Navreh---An Invitation to the Nava Durga

Shehjar e-magazine


Painting by Veerji Sumbli
Navreh---An Invitation to the Nava Durga
*Dr Chaman Lal Raina
Om Shri Ganeshaya Namah

"Shriman Suchar Vadana Shubha Ghatra Yashti
Raktakshi Bhrit PriyaVacho Yuga Dirgha Bahu
Devair Dineshvar Mukhair Ava Lokya Tao Asau
Bhuyaat Chiram Shubha Karau Nava Vatsaro Nah"

This is an invocation Mantra for extending an invitation to the Nava Vatsara/ Navreh.

The translation runs as:

Thou art Shriman' the auspicious one, with all fortune and prosperity Thou art having a Suchara Vadana- most beautiful and lovely face. Thou art the embodiment of the Shubha Ghatra - firm and stout body having a Yashti- commanding staff in the hand. Thine eyes are Raktakshi - Bhrit red with cherishing color. Thou art Priya Vacha---the soft and sweet spoken one and Thine Bahu- arms are Dhirghav- long. Thine Mukha/face is like that of Deva Dineshvara-the Surya Devata/ Sun god. O Nava Vatsara! Thou art effulgent in the Lokya/ triple world. May thou grant us the Chira/ ever lasting Shubha/ auspiciousness, prosperity and life full of luster.

(The Navreh is closely related to the Thaal Barun, Panchang, Shri Chakreshvara Puja and the invocation to the Nava Durga. A select references to the Saptarshi Samvat Panchang and Shri Chakreshvar Puja would be discussed in this write-up. The aim of this write-up is to pay my obeisance to Shri Chandi Nava Durga. This write up is based on the Sapta Shati Hridayam-A Kashmir concept).

A word about Thaal

Ii s a Sanskrit word with its root in Stha. It means to exist, sustenance

It also means a pot. Stha is associated with Prakriti, according to the Sanskrit lexicon. Sthaa means to live, to breathe. It also means to rest, to establish, to compose , to collect. Sthaala means a culinary vessel. Sthaal also must be filled with the Thaal in Kashmiri language is the Apabhramsha of Sthaala. In the ancient Vedic heritage there used to be a religious act termed as the Sthaali Paak ritual.

Note: Sthaali Paak ritual will be discussed in the next write-up

Navreh is the new years day according to the Saptarshi Samvat/ era. We are proud in the world that we are following the ancient Saptarshi era in letter and spirit around the globe, which has been inherited by the Kashmiri Pandit community from ancestors. This year we are entering the 5081st year of the traditional Samvatsar on the Revati Nakshatra/ constellation, corresponding to the 9th of April,2005. The day of celebration is SATURDAY this year. The King of the year is Shukra/ Venus and the Minister is Budha/ Mercury. The Vahana/ coach of the Navreh is the elephant with the name of Vilambha.

The invocation Mantra itself suggests that the Time is Divine in existence, with celestial looks and appearances according to the Kashmiri Pandit spiritual ethos and understanding.

What we have heard and inherited from our ancestors, I would like to pass on the same information to the new generation. It may be helpful to those, who were born just after the 1990 migration of the Kashmiri Hindus , who have not visited the Sharika Parvat/ popularly revered as the Parbat in the heart of Srinagar. This place is also revered as the Pradhumna Pitha

First of all, the devotees would pray for seeking the blessings from Shri Maha Ganesha. Then during Parikrama , the devotees would pay their obeisance to the Saptarishis for giving us the concept of the Jyotish/ Panchang at the specified huge rock of the Parbat hillock quite adjacent to the Kali shrine in the Devi Angan area of the Chakreshvara on the Nava Varsha Amavasya / Navreh Mavas, one day prior to the commencement of the Navreh celebration. Devotees would then proceed towards the Vetchar Nag shrine, for discussing, analyzing and certifying the Panchang/ Nakshatra Patri/ Netch'u Pa't'ur deliberations. The Vetchar Nag Yatra is associated with this deliberation. The Amavasya Night/ Navreh Mavas is associated with the Thaal Barun ritual and is documented in every Kashmiri Pandit Panchang even today. Thanks to the founders of the Koshur Vijayeshvar Panchang for preserving the ancient heritage of Jyotish even today.

I had the last chance to go and pay my obeisance to the Sata -Reshi-Pal and the sacred Chinars near the Sapta Rishi in January 1990, where devotees used to see the PHAAL/answer of their questions in terms of Juft/ even number and Taq/ odd number. That sacred Pal/ rock of the hillock is revered as the seat of the Sat Reshi/ Sapta Rishis. The devotees would apply Syend'ur/ Sindoor over that sacred rock. Pandit Shridhar Joo Wangnoo (Bodh) of the line of the Trika Ashram of Kashmir used to say that it was said that those Chinars were planted by Swami Sahib Kaul -the great Sahakta saint of Kashmir and the celebrated author of the Devi Nama Vilasa. He used to meditate there and get the revelation to decipher the Names of the Bhavani Sahsranama from Maha Vidya to Sarva Mangala. The Devi Nama Vilasa is the only elaborate Sanskrit commentary on the Thousand names of Bhavani in Shlokas. It is an Agama Shastra He was the contemporary of the Moghul king Jehangir.

