Read Microsoft Word - Devi Mahatmyam v1.doc text version

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Email: [email protected] [November 2004]

K. Muralidharan

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Devi Mahatmyam (also known as Durga Saptashati and Chandi) describes the story and glory of Parashakti in the form of Chandika. Devi Mahatmyam is found in Markandeya Purana, one of the Maha Puranas. Devi Mahatmyam, consisting of 700 verses (Slokas), is considered to be the crown jewel of Markandeya Puranam in the same way as Bhagavat Gita, also consisting of 700 verses, is considered the crown jewel of the greatest epic Mahabharata. The greatness of and importance attached to Devi Mahatmyam can be easily understood by the sheer amount of Puranas and Tantras that refer to it ­ e.g. Katyayani Tantram, Kataka Tantram, Kroda Tantram, Damara Tantram, Meru Tantram, Rudra Yamalam, Marichi Kalpam, Chidambara Rahasyam, Bhuvaneshwari Samhita etc. Damara Tantra declares that Devi Mahatmyam is the best of Stutis in the same way as Ashwamedha Yaga is hailed as the quintessence of Kratu (Yaga/Yajna) and Hari (Vishnu) is hailed as the quintessence of Devas. Bhuvaneshwari Samhita declares that Saptashati is as beginningless as Vedas. Brahma Vidya and Sri Vidya are considered to be one and the same in that the latter concerns with the experiential aspect of Brahma Vidya expounded in the Vedantas. Devi Mahatmyam also commands numerous commentary works such as Santanavi, Pushpanjali, Ramashrami, Nagesi, Guptavati, Damhoddharam, Saptasahati Sarvasvam, etc. There are also several books available on Durga Saptashati ­ in all languages.

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Devi Mahatmyam describes the story of Parashakti (Devi) conquering the evil forces (Asuras) such as Madhu, Kaitabha, Mahishasura, Dhumralochana, Chanda, Munda, Raktabija, Nishumbha, and Shumbha. Devi Mahatmyam was revealed to King Surata by Sage Vasishta. At the end of seventh Manvantara (Svarochisha Manvantara), King Surata reaches the hermitage of Sage Vasishta in total desperation and dejection after losing his kingdom to his enemies and his wealth to his own people. A Vaishya by name Samadhi also reaches the hermitage in a similar state as the King after having been left in lurch by his wife and children. The King and the Vaishya approach the Sage and enquire him why there are unable of overcome their attachment (Moha) in spite of experiencing rejection and cheating by their own people. The Sage explains that the entire universe is bound controlled by Maha Maya who is the Yoga Nidra form of Maha Vishnu. People fall prey to their senses, desires and attachment due to the plays of Maha Maya. The King and Vaishya request the sage to tell more Maha Maya. The Sage's narration about the story and glory of Maha Maya is Devi Mahatmyam. The narration is organized into 13 chapters spread over 3 section. The first section (Prathama Charitram), consisting of one chapter, describes the story of Parashakti conquering Madhu Kaitabha. In this section, Parashakti is attributed in the form of Maha Kali. The second section (Madhyama Charitram), consisting of 3 chapters, describes the story of Parashakti conquering Mahishasura and his army. In this section, Parashakti is

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attributed in the form of Maha Lakshmi. The third section (Uttama Charitram), consisting of 9 chapters, describes the story of Parashakti conquering Dhumralochana, Chanda, Munda, Raktabija, Nishumbha and Shumbha. In this section, Parashakti is attributed in the form of Maha Saraswati.

