#193 The meaning of Durga Saptashloki (7 verses in worship of Goddess Durga)
To understand all about oneself, one has to find one’s place in the scheme of things which is the world we live in, and make the most of it.
Let’s suppose you are appointed the CEO of a company for the first time. On day 1 you are not functioning at optimal capacity, Youhave to still discover what it means to be the CEO. What works, what does not? Who are you leading and who are you serving? What is your leadership style and who are you accountable to? What is your vision for the company? You have to know much of all this to be the CEO of the company. Only then you can fit in, with ease. Likewise as the CEO of your life, you have a position of power and responsibility. One of the important things to be done is to find your place in the scheme of things and relate meaningfully to the one who is all power and all knowledge or the one who is the repository of all shakti and all jnanam – Durga.
Over centuries shlokas or verses have been chanted and sung as the winds have carried them to the devatas.
Over centuries these shlokas have carried the power that comes from austerities and worship and most of all the devotion and love, of millions of hearts.
Durga Saptashati also knows as Chandi Path is a very powerful set of 700 shlokas for the worship of Devi Durga, the embodiment of all shakti. It occurs in Markandeya Purana describing Devi’s great deeds
The Goddess is worshipped in three forms – Mahakali (as the embodiment of time and controller), Mahalakshmi (as the embodiment of all forms of wealth) and Mahasaraswati ( as the embodiment of all knowledge and wisdom)
Out of compassion for those devotees who cannot chant the 700 verses, Devi has instructed us to chant a set of 7 shlokas called Durga Saptashloki. This collection occurs in different sections of the Devi Mahatmyam and is a very powerful way to invoke her grace. Each of the 7 shlokas can also be chanted individually. Each of them praise Devi Durga and seek different results. Anyone who chants this will be blessed by a lot of fortune and also self knowledge, by the Mother Goddess
॥ श्रीदुर्गासप्तश्लोकी ॥
|| Shri DurgaSaptashloki ||
ॐ अस्य श्रीदुर्गासप्तश्लोकीस्तोत्रमहामन्त्रस्य
नारायण ऋषिः । अनुष्टुपादीनि छन्दांसि ।
श्रीमहाकालीमहालक्ष्मीमहासरस्वत्यो देवताः ।
श्री जगदम्बाप्रीत्यर्थ पठे विनियोगः ॥
NaaraayannaRssih | Anussttupa-[A]adiini Chanda-Amsi |
Om, this Sri Durga SaptashlokiStotraMaha Mantra …
seen by Sri Narayana Rishi. It is in Anusthup and other Metres.
This Maha Mantra is Dedicated to the Goddesses Sri Mahakali, Sri Mahalakshmi and Sri Mahasaraswati,
This Maha Mantra is Meant to be Recited to Please the Jagadamba (Mother of the Universe).
ज्ञानिनामपि चेतांसि देवि भगवती हि सा ।
बलादाकृष्य मोहाय महामाया प्रयच्छति ॥१॥
Jnyaaninaam-ApiCetaamsi Devi Bhagavatii Hi Saa |
(Salutations to You, O Jagadamba) Even the minds of the Jnanis (Wise ones) are a part of You, O Devi Bhagavati. You draw their minds towards moha (confusion) by your power as Mahamaya.
The first shloka emphasizes the greatness of the goddess. It occurs in the first chapter stated by Rishi Sumedha to King Suraata and Samadhi the trader. It addresses the godess with 3 names –
Devi, Bhagavati and Mahamaya.
Devi means an effulgent being.
Bhagavati or Bhagavan is the one who has 6 bhagas – virtues in full measure
Aishvaryam – Complete overlordship over all laws and principles
Viryam–Complete strength and skills, safety pin …
Yashas – Fame and glory in full measure
Jnanam – Knowledge and wisdom in all measure
Vairagyam – Objectivity in all measure
Shree –Wealth in all measure.
I may have the power to rescue an ant I am rendered powerless temporarily when that same ant enters my ear. No such problems for Devi. While we and other beings have the above powers in small measure, Devi has this in full measure.
The shakti of Bhagavan in the form of these 6 bhagas is indeed that Bhagavati, who is non different from him.
Mahamaya is the shakti, in the form of 3 gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas of which this entire universe is made up of. For instance, at a micro level, when sattva guna is high in you, you are inclined to seek and enjoy knowledge and clarity. If rajas guna is high in you, you have a lot of ambition and desires and hence a lot of activity to achieve them. If tamas guna is high in you, then it manifests as inertia, laziness or sleep. Our body-minds are made up of these gunas and through our actions we are able to modify the balance of these gunas in us.
