By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Devi Upanisad, DevI UpaniSad, Devi Upanishad
Devī Upaniṣad is a small Upaniṣad of only 32 mantras that has it's roots in the Atharvaveda. Its mantras are both in prose and in verse. The main theme is that the Devī is the Divine Mother. Verses included here seem to have been culled out from:
- The Devisukta of the Ṛgveda
- The Devī-māhātmya of the Mārkandeya Purāna
- The Durgāsukta of the Mahānārāyana Upaniṣad
This Upaniṣad gives the well-known Devīmantras that includes:
- The pañcadaśākṣarī : ka e ī la hrim, ha sa ka ha la hrim, sa ka la hrim
- The navākṣarī : aim hrīm klīm cāmuṇdāyai vicce
Devi Upaniṣad concludes with a long list of the fruits one gets by the repetition of this Upaniṣad and its mantras.
Elucidation of Devī in Upaniṣad
Once all the gods approached the Devī and asked her who she was.
She replied :
- She was Brahman and the whole world is comprised of her and the world includes her belongings such as:
- Matter and souls
- The five elements
- The sacred and the secular sciences
- The unborn
- The born
- She exists in the form of:
- She helps Viṣṇu, Brahmā and others to sustain themselves
- Performers of the Vedic sacrifices are able to reap their benefits due to her power and grace
Hearing this, the gods praised her through a beautiful hymn:
Obeisance to the auspicious goddess, the origin of the universe and the brilliantly shining deity We take refuge in her, the goddess Durgā, Sarasvatī the mistress of speech, the consort of Śiva (as Dakṣa’s daughter) and the power of Viṣṇu (Vaiṣṇavī). We bow down to her.
- Viśvedevas is the various kinds of divine beings inhabiting the worlds.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore