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Significance of the Chandi Homan

The Homam to Goddess Chandi is performed accompanied by ahutis done to the recitation of the entire Devi mahatmyam. Of all the possible occasions to do this, the period of Navaratri is the most favoured one. Raatri which we often refer to as night, means quite different in the Rgveda. The word Raatree means the one who protects, She is considered as the Day-bringer of darkness. Her sister is Ushas, the Day bringer of Light. Ratri is the time for us to lessen our extrovert activities, wind down and do some introspection. Why the Nine nights? 9 is a renewable number. 9+9=18, 1+8=9, 27 2+7=9 and so on. This is a perfect number of days therefore to renew ourselves. It is an opportune time to get rid of old habits, to form better ones, to turn inwards in order to understand ourselves and disengage to whatever extent possible from the world outside and thus put quality time for ourselves. The process of renewal is best done when a dis-engagement precedes it. So why then is the Feminine Divine Principle, Devi so important during Navaratri ? In our personal lives who do you think can, inspite of our failings, continue to have faith in us and therefore give us chances to renew ourselves again and again? Our mothers who gave us birth, is it not? If so what then should we say about the Mother of us all, the Universal Mother, Devi, Ambaji? Our physical mother carried us for 9 months in her womb and nourished us. For 9 nights therefore we turn towards our Universal mother to nourish us in her womb and give us strength. Therefore we resort to the Universal Mother in each one of us and request this process of renewal that first begins with Shuddhikaranam or Cleansing. Interestingly the new moon night prior to prathama or first day of Sharadeeya navaratri is called Mahalaya. The great dissolution of ahamkara is to be initiated on this day to enable an efficient and successful observance that one hopes to achieve in the remaining days.

During the 24 hour period in a day there are special times conducive for prayer and contemplation. These are the sandhyas. Technically there are three sandhyas, one before sunrise, one at midday and the other immediately after sunset. So too between seasons we have sandhya kaalas. Between spring and summer, then between summer and fall, between fall and winter and between winter and spring are the seasonal sandhyas. Navaratris are celebrated at these times. Thus we really have 4 navaratris, namely in the months of Magha, Chaitra, Ashaadha and Ashvina. Of these the Sharat navaratri that falls between autumn and winter when the cold sets in, is the most popular. It is said that Shri Ram invoked the Devi at this time so that she may enter the weapon with which he killed Ravana. The next popular one is Vasant navaratri in April when warmth sets in between winter and spring.

The Devi mahatmyam covers Chapter 81 to 93 of the Markandeya puranam. This is what is referred to in many parts of India as Chandi Paat when chanted. Here we have the story of how king Surattha gains his manudom through the grace of Bhagavati Vishnumaya to become Saavarni, the manu of the next, that is the eighth kalpa. We are now in the seventh kalpa where Vaivasvata is the Manu. The Devi mahatmyam or Glories of the Devi is an allegory. It is about the glory of the Feminine Divine principle also known as Bhagavati Vishnumaya. “ Meeyatey iti maya”, Maya is one who measures out creation for us, for we can only function within finite parameters and not in an infinite world. There are 3 major stories in this text and it covers 3 major and several minor battles. The killing of Madhu, Kaitabha, the destruction of Mahishasura and Raktabija and finally the slaying of Shumbha and Nishumabha are the main battles. In each case there is a major emanation of the Divine Feminine Principle. Contrary to popular belief that the devis are Kali, Lakshmi or Durga and Sarasvati, the text itself reveals none of these devis. The three main devis that emanate here are unique to this text and not found elsewhere. * The devis that emanate in a similar story in the Devi Bhagavatam are quite different.

It is an allegory because it represents our battles in life through our personal experiences. Asuric forces inside and outside of us are always confronting Daivic forces inside and outside of us. This is the process of true human evolution into the Spirit. The conglomeration of the Daivic forces in us is the Devi herself. The 700 shlokas contained within this mahatmyam are considered as 700 mantras. Therefore this text is a Maala mantra or garland of mantras and hence used as such for parayana and for homam. A mantra is a sound body or shabdaartha of a devata. It is the commodity, product or grossification of the deity produced by the sounds in context. By listening or reciting the entire Devi Mahatmyam as the 700 mala mantras we bring into our lives the presence of the deity of that text, who is none other than Bhagavati Vishnumaya not Durga as popularly thought of. The main deity is often referred to as Chandi as she represents Fury. So Chandi and Vishnumaya are the two specific names for the source Devi from whom other devis emanate.

An annual purification of the mind-body complex is effected by the proper use of the Devimahatmyam recitation and by a Chandi homam. The three stories contained within are used for cleaning our Shareera traya, the 3 body-complex. These are the three bodies which has resulted in our embodiment! They are Kaarana (Causal, that we don’t know about), Sthoola (gross, the more visible as we can see it occupy space) and Sookshma (Subtle, that we know is there ) bodies. The three stories are also geared towards our three states of being, that is Avastthaatraya, our Sushupti (Deep Sleep), Svapna (Dreaming) and Jaagrat (Waking) states. We also use these three stories to regulate Gunatraya, three basic gunas that operate as our varying nature throughout living. These then are Tamas (inertia), Rajas (Passion) and Sattva (altruistic). When associating with the psychic chakras then the stories are connected to the untying of psychic knots, our Granthi traya such as Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. The thirteen chapters are deeply connected to the components of our total shareera such as the 5 karmendriyas, systems of action, our 5 jnaanendriyas, our systems of perception, and the 3 antahkaranas such as our manas, buddhi and chitta. They are also connected to the thirteen psychic centers or chakras namely moolaadhaara, svaadhistaana, manipoora, hrit, anaahata, vishuddhi, taalu or lalanaa, agnaa, manas, indu, nirvana, guru and sahasraara.

It is believed that shakta mantras are to be given a very high level of objective attention. Therefore in the recitation of the Devi mahatmyam if a mistake occurs then the whole line or shloka is repeated in order to chant it correctly. By observing the nine nights of Navaratri highlighted by the recitation and homam of this great text we hope to get help in making right choices in life, to gain strength and support via energy and services and finally be able to procure the right skills, tools and weapons to discharge a life which is “ vyashema devahitham yadaayuhu.

    September 2012
    If interested in knowing more on the emanations which is part of the Utthama Upasana of the Devi Mahatmyam please email with specific questions to vasanti.jayaswal@gmail.com.