As Mahamaya she is in the form of these very gunas as well as the controller of these gunas. Of these multiverses not just universe.
In this shloka, jnani does not mean a jivanmukta but someone who is committed to the pursuit of moksha but not yet abiding in the knowledge. Even for such a person who is wise, relatively wise, Devi can forcibly attract the mind of this person and create moha – confusion. One thing to note is that here is no progressive journey of punya in anyone ‘s life including a jnani. Much like the game of snakes and ladders where there could be snakes on your path which lead you downwards or ladders which give you a jumpstart and lead you upwards towards the goal, at any time, life is unpredictable in terms of the situations we face. Even for a jnani who has a great deal of mastery in life, he or she could be faced with a sudden situation such as revolt by ashram staff like in the case of Shankaracharya of Kanchior conspiracy by a fanatic from another religion or an incurable illness like Ramakrishna Paramhamsa and Ramana Maharishi faced. Even jnani’s can be rendered helpless by some situations that they face because of the force of their prarabdha.
The shloka implies that even for a person of wisdom if Devi can create a setback or confusion, then what how amazing is Devi’s greatness and glory. We can pray to her for removing our ignorance and blessing us with self knowledge.
By worshipping her we are freed from the biggest confusion of thinking that we are separate and hence lonely, isolated and we can be blessed by the knowledge of our inherent oneness.
This is the 16th shloka in Chapter 4 sung by the devas in praise of Durga.
The word Durga means difficulty or situations that are very difficult to deal with. One who helps us cross over these situations is also called Durga.
The name Durga is praised even in Durga Suktam –
Durgaamdevimsharanamahamprapadyesutarasitara se namah,
I surrender to you to help me cross the ocean of samsara – constant becoming.
What does this shloka say?
दुर्गे स्मृता हरसि भीतिमशेषजन्तोः
स्वस्थैः स्मृता मतिमतीव शुभां ददासि ।
दारिद्रयदुःखभयहारिणि का त्वदन्या
सर्वोपकारकरणाय सदार्द्र चित्ता ॥२॥
Daaridraya-Duhkha-Bhaya-Haarinni Kaa Tvad-Anyaa
(Salutations to You, O Jagadamba) O Devi Durga, Whoever Remembers You with Devotion, You Remove the endless Fears of Samsara from the mind of that Person,
(And) Whoever Meditates on You in their Heart, You bestow exceeding Auspiciousness (which is beyond description),
Apart from You, Who else can destroy Poverty, Sorrow and Fear from our Lives? (which appears to be a never-ending cycle),
Your Heart is always full of Compassion (aardra – full of feeling) for rendering all sorts of Help to Your Devotees.
Fear of loneliness, fear of old age, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of accidents, fear of darkness – whatever be the kind of fear we have, we feel overwhelmed because we have not discovered our own courage. Durga who is indeed the embodiment of all shakti, when remembered helps us conquer our fears through the actions we are able to take and the knowledge we are blessed with.
Detoxification is necessary before rejuvenation. So after we are relatively free from our fears and have discovered the courage that is Durga in our lives, what next?
As my trust in Durga grows, I meditate on her in my heart. Hence she bestows atiivashubham, all auspiciousness in the form of peace, clarity, beautiful and supportive people around me, opportunities for growth.
Daaridraya-Duhkha-Bhaya-Haarinni Kaa Tvad-Anyaa
The mother of a little child is available most of the time and attentive to see what help is required – whether the child needs to be fed, burped, cleaned, caressed or supported. And when we consider the universal mother, jagadamba she is always looking for ways to help because she is so full of compassion and love for all devotees.
We may be experiencing poverty – either poverty of wealth, poverty of ideas, starved of love or always thinking we don’t have enough or we are not enough. Whatever be the nature of our poverty, Durga who else than you can take it away. We may be experiencing dukha, sorrow from the loss of our hair, youth, or loss of a loved one or loss of opportunities or loss of time squandered away or the existential sorrow hidden in every human heart. Whatever be our sorrow or even fear, who else other than you can take it away, Durga?
Then comes the often chanted shloka, It is the ninth shloka from the eleventh chapter of Devi Mahatmyam.
सर्वमंगलमांगल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके ।
शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥३॥
Sarva-Manggala-Maangalye Shive Sarvaartha-Saadhike |
Sharannye Try[i]-Ambake Gauri NaaraayanniNamostuTe ||3||
(Salutations to You, O Jagadamba) O Auspiciousness in all the Auspicious, Auspiciousness Herself and Fulfiller of all the pursuits of the Devotees (Purusharthas – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha) …,
O the giver of Refuge, with Three Eyes (spanning the Past, Present and Future; and containing within them the Sun, Moon and the Fire), the Gauri (Shining One); Salutations to You O Narayani.
