NAVA DURGA, Nine Incarnations, Nine Nights

NAVA DURGA, Nine Incarnations, Nine Nights

Author: ROOSHIKUMAR PANDYA Write To Author

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Nine Incarnations, Nine Nights


eArticle by

Rooshikumar Pandya


© Rooshikumar Pandya 2009

Free eArticle to read online


Myriad hued myths are at the root of all cultures. Myths are tales that operate at various levels: religious, psychological, anthropological, and literary. Until early 20th century, myths were dismissed as a figment of primitive people’s imagination.   But now we know that myths are symbolic representations of collective insights of human race.

Some of the most powerful and awe inspiring myths in Indian culture are the myths of Shree Durga Ma/ Devi or Shakti. 

Historically speaking, Durga Ma’s myths originated during Indus Valley Civilization, between 2500 to 1500 B. C. The Atharvaveda is the first text that describes Prithivi or land as Devi — “Mother Goddess with Golden Breasts.”

As the Aryans tilled the fertile land around the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and reaped rich harvest, they became fearful of attacks by invaders. According to the renowned scholar Prof. S. Bhattacharji, to ward off the evil invaders, “the Aryans created the cult of Shakti and the Matrikas or the mother goddesses — Durga, Chandika, Chamunda, and Kali — gained tremendous importance.” Their worship was characterized by rituals, chanting of the Mantras and sacrifices.

However, as I suggested, myths operate at various levels and reflect the ambiguities and absurdities, contradictions and conflicts, dilemmas and deliberations, hope and despair of human existence. The Devi/Shakti myths might have originated around 2500 to 1500 B.C. for a historian, but for the devotees, Mother Goddesses have been there before the dawn of time.

Hindu mind is intuitive. It perceives time as cyclical, experienced and psychological. The concepts of chronological order and dates are the product of the occidental mind and are alien to the Hindu mind. And just as time is eternal for a Hindu so is the Mother Goddess.   Indelibly embedded in a Hindu psyche is the assertion of Ma Bhagvati in the sacred text of the Markandeya Purana that she would incarnate herself, be born from time to time, to protect her devotees and to establish order into the world.

Markandeya Rishi has delineated nine forms of Shree Durga Ma/Shakti, the three main ones being: Shree Mahakali, Shree Mahalaxmi and Shree Maha Saraswati. Each form gives rise to two more forms and all nine forms are known as Nava Durga. "Navaratri" (nine nights) festival invokes these nine incarnations of Shree Durga Ma, one on each night.

From Hindu cosmological perspective, the three main forms of Shree Durga Ma represent the female aspects (Yin) of the cosmic cycle of destruction, preservation and creation. While their counterparts Shree Shiva, Shree Vishnu and Shree Brahma represent the male (Yang) aspects of the cycle.

During the first three days, Shree Mahakali is invoked to destroy our sins and weaknesses. During the next three days, Shree Mahalaxmi is invoked to make us prosper spiritually and during the last three days Shree Saraswati is worshipped to grant us wisdom.

The first night is devoted to Ma Shailaputri. Parvati, the daughter of king of Mountains Himavan, is known as "Shailaputri". Her two hands display a trident and a lotus and her Vahan (vehicle) is a bull.   

The second night invokes Brahmacharini portrayed as holding a "Kumbha" or water pot in one hand and a rosary in the other.

Chandraghanta is worshipped on the third night. Her golden hued form riding a tiger has ten hands and three eyes. Eight of her hands terrorize the evil forces and the other two offer blessings to her devotees.

The fourth night is devoted to Kushmanda, a divine form with eight arms that hold weapons and a mala/rosary. Her Vahan is a tiger.

The fifth night invokes Skandmata. A resplendent form on a lion that holds her son Skanda in her lap. Two of her hands hold lotuses while the other two defend and bless the devotees.

The sixth night belongs to Kaatyayani. Her form is also astride a lion. She has three eyes and four arms: two left ones hold a weapon and a lotus respectively, while the other two defend and bless the devotee.

On the seventh night, the Kaalratri form reigns supreme. She is portrayed with dark skin, abundance of hair, four hands, two clutching a cleaver and a torch, while the remaining two suggesting "giving" and "protecting". She rides a donkey and destroys ignorance.

The eighth night belongs to the fairest form — Mahagauri — a four-armed form depicted as riding a bull. Often dressed in a white or green sari, with her drum and a trident, she is compassion incarnate.

The last night of Navaratri is dedicated to Siddhiratri. A serene form with four arms, seated on a lotus.

Regardless of their forms, to the faithful the Nava Durgas are there to protect him from the evil. Only by the grace of the Nava Durgas can a person have intelligence, insight, wealth and wisdom. They invoke in him the entire spectrum of human emotions from terror to tranquility, from fear to faith. 

And Navaratri is the festival when the faithful reaffirms his faith. He is there as a child before his mother, Shree Durga Ma, who is omnipotent and benevolent, omniscient and compassionate. 

Now as you celebrate Navaratri with Dandiya, Ras, and festivities devoted to Shree Durga Ma, Nava Durgas will shower you with Shanti, Shakti, Saiyam, Sanman, Saralata, Safalata, Samriddhi, Sanskar and Swasthya. And  you too will feel one with the supreme, you too will apprehend the intimation of immortality, you too will be filled with Durga Ma’s limitless love, grace, kindness and compassion, and yes, you too will feel consecrated. 


Rooshikumar Pandya - author of Transforming Lucifer: From an Archangel into Satan - is a master trainer in all aspects of communication and behavioural sciences. He has trained over 100,000 employees of Fortune 500 companies in the US and Canada. He has also conducted sessions in some of the best organizations in India. His workshops have been attended by CEOs, doctors, bankers, salesmen and actors. Described by the ‘Evening News of India’ as a “Communicator par Excellence,” Prof. Pandya is known in the corporate world of India as a “Trainer’s Trainer”, “Master Trainer” or as the ‘Deccan Herald’ put it, as a management trainer/consultant/mentor with an “arresting, rhetorical style, clarity of thought and simplicity of argument.”


What makes Prof Pandya unique is his approach to HRD and management education. He strongly believes that American or Japanese concepts of management cannot be imposed on Indian management and that management education in India must be steeped in Indian ethos. His twenty years studies in Sanskrit literature, Indian religions, and Indian classical music have helped him design management courses with holistic perspective that seamlessly blend Western thought with Eastern wisdom, reason with intuition, and suggest ways to maintain work-life balance. His seminars/workshops motivate the executives to realize and utilize their full potential at personal level, and foster understanding, successful business agreement, increased productivity and teamwork, at organizational level.



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