Navarātrā

नवरात्रा

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Lesson 3

Reciting the Devī Mahātmyam

Devī Mahātmyam, also known as Caṇḍī Pāṭha, consists of 700 verses, plus some additional hymns, and is considered a primary source scripture for worshipping Devī in most traditions, and is over 1500 years old.

It consists of hymns of praise, prayers for protection, visual meditations on the forms of the goddess, and also teachings about Mā and the nature, purpose and origin of reality. Like almost all of our scriptures, it is in the form of an oral dialogue, and full of stories.

The story starts with a king and a merchant who have both lost everything – their kingdoms, their business, and their families. They come across a sage who proceeds to teach them about Mā. Throughout the dialogue, the sage shares with his two students numerous thrilling stories about Mā and how she handles various demonic energies. By the end, their hearts are healed and spirits are invigorated, and they each find a new path forward.

There are visualization verses for different goddesses between chapters, so as you are listening to the stories, you are also visualizing her, and bringing her to life within. Each hymn of praise opens your heart and vision, and invokes reverence, humility, and gratitude. The process of reciting this text is a powerful sādhana unto itself, and if done with a sincere heart and pure motive, yields powerful and sacred blessings.

The entire text can be chanted at once or in parts. If you don’t know how to chant in Sanskrit, even listening to it or reading the text in your own language brings blessings. Also, if you don’t have time at all, the Devi Argala Stotram is the short hymn at the beginning that contains the essence of the entire text. You can hear the beginning of it in Lesson 5. Alternatively, if pressed for time, people chant just Chapters 2, 3, and 4, which are also considered the most essential chapters in the scripture.

The Chant

We are fortunate that Bhāskara Prakāśa Ashram has allowed us to share their beautiful traditional recitation of Devī Mahātmyam. Each hymn is recorded in a separate audio file, and we suggest you listen to them in order if possible.

Before you listen, find a comfortable clean space, preferably near your icon and altar for Mā. Wear clean clothes and make sure you have bathed that day. You can sit on the floor or in a chair. Once we start chanting, we generally do not move much or get up in order to avoid dissipating the energy of the recitation. If possible, keep the text in front of you (there are versions available online transliterated in most languages) so you can follow along, or meditate on Mā’s form.

Try to listen or recite with focus, longing, and a pure desire to experience Her grace and be in Her presence. Let the sacred sounds move through all the layers of your being. And, after you are finished listening to the portion of the text each day, make some time to sit quietly and let the energy assimilate inside your being.

If you have any questions, or want to share your experience, please email us at admin@livingsanskrit.com.

Teacher: Shivani Hawkins

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