THE FIRST AVATAR OF GODDESS DURGA- SHAILPUTRI

According to the Hindu religion, Navratri is an auspicious festival and involves worshipping of Goddess Durga. The festival comprising nine nights (the word ‘nav’ denotes nine and `ratri’ means night) and is unique for the fact that each of the nights honours a particular incarnation of the goddess. Maa Durga has nine forms or avatars, namely Devi Shailputri, Devi Brahmacharini, Devi Chandraghanta, Devi Kushmanda, Devi Skandamata, Devi Katyayani, Devi Kaalratri, Devi Maha Gauri and Devi Siddhidatri. Each of these avatars has a day dedicated to them..

WHO IS SHAILPUTRI?

The first form of Maa Durga is known as Shailputri. Goddess Shailputri is essentially another name of Goddess Parvati ­ the wife of Lord Shiva and the mother of Kartikeya and Ganesha. Goddess Parvati, in the avatar of Shailputri, can be seen with a crescent moon on her forehead; holding a trishul in her right hand and a lotus flower in her left. She is seated on a bull named Nandi.

THE STORY BEHIND GODDESS SHAILPUTRI

There’s a story behind Parvati’s incarnation as Shailputri and why the Hindu scriptures worship her in this avatar, especially during Navratri. In her previous birth, Parvati was born as the daughter of a king named Prajapati Daksh. At that time, her name was Sati and she was married to Lord Shiva.

Once, Sati’s father Daksh had organised a grand puja (a yagya i.e., a sacrificial ceremony) at his place, but did not invite Sati and her husband Lord Shiva.Upon knowing that her father was hosting a puja on a grand scale, and had invited all the important priests as well as the rest of her family members, Sati, immensely curious about attending the event, asked Shiva for his opinion. Lord Shiva told her that her father Daksh had invited every important person he knew, yet had not sent any invite or a message to him or his wife about the event. So he didn’t feel it would be apt for Sati to vis it him uninvited. But Sati, desperate to meet her mother and sisters, whom she knew would be there, repeatedly expressed her desire to attend the puja.Shiva, understanding her urge, finally permitted her to go. The moment Sati reached her father Daksh’s house, she felt a bit unwelcomed by everyone around her. She observed that except her mother, neither did anyone greet her warmly nor exchanged pleasantries with her. While her sisters began to taunt her in the middle of the conversations, she overheard Daksh speaking ill of her hus band Shiva. Unable to bear such insult and disrespect towards her and espe cially her husband by her own father, she immersed herself in the fire being burnt as a part of the sacrificial cere mony . An angry Shiva, on learning the truth, put an abrupt and inauspicious end to the ceremony, avenging his beloved wife’s unfortunate death.

Parvati (or Sati), in her next birth, reincarnates herself as a manifestation of goddess Durga by being born in the house of Parvat Raj Himalaya (Lord Hi malaya, known as the King of Moun tains). Being born as his daughter, she is called `Shailputri’ (`Shail’ means mountain and `putri’ means daughter).

As Devi Shailputri, Parvati defeats many prominent gods. And in this life too, Devi Shailaputri gets married to Lord Shiva (Lord Shiva is said to have waited for her second birth for many years so that he can re-marry his own wife).

The first and the most prominent amongst all the Nava Durgas (nine goddesses), Shailputri is of immense importance and has endless grandeur. On the first day of Navratri, it is she who is worshipped.

WHY WORSHIP SHAILPUTRI ON THE FIRST DAY OF NAVRATRI?

Devi Shailputri is said to be the goddess of the root chakra, who, when awakened, begins her journey upwards. Since she begins her journey upwards, her puja is said to ring in success in all forms. Hence, beginning the prayers in her name al ways brings in immense auspiciousness to all endeavours.

As per Hindu religion, during the Navratri puja, priests focus their minds towards the root chakra, which is the be ginning of their spiritual discipline. God dess Shailputri is that divine root chakra that helps them begin their path of self realization.

BEING THE FIRST AVATAR OF GODDESS DURGA, SHAILPUTRI IS SAID TO BE THE REMOVER OF IGNORANCE AND HAS THE POWER TO SHOWCASE HER DEVOTEES THE REALIZATION OF THE DIVINE. HER DIVINITY IS SO GREAT THAT IT IS BELIEVED THAT MANY GODS WORSHIPPED HER DURING THEIR INCARNATION ON EARTH IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS

Being the first avatar of Goddess Dur ga, she is said to be the remover of igno rance and has the power to showcase her devotees the realization of the divine. Her divinity is so great that it is believed that many gods worshipped her during their incarnation on earth in order to achieve their goals.

It is widely believed that the Moon (which is said to be the provider of many fortunes), is governed by Goddess Shailputri. During Navratris, one can overcome many negative effects of the moon by worshipping this particular form of Durga.

Worshipping Shailputri is also said to ward off all diseases. It is believed that anyone who dedicates the first day to her prayers, will be exempted from many diseases.Shailputri

MANTRA FOR THIS DAY

The mantra denoted for Devi Shailputri’s worship is: Vande vaanchhit laabhaaya chandrardha krita shekharaam, Vrishaarudhaam shuladharaam shailaputrim yashasviniim This mantra connotes ­ “I am paying my obeisance to the divine mother Shailputri who bestows upon the choicest of boons to all her devotees. The moon in the crescent form is adorned as the crown on her mighty forehead. She is seated on a bull. She holds a trishul in her hand.She is Yashasvini ­ the celebrated mother Durga.“

If one cannot devote time to chant the above mantra, here’s a short one, which can be recited easily .

Om Devi Shailaputryai Namah ­ reciting this mantra on the first day of Navratri is said to have immense powers and helps one in accomplishing his incomplete tasks.

TIP FOR TODAY’S PRAYERS

The flower jasmine (chameli) is said to be the favourite flower of Goddess Shailputri. While offering the morning prayers this Navratri, inclusion of the jasmine flower is expected to ring in good luck.

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