Saturday, 20 August 2011

History of Navratri

by Chitragupt Pariwar (Hum Kayasth) on Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 1:19pm
The historical background

Navratri or the Festival of Nine Nights from Ashvin Sud 1 to 9 is devoted to the propitiation of Shakti or Divine Mother. She represents prakriti, responsible for creation of the world according to the religious ideology of Goddess worship.

There are two interesting legends or epics associated with the history of Navratri and celebrated across the country with great reverence and faith taking on different names and idols.

Battle of good over evil Legends prevalent in North Indian :

Lord Brahma of the trinity Brahma, Vishnu & Maheshwara, granted Mahishasura the "buffalo demon," a boon that protected him from any man in the world . Empowered by this gift, Mahishasura set out to conquer the world, heaven and the world, and brought about the defeat of the king of deities,Indra. At the pleading of Indra, the king of the Gods, Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva created Devi Durga, by combining their own divine powers (shakti). Endowed with the trinity's shakti, Durga proved to be a formidable opponent who fought Mahisa for nine days, beheading him on the tenth. The nine nights known as Navratri, symbolize the nine days of battle between Devi Durga and Mahisasura, while the tenth day, which is vijayadashami-literally means the victorious tenth day of conquest of good over evil.

In West Bengal Navratri, and vijayadashami are respectively celebrated as Durga Puja and Dasara.In South India the festival includes other female deities an dedicates three days of the festival to Lakshmi, the female archetype of wealth and fortune, and another three to Saraswathi, the female archetype of learning, music and knowledge.In northern India it takes the form of the great epic Ramyana where Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu is victorious over the evil king Ravana.

Lord Shiva's dance of destruction (tandav):

The Eastern Belief :

Daksha, the king of the Himalayas and the plains, and his wife, Menaka, had a daughter called Uma. Uma, was a devotee of Shiva since she was a child.She worshipped the Lord as her husband. Shiva, satisfied by her devotion and faith agreed to marry her. Daksha did not approve of a tiger-skin clad groom with ash & dirt spread over all of his body. Despite all the opposition from her father,Uma got married to Lord Shiva but was prevented by her father from moving to Kailash, the abode of Shiva.

Daksha, later on, arranged for a 'yagna' where everyone except Shiva was invited. Uma, feeling ashamed of the behavior of her father and shocked by the attitude towards her husband, committed Sati (the woman immolates herself in a burning pyre). Shiva came to know about this and went to Daksha's house. He lifted the body of Uma on his shoulders and started dancing madly. With the supreme power dancing, the World was on the verge of destruction. Narayana, (Lord Vishnu) one of the trinity, came forward as a saviour and used his 'Chakra' to cut the Body of Uma into pieces. Those pieces started falling off from the shoulder of the dancing Shiva into different parts of the World. At fifty-two places these pieces fell, the three in Gujarat being; Ambaji in Banaskantha, Bahucharaji in Chunaval and Kalika on Pavagadh hill in Panchmahals. Shiva was finally pacified when the last piece fell off from his shoulder. Narayana revived Uma for a new life.

 Daksha, who was extremely sorry about his misdeeds, prayed for mercy and was finally forgiven. The places where the pieces had fallen are known as the 'Shakti Piths' or energy pits, few of these places being Kalighat in Calcutta, Kamakshya near Guwahati among others. Ever since peace was restored, Uma, with her four children, Ganesh, Kartick, Saraswati and Laxmi and with her two 'sakhis' - Jaya and Bijaya, comes to visit her parent's home each year during the season of 'Sharat' or autumn when Durga Puja is celebrated.

  • One hypothesis states that in ancient times Kshatriyas debarred themselves from participating any warlike activities during monsoon season. Once monsoons got over they found the time to start afresh with their war activities. So before the start of their war journey these Kshatriyas worshipped different aspects of Devi for 9 days which is today celebrated as the Navratri.

  • According to one legend Lord Rama who wanted to release Sita from the clutches of mighty demon king Ravana prayed Goddess Durga in nine aspects for nine days in order to gather the strength and power to kill Ravana. Those nine nights became to be known as Navrathri and on the tenth day Rama killed Ravana that day is called Vijayadashmi or Dashera.

