Nava Ratra-An Invitation to the Nava Durga


Nava Ratra--- Navreh
नव रात्र - नवरेह
An Invitation to the Nava Durga

*Dr Chaman Lal Raina
“Shriman Suchar Vadana Shubha Ghatra Yashti
Raktakshi Bhrit Priya Vacho 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 Navreh. This Mantra is an inspiration to see the Samvatsara Devi with all auspiciousness,beauty and radiance. Nava Ratri Devi is the presiding deity of the Navareh. She is adored as Shri Sharika Devi.

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 word and Thine Bahu- arms are Dhirgha – 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 Navaratra is closely related to the New Panchang, for being in touch with the auspicious days, Tithis/Muhurts etc. Shri Chakreshvara Puja and the invocation to the Nava Durga, is the religious aspect of the Navareh.)

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 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.

Jau/ barley is sown in an earthen Paatra/pot, at a sthala/ sacred place in the home, in the Puja room, or any designated place, in the courtyard. Sthala means a place, and sthaali 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. In the ancient Vedic heritage there used to be a religious invocation termed as the Sthaali Paak ritual

It is a Sanskrit word. It means to exist, and sustenance. it is to longe for happy and prosperous life.
Devotees generally recite the following Shloka for invoking the grace of Shri Sharika

Maya Kundalini Kriya Madhumati---,
Kali Kala Malini

Matangi Vijaya Jaya Bhagavati ---
Devi Shiva Shambhavi

akti ShankSharavallabha Trinayana----
Vagvadini Bhairavi

Hrimkari Tripura Paraparamayi---
Mata Kumari Iti Asi.

The devotees would pay three Parikramas around the invocation Sthala/ mandapa. The three Parikramas/ circumambulations are for invoking the grace of Maha Kali- Maha Lakshmi- Maha Saraswati, who is none else but the Ashta Dasha Buja Durga Bhava -Tarini in the form of Chakreshvara of Shri Sharika Devi’. The place is also known as Siddha Pitha/ the abode of Great perfection. Some would commune with the Divine Mother Durga 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,in Kashmir.

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. The Chakreshwara Puja Viddhi is considered to be the Rahasya Puja.The very theme of the Chakreshvara Puja is the Sapta Shati Hridayam. Hridayam in Sanskrit rhetoric means the secret, occult, and the essence.

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

"How is Para Sakti related to the phenomenal world and especially to the man with Sankocha-limitation?. The Bhavani Sahsranaama --stotram has been able to solve this philosophic problem on the empirical state of perception. The transcendental approach is the basis of Chit-Sakti--consciousness and Bhavana-meditative aspect on Shri Durga,being the Mahishasura Mardini

Devi, who is to be invoked at the early dawn, after witnessing/ having Darshana of the Sacred Thali, filled with rice, and bread,candy, golden ornaments,penand inkpot, Ishta Devi--Kruul Pachh. coins, a mirror ,yougurt is also put on that Thali..., then moving to the Navaratra Mandapa performing the Prana Pratishtha of the Shaila Putri.

About the Nine Devis

1 Shaila Putri.
The whole world is the very breath of Shri Durga. It is the physical conscience of the Divine Mother Durga. She is truly Parvati, the consort of Shiva.

Its color is crimson, the earth is her Tattva/element, 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.In Kashmiri language, we call it is Navreh .

2 Bhrahmacharini is the cosmic vibration to be felt within Sadhana. The whole cosmic phenomenon is to be realized through the grace of Bahmacharini on the second day. She abides in the Svaddhishthhana Chakra. Its nature is related to the waters. Verily, She is Shri Ragnya Bhaga ' 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 of its existence. 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 theKumar Kartikeya,adored as 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 Tantras. 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 coordinating 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,as being 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 unborn . She is Purna Prakriti. She is Svaha of the Yagnyas and Svadha--the water oblation in honor of our ancesters.. She is Vashatkara --- 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 Tithi,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:

Yaa Maya Madhu Kaitabha Mardhini---
Yaa Mahishonmoolini

Ya Dhumre Kshana Chanda Munda Mathini--
Ya Rakta Bijashini.
Shakti Shumbha Nishumbha Daityadalini---

Ya Siddha Lakshmi Para

Saa Durga Nava Koti Murti Sahita---
Mam Patu Maheshvari.