I had observed that the devotees would recite Shri Indrakshi, Bhavani Sahsranama and Panchastavi during Parikrama. It still echoes in my ears, how the Panchastavi Shloka was being recited, while making the Parikrama of the Chinars. The devotees would recite :

Maya Kundalini Kriya Madhumati, Kali Kala Malini
Matangi Vijaya Jaya Bhagavati Devi Shiva Shambhavi
Shakti Shankaravallabha Trinayana Vagvadini Bhairavi
Hrimkari Tripura Paraparamayi Mata Kumari Iti Asi.

The devotees would pay Three Parikramas around those sacred chinars, and one full Parikrama of the Parbath. The three Prakrams / Parikramas/ circumambulations are for invoking the grace of Maha Kali- Maha Lakshmi- Maha Saraswati, who is none else but the Ashta Dasha Buja Sharika Sham Sundari in the "Form of Chakreshvara". The place is also known as Siddha Pitha/ the abode of Great perfection. Some would commune with the Divine Mother Sharika through Yoga- meditation and some would do Puja Arti near the sanctum-sanctorum. This was how and why the Saptarshi Samvat was adored, recognized and put to practice, till this date.

Chakreshvara Puja is slightly different from the Shri Chakra Puja. Chakreshvara Puja is more of the Matrika Pujan than the Yantra Puja. It is an invocation to the Nava Durga. I am in possession of the Chakreshwara Puja Viddhi. It is considered to be the Rahasya Puja , as the very theme of the Chakreshvara Puja is the Sapta Shati Hridayam. Hridayam in Sanskrit rhetoric means the secret, occult, and the essence. The original text is in the Sharada script, and it was transcribed into the Devanagari script, in the MSS form It is a section of the Agama Shastras.

Below is given the essence of the Hridayam Puja / invocation to the Sapta Shati Durga:

1. The Devi is to be invoked at the early dawn, after witnessing/ having Darshana of the Sacred Navreh Thaal with the Prana Pratishta of the Shaila Putri.

Shaila Putri is the Divine Mother Sharika. It is in the spring form at Baramulla area. The whole world is the very breath of Shri Sharika. It is the physical conscience of the Divine Mother Sharika. She is truly Parvati, the consort of Shiva. Its color is crimson, the earth is her Tattva, and She abides in the Mooladhara Chakra. Her subtle Mantra is Lam. She is invoked on the Pratipada - the first day of the Nava Ratra.

2. Bhrahmacharini is the cosmic vibration to be felt within Sadhana. The whole cosmic phenomenon is to be realized through the grace of Brhmacharini on the second day. She abides in the Svaddhishthhana Chakra. Its nature is related to the waters. Verily, She is Shri Ragnya Bhagavati. She is invoked on the Dvitiya-the second day of the Nava Ratra. Her subtle Mantra is Vam.

3. Chandraghanta is the cosmic sound to understand the Absolute . Bijaksharas are the vibrating forces to feel the vibrations. She abides in the Manipura Chakra. Its nature relates to the forces of stimulating the senses of form and color. .Chandra ghanta is invoked on the Tritiya-the third day of the Nava Ratra. . Her subtle Mantra is Ram.

4. Kushmanda is the universal seed, which is ever conscious. This is the Shudha Vidya aspect of the Shri Chandi. She abides in the Anahat Chakra. Its nature is Shiva and Shakti and its subtle Mantra is Yam. She is invoked on the Chaturthi-the fourth day of the Nava Ratra.

5. Skandamata is the mother of Kumara Kartikeya. She is the power of existence. The Skandamata is the force behind the Skanda, to annihilate the Rakshasa. Her abode is the Ajna Chakra. It is the union of Shiva and Shakti. She is the source of the sacred movements of speech. She is the Sarasvati / Sharada aspect of the Divine Mother. She is invoked on the Panchami-the fifth day of the Nava Ratra.

6. Katyayani is the daughter of the Katyayana Rishi. She is the mother of excellence, the inner beauty, the inspiration and supreme understanding. She is the Mother of the VAK-the supreme word AUM/ Om or Aim of the tantra. She is invoked on the Shashti-the sixth day of the Nava Ratra.

7. Kalaratri abides in the Sahsra ara chakra. She is what the devotee wants to achieve for understanding the truth behind the dark night. She is the Time Eternal. She is infinite in nature and a process to look forward for Usha-the dawn of life. Usha is the associating deity of the KalaRatri. It is a Thousand petalled Chakra. Kalaratri is invoked on the Saptami-the seventh day of the Nava Ratra .

8. Mahagauri is having the effulgence of the golden hue. She is what the Hiranya garbha exists for. She activates the Kundalini Shakti within. She abides in the Moola Trikona/ the Primal triangle of the Shri Chakreshvara the Chakraraja Chakra. She is invoked on the Ashtami-the eighth day of the Nava Ratra. She is the Presiding Deity of the Durgashtami.

