Chaitra Navratri: Siddhidatri


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On the ninth and last day of Chaita Navratri, Shakti is worshipped in the form of Siddhidatri (Siddhi=perfection, Datri=giver). In iconography, She is depicted with four arms and holds a lotus, conch, gada (mace), and chakra, and She sits on top of a lotus flower. She governs the planetary body Ketu, which is the southern lunar node.

This form of Shakti is worshiped by not only humans but also the other Gods. Her worship by Shiva is mentioned in Scripture, as related by Baba Rampuri:

When the Universal Mother was gripped with the idea of projecting Creation, She, first of all, created Lord Shiva who prayed to Her to endow him with perfections.  For this purpose, the Universal Mother (Durgaa) produced Goddess Siddhidaatri from Her own person.  As the behest of the Universal Mother, Goddess Siddidaatri bestowed eighteen kinds of rare perfections and powers and potentialities (Siddhis) on Lord Shiva.  By virtue of these siddhis, Lord Shiva happened to develop a divine splendor.

Having acquired the siddhis from Goddess Siddhidaatri, Lord Shiva created Lord Vishnu who in turn created Lord Brahma who was entrusted with the task of the Creation whereas Lord Vishnu got the task of Protection and Lord Shiva that of Destruction.

Lord Brahma felt a great difficulty in his task of the Creation in the absence of man and woman.  Thereupon he remembered Mother Siddhidaatri.  When she appeared before him, Lord Brahma said to her, “Oh Great Mother!  I cannot carry on with the task of the Creation in the absence of man and woman.  You kindly solve this problem of mine through your supernatural attainments (siddhis).”

Having heard Lord Brahma, Mother Siddidaatri converted half the person of Lord Shiva into a woman.  Thus Lord Shiva became half-male and half-female and came to be known as Ardhanaarishwara.  Thus the problem of Lord Brahma was resolved and the task of the Creation went on smoothly.


Her mantra is:

Sidhha Gandharvay khshadher Surair Marair Api

Sevya Mana Sada Bhooyat Siddhida Siddhidayini

Which in English means:

Goddess Siddhidatri who is worshipped by Siddha, Gandharva, Yaksh, Gods, Demons etc., holds Conch, Chakra, Gada and Lotus in her hands, giver of all siddhis and victory all over, be propitious to me.

For purposes of pronunciation, I have included a link to the spoken mantra (The mantra itself lasts for the first minute of this video, after which a speaker gives a lecture in Hindi).


Chaitra Navratri: Mahagauri


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On the eighth day of Chaitra Navratri, Shakti is worshipped in the form of Mahagauri (Mahagauri=extremely white). She has four arms. In Her upper right hand She holds a trishul (trident) and in Her lower left hand She carries a Damaru (small, two-headed drum). Her upper left hand is in the Varada Mudra position, and Her lower right hand forms the Abhaya Mudra. She rides atop a white bull and rules the planetary body Rahu (In Vedic astrology, Rahu is the northern node of the Moon). The following origin of this form in mythology is related by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi:

She observed severe penance as Goddess Parvati to get earn Lord Siva as her husband. Once, Lord Shiva was rude to her by pointing out her dark complexion. She started observing hard penance. This went on for over a thousand years. During this period her body got covered with soil. It became darker than ever. Then one day when Lord Shiva came looking for Mother. He was pleased with her penance. Thereafter he took Maa to the Ganges and bathed her lovingly. Mother regained her beauty with pure complexion and earned the name Maha Gauri.

In this form Mahagauri represents purity and austerity. She scours and scrubs the filth from the souls of Her devotees and purifies their hearts. Both married and unmarried women especially worship Her on this day, as She is said to guide unmarried women in finding a good husband and She blesses married women with peaceful and harmonious marital lives.

Kumari Puja during Ashtami Puja celebrations also occurs on the eighth day of Chaitra Navratri, as related by this passage from

On the sacred occasion of Ashtami Pooja, Kanya Poojan (feeding of little girls) are also done to please Goddesses of Navdurga (nine forms of Durga). Nine little girls are invited at home of worshippers and are fed varieties of delicious sweet dishes. Devotees pay the best homage to nine little girls considering them nine forms of Navdurga. This ritual accomplishes their Pooja and gives blessings of Nav Durga.

