Updated: Oct 8, 2021
(3) Devī Chandraghaṇṭa
ॐ देवी चन्द्रघण्टायै नमः॥
Om Devi Chandraghaṇṭayai Namah॥
Chandraghaṇṭa Devi is the third archetype of Goddess Durga, and we worship Her on the third day of Navaratri.
Chandra means moon, which represents
the mind. Ghanta means bell. Her name Chandra-Ghanta means "one who has a half-moon shaped like a bell."
There are many theories for her name:
She has a half-moon the shape of a bell on her forehead
She is the wake-up call/bell for the mind (moon)
She is the bell of time, like the church bell which strikes every hour- ticking away time (consciousness unfolding)
the Moon also represents the mind, and the bell represents the inner sound (nāda) calling the mind back to its source.
So Chandraghaṇṭa is the bell of the Moon, or the bell that calls our minds back to the Goddess (Source). She does this by blessing us with devotion (quality of the moon) for spiritual practices (delight for the mind) and protecting us (warrior goddess with several weapons) from distraction.
In the Chandi Path, during the battle between the Goddess and the demons, the horrible sound produced by her bell sent thousands of demons to their death, such is the sound of her bell.
So the bell here is actually a weapon that stops negative thoughts in their tracks. It is a tool for the peace of mind. It is also a tool used in ritual worships (pujas, homas), but its aim is always to focus the mind.
The ringing of the bell is a call to awaken to the present. To leave the past, our attachments, to something that was and to be with what is right now.
(To learn more on the significance of the bell as depicted in the Chandi Path,
please read the excerpt at the end of this post)
Chandraghaṇṭa Devi is She who rings the bell of devotion. She keeps you on the spiritual path by charming the mind with the supreme bliss, wisdom, peace, and contentment that comes through spiritual practice (sadhana). Her blessings remove all hindrances coming in the way of a person's spiritual advancement.
When She is pleased, She compels devotees to demonstrate their devotion through spiritual practices, such as ringing the bell, doing the pujas, reciting the scriptures, and singing bhajans.
Chandraghaṇṭa protects the mind from wrong thoughts. She also protects us from thieves, deceit, anxiety, and false accusations. She gives clarity, is important for removing depression, and keeps us on our path, even when things disturb us.
So stepping back for a moment to take note of the progression, we have the first Goddess, Shailaputri, who blesses us with inspiration. Goddess Brahmacharini, the second form, graces us with knowledge. The blessings of the third archetype, Goddess Chandraghaṇṭa, endows us with the devotion (and protection) to perform spiritual practices. Beautiful, isn't it?
Chandraghaṇṭa is depicted surrounded by gold, riding on a tiger that is roaring in anger.
Look at her face - her attitude can be interpreted as potentially angry or perturbed, but her demeanor is also sweet, tranquil and peaceful. She carries all sorts of weapons, all the while exuding radiant light. So she symbolizes both beauty and courage, both sweetness and fierceness.
To her devotees she is a sweet, protective Mother, but to a devotee's enemies, she can turn fierce.
Here is the significance of her depiction, starting with her ten hands:
gada (mace): can deliver concentrated blow to the enemy
khadga: sword of wisdom, discrimination
gyan mudra: moving from ignorance to wisdom
kamandal (waterpot): self sufficient, lives self contained
lotus flower: peace, wisdom
baan (bow-arrow): potential and kinetic energy
snake: kundalini shakti
abhayamudra: freedom from fear
tiger (or lion): represents dharma, bravery, and courage,
half moon on forehead: infinite consciousness, devotion
ghanta (bell): brings mind back to the present, to the Source
Chandraghaṇṭa Maa is posed to be ready for war against the demons, showing her eagerness to destroy the foes of her devotees so that they may live in peace and continue their spiritual practices.
Invoke this Goddess and she will not only protect you, but you will also develop protective qualities. You will build strength and courage to fight challenges - eternal power, strength, discipline, and a sense of dharma will be the fruit of your worship.
By Her grace all sins, distresses, sufferings, and mental tribulations will be dissolved and negative forces will be removed - and the results are quick! She is always ready to proceed to the battlefield to remove our difficulties. As soon as we invoke her, her bell immediately becomes active and starts to protect the devotee.
