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Durga (Hindustani pronunciation: [ˈd̪ʊrɡaː]; Sanskrit: दुर्गा), meaning “the inaccessible” or “the invincible”, is the most popular incarnation of Devi and one of the main forms of the Goddess Shakti in the Hindu pantheon. Durga is the original manifested form of Mother Parvati or Adi-Parashakti. Durga is Adi-Parashakti herself. The Devi Gita, declares her to be the greatest Goddess. Thus, she is considered the supreme goddess and primary deity in Shaktism, occupying a place similar to Lord Krishna in Vaishnavism. She is Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati in her mild form; Goddess Kali and Goddess Chandi in her wrathful form. Durga is also called Padmanabha-Sahodari and Narayani, the sister of Lord Vishnu. According to Shaivism and Shaktism She is supreme, but to bring back lord Shiva in Sansar, she was reborn in human form (Sati and Parvati) to marry Shiva. Durga gave birth to his first child Kartikeya.
Devi’s history is described in detail in Devi Bagavatham and Skhandam Brahmanda Purana. Formless Sarveswari appeared in the form of Durga Devi to save us. People become brave just by chanting the name of Devi Durga. Devi’s blessing helps to protect the mind and body of her devotees. Debts, sadness and disease vanish with Her blessings.
Devi’s power to erase evil and protect good was given to her by the Thirumoorthy – Siva, Brahma and Vishnu. They created Devi out of a part of each of their powers. These powers were given to them by Parashakti. All their powers combined to create a great Shakti by the name “Thriguna”. She appeared as a woman of beauty with eighteen hands.
Thirumoorthy then gave her weapons. Thrishul was from Siva and Chakra was from Vishnu. All other devas gave her gatha, bow and arrows, sword and shield. She received her vahana, lion, from Himavan. She appeared very beautiful adorned with weapons from Devas in her eighteen hands and mounted on her lion.
Mahishasura became attracted to the beautiful goddess and wanted to marry her. Devi was outraged and started a devasting war on Mahishasura. Mahishasura was killed in the war. He realized who Devi was during his moment of death. He begged Devi for forgiveness. Mahishasura was a great rishi, by the name Thavamuni, in his previous birth. He got the boon of being at Goddess feat due to his good deeds in his past birth. Mahishasuras bullock head bears Devi. For killing Mahishasura, Devi is worshipped as “Mahishasuramardini”.
There was once an Asura by the name Durgaman. He got a boon to attain the magical powers and manthras from all the rishis. Because of this boon, Durgaman became very powerfull and the rishis forgot their manthras and rituals.Because rituals and prayers where not done Devas lost their strength. Rains failed and the worlds rivers and wells dried up. There was famine everywhere. Devas and rishis prayed to Jagan Matha for help. Jagan Matha appeared before rishis. As she appeared in a form with multiple eyes she was named “Sathashi”. She also got a name “Sagambari”, as she appeared with flowers, spinach and vegitables in her hand.
Jagan Matha protected the devas and rishis and made them strong. Durgaman saw this and started a war with Devi. Devi created a protective enclosure of Agni for devas and rishis to protect them. The devas and rishis remained safely in Devi’s protection while She fought with Drugaman and killed him. All the magical powers of Durgaman left him in the form of a fire and joined Devi. She was hence called “SarvaManthraMayee”. Since she killed Durgaman she was also called “Durgai”.
Durga Devi with her eighteen hands is worshiped by devotees using various names as “MahaLakshmi” , “Chandiga” and “Mahishasuramardini”.
Durga Devi kills the asura thoughts in her devotees and her blessings help devotees overcome difficulties and destroy vanity. Devotees and those following the way of Dharma, attain greatness at her lotus feet!
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