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Brahmacarini Devi

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

[2] Devī Brahmacāriṇī

ॐ देवी ब्रह्मचारिण्यै नमः॥

Om Devī Brahmacāriṇyai Namah॥

The second archetype of Durga Maa is Devī Brahmacāriṇī. We worship Her on the second day.

The word “Brahma” here represents Supreme Divinity. The root “charini” means the female who is moving in, moving with, or going after something.

So in this case, Brahmacāriṇī Devī is She who moves with God, moves towards God.

Recall that the first Navadurga is Śailaputrī Devī, the Goddess of Inspiration, who awakens the energy in the root chakra and focuses our attention toward Shiva (God).

Her inspiration is the foundation for our next step - the learning of sadhana and the study of sacred scriptures, as depicted by the example of Brahmacāriṇī Devī and the flowchart below.

Brahmacāriṇī Devī is unsurpassed in what she can accomplish. She is visualized as a celibate female practitioner who performs penances (tapasya). She is the revered Goddess of Learning and Sacred Studies.

Legend has it that Goddess Brahmacāriṇī performed severe austerities for thousands of years to obtain Lord Shiva as Her husband. Her penance included sacrificing personal comforts, maintaining a strict diet, sleeping on the floor and going barefoot.

Such was Her penance that Sages, Rishis, and Munis all had great respect for Her.

In this austere form of Durga, She wears a basic white saree with an orange or red border, holds a rosary (akṣamālā) and sacred water vessel (kamaṇḍalu) in her gentle hands (lotus like hands).

She is barefoot and has yellow aura of radiance around her head from her penance.

Here is the symbolic significance of each:

  • White Saree: purity, simplistic and unadorned

  • Japa Mala: performance of non-stop severe austerities; knowledge of sacred mantras and scriptures

  • Water Pot: represents a simple and self-contained life, no frills

  • Barefoot: willingness to undergo suffering and renounce comforts for the achievement of Her goals

  • Yellow/Orange Light: Her radiance from intense tapasya

In Vedic texts the word brahmacāriṇī means a female who pursues the sacred religious knowledge.

A brahmacārin is one who is focusing their mind on the Supreme, taking actions with the Supreme One in their mind.

Doing all acts while keeping the Supreme Source in mind leads One to reside in the Supreme Beingness. This form of the Mother, represents our spiritual aspirations and the effort and practice we need to put in to realize them.

Goddess Brahmacāriṇī has strength of mind, immense resolve, and rock solid determination no matter what the suffering is, she will endure it. Worshiping Her will bring these attributes while increasing knowledge, and support in renouncing the world.

Even while She is disciplined, She is also an epitome of love, wisdom, and loyalty. Worship her with a pure heart and you will get great emotional support and a boost of confidence.

The blessing of Brahmacāriṇī Devi will grace you with the ability to perform great austerities as you calmly detach from worldly affairs. If the Goddess is pleased, She will grant the ultimate in sacred wisdom – the wisdom of the Supreme (Brahma Gyaan; knowledge of Brahman).

Through sadhana practices, Brahmacāriṇī Devi will raise the energy from the Muladhara Root Chakra (1st chakra) to the Swadhisthana Sacral Chakra (2nd chakra), giving the devotee a feeling of wellness, abundance, and joy, while taking away fear, depression and emotional instability.

Navaratri Worship (Day 2): Perform simple pujas today and pray to Goddess Brahmacāriṇī for blessings of knowledge, determination in your spiritual practices, and dispassion in worldly affairs. If you fast today and chant mantras with full devotion while focusing on the Swadhisthaan Chakra (just under belly button), Devi will bless with success, wisdom and knowledge.


Note: This section is for die hard Devi fans

Putting the Goddess Archetypes in Perspective


In the very first post of Understanding the Goddess, we discussed the three forms of Śakti: Śrī śakti is the power of Being (will), Bhū śakti is the power to create, and Kālī śakti is the power of action. (see first post in this series for refresher)

Understanding these three powers can help us to grasp the nature of Durga Maa and Her forms.

