Durga Saptashati (also known as Devi Mahatmyam and Chandi Patha) is a religious text of Hinduism; part of the Markandeya Purana, and estimated to have been composed between 400-600 CE. This text describes the Goddess Durga as the supreme power and creator of the universe.
The text consists of approximate 700 verses arranged into 13 chapters. The verses of this text are recited during Navratri celebrations, the Durga Puja festivals, and Durga temples.
Durga Saptashati addresses the tale of a battle between good and evil. The Goddess Durga, angry and ruthless, leads the forces of good against the demon Mahishasura.
Durga is the great Warrior Goddess, an embodiment of the lethal energy of divine anger when turned against evil. She conquered the evilest demon in the world – Mahishasura, who took many different forms during the battle with Durga.
Durga Saptashati – The Journey Of Self Realization
Durga Saptashati or Devi Mahatmya’s killing grounds correspond to the field of human consciousness. The demons are the hurdles that obstruct the journey of self-realization. In order to achieve the goal of self-realization, one has to conquer these demons. It’s not that one has to eliminate them completely; it’s just that one has to go beyond them that they cannot control your mind and thoughts anymore.
The Demons (Obstacles) described In Durga Saptashati
Madhu And Kaitabh (Sweet and Bitter Taste)
In the journey of self-realization, the first group of demons or hurdle is ‘Madhu and Kaitabh’(Sweet and Sour). As a devoted seeker, your primary achievement is to be able to stay unaffected and unbothered by the duality of things; the duality of taste, sweet or bitter. For this, you do not need to force it for you cannot destroy your sense of taste. Here, you need the sustenance like that of Lord Vishnu. It means that when someone says something to you or about you, no matter good or bad, you stay unaffected.
Mahishasur (Rage And Lust)
Once you overcome the ‘Mathu and Kaitub’, your next hurdle is ‘Mahishasur’ – rage and lust. Both these are the surge of energies that you cannot eradicate. The best is that you learn to channelize and transform you anger and rage just like the goddess Durga.
Dhumralochan (Dhumra: Smoke, Lochan: Eyes/ Sight)
The eyes are a constant source of information and distraction at the same time. this stage of Dhumralochan is to be able to stay unbothered by these illusions and not to get distracted from the path of self-realization.
Chand And Mund (Passion, Inner Conflict And Violence)
Your passion might get in your way to self-realization. Passion, no matter good or bad and the inner conflict often divert us. Let them pass, and just focus on your real goal.
In Durga Saptashati, it has been described that when the Goddess defeated all the demosn, she encountered the most fierce – Raktabija (chapter 8). Every drop of blood Raktabija sheds gave rise to another demon as it touches the earth. So, in order to kill the demon, she took the avatar of goddess Kali. With her huge mouth and enormous tongue she ferociously sucked Raktabija’s blood, thus stopped the uprising of further demons. Desires are Raktabija; one leading to next and this series is endless.
Shumbh And Nishumbh (Pleasant And Unpleasant)
The tale continues as the goddess further defeated two brothers, Shumbh and Nishumbh. The essence is that one has to stop classifying things as good or bad. You just have to rise above them. And when you rise above such thoughts, all left behind is love and compassion that is your intrinsic nature.
Surath And Samadhi (Good Path And Oneness)
Once you have defeated all the demons, it’s now your turn to achieve ultimate reward – Samadhi. Surat is wisdom and intellect that guides you to ultimate truth – Samadhi, the oneness with the divine.
On the whole, all these demons are classified into three categories:
- Brahm Granthi (one that creates thoughts/ desires)
- Vishnu Granthi(one that sustains desires)
- Rudra Granthi(one that propels you to fulfil those desires)
Durga Sapthasathi is much more than meaninglessly chanting. For a devoted seeker, it is important to understand the esoteric meaning of Durga Sapthasathi and follow them, in order to attain the goal of self-realization and ultimate Samadhi.