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SHRI DURGA SAPTSHATI CHANDI !!! Can kill all devil force Jay Ho Maa Chandi

SHRI DURGA SAPTSHATI CHANDI !!! Can kill all devil force Jay Ho Maa Chandi


Caṇḍī or Caṇḍīika is the name by which the Supreme Goddess is referred to in Devi Mahatmya. Chandi represents the shakti or power of Brahman. The word Chanda hints at extraordinary traits and thus refers to the Brahman, who is extraordinary due to his complete independence with respect to time and space. The word Chandi also refers to the fiery power of anger of the Brahman. Bhaskararaya, a leading authority on matters concerning Devi worship, defines Chandi as ‘the angry, terrible or passionate one’.While scholars debate whether an old Goddess was Sanskritized or a suppressed Goddess was reclaimed, the fact remains that since the very early days, the Devi was worshiped in the subcontinent regardless of whether she appears as a supreme deity in Brahminic texts. Scholars who trace her tracks show that she was very much a part of an early theistic impulse as it was being crystallized in the Indic mind.C. Mackenzie Brown writes:

Hymns to goddesses in the late portions of the great Mahabharata epic and in the Harivamsa (AD 100-300) reveal the increasing importance of female deities in Brahminical devotional life.… The reemergence of the divine feminine in the Devi-Mahatmya was thus both the culmination of centuries-long trends and the inspirational starting point for new investigations into the nature of feminine transcendence.

When she does appear in The Markandeya Purana, in the section known as Chandi or The Devi Mahatmya, she proclaims her preeminence:

“ I resemble in form Brahman
From me emanates the world

Which has the Spirit of Prakriti and Purusha

I am empty and not empty

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I am delight and non-delight

I am knowledge and ignorance

I am Brahman and not Brahman


This text recounts the tale of male demons and their destruction by the Great Goddess and traces its lineage through the Devi Sukta or the Vac Sukta in The Rigveda and also connects with the Samkhya Prakriti to establish itself as a canonical text for the Shaktas.

Chandi, the fiercest form of the Goddess, who is the main deity of the famous Devi Mahatmya, a great poem of seven hundred verses (also called Durga Saptasati or Chandi) which celebrates the destruction of demons. As Chandi or the destroyer of opposition, she can be invoked for removing obstacles to allow us to attain any of the four goals of life[10]

The designation of Chandi or Chandika is used twenty-nine times in the Devi Mahatmya, which is agreed by many scholars to have had originated in Bengal, the primary seat of the Shakta or Goddess tradition and tantric sadhana since ancient times. It is the most common epithet used for the Goddess. In Devi Mahatmya, Chandi, Chandika, Ambika and Durga have been used synonymously

The basis for Chandi worship is found in Devi Bhagavata as well as in the Markandeya Purana, which contains the well known Saptashati. This narrates the three tales of Chandika fighting and destroying the evil forces in the forms of Madhu, Kaithabha, Mahishasura and Shumbha & Nishumbha. These stories are narrated in thirteen chapters in the form of seven hundred stanzas or half stanzas. Each of these is considered as an independent mantra by repeating which one attains profound benefits. In addition, the mantra prescribed for this is what is known as Navakshari, the nine lettered mantra that has its basis in the Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, known as the Devi Upanishad.

Goddess Chandi is associated with the 9 lettered Navakshari Mantra.It is also called Navarna Mantra or Navavarna Mantra. It is one of the principal mantras in Shakti Worship apart from the Sri Vidhya Mantras. It customary to chant this mantra when chanting the Devi Mahatmya. She is supposed to live in a place called Mahakal, which is close to Kailasa.

Legends
She is considered as Kaatyayini (Durga) herself, who had killed Mahishasura as well as Shumbha Nishumbha.”The great Goddess was born from the energies of the male divinities when the gods became impotent in the long-drawn-out battle with the asuras. All the energies of the Gods became united and became supernova, throwing out flames in all directions. Then that unique light, pervading the Three Worlds with its lustre, combined into one, and became a female form.”

“The Devi projected an overwhelming omnipotence. The three-eyed goddess was adorned with the crescent moon. Her multiple arms held auspicious weapons and emblems, jewels and ornaments, garments and utensils, garlands and rosaries of beads, all offered by the gods. With her golden body blazing with the splendour of a thousand suns, seated on her lion vehicle, Chandi is one of the most spectacular of all personifications of Cosmic energy.”

