Vasant Navaratri – Raji P. Shrivastava

Devi Saptashrungi Nivasini of Vani-Nanduri, Maharashtra

Devi Saptashrungi Nivasini of Vani-Nanduri, Maharashtra. This is the Goddess who gave the Devi Mahatmya to Markandeya Rishi at Saptashrungi Hill. She is also known as Brahmasvarupini and Tripurasundari. Many lakhs of devotees will climb the four kms up the hill this Vasant Navarati to visit the Maha Devi and camp below the temple for the nine days of the festival. – IS

Raji P. ShrivastavaAn interesting legend has it that the main Durga festival used to be the Chaitra or Vasant (spring-time) Navratri that is being observed from April [8] to April [16] this year. But when Lord Rama worshipped Durga during the Ashwin Navratri and sought her blessings prior to the war with Ravana, he lent celebrity value, as it were, to the Sharad/Ashwin Navratri which is celebrated around October each year, relegating the spring-time Navratri to second place in popular estimation.

However, seekers regard the latter as being of equal if not more spiritual significance. It is yet another celebration of the magnificence of Devi Durga, the added importance being that it culminates in Ram Navami.

This is a time to meditate and contemplate on the greatness of creation and the omnipotence of the Creator. In the Rig Veda, Devi declares that she is both the source and the force behind all the powers that exist in creation. She is the Absolute and is beyond the universe itself. All other deities are but offshoots of her supreme power (Devi Suktam, a hymn in the Rig Veda, 10:125).

“Aham janaaya samadam krunomyaham dyaava prithivee aavivesha,” proclaims the Mother Goddess. “It is I who protect those who seek refuge in me. I vanquish their enemies. I exist in the sky and in the earth as the all-knowing absolute” (Stanza 6, Devi Suktam).

Markandeya Hill In the famous epic Durga Saptashati, Devi is described as Indriyaanaam Adhishthaatri, or one who presides over the sense organs and, in fact, lives within all living beings as “Vyaapti Devi”, or the All-Pervasive Goddess.

Rishi Markandeya declares that the prestige and glory of the Mother Goddess is unparalleled in all the three worlds. Offering salutations to her, he addresses her by 11 auspicious names: Jayanti, Mangala, Kali, Bhadrakali, Kapalini, Durga, Kshama, Shivaa, Dhatri, Svaha and Svadha.

To the victorious slayer of demons like Mahishasura, Shumbha and Nishumbha, the assemblage of rishis prays with folded hands:

“Karotu saa na shubhahetuh ishwari shubhaani bhadraanyabhihantu chaapadah.”

“May the auspicious Goddess forever ensure our well-being and destroy our troubles” ( Durga Saptashati, 5:81).

Saptashrungi Devi TempleAn invocation in the Atharva Veda beseeches the Mother Goddess who grants boons generously and protects fiercely: Each Navratri night has a presiding deity — Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidaatri. Through prayer, fasting, congregational and personal worship, devotees turn to Devi like a child clings to its mother. Vasant Navratri is yet another opportunity for devotees to connect with the Mother and lead an accomplished life. – The Asian Age, 10 April 2013

» Raji P. Shrivastava is an IAS officer and spiritual columnist. She says her source of inspiration and reassurance are Hinduism’s ancient epics and hymns, the verses and lyrics of which are great teachers. 

Saptashrungi Hill, Nasik District, Maharashtra