# Day 144 (Exploring the “Navdurga” symbolism I)



The third major legend associated with Navratri is the story of Sati and her many manifestations as “Navdurga” As per this tale, King Daksha of the Himalayas and his wife Menaka were blessed with a beautiful daughter, Uma. Much to the chagrin of the King, Uma wanted to marry Lord Shiva and worshipped him with full fervour so that he would grant her this wish. Shiva was overwhelmed by her devotion and faith and finally agreed to tie the wedding knot with her. The king however was not at all in favour of giving his daughter to a mendicant clad in tiger-skin and with an ash smeared body. Inspite of his opposition Uma got married to Shiva, a marriage the father never reconciled to. One day Daksha arranged a huge ‘yajna’ where he invited all the deities except Lord Shiva. Uma was upset but decided to attend the ceremony and even prevailed upon an extremely reluctant Shiva to accompany her to her father’s place. At the ‘yajna’ they were openly insulted by Daksha for coming there uninvited. Unable to stand this treatment meted out to her husband, Uma decided to end her life by jumping into the “agni-kund’ or the sacred-fire. For this reason she is also known as Sati. Enraged with grief Shiva is said to have lifted her body on his shoulders and started the “tandava”~the divine dance of destruction. To save creation from total annihilation, Lord Vishnu came forward and used his celestial “Chakra” to cut the body of Uma into pieces. Those pieces began to fall off from the shoulder of the dancing Shiva over different parts of the world and only after the final piece fell did Shiva come out of the trance brought on by his grief and stop the dance of destruction. Legend says these pieces fell on 52 places and these are worshipped even today as “Shakti-peeths”~centres of divine energy. Kalighat in Kolkatta, Kamakhya Devi in Guwahati, Ambaji in Gujarat are just some of the more famous among these. A repentant Daksha begged for forgiveness for his misdeeds and with Lord Vishnu’s grace, Uma was reborn and united with Lord Shiva again and also made peace with her parents. In some Eastern parts of our country it is believed Uma comes and stays with them every year for nine days and this period is celebrated as Navratri.
To return to the concept of “Navdurga” and its symbolism, the nine manifestations of the Divine Mother are actually related to her search for ‘shiva’ or the awakening of this divine energy within us. And so tomorrow we begin with her first form as “Maa Shailputri”…


About sunsur81

A gatherer of thoughts...exploring myths,metaphors and expressions of life...
This entry was posted in 365 Days Blog-roll, Indian Accents, Matters of Faith and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to # Day 144 (Exploring the “Navdurga” symbolism I)

  1. NupurNS says:

    Is this not counterintuitive to what “sati” eventually turned out to be? Why did wives burn in their husbands’ pyres? This story is about a grief stricken daughter, (or a daughter’s tantrum? ;)) of jumping into the fire…


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