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Devi Mahatmyam is widely used for regular chanting (Parayanam) and performing fire sacrifices (Homa/Yajna/Yaga) and is believed to give immense benefits to the chanter as well as humanity. Although Devi Mahatmyam itself consists of only 700 verses in 3 sections, the chanting procedure usually includes several additional hymns before and after Devi Mahatmyam. In other words, the chanting includes a Purva Bhaga (First Part), Devi Mahatmyam and an Uttara Bhaga (Ending Part). It must be noted that the actual selection of hymns and the order of chanting them within Purva Bhaga and Uttara Bhaga vary according to different traditions (Paddhatis/Kramas) in vogue. A detailed coverage of those traditions is beyond the scope of this compilation. Readers are advised to consult knowledgeable sources for this purpose. This compilation follows one of the traditions (Dakshinatya Krama). In this tradition, the Devi Mahatmya Parayana Krama (i.e. chanting procedure and seqeunce) comprises of five sections as given in the Table of Contents in the beginning of this book. A brief description of each of them is given in relevant sections. In Uttara Bhaga, an additional hymn "Siddha Kunjika Stotram" is also given although it is not included in the Dakshinatya tradition simply for the reason it is considered by many as the Key for opening the Devi Mahatmyam Jewel Box. In the Appendixes Section, a few select Stutis on Durga are given. It also includes a procedure for chanting "Durga Sapta Shloki" ­ a selection of seven most sacred and important verses from Durga Saptashati. This is considered to be the essence of Durga Saptashati and it is said that Durga Saptasloki chanting also gives equivalent benefits.

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Devi Mahatmyam may be chanted by adopting any of the following commonly practiced methodologies as per one's convenience: 1. Devi Mahatmyam can be chanted in full at a stretch ­ i.e. all five sections in one go ­ but it is likely to take a few hours. 2. It can also be chanted over a period of one week in the following manner, if time is a constraint: Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Portions To Be Chanted Purva Bhagam Devi Mahatmyam - Chapter 1 Devi Mahatmyam ­ Chapters 2-3 Devi Mahatmyam ­ Chapters 4 Devi Mahatmyam ­ Chapters 5-8 Devi Mahatmyam ­ Chapters 9-10 Devi Mahatmyam ­ Chapters 11 Devi Mahatmyam ­ Chapters 12-13 Uttara Bhagam

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3. Only Madhyama Charitram (Chapters 2-4) can be chanted daily, if time availability is a constraint. 4. Durga Saptashloki may be chanted at least 3 times daily using the procedure given in Appendix.

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There are varying and contrasting opinions as to whether Devi Mahatmyam can be chanted by all and what pre-requisite qualifications one must have in order to be eligible to chant it. The opinion at one end of the spectrum stipulates that Devi Mahatmyam must never be chanted by those who are not initiated into it by a Satguru. Further the chanter must have performed Chandi Navakshari Japam for 9 lakh times before chanting Devi Mahatmyam. The opinion at the other end of the spectrum is of the view that Devi Mahatmyam can be chanted by one and all as long as self-purification, self-improvement and pure Bhakti are the overriding reasons for chanting. But, it may be worthwhile to note that there is no specific injunction within Devi Mahatmyam that its usage is restricted to qualified people only. In fact, the 12th Chapter (Phala Stuti) recommends Devi Mahatmyam chanting/listening by all if they are overcome by tribulations, limitations, fears, enemies, adversities, etc. The compiler of this book possesses neither authority nor scholarship to accept or refute the above views. Perhaps, it is possible that the pre-requisites are made necessary due to the contents included in Purva and Uttara Bhaga ­ especially the Chandi Navakshari Mantra Japam. There can be no two opinions about the fact that Mantras are never taken by one himself but are given by a Satguru. Further the compiler is unable to get a conclusive opinion, as of the moment of compiling this book, as to whether it is permissible to skip only those portions that need initiation (e.g. Chandi Navakshari Japam). Therefore it would suffice and be apt to mention that those who aspire to chant Devi Mahatmyam would do well to seek the guidance and approval from learned people before venturing into Devi Mahatmya Parayanam.

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The Purva Bhaga consists of SIX chapters viz. Parayana Kramam, Devi Kavacham, Argala Stotram, Kilaka Stotram, Ratri Suktam and Navakshari Nivechanam. As mentioned before, there are variations about the sequence in which these chapters are chanted but the tradition followed in this compilation recommends the above sequence.