  • Durga :goddess beyond reach

  • Bhadrakali the auspicious power of time

  • Amba or Jagdamba: mother of the world

  • Annapurna: giver of food and plenty

  • Sarvamangala: auspicious goddess

  • Bhairavi: terrible, fearful, power of death

  • Chandika or Handi: violent, wrathful, furious

  • Lalita: playful

  • Historical Significance of Navaratri
    Accordng to the legend, it is said that Shiva gave permission to Durga to see her mother for nine days in the year and this festival also remembers this visit. Families make an attempt to return home on these days, and leave on the tenth. The festival is dedicated to Durga, the mother goddess who also represents power. Durga annihilated the demon Mahishasura after a relentless battle lasting nine days and nights. During Navaratri, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as "Durga," which literally means the remover of miseries of life. Goddess Durga is also referred to as "Shakti" (energy or power). It is this energy, which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. In other words,it can be inferred that God is motionless, absolutely changeless, and the Divine Mother Durga, does everything. Truly speaking, our worship of Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. It is always there

    Navdurga : Nine Forms of Godess Durga
    There are total nine forms of Goddess Durga which when taken together is called the Nav Durga.

    1. Shailaputri - She is the first form of Maa Durga and the daughter of Himalaya. In previous birth she was the daughter of Daksha. Her name was Sati - Bhavani. i.e. the wife of Lord Shiva.
    2. Brahmacharini - The second form of Goddess Durga is Brahamcharini. Here "Brahma" means "Tapa". The idol of this Goddess is very gorgeous. There is rosary in her right hand and Kamandal in left hand. She is full with merriment.
    3. Chandraghanta - She is the third Shakti of Maa Durga. There is a half-circular moon in her forehead. She is charmful and bright. She is Golden color. She has three eyes and ten hands holding with ten types of swords - etc. weapons and arrows etc. She is seated on Lion and ready for going in war to fight the evil demons.
    4. Kushmanda - The fourth Durga is Kushmanda. The Shakti creates egg, ie. Universe by mere laughing .She resides in solar systems. She shines brightly in all the ten directions like Sun. She has eight hands. Seven types of weapons are shining in her seven hands. Rosary is in her right hand.
    5. Skandhamata - The fifth form of Durga is Skanda Mata. The daughter of Himalaya, after observing penance got married with Shiva. She had a son named "Skanda." Skanda is a leader of the army of Gods. Skanda Mata is a deity of fire. Skanda is seated in her lap. She has three eyes and four hands. She is white and seated on a lotus.
    6. Kaatyayani - Katyayani is the sixth form of Maa Durga. The son of "Kat" as "Katya". Rishi Katyayan born in this "Katya" lineage. Katyayan had observed penance with a desire to get paramba as his daughter. As a result she took birth as a daughter of Katyayan. Therefore her name is "Katyayani" . She has three eyes and eight hands. These are eight types of weapons missiles in her seven hands. Her vehicle is Lion.
    7. Kalaratri - This seventh Durga is black like night. Durga hairs are unlocked. She has put on necklaces shining like lightening. She has three eyes which are round like universe. Thousands of flames of fire come out while respiring from nose. She rides on Shava (dead body). There is sharp sword in her right hand. Her lower hand is in blessing mood. The burning torch (mashal) is in her left hand and her lower left hand is in fearless style, by which she makes her devotees fearless.
    8. Mahagauri - The Eighth Durga is "Maha Gauri." She is as white as a conch, moon and Jasmine. She is of eight years old. Her clothes and ornaments are white and clean. She has three eyes. She rides on bull She has four hands. The above left hand is in "Fearless - Mudra" and lower left hand holds "Trishul." The above right hand has tambourine and lower right hand is in blessing style. She is calm and peaceful and exists in peaceful style. It is said that when the body of Gauri became dirty due to dust and earth while observing penance, Shiva makes it clean with the waters of Gangas. Then her body became bright like lightening.
    9. Siddhiratri - The ninth and the final Durga is Siddhidatri. There are eight Siddhis , they are- Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva & Vashitva. Maha Shakti gives all these Siddhies. This form of Durga is worshiped by all Gods, Rishis-Munis, Siddhas, Yogis, Sadhakas and devotees for attaining the best religious asset

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