Her mantra is:

Shwete Vrishe Maha Rudha Shwetambardhara Shuchih

Maha Gauri Subham Dadhyanmahadev Pramodada

Which means in English:

Goddess Mahagauri who rides on white bull, wear pure white clothes, giver of happiness, be propitious to me.

For purposes of pronunciation, I have included a link to the spoken mantra (The mantra itself lasts for the first 35 seconds of this video, after which a speaker gives a lecture in Hindi).


Chaitra Navratri: Kalaratri


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On the seventh day of Chaitra Navratri, Shakti is worshipped in the form of Kalaratri (Kala=time, black in reference to the primal darkness before the Creation, Ratri=night). Kalaratri is a form of Kali. She is dark in complexion and rides atop a donkey. She is depicted with four arms, Her right hands positioned in Abhaya and Varada mudras and Her left hands holding a sickle and a thorn-like iron weapon. In mythology, She slayed the dreadful demon Raktabeej, as Miss Saxena relates:

In this form Goddess Kalratri killed Raktabeej. Raktabeej was a demon who could multiply from every drop of his blood which fell on the ground. The Goddess Kaalratri killed him by licking the blood before it could reach the ground and hence conquered him.

Kalaratri’s form is dreadful and repulsive in appearance (She is the most misunderstood of the Hindu Goddesses by many Westerners!), but She is very protective of Her devotees and protects them against the evil spiritual influences of demons and dark forces. While She has a ferocious side, She also has a very maternal side. She also aids Her devotees to rid their lives of tamasic qualities, effectively destroying ignorance. She governs the planet Saturn and is associated with the Sahasrara (thousand, infinite) chakra, which is located on the crown of the head. It is the chakra of Pure Light and of Supreme Consciousness. Awakening the Sahasrara chakra leads to ultimate spiritual enlightenment.

Her mantra is:

Ekveni Japakarnapura Nagna Kharastitha

Lamboshthi Karnikakarni Tailabhyakta Sharirani

Vaampadolla Salloh Lata Kanthak Bhushna

Vardhan Murdha Dhvaja Krishna Kalratri Bhayankari

Which means in English:

She is naked, rides on an donkey, has a long tongue, lustrous body, wears ornaments on her legs like lightning, is black in color, has unlocked hair, big eyes and ears and is very dangerous looking. Meditating on this form of Kalratri removes all obstacles as well as removes all magical effects created by others.

For purposes of pronunciation, I have included a link to the spoken mantra (The mantra itself lasts for the first minute of this video, after which a speaker gives a lecture in Hindi).


Chaitra Navratri: Katyayani


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maa-katyayani1On the sixth day of Chaitra Navratri, Shakti is worshipped in the form of Katyayani. The story behind her name’s origin is related by Mr. Subhamoy Das in the following passage:

The legend behind her name goes thus: Once upon a time, there was a great sage called Kata, who had a son named Katya. Kata was very famous and renowned in the lineage of saints. He underwent long austerities and penance in order to receive the grace of the Mother Goddess. He wished to have a daughter in the form of a goddess. According to his wish and desire the Mother Goddess granted his request. Katyayani was born to Kata as an avatar of Durga.

Katyayani rides atop a majestic lion and is (typically) depicted with four arms. In Her left hands She holds a sword and a lotus flower (symbolising blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment); Her right hands are positioned in Abhaya( indicates for the devotee not to fear and is a symbol of protection) and Varada (symbolises the giving of blessings) mudras. In the Vamana Purana, She is depicted in Her fiercest form during the battle with the demon Mahishasura, whom She slays.

Katyayani rules over the planet Jupiter. Her chakra is the most important of all chakras: the Ajna (command, knowledge, wisdom) chakra, or Third Eye. This is where the bridge between our human potential crosses into Divine Consciousness. Hindus also believe that spiritual energy from the outside world enters the conscious via this gateway chakra, and so they take great care in protecting this chakra through religious markings (made with holy ash, vermillion, etc.) on the third eye.

images.jpggyjtrfjnmShe is commonly worshipped by unmarried women looking for a husband, and if a lady’s marriage is experiencing any delays Katyayani is often worshipped in order to remove the obstacles that are preventing the marriage from taking place.