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This chapter consists of a set of preparatory steps - the most important being the Sankalpam. This is followed by a few mantras to be repeated for the specified number of times basically to prepare oneself for performing Devi Mahatmya Parayanam.

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Devi Kavacham, from Varaha Puranam, is considered one of the most sacred and potent armour stutis (Kavacham) on Parashakti composed by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Stuti requests Devi to protect the chanter from all evils. The elaborate Phala Shruti speaks for the potency of this stuti.

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Argala Stotram prays Devi to remove all ills and obstacles. The last sloka stipulates that Argala Stotram must be chanted prior to Devi Mahatmya Parayanam.

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Kilaka Stotram is said to fulfill one's wishes. Chanting this stotram is said to give full benefits of chanting Devi Mahatmyam even if Chandi Navakshari Mantra Japam is not performed as per procedure (perhaps because the chanter is not initiated into Chandi Navakshari Mantra Japam).

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Ratri Suktam is from Rig Veda. Ratri Suktam is also known as Vanadurga Suktam. Ratrik Suktam prays Devi for enlightenment by removing the darkness arising out of ignorance (Avidya) and inner enemies such as lust. As Ratri Suktam from Veda, it must be chanted as per vedic meter and shruti. If the chanter is not familiar with this, he may substitute Ratri Suktam with Pauranika Ratri Suktam which is nothing but a selection of 18 slokas from Devi Mahatmyam Chapter 1.

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This involves meditating (Japam) upon Devi using Chandi Navakshari Mantram as per the procedure given. It is extremely important that this Mantra Japam must be performed by only those who have been initiated into this mantram. The mantra should be chanted for at least 1 mala (108 times) although 10 Malas (1008) would be highly preferable.

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If you are not familiar with the above Ratri Suktam from Rig Veda, you may chant the following selection of Devi Stuti from Devi Mahatmyam (Chapter 1) in lieu of it. This selection is known as Pauranika Ratri Suktam.

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The Prathama Charitram (i.e. the first portion of the story) consists of one chapter and describes the destruction of Madhu Kaitabha. As mentioned before, Devi is attributed in the form of Maha Kali/Durga in this section.

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The Prathama Charitra starts with the description of how Devi Mahatmyam was revealed to King Surata, as explained before in the introductory chapter. At the end of (previous) Kalpa, the entire universe was submerged in water and Lord Mahavishnu went into Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep) state. Two Asuras (Demons) by name Madhu and Kaitabha came into existence from the excreta secreted from Lord Maha Vishnu's ears. They tried to kill Brahma who was seated in the Lotus abdominal portion (Nabhi Kamalam) of Maha Vishnu. Lord Brahma prays Yoga Nidra Devi, the Vishnu Maya to come to his help. At the end of Brahma's prayer, Maya Devi appeared in front of Brahma by emanating from Lord Maha Vishnu's body. Lord Maha Vishnu also wakes up from His Yoga Nidra by this time and fights with Madhu and Kaitabha for one thousand years. At one point of time, Madhu and Kaitabha offered a boon to Lord Maha Vishnu. Lord Maha Vishnu requests the destroyal of both of them as boon. Madhu and Kaitabha accepted to their killing by Lord Maha Vishnu in a place where there is no water. Lord Maha Vishnu immediately kills them by placing them on His lap with His Sudarshana Chakra. The following is a Dhyana Sloka for Prathama Charitram where Maha Maya is worshipped as Maha Kali.

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This marks the end of Prathama Charitram ( first story). Perform Ahuti with the following sloka.

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The Madhyama Charitram (i.e. the middle part of story) consists of 3 chapters viz. Mahishasura Sainya Vadham, Mahishasura Vadham and Devi Stuti. As mentioned before, this section attributes Maha Maya in the form of Maha Lakshmi.

