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The Story of Devi Brahmacharini

Ma Brhmacharini
Devi Parvati serves Lord Shiva

In the last story, we saw Devi Sati manifested as Devi Shailaputri to unite with Lord Shiva again so that their son could destroy Tarakasura. 

As Devi Shailaputri, Parvati grew up in the comforts of the royal palace of Parvatraj Himavan and Devi Mena, as their beloved daughter. On hearing a prophecy from Maharshi Narada that his daughter, Parvati would indeed be the consort of the great Lord Shiva, Maharaj Himavan began to visit Lord Shiva, who was practising intense austerities in the Himalayan region. 

Overjoyed that the great lord Shiva was in his kingdom, Himavan began visiting Mahadev everyday to offer Nitya Pujas. Pleased with his devotion, Lord Shiva gave him a boon that anyone who meditates here would achieve success in their sadhana. Even today, Sadhana in the Himalayas is sought-after by many Yogis to achieve Mantra Siddhi(accomplishment).

Soon, Devi Parvati took it upon Herself to serve Mahadev everyday. She would lovingly clean up the cave that served as His seat for penance. She would collect the freshest of flowers, fruits and all ingredients to offer Her heartfelt prayers. . She would take care of all His needs while He would be immersed in Tapas. Lord Shiva, extremely pleased with Her Bhakti and service would bless Her everyday. But, there wasn’t the slightest change in His bhaav towards Her, not the slightest iota of desire for Her arose in Him. 

Lord Shiva Leaves Devi Parvati

The Devas, in the meantime, were getting restless. There was not the slightest hint of Lord Shiva showing any interest in taking His Shakti back to Him. He was happy as the lone mendicant. Tarakasura’s atrocities were only increasing with time. Indra finally decided to send Kamadev( Manmatha) on the mission to kindle desire in Lord Shiva’s heart for Shakti, who had been longing to unite with Him. 

So one day, when Parvati was cleaning Lords Shiva’s cave, Kama struck his arrow at Lord Shiva’s heart. For a split second, a desire rose in Lord Shiva’s heart and He noticed the beauty of the Tripura Sundari seated in front of Him. The next moment, He wondered why He felt what He hadn’t in all these days and realized that it was the work of someone else around Him. He looked around and saw Kamadev behind a tree holding his arrow of flowers in his hand, about to shoot a second arrow. At once, Mahadev’s anger rose to a pinnacle and a flame emerged from his forehead that burnt Kamadev into ashes. The next moment, Lord Shiva vanished from there. 

Devi Parvati undertakes severe penance

Parvati, shocked at the turn of events, immediately fell unconscious. When She regained senses, She took a vow to win back Mahadev through intense Tapas Herself. She sought the refuge of Maharshi Narada as Her Guru, who initiated Her into the Panchakshari mantra. Discarding all Her royal clothes and ornaments, and donning a garment of bark and garland of Rudraksh, Devi Parvati sought her parents’ permission and headed to the same spot that Mahadev performed penance, with two of her assistants, Jaya and Vijaya. 

Seeing the surroundings brought back memories of Mahadev’s penance to Her. With tearful eyes, a heavy heart, and a rock-solid Sankalpa, Devi Parvati began Her penance. She began Her penance with simple food. Then she ate only fruits. Thereafter she resorted to eating only leaves. In the end, she left eating even those leaves, thus earning the name

” A-parna- Aparna: The One who would not even consume leaves” 

She would stand on one leg in the middle of several pyres during the hot summers. She would sit unflinchingly on a rock as rain lashed at Her. She would brave the cold winds, but not budge from her Sadhana of the Panchakshari mantra. 

In the Shiva Maha Purana, Veda Vyasa describes her penance with these words:

Jigaya Tapasa Munim -The One who won over Munis and Rishis with Her Tapas. 

Her penance became so intense that the greatest and oldest of Rishis and Munis would come to just witness the marvel of Her penance. The most ancient of the Rishis could not match the severity of Her penance.  

Her penance became the ‘talk of all three worlds’ yet, there was ONE who was unmoved. There was no sign of Lord Shiva’s grace on Her. 

The Test for Parvati

Her penance continued relentlessly with the same intensity, until Lord Shiva thought it was now time to test Her. So He set forth the Saptarishis( Seven Rishis) to Her with a diktat to abuse Him( Lord Shiva) in the presence of Parvati. 

With great reluctance and only because it was Mahadev Himself who ordered them to do so, the Saptarishis began abusing Lord Shiva in an attempt to dissuade Devi Parvati from continuing Her penance. It was then that Devi Parvati explained the entire Shiva Tatva Siddhanta ( the essence of Lord Shiva) to the Saptarishis. Everything of Shiva that the outer world sees, has a meaning deeper than the deepest of oceans, that Devi Parvati revealed to the Saptarishis. The Saptarishis went back to Lord Shiva full of gratitude for sending them to Parvati, who unwittingly became their Guru since She revealed the Shiva Tatva to them. 

Now, it was time for Lord Shiva Himself to test Her. Donning the disguise of an old Brahmachari, Mahadev appeared at Parvati’s Sadhana Sthalam( spot of penance). In the meantime, Devi Parvati, was distraught that Her penance had still not melted Mahadev’s heart. 

She recalled her previous life as Sati, where She gave up Her body on hearing Shiva-ninda. Thinking that even this body is unfit to take a place beside Him, she lit up a pyre to give up Her body and walked into it. Just then, an old Brahmachari appeared before Her. The fire extinguished itself and felt as cool as sandalwood. A stunned Parvati got off the pyre, walked towards the old man and said, “ It is your grace that the fire extinguished itself. I bow to you, O revered Brahmachari”. 

To which, the old man replied, “ O young lady, it looks like you are undertaking severe penance for an extraordinary thing! It is your Taposhakti that cooled the fire here. By the way, what is it that you are doing this for?” 

Parvati says, “ I am doing this penance to attain Lord Shiva as my husband, my Lord”

The old man says, “ What a disgrace! You, such a beautiful and tender lady, and He, the one who wears Bhasma(ash from funeral pyres) and is surrounded by strange creatures all the time! What a waste of your penance!” 

Once again, anger and grief overwhelmed Parvati. She said, “I wonder how you all attained the position of great yogis, when you haven’t even grasped the tail-end of the greatness of Shankara!”

With these words, grief overwhelmed Her. There were no signs of Shankara’s grace on Her, yet all She got to hear was Shiva-ninda.  With a choking throat, She instructed Her assistants to stop Him from talking any further, and turned to go back into Her Kutir. 

As She set one foot into Her kutir and was about to set the other foot inside, She felt someone grab Her hand. 

She turned around and who did She see? 

The Lord or all Lords, Parameshwara, smiling lovingly at Her!!!

Devi Brahmacharini: The second Durga

The word “Brahm” refers to the one who practices Tapas (penance) – Brahm ka aacharan karne wali. Her name means “one who performs Tapas (penance)”. 

Women in many traditions have been denied spiritual pursuits, their place being among the lesser worldly matters and mortal elements. In most cultural traditions, they have always been looked upon as ‘distractions’ in men’s path to spirituality and salvation. Hence, it is very important to recognise this form of the Goddess and the highest form of ‘tapas’ (meditation) that women can undertake and the greatest spiritual heights they can achieve to discover their own truth.

Women can walk the path of Sadhana and serve as light for others. It must also be recognised that many great women saints were able to transcend their binary gender identities and talk about the formless body which has no male or female qualities. A lot can be learned from the Indian Bhakti Movement and saints like Akka Mahadevi, Sant Muktabai, Sant Janabai, Sant Kanhopatra, Sant Mirabai, Lal Ded and many more. 

The iconography of Devi Brahmacharini:

On the 2nd day of Navratri, the Goddess is invoked as Devi Brahmacharini, the renunciant who meditates in very austere conditions. This form of the Goddess is truly grand and soothing. She carries in her right hand a ‘Rudraksh mala’ for chanting and ‘Kamandala’ (water container) in her left hand. She is the eternal source of spiritual quest and ‘moksha’. 

Draped in a pristine white sari, Ma Brahmacharini’s serene form is majestic in its simplicity. She holds a kamandala-water pot in Her left hand and a rosary of Rudraksha beads in Her right. Radiating calmness and strength, Her blissful face reflects the intense austerities over thousands of years which She had undergone to win over Lord Shiva’s heart.

Called Tapascharini, Aparna and Uma, Ma is a yogini par excellence who embodies discipline, fortitude, love and loyalty. 

Brahmacāriṇī Devī is unsurpassed in what she can accomplish. She is visualized as a celibate female practitioner who performs penances (tapasya). She is the revered Goddess of Learning and Sacred Studies. She walks barefoot and has a golden yellow aura of radiance around her head from her immense Tapas (penance).

🌸Her White Saree Symbolizes: purity, simplicity and detachment.

🌸Japa Mala: performance of non-stop severe austerities; knowledge of sacred mantras and scriptures

🌸Water Pot: represents a simple and self-contained life, no frills

🌸Barefoot: willingness to undergo suffering and renounce comforts for the achievement of Her goals

🌸Yellow/Orange Light: Her radiance from intense tapasya

🌸In Vedic texts the word brahmacāriṇī means a female who pursues the sacred religious knowledge.

A brahmacārin is one who is focusing their mind on the Supreme, taking actions with the Supreme One in their mind.

Doing all acts while keeping the Supreme Source in mind leads One to reside in the Supreme Beingness. This form of the Mother, represents our spiritual aspirations and the effort and practice we need to put in to realize them.

The immense blessings of worshipping Devi Brahmacharini

Even while She is disciplined, She is also an epitome of love, wisdom, and loyalty. Worship her with a pure heart and you will get great emotional support and a boost of confidence.

The blessing of Brahmacāriṇī Devī will grace you with the ability to perform great austerities as you calmly detach from worldly affairs. If the Goddess is pleased, She will grant the ultimate in sacred wisdom – the wisdom of the Supreme (Brahma Gyaan; knowledge of Brahman).

🌸Devi Brahmacharini provides the strength, determination, and courage to move forward in life, even in the face of the most challenging situations. 

🌸She gives the devotee a feeling of wellness, abundance, and joy, while taking away fear, depression and emotional instability.

🌸Maa Brahmacharini brings a sense of tranquillity, solitude, and self-confidence

🌸She ensures that devotees remain steadfast and persevere in their responsibilities, regardless of the obstacles they encounter.

🌸She imparts wisdom and knowledge to her devoted followers.

🌸Worshipping Devi Brahmacharini guarantees victory for the devotee in all situations. 

🌸Performing Her puja is highly effective in fostering love, peace, and harmony within the family and in begetting a suitable partner

🌸Worshiping Goddess Brahmacharini helps devotees maintain mental balance in all situations and cultivates the virtue of self-restraint and perseverance. 

🌸Through sadhana practices, Brahmacāriṇī Devī blesses with spiritual growth. 

NOTE: Since Devi spends most of her time meditating, today is a good day for Sadhana. Devi blesses those who vow to undertake the Sadhana for Antashkaran Shuddhi, chant mantras and meditate devoutly, with love, success, knowledge and wisdom.

Devi Brahmacharini and the Kundalini connection

The second form of Navdurga’s Shakti in Chandi Path is known as Devi Brahmacharini, the one who undergoes intense penance and austerity to raise her consciousness for the divine union with Lord Shiva. She is invoked in the Swadhistana Chakra of an aspirant through the Vedic mantra on the second day of nine auspicious nights of Devi. She presides over Jal Tatva or water element, holding the Kamandal in her left hand. Chanting her mantra with one pointed concentration bestows the Siddha Yogis and her devotees with infinite divinity, grace, self discipline, spirit of sacrifice and liberation from worldly entanglements. 

The word “Brahma” here represents Supreme Divinity. The root “charini ” means the female who is moving in, moving with, or going after something.

So in this case, Brahmacāriṇī Devī is She who moves with God, moves towards God.

Recall that the first Navadurga is Śhailaputrī Devī, the Goddess of Inspiration, who awakens the energy in the root chakra and focuses our attention toward Lord Shiva.

Her inspiration is the foundation for our next  step – the learning of Sadhana and Swadhyaya (Self study and the study of sacred scriptures).

The Tantric invocation of Devi Brahmacharini:

Tantric invocation: Mahatantri, Vijaya, Chamunda

This mantra invokes one of the nine forms of Mantrini Shaktis that are part of Devi’s Amnaya Parivar(Primordial intelligence of Shakti with her royal entourage). She manifested from the glowing pearl-like effulgence of the east face of Parameshwara(5 faced form of Shiva – Tatpurushaadi) with all Her rites and mantra vidyas. Tantric invocation of Vagvadini on the second day of Navratri endows a practitioner with supreme knowledge, wisdom, a calm, centered mind and mindful speech. Offer Her a seat on your tongue and chant her mantra to guide all your thoughts, actions and speech.

May the grace of Devi Brahmacharini descend upon you!

⛰️Om Devi Brahmacharinyai Namah⛰️

🌸Jaganmatruke Pahimam! 🌸

🔱Om Namashchandikaye! 🔱

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