Her mantra is:

Chandrahaasojjval Karaa Shaardoolvarvaahanaa

Katyayani Shubham Dadyaad Devi Daanavghatini

Which in English means:

Devi Katyayani, who holds Chandrahaas Sword and other weapons in her ten hands, rides on Lion, and destroying demons, be propitious to me. 

(Note: She is most commonly depicted with four hands, but some Images do depict Her with eight, ten, and even eighteen hands!)

For purposes of pronunciation, I have included a link to the spoken mantra (The mantra itself lasts for the first 35 seconds of this video, after which a speaker gives a lecture in Hindi).


Chaitra Navratri: Skanda Mata


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Skanda Mata


On the fifth day of Chaitra Navratri, Shakti is worshipped in the form of Skanda Mata (Skanda=a Hindu God, Mata=Mother). Skanda Mata is a form of Parvati and as Her name implies, She is the mother of Skanda. She has four arms and holds lotus flowers (symbolising blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment) in Her two upper hands. In Her right arm, She cradles Her Son Skanda and She keeps Her left hand in the Abhaya Mudra position (indicates for the devotee not to fear and is a symbol of protection). Skanda Mata is a Warrior Goddess, riding atop a lion and defeating the Asuras (demons). However, She carries no weapons. Like his Mother, Skanda is also a warrior.

Skanda Mata governs the planet Mercury. She is associated with the Vishuddhi (Visha=impurity, poison, Shuddhi=perfection) chakra, located around the larynx and known as the Throat Chakra. The importance of the Vishuddhi chakra in Hindu thought is best narrated in this passage from the Holy Scriptures of the Puranas:

The Devas (gods) and Āsuras (demons) wanted to raise the treasure Amrita (the nectar of immortality), which was hidden in the depths of the ocean, to the surface. They used Mount Mandara as the stirring stick and the world serpent, Vāsuki, as the rope. The gods held the tail of the snake and the demons held its head. In this way they were able to churn the ocean of the world with their combined power. Numerous treasures and precious objects emerged from the ocean and, finally, the longed-for Amrita rose to the surface in a golden vessel.

But the serpent they had used to churn the oceans spat out a deadly poison that was capable of destroying the whole earth. Quickly the Devas caught it in a bowl so it was not able to do any harm. But as they had absolutely no idea what to do with it or how they could permanently “dispose” of it, they turned to Lord Shiva for help.

Lord Shiva is the most gracious of all the gods, and will never refuse a request from anyone. He took the bowl of poison and drank it down to the very last drop. However, in the process he did not swallow the poison but held it in the Vishuddhi Chakra and purified it by means of Ujjāyī Prānāyāma (a breath contorl technique used in yoga) and Jālandhara Bandha (a yoga position). In this way he rid the world of a deadly peril. Through the poison his throat was coloured dark blue, and since that day he has borne the nickname Nīlakantha (the blue-throated one).

This story demonstrates the purifying qualities of the Vishuddhi Chakra. This idea is also extended into yoga practice, in which conscious regulation of the breath is of great importance. Regulated breathing not only rids the body of physical toxins, but also purifies the emotions and conscious on a spiritual level. The importance of Vishuddhi Chakra is explained on a spiritual level in the following passage from

It is not just the external world that is extremely polluted, but also the psyche and consciousness of many people. For as long as the pernicious, toxic qualities of discord, rivalry, envy and resentment eat away at our mind, the light of God consciousness cannot shine through.

Just as Lord Shiva neither spat the poison out, nor swallowed it, we should not swallow our problems as we harm ourselves through this; but we should also not spit them out as this can cause another type of damage. Like Lord Shiva, who purified the poison in his throat, we can also resolve our problems with the help of the Vishuddhi Chakra.

Skanda Mata cares for Her devotees as Her own children and is often worshipped to remove obstacles from the devotee’s life. As Our Mother, She helps us to realise the poisons in our conscious and teaches us the best method in which to overcome these obstacles that hold us back from spiritual enlightenment.

Skanda Mata’s mantra is:

Sinhaasangataam Nityam Padmaanchit Kardwayaa

Shubhdaastu Sadaa Devi Skandmata Yashaswini

Which means in English:

Skanda Mata, who rides upon a lion with Kartikeya (another name for Skanda), holds lotuses in Her two hands and Varmudra (the mudra of blessing) in one hand, be propituous to me.