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Once upon a time, Mahishasura was ruling the Asuras (Demons) and Indra was ruling the Devas. A war breaks out between the two and Mahishasura assumes the post of Devendra after defeating the Devas. He also starts performing the functions of Sun, Indra, Agni , Vayu, Varuna etc. The Devas assemble in front of Lord Brahma, Lord Maha Vishnu and Lord Shiva who get very angry after listening to their plight. A resplendent Devi is born from the Tejas (luster) of the three Lords. The Lords and other Devas then bestow their divine strength and weapons to the Devi. The Devi then fights with Mahishasura's army and destroys them completely.

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The Devi then fights with the important lieutenants of Mahishasura such as Chikshura, Chamara, Karala, Uddata, Bashkala, Ugrasya, Ugravirya, Bidala and kills all of them. Mahishasura comes and fights with Devi himself upon seeing the defeat and killing of his large army. Devi fights with him for a while and then kills him with Shula by standing his neck.

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The Devas become very happy and pleased with the destroyal of Mahishasura's army and Mahishasura's slaying by Devi. They all praise and pray Devi as the the embodiment of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as well as Lakshmi and Parvati. Devi becomes pleased with Devas' praise and offers a boon. Devas request that She must come to their rescue from troubles whenever they think of Her. Devi grants their wish and disappears. The following is the Dhyana Sloka for Madhyama Charitra where Maha Maya Devi is worshipped as Maha Lakshmi.

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This is the end of second chapter that describes the destruction of the army of Mahishasura. Perform Ahuti with the following mantram.

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5

The Uttama Charitram (i.e. last portion of story) consists of 9 chapters. As mentioned before, Maha Maya is attributed in the form of Maha Saraswati in this section.

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Once upon a time, two Asuras viz. Shumbha and Nishumbha ruled the three worlds by assuming the authority and duties of Indra, Surya, Chandra, Kubera, Yama, Varuna, Vayu, Agni, etc. They also assumed Havir Bhagams of Devas (Offerings made in fire ceremonies to various Deities). Devas, unable to bear this plight, reach Himalayas and pray to Vishnu Maya. They request Her to come to their rescue as promised before. The Devi (Kaushiki) appears before them and agrees to destroy Nishumbha, Shumba and their army. The Devi is spotted by two Asuras viz. Chanda and Munda who promptly inform the same to Shumbha. They tell him that the Devi is very beautiful and it is apt for Shumbha to get her. Shumbha sends Sugriva as his envoy to Devi. Sugriva reaches the abode of Devi and conveys Shumbha's message that it will be apt for her to marry Shumbha and enjoy all wealth. Devi tells Sugriva that She had made a vow long before that she would marry only the one who defeats her in a fight and requests him to convey the same to Shumbha.

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Upon hearing Devi's reply through Sugriva, Shumbha sends Dhumralochana to bring Devi to him by force. Dhumralochana reaches the abode of Devi with an army of 60,000 Asuras. When Dhumralochana tries to go near Devi, Devi burns him instantly by her Humkara. His army also gets destroyed by Devi's Vahana (Vehicle) , the Lion. Learning about Dhumralochana's death, Shumba asks Chanda and Munda to accomplish the same task.

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Chanda and Munda, along with their large army, start fighting with Devi. On seeing them, Devi's face becomes black in anger. From her face, a fierce and dark colored Devi known as Kali comes out. Maha Kali destroys the army of Chanda and Munda. Later She severs the heads of both of them and Devi assumes the name Chamunda because of this.

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Shumbha orders the entire Asura army to be assembled to fight Devi. He also joins the army. The Asura army surrounds Kali Devi. The respective powers for Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and other Devas emanate from them ­ Brahmani, Maheshvari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Aindri, Narasimhi, etc. - and reach Kali Devi. Then Devi sends Lord Shiva as her envoy to Shumbha and therefore came to be known as Shiva Duti. But Asura's army fiercely fights with Devi. The various forms of Devi fight with the Asura army and destroy them. Seeing this, an Asura known as Raktabija comes and fights with Devi. From every drop of blood that falls from his body on to the ground, another equivalent Asura comes

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into being and fights with Devi. Devi orders Chamunda to open Her mouth and drink all the blood that falls from the body of Raktabija. Chamunda drinks all the blood emanating from Raktabija's body and finally Raktabija falls dead devoid of blood. Devas become very happy on the death of Raktabija.

