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 chakras.net 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).