For purposes of pronunciation, I have included a link to the spoken mantra (The mantra itself lasts for the first 35 seconds of this video, after which a speaker gives a lecture in Hindi).


Chaitra Navratri: Kushmanda


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On the fourth day of Chaitra Navratri, Shakti is worshipped in the form of Kushmanda (Ku=little, ushma=warmth, anda=egg). Symbolically, Her name means “that is from whose fraction of warmth the universe has been emanated,” designating Her as the comic egg which created the Universe and hence a Creator Goddess. Parvati takes on the form of Kushmanda after She started living inside the core of the Sun to liberate energy to the rest of the Universe. As a solar Goddess, Her governing planetary body is the Sun. This goes back to Her role as a Creator, for in the beginning the Universe was nothing more but a void of darkness until Her light spread in all directions. Her mount is a lion and She is depicted with eight arms in iconography. She holds a kamandal (an oblong water pot carried by ascetics), dhanush (bow), arrow, and lotus flower (symbolising blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment) in Her right hands, and in Her left hands She carries a kalasha (a metal pot with a large base and small mouth), Japa mala beads (prayer beads), gada (a blunt mace/club), and a chakra (a disc-like weapon). Kushmanda bestows brightness, clarity, and peace upon Her worshippers.

She is associated with the Anahata Chakra (anahata=unstruck, unhurt in Sanskrit, implying that beneath all the pain in our heart, universal love and compassion is our core nature that is still intact even though we may believe it is damaged), which is the seat of love located in the heart. Love does not only refer to the popular sense of the word, however, but also to the deep, compassionate, Divine love. In a beautiful description of the Anahata chakra, a writer on writes:

The Anāhata Chakra is our inner temple in which the divine Ātmā, “the flame of life”, resides. Self-Realisation, also known as God-Realisation, involves the recognition of our own Self, the Ātmā. To show that something belongs to us or concerns us we spontaneously point to the centre of the chest, the site of the Anāhata Chakra. No-one points to the head, the stomach or any other part of the body. This shows clearly that we spontaneously identify ourselves with the Ātmā within the heart centre. In the Chandogya Upanishad it is written:

“In the centre of the body there is a little shrine surrounded by a wall with eleven doors. Hidden within the shrine a Lotus blossoms, and within this there is a tiny, little room.”

What does this tiny room in the heart of the Lotus mean? It is the Ātmā, our true Self. The Ātmā is a part of God. It is pure, unchanging, Infinite Consciousness. It is Eternal, Unborn and Immortal, and exists in every living being. Just as the whole tree is already contained and present within a seed, the essence of the entire cosmos exists in the centre of the Heart Chakra.

Her mantra is:

Sura Sampurna Kalasham Rudhira Plutmev Cha

Dadhana Hastpad Mabhyam Kushmanda Shubh Dastu Me

Which means in English:

May the Goddess Kushmanda who holds two pitchers full of madira and blood in her lotus hands, be propitious to me. (I believe the word ‘madira’ is in reference to amrita, the nectar of immortality. Corrections for the meaning of this mantra, as well as further explanations regarding its meaning, are very welcome!)

For purposes of pronunciation, I have included a link to the spoken mantra (The mantra itself lasts for the first 35 seconds of this video, after which a speaker gives a lecture in Hindi).


Chaitra Navratri: Chandraghanta


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On the third day of Navratri, Shakti is worshipped in the form of Chandraghanta (Chandra=Moon, ghanta=bell), who is the married form of the Goddess Parvati (after marrying Shiva, Parvati started adorning Her head with a half moon in the shape of a bell, hence the origin of Her name). As Yogi Ananda Saraswathi writes:

In meditation, as soon as the sadhak (someone who follows a way of life in order to achieve Nirvana) invokes her, her bell immediately become active and starts ringing to protect the devotee under her shelter. The crescent moon is symbolic of feminine energy. It is also associated with clairvoyance and knowing without thinking. The crescent also represents illumination,new beginnings and making dreams a reality. It is connected to rebirths and how our true essence really is immortal. That is why she is called ‘Chandraghanta’. Her ornaments are rich and signify material comfort.

