# Day 147 (Exploring the Navdurga symbolism IV)

Today marks “Durga Ashtmi”, considered as the most auspicious Navratri. From early morning little girls, all dressed up and excited, enjoy the importance of being invited by all to come and bless their homes as little goddesses in their own right. But before we talk of this day and its significance, two more of the nine forms need to be understood first.

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The form of “Navdurga” worshipped on the sixth day is known as Katyayani…widely known as the manifestation in which she destroys the demon Mahishasura. One ancient text says that she took birth in the house of Sage Kaatyayana, who had worshiped the Goddess with extreme dedication and sincerity. Pleased with his devotion, Maa Durga appeared before him and told him to ask for a boon to which he had requested her to bless him by being born as his daughter. Another story from the Puranas relates how when all the other gods beseeched Vishnu to save them from Mahishasura, the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva emitted such flames from their eyes that a mountain of effulgence was formed from which manifested Katyayani. The warrior goddess was then armed with weapons by all the gods to enable her to destroy the indestructible Mahishasura. Her image is very similar to the previous avatar of Skandamata for she too is shown riding a lion and having three eyes and four hands. The top right hand is positioned in a gesture of providing courage (abhaya-mudra) and the other in a gesture of granting a boon (varada-mudra). The top left hand holds a sword and the other a lotus. In yogic-sadhna she is ascribed to the sixth ‘Ajna-Chakra’ or the ’Third-eye Chakra’ and her blessings are invoked by concentrating on this point with the mantra ‘Aum’. Her name symbolises the power to remove all the pride and negative energies within an individual…the destruction of the ego, the arrogance which is the cause of individual suffering in the world.

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In her seventh avatar Durga is worshipped as Kalaraatri. Her name means ‘one who is the death of kaal’ and her appearance here is one that evokes fear. She is dark-skinned and ferocious looking; her mount is a donkey (in symbolic terms a destroyer of the stupor of ignorance); she carries a scimitar and a thunderbolt in the two left hands; and the right two are in the mudras of ‘giving’ (varadamudra) and ‘protecting’ (abhayamudra). She wears a necklace that shines like the moon, her hair are open and askew, her three eyes emanate rays like lightning, and she breathes flames from her nostrils…a most daunting and fearsome aspect for a Divine Being! Some scholars feel she depicts the dark side of the Divine Energy and represents the unknown darkness that resides in our own minds and in all of creation. Descriptions of her as being black and yet radiating rays in all directions make you wonder if she is symbolic of the ‘dark matter’ that scientists talk of…a vision of the ‘knowledge’ that would terrify ordinary mortals (somewhat like Lord Krishna’s fearsome form in Bhagavadgita perhaps??) In yogic-sadhna she represents the ‘Sasahara-Chakra’~ also known as the thousand-petal lotus chakra. It is the energy-centre located at the crown of the head and is our source of enlightenment and spiritual connection to all that is…to our higher selves, to every being on the planet and ultimately the divine energy that creates everything in the universe. For some reason, i am reminded of “Star-Wars”…only when a Jedi knows the power of the ‘dark-side’ and overcomes the temptation to succumb to it does he have the ability to maintain the balance between the two and become a true Jedi. So too the Divine Mother after revealing her fiercest form empowers the true invoker with all the ‘siddhis and niddhis’ of the universe.

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And we return to the most loved eighth manifestation~Mahagauri (meaning the fairest one), who is represented as a young eight year old girl. (at last the reason for Kanya-puajan!!) Dressed in pure white (symbolising complete purity of mind) and resplendent with jewellery, the goddess in this form has three eyes and four hands~ the right hand is in the pose of allaying fears (abhayamudra) while the lower hand holds a trident, the left hand has a tambourine while the lower is in in the form of a blessing (varamudra). She sits on a bull and because of her four hands is also called ‘chaturbuj’. For the simple devotee she grants happiness, prosperity and well being. For the yogis and sages who worship her with single-minded devotion she grants the wish of merging with the creator and being free from the cycle of life and death.
Symbolically then by the eighth day of spiritual detoxification the mind achieves complete purity.

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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.

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