In other scriptures, Chandi is portrayed as “assisting” Kali in her battle with demon Raktabija. While Kali drank Raktabija’s blood, which created new demons from his own blood on falling on the ground; Chandi would destroy the armies of demons created from his blood and finally killed Raktabija himself. In Skanda Purana, this story is retold and another story of mahakali killing demons Chanda and Munda is added.

Chandi Homa (Havan)
Chandi Homa is one of the most popular Homas in Hindu religion. It is performed across India during various festivals, especially during the Navaratri. Chandi Homa is performed by reciting verses from the Durga Sapthasathi and offering oblations into the sacrificial fire. It could also be accompanied by the Navakshari Mantra. Kumari Puja, Suvasini Puja also form a part of the ritual.

Iconography

A Burmese portrayal of Chandi (Sandi Dewi).
The dhyana sloka preceding the Middle episode of Devi Mahatmya the iconographic details are given. The Goddess is described as eighteen armed bearing string of beads, battle axe, mace, arrow, thunderbolt, lotus, bow, water-pot, cudgel, lance, sword, shield, conch, bell, wine-cup, trident, noose and the discus (sudarsana). She has a complexion of coral and is seated on a lotus.[19] In some temples the images of Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Saraswati are kept separately. The Goddess is also portrayed as four armed in many temples.

As Purnachandi, she is visualized as both the essence as well as transcendence i.e. the Brahman; who is beyond Laghu Chandika, who is of the combined form of Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati as represented in Durga Saptashati of Markandeya Purana. As Purnachandi, she sports with her sixteen hands, sword, arrow, spear, shakti, chakra, mace, rosary, kartarI, phalaka, karmuka, nagapasha, axe, damaru, skull, boon jesture and protection jesture.

In folklore of Bengal
Chandi is one of the most popular folk deities in Bengal, and a number of poems and literary compositions in Bengali called Chandi Mangala Kavyas were written from 13th century to early 19th century. These had the effect of merging the local folk and tribal goddesses with mainstream Hinduism. The Mangal kavyas often associate Chandi with goddess Kali or Kalika. and recognize her as a consort of Shiva and mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya, which are characteristics of goddesses like Parvati and Durga. The concept of Chandi as the supreme Goddess also underwent a change. The worship of the goddess became heterogeneous in nature.

Chandi is associated with good fortune as well as disaster. Her auspivcious forms like Mangal Chandi, Sankat Mangal Chandi, Rana Chandi bestow joy, riches, children, good hunting and victory in battles while other forms like Olai Chandi cure diseases like cholera, plague and cattle diseases.

These are almost all village and tribal Goddesses with the name of the village or tribe being added onto the name Chandi. The most important of these Goddesses is Mongol Chandi who is worshipped in the entire state and also in Assam. Here the word “Mongol” means auspicious or benign.

Source : Wikipedia

The Mahavidyas (Great Revelations) is a group of ten goddesses worshipped in the Hindu tradition, who are believed to be different manifestations of the Mahadevi (Great Goddess). To Hindus the Mahadevi is a transcendent female reality who, much like Visnu, is believed to maintain the cosmic order (Kinsley 1986:161). The Mahavidyas are first discussed around the 10th century CE in the Mahabhagavata Purana. In this narrative the goddess Durga, in the form of Sati, weds the god Siva. Siva insists that Sati should not attend her father’s yajna (sacrifice) because they were intentionally not invited. However, Sati is adamant about disrupting the sacrifice and in a state of anger she transforms herself into ten transcendent forms, the Mahavidyas: Kali, Tara, Tripura-sundari, Bhuvanesvari, Chinnamasta, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi, and Kamala. [Refer to Kinsley 1998 for individual descriptions of each Mahavidya]. Siva is so frightened when he is surrounded by the Mahavidyas that he gives Sati permission to attend the yajna(Benard 2). This is the most prevalent Mahavidya creation story, but there are multiple alternative versions that depict the goddesses as being forms of Parvati, Kali, or Sataksi (Kinsley 1998:22).

The Mahavidyas appear in tantric and puranic Hindu texts. The tantric texts focus on the rituals involved in worshipping the goddesses, while late puranic texts contain detailed stories describing the origins of the Mahavidyas. They are also mentioned in certain goddess hymns, such as the Durga-calisa, a popular forty-verse hymn dedicated to the goddess Durga (Kinsley 1998:15). The Mahavidyas are sometimes likened to the ten avataras (incarnations) of Visnu, who play a positive role in the cosmos. However, in the Hindu literature, focus is placed on the group’s diversity of form rather than their contributions towards maintaining the cosmic order through their actions (Kinsley 1998:21). The Mahavidyas appear most often in painted depictions in temples, although sometimes they may be shown in stone or metal carvings. They appear in temples where the primary goddess is one of the Mahavidyas, as well as in temples where the primary goddess is not one of the ten goddesses (Kinsley 1998:15).

