Durga Saptha Sati is
one of three major texts in Sakta cult witch consist of 700 verses or highly potent mantras in 13 chapters. Durga Saptha Sati, also known as Chandi or Devi Mahaathmyam, forms an important part of Markandeya Purana. The
text reveals Mother in three forms or gunas, i.e., sathwa, raja and thamo gunas,
in three parts or charitas. The first part is Pradhama Charitha, where Mother helps
Lord Vishnu to eliminate the demons Madhu and Kaitabha,
by inducing them into illusion or maya. Here, Devi exposes herself as Mahakaali, the darker aspect of the Mother. The second one is Madhyama Charitha covering three chapters where Devi on the request of Devas, incarnates
accepting the powers of each divinity to slay the demon Mahishaasura. The rajasik
nature takes the form of Mahishaasuramardini. These three chapters devoted to Mahalakshmi.
Next 7 chapters bring forth the story of elimination of Demons, Dhumrlochana,
Chanda-Munda, Rakthabeeja and ultimately Sumbha
–Nisumbha. Devi takes saathwika form for this purpose. Last two chapters
describe the benefit of reciting Durga Saptha Sati as told by Mother herself and the redemption of King Suradha and the Merchant Samadhi.
This is only a rough sketch to show what is inside in Durga Saptha Sati.
What are more important are numerous inner meanings of each mantra. Normally, devotees do pooja
for material benefits. When Devi is pleased she endows both material and spiritual welfare of the devotee. King Suradha, when asked by Goddess to seek any boon he sought only to regain his kingdom which he lost to his enemies.
She granted his wish along with an additional boon of becoming the next Manu by
the name of Saavarni which shows mother’s concern over her child. The Merchant,
Samadhi was not anymore interested in the material pleasures after his bitter past
experiences and asked for liberation from material desires and profound devotion to the Mother which was also granted.
As indicated earlier, Durga Saptha Sati consists of 700 mantras. Classification of mantras is made differently by the practitioners
of different thantra like Kathyayani Thantra, Yamyaamala Thantra, etc. The knowledge
of Manthravibhagas is important for Homas and other rituals but not for recital. According to the mantra classification of Kathyayani Thantra which is accepted generally, there are 535 verses(Sloka), 42 arddha sloka mantras, 66 khanda mantras and 57 `uvaacha` mantras to a total of 700.
Saint Jaimini, the disciple of Saint Vyasa, asked Markandeya to clear his doubts and the former was directed
to four birds that were proficient in Veda and Vedaangas.
Jaimini visited these birds in Vindhya
Mountains. After clearing his doubts, Jaimini returned to his hermit. Markandeya Purana starts with the dialogues between Markandeya and
Durga Saptha Sati starts
as King Suradha, after losing the battle and kingdom to enemies, escapes to forest.
In the thick jungle he finds a hermitage and seeks to meet the Rishi. As he waits,
another person Samadhi, Vaisya (merchant)
by birth and occupation is trade comes to hermit. He is in a sorry plight as he has been thrown out of his house by wife and
children for the sake of money. Still Samadhi is very attached to his kith and
kin. He knows very well that the attachment to the family and world impart
nothing but sorrow. He wants to know the reason of this phenomenon and its remedy. Rishi explains what maya (illusion)
is. Even the great saints are drawn to delusion. Maya is nothing but the dark aspect of Mother.
“Njnaninaamapi chethaamsi Devi Bhagavathi hi sa
Balaadaakrishy mohaaya mahamaaya pracchathi” (Chapter 1)
You can not escape from the clutches of maya. Why? If every body
in the world wishes to be like drop of water on a leaf of lotus, without any attachment to anybody or any thing where will
the world go? So Mother draws all living things into the clutches of illusion. Anyway, what is this illusion or maya every
body speaks about? When nothing is there you feel that there is some thing. In the darkness you take a rope for a snake. Take
a simple example. We know very well that we bring nothing as we born and take nothing with us when we die. This is ultimate
truth. Still we run after wealth. How much money we need to live? We all know about this. Still we crave for more wealth,
pleasures, glory and fame. We know that we have to leave our wealth, children, relatives and every thing behind and still
we think that they are inseparable! Samadhi, the Vaisya, wanted to get rid of these bondages. In a nutshell, Devi is the liberator from transmigration who draws
the living beings into the material fantasy also.
