“Shakti” or power of Goddess Durga is known as Dasha Mahavidya. From the time span of nine day starting from the new moon of the Hindu month of Ashwin, starts the most auspicious time where people perform any activity or event and it is known to be successful because of the blessings of the divine Mother. In these nine days the nine different swaroop or form of the Goddess Durga is worshiped fervently.
1 ) Durga Shailputri:- Shailputri means the daughter of the mountain, Himalaya. In this form we see the divine Mother holding a trident in her right hand and a lotus on her left. She is seen seated on an ox.
In her previous birth, she was called Sati, Bhavani and was the daughter of King Daksha. After a lot of penance, she married Lord Shiva. But her father King Daksha was not too pleased. He had arranged for a Yagya/Yagna (Ritual done around the sacrificial fire) where he invited everyone except his son-in-law, Lord Shiva. Upset and feeling humiliated, Sati decided to attend the event uninvited. There, her father insulted Lord Shiva and in fury she stood on the sacrificial fire and burnt herself alive.
Lord Shiva enraged, ordered his followers to demolish the Yagya. Sati was reborn as the daughter of the king of the mountains, Himalaya in the name of Parvati – Hemvati and got married with Lord Shiva again. Her this Swaroop is worshiped on the first day of the Navratri celebrations.
2 ) Durga Brahmacharini:- Brahmacharini or Tapasyacharini is Goddess’s second form. The name holds the meaning of true penance and meditation. Her form depicts her holding a rosary beads in her right hand and a Kamandalu, a pot containing holy water in her left.
In her previous life, when she was reborn as the daughter of Himalaya, she performed severe penance to have Lord Shiva as her husband. Narad Muni, the divine sage advised her to take up meditation to win Him. Her intense devotion, steadfastness and strict meditation for years under extreme conditions, gave her the name of Brahmacharini. In this form Maa Shakti performing penance and meditation for Lord Shiva to Him as her husband. By this steadfastness and strict meditation for thousands of years enable her to become the part of Shiva.
3 ) Durga Chandraghanta:- Goddess Durga’s third form is known as Chandraghanta or Shakti. Chandra means moon and Ghanta is the bell. This name finds its explanation in the half-circular moon on the temple of the Goddess that resembles a bell. She is three eyed with ten hands. Each hand holds ten different weapons. She is seated on lion and is worshipped on the third day of the Navratri celebration. Her hue is golden and her appearance always spreads a calm and eternal peace all round. She is unprecedented image of bravery. The frightful sound of her bell terrifies all the evil and demon.
Worship of this deity helps to eliminate the sorrow, hazards and dangers in ones life. The story of King Vikrmaditya & his wife Taramati is well known to all. They both are true worshiper of Maa Durga, but the misfortune played a very dramatic role in their life. But whirshipping Maa Durga as Maa Chandraghanta helped them to eliminate the sorrow, hazards and dangers in their life & they lived as peaceful life at the end.
4 ) Durga Kushmanda:- Kush means happiness and she created the universe with a smile. She is radiant as the Sun and rides a lion. She is Ashtabhuja or eight handed. Her seven hands hold the holy pot, Kamandul, a bow, an arrow, a lotus, a pot containing wine, a disc and a club. The eighth hand holds a string of rosary beads that is believed to provide success and prudence.
The word Kushmanda is made of three other words that are “Ku + Ushma + Amnda= Kushmanda”. Here “Ku” is “Little”, “Ushma” is “Warmth or Energy” & “Anda” is “Egg” , means the one who create the universe as “Little Cosmic Egg” with the energy of Her divine smile is called “Kushmanda”. Goddess Durga is very happy in this incarnation and it is believed that when there is no existence of any creation or universe & there was the eternal darkness, which ended when Maa Kushmanda smiled. So that Maa Kushmanda is known as the creator the whole universe. Maa Kushmanda is also named as “Adi Shakti”. The core of Suraymandala (Sun) is the residence of Devi Maa. She is the only one who has the power & strength to live in the core of Suryaloka (Sun). Her body shines like the glowing Sun. All directions get light from Her Divine smile including the Sun God itself.
5 ) Durga Skanda Mata:- Lord Kartik/Kartikeyan/Karthikeyan is also known as Skanda. As Goddess Durga is his mother, she is referred to as Skanda Mata. She is a deity of fire with four arms. She holds her son Skanda with the top right hand and lotus in her lower hand. The top left hand is positioned in a blessing gesture or Abhaya Mudra. She is fair complexioned, seated on a lotus and so also referred to as Padmasana.
Thus being the mother of Skanda she is Skandamata. Worshipping Skandamata has on the fifth day of Navaratra has very iportacefor Yogis & Sadhaks . This day devotee’s mind reaches Visuddha Cakra and stays therein. In her image the Lord Skanda in his infant form is always found. She holds him in her lap.