The word mangala means auspicious, prosperity, luck, grace. Maangalye means the one who is present as auspiciousness in all that is abundant, prosperous and auspicious. Sarvamanagalamaangalaye – You are that which makes the good do more good deeds and spread so much sunshine and goodness around and you are also that which causes welfare and much prosperity in their lives.
Namahte – my namaskaar to the one who is present in my life in all that is auspicious and lucky for me. You are indeed my lucky charm.
She is also called Shiva and she is sarvaarthasaadhike – 4 purushaartha – artha, kama, dharma and moksha.
You want artha – wealth, property, business. No problem. She will bless you with it.
You want kama – pleasure and emotional fulfillment, fame etc. No problem.She will bless you with it.
You want to gather more punya to go to svarga and ensure insurance not only for this life but for life hereafter. No problem. She will bless you with it.
You want moksha that is ananda at all times, in all places and all situations.
No problem. She will help you discover that you were never bound.
Sharannye Try[i]-Ambake Gauri NaaraayanniNamostuTe ||3||
Trayambike means the one who has 3 eyes. Is that a deformity? No. Symbolic of the sun and moon and the third eye of wisdom. Also called Gauri which means white meaning purity, clarity. aayana means home. You may be still paying your EMIS for your home loan. But know that you always have a home, a being you come home to, who makes no demands on you, with whom you can be yourself, with no masks, who makes you see that you are acceptable and lovable as you are.
The home, the shelter the refuge of all beings is Naarayani.
Our namaskaar to her.
This shloka can be chanted daily a certain number of times for fulfillment of our desires.
The next shloka is the eleventh shloka from the eleventh chapter of Devi Mahatmyam.
सर्वस्यार्तिहरे देवि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥४॥
Sarvasy-Aarti-Hare Devi NaaraayanniNamostuTe ||4||
(Salutations to You, O Jagadamba) You are Intent upon Rescuing the Distressed and the Oppressed who take Your Refuge whole-heartedly, and Remove All their Sufferings; Salutations to You O Narayani.
Deenah – are people who are poor, helpless, suffering with scarcity, unlucky and sad
Aartah – are people who are affected, disturbed or sick or injured or struck by misfortune.
Paritranaparaayane – your aim is to offer them complete protection and relief from their difficulties if they seek your help. Devi does not need our surrender. We need to surrender for our sake.
In surrender we stop obsessing about our problems and start being a part of the solution. In surrender we stop being subjective and start being objective about Devi’s power to help. In surrender we stop resisting our situations and opening ourselves to possibilities.
Sarvasyaartihare devi – you take away all the pain and suffering of your devotees and you also take away the pain of all devotees. You are not partial like my boss or my mother in law.
To you Devi, I offer my namaskaara.
The next shloka is the twenty third shloka from chapter 11 of Devi Mahatmyam
सर्वस्वरूपे सर्वेशे सर्वशक्तिसमन्विते ।
भयेभ्यस्त्राहि नो देवि दुर्गे देवी नमोऽस्तु ते ॥५॥
Bhayebhyas-Traahi No Devi DurgeDeviiNamostuTe ||5||
(Salutations to You, O Jagadamba) You Exist in All Forms of All Gods, and You are the Possessor of All Powers,
O Devi, Please Protect us from all Fears; Salutations to You, O Durga Devi.
Devi is not just present in a temple. She is present in every form, from the greatest form Brahmaji to a blade of grass – she pervades and is in and through all forms.
Isha is Aishwarya – supremacy, controller, overlordship, might and prosperity. Sarvesha is the one who manifests as the laws and principles and is goddess of all.
In the Puranas we see Devi Durga being worshipped by Vishnu, Indra, Varuna, Agni, and other devatas. Also in Ramayana we see Sri Rama worshipping Durga before the battle with Ravana.
The one who is all shakti. She is the shakti of the other devi ganas such as Brahmi, Mheshwari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi. And most definitely as icha shakti, jnana shakti, kriya shakti svarupini. (these words in the Lalita sahasranama – a set of 1000 words in praise of Devi, remind us of our shakti that we are blessed with, every moment of our lives. Iccha or desire is not the root cause of suffering, infactin Hinduism, power to desire is a shakti, a privilege that propels many actions. Our world is much the better because of so many desires of so many – the desire to connect everyone through the internet, the desire to find a cure for diseases, the desire for your children to have a good life, the desire to share your knowledge with the world, the desire to connect with others, the desire to minimize pollution.
Despite being so helpless and not being able to move except his eyes and a finger, in his later years, Stephen Hawking continued to have jnana shakti, shakti to know and contribute to science.
