Sankarrukku writes: The occasion of Navaratri is a good time to learn about the Great Epic, the Devi Mahatmyam.|
The Devi Mahatmyam (DM) is an Upapurana found in the Markandeya Purana.Composed some 1500 years ago, it is the first comprehensive account of the Goddess in Sanskrit. It has maintained its centrality in the Saktha tradition to the present day. The outstanding feature of DM is its vision that the ultimate reality is understood as female, as the Goddess. (Let us not talk about Nirguna Brahman. That is a tangent ad infinitum for most people.)
In DM , for the first time a new Goddess was created, MAA CHANDI [i.e. Durga]. She is the central figure in the entire epic. MAHAA KALI, MAHAA LAKSHMI and MAHAA SARASWATHI are the other main Deities in the epic.
One of the most interesting points to be noted is that the Epic acknowledges all the Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. MAA CHANDI is the combination of the sakthi or power of all the Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu religion. Thus the epic is unique in the sense that it is not against Saivism or Vaishnavism.
In the first chapter, Devi is called Vishnu Maya. In the epic it is Vishnu who slays Madhu and Kaitabha through his Sakthi or Power, which is Vishnu Maya. The four Sthudhis or Hymns in the DM are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful poetry in the Sanskrit language. The four Hymns are the devotional core of DM. The four Sthudhis are:
This is very pertinent -- especially now, when the world is going through troubled times. Most of the books give a Sloka called the Durga Saptha Sloki in the beginning. This is considered to be the saramsa of the DM. Daily recital of this Sloka is recommended. Bhakthas who are interested in how MAA is depicted as the sum total of all the Devathas can view copy of a painting at my homepage.
Also, I would recommend the following books to learn about this Great Epic:
So take out your credit card and log on to Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. (I could give you a link here. You know about Amazon.com Associates. But that would be too much. Please send a mail if you are not able to locate these books).
Let us pray:
Soolene pahi no Devi, pahi gadgena Chambike,
Sowmyani yani roopani thrilokye vicharanthithe,
With your spear protect us, O Goddess!
But for Shaktas, for those who worship Devi as Supreme, the DM is definitely the "Bible" -- that is to say, it's the single most ancient, elemental and universal exposition of our beliefs. It is as fundamental and beautiful for Shaktas as the Bhagavad Gita is for Vaishnavites, the New Testament for Christians, the Quran for Muslims, or the Torah for the Jews.
It is also, as you suggest, a masterpiece of world literature in its own right, both structurally and linguistically brilliant -- a scripture that becomes more amazingly beautiful and inspiring with each repeated reading.
Members who have a copy should definitely study it during the holy days of Navaratri -- ideally, it is said that a daily reading is recommended during these nine days. But even if you're NOT into scripture with that kind of intensity, do yourself a favor and find a copy -- especially if you love great literature and if you love Devi. Sankarrukku has listed some of the best editions available.
I'd only add that Thomas Coburn's Devi Mahatmya contains only discussion of the Epic and not a translation. His translation (and more excellent discussion) appears in his book, Encountering the Goddess, which appears on the Group Booklist. Happy reading!
The Devi Mahatmyam : The Constant Bloody Battling
[ Back to The Forum Main Index ]