May the Divine Mother Durga take the devotees in her refuge, who is seen in the whole manifestation,as the Nava Durga Devi. Nine being a very sacred number in the Shakti scriptures of the tradition. She is the saviour of the universe. She is adored with 700 shlokas of the Durga Sapta Shati and 1000 Archana Namaavali of the Bhavani, Sharika,Tripurasundari, Jwala and Lalita Sahsranama.She is also adored with 1100 Names of Shri Sharada.

Yaa Maya Madhu Kaitabha Mardhini---
Yaa Mahishonmoolini

Ya Dhumre Kshana Chanda Munda Mathini--
Ya Rakta Bijashini.
Shakti Shumbha Nishumbha Daityadalini---

Ya Siddha Lakshmi Para

Saa Durga Nava Koti Murti Sahita---
Mam Patu Maheshvari.

May the Divine Mother Durga take the devotees in her refuge, who is seen in the whole manifestation,as the Nava Durga Devi. Nine being a very sacred number in the Shakti scriptures of the tradition. She is the saviour of the universe. She is adored with 700 shlokas of the Durga Sapta Shati and 1000 Archana Namaavali of the Bhavani, Sharika,Tripurasundari, Jwala and Lalita Sahsranama.She is also adored with 1100 Names of Shri Sharada ,as well.Nine rakshasa are killed by Shri Nava Durga assuming the form of Maha Kali--Maha Lakshmi -- Maha Saraswati as revealed in the Markandeya Pyrana

Manifestation of Shri Nava Durga is Eternal, according to the scriptures. Shri is adored as the Yoga Nidra,Ratri Devi,Vagambrini Devi,and many such epithets. She is adored as Jyotirmayi Tripura Malini, VangmayimMaya Madhumati,Maheshvari etc. in the Panchastavi.

Shri Durga reveals in the Sapta Shati Chandi:

Ekaiva jagatya-- atra dvitiyaa kaa mama--para
pashyaitaa dushta mayeaiva vishyanto madvibhutayah

I am exclusively 'Alone' in this universe,who else is there except myself. These are all my vibhutis--manifestations and powers,which you perceive and entering /assimilationg in me alone,after the purpose of my manifestation is over.

Chapter10,Shloka 5
A versified essence of the Manifestation of Shri Nava Durga is as under;

I am Mother Durga-the Divine Energy,
Vision of Medha Rishi makes you to see Me.
I am Chandi Devi--the Durga Sapta Shati.
See Me through the wavelength of the Rishi.
The narration of the Rishi is Divine revelation,
King Suratha is just the incarnation.
Samadhi is but a Divine observation.
Vital breath...,I am in all the creatures,
Filling the universe with celestial treasures.

Being adored in the finite measures
Being perceived through the spiritual treasures,
I alone exist, Shiva could perceive it during dances.
Markandeya understood the nature of fluctuations,
Touch, taste, smell, sight and sound are mere functions,
To maintain rhythm and balance of the physical emotions.
The little ego need to evolve for higher manifestations .
I myself am the Atman of Brahma, and I say so.
I am the eternal spirit revered as Vishnu Maya.
I am Unborn, but omnipresent in the execution of power.
I am Maha Kali-the eternal Time and time based trigger.

Measure of the time, is my game for cosmic ways.
I create aeons, years, months, nights and days.
I rise with glaciers, peaks and beautiful vales,
Find me in mountains, jungles and trees.
The ocean is just a drop before me
I am a swimming action with a celestial discovery,
I am thus revered as Shailaputri.
I am the graphics of the universe
I am curve, triangle, square and process of reduction.
I am the tangent touching the circle of transfiguration.
I paint with Divine brush and cosmic colors,
Shades and tones are my impressions and Divine sisters.
Mind is to understand,and Spirit is to recognize
Yoga is to live and to synthasise

The realms are of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva,
I exist in the wavelength of Jwala and Raginya
These are just the glimpses of my Primal thought.
Rishi has seen me in infinite Nought.
I bring light on the canvas of humanity.
I am revered as the First Brahmacharini
Philosopher's wisdom is the shadow of my vision.
Being Durga, I am Existent--- the Eternal one
I am embodiment of creation, sustenance and dissolution.
Visible I am in the flash of the Markandeya's eye,
Rishis deciphered My - Mantra in syllable, word and meter.
Who adored me with the Gayatri- Anushtup- Ushnik meter.
Dressed me in various colorful robes and ribbons,

Putting sword and missiles in my hands.
Seeing me on the couch of a roaring lion,
Saw me manifested in Nine Virgin forms
I alone gave a vital breath to Lord Vishnu
Ananta serpent was his couch then,
It was but a process of Brahma's creation

Giving birth to Brahma through Vishnu's naval root.
Who was born on the lotus shoot
Simultaneously, Madhu and Kaitabha were born and seen,
With Demonic fierce looks they had been-
Born of Vishnu's ear-wax there and then.
Hastening they were to kill Lord Brahma- Just for fun.
Universe was filled with all commotion,
It was analyzed with Divine perception.

