It is Friday – Devi’s Day
And therefore – a Hero making offering to the Goddess, so as to ensure His Victory in the (more actively combative phase of the ongoing) War soon to come, where He shall vanquish the demon who has stolen His Wife.
The Hero, of course, here is Lord Ram (the figure with the complexion the “green [of] Durba grass”, to the right and holding the arrow); the Wife is Lady Sita. The figures to the left of the image are Laxman (in front), and Hanuman (behind – Who has brought the major component to the offering, as we shall come to in a moment; ).
And Who is this Devi Who arises out from the focal point of the Rite ?
She has many names. Indeed, all of the names.
Just going on what we find in the Devi Puran Mahabhagwat Ramayan (which is, after all, rather prominently centered upon this understanding and its essence-tial Combat Theology ) …
Some might say Katyayani (the most formidable Warrior Goddess) – and this is indeed how Ravana has propitiated Her;
Others would say Jagdamba – She Who Supports The World (and, not coincidentally, the name also of one of the fabled Swords of ShivaJi)
Ravana would call Her ‘Lankeshwari’ – the Power (and Protector, Patron) of Lanka, his kingdom.
A more enlightened sort would have hailed Sharada (Sāradā, the ‘Bestower’ (‘Daa’) of Great Quality, Potency, Truth, Essence (‘Saara’) – although likely intentionally resonant with Śārada , as in ‘Autumn’, c.f. Ambika in the Taittiriya Brahmana etc.) – as, of course, not least via season, Lord Ram actually did.
She is also Mahamaya – the Great Power; and Jayaprada – the Bestower of Victory; Parvati (The Mountainess, Daughter of the Mountain), Durga (the Unconquerable, the Formidable), Trideshwari [‘Empress of the Three Worlds’], Vishveshari [‘Universal Empress / World Commander’], Sati, Gauri, Kamala, Sarasvati, Sharvani (‘Sharva’, the Archer or ‘Injurer’, being Rudra, so here in feminine), Bhuvaneshvari [‘Goddess-Empress of this Earth’], Bhavani, Bhagavati [‘Lord-Provider’], Ambika, Chandi, and many other Names and Forms herein besides.
She is also there, per Her declaration of events (and interestingly, this is She as Shiva’s Consort that is speaking at that time [II 36]) both Laxmi and that particular incarnation of Lakshmi, Lady Sita, there to help and accompany Lord Ram (as incarnate of Vishnu) for the purposes of proving Ravana’s (quite deliberate) undoing.
But above all – quite literally, She is Parameshwari – The Supreme, Highest Ruler; Sureshwari, the Divine Empress / Goddess Worshipped by the Gods Themselves; Maheshwari (The ‘Great Empress’, and also the Consort of Maheshwar – i.e. Shiva, the Great God-Emperor Who Resides in the Himalayas and Reigns out across the Worlds therefrom);
It is no wonder that the text also hails Her as the Supreme Brahman Personified at repeated places – including via the vector of having the great Sage, Vyasa, undertaking forthright devotions to summon all Four Vedas Themselves to answer the questioning He had as to Her (or, more specifically, what the true Brahmapada [‘Absolute Foundation’] was – something which He had grappled with in his mind even as he was finishing writing and editing the great 18 MahaPuranas) [I 1 14-29].
The Assembled Vedas finish Their (brief) testimony as to Her individually, and then proceed to in chorus carry out panegyric prayer of Her [I 1 31-37] … which, for those who know something about Vedic religious metaphysics, is, in its way, exactly how Vedic liturgy works in the first instance: it’s all Vak, after all !
As the text itself puts it –
“The supreme and essential truth and reality about Her is not fully known even to Maheshwar (Lord Shiva) Who is the most wise, erudite and enlightened One; so it is very difficult for others to know about it’ .”
[I 1 17, Chhawchharia translation]
We also note with interest that to One depicted in this scene, the Devi Puran Mahabhagwat Ramayan, at V 39 24, has Her as ‘Shive’ – that is to say, in Vocative case (‘to Vak’, indeed), what is nominative as Śivā (‘Shivaa’ – ‘Mrs Shiva’, the ‘Feminine Form’ of that most blessed of theonymics) … that being Hanuman – for you see, as Hanuman is a specially sent incarnation of Rudra Himself, sent to make contact with Her and request that She return Home, well, He addresses Her in such terms. She’d sent Him on this journey, after all, in the first place.
