Among the nine Durgas, Devi Shailaputri is considered to be the first manifestation of Goddess Durga. The first day of Navratri, dedicated to Devi Shailaputri, is called Pratipada. A form of Shakti, Devi Shailaputri is the consort of Lord Shiva and has two children, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya.
Form of the Devi
She carries the trishul (trident) in the right hand and the lotus flower in her left hand. Her vaahana (vehicle) is the bull, Nandi.
What Shailaputri represents
As per the Upanishads, Goddess Shailaputri humbled Indra and the other devtas. They bowed and prayed, “In fact, thou are Shakti, we all – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are capable only by getting Shakti from you.” Thus, Shailaputri is considered a manifestation of the power of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
She is also known as the Goddess of the Muladhara (Root) chakra. Upon awakening the root chakra, one begins their journey towards spiritual awakening and discovering their purpose in life.
Legend behind why the Devi took the form of Shailaputri
In the previous birth, Shailaputri was the daughter of Daksha and was called Sati. Once Daksha organized a big yagna and did not invite Lord Shiva. But Sati insisted on attending the yagya. When she went there uninvited, Daksha insulted Lord Shiva. Hearing those words, Sati was tormented and furious. She jumped into the yagya fire.
Sati took another birth as Parvati, the daughter of King Himavan, the King of the Himalayas and Queen Menavati. This time, both her parents were devoted to Lord Shiva. 'Shailaputri' means 'the daughter of the mountain'.
Spiritual significance of Shailaputri
Shaila is extraordinary or that which is rising up to reach the height and putri means daughter.
Gurudev has beautifully explained the significance of Devi Shailaputri:
“We usually think Shailaputri means that the Goddess is the daughter of Mount Kailasa, but this is a very basic or lower level of understanding. On the path of yoga, this means the highest peak or the highest level of consciousness.
This is very interesting - when the energy is at its peak, only then can you notice and recognize it. Only then can you understand and experience the pure consciousness - Devi. Before it reaches its peak you cannot understand it, because it is born out of the peak.
Here the peak is the peak of any experience, or any intense feeling. If you are 100 percent angry, then just see how that anger consumes your whole body. Often we do not express our anger fully. Just see, when you are 100 percent in anger, when you become that anger so fully, you will also come out of it very soon. When you are 100 percent in anything that consumes your whole being that is when Goddess Durga is really born. When you are totally 100 percent consumed in anger, then you will experience such a surge of energy and at the same time you will instantly find yourself coming out of that anger also.
“Praying to Shailaputri brings strength like a stone; it brings commitment. When the mind is wavering, chanting the name of Devi helps the mind to be centred and committed. It gives us strength, courage, and composure.”
Have you seen how children behave? Whatever they do, they do it 100 percent. If they are angry, they are angry 100 percent in that moment and then immediately they drop that anger also after just a few minutes. They do not get tired even if they get angry. But as an adult if you get angry, it tires you. Why is it so? It is because you do not express your anger 100 percent. Now, this does not mean that you go around being angry all the time. Then you will also have to face the trouble that anger brings along.
When you reach the peak of any experience or feeling, you experience the emergence of the Divine consciousness because it always surges from that peak. This is the hidden meaning behind Shailaputri.”
To chant Devi Kavacham click here.
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