Chandraghanta’s mount is a tigress and is depicted with ten arms. She holds a trishul (trident), gada (a blunt mace/club), sword, and kamandal (an oblong water pot carried by ascetics) in her four left hands and keeps the fifth left hand in the Varada Mudra positition (symbolises the giving of blessings). In Her right hands She carries the lotus flower (symbolising blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment), dhanush (bow), arrow, and Japa mala (prayer beads) while keeping Her fifth hand in the Abhaya Mudra position (indicates for the devotee to not fear and a symbol of protection). She governs the planet Venus.

Chandraghanta is associated with the chakra Manipura (Mani=pearl, jewel, pura=place, city), which is the first chakra that has emerged into the conscious (Muladhara chakra is located in the unconscious and Swadhistana chakra is in the subconscious) and is located at the solar plexus. Chandraghanta is worshipped for peace, tranquility, and prosperity in life. She is the Goddess of bravery and possesses great power which aids Her in battles against demons and forces of darkness. As written by Miss Sanchitta Chowdhury:

Goddess Chandraghanta is the representation of Supreme bliss and knowledge. It is said that by Her blessings, all the sins, sufferings, bad energies etc are eliminated from Her devotees’ life. By riding a tiger She inspires Her devotees to be fearless. By worshipping Goddess Chandraghanta one gets rid of all the worldly sorrows and attains supreme spiritual bliss.
Her mantra is:
Pindaj Pravara Rudha Chand Kopastra Keyurta
Prasadam Tanute Maham Chandra Ghanteti Vishruta
Which in English means:
O Goddess Chandraghanta, who rides on Tiger, angry on enemies, holds many weapons in ten hands, be propitious to me.

For purposes of pronunciation, I have included a link to the spoken mantra (The mantra itself lasts for the first 35 seconds of this video, after which a speaker gives a lecture in Hindi).


Chaitra Navratri: Brahmacharini


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On the second day of Chaitra Navratri, Sri Durga is worshipped in the form of Brahmacharini (Brahma=penance, charini=performer). She does not ride upon a mount but rather walks upon bare feet, carrying a Japa Mala (Hindu prayer beads) in one hand and a kamandal (an oblong pot used for storing drinking water that is carried by ascetics as a symbol of a simple life) in the other. She governs the planet Mars. Brahmacharini is a Goddess of simplicity and appreciates simple devotions. During her puja (ritual) on the second day of Chaitra Navratri, She is offered flowers, rice, and sandalwood.

Brahmacharini is the personification of love and loyalty, bestowing great emotional strength upon Her devotees. Her blessings help the devotee to rid herself of selfishness, ego, greed, and laziness, and promotes self-discipline and ethical conduct. She inspires us toward a spirit of perserverance and commitment to the spiritual life unswayed by external circumstances. Like Shailputri, She is also a form of Parvati. Her association with penance becomes apparent when Parvati’s many penances in order to acquire Shiva as Her husband are kept in mind. As narrated by Mr. Kumar:

She showed a keen interest in Shiva from the outset, repeating his name to herself and taking delight in hearing about his appearance and deeds. While she is a child a sage comes to her house and after examining the marks on her body predicts that she will marry a naked yogi. When it becomes clear that she is destined to marry Shiva, her parents are usually described as feeling honored. Parvati too is delighted…Steadfast in her devotion, Parvati persists in her quest to win Shiva as her husband by setting out to perform austerities. One of the most effective ways to achieve what a person wants in traditional Hinduism is to perform tapas, “ascetic austerities.” If one is persistent and heroic enough, one will generate so much heat that the gods will be forced to grant the ascetic his or her wish in order to save themselves and the world from being scorched. Parvati’s method of winning Shiva is thus a common approach to fulfilling one’s desires. It is also appropriate, however, in terms of demonstrating to Shiva that she can compete with him in his own realm, that she has the inner resources, control, and fortitude to cut herself off from the world and completely master her physical needs. By performing tapas, Parvati abandons the world of the householder and enters the realm of the world renouncer, namely Shiva’s world. Most versions of the myth describe her as outdoing all the great sages in her austerities. She performs all the traditional mortifications, such as sitting in the midst of four fires in the middle of summer, remaining exposed to the elements during the rainy season and during the winter, living on leaves or air only, standing on one leg for years, and so on. Eventually she accumulates so much heat that the gods are made uncomfortable and persuade Shiva to grant Parvati’s wish, so that she will cease her efforts. The marriage is duly arranged and elaborately undertaken.