9. Siddhidhatri is all perfection. It is the Prakasha and Vimarsha woven together in the higher realms of the Divine Mother. Sidhidhatri is measureless. She structures the whole universe through her grace of being in the Brahmarandra and passing through Nadi Yantra/ nerve channels of Yoga. She is un born . She is Purna Prakriti. She is Svaha and Svadha. She is Vashatkara and above all the realms. She is the Mother of the Universal flux.

A Homa is being conducted to offer the Ahuti of unbroken rice, sesame, ghee, barley with the recitation of the Seven Hundred Shlokas, after doing the Kanya Puja , on the Ashtami Tithi/ day. On the Navami 1/10th of the Tarpana is to be offered and 1/10 th of the Japam is to be offered to the Divine Mother Shri Chandi.

The principal Deity of the Nava Ratra is Shri Chandi. Being an aggregate of the Nine forms of energies, She kills the nine Rakshas, 1 Madhu. 2 Kaitabha, 3 Mahishasura 4 Dhumra Lochana, 5 Chanda, 6 Munda,7 Raktabija, 8 Shumbha ,9 Nishumbha, which is read as :

Ya Maya Madhu Kaitabha Pramathni, Ya ------Mahishonmoolini
Ya Dhumre Kshana Chanda Munda Mathini Ya Rakta Bijashini.
Shakti Shumbha Nishumba Daitya Dalini, Ya Siddha Lakshmi Para
Sa Durga Nava Koti Murti Sahita Mam Patu Maheshvari.

May the Divine Mother Durga take me in her refuge, who is adored with the Nine Crore/ Ninety million/ 90,000,000 deities, is the essence of this Shloka!

*Dr. Chaman Lal Raina is an Author & Researcher in Indic Studies, Fellow CSS, Florida International University. He did Masters in Hindi & English. Ph.D. in Hindi & Iqbaliat at the University of Kashmir. Worked on the research project at the Iqbal Institute for writing monographs on Indology as Research Associate. Worked as lecturer to teach research methodology in Iqbal Institute, University of Kashmir. Dr. Raina's first love is for the Vedas and the Shakti Tradition of India. To his credit goes some ten books on Indology. He was awarded Nagmani Fellowship, Buddhist Fellowship etc. from various Institutions. Presently Dr. Raina is associated with the Yoga Studies, religion and sanskrit at Florida International University, USA.
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Comments
Very nice. I had never seen such a wonderful article before.Please translate this article in Hindi also. Vibhasa
Added By vibhasa raina
Namaskar.At the outset I wish all of you a very happy "NOVREH".Shehjar is most outstanding e-magazine and our community explores a lot of information through its contents.We are grateful for your efforts.
Added By Mohan Dewani
We used to place certain early spring fragrant flowers on Thal on Navreh occasion besides other items like walnuts,Nachpatri,rice,pen ,mirror etc.etc.Can you please for the information of readers tell what is the name (English/Botanical ) of VAY LUDDER,BREID MUSHIK,YAMBERZAL.These were found in abundance in Kashmir and when winds blew in early spring the surroundings would be full of fragrance of these lovely flowers
Added By Mohan Dewani
Dear Profsoor Ashwani ji, Each and every one, who has Shraddha/ dedication and Vishwas/faith in the Sidha PetHas of Kashmir,viz.Shri Sharika, Shri Raginya,Shri Bhadra Kali, Shri Jwala, Shri Mahalaki, Shri Sidha Laksmi ,Shri Tipura Sundari, Shri Bala and other manifestation of the Absulte,descendeing in manifestation n of the Purna Prakriti are the Shakti Putras of Mata Vitasta.
Added By Chaman Lal Raina
Professor Ashwani Wanganeo-- ecologist is requested to put on the botanical names of Wye,Bred Mushk,Guli Toor etc,as these flowers are put on the Thali on the Navreh Mawas evening.Since I donot know the botanical names of these flowers,I hope Dr Wanganeo will please put these in the comments column, as asked by many readers.
Added By Chaman Lal Raina
What a fantastic article it is!I like these kinds of articles very much because these are related to our heritage.When i read it and found it so wonderful i asked my friends and relatives to read it too.They also found it nice.Keep doing this work.
Added By Vitasta Raina
The sholakas flow down from the Shakti Putra (Chaman Lalji) which one just needs to pick up as divine blessings.
Added By Ashwani Wanganeo
Navreh Mubaarakh! I bow to my Vedanta and Shastrarth Guru Dr. Chaman Lal Raina (Bhaijan) for holding my hand and leading me on the path of scriptural learning. I am humbled by his untiring urge to pass on all his knowledge and wisdom by punching the keyboard and email day in and day out to all of us Seekers.I look forward to many more articles from Dr.Chaman ji and pray for his long and healthy life.
Added By Mohan k Mongha
Wonderful and nice article about Durga Puja.
Added By Saju Banik
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