Sage Narada recognizes Sati
Devi Bhaktas or devotees of mother Shakti know Brahmacharini as the presiding deity of the 2nd day of Navratri.
After burning her body in the sacred fire, Devi Sati incarnated as Shailaputri Devi, as the daughter of King Himalayas.
However, as Sati, she remained ignorant of her true identity.
She did not recollect her past birth.
Once, the celestial sage Narada happened to pass by the Himalayan Mountains.
He immediately recognized the young princess as none other than Sati Devi.
He disclosed her identity and urged Shailaputri Devi to perform severe austerities in order to obtain Lord Shiva as her husband.
Tarakasura the tormenter
During that period, a demon named Tarakasura tormented the Devatas.
Sri Brahma blessed him such that none other than the son of Shiva could slay him.
The treacherous demon became aware that Lord Shiva wallowed in deep shock after losing his eternal consort Sati.
Lord Shiva meditated on His wife to find solace.
The demon very well knew that His meditation would not end before thousands of years.
Meanwhile he could fulfil his desire of ruling the 3 worlds.
Lord Brahma satisfied by the demon’s penance, granted him a boon and left the spot.
However, this very boon worked against the Devatas.
The recurring battles and unending atrocities of Tarakasura threatened the devatas.
Devatas approach Sri Brahma
They expressed their plight to Sri Brahma.
However, Sri Brahma said: “Oh Devatas, I am aware of your situation.
But, I am helpless.
You must wait until Lord Shiva has a son”.
The dismayed Devatas now approached Sage Narada.
After learning their susceptible position, Sage Narada arrived at the Himalayas.
Narada pitches for the Devatas
Devi Shailaputri learned about her true identity and moral responsibility towards the Devatas.
The Devi (Devi Shailaputri – the Universal Mother), then approached her parents.
Devi Shailaputri spoke thus to her parents.
“I am leaving for the forest.”
It’s my wish to have Lord Shiva as my husband.”
“So, I shall perform severe penances to please Him.”
This got her parents pensive.
They tried their best to persuade her, but all in vain.
The penance of Devi Shailaputri
Devi Shailaputri began severe penance in a forest situated in Varanasi.
Even today, the inhabitants of Varanasi have dedicated a temple for her worship.
The young princess relentlessly performed severe penance which lasted for more than thousands of years.
She withstood all the hardships of changing seasons, and wild animals.
Hardships during Shailaputri’s penance
However, none of the threatening elements could budge her from her goal.
In the initial years, she subsisted on roots and fruits.
Later she reduced her diet to some leafy vegetables.
Then, she further restricted her diet to dry Bel Leaves.
In the final years of her penance she conquered hunger and thirst.
In Spite of her high status of a princess, she endured all the hardships only to attain her desired groom.
As per Sanskrit, Parna means Leaf.
Therefore, during her course of meditation, Devi received the name Aparna which means the one who does not even consume leaves.
Devi Shailaputri becomes Brahmacharini
Also, her peaks of detachment and steadfastness got her the Name Brahmacharini.
Brahmacharya not only means sexual restraint but also shunning worldly matters and material objects.
A true Brahmachari must readily adapt to adverse climate and environment.
Such a person makes austerity his way of life.
So, Devi Brahmacharini marks the transition from material to the spiritual.
From a princess, she transformed herself into a renunciant.
Devi Brahmacharini represents the pristine form of Detachment or Vairagya.
Shiva decides to test Brahmacharini
She symbolizes purity, austerity, surrender and steadfastness.
Her immaculate dedication towards her goal compelled Lord Brahma to appear in front of her.
He requested Devi to conclude her penance as destiny readied itself to unfold.
Her desire to wed Lord Shiva approached fruition.
Meanwhile, Lord Shiva drowned in the ocean of separation from Sati learnt about Devi Brahmacharini’s severe penance.
On knowing her motive, He thought: “Could this be Sati?
Only the Universal Feminine energy can withstand such adversity.”
To clarify his doubts, he descended on Earth to test Devi.
Brahmacharini confronts Shiva
He assumed the form of a poor mendicant, Brahmin and went closer to Devi.
He spoke thus.
“What’s the motive behind this meditation?”
She replied: “Oh Brahmin Dev, Sage Narada revealed my true identity.
I am Shakti.
Hence, I shall wed Shaktimaan, (the wielder of Shakti), the great Shankara.”
However, the mendicant retorted: “Why should you wed Shiva?
People know you as a princess while he remains a mendicant.
