Updated: Oct 7, 2021
Knowing the importance of the different forms of Durga Maa will help you to perform Navaratri worship with ultimate devotion and dedication.
This understanding will keep you focused on a different aspect of Mother every day, as it outlines a path of sadhana to enrich and elevate the spiritual aspirant.
Understand, follow, and implement this process which is not just limited to Navaratri time, but also can serve as the journey to be taken over your lifetime as your soul progresses toward union with God.
(1) Devī Śailaputrī
ॐ देवी शैलपुत्र्यै नमः॥Om Devi Shailaputryai Namah॥
The first form of Goddess Durga is Śailaputrī. She is the Goddess of Inspiration.
She is the daughter of the King of Mountains – Himalaya. King Himalaya and his wife Menaka performed many austerities and Divine Mother was pleased with them and descended onto Earth as their daughter. The root "Shaila" means mountain and "putri" is daughter.
She represents the one-pointed attention on the "Oneness" (God, Source Divinity). She is the face focusing on the Oneness and thus resembles the Supreme Mother in Her essence.
Śailaputrī Devī rides on a bull (Nandi) while holding a trident in Her right hand and a lotus in the left hand. She has a half/quarter-moon on her forehead (ardha-chandra), located on her crown. Here is the symbolic significance of each:
Nandi (bull): Nandi's attention is always focused on Lord Shiva (God). Go to any Hindu Temple and you will see Nandi always looking directly at Lord Shiva. Similarly, Śailaputrī too has her focus turned toward God. In addition the bull is symbolic of determination, which is needed particularly at the start of our spiritual journey.
Trident: The trident is representative of past, present, future, which are qualities of the mind. It is also symbolic of three gunas (natures) which provide multiplicity in manifestation: creation (sattva), maintenance (rajas), and destruction (tamas). Mother protects Her devotional children with the Trident.
Lotus Flower: The Lotus Flower in her hand is half bloomed, meaning it is in the process of blooming, or newly awakened. It symbolizes the awakening of kundalini and represents peace and purity. The flower blooms in the muckiest of water and yet is spared from entanglement in it. Similarly, tapping into Śailaputrī Devī 's energy will bring purity and keep the devotee free from maya, selfishness, and worldliness, which helps to keep us focused on the spiritual path.
Half/Quarter-moon: The moon signifies the infinity of Nature, the contentment of being in union with the Bindu, which is infinite consciousness.
Śailaputrī Devī goes by many different names which describe her attributes. By worshiping Her, the spiritual aspirant attains these qualities:
Parvati: is known as the daughter of the mountains (parvatī)- a rugged mountain woman. Because of Her residence in Mt. Kailas, She also goes by the name of Gauri, which means white, shining, and brilliant like the snow-caps of the mountains.
Sati: This from of the Mother is purifying, and specifically brings clarity in a sometimes chaotic world. Purity and clarity provide a one-two punch to spark the seed of inspiration, and it is this inspiration that creates a yearning to be on the spiritual path.
Bhavani is the giver of life and has power over nature. She sustains the cycles, routines, and natural order of the universe. In this sense, Śailaputrī Devī manifests as Mother Nature herself.
In the human body, Shailputri is likened to the Muladhara Chakra (root chakra which is grounded to Mother Earth). Upon initial awakening of the kundalini energy (half bloomed lotus) in the root chakra, it begins its journey upwards.
Symbolically this is shown by Śailaputrī Devī sitting on Nandi (with complete focus on Shiva) as Her energy makes the journey from the root chakra to to the Ajna Chakra (third eye) where Lord Shiva resides.
Interestingly, the story of Sati Maa symbolically represents this "awakening" as She transitioned from her father to her husband, Shiva. Her life is the story of the awakening of Shakti and the resulting empowerment over Her father's will.
This first step, the awakening of Shakti, brings us inspiration to search for Lord Shiva, who resides in the third eye, between the eye brows. It is the foundation of our sadhana.
Navaratri Worship: The first day of Navaratri is very auspicious as it is the beginning of the nine days. By focusing on the Muladhara chakra and praying to Śailaputrī Devī, our body comes into resonance with Mother's energy. This lays the foundation for the rest of Navaratri and is the starting point of spiritual discipline.
Contemplation: What motivates and inspires your journey on the spiritual path? What keeps your sadhana going day after day, making more meaningful sankalpas, while trying to improve all aspects of your life?
It is none other than the grace of the Goddess of Inspiration, Shailaputri. Her blessings give us the energy to make progress in our lives, to overcome our ego, and to elevate ourselves spiritually.
Take a moment of gratitude for the spark of inspiration graced upon you in this lifetime. For, when we are inspired to search, to learn, or to even read a long webpost on the Goddess, we indeed are living with Shailaputri!
Invite the Goddess of Inspiration into your life!