She is Invoked as Chandika – and as the Devi Puran Mahabhagwat Ramayan [Chhawchharia translation] puts it, “the most ferocious and fierce, glorious and splendorous Chandika [is] worshipped and invoked by Sri Ram for the express purpose of eliminating this wart-like demon from the world for the greater welfare of the rest of creation, destroyed him along with his kith and kin.”
[II 36 8-9]
After all – “Without obtaining the blessings and favours (literally, a favourable and benign view or glance) of that great Goddess,
who can ever win him in war?”
[VII 41 19]
Thus does Rama undertake an observance which is at once both ‘novel’ or ‘innovative’ … and yet very traditional, indeed.
The famed Akalabodhana of the Goddess – the ‘Awakening [of the Goddess]’ (Bodhana) that occurred ‘Not [at the proper / usually-customary] Time’ (A-Kala).
Usually, She had been Awoken in Spring – for Chitra , the War-Sign , and as the Loka-l expression of a pervasively Indo-European observance to this purpose about the same time across the continent, from India to Italy to Iceland.
Yet sometimes, ‘circumstance’ has a ‘timing’ all its (or, in this case, Her) Own. And so therefore, it had proven necessary to do something remarkable so as to ensure Her proper and appropriate Awakening, even amidst a rather ‘different’ time of year.
Hence Lord Rama’s Worshipping of Her not just as the formidable War Goddess – but also as an Ancestor, in order to take advantage of the ‘resonancy’ opportunity afforded via the (Dark) Fortnight of the Ancestors (what we today know as Pitru Paksha – when the Shades of our Forebears return to us as the pathways between worlds are more easily traversed ), immediately prior to His intended time of militant culmination as to His Siege.
We might also ponder, I suppose, the notion that emphasizing and underscoring the kinship relationship which one has with one’s Pitrs, one’s Family, may have also presented another axial-lattice of connectivity and engagement with which to entreat the Goddess for aid.
And that is, you see, why He had been pointing the Arrow toward His Eye in the course of the image below.
Due to the Sacrifice He had been in the process of completing, featuring 108 Blue Lotuses (brought by Hanuman) … which runs into a spot of difficulty as it turns out that one, the last one, has gone mysteriously missing. Perhaps it might be that one which has turned up in Devi’s Left Hand, there 😛
Rama is absolutely determined to complete the Rite – and so, with the text having pointedly described His Eyes as being akin to Blue Lotuses in terms of appearance (we assume colouration and beauty), He makes ready to put out one of His Own Eyes in order to attain Her Blessing (and yes, given the Great Wisdom involved, the fact that the spoken liturgical elements in such Combat Theology thusly obtained are rather commensurate with the Runes and Magic, Galdra, etc. of the Nordic sphere … yes, this is Absolutely Odinic in part).
No sooner has He maneuvered the arrow to complete the procuration of the offering-element in question (really ‘putting yourself into it’, as applies the rites and pious devotion, I have to say), than She appears and brings proceedings to a halt – Declaring that She is Pleased with His Devotion (and also, interestingly, availed as well by the devotions undertaken by Lord Brahma in relation to the Ardra [Rudra] Nakshatra, likewise … ), and He Shall Obtain His Chosen Boon.
To quote from the Devi Puran Mahabhagwat Ramayan once more:
“I shall worship Goddess Chandi (as advised by you), for I am unable (or incapable) to go on with the war relying solely upon my own strength, and it is not possible for me to win it alone.
But I certainly can win victory over Ravana by the kind grace of the Goddess.”
[VIII 42 25-26, Chhawchharia translation]
This results in “an Announcement from the Sky .
The formless Voice (from the Sky) said, ‘Oh the Lion in the clan of Raghu! Do not be afraid at all. You will soon be able to kill the most formidable, strong, valiant and powerful demons and conquer Lanka .
Oh the Vanquisher of enemies! The creator Brahma has worshipped ME under the Vilwa Tree (the wood apple tree). Hence I shall grant You Your desired boon.'”
