Sonia Sumitra Thakar
The nine days leading up to Dussehra are celebrated by Hindus throughout the world with great zeal and devotion. This festival celebrates the victory of good over evil and the Mother takes centre stage during the celebrations. Nine aspects of Maa Durga are worshipped on these days starting with Devi Shailaputri on Day 1. To read more about the legend of this goddess click here.
Devi Brahmacharini is the form of Mother Durga associated with the second day of Navaratri.
‘Brahma’ here means ‘penance’ or ‘tapasya’ and ‘charini’ means ‘an ardent female devotee’. Devi Brahmacharini represents the very epitome of penance. She is depicted as wearing a white sari with a bright orange border, walking with bare feet and carrying a japa mala (rosary) in her right hand and kamandala (utensil used to carry water) in her left hand. Her face radiates serenity and grace.
Legend of Devi Brahmacharini
Legend has it that in her previous avatar as Devi Sati, upset with the insults that her father King Daksha heaped upon her husband Shiva, she immolated herself in the sacrificial fire at the yagna that her father had organised. She was once again born in the house of the Mountain King, King Himavan. In this birth too, Parvati desired to marry Lord Shiva. However, at that time, Shiva was in deep meditation.
So, Narad Muni advised Parvati to undertake penance to fulfil her desire. She followed an extremely harsh regiment with faith and devotion to achieve her goal. For thousands of years, Parvati ate only fallen fruits and leaves and slept on the floor of the forest under the open sky. Eventually, she gave up even eating leaves and continued her penance without eating or drinking anything for years together. She earned the name ‘Aparna’ when she gave up eating leaves and the name ‘Uma’ when her mother, on seeing her so weak and emaciated, cried out ‘Oh ma!’
The gods bestowed on her the name Devi Brahmacharini for the harsh tapasya and journey of austerity she undertook. At long last, Lord Brahma was pleased by Parvati’s penance and blessed her so that she could finally be reunited with her true love, Lord Shiva.
Significance behind worship of Devi Brahmacharini
Many devotees fast during the nine days of Navaratri, some go without food and some abstain from even water. They pray to Devi Brahmacharini to give them strength on these days so that they can focus on spiritual pursuits and fulfil their desires. This avatar of Durga Ma is the embodiment of renunciation, bravery and fortitude in the face of adversity.
It is believed that Devi Brahmachari governs the planet Mars (Mangal) and is therefore the controller of fortunes. She bestows the blessings of peace, prosperity, happiness and nobility on those who pray to her. Worshipping the mother in this form removes obstacles and hurdles that hinder our progress and helps us move ahead in life. On this day, devotees offer Devi Brahmacharini, sugar, a symbol of the simplicity she embodies, as bhog to ensure the longevity of family members. Some people offer fresh fruits to this austere and monastic unmarried form of the goddess and special mantras are recited.
You can read the mantras associated with the Navadurgas (nine forms of Mother Durga) in the Shree Durga Nitya Aaradhana. This compilation is the perfect gift for family and friends this festival season. Get your personalised copy here . You can read about the goddess worshipped on Day 3 of Navaratri, Devi Chandraghanta, here. (link to article - Navadurga: Devi Chandraghanta)