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Nishumbha prepares himself to fight with Devi on seeing that a large portion of their army have been destroyed by Devi. A fierce fight breaks between Nishmbha and Devi and Devi finally kills him by piercing his heart with Shula (Trident).

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Shumbha, on seeing the death of his beloved brother Nishumbha, becomes extremely angry and complains to Devi that She is actually putting up a proxy fight with the help of other Devis. Devi replies that there is nothing beyond and separate from Her and makes all the Shakti forms to merge back into Her. A fierce fight breaks between the two and finally Devi kills him by piercing Shula (Trident) into his heart. omens. Upon Shumbha's death the entire universe becomes happy and devoid of any bad

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Immensely pleased with the destruction of Asuras, all Devas assemble in front of Devi and praise Her with a stuti which is known by the name Narayani Stuti. Devi becomes immensely pleased with their praise and describes some of her future incarnations and the names by which She will be known as ­ e.g. Rakta Dantika, Sadakshi, Shakambhari, Durga, Bhima Devi, Bhramari, etc.

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Devi further explains the benefits that will accrue to one who chants and/or listens to Devi Mahatmyam with devotion. She declares that whoever chants or listens to Devi Mahatmyam on Ashtami or Navami or Chaturdashi (i.e. 8th or 9th or 14th Lunar day) will never see any obstacle, poverty, separation from loved ones, trouble from enemies, etc. Her presence will be felt in places where Devi Mahatmyam is chanted. The chanter can look forward all kinds of wealth, pleasure and boons. Upon giving this boon, Devi disappears. Sage Vasishta concludes his narration of Devi Mahatmyam to King Surata and Vaishya with this.

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Sage Vasishta then orders King Surata and Vaishya to surrender themselves to Devi. Both of them seek the blessings of the Sage, take leave of him and perform intense Tapas by focusing on Devi. Devi appears before them after 3 years of intense Tapas and grants them boons. The King prays for redemption of his Kingdom and become an indefatigable King in his next birth. Vaishya seeks true knowledge (Gyana) that liberates one from ego and attachment. Devi grants their wishes and disappears. The King will be known as Savarni Manu in future after getting rebirth from Surya Bhagavan.

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'

The Uttara Bhaga (i.e. final part) of Devi Mahatmyam consists of 6 chapters viz. Chandi Navakshari Japam, Devi Suktam, Pradhanika Rahasyam, Vaikritika Rahasyam, Murthy Rahasyam and Siddha Kunjika Stotram. They are briefly described below.

4

3#

This is actually a repeat of Chandi Navakshari Mantra Japam. The procedure is more or less same as given before in Purva Bhaga and the same precautions apply here.

$ 3

Devi Suktam is believed to be one of the most sacred Stutis for Devi. Devi Suktam was written by Rishi Vak, the daughter of Sage Amruna. It is believed that this Suktam emanated from the Rishi when she experienced herself as one and the same with Devi. As Devi Suktam is part of Vedas, it must be chanted according to Vedic meter and shruti. Chanters may substitute this with a select portion of Devi Mahatmyam Chapter 5 if unfamiliar with Devi Suktam.

3

.

#

After listening to Devi Mahatmyam that describes various incarnations of Chadika Devi, King Surata requests Sage Vasishta to explain further the Mula Swaroopa (the fundamental form) and important embodiment of Maha Maya. The Sage declares that Maha Lakshmi as the prime embodiment of Adi Shakti and pervades everything in this universe. From Maha Lakshmi were born other forms such as Maha Maya, Maha Kali, Maha Mari, Kshudha, Kala Ratri. Maha Lakshmi herself gave birth to Maha Saraswati. Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati then brought forth Male forms (Purusha forms) such as Brahma, Rudra, Vishnu etc. Saraswati later married Brahma, Lakshmi married Vasudeva and Gauri to Rudra. Brahma and Saraswati created the universe (Anda), which was broken by Rudra and Gauri. Kesha and Lakshmi too charge of protecting the universe. Therefore, Maha Lakshmi is the Adi Shakti.