Using a lion as a vehicle, Mother Goddess has four arms & three eyes. She holds Lord Skanda in her right upper arm and a lotus flower in her right lower hand, which is slightly raised upward. The left upper arm is in a pose to grant boon and in left lower hand, which is raised, she again holds lotus. She is Golden color. She is seated on lotus flower so she is called Padmasana.
6 ) Durga Katyayani:- Sage Katyaayan was the son of the great sage Kat. He observed rigorous penance and worship of Bhagavati Paramba with a desire to get Paramba as his daughter. His wish was granted. The daughter born was named Katyayani. She has four hands. The top right hand is positioned in a gesture of providing courage while the other hand is positioned in a gesture of rendering a boon. The top left hand holds a sword and the other a lotus. The goddess rides a lion and worshiped on the sixth day of the Durga puja.
She has three eyes and four arms. One left hand holds a weapon and the other a lotus. The other two hands respectively display defending and granting gestures. Her skin appears golden in color. Her mount is a lion.
To get God Krishna as a husband gopis worship Maa Katyayani in Vraj. So she is established as the Queen of Vraj. There is a very famous temple in Delhi (Chhattarpur) of Maa. This shrine is dedicated to Goddess Katyayani, whose “darshan” can be availed only on “Ashtami” falling in every month. Otherwise, the “darshan” of Goddess Katyayani can be made throughout the days of ‘Navratri’. The golden image of Katyayani attracts the attention of devotees with its huge size and sheer divinity.
7 ) Durga Kalratri:- Ratri means night so her complexion is as dark as the night. She has long, unmated hair with her three eyes that are shiny and bright. She has four arms and is seen mounted on a Shav/Shava or dead body. Her right hand holds a sword, while her lower hand is in a blessing stance. The left hand holds a burning torch and the lower left hand is in fearless position. She is known as Shubhamkari or the auspicious one. Her form encourages her devotees to be fearless.
Appearance of Maa Kalratri is very dangerous. But she always gives good fruits. So devoters should not get afraid of her. Her worship on 7th day of Navratri has very much importavnce to yogies & sadhak. Yogis & sadhaks penance on Shahtra Chakra on this day. For the worshipers on this day door opens of every siddhi in universe. Just by remembering Maa ghost ran away. If any negative effect is arising due to a planets than by worshiping on this day bad effects vanishes. Any type of fear goes away. Subhankari Mata always give ‘Subh’ good fruits. True faith restraint & concentration is necessary for worship.
8 ) Durga Mahagauri:- It is said that when the body of Goddess Gauri got dirty due to dust and earth while she was observing penance to attain Lord Shiva. So he cleansed her with the holy waters of Ganges. Her body transformed into bright and luminous like lightening and so her eighth form is known as “Maha Gauri” .Her clothes and ornaments are also white. Her visage is calm and peaceful and she is three eyed. She rides on a bull. Her four hands denote different meanings, like the left hand is in the fearless gesture and the lower on holds a trident. The above right hand has tambourine and lower right hand is in blessing style.
The Goddess is in the form of eight-year old child with complexion as fair as a conch, moon and jasmine. Her clothes and ornaments are white and pure. She has three eyes and four arms. Her right upper hand is in the pose of allaying fear and right lower hand holds a trident in it. The left upper hand holds a tambourine and the lower one is in the pose of blessing. All sins of devotees are washed away due to her worship. Her power is unfailing and instantly fruitful.
The eighth day of Navratri Pooja has much importance. Durga Ashtami Puja is held in many parts of India. If human worship after fast he/she gets fruits immediately. In front of Portrait of Goddess Mother as in front of Parvati Mata in Lord Shiva temple one can worship Maa MahaGauri. She appeared in the form of Maa Ambaji, Maa Kalika, Maa Bahucharaji etc.
9 ) Durga Siddhidatri:- The ninth form is Siddhidatri. There are eight Siddhis (Special powers which can only be attained from severe penance and meditation)-Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva & Vashitva. Maha Shakti gives all these Siddhies. It is mentioned in the Devi Puran” that Lord Shiva got all these Siddhis by worshipping Maha Shakti.
With her gratitude, Lord Shiva’s body also contains the Goddess and so he has the form and name of Ardha Narishvar. Ardha means half. The goddess rides on a lion. The Siddhidatri form is worshipped by all gods, rishis, munis (Saints and Sages), siddhas, yogis, sadhakas (Devotees) for attaining merit and boons of their severe penances. Dedicated to Goddess Siddhidatri form of Maa Durga the day is also observed as Mahanavami in many parts of the country. This form of Goddess Durga showers knowledge which makes each soul pure. People can wear Red, White color on this day. On the ninth day Pujan, Archan, Havan, etc of Mataji are performed. Ma Siddhidaatri can be pleased by chanting the above stated Mantra as many time. The Conch shell, Chakra, Mace and lotus in the four hands of Maa Siddhidaatri signifies that she is always anxious to help us.