Nava-Durgā - नवदुर्गा - The nine forms of Goddess Durgā

Nava-Durgā - नवदुर्गा 
- The nine forms of Goddess Durgā -
Brighter Than a Thousand Suns
The golden body blazing with the splendour of a thousand suns, seated on her lion vehicle, Durga is one of the most spectacular of all personifications of Cosmic energy. Devi, in her 'saumya' or benevolent form, looks serene and powerful. In her numerous hands she holds a disc, mace, a sword, lotus, bow and an arrow, a trident and a conch shell. Her many weapons underscore the idea that the goddess incorporates the power of all the deities. Dressed in a green blouse and a red saree, she looks a perfect picture of kindness. Adorned in jewellery and an elaborate crown, she is beautiful. The crown and jewellery studded with precious stones points to her supreme status amongs the vedic gods and goddesses.

The background is mountainous, which is well thought of since the word ‘Durga’, itself means insurmountable, and this is why too most of the Devi’s temples are built atop hills.

Durga (the goddess of power) is seated on a lion in a fearless pose (Abhay Mudra) signifying assurance of freedom from fear. Lion represents power, will and determination. She can be seen holding her weapons (a long Trishula/trident with upper hand of right side and lower hand of left side, a Chakra, a conch shell, a Mace, a Talwar/longsword, a lotus and a bow) with her hands. She uses her weapons to destroy evil and to produce an environment conducive to growth of righteousness.

Watch : Nava Durga Stotram

Navadurgā - नवदुर्गा
The nine forms of Goddess Durgā:
Navadurga (Devanagari: नवदुर्गा), which literally means  the nine forms of Goddess Durga, constitute, according to vedic scriptures, the manifestation of Durgā in Her nine different aspects. These nine forms of manifestation are Śhailaputrī, Brahmachāriṇī, Chandrakaṇṭā, Kuṣhmāṇḍā, Skandamātā, Kātyāyanī, Kālarātrī, Mahāgaurī and Siddhidātrī - together worshipped during the Navrātri Vrata (Nine Divine Nights). Each goddess has a different form and a special significance. Nava Durgā, if worshipped with religious fervour during Navaratri, it is believed, to bestow spiritual fulfilment.

Nava also means 'nine' – it denotes the number to which sages attach special significance. Hence, we have Nava-rātri (9 nights), Nava-patrika (9 leaves / herbs / plants), Nava-graha (9 planets), and Nava-Durgā (9 forms of Durga).

According to vedic scriptures, Goddess Durgā is a symbol of power. She is worshipped in nine different forms and is therefore termed Nava-durgā. Each of the nine manifestation of Durgā is worshipped with full devotion during Navarātri.

1.) Śailaputrī (Daughter of the Himālayas)
2.) Brahmachāriṇī (One who observes the state of celibacy doing penance)
3.) Chandraghaṇṭā ( One who bears the moon in her necklace )
4.) Kūṣmāṇḍa (the creator of the universe)
5.) Skanda-Mātā (The mother of Skanda, Kārttikeya, born out of her powers)
6.) Kātyāyanī (The daughter of sage Kātyāyana, who incarnated to help the Devas)
7.) Kālarātrī (black as night, destroyer of Kālī)
8.) Mahāgaurī (the wife of Lord Shiva, doing great penance)
9.) Siddhidātrī (Provider of Siddhis, giver of mystic powers)

The following nine names have been told (Devi Mahatyam Devi Kavacham) by the Great Soul Brahma-deva Himself. Durgā is known by these names:

॥ नव-दुर्गा स्तोत्र ॥
॥ nava-durgā stotra ॥

ब्रह्मोवाच ।
brahmovāca ।
Lord Brahma said:

प्रथमं शैलपुत्रीति द्वितीयं ब्रह्मचारिणी ।
तृतीयं चन्द्रघण्टेति कूष्माण्डेति चतुर्थकम् ॥ ३ ॥

prathamaṁ śailaputrīti dvitīyaṁ brahmacāriṇī ।
tr̥tīyaṁ candraghaṇṭeti  kūṣmāṇḍeti caturthakam ॥ 3॥
"First is the Goddess of Inspiration, and second the Goddess of Sacred Study; third is the Goddess of the Delight of Practice, the Goddess of Purifying Austerity is fourth."

पञ्चमं स्कन्दमातेति षष्ठं कात्यायनी तथा ।
सप्तमं कालरात्रिश्च महागौरीति चाष्टमम् ॥ ४ ॥

pañcamaṁ skandamāteti ṣaṣṭhaṁ kātyāyanī tathā ।
saptamaṁ kālarātriśca mahāgaurīti cāṣṭamam ॥ 4॥
"Fifth is the Goddess who Nurtures Divinity, sixth is the One Who is Ever Pure; seventh is the Goddess of the Dark Night of Overcoming Egotism, the Goddess of the Great Radiant Light is eighth."

नवमं सिद्धिदात्री च नवदुर्गाः प्रकीर्तिताः ।
उक्तान्येतानि नामानि ब्रह्मणैव महात्मना ॥ ५ ॥

navamaṁ siddhidātrī ca navadurgāḥ prakīrtitāḥ ।
uktānyetāni nāmāni brahmaṇaiva mahātmanā ॥ 5॥
"Ninth is the Goddess who Grants Perfection, the nine Durgas, Relievers of Difficulties, have been enumerated, and these names have been revealed by the great soul of the Supreme himself."

Lord Brahma said: I have with extreme happiness sung the fame of the nine mothers, Śailaputrī (Daughter of the Himālayas), Brahmachāriṇī (One who observes the state of celibacy doing study and penance), Chandraghaṇṭā (One who bears the crescent moon in her necklace), Kūṣmāṇḍa (the mother of the universe), Skanda-Mātā (The mother of Skanda, Kārttikeya), Kātyāyanī (The daughter of sage Kātyāyana), Kālarātrī (black as night, destroyer of Kālī), Mahāgaurī (the wife of Lord Shiva, doing great penance) and Siddhidātrī (Provider of Siddhis, giver of mystic powers). The great God has told these in the Vedas.

He who remembers these nine mothers will not suffer even if he is burnt in fire, even if he has gone to war, even if he is very sad, even if he is terribly afraid of war. Anyone who remembers those names with devotion is also are free of these fears and sorrows.

Navarātri -   नवरात्रि - is a great, nine day, festival in India, in which goddess Durgā is worshiped in her nine different manifestations.

The word Navarātri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and rātri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days of devotion, nine different forms of Durgā are worshiped. The 10th day is commonly referred to as Vijaya-dashami or Dussehra.

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