How does She move so quickly? How can She transform from sweet to fierce? In the human anatomy, Chandraghaṇṭa Devi resides in the third chakra, just above the navel. The third chakra contains fire energy (for digestion), so by Her nature She is reactive or explosive under the right conditions. She is a powerhouse of prana, attracting it from the cosmos when required.
Chanting her mantra and meditating on the Manipura Chakra, can bring clarity of mind, self-confidence, empowerment, confidence, discrimination and wisdom.
Navaratri: The third day of Navaratri is important to the sadaka, for on this day you can super-charge the sankalpa (spiritual goal) and get protection to stay focused. Let the mind focus on the Manipura Chakra (third chakra, just above navel).
Perform the cosmic puja (samasti upasana) first, then a simple puja to Chandraghaṇṭa Devi. Pray to Her for supreme devotion so that the mind stays focused on sadhana. Ask her for protection from distractions and be aware when the mind wanders. When it does, just bring it back with Her mantra: Om Devi Chandraghaṇṭayai Namah. She surely will respond! Jai Maa!
In case you were wondering...
Why do we Ring the Bell?
In the Devī Māhātmya (Chandi Path), the bell was given to the manifest form of Durga by Indra from his elephant Airavata (2.22). In the battle against the demons of Egomania (Mahiśaṣāsura), the goddess uses her bell to bewilder (vimohitā) the demons with its resounding ring (2.56). These demons represent the negative attributes of the mind, and the bell is that which stops these negative thoughts in their tracks.
If one is meditating and a continuous thought continues to bother the mind, the ringing of a bell will help clear the mind and clear a fresh space.
When pūjā begins or ends, or when you walk into a temple, a bell is rung to clear the space of both the inner and outer. The sound of the bell is a tool for the peace of the mind and the peace of a location.
While preparing for battle, Durga’s lion roars and she magnifies the load roar with the clanging of her bell (8.9). And in battle, she fills the directions with the ringing of her bell, which vanquishes the foundation of the strength (tejas) of the demons (9.20).
Tejas is not an easy word to translate, but can mean strength, vital energy, brilliance as well as the fire of cognition. When we call someone brilliant, we are referring to their tejas. On an external interpretation, the bell destroys the demon energies, chases away bad energy.
Daitya is a term translated as demon, but literally means ‘those born of Diti.’ There is a Vedic story of two sisters, Diti and Aditi. Diti, meaning difference, gave birth to all the demons. Aditi, meaning no-difference, gave birth to the Vedic gods. Those born of Diti, are those born of dualistic thinking. They see differences, have prejudice, lack empathy, etc.; these are the demons within us.
On an internal interpretation, the bell (nāda) removes the energy of the negative thoughts, or on an even deeper level, removes the dualistic thought (daitya-tejas).
By the fact of being born, we are enmeshed in the pulls of life. Our soul having taken birth is overcome by the myriad forms of manifestation. Our deeper nature is beyond the transitory situation before us, but yet we still are attached to objects and people that will leave us and cause us pain.
It is not the loss of anything that causes us pain, but our attachment to those objects. Everything will one day go away. It is the ringing of the bell that is a wake-up call to awaken to the present. To leave the past, our attachments, to something that was, and to be with what is.
In the second verse of the instilling of the Goddess (Saptaśatīnyāsa), it says,
"Oh Goddess, protect us with your triśula, oh Mother, protect us with your sword, Protect us with the sound of your bell and the twang of your bow."
triśula is the three pronged energy of the three guṇas and their balance
sword is the discrimination of the balanced mind
bell is the awareness to the nature of who we are
sound of the bow is the focus and aim of our attention.
Sound-words-talk can pollute our minds or purify our minds. In the praises of Durga, it is requested, "May the bell, that fills the world with its sound, destroy the demon-tejas, Oh Goddess, protect us like a mother to her children."
By awareness of our thoughts, feelings and actions we have a choice in what we do. Without awareness we are just pushed around by our past mental impressions.
In the wakeful state we see through our personal delusion created by our desires and the larger illusion of permanence.
Pray for Goddess Chandraghaṇṭa's blessing and listen for the inner bell!