Śrī śakti is the power of Being (will). The supreme source is "Being", called Brahman. It just is - it is not doing anything. If the "not-doing" does something, then it is no longer only just "Being".

The core eternal Being is the eternal ‘I’ (ahaṁ) at the center of everything there is. It goes by the name of Brahman, Self, the One Reality, the Divine Source, God, etc. The eternal ahaṁ is the "I am" with no "this or that" attached to it. It just is - it is pure Beingness and it is the foundation for everything that is. There is no place where Brahman is not.

But there is power in this eternal Beingness. This power comes from the I-ness (ahaṁta), which is also called self-consciousness or self awareness. It is the recognition of itself, the recognition of its existence.

Why should "Being" do anything? Why can't it just remain alone as Beingness? Śrī śakti has the power to transform itself from Being to Creating (Bhu Shakti) or from Being to Acting (Kali Shakti). This happens whenever there is a seed of a desire.

What seed of desire is at the root of everything? The basic desire to manifest came from, and continues to come from, the desire to experience.

It is this core desire to experience that provides the momentum in which the entire creation came into existence, and Śrī śakti graciously holds the key, the potential power, to make it happen.

ૐshakti ૐshakti ૐshakti ૐ !!

In a nut shell then, When Śrī śakti wants, She so creates, and She does this by changing states.

She changes from the power of pure Beingness, to the power of Creation, which is Bhū śakti (or what we call Mahāsarasvatī), to the power of action, which is Kālī śakti, which manifests the physical realm, including our individual existence, various shapes and forms, and the world at large.

As individuals, we want and desire various things, and creation (including ourselves) is that expression in all of its infinite forms and situations. As such, Śrī śakti is in everything - everything we look at externally, including our ourselves.

So when we look out into the world and experience, we are not only looking at Her in the form of the world around us, but also we ourselves are in that world! You can't escape Her, there is nowhere she is not. Thus we worship Her so we can get closer to Her, to merge with Her.

So now, we know that there are ten forms of Kālī (Daśa-mahāvidyā), and there are nine forms of Durga (Śrī śakti). Understanding their difference will enlighten our understanding of each of them.

For example, Kālī śakti is manifesting the material world - she is dense. She is known as the force of veiling the soul, covering us in darkness so we are lost in the material play of existence. This is sometimes called avidyā-ignorance.

Kālī śakti's dark forms of the Mother are destructive (tamas). She breaks reality, cleanses us, and removes the ignorance. The tearing away of our attachments can be quite painful, but when we walk the wrong paths in life because of a lack of true knowledge, She steps in and saves us. The Kālī śakti forms of the Mother Goddess remove the veils to the Supreme Knowledge and rip away everything in the way.

Let's contrast Kālī śakti with Śrī śakti. The forms of Durga (Śrī śakti) are not destructive, they are supportive. They nourish and support growth. They instill in us the healthy desire which thereby gives us the vision to take the correct path.

We see images of Durga destroying the demons of ignorance, but Her wrath comes from an intention to force an understanding. Her spear in the demon, to cut off his ego (ahaṅkāra), is actually focused on helping him attain the deeper truth of our existence.

When we look at the correlation between the archetypal forms, we can see the difference between these two aspects of śakti in our internal world.

For example, both Goddess Tārā (Mahāvidyā) and Goddess Brahmacāriṇī seek to progress the spiritual aspirant, but they accomplish this in very different ways:

  • The Hindu Goddess Tārā (Mahāvidyā) destroys our lack of commitment, our lack of faith, she burns untruth, and destroys the internal and external enemies to our advancement. She takes away in a fierce way.

  • Brahmacāriṇī supports the same end game, but does so in a more nurturing way. She cultivates daily practice, daily purification (śadhana), and the spiritual drive to achieve success. She brings good association into our life, increasing learning, knowledge, growth, and abundance within our family.

The primary form of Durga with Her many arms has all of these forms within her: Bhū śakti and Kālī śakti as well as the auspicious nine forms are all Her manifestations. They have manifested from Her, through Her, by Her will. The many arms and weapons she carries is representative of the fact that all these forms reside within Her.

Jai Maa!

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