We see in chapters 2, 3 and 4 which constitute the Madhyama Charitha,
the elimination of Mahishaasura and his forces. After slaying Mahishaasura in a fierce battle, Indra, the king of Devas pays their gratitude for liberating them from the clutches of Mahishaasura.
This hymn which is in 4th chapter is one the most important and sacred portion of Durga Saptha Sati the other being 11th Chapter. Each word of this hymn is filled with numerous mystic meanings
and philosophical undertones. Personally speaking, I had an opportunity to attend a series of lectures spanned over 41 days
two hours a day on this chapter. Still, the person who gave lecture on 4th chapter of Durga Saptha Sati was not so happy since was afraid that he could not do justice to the subject! Devotees are
always recommended to recite this chapter on Mangal Chandi day, i.e., Tuesday.
Utthama Charitha, the
third part starts with 5th chapter where the sorry state of Devas after
Sumbha and Nisumbha annihilates three
worlds. They became so lean as homas and yajnas
were stopped by Sumbha and Nisumbha by which Devas were fed. Devas led by Brahma prayed to the Mother and Devi appeared
before them out of the body of Parvathi.
Mother went to Himalayas and waited there expecting good time to strike. She donned a beautiful damsel’s
form. Seeing her sitting alone in the forest, Chanda and his brother Munda persuaded their king Sumbha to bring her to the palace and marry
her. Sumbha sent his envoy but Devi asked him to inform his masters that only the
person who could win a battle against her could marry her. The 6th Chapter describes the battle and subsequent
termination of Dhumralochana with his forces who came to fetch Devi on the order
of King Sumbha. 7th chapter brings forth the emergence of the fierce
Kali from the eye brows of Goddess who destroys the army of Chanda and Munda who were sent to fight the Mother. In a terrible battle
Chanda and Munda were killed and mother
named Kali as Chaamunda. In 8th
chapter, Mother openly declared war against Sumbha and Nisumbha and sent a messenger to Sumbha asking to evacuate the heaven
and earth and go to the nether world, Pathaala. Sumbha sent terrible Rakthabeeja to take on Devi. From each drop of blood shed by Rakthabeeja,
thousands of his clones emerged. Kali spread her tongue in battle field and swallowed
every drop of demon’s blood. Rakthabeeja and his army were killed by Devi and Saptha
Maathas, seven divine mothers. 9th and 10th chapters describe the ultimate termination of Nisumbha and Sumbha, The 11th chapter, which is hymn called
Narayani Stuthi by Devas, is in important
part of Durga Saptha Sati. Daily recital of this chapter is said to bring forth
prosperity and guard against unfavourable supernatural powers and enemies as Mother herself grants this boon. It is auspicious
to recite this chapter every day or at least on Fridays. 12th and 13th chapters are Phala Shruthi and
granting the wished to King Suradha and Merchant Samadhi.
The hymns Kavacham, Argalam and Keelakam are to be recited before starting the actual text. The entire
Durga Saptha Sati can be recited in one sitting or can split into 7 days of a week in the following parts:
Sunday : Kavacham, Argala Sthothram,
Keelakam and 1st Chapter
2nd and 3rd Chapter
Tuesday : 4th Chapter
5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Chapters
Thursday : 9th and 10th Chapters
: 11th Chapter
Saturday : 12th
and 13th Chapters
Durga Saptha Sloki
Durga Saptha Sloki is
compilation of 7 verses selected from Durga Saptha Sati which is said to be as
potent as the main text. The first verse is from chapter 1 which starts as “Jnaaninaamapi
chethaamsi”. 2nd one is from chapter 4, “Durge smritha harasi”
the rest 5 slokas, “Sarva mangala mangalye”, “Sharanaagatha deenaartha parithraana”, “Sarvaswaroope sarveshe”,
“Roganasheshaan apahamsi thustaan” and
“Sarvabaadha prashamanam” are from 11th chapter (see,
how important the 11th chapter is!)
I have given only a small synopsis of Durga Saptha Sati. In the 4th
chapter, ther is verse which means even Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are unable to describe the glory of the Mother, forget the
human beings. Any way, keeping a copy of Durga Saptha Sati in home is said to drive
away supernatural elements` bad influence. My suggestion is to get a copy of Durga
Saptha Sati which gives the translation in a language in which you are proficient and start recitation. I am sure you
will obtain immense material and spiritual welfare. This is my own experience.