Earlier we asked for you to take away our fears because fears stunt our growth. Now we say Bhayebhyas-Traahi No
Protect us from having fears. We tend to feed our fears all the time because of which they overwhelm us.
Devi repeated twice for emphasis, out of respect for her glory and greatness.
The next shloka is the twenty eighth shloka from Chapter 11.
रोगानशेषानपहंसि तुष्टा रुष्टा तु कामान् सकलानभीष्टान् ।
त्वामाश्रितानां न विपन्नराणां त्वामाश्रिता ह्याश्रयतां प्रयान्ति ॥६॥
Rogaan-Ashessaan-ApahamsiTussttaaRussttaa Tu KaamaanSakalaan-Abhiissttaan |
Tvaam-Aashritaanaam Na Vipan-NaraannaamTvaam-Aashritaa Hy[i]-Aashraya-TaamPrayaanti ||6||
(Salutations to You, O Jagadamba) When You are Pleased with our Devotion, You Destroy to the very Root our worldly Diseases (our inner demons); but if You are Displeased with us (for any reason), You will destroy All our Aspirations and Wishes (i.e. they will remain ever unfulfilled),
By Your Refuge, Men cannot Go Astray and no Misfortunes can finally overcome them; Your Refuge Indeed is my final Refuge when I Depart from this World.
Rogaan-Ashessaan-ApahamsiTussttaaRussttaa Tu KaamaanSakalaan-Abhiissttaan |
The law of karma is explained in a personalized way. As you sow so shall you reap. When we are aligned to dharma which upholds the principles that sustain society, we gain punya. Putting it in a personalized way, with our punya all our dieases including the disease of samsara – that is I am not good enough, go away. How because you are tushtah.
When we are not aligned to dharma, we experience paapa in the form of pain and suffering and hence many of our aspirations and wishes remain unfulfilled. Put in a personalized way, I feel you are angry with me and hence you deny me. If our experience is of unfulfilled desires, then we must know that it is our own karma. Besides working harder for wish fulfillment, seek the grace of Devi by chanting this shloka and try to gain punya by reaching out actions and being prayerful.
Tvaam-Aashritaanaam Na Vipan-Naraannaam
For those who have sought refuge in you – who are aashritah there is no vipat – vipat means accident, misfortune, danger, failure, trouble.
Devi you stop all troubles from reaching the devotee or even if there is trouble you protect them from feeling troubled or the troubles pass away quickly. Many are the ways of Devi.
Tvaam-Aashritaa Hy[i]-Aashraya-TaamPrayaanti ||6||
The one who seeks refuge in you himself or herself becomes a refuge for others. They are protected as well as blessed with greatness and power to bless others. That person stops having an agenda for herself. She is fully available to help and bless with no expectation of appreciation or acknowledgement.
And the final shloka is the 39th shloka from eleventh chapter.
सर्वाबाधाप्रशमनं त्रैलोक्यस्याखिलेश्वरि ।
एवमेव त्वया कार्यमस्मद्वैरि विनाशनम् ॥७॥
Sarva-[A]abaadhaa-Prashamanam Trai-Lokyasya-Akhile[a-I]shvari |
Evam-Eva TvayaaKaaryam-Asmad-VairiVinaashanam ||7||
O Goddess of All the Three Worlds, You Mitigate All our Distresses.Thus, in this Manner, Your Grace Works to Destroy our Enemies.
Devi is addressed as Akhileshwari, the ruler of the trayalokah the 3 worlds. Baadha is an obstacle, suffering or pain, prashamanam is the pacifying, curing, healing. I seek your help in the pacifying of misunderstandings I have with friends and family, the stopping of fights and wars, the healing of diseases that do not allow me to lead a full life, the obstacles I put in my own way through self defeating thoughts. We seek relief from all of these.
The complete destruction – vinaashanam of the vairi – enemy should be done by you alone – evameva as you are the goddess of all things – small and big.
Vairi are inimical forces such as negativity, pessimism, unnecessary criticism, corruption, talking ill of others, words and deeds that cause harm to oneself and the environment, basically adharma. Anything that prevents and stunts the glory and greatness of all beings is inimical to it.
We seek the grace of Devi for all beings on the auspicious occasion of Navaratri.
As the CEO of your life trying to figure out your place in the scheme of things, you see that all the shakti you have is given, all the situations you have are given, the ability to navigate through situations with blessings all the way is also given. You can be an instrument in Devi’s hands, upholding dharma and living your best life as the CEO. You see that wherever is the given, there alone lies the giver, Devi Durga.
Om tat sat