+ 3

3

.

#

The Sage continues his description of Devi. The Adi Shakti viz. Maha Lakshmi is also known as Maha Kali and Maha Saraswati based on three gunas. The same Devi is also known as Sharva, Chandika, Durga, Bhadra and Bhagavati. Maha Kali is the embodiment of Maha Vishnu's Yoga Nidra and presides over Tamo Guna. It was She who Brahma prayed to for destroying Madhu and Kaitabha. The sage then explains the characteristics of Maha Kali. Maha Saraswati is born from the body of Gauri presiding over Sattva Guna. She destroys Shumbhasura. The Sage further describes the characteristics of Maha Saraswati.

Page : 95

0

5

The Sage then describes the procedure to meditate upon the three forms of Adi Shakti. Whoever prays Devi with devotion will see all his wishes fulfilled by Her. Those who don't pray Adi Shakti will see their Punya burnt away by Her.

.

#

The Sage continues to describe the characteristics and procedure for meditating upon various Devi forms such as Rakta Dantika, Shakambhari, Bhima Devi, Maha Mari. Finally the Sage declares that by chanting Devi Mahatmyam once, the chanter gets liberated immediately from all sins accumulated over seven births.

$

2

93

$

As mentioned before, this Stuti is not actually part of the Dakshinatya tradition of Devi Mahatmya Parayanam as this considered as a pure Tantric text. But, the Auttareya tradition insists that this must be chanted as the last piece and that chanting Devi Mahatmyam without Siddha Kunjika is useless. It is given here for the sake of completeness. Apparently, several variant versions of this Stotram are available in different Tantric texts. Readers are advised to follow their own tradition or specific instruction. .

Page : 96

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If you are unfamiliar with the above Devi Suktam from Rig Veda, you may chant the following selection of Devi Stuti from Devi Mahatmyam (Chapter 5) in lieu of it.

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The following is a concise version of Durga Puja. This Puja may be performed prior to chanting Devi Mahatmyam and/or Durga Saptashloki. This procedure may also be followed for normal daily Puja too.

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Offer Flowers and Akshata at the altar. Offer Flowers and Akshata at the altar. Offer Flowers and Akshata at the altar

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Show a spoonful of water in front of the altar and pour it into a vessel. Show a spoonful of water in front of the altar and pour it into a vessel. Show a spoonful of water in front of the altar and pour it into a vessel. Apply/Show Sandal paste to the altar

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Do Archana to the altar with flowers using either short namavali as below or full Ashtottaram given in the next section.

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Show Deepa (flame from ghee lamp) to the altar. Offer Neivedyam to the altar.

Offer Betel Leaves + Nuts to the altar. Show Camphor light to the altar.

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Do Pradakshina 21 times by chanting the following Mantra and then prostrate.

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Sri Durga Sapta Sloki is perceived as the essence of 700 slokas in Durga Saptashati (also known as Devi Mahatmyam) and therefore gives equivalent benefits if chanted. This can be chanted alone daily preferably after Durga Puja. The following table gives a list of Nivedanams that can be offered on different days and the benefit offering them. Day Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Nivedanam Sarkarai Pongal (Sweet Rice) Honey, Sugar, Fruits Chitranna, Fruits, Honey Milk Kheer Curd Rice Coconut, Fruits Sesame Rice Benefit Disease Cure Wealth, Status, Position Acquisition Removal of Planetary afflictions Get Issues (Son) Increase of Mental Power, knowledge Marriage Removal of Worries and Difficulties.

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The following stuti contains 32 of Durga which are believed to be the most powerful. Chanting this stotram and/or performing archana with these namas are believed to neutralize any evil/difficulties faced by the chanter, get relief from any form of fear and defeat enemies.

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