Chinnamasta, literally meaning “the severed head” (Benard 4), distinguishes herself from the other Mahavidyas with her shocking, dramatic, and gruesome iconography. This goddess is depicted as self-decapitated and standing in an aggressive manner as she holds her severed head on a platter in her left hand and her kartr (sword) in her right hand. Three streams of blood gush from Chinnamasta’s neck and are drunk by her own head and two yoginis (female practitioners of yoga), Varnini and Dakini. All three of them are nude, with unkempt hair, and wearing garlands of skulls. Chinnamasta is sometimes shown standing upon Kama (the god of sexual desire) and his wife Rati, who are copulating on a lotus or cremation pyre (Kinsley 1986:173 and Kinsley 1998:144). Chinnamasta also appears in tantric Buddhism. She goes by the name of Chinnamunda, a form of Vajrayogini. Scholars believe she first appeared in Buddhism before entering the Hindu tradition. The iconography of this goddess in Buddhism is very similar, except she is not depicted as standing on top of a copulating couple (Kinsley 1988:161).

The Ten Mahavidyas (Marble image of the goddess Chinnamasta at a Tantric shrine in Ramnagar, near Banaras)

The most popular account of Chinnamasta’s origin appears in the Pranatosini-tantra. It states that the goddess Parvati, Siva’s wife, goes bathing with her two attendants, Dakini and Varnini. The two women are hungry and ask Parvati for food. She tells them to wait and they can eat once they are home. However, after further begging from her companions, the merciful goddess and Mother of the Universe, severs her head with her fingernails and her blood nourishes her attendants. Following this event, Parvati is henceforth known as Chinnamasta (Kinsley 1998:147). This origin story emphasizes maternal self-sacrifice in order to satiate her companions. Scholars note the interesting choice of blood instead of maternal milk for nutrients. The nourishment symbolizes renewal of the universe (Kinsley 1998:150).

These themes, along with others, are also apparent in the imagery of this goddess. Chinnamasta depicts the way that life, sex, and death are intricately intertwined. Her image juxtaposes gruesomeness (a bloody decapitation) and intimacy (the couple engaging in sexual union). Kama and Rati provide Chinnamasta with a vital energy that she then transfers to the yoginis to provide nourishment and sustainment. Scholars interpret this as showing the necessity of death in order to renew and replenish the cycle of life (Kinsley 1986:173). Chinnamasta’s image shows giving and taking, creation and destruction, and life and death. The distinction between receiver and giver vanish (Oestigaard 104). Her image depicts the cyclical nature of the universe and the harmony of seemingly opposite forces that are required to maintain the cosmic balance (Kinsley 1986:175). Normally the nudity and disheveled hair associated with Chinnamasta’s image would indicate a loss of public respectability, but instead these characteristics reveal her sense of freedom and abandonment of societal values (Benard 107).

The decapitated head is essential to all depictions of Chinnamasta, as indicated by the literal translation of her name. The way that Chinnamasta offers her head on a platter is similar to the way that animal sacrifices are carried out in the Hindu tradition. Sacrifices portray devotion and nourishment for a particular god or goddess. In Chinnamasta’s case, her self-sacrifice provides nourishment for her two devotees (Kinsley 1998:151). The severing of the head also represents disposing of the belief in a permanent, material self (Benard 96).

Like Chinnamasta and her two female companions, a number of Mahavidyas wear garlands made of severed heads or skulls. These are thought to represent letters or sounds, especially when presented in numbers of fifty or fifty-two. They are believed to give birth to all creation. In this way, the heads are objects of power, since they hold a person’s identity and essential being (Kinsley 1998:153). The importance of the head in Hinduism is illustrated in the Purusa creation story. Many important elements originate from Purusa’s head, including the Brahmin class, Indra, Agni, the sun, and the moon (Benard 93).

Chinnamasta’s location on top of a copulating couple is interpreted in two opposing ways. The first, and most common, interpretation of Chinnamasta’s superior position is that she has overcome her sexual and selfish desires. She is believed to display the yogic virtue of self-control. This interpretation is supported by the goddess’s hundred-name hymn in the Sakta Pramoda that refers to her as Yogini (female yogi) and Madanatura (she who cannot be overcome by Kama) (Kinsley 1998:154). The alternative explanation suggests that the sexual energy of the couple is being transferred to Chinnamasta. Supporters of this theory point to images of Chinnamasta sitting, instead of standing, on the couple. This physical position does not suggest overpowering of the couple’s sexuality (Kinsley 1998:155-156).