[X 44 17-19]
We shall close by simply presenting Lord Rama’s prayerful invocation of the Goddess from this same text [X 44 1-16] – that which, following Lord Rama’s having “stood there facing the North with hands joined together in submission and humility, and sincerely and fervently prayed to the Victory-Giving Goddess for
Success in the War against His enemies, the demons led by Ravana’ .[IX 43 94]
“‘Oh the One Who is revered and honoured by the three worlds and is the Bestower of Victory in War! I repeatedly bow before You. Oh Goddess Katyayani! Be pleased with me and give me Victory over the enemy .
You are all powerful and almighty, You are the Vanquisher of the wicked enemies , and You are the Slayer of evil and sinful ones. I bow before You reverentially. Bestow Victory on me in the War .
You are the Only Supreme and Eternal Power and Cosmic Energy in this whole world which resides in all the creatures as their vital life-giving force. I bow before You most reverentially.
Kill the sinful and wicked ones (enemy) in battle and bestow Victory to me .
Oh the One Who Loves being Invoked during the War! You drink blood and eat flesh of the enemy, and remove the torments and distresses of those who seek Your Refuge and Shelter. I bow before You most reverentially; give me Victory in the War .
You hold a Sword in Your Hand and wear a garland of skulls on Your Divine and Radiant Body. Those who Remember You in adversities, You remove their distresses, troubles and sorrows; that is why You are called Durga .
You are kind and benevolent towards those who submit themselves before Your lotus-feet. I bow before You most reverentially. Destroy the enemy in the battlefield and give me Victory. I bow before You again .
Your Majesty, Glory, Fame, Prowess and Valour, Your Beauty, Charm, Auspicious Form and Virtuous Characters are so Great and Immeasurable that They cannot be comprehended and therefore described. I bow before You most reverentially; give us Victory .
Those who remember Goddess Durga— Who is the Destroyer of misfortunes, calamities, adversities and troubles— during bad times are not subjected to sorrows or distresses of any kind. I bow before You Most Reverentially. Bestow me with Victory .
You have slayed demon ‘Mahisasur’ in battle and are worthy of taking or seeking refuge with. Oh the daughter of Himalayas (i.e. Parvati)! I bow before You most reverentially; give me Victory .
Oh the cheerful Goddess Chandi! You had killed the demon ‘Chandasur’. Slay the enemies in the War and give me Victory; I bow before You most reverentially .
Your Eyes are Red as Blood, Your Teeth are Dripping with Blood, and Your Body is Smeared with Blood. [This is because You are the reat Goddess of War.] You are the Slayer of demon ‘Raktabij’. I bow before You most reverentially; bestow Victory to me .
You are the Slayer of demons ‘Nishumbh’ and ‘Shumbh’. You are the Creator of the World as well as are its Goddess and Supreme Lord. Slay the enemy in the battle on a daily basis and bestow me with Victory. I bow before You most Reverentially .
Oh Bhawani! Oh Mother! You always sustain this whole world. You must kill these sinful and wicked demons and protect/save the World .
You are an Embodiment / Personification of ‘Shakti’ (cosmic energy, stupendous powers of Mother Nature) that resides in all the creatures (and which instills life and vigour in them; it gives powers and potentials to them; it makes the wheel of creation turning endlessly and flawlessly). You are the Crusher of the evil, vile, wicked, sinful and pervert ones. Oh Mother of the World! Be Pleased with me, I bow before You most Reverentially. Oh Mother, give me Victory .
You Crush those who are sinful, unrighteous, evil, pervert and vile, while You Sustain and Support those who are good, righteous, noble, virtuous and upright. Slay the enemy in the War and give me Victory. I bow before You most Reverentially .
Oh Shive (i.e. the Divine Consort of Lord Shiva; Parvati)! You remove/eliminate s the troubles, tribulations, sorrows and miseries of those who have taken Shelter with You. You provide Welfare, Goodness, Well-Being, Happiness and Auspiciousness to them.
Oh Katyayani! Give Victory to me in the War and always Protect me from fear’ .
And Thus, His Victory, Was Assured.
Just As (She) Planned It.
We Follow The Divine Plan (रचना) :
And Therefore – We Have Already Won !
Jai Mata Di !
2 thoughts on “Rama’s Invocation Of The War-Goddess”
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Is there a link between the Devi and wells? I know Odin sacrificed his eye at the well that feeds the World Tree to gain more knowledge, and there seems to be a link between goddesses and wells and springs generally among Indo-Europeans.