According to legend, the Devi or the Divine Mother waged ravaging wars against horrifying demons who wrecked the peace of the universe now and then. At those times, when the devas prayed for an intervention from a higher power, the Goddess Durga appeared and fought for the welfare of the universe.

As She fought, She created tales of adventure and awe that continue to thrill Her devotees and invoke deep faith in them.

These tales went on to be called the Durga Saptshati in the North which is also known as the Devi Mahatmya in South India and Chandi in West Bengal. Compiled and penned by Ved Vyasa (the author of the Mahabharata) the Durga Saptashati is found in the Markandeya Purana. Consisting of 13 chapters, the book recounts the Devi’s tales of valor through 700 stanzas.

The Devi defeats and kills through different avatars. She kills some demons through the tamasic avatar of Goddess Vishnu Maya, some through the rajasic avatar of Goddess Lakshmi and some through the sattvik avatar of Goddess Saraswati.

Procedure of reciting Durga Saptashati

Durga Saptashati is traditionally recited in two ways

1. Trayangam

Trayangam is a procedure where one recites Devi Kavacham, Argala Stotram and Devi Keelakam, along with Navakshari mantram. Thereon the 13 chapters of Durga Saptashati are recited.

2. Navangam

Navangam is a procedure where nine prayers are recited, prior to the reciting of the main text.

  • Devi Nyasa
  • Devi Avahana
  • Devi Namami
  • Argali Stotram
  • Keelaka Stotram
  • Devi Hrudaya
  • Dhala
  • Devi Dhyana
  • Devi Kavacha

After reciting the above prayers, the chapters of Durga Saptashati are read.

Durga Saptasati is also recited during Navratri with the chapters divided among the nine days.

First day – Chapter -1 – Madhu Kaithabh Samhar
Second day – Chapter 2, 3, 4 – Mahishasura Samhar
Third day – Chapter 5 and 6 – Dhumralochan Vadh
Fourth day – Chapter 7 – Chand Mund Vadh
Fifth day – Chapter 8 – Raktabij Samhar
Sixth day – Chapter 9 and 10 – Shumbh Nishumbh Vadh
Seventh day – Chapter 11 –Narayani Stuti
Eighth day – Chapter 12 – Phala Shruti – benefits of recital
Ninth day – Chapter 13 – Devi blessing Raja Suratha and Vaishya (merchant)

Devi Aparadha kshama stotram is recited on the 10th day (Vijayadashami – Dusshera)

These chapters of Durga Saptashati, the story of Devi’s glory are also recited during Chandi Homa, performed on the 8th  day (ashtami) of Navratri.

Benefits of reading Durga Saptashati

The 12th chapter of Durga Saptashati is Pahala Shruti, which speaks about the benefits of reciting this sacred text, as revealed by Devi Herself to the gods.

  1. Manifestation of Devi’s presence at the place of recitation
  2. Removal of all troubles
  3. Prevention of calamities
  4. Removal of Poverty
  5. Protection from enemies, fire and flood
  6. Protection from planetary influences
  7. Protection from evil spirits
  8. Bestowal of wealth, grains and children

The tales of Devi symbolise the power of good over evil. Maybe to remind oneself of this eternal truth, people recite the Durga Saptashati at their homes during the nine days of Navratri. Listening to the glories of the Goddess, the devotee revels in the realization of Her omnipotence.