Devi – The various names and forms of Divine Mother

By Bhanumathi Narasimhan

We are all floating in the effulgence of one scintillating unseen cosmic energy called the ‘Devi’. The Devi or the Divine Mother is the womb of all creation. She is the seed of all dynamism, radiance, beauty, equanimity, peace and nourishment. She is the life force energy.

A mother has total love for her child. The Divine Mother has unconditional and unquantifiable love for Her children which includes every being in this entire creation.

Remembering names and forms of Devi

During the nine nights of Navratri, the Devi is worshiped in all Her names and forms. Names have a significance. We remember a sandalwood tree by the memory of its perfume. Each name and form of the Devi refers to a specific quality or attribute of the Divine. By remembering the form or by chanting the many names of Devi, we enliven those qualities in our consciousness and they manifest in us according to the need of the hour.

Navratri is a journey from the outer world of names and forms to the subtle world of energies, invoked through the various yagnas, to the innermost core of our being - the Self.

Warding off negativities and mental blocks

The first three days celebrate the Devi in the form of Durga. Durga also means hill. A very difficult task is often described as an uphill task. In the presence of Durga, negative forces fade away. Difficulties find it difficult to exist in Her presence! The goddess is depicted as riding a lion or tiger as her mount, alluding to the aspect of courage and valor which are the essence of Devi Durga.

TheNava Durga are the nine aspects of Durga energy which act like a shield to ward off all negativities. When you have obstacles and mental blocks, just remembering these qualities of the Devi, can cure the mental blocks. Especially in the case of people suffering from anxiety, doubting oneself, doubting one’s ability, ‘lack’ consciousness, feeling threatened by enmity and negativity - simply by chanting the names of the Devis, it is like mantras that elevate your consciousness and you can become more centered, courageous and composed. This is the significance of the aspect of the Divine as Devi Durga.

The Devi Durga, in Her form as Mahishasuramardhini, is the destroyer of Mahisha. The word Mahishameans buffalo which is a symbol of laziness, lethargy, and inertia. These are the qualities which impede the spiritual and material progress of an individual. The Devi is a storehouse of positive energy and any trace of laziness or inertia dissolves in Her very presence.

The second set of three days honor the Devi as Lakshmi. Lakshmi is goddess of wealth and prosperity. Wealth is a vital ingredient bestowed upon us for the maintenance and progress in our life. It is much more than just having money. It means abundance in knowledge, skills and talents. Lakshmi is the energy that manifests as the complete spiritual and material well-being of a person.

The final three days are dedicated to Saraswati. Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge- the one who gives the essence (sara) of the Self (swa). She is often depicted as being seated on a rock. Knowledge, like a rock, is a steadfast support. It stays with us at all times. She plays the veena, a musical instrument whose mellifluous notes bring harmony and peace to the mind. Similarly, spiritual knowledge brings relaxation and celebration into ones’ life.

Goddess Saraswati is the ocean of understanding and the consciousness which vibrates with different types of learning. She is the source of spiritual light, remover of all ignorance and the source of knowledge.

Attaining the Ultimate Offering to Divine Mother

While worshiping the Devi in her various names and forms, we offer flowers in a multitude of hues and fragrances like jasmine, hibiscus, lotus, lilies, rose, and so on. From the outer beauty, as we turn our focus inward and are soaked in the divine attributes, our consciousness flowers. We offer our blossomed consciousness too. Worshiping Her through the blossomed consciousness is the ultimate offering.

The Divine Mother is the unfathomable, infinite, supreme, pure consciousness. A child does not try to know the mother. The child simply has faith in her. In the same way, having faith in the Divine Mother is the source of the greatest strength. It is a great wealth and a blessing.

Navratri is a time for us to soak in this blessing, relax in the depth of our being and feel grateful for the abundance and beauty in our lives.

The writer is the sister of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, meditation teacher, and Director of Women and Child Welfare programs of The Art of Living.