

The moon signifies the mind because the mind’s different moods and emotions are like the moon’s different phases. The bell of the moon signifies pulling together the wavering tendencies of the mind at the sound of the bell and making the mind one-pointed (a bell has only one sound) for meditation.

Mythologically speaking, this is the third, married form of Parvati. Devi Chandraghanta is believed to bestow grace and courage on her devotees and takes on a fierce form to destroy evil forces. She is also known as Chandika or Rannchandi. She is associated with the Manipuraka chakra and the element of fire. She is depicted with 10 hands and rides a lion or tiger.

Mantra:

ॐ देवी चन्द्रघण्टायै नमः॥
Om Devi Chandraghantayai Namah॥

– and-

या देवी सर्वभू‍तेषु माँ चन्द्रघण्टा रूपेण संस्थिता,
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Maa Chandraghanta Rupena Samsthita। 
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah॥

Day-4 Kushmanda

“Energy of the universe”

Devi Kushmanda is believed to create the universe by providing warmth (“ushma”) to the cosmic egg (“anda”). She lives in the core of the sun and powers it with her luminosity, bringing light to the universe (the spiritual significance is of the ‘inner’ sun). What is being referred to is the prana, the energy within us. Kushmanda is also the Sanskrit word for pumpkin which in a way represents the universe because it is the only vegetable that both absorbs and radiates prana.

According to mythology, Devi Kushmanda created Mahakali (from left eye), Mahalakshmi (third eye) and Mahasaraswati (right eye). She is sometimes referred to as the smiling Goddess. She is associated with the Anahata chakra and the element of air. She is depicted with 8-10 hands, riding on a tiger.

Mantra:

ॐ देवी कूष्माण्डायै नमः॥

Om Devi Kushmandayai Namah॥

– and –

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु तुष्टि रूपेण संस्थिता,
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः।|

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Tushti Rupena Samsthita। 
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah॥

Day-5 Skanda Mata

“Mother of Skanda or Lord Kartikeya”

This is Shakti’s form as a mother of wisdom and practical action. Lord Skanda represents the coming together of Jnana Shakti (wisdom) and Kriya Shakti (action).

Skanda Mata is associated with the Vishuddhi chakra and the element of space. She is depicted with four arms and riding a lion. She sits on a lotus flower because of which she is also called Goddess Padmasana.

Mantra:

ॐ देवी स्कन्दमातायै नमः॥

Om Devi Skandamatayai Namah॥

– and –

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु मातृ रूपेण संस्थिता,
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः।

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Maatr Rupena Samsthita। 
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah॥

Day-6 Katyayani

“Daughter of Sage Katyayana”

Devi Katyayani is a fierce form of Durga created out of the spontaneous anger of the Gods that manifested as blinding effulgence. She represents the invisible force of nature and that aspect of Divine power that uses anger to restore Dharma or balance.

In mythology, Devi Katyayani was invoked to destroy the demon Mahishasura. She is associated with the Ajna chakra and her blessings can be invoked by concentrating on this point.

Mantra:

ॐ देवी कात्यायन्यै नमः॥

Om Devi Katyayanyai Namah॥

– and –

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु स्मृति रूपेण संस्थिता,
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः।

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Smriti Rupena Samsthita। 
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah॥

Day-7 Kaalratri

“One who devours time”

Kaala means dark and also means time. This is the fiercest and most destructive form of Shakti who destroyed the demons Shumbha (ego), Nishumbha (attachments) (the inner representations being ‘me’ and ‘mine’) and Raktbeej (representing the multiplying nature of thoughts). Devi Kalratri destroys all evil and fears. She is associated with the Sahasrara (crown) chakra. She is also known as Shubhamkari or one who does good by delivering her devotees from darkness and fear. She is depicted as dark, with dishevelled hair, four arms and riding  donkey.

Mantra:

ॐ देवी कालरात्र्यै नमः॥

Om Devi Kalaratryai Namah॥

– and –

ॐ ऐं ह्रीं क्लीं चामुण्डायै  विच्चै

Om Aim Hreem Kleem Chamundaye Vichhe

Day-8 Maha Gauri

“The beautiful and resplendent one”

A form of Goddess Parvati who is luminous after being washed by Shiva following her severe austerities. She is the epitome of beauty and depicted as wearing white, having four arms and riding  a bull. She represents peace and tranquility and fulfils all desires.

Mantra:

ॐ देवी महागौर्यै नमः॥

Om Devi Mahagauryai Namah॥

Day-9 Siddhidatri

“Giver of supernatural capabilities”

This is the final form of Shakti. Devi Siddhidatri brings fulfilment in all pursuits and grants final realisation of the Absolute to yogis, sadhaks and gods. She grants the eight siddhis (yogic powers) mentioned in the scriptures*: Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakambya, Ishitva and Vashitva. Anima means the ability to shrink one’s body even to the size of an atom; Mahima means the ability to expand one’s body to an infinitely large size; Garima means becoming infinitely heavy; Laghima means becoming weightless; Prapti means having unrestricted access to all places; Prakambya means to obtain whatever one desires; Ishitva means to possess absolute lordship and Vashitva is the power to subjugate all.

The Goddess appeared from the left half of Lord Shiva in his representation as Ardhanareeshwara. She is depicted as sitting on a lotus and having four arms.

Mantra:

ॐ देवी सिद्धिदात्र्यै नमः॥

Om Devi Siddhidatryai Namah॥ 

– and –

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु लक्ष्मी रूपेण  संस्थिता,
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः||

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Lakshmi Rupena Samsthita। 
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah॥

See also: Making the Most of Navratri
See also: A Most Touching Tribute to Devi

*Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddhidatri
Other source: https://www.artofliving.org/navratri/navdurga

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Shruti Bakshi

Shruti Bakshi is the Founder of the LivingWise Project. She has worked for several years in banking and financial services in London, Paris and Mumbai and holds an MBA (INSEAD) and MPhil in Finance (Cambridge). Shruti writes about life at the intersection of spirituality and modern society. Her debut novel ‘From Dior to Dharma’ was released in May 2017.


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