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Nav Durga, The Nine Avatars of Shakti

Goddess Shakti is believed to have emerged in nine avatars over time.  During the Navratri, each of these incarnations of Shakti is worshipped with one day dedicated to each.


Shailputri

Navratri commences with the worship of Shailputri, popularly known as Parvati or Hemavati.  Born as the daughter of the King of the mountain, Parvatraj Himalaya, Shakti in this avatar, got married to Lord Shiva and became mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya.

Carrying a trident in one hand and a lotus in the other, Shailputri is seen riding Lord Shiva’s bull Nandi.



Brahmcharini

The second Navratri is dedicated to Brahmcharini Devi. In this avatar, Shakti observed intense austerity, performed rigorous penance and maintained perfect and moral conduct. Her worship instills restraint in humans, invokes consciousness and awareness about the positive effects of good karmas and infuses a feeling of sacrifice.

Brahmcharini Devi is depicted with Rudraksha-mala (rosary) in right hand and a Kamandala (water-pot) in the left hand and her worship shows one the way to ‘Moksha’.


 

Chandraghanta

Depicted as a deity, with ten hands and three eyes, riding on a tiger, Chandraghanta is known so as she wears a crescent shaped moon which looks like a bell, on her head.

The deity is seen carrying different kinds of weapons, a lotus and a rosary.

 

Kushmanda

Kushmanda Devi is depicted as an eight armed deity sitting on a tiger holding weapons, a sudarshan-chakra, a lotus, a rosary, a kamandala and a pot of nectar. The deity radiates bright golden aura and is said to have imparted energy to the solar system.

Her worship destroys ego, dispels sorrows and replaces darkness with light and ignorance with knowledge.



Skandmata

Lord Shiva’s son Kartikeya was called Kumar Skand, who is popularly known and worshipped as Lord Murugan in South India.

As the legend goes, during the ‘Deva- Sura Sangram’, i.e the war of Gods and demons, Kartikeya was chosen by Gods as their commander. His glory has been narrated in Puranas where he is referred to as Kumar or Shakti Dhar.

Depicted as enthroned on a lion with with her son, Skand, in her lap, Shakti is worshipped as Skandmata (the proud mother of Kumar Skand) on the fifth Navratri.

 



Katyayani

Goddess Katyayani is also known as Mahishasur-Mardini, as she had killed the demon Mahisha. Mahisha was granted a boon by the Gods that he could be killed only by a warrior Goddess. Taking advantage of this blessing, Mahisha attacked heaven to overthrow the Gods from their abode. This infuriated the Trinity of Gods – Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesha and they created Goddess Durga who was an assimilation of the powers of all the deities. The Goddess soon fulfilled the purpose and attained glory.

One sage Kaatya was the first to worship her for her prowess and wished to have her as his daughter. The deity was pleased and thence fulfilled the sage’s wish and was born as his daughter. Then on, she came to be known as ‘Katyayani’.

Katyayani is the daughter form of Durga, a loving and doting daughter! She is considered to be an epitome of love who won’t hesitate to rise up in anger to defend righteousness and Dharma.

 

 

Kaalratri

As the name indicates, the deity is depicted as one with very dark complexion, as black as night, bearing pitch black long and loose hair. Adorning a necklace of human skulls, the deity is seen stepping on a dead demon and sticking out red tongue.

Also called Shubamkar, the deity is said to breathe out fire and bless her devotees with freedom from fear and protection from adversity.

Popularly known as Kaali Mata, the deity in this avatar killed a demon named Raktabeej. Raktabeej had obtained a demon from Gods as per which from every drop that fell from his body, a demon would be produced. Using this to his advantage, the demon created ot of nuisance. Kaalratri was created to put an end to Raktabeej’s existence. The Goddess fought the demon valiantly and conquered him by licking all his blood before it could reach the ground.



Mahagauri

Mahagauri is the unmarried form of Parvati, in which she did rigorous penance and observed austerities to obtain Lord Shiva as her husband.

Due to intense tapas and meditation performed by her persistently, a lot of dust and dirt deposited on her body. Shiva pleased by her dedication washed away all the dirt with Ganga-jal. Cleaned with water of pure and pious Ganga, Parvati became white and pure as Conch nd came to be known as Mahagauri.

Depicted as pure, pretty and peaceful Goddess, mounted on a bull, MahaGauri is worshipped by single young women desiring to get a good husband.



Siddhidatri

The Ninth form of Goddess, Siddhidatri, is worshipped on the ninth, that is, the last day of the Navratri.

This four armed deity rides on a lion and is believed to have all the occult powers. By worshipping Siddhidatri, one can obtain all the supernatural powers and move even beyond those towards Moksha leaving all worldly desires behind.

In Puranas, it is mentioned that Lord Shiva worshipped Maha Shakti and was blessed with all the Siddhis, that is, the supernatural powers and then with her divine blessings he could obtain form of ‘Ardhnarishwar’, in order to explain to Parvati that he was none of male, female or hermaphrodite.

 

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