Public and private worship of Chinnamasta is not popular due to her aggressive nature and worshipping her is viewed as dangerous. It is said that those who worship her are of three types: yogis, world renouncers, or heroic in nature (Kinsley 1998:164). Tantric practices allow a practitioner to develop siddhis (supernormal powers) and achieve the ultimate goal of liberation. The Sakta Pramoda, Tantrasara, and Sri Chinnamasta Nityarcana outline the worship rituals for Chinnamasta. There are nine sections of practice prescribed by the Sakta Pramoda including visualized meditation, drawing of the yantra (sacred diagram), and explication of the mantra(sacred utterance). [Benard 1994 can be consulted for further details on these nine areas of practice]. Recitation of Chinnamasta’s 108 names is also included in her worship rituals (Benard 24). Not surprisingly, the majority of her names are fierce sounding. For example, she is referred to as Mahabhima (great terrible one), Candamata (mother of fierce beings), Krodhini (wrathful one), and Kopatura (afflicted with rage) (Kinsley 1998:164). Chinnamasta is one of two Mahavidyas who can only be worshipped using the left-handed path, the other goddess being Bhairavi. This type of worship can be extreme, involving sexual intercourse outside of one’s marriage and nighttime sacrifices involving meat and wine. This contrasts with the other Mahavidyas who can be worshipped by either the right-handed path or both paths (Kinsley 1998:166).

There are no known festivals devoted to Chinnamasta, but the Mahavidyas are worshipped as a group during important goddess festivals including Durga Puja and Kali Puja (Saxena 65). During these festivals the Mahavidyas are included on the tableau of the feature goddess (Kinsley 1998:18). There are only a few temples devoted exclusively to Chinnamasta, most likely a reflection of her limited following. These temples are found in northern and eastern regions of India and in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. An important temple is located in Cintapurni in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. Although the temple is simply known as the Cintapurni Temple, paintings of Chinnamasta and her two attendants mark the entrance, along with a label that states Chinnamastaka Mandir. Inside the temple a stone pindi, an aniconic representation of the goddess, covered with a red cloth comprises the shrine’s central figure. Another important Chinnamasta temple is located by Rajrappa Falls in Bihar, another northern state of India. The temple holds a stone depiction of the beheaded goddess bearing her head in one hand and a sword in the other. Devotees in the area believe that Chinnamasta was cut into twelve pieces during a fight with an asura(demon) and that the temple marks the spot where her head landed (Benard 145-146).

Chinnamasta is a very distinctive Hindu tantric goddess and is easily recognized by most Hindus because of her dramatic iconography (Kinsley 1986:177). This goddess represents cyclical renewal, cosmic balance, nourishment, and self-control. Despite these positive characteristics, her influence in the Hindu tradition remains small due to her fierce essence and more extreme worship rituals. This restriction is reflected in the small number of Chinnamasta worshippers, festivals, and temples limited to northern India and its surrounding areas.

 

 

REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READING

 Benard, Elisabeth Anne (1994) Chinnamasta: The Aweful Buddhist and Hindu Tantric Goddess. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Kinsley, David (1986) Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Kinsley, David (1998) Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Oestigaard, Terje (2006) “Heavens, Havens and Hells of Water: Life and Death in Society and Religion.” In Water: Histories, Cultures, Ecologies. Marnie Leybourne and Andrea Gaynor (eds.). Perth: University of Western Australia Press. pp. 94-105.

Saxena, Neela Bhattacharya (2011) “Mystery, Wonder, and Knowledge in the Triadic Figure of Mahavidya Chinnamasta: A Sakta Woman’s Reading.” In Woman and Goddess in Hinduism: Reinterpretations and Re-envisionings. Tracy Pintchman and Rita D. Sherma (eds.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 61-75.

 

Related Topics for Further Investigation

Mahavidyas

Mahabhagavata Purana

Mahadevi

Durga

Sakta Pramoda

Durga Puja

Kali Puja

Cintapurni Temple

 

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinnamasta

http://creative.sulekha.com/dasha-ten-mahavidya-part-three-bhuvanesvari-chinnamasta-and-bhairavi-3-of-4_546515_blog

http://www.sistersincelebration.org/Goddess/Chinnamasta.pdf

http://sivasakti.net/articles/tantra/chinnamasta-art153.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chhinnamasta_Temple

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chinnamasta_Temple_Bishnupur.JPG

 

Article written by Lauren Hall (March 2013) who is solely responsible for its content.

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