Brahmachandri is also associated with the Swadhistana (Sva=Self, Adhisthana=seat, residence) chakra. This chakra is about three centimeters above the Muladhara chakra between the coccyx and sacrum. It is said that in previous eras the Kundalini Shakti resided in this chakra which is the sear of the subconscious, but during our Kali Yuga age of spiritual ignorance it moved further downward into the unconscious Muladhara chakra.

Her mantra is:

Dadhana Karpadma abhyamaksh Mala kamandalu

Devi Prasidatu Mayi Brahmacharinya Nuttama

Which means in English:

The one who carries the flower of Lotus, Rudraksha Mala and stoup in one hand. The sublime Goddess Brahmcharini, please bless me.

For purposes of pronunciation, I have included a link to the spoken mantra (The mantra itself lasts for the first 35 seconds of this video, after which a speaker gives a lecture in Hindi).


Chaitra Navratri: Shailputri


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An Introduction to Chaitra Navratri


For readers who are unfamilar with Hindu culture and celebrations, a very brief introduction to this nine-day festival of the Goddess is an essential foundation upon which to build this series of articles on the different forms of Shakti worshipped during this festival. Navratri is a festival that is celebrated five times a year, but the most important two are the ones in the spring (Chaitra Navratri, Vasanta Navratri) and in the autumn (Sharada Navratri). Chaitra is the first month on the Hindu calendar, and the word Navratri itself literally means “nine nights” in Sanskrit. This year, Chaitra Navratri will be celebrated from March 31-April 7.

Avatars_of_Amman_NavarathiriThere are several legends associated with the celebration of Navratri, but the most famous is the tale of Sri Durga slaying the demon Mahishasura. The battle between the demon and Goddess lasted for nine days, and on the end of the ninth night Sri Durga finally killed him. During Chaitra Navratri, a lamp is kept lighted at all times for the duration of the festival. A ritual called Ghatasthapana (ghata meaning “vessel” and sthapana meaning “to establish) is performed on the first day, in which the kalash (holy water vessel) symbolising Sri Durga is placed in the prayer room. The kalash is covered in cow dung and barley seeds are planted inside of the kalash. The sowing of the barley seeds symbolises growth, prosperity, abundance, and fertility. Fasting is also a common practice during Chaitra Navratri. Meat, alcohol, grains, onion, and garlic are all avoided during this time. Every evening during Navratri, the Durga Suktum is chanted in honour of Shakti. On the eigth and ninth days of Navratri, Yagna is performed in honour of Sri Durga and to bid her farewell. On these last days, Kanya Puja is also performed in which nine young girls representing the nine forms of Shakti are worshipped. Each day has a governing Goddess who is the focus of the daily devotions. The following series discusses these nine Goddesses and their worship during Chaitra Navratri.


maa-shailputri1Sri Durga is glorified on the first day of Navratri through Her form, Shailputri (Shail=mountain, putri=daughter). She is the Absolute Form of Mother Nature and watches over every living thing and encourages humans to live in harmony with Nature. She is also a form of the Goddess Parvati and Her consort is Shiva. She holds a lotus in Her left hand and a Trishul (trident) in Her right hand. Her mount is Nandi, a bull.

She is associated with the Moon and is also the Goddess of the Muladhara (Mula=root, origin, Adhara=foundation) chakra, which is the root chakra located at the lowest point of the spinal column. The Muladhara chakra is the starting point toward spiritual development, the seat of our dormant wisdom. For this reason, Shailputri is worshipped in order to make full use of our precious human lifetime. This concept is further expounded upon by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi:

Durga’s slaying of the demons as per Purana stories has important lessons for the spiritually minded . Durga is a very important feminine form of divinity, especially for personal transformation from our lower or animal nature to our higher spiritual nature. These are all symbolical. Heaven is our own mind. The demon is our lower nature. And the demon in heaven is our own inability to control our own mind. By slaying them, she has torn down ego. In reality, this is a common challenge for most people, so one can see the relevance of the story and importance of Durga.  As Durga represents transformation through elevation in consciousness, we call on Durga to transform and elevate our minds. Durga as a goddess is a feminine form and therefore the divine mother, but she also has a form that relates to the earth – Shaila Putri. Her birth connections to the mountains are indicative of the sacredness of the mountains and their important connections to the earth. Goddess Shaila Putri is also strongly associated with the waters and air as well, as the waters represent the flow of consciousness, cleansing and purity. 

