26 Sep 2014

Navaratri Day 1 - Shailaputri and the Reading of the Devi Mahatmyam

During Navaratri celebrations at Shree Peetha Nilaya, the reading of the Devi Mahatmyam is part of every night's ritual, performed to praise Divine Mother.

The Devi Mahatmyam is part of the Markandeya Purana and describes the victory of the goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura, which represents “our ego, our pride” as Sri Swami Vishwananda told us in previous years.

The Devi Mahatmyam is also known as the Durga Saptashati or simply Saptashati, because the text contains 700 verses (saptashata means ‘seven hundred’), arranged into 13 chapters. Yesterday, during the first night of Navaratri, the ritual reading of the Devi Mahatmyam started with the first chapter entitled ‘The slaying of Madhu and Kaitabha’.

Sri Swami Vishwananda has explained to us in previous years the meaning of this first chapter as follows:

“In the form of Shailaputri, She is destroying the pride of the gods. Actually, we are all part of these gods. There is no difference.

In this form, She destroyed our pride, the little god’s pride. In the first chapters of the Durga Saptashati we read how two demons came out from the ears of Maha Vishnu, while He was in deep samadhi. They were brothers with the names of Madhu and Kaitabha, representing our ‘too much’ and ‘too little’. When it’s too much we complain, when it’s too little we also complain, as we are never satisfied with anything. Because only the Lord Himself can satisfy us.

Abishekam for Mahamaya

From anything which we have in excess we will suffer and everything that we are lacking, where we have too little, we will also suffer. So in both these cases we see that we have to offer everything to the Lord; we have to become an instrument. And to become that instrument, we have to surrender.

What is meant with surrender is not that you have to leave everything and surrender to Him, but to trust that in whatever you are doing He or She is present.

So to kill these demons, Shailaputri, the daughter of the Himalayas, manifested. The Himalayas represent the purity and Ma Bhagavati, Devi Durga. She took that aspect to destroy our ‘too much’ and ‘too little’ and make us surrender to the Divine."