Shiva draws comparison between Himself and Shailaputri
The universe knows you as the daughter of the Great Himalayas while His familial roots remain unrevealed.
You have great Will power to achieve what you desire while Shiva meditates after losing his wife.
Kailash has become your Home while Shiva stays in the Smashana.
In fact, he does not even have His own abode.
Oh Devi, you definitely cannot marry a man who associates with Ghosts, Goblins and spirits.
So, you two have nothing in common.
Discard your thought of marrying Shiva.”
On hearing these despising words, Devi Brahmacharini said with due respect for the Brahmin.
“Oh enlightened one, whatever the case may be, He shall alone be my Lord.
I shall not hear a word against Him.”
On seeing Devi Brahmacharini’s keenness, Lord Shiva became convinced of her identity.
None other than Devi Sati/Parvati could have such staunch devotion towards Him.
Lord Shiva assumes His original form
Lord Shiva appeared in His true form, in all glory.
They exchanged some enlightening words with each other concerning their union.
Lord Shiva said: “Devi, only because of your severe austerities I could conclude my penance.
Now, I can fulfil my responsibilities towards the Devatas and mankind, for you remain with me.”
Later, the Birth of Karthikeya freed the Devatas from the heinous Tarakasura.
A description of Brahmacharini
Devi Brahmacharini wears white robes symbolising purity, virginity and divinity.
She has a bright halo around her head that indicates her celestial position.
Her right hand holds a mala of beads while on her left a Kamandalu adorns her hand.
These qualify as the ornaments of ascetic life.
This state of Devi Brahmacharini idealises the state of women before marriage.
Devi Brahmacharini represents the form of a chaste woman.
Meaning of Brahmacharini
Her form highlights the precepts set for an unmarried woman.
A woman before entering into her marital life should abstain from all material comforts, distractions and should observe Brahmacharya.
Instead, she should actively chant the Glories of the Lord and observe the necessary fasts in order to attain sense-control.
The mala bead and kamandalu represent the pre-marital phases of womanhood.
Sense-control leads to happiness.
Only when an unmarried woman adheres to these predefined precepts she can obtain a radiant husband whose dispositions resemble that of Lord Shiva.
Symbolism of Brahmacharini
Through the form of Devi Brahmacharini, the universal mother guides her children towards their ultimate welfare.
The crown on Devi Brahmacharini’s head symbolizes her esteemed position, as the daughter of Himavan, the mountain king.
Her form and the crown creates a contrast.
However, this contrast means that only Devi can make the impossible possible.
Her ears and wrists adorn the lotus flowers.
This form of Devi, has all elements within herself.
From matter (crown) to nature (flowers) to spiritual fullness (the halo).
All elements of creation find shelter in this form of Devi.
Mantra of Devi Brahmacharini
या देवी सर्वभेतेषु मां ब्रह्मचारिणी रूपेण संस्थिता।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः।।
दधाना कर मद्माभ्याम अक्षमाला कमण्डलू।
देवी प्रसीदतु मयि ब्रह्मचारिण्यनुत्तमा।।
Oh Omnipresent Goddess who appears as Devi Brahmacharini, I offer my respectful obeisance unto you again and again.
Devi Brahmacharini, dressed in white, holds a Rudraksha mala, lotus flower and a kamandalu.
She is the ‘Tapasvini Roopa or ‘the renunciant form’ of the Goddess who grants liberation from Kama (Lust) and Krodha (Anger).
Temple of Devi Brahmacharini
Like the temple of Shailaputri Devi, we can find the temple of Devi Brahmacharini in Varanasi, Balaji Ghata.
Devotees from all states, including the localities flock to the temple.
They offer their obeisance unto the potent form of Devi Parvati, on the second day of Navaratri.
People believe that Brahmacharini Devi blesses unmarried, young girls with radiant husbands.
They offer coconuts, chunris (cloth pieces) and flower garlands.
The localities claim that by having regular Darshanam of Brahmacharini Devi, childless couples receive spiritually evolved children.
Children visit the Brahmacharini temple
Moreover, children who routinely visit the temple secure good marks in examinations.
They become more inclined towards academic achievements.
The head priest of the temple proclaims that the temple existed from time immemorial.
The temple existed even prior to the excavation of Kashi city.
The temple allows devotees in from 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM in the morning.
In the Evening the temple reopens at 4:00 PM.
Devotees gather for the Sandhya and Shayna Aarati.
The temple closes at 10:00 PM.
However, on the 2nd day of Navaratri devotees the temple opens at 4:00 AM.
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