Devi Mahatmyam

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By P. R. Ramachander

The Devi Mahatmyam relates the story of how the Devi

  • in the form of Vishnu Maya, killed Madhu and Kaidabha
  • in the form of Lakshmi, killed Mahishasura
  • in the form of Saraswati, killed Shumbha and Nishumbha.

In South India, this text is known as Devi Mahatmya. It is known as Chandi in West Bengal and as Durga Sapthasathi in the northern parts of the country including Varanasi. It consists of Chapters 74 to 86 of the Markandeya Purana[1] and has 700 stanzas.

The stories of Devi Mahatmya are as told by Sage Markandeya to Sage Baguri. He tells him that one king called Suradha, who was driven out of his kingdom by his own people met one Vysya[2] called Samadhi who was also driven out of his home by his family. They discover that both of them worry about the welfare of those that had driven them out of their respective homes. It appears to them that this is unnatural. So they approach Sage Sumedhas who was also living in the forest. The sage tells them that all this is the illusion created by the great Goddess called Vishnu Maya. They became curious and want to know about this great mother Goddess. He then relates to them the story of Devi Mahatmya, which consists of three stories in all of which the mother Goddess kills the enemies of Gods.

The first story is that of Madhu and Kaidabha. They take birth from the earwax of Lord Vishnu while he was asleep and start troubling Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma prays to the Goddess to help him continue his work of creation. The goddess appears and takes the form of Lord Vishnu and kills both Asuras after wrestling with them for thousands of years. Since both these Asuras were of tamasic origin, she also had a tamasic form.

The second story is that of Mahishasura. This asura, who had the form of buffalo, drove away the devas and Indra from their homes. They all go and approach the holy trinity for the redressal of their grievances. This made those three gods very angry which manifested in the form of Lakshmi who had the innate power of all of them and further strengthened by the powers and weapons of all the devas. Lakshmi than killed Mahishasura.

The third story is of how the Great Asura brothers Shumbha and Nishumbha were killed by the Saraswati. This time the gods approach Goddess Uma who was wandering in the Himalaya Mountains and told her of their sufferings. Out of the body of the Goddess came Koushikhi or Chandika. She was black in colour. She along with the powers generated by various Gods killed Shumbha and Nishumbha.

Sage Markandeya then tells of how, the king Suradha and Vysya Samadhi did penance on the goddess and got the boons that they wanted.

In the twelfth chapter, the Goddess tells that for one, who reads or hears, these three stories, there is nothing impossible to obtain including salvation[3].

It is believed that just possession of this book has helped many great people to fight evil spirits as well as getting the blessings of the Goddess herself. Several such folk stories abound all over India. One of those famous one in Kerala was how one great Manthrika called Kalluru Namboodhiri was asked by a king called Shakthan Thamburan, to enter the Kodungaloor Bhagawathi temple at night after the festival and bring back his ring from the closed sanctum sanctorum. He did this easily by taking with him a copy of Devi Mahatmya.

Reading of Devi Mahatymam during Sharad and Vasantha Navarathris is auspicious.

Parayana Krama (Prescribed Methods of Reading/Chanting)

Devi Mahatmya is a story but each of its slokas are considered to be mantras. There are two methods of how to start reading Devi Mahatmya. The first one is called Tryangam and consists of reading three prayers viz Devi Kavacham, Devi Argalam and Devi Keelakam followed by meditation and chanting of the Navakshari Mantra.

The other is Navangam, where nine prayers are recited before starting reading of the book. They are chanting of

  1. Nyasa
  2. Avahana
  3. Namani
  4. Argala
  5. Keelaga
  6. Hrudhaya
  7. Dhala
  8. Dhyana and
  9. Kavacha

The entire Devi Mahatmyam should be read in one sitting. After completion of the reading it is necessary to chant the Devi Suktham consisting of slokas 7 to 36 in chapter 8. If the Guru has taught the Navakshari Mantra, then it should also be meditated up on.

People who are unable to read the entire Devi Mahatmyam in a single sitting should read the Pradhama Charithra (first chapter) on the first day, the Madhyama Charithra (chapters 2,3,4) on the next day and the Uthama Charitha (remaining 9 chapters) on the third day.

The full reading can also be done over seven days viz one chapter on the first day, next two chapters on the second day, next one chapter on the third day, next four chapters on the fourth day, next two chapters on the fifth day, next one chapter on the sixth day and last two chapters on the seventh day.

It is important to know that daily the parayana should start with the Trayanga Mantra, text of Devi Mahatmya followed by the chanting of Devi Suktham. It is also essential not to stop in between while reading a chapter. If for some reason, it is stopped, the entire chapter should be read again.

It has also been told that

Geethi, seegri, sirakhambhi, hyakurvano vinasyathi,
Thatho jnathwaiva sampannamidham prabhyathe budhai,

Those who sing it, those who read it fast, those who read with shaking of their head, those who read from the text in their own handwriting, those who read without understanding the import and those who read in a very feeble tone, do not get the benefit of reading a work. It has also been told that any book, which has less than one thousand slokas should be recited from memory to get full benefit. Those who cannot should keep the book on a stand so that it does not rest on the ground.

The benefit of reading Devi Mahatmya several times is given below:

  • Three times - to get rid of effects of black magic
  • Five times - to get rid of difficulties caused by planets
  • Seven times - to get rid of great fear.
  • Nine times - achieves Peace,
  • Eleven times - to get over fear of death, attention of the king
  • Twelve times - getting desires fulfilled and destruction of enemies
  • Fourteen times - to attract Women as well as destroy enemies
  • Fifteen times - Pleasant life and obtaining of wealth
  • Sixteen times - to get sons and grand sons
  • Seventeen times - to get rid of fear of the King
  • Eighteen times - to get occult powers
  • Twenty times - For war to end
  • Twenty-five times - To come out of prison
  • Hundred times - to get rid of great sorrow, banishment from caste, Loss of life, salvation
  • Hundred and eight times - Fulfilling any wanted desire
  • One thousand times - Goddess Mahalakshmi will visit him and he will get all wealth and

The Kathyayani Tantra mentions various other methods of reading Devi Mahatmya. Some of them are:

  1. Chant before and after every sloka, the Navakshari Mantra[4]
  2. Chant Om Bhoor Buva swaha before every sloka and then chant Suva, bhuva, bhoo Om after every sloka.[5]
  3. Add “Jatha Vedase” before every sloka and chant[6].
  4. After every Mantra chant the Mahamrutunja Mantra.
  5. Chant Mahamrutunja Mantra one hundred times before and after reading Devi Mahatmya[7].

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Notes

  1. Markandeya Purana was authored by Veda Vyasa
  2. businessman
  3. Devi Mahatmyam by Brahmasri Kandiyur Mahadeva Sastrigal
  4. This would make your magical chants effective.
  5. Chanting one hundred times would get you occult powers.
  6. This would lead to fulfillment of all desires.
  7. To avoid an early death.