Shailputri’s mantra is:

Vande Vanchhit Laabhaay, Chandrardhkritshekharaam

Vrisharudham Shooldharaam Shailputriim Yashaswinim

Which is translated into English as:

Salute the Mother Goddess who has a half moon on Her forehead, who rides a bull and holds a trident. We chant your name and praiseyou always Maa Shailputri.

For purposes of pronunciation, I have included a link to the spoken mantra (The mantra itself lasts for the first 35 seconds of this video, after which a speaker gives a lecture in Hindi).

Salute the Mother Goddess who has a half moon in her forehead, who rides a bullock and holds a Trishul. We chant your name and praise you always Maa Shailaputri – See more at:
Salute the Mother Goddess who has a half moon in her forehead, who rides a bullock and holds a Trishul. We chant your name and praise you always Maa Shailaputri – See more at:


Out With The Old, In With The New


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For many, this is the time for spring cleaning, and many cultures have spring cleaning embedded into their traditions.

Iranians celebrate the New Year festival (Nowruz) on the day of the vernal equinox (March 21st). Two weeks prior to Nowruz, a ritual called khaneh takani (“shaking the house”) is undertaken in preparation for the new year and the welcoming of spring. Every corner of the home is dusted, scrubbed, and scoured. Jewish custom also has its own spring cleaning tradition before the holiday of Pesach (celebrated in March-April), which celebrates the Hebrew people’s emancipation from slavery in Egypt. Slaves in Egypt were fed unleavened bread, and so the Hebrew’s descendants kept this tradition as a reminder of the subjugation they had overcome. Keeping leavened bread in the house during Pesach is prohibited, and even leavened bread crumbs must not be left within the home. To ensure that no bread crumbs have been overlooked, Jews thoroughly clean their houses before Pesach every year.

article-0-158DC171000005DC-0_964x1425This time of year is not only for a physical cleaning of the home, however, but also a time of spiritual cleaning (although a physically clean environment certainly helps to promote spiritual cleaning). By spiritual cleaning, I mean purifying the mind, racinating the image sphere, and living more in line with one’s true self. A fair assessment of one’s mind and soul is the first step in this process so that we know what our short-comings are and can take steps toward correcting them. I must emphasise here that making sudden, drastic changes are the quickest way to failure. It is one matter to form a solemn commitment to not back-track into old ways that no longer serve our souls, our families, our communities, or our world. It is another mater entirely to try to accomplish everything in a day. Set small goals for yourself, for even one step toward truth is one step out of the darkness. For example, one of my goals this spring is to start praying before meal time. A fairly simple goal one may think, but after going years of eating meals without praying beforehand, it can be a challenge to remember to thank Dea (I also thank the plants/animals that died in order to provide me with sustenance). Sometimes I remember, sometimes I remember only when I am already chewing on the first couple of bites, but I always try, and if I fail I keep trying.

PRAYER_BEFORE_MEAL_Wallpaper_p2kheIn the Islamic tradition, this is known as the Greater Jihad (not to be confused with the Lesser Jihad, or Holy War, which is the more common understanding of the word’s meaning here in the West). The concept itself is not only limited to Islam, however, but is a universal call of action to people from all faith backgrounds. According to Mr. John Heit:

Jihad is the effort to purify oneself from within, to purify oneself of selfish appetites–the intention behind the action is important to the action itself…The greater jihad is further divided into three types of struggle:

 1) Jihad of the Heart ( the struggle for moral reformation and faith)

2) Jihad of the Tongue (the struggle to proclaim God’s word abroad; right speech)

3) Jihad of the Hand (doing good works in accord with the will of God)

Beautiful_Muslim_Woman_from_MalaysiaWhen I speak of image spheres, I speak of everything which we surround ourselves with: art, music, films, television shows, the decoration of our homes, the clothes we wear. Are we surrounded by profanities that encourage our lowest natures or are we surrounded by reflections of a higher spiritual Order that encourage an upliftment of the soul? I am a firm believer in the effect of our surroundings on our minds, and by extension, on our words and deeds.

