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The 6th day of Navaratri is celebration of ‘Sthree Shakti’ in the form of Devi Katyayani! The story of ‘Mahishasura Mardini’

“Chandrahasojjwalakara shardulavaravahana |

Katyayani shubam dadhyadevi daanavaghaatini ||”

Devi, who has a radiant smile, brilliance of fire, one who is seated on Shardula, She is Katyayani, the destroyer of the evil.

Devi Katyayani is worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri. She is one of the most worshipped forms of Durga and is considered a destroyer of the evil.

She has four hands and she wields a long sword and a lotus in two of them. She blesses with the ‘Vara mudra’ and protects with the ‘Abhaya mudra’ in fourth one.

She is associated with the fierce forms of Shakti or Durga, which also includes Bhadrakali and Chandika, and traditionally she is associated with the colour red.

Devi Katyayani is mentioned in Patanjali’s Mahabhashya on Panini, written in 2nd century BC.

She is first mentioned in the Taittiriya Aranyaka of the Yajurveda. Skanda Purana mentions her being created out of the spontaneous anger of Gods, which eventually led to slaying the demon, Mahishasura, mounted on the lion given to her by AdiShakthi. This occasion is celebrated during the annual Durga Puja festival in most parts of India.

According to the legends, there was a sage known as ‘Kata’ who had a son named ‘Katya’. Later, a sage named ‘Katyayana’ took birth as his descendant. Sage Katyayan had no offspring. He observed penance and worshipped the gods for a child.

Meanwhile, the demon Mahishasura was creating a lot of trouble for the gods. He was oppressing the people on earth. The gods approached Vishnu to sought a way to end Mahishasura.

At Vishnu’s request, Shiva and Brahma joined him and then the Trimurthy’s tejas took the form of Katyayani.

As swarupa of Durga, she then took birth as the daughter of Sage Katyayan as a result of which she came to be known as Katyayani.

Katyayani was created with three eyes, eighteen hands and was radiant as thousand suns. The gods gifted her with a lot of weapons to kill Mahishasura.

Shiva gifted her a trishula, Vishnu gave her a Sudarshana Chakra, Varuna gave her a shankha, Agni gave an arrow, Vayu gave a bow, Surya gifted her a quiver, Indra gifted Vajrayudha, Kubera gave her a Gadhaa, Brahma gifted her a japanala and a kamandalu, Kala Bhairava gave her a sword and a shield and Vishwakarma gave her an axe and many other weapons. Devi Adi Shakthi gave her own Shardula to fight the Mahishasura.

Thus armed, Katyayani proceeded towards Vindhya mountains where Mahishasura lived.

A fierce battle took place betwee Katyayani and Mahishasura. She defeated him and cut off his head with a sword. The slaying of Mahishasura is celebrated as Durga Puja in many parts of India. She is also named as Mahishasuramardini, the one who killed Mahishasura.

According to Bhagavata Purana, the young marriageable girls in Gokula observed fast during the entire month of Margashirsha and worshipped Goddess Katyayani to get Lord Krishna as their husband. Kanyakumari is considered to be the Kumari Swarupa of Devi Katyayani.

As per Karvira Mahatmya, Katyayani accompanied Mahalakshmi to Karvira Pura (present day Kolhapur) and participated in the war against demon Kolhasur. Raktabeej, an aide of Kolhasur, possessed a power (Siddhi) whereby every drop of his blood spilled on earth would give rise to a demon. Due to this power, Bhairava was finding it impossible to kill Raktabeej. Katyayani swallowed all of Raktabeej’s blood without letting it fall on earth. She created an Amrut Kunda to rejuvenate Bhairava’s soldiers, thus playing a crucial role in the war.

Worshipping Devi Katyayani is celebration of women. Mahishasura requested a boon that he would be killed only by a ‘lady’. He had thought women are weak enough and he would forever evade death. But when he encountered Katyayani Devi his misconception was shattered.

Her gentle, soft legs pressed Mahishasura to the ground with such a power he fell unconscious. This Navaratri let us all invoke that power within oneself to fight of the evil. Being the devi of ‘Ajna’ chakra, Katyayani will bless us with higher concentration and perception related to Indriya and Manas!

Dr Sindhu Prashanth

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