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Shakti worship in India

In the creation of the world, there are two aspects – Purusha and Prakruti. Purusha is male and Prakruti is female. Both are dependent on each other. Without them the world cannot exist. It is said that behind every achievement, there is a woman. Female is worshipped as mother Goddess. In the month of Dussehera, Maa Durga is worshipped almost everywhere in India.

The first fortnight of Dussehra is PitruPaksha (fortnight for the ancestors) and the second fortnight is called Devi Paksha (fortnight of Goddess Durga). In the Devi Paksha, Durga Puja is celebrated with much devotion and enthusiasm.

On many occasions, MaaDurga was worshipped by different persons, kings even Gods and Goddess. In the Ramayana before fighting with Ravana, Ramachandra worshipped Maa Durga to get blessing of victory.

In the Mahabharata, Pandava prince Yudhistara worshipped Durga before ‘Ajnatavaasa’ (Incognito). And before Mahabharata war, Arjuna on the advice of Lord Krishna, worshipped Durga, seeking Victory.

Durga Puja indicates victory of good over evil. In the satyayuga, Demon Mahisasur was killed by MaaDurga. In order to commemorate this, Durga Puja is celebrated every year.

Mother Goddess is worshipped since the time of Indus Valley civilization. Aryans also worshipped the female power – Shakti. So,shaktiupasana is mentioned in the Devi Sukta, and ShriSukta of Rig Veda.

            Who are you O great Goddess

            I am the manifestation of Brahman

            From me the world arises

            As nature and the self.

                                                            (Devi Upanishad)

            You are called Durga by all

            Because you save men from difficulty

            You are the soul refuge of men.          

                                                            (Mahabharata – VirataParvan)

There are seven aspects of Durga (saptamatrikas) or seven divine mothers namely – Brahmi, MaheshwariKaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Mahendri and Chamunda. Also Durga is known as several other names – Kali (black), Mahakali (mighty Kali), Karali (causing fear), Kapali (who wears human skulls), Chandi (stubborn), Bhavani (who inspires valour) and MahisasuraMardini (killer of Mahisasur – the demon). Mahisamardini form is the combination of three powers – Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswar.

The MarkandeyaPurana speaks enough of Shakti upasana – as three forms Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and MahaSaraswati symbolizing the three gunas – Satva, Rajas and Tamas. These forms manifest in Nava-Durga worshipped over nine days during Nava-ratra in Chaitra and Dussehera month. Nava Durgas are:

  1. Shailaputri (Daughter of mountain)
  2. Brahmacharini (Celibate)
  3. Chandraghanta (who wears crescent on her forehead)
  4. Kushmanda (who creates the cosmic egg)
  5. Skandamata (mother of Skanda – Kartikeya)
  6. Katyayani (Daughter of Katyayana)
  7. Kalaratri (pitch dark colour as the night)
  8. Maha – gauri (the great gauri)
  9. Siddhi Datri (bestower of boons)

During Navaratri, each of these forms is worshipped one after another by devotees at home or in temples, observing facts. Kumari Puja is an essential part of this worship.

There are fifty one shaktipeethas in India. In the satyayuga, sati, the first consort of Shiva, immolated herself in the Daksha – yajna, out of humiliation. Shiva carried Sati’s body and roamed around the universe. Vishnu had cut her body into 51 parts by sudarshana chakra. The parts fell on earth and became sacred spots. And in those places Shakti is worshipped with much devotion.

In Dwaparayuga also, Lord Vishnu, said to Bijulikanya, who slipped from the hands of Kansa, that she will be worshipped at different places of the earth.

Saktiupasana is quite popular in India. Shakti is mother and mother is shakti. Mother is adi-shakti and parashakti. Energy is obtained from mother worship. Devi Mahatmya says:

By you this universe is borne

By you this world is created

Oh Devi

By you it is protected.

Again Shakti sangamatantra says:

      Woman is the creator of the universe,

      the universe is her form

Woman is the foundation of the world

      She is the true form of the body,

            In woman is the form of all things

            of all that lives and moves

            in the world. There is no jewel rarer

            than woman, no condition superior to

            that of a woman.

So matrushakti is all powerful – said Lord Krishna to reluctant Arjuna, who worshipped Durga in spite of presence of Vishnu (Krishna) by his side. Shakti is one of five equal forms – Ganesha, Narayana, Rudra, Ambica, sun.

So, we must do the worship of mother – Goddess not only during the month of Dussehra and Chaitra but every day. There is no superior power than Mother, who is the embodiment of much energy and power.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)

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Radhakanta Seth is an Income tax officer in Sambalpur.  He is a freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri, and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published from Kolkata.

He can be reached at [email protected]

( (Images from the net)

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