The Ratri--Suktam evolved through Primal vibration.
In any way, Ratri is not for cessation
It was all dark filled with infinitude,
Thus the First Eternal cry was heard, at every altitude.
Brahma got stunned, begged for lease of life
Spontaneously uttered: O Svaha! O Svadha!,
The VAK got vibrated in A-U and M (OM) in Vashatkara.
Unseen Sun was seen- it was First Nav Ratra then,
Gods were commissioned to help Brahma for procreation.
Markandeya portrayed me as Vishnu- Maya then.
Being aroused from Cosmic sleep of Yoga, was not a fun.
I was seen ornamented with conch, disc, lotus and Mudras.
With the praises of words were deluded Rakshas

Twins were born Madhu and Kaitabha.
Vishnu addressed to them very tactfully:
O demons! You are really valorous and great
Ask for a boon to create your Eternal fate.
Vishnu Maya is Krishna, who killed them on his thighs,
Neither was water there, nor was space,
It was only excellent Durga's grace.
Take me verily, I am that Mahakali.
I am killing Mahishasura manifesting as Maha Lakshmi
My own creation is he, but to uphold Dharma.
Vishnu, Brahma and Indra could not defeat Mahishasura.
I was invisible to other gods and to Indra.

I help the Divine entity with the name of Durga
I am thus revered as Brahmacharini Shiva Priya.
I play the role of Chadra Ghanta
Making the universe see the celestial Shiva-Tandava.
I bring luminosity around the globe.
It is just a twinkle of my eye- and lobe.
To keep Nine planets in eternal dynamis.
Brihaspati is my intellect, Shukra my ego,
Essentially kept Surya as statis.
I am the Eternal Seed and destroying every foe.
I am Lalita the Motherhood in all and One.
Aham Brahmasmi, Tat Tvam Asi-- is my revelation.
I am revered as Kushmanda, being Saraswati, preferring beauty.

I incarnate to save the Vedic aesthetics for human dignity.
I adore the Agamas , I give the verdict in the Smriti.
I sing the song in the Puranas.
My face is visible in the Sahsranamas.
I alone am fashioned in Tantra-Mantra and Yantra
For I am Skanda Mata of Kumar Kartikeya.
I again am invisible in Kala Ratri.
I crush anti- divine forces of malice, hatred and jealousy.
Guiding the Devas towards the illumining path.
Thus I am slightly visible to the Yogic eye.
I am the Eternal Usha praising Devi Sukta.
I took birth to fulfill the dream of Kashyapa.

I was born as the daughter of the Himalaya
I am revered as Ganesha's Mother Girija
For certain, I am the Maha Gauri, Maha Vidya.
I can not be attained through Philosophic reason
For I am the perfection of the cosmic season.
This universe is but a drop of dew,
Seeing and playing with me are only the few.
I stand for one's self - recognition as Siddhi -Dhatri.
I again and again am born as Nava Durga
Some praise me with the words of prescribed Puja.
Some pray me for peace and prosperity.
Some adore me to arouse Kundalini.

But I grace the devotee, who loves me with sincere heart,
Evolving his deep conscience to the highest spot.
Joyfully, he finds abode in my Eternal lap.
Revitalizing divinity in every nerve, cell and gap.
I am Durga -Mother of the fame ,
With Shakti to uphold the devotees name.
The devotee should be sincere and honest one,
Feeding all without discrimination.
Some adore me with Thousand flames
Some with Seven hundred celestial Names
But I am only Nine Syllabled One
Call me Durga, the Mother of Adi-Spanda/Primal vibration.

(This poem is written with devotion and not for any academic exercise. The theme of this adoration is based on the Markandeya Purana and the Devi Bhagvatam)

*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.
Illustrations and paintings in this article are by the author.
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