The first manifestation of the Divine Mother is known as “Shailputri” or ‘daughter of the mountains’. In mythology she is ‘Maa Sati’ reborn and while there are many stories built around her, her image remains the same…she holds a trishul in her right hand, a lotus in the other, has a half moon on her forehead and her vehicle is the bull. The imagery associated with each appellation of the goddess is highly significant for it is symbolic of the ‘yog-sadhana’ or spiritual discipline required to make this human body worthy of absorbing the Divine Cosmic Energy principle and in receiving more of Her Grace.
In symbolic terms the bull represents desires, the ‘trishul’ is emblematic of balancing the three ‘gunas’~tamas, rajas and sattvic~ while the lotus is about practising ‘detached attachment’ and the half-moon is about thinking with a cool mind. There is also a special mantra which is chanted. In terms of the energy centres or “chakras” located in the subtle human body, ‘Shailputri’ is the shakti or power of the root-chakra or the ‘muladhara’ which upon awakening begins her journey upward in search of the last crown-chakra or ‘Shiva’ .Thus on the first day the devotee is called upon to control (the act of riding) the desires (the bull); balance (the trishul) the mind and let cool thoughts prevail (half-moon); practice attachment with detachment (lotus) and focus on the ’sacral-chakra’ at the base of the spine.
On the second day, the goddess is worshipped as “Brahmacharini”. In this form she is generally shown in a meditative stance wearing white. She carries a ‘rudraksha-mala’ or rosary in her right hand and a ‘kamandal’ (the sacred pitcher of water carried by renunciates) in the other hand; and is portrayed exuding calm and serenity. She stands for renunciation and penance; and the will power, patience and dedication required in the search for eternal peace. The legend around her is about the penance done for thousands of years by Maa Parvati. The story is about how when Sage Narada visited the kingdom of Himalaya and saw the young “Shailputri”, he offered obeisance to her and related to her parents the story of her previous birth as Sati. When she requested the sage to reveal how she could win Shiva back, she was told that a path of severe penances and austere asceticism would perhaps shake Shivas resolve to never marry again. And so she left the royal luxuries she was used to and is said to have spent thousands of years meditating in what is considered in our scriptures as the most severe penances ever undertaken. In symbolic terms white represents purity of mind and body; the ‘japa-mala’ stands for a continuous effort at meditation or ’tapa’, while the ‘kamandal’ has deep spiritual significance as an egoless mind. Spiritual practitioners who pray to her focus on the second chakra called ’svadisthana-chakra’ that removes attachments and helps attain wisdom.