Goddess Chandi

In Hinduism the goddess represents universal energy, Shakti, the power of creation from say the big bang, to its development into intricate creation, Galaxies, suns planets black holes and glorious creations of planetary systems, foremost the energies that make our planet so full of life. the goddesses all  symbolise the power and energy of the Gods. each has a consort representing his energy and ability. Shakti, the epitome of the Goddess is what makes the world active and meaningful. Energy in Hinduism has a female form. And worship of that form of energy is central to the inclinations in prayer. Energy then becomes Mother, the creator, Mother the sustainer and Mother that dissolves creation as well as protects it. for these reasons Shakti worship during the nine nights of her empowerment are sacred in worship. It is called Navratra or nine nights. and occurs twice an year in April and September. In April it concludes with the birth of Lord Rama the avatar, it is the power of the goddess as shakti that produces this miracle for mankind. In September it concludes with the empowerment of Lord Rama to slay the evil demon Ravana of Lanka who dared to abduct Sita his consort the embodiment of Shakti on the temporal plane, laxmi incarnated as Sita. Both events are the products of Shakti the goddesses energy which brings relief from evil or  the failure of equilibrium in the universe.

In Hinduism for this reason the Goddess as Shakti or divine energy is worshipped  to energise positively ones life and ward off calamities obstacles and misfortune which occur when ones equilibrium is disturbed either by physical forces or the effects of Karma. We all face such circumstances in temporal life and seek protection from their adverse effects. they could arise from simply the weather like storms earthquakes, intense heat or cold threatening life, or then the effects of Karma during this or past lifes, our good and bad deeds. So, during this period of the Shakti;s empowerment we seek protection. the nine nights provide just that. Prayer for protection from calamity, obstacles and misfortune.Hinduism provides a recipe through prayer to the goddess

The Markandeya Purana in which the Saptsati  and Devi Kavach are to be found dates back to the second or third  BC and are the oldest of the Puranas.

In scriptures she is the product of the combined powers of the great Gods, each contributing its strength to produce an entity that has super powers to rid the world of evil and demonic forces that have gravely disturbed the equilibrium of creation. Thus arises the figure of Durga. and from Durga arise her various forms innumerable and varied, an army of goddesses with different attributes and qualities. Chandi, Vaishnavi, Brahmini, Saraswati, Laxmi, Parvati, and so on. each form with special qualities weapons and vehicles on which they ride, each dedicated to protecting some aspect of a persons body, soul and life.

Thus we come to what is called in Navratri prayer the Durga or Chandi Kavach, the armour and shield. the Chandi kavach is recited daily morning and evening during the nine nights to ward off evil and provide protection to the devotee.

The chant begins by describing the nine goddesses, the first Shailputri, daughter of the mountains who married Lord Shiva,, the second is Brahmacharini, the celebate goddess of penance,  the third the goddess of strength  Chandraghanta who glows like the moon, fourth is Khushmanda the goddess of  creativity who dispels negativity, the fifth is Skandamata, mother of shiv;s son Kartikeya who became the commander in chief of the gods,  the sixth is Katyayeni who defeats hostile intensions, the seventh is Kalratri who overcomes enemies,  the eighth is Maha Gauri, the epitome of tranquillity, the last is Siddhidhatri who creates perfection, these are the nine goddesses worshipped.

Nav durga – the nine goddesses of Navratri

 

The prayer calls on the devotee to meditate on these forms of the goddess when in the midst of difficulties and trials.

The goddesses assume numerous forms to ward off evil and obstacles. each is armed with weapons, and seated on vehicles and are particular to the area of protection you ask for. thus Chamunda sitting on corpses, and  Varahi on the demon Mahishasur, Aindri on an elephant, and Vaishnavi on the eagle with Vishnu,  Maheshwari on a bull and Kaumari on a peacock, Laxmi on a lotus, Brahmi on a swan, all these goddesses derived from the primal energy of Durga are resplendent on their mounts fully armed and furious to do battle with evil forces. It is an overwhelming vision of Goddesses fair as the snows and dark as rain clouds having varied natures from the sublime to the terrible, each with a special acumen and ability.  The chanter of the hymn appeals to the array of goddesses  to protect him from evil and misfortune hailing their glory, radiance and yogic powers.

It may seem tedious for the uninitiated to go through this compendium of goddesses at work to provide protection but I feel impelled to provide all their names, the diverse and glorious aspecrs of Shakti, energy or Durga to illustrate the ancient hymn of complete protection recited on the nine nights of her empowerment so that one has a glimpse of what detailed protection it is  created for in the ancient Vedas which become the substance of prayer to relieve the trails and tribu;llations of temporal life. There is great faith and devotion during these nights to seek solace from the source of universal energy symbolised by the goddess which may even have sub atomic relevance. I am aware that naming so many goddesses may be  unnecessary for a reader who is not a practising Hindu but there is no other way one can present the armour hymn so highly regarded here as a panacea for all afflictions and misfortunes. Names resound with vibrations and meaning helping to picture the particular form the Goddess has assumed to carry out a specific task. I trust the power of the Goddess her energy and symbolism so i will be mentioning all the names against specific needs.

