This article is a chapter from the book The Devi Mahatmya.
Salutations to Sri Durga, Mother Divine who exists in all beings in the form of intelligence, mercy and beauty; who is the consort of Lord Siva; who creates, sustains and destroys the universe.
Dussera is the greatest Hindu festival for adoring God as Mother Durga representing the Divine Mother. She is the energy aspect of the Lord. Without Durga, Siva has no expression and without Siva, Durga has no existence. Siva is the soul of Durga. Durga is identical with Siva. Lord Siva is only the silent witness. He is motionless, absolutely changeless. He is not affected by the Cosmic play. Durga does everything.
Mother worship is the worship of God as the Divine Mother, Sri Maata. Sakti is the power of the Lord or the Cosmic energy. The Divine Mother in Her aspect of Durga is represented as having ten different weapons in Her ten hands. She is sitting on a lion. She keeps up the Lila of the Lord through the three Gunas—Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Vidya, Santi, lust, anger, greed, egoism, pride are all Her forms.
The Upasana or worship of Devi or Universal Mother leads to the attainment of knowledge of the Self. The story of the Kenopanishad known as the Yaksha Prasna supports this view. Uma taught the Truth to the Devas. Goddess Sakti sheds wisdom on Her devotees.
A child is more familiar with the mother than the father, because she is very kind, loving, tender, affectionate and looks after the wants of the child. In the spiritual field also the aspirant or the devotee—the spiritual child—has intimate relationship with Mother Durga than with Father Siva. It behoves, therefore, that the aspirant should approach the Mother first and that She will introduce Her spiritual child to the Father for his illumination or Self-realisation.
Mother’s grace is boundless. Her mercy is illimitable. Her knowledge is infinite. Her power is immeasurable. Her glory is ineffable. Her splendour is indescribable. She gives you Bhukti or material prosperity and Mukti also (liberation).
Approach Her with an open heart. Lay bare your heart to Her with frankness and humility. Be as simple as a child. Kill ruthlessly egoism, cunningness, selfishness and crookedness. Make total, unreserved ungrudging surrender to Her. Sing Her praise. Repeat Her Name. Worship Her with faith and unflinching devotion. Do special Puja on Navaratri days. Navaratri or Dussera is the most suitable occasion for doing intense Sadhana. These nine days are very sacred to Devi. Plunge yourself in Her worship. Do Anushtana. Devi fought with Bhandasura and his forces for nine days and nine nights. The war ended on the evening of the tenth day known as Vijaya Dasami or the day of Victory. Akshara Abhyasa for children is done on the Vijaya Dasami day. Aspirants are initiated on this day. The beginning of learning of any science is done on this most auspicious day. It was on this day that Arjuna worshipped the Devi before starting the fight against the Kauravas in the field of Kurukshetra.
May Durga give the milk of Divine wisdom to Her children and lift them to the magnanimous heights of Divine splendour and glory, the imperishable state of Kaivalya and eternal Sunshine!