Recent findings in psychology and the research into neuroplasticity support this notion. A research study conducted on the link between childhood and adolescent aggression with profanity exposure in media found a posititve coorelation between the two. As stated in the findings of this study in the research paper “Profanity in Media Associated With Attitudes and Behavior Regarding Profanity Use and Aggression”:

The use of profanity also is related to aggressive behavior. For example, profanity use has been associated with more-hostile personalities, as well as other forms of aggression. Profanity use often is included as an item on problem behavior scales for children and adolescents. Furthermore, other studies have found that exposure to profanity can induce a numbing effect on normal emotional responses. Researchers also have shown that, when profanity is used with the intent to harm or to belittle another, the offender subsequently is less disturbed by exposure to profanity in general.


Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Valerie Voon also discovered that the brain scans of people suffering from pornography addiction experience the same changes as the brain scans of drug addicts. As summarised by Mr. Norman Doidge:

 Until recently, scientists believed our brains were fixed, their circuits formed and finalised in childhood, or “hardwired”. Now we know the brain is “neuroplastic”, and not only can it change, but that it works by changing its structure in response to repeated mental experience. One key driver of plastic change is the reward centre, which normally fires as we accomplish a goal. A brain chemical, dopamine, is released, giving us the thrill that goes with accomplishment. It also consolidates the connections between neurons in the brain that helped us accomplish that goal. As well, dopamine is secreted at moments of sexual excitement and novelty. Porn scenes, filled with novel sexual “partners”, fire the reward centre. The images get reinforced, altering the user’s sexual tastes. Many abused substances directly trigger dopamine secretion – without us having to work to accomplish a goal. This can damage the dopamine reward system. In porn, we get “sex” without the work of courtship. Now, scans show that porn can alter the reward centre too. Once the reward centre is altered, a person will compulsively seek out the activity or place that triggered the dopamine discharge. (Like addicts who get excited passing the alley where they first tried cocaine, the patients got excited thinking about their computers.) They crave despite negative consequences. (This is why those patients could crave porn without liking it.) Worse, over time, a damaged dopamine system makes one more “tolerant” to the activity and needing more stimulation, to get the rush and quiet the craving. “Tolerance” drives a search for ramped-up stimulation, and this can drive the change in sexual tastes towards the extreme.

heroin addict brain scansIn essence, we become what we surround ourselves with. Our surroundings can either uplift or debase us. I have personally experienced this in my own life, for as I have cut away the thorns of khear by reducing an eliminating my exposure to unwholesome media, I have become more at peace and more in tune with not only my true self, but also with Dea. I will not pretend that this path is easy. I have fallen back into old ways more times than I can count. It is difficult to break bad habits. I have also lost friends who I have outgrown because we simply no longer have the same interests and outlooks on life. But at the same time, I have opened a space up for better habits and better friends.

Our separation from Dea is like a wound. When caring for a wound, it is important to first remove the damaged and dead tissue before new tissue can grow. The process of debridement can be very painful (as I have learned from the procedure of wet-to-dry dressing changes in nursing school!) but it also promotes wound healing, which is what we are striving toward. The same process happens when we make a solemn decision to repair our spiritual wounds, the chasm that separates us from Our Mother. As Mother Iulya says:

I do not mean to pretend that the Gentle Way is easy. It is simple, but it is not easy. We shall be tempted often away from the path of gentleness and simplicity; we shall be tempted away from kindness and purity and assailed by anger, greed, idleness, pride, carnality and the spirit of joylessness and complaining; and sometimes we shall fall. But if we pick ourselves up with meekness and humility and ask Dea to set us back upon the path, all the work of the grumms and darklings in tripping us up will have been for nothing. The Gentle Way demands discipline and a strong will to overcome the lower self. But it is the way by which we may enjoy all the glories of the world; and the practice of moderation and a little asceticism will only make them the sweeter. As we live upon the world as our Lady’s little child-servants, we begin to learn that there is only one Enjoyer of the world, and that is our Lady Herself. She who is perfect has perfect enjoyment, and therefore to enjoy the world through Her is the best way, and in the end the only way, to enjoy it. That is why She wants us to follow this way — because She loves us even more than we love ourselves.