 The armour and shield prayer proceeds first to provide protection from the various directions and  next to every part of ones body. Each part has a particular goddess incarnated from the supreme energy Durga in various forms and shapes dedicated to protect that part.

Aindri, daughter of fire protects  from the east, from the south Varahi, from the south west Khadgadharini, holder of the sword, from the west Varuni, , from the northwest Mrigvahini riding a deer, from the north Kaumari, from the northeast Shooldharini, one who wields a spear,  from above Brahmani from below by Vaishnavi, from all directions the great goddess Chamunda slayer of demons Chand and Munda, from the front Jaya (victory) and Vijaya( who cannot be defeated) from behind. To the left is Ajita (invincible) to the south Aparajita (undefeated). Having completed directional protection the hymn goes on to provide protection for all bodily parts.

Hair on the head is protected  by Dyotini (unchanging), the head by Uma (wife of shiva) , the tongue by Maladhari (who wears garlands),the eyebrows by Yashwini (successful), the space between the eye brows by Trinetri (three eyed), the nose by Yamaghanta, and Sugandha (the sweet smelling),  the space between  the eyes Shankini (holder of the conch shell), Dwarvasini (the one who dwells deep within) the ears, the cheeks by Kalika., the ear lobes by Shankri, the lips by Chandrakala (who wears the crescent moon), the teeth by Sarasvati (godess of wisdom and speech), the teeth by Kaumari, the throat by Chandika (who is immeasurable), the voicebox by Chitragandha, the palate by Mahamaya (the enchantress), the chin by Kamakshi, the neck by Bhadrakali, the backbone by Dhanurdhari, the nape of the neck by Nilagriva, the windpipe by Nalakuberi, shoulders by Khangini, arms by Vajradharini, hands by Dandhini (the punisher). fingers by Ambika (mother of the world), the nails by Sooleshwari (bearer of the spear), the belly by Kuleshwari, the breasts by Mahadevi,, mind by by Shoknashini (dispellar of sorrow), the heart by Lalita (easy to please_)), the stomach by Shuldharini (wielder of the trident),naval by Kamini (the lovable), Guheshwari (the secret one) protects the private parts, the reproductive organs by Kamika, the organs of excretion by Mahishavahini, the waist by Bhagwati, the knees by Vindhyvasini, the hips by Mahabala, the ankles by Narasinhi, soles of the feet by Vasini, nails by Damshatrakarili, hair by Urdhvakeshini, hair pores by Kauberi,, skin by Vagheshwari, blood marrow flesh and bones by Parvati, the intestines by Kalaratri, the bile and liver by Mukuteshwari, the Chakras by Padmavati, the phlegm by Chudamani, the lustre of nails by Jvalamukhi, the joints by Abhedia,, the semen by Brahmini, the shadow of the body by Chateshwari (one like an umbrella), the ego mind and intellect by Gharmdharini, the life breath by Vajrahasta, sense organs of taste sight smell hearing by Yogini, the three attributes of Satva, truth Rajas passsion and Tamas inertia by Narayani, life by Varahi, Dharma righteousness by Vaishnavi, success and fame by Laxmi, wealth and knowledge by Chakrini, ones lineage by Indrani, cattle by Chanika, spirituality by Supatha, protection for  being in any place not mentioned here by Jayanti and Apnashini.

The extent and minute detail of protection from all quarters and for bodily parts which the armour is to provide is mind boggling and amazing, each part protected by  a different aspect of the universal energy Durga or Chandi, when the devotee invokes her. The life force itself  spirituality wealth fame success knowledge the Chakras and the attributes of a soul’s nature on the temporal plane, truth passion and inertia are also not left out. One can imagine what a powerful hymn and mantra armour this is, recited daily during the nine nights of the goddesses empowerment. seeking protection in prayer. It doubtless also has an occult significance to harness that power as ones saviour providing protection for the physical, mental, spiritual directional and planetary afflictions if any.

The hymn , in chaste sanskrit with precise meters, millennia old concludes with sage advice-

Do not take a single step in the journey of your life without this armour which fulfils all desires and goals in life. The supreme mother is always by your side making you fearless victorious and long lived for a hundred years, in good health unaffected by poisons (from snakes scorpions and enemies) and accidents and possession by evil spirits and aliens from outer space!

The hymn will also empower the mind and light an inner radiance conferring fame and everlasting progeny and enlightenment in afterlife to be in the divine company of lord Shiva (freed from reincarnation Karma and the trials and tribulations of temporal life

Durga image made of clay in their thousands worshipped on Navratri and consigned to the ocean after nine nights with devotion celebrations hoping she will return again.

 

Mahagauri worshipped on the most auspicious eighth night of Navratra and my favourite goddess aspect

The prayer claims to be the only one of its kind superior to all others which even the gods would like to provide them protection and is sung and chanted daily by devotees throughout India.

For those who wish to hear the original in Sanskrit a video courtesy u tube