Monday, October 15, 2012

Shubho Mahalaya - Maa aaschhen.

Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya Surya-Kotti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryessu Sarvadaa
II AUM Sri Ganeshaya Namaha II

सर्वमंगलमंगल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके । शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥

sarva maṇgala māṇgalyē
śĭvē sărvārtha sādhĭkē
śaranyē tryambakē Gauri
Nārāyanī namostŭtē
Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Buddhi-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||8||

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Shakti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||12||

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Shaanti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||17||

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Shraddhaa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||18||

 Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Smrti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||22||

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Dayaa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||23||

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Maatr-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||25||

[Ya Devi Sarvabhutesu - from Devi Mahatmyam]

Pitr-Paksh (Bangla: Pitri Pakkho; literally: fortnight of the ancestors) - a time to perform Tarpan (Torpon) - ancestral rituals - has ended. Devi Paksha (Debi Pakkho) has commenced. It is Mahalaya today.

... Maa aaschhen. Maa is on her way.

And therefore, I will begin this sure-to-be-cherished post (by moi at least) with the link to an audio-visual presentation of an All India Radio (AIR) recording: "Mahalaya - Mahisasuramardini" or the subjugation of the negative or aasuric forces, represented by Mahisasura:

It is an oratorio - invoking the Goddess Durga (a manifestation of Maa Shakti - the feminine force behind the cosmos, through Sanskrit chants and Bengali devotional songs). The near-perfect rendition of the shlokas courtesy the great Birendra Krishna Bhadra, also the magical voice behind the "Mahishashura Mardini"; the enchanting music composed by the peerless Pankaj Kumar Mallick

In Mahalaya - Mahisasuramardini, the legendary narrator (Bhadra) recites the sacred verses and tells the story of the descent of Debi Durga to earth, and goes on to describe the epic battle fought between Maa Durga and the negative or aasuric forces, represented by Mahisasura. All this: in his inimitable style, mesmerizing every household with the divine aura of his narration, as Bengalis everywhere submerged their souls in quiet moments of prayer. It is divine, it is enchanting and it is an experience in itself. One gets transported to another realm of the universe... while listening to this recitation. As the recital begins, the serene morning air resonates with the long-drawn sound of the sacred conch shell (shankha-dhwani), immediately followed by a chorus of invocation, melodiously setting the stage for the recitation of the "Chandi Mantra". Do not miss out.

"Mahisasura Mardini" is a remarkable piece of audio drama matchless in Indian culture. Though the theme is thought to be mythical and the mantras Vedic, this program is a landmark composition. But then, beneath every myth lies a true story, one only needs to peel off the many layers in order to get to it, isn't it? [The Sanskrit word véda i.e. "knowledge, wisdom" is derived from the root vid - "to know".]

... After all, what is God or what is the divine?

I see it this way: When the finite meets the infinite, when the created meets the uncreated, when the mortal meets the immortal - it is then that that formless force or energy, also known as God, Parmaatma, Parameshwar or the divine, is manifested.

To me, the Shiv-Parvati stories are part of our itihasa (history) of the Satya Yug - the first era. And though due to the passage of time, many myths have crept in and various people and entities have given full vent rather gigantic wings to their imagination too; yet, once we try and clear the mist, we can salvage this ancient and enthralling story beneath it all.

There clearly was a mortal Shiv and a mortal Parvati; the latter (along with her comrades) salvaged the lives of the people (of the Satya Yug) from the stranglehold of certain aasuric or negative forces; and saved their crops and livestock (and thereby their livelihood) from the attacks of gigantic-sized (daitya) ferocious, wild animals as well - Mahisasura symbolizes all of this.

Parvati (and her comrades) fearlessly stood up to and then fought against the aasuric forces when (perhaps) no one else was willing to take them on. Though triumphant, she lost her life. ... And this not only shattered (her consort) Shiv, but also elicited from the until-then-complacent-Shiv a soul-stirring vow - to wreck revenge on her killers (perhaps: the remnants of the earlier mentioned aasuric forces).

Due to their remarkable deeds, their Karm Yog, the people of the first era (i.e. of the Satya Yug) revered Parvati (and her comrades) as devi-s, manifestations of the divine Mother, more precisely that of Maa Shakti - the feminine force behind the cosmos. Parvati and her comrades' actions helped preserve the way of life (as it ought to be) and restored peace and balance in society; their efforts helped civilization to flourish well. Their stories have since been passed on from one generation to the next, and even after the passage of thousands of years, eras to be precise, colonization and much else, we still revere them and worship them. Parvati (and her comrades) remain embedded in our souls; they have etched their memories in our hearts and minds. And so has Shiv. [Divine probably comes from dev, which in turn comes from daaivic - meaning: noble traits or qualities. Therefore, divine = one who possesses noble traits or qualities. It can be animate or inanimate. Daaivic (probably) is also the root word for devi - one who possesses noble traits or qualities; and is essentially a reverential honorific for a female - entity, person, power, force or energy, that is worthy of respect and worship.]

Though mere mortals, Shiv and Parvati (along with her comrades) triumphed death by the sheer force and greatness of their deeds and actions (keerti), it transcended time and eras (yugs). They became mritunjay; they will live forever. They are Amar.

During Navaratri or Durga Puja, we not only bow to and invoke the divine Mother (Maa Shakti), but also acknowledge her many manifestations. Temples dedicated to Maa Shakti dot the country, but the deities within bear a different name. Perhaps a silent yet clear testimony: that legions of women have confronted the forces of darkness - since time immemorial. We bow to them all.

Sri Sri Chandi Path (1 of 22) Part 1 (Chapter-1): LINK.

Sarvamangala Mangalye - from Devi Mahatmyam (Chandi)

Srsstti-Sthiti-Vinaashaanaam Shakti-Bhuute Sanaatani |
Gunna-[A]ashraye Gunnamaye Naaraayanni Namo[ah-A]stu Te ||9||

Sharannaagata-Diina-[A]arta-Paritraanna-Paraayanne |
Sarvasya-[A]arti-Hare Devi Naaraayanni Namo[ah-A]stu Te ||10||

Shangkha-Cakra-Gadaa-Shaarngga-Grhiita-Paramaa-Yudhe |
Prasiida Vaissnnavii-Ruupe Naaraayanni Namo[ah-A]stu Te ||14||

Kiriittini Mahaa-Vajra Sahasra-Nayano[a-U]jjvale |
Vrtra-Praanna-Hare Ca-[A]indri Naaraayanni Namo[ah-A]stu Te ||17||
Shivaduutii-Svaruupenna Hata-Daitya-Mahaa-Bale |
Ghora-Ruupe Mahaa-Raave Naaraayanni Namo[ah-A]stu Te ||18||
Etatte Vadanam Saumyam Locana-Traya-Bhuussitam |
Paatu Nah Sarva-Bhuutebhyah Kaatyaayani Namo[ah-A]stu Te ||23||

Jvaalaa-Karaalam-Atyu[i-U]gram-Ashessa-[A]asura-Suudanam |
Trishuulam Paatu No Bhiiter-Bhadrakaali Namo[ah-A]stu Te ||24||

Jayantii Manggalaa Kaalii Bhadrakaalii Kapaalinii |
Durgaa Shivaa Kssamaa Dhaatrii Svaahaa Svadhaa Namostu Te ||2||

Raktabiija-Vadhe Devi Canndda-Munndda-Vinaashini |
Ruupam Dehi Jayam Dehi Yasho Dehi Dvisso Jahi ||6||

Sri Durga Saptashloki - Seven shlokas from Devi Mahatmyam.

Sarva-Svaruupe Sarveshe Sarva-Shakti-Samanvite |
Bhayebhyas-Traahi No Devi Durge Devii Namostu Te ||5|| 

Mahalaya takes me back to my childhood and to the luxuriant kaash phool - those white wispy grasses that have been lovingly elevated to the status of flowers a long time ago. They are found in abundance during this season, as if to welcome the goddess.

I am also reminded of the fragrant shiuli phool - the white and orange flowers of the Parijaat tree. I have many a time stood bare-feet on the dew-soaked grass, underneath the Parijaat tree (in our garden) and inhaled the heavenly fragrance of the shiuli. These tiny flowers make a beautiful carpet on the green grass beneath the tree - early in the morning. ...The only thing one needs to do is to gently pick them up, put them in the flower-basket and give them pride of place in one's home. They continue to emanate their divine fragrance for several hours thereafter. It is an experience in itself. 

Mahalaya is a Sanskrit word derived from Maha meaning, "Great" and Alaya meaning: "the abode" or "Soul of the World". Together it translates as: "The Great Abode, The Grand Residence, or The Dwelling of the Great Souls." It also means: illumined knowledge or enlightenment.

Devi Paksha falling on Mahalaya is a reminder to prepare oneself for the subjugation of the ego (ahamkara) during Durga Puja. It instills the spirit of surrender: to offer oneself to Maa Durga for the final destruction of the ego. She simply strikes the ego of the surrendered soul to bless with the bounty of eternal bliss of self-realization (Sat-cit-ānanda, pronounced as: sach-chid-ānanda. Sat describes an essence that is pure and timeless; cit is consciousness; ānanda is absolute bliss).

Let us thus surrender to the divine Mother - to realize the bliss of the being.

I would like to end this post by quoting a shloka from the Brhadāranyaka Upanisad:

असतोमा सद्गमय। तमसोमा ज्योतिर् गमया। मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय॥ ॐ शांति शांति शांति - बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद् 1.3.28.
Aum Asato mā sad gamaya
Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya
Mrtyormā amrtam gamaya
Aum śānti śānti śāntih"
(Brhadāranyaka Upanisad 1.3.28)

Meaning: "Aum From ignorance, lead me to truth
From darkness, lead me to light
From death, lead me to immortality
Aum peace, peace, peace."

[Aum is the sound of primal energy, the sound of the universe itself.]

Shubho Mahalaya. Maa aaschhen.

Pictures: Found while trawling the net, don't remember the links :(


  1. Good post for the navaraathri aarambh din. Read the shlokas also! I have got paarijaata tree at home.

  2. Thank you so much for the lovely post

  3. Nice sharing, Welcome to all Hindu religion peoples. Many Happiness will come in this day.

  4. @Sandhyaji: Thank you Sandhyaji. Glad you liked it. :)

    And Parijaata is lovely – both the plant and the flowers. Please do a post on it.

    Shubh Navratri to you and your family!

  5. @BK Chowla: Thank you Chowlaji. Shubh Navratri to you and your family.

    Jay Mata Di! Jai Shri Ram! Joy Maa Durga!

  6. @Suman Chatterjee: Welcome to my blog and glad you liked the post. Shubho Chaturthi!

  7. @Clipping Path: Welcome to my blog and glad you liked the post. But this ancient faith is not a “religion”, it never was. It is a way of life (Sanaatan Dharm).

    Sanaatan = timeless, Dharm = path or the way of life.