Listen as Shree Maa and devotees sing the Mahamrtyunjaya Mantra, which is a powerful mantra for both and individual and global healing.
Navaratri is preceded by Mahaloya, the Great Dissolution, when we dissolve all our attachments to the creation, and in this way dissolve creation itself. Our last act in the old creation is to express our appreciation to our ancestors for preparing such a wonderful path for us. Now we can worship without obstruction for the Festival of Nine Nights.
This is the text for the Mahamrytyunjaya Mantra provided in Sanskrit, with English translation. The Devi Mandir devotees chant this mantra for the health and well-being of all beings in the world.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati discusses why and how we worship on Shivaratri. He answers questions about the holy day’s pujas, the symbolism of Shiva’s madness following the death of Sati, and tells one of the many stories regarding the origin of Shivaratri.
The Mahamrtyunjaya Mantra is the mantra of the great victory over death. It is a prayer to Lord Shiva, and a powerful healing mantra. This disc has Shree Maa and devotees chanting this mantra.
The chanting on this CD is full of powerful healing vibrations. Excellent for healing on every level.
~~OM~~ The Worship of Lord Shiva Early in the morning of Shivaratri, we saw our beloved Swamiji sitting in asan by the sacred fire and chanting many, many scriptures – the Chandi, Rudri, Shiva Sahasranama. For 24 hours, the fire was blazing with the offering of various mantras, especially “Om Namah Shivaya.” The temple was […]
Photo of the week – Oct 12 – Oct 18 2007
(Picture taken October 10, 2007)
On October 10th we celebrated Mahalaya, the great Dissolution, and honored our ancestors thanking them for leading us here.
We performed puja with special ladhus that we offered at the altar, at the fire and then to nature.
Pranams to all the great souls that preceded us and brought us to the Devi Mandir!
When is Navaratri celebrated ? Could you please let me know if there are six Navaratris and are they Varsha, Sharad, Shishir, Hemant, Vasant, Grishma?
Navaratri can be celebrated at any time. Most often it is observed from Pratipad to Navami or from Shashti to Purnima or Amavashya. There are four Navaratris which are special: Magh, Chaitra, Ashadh, and Ashvin. These correspond to winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Can you please suggest any guidelines for people wishing to observe the Navaratri fast in the same way that you do. (24 hours X 9 days. No water, no food)
Start off small and be content with small steps. Observe 24 hours with only water, then drink. Actually you will probably want salt more than water. Then try three days. And eat only fruits and water one time a day for the remainder of the nine days. Slowly you will extend it.
It is my understanding that no grains, or salty food is to be eaten during Navaratri. It is a symbolic giving up for the goddess. Are fruit and vegetables ok? To fast completely is for a greater tapas, and austerity. Is this correct?
The fasting gives forth a number of benefits. We suggest that everyone observe the vow according to their own capacity: the needs of the body, the activities in which the body must engage during the vow, etc. Some will give up grains and pulses, some will only take fruit and dairy, some will only take water: each according to his or her own capacity.
How do we count Navratri? Sundown to Sundown? Sunrise to Sunrise? Or Sunrise to Sundown?
We use a Panchanga, an almanac timed according to the phases of the moon.
Does one fast for 9 days during Navraatri without food, only water?
Some will fast on only water.
I would like to know is it possible to do homa of 108 names of Durga Ma from the Chandi Path for Navaratri?
How do you observe Navaratri at the Mandir?
Mahalaya is the new moon before the Navaratri begins. We will perform the Cosmic Puja, complete Shraddha and Tarpana, and complete Chandi. The day after Mahalaya is the first day of Navaratri. Every day we will perform the Cosmic Puja, and complete Chandi. We will break the fast on the 8th night (ashtami).
What is the system that You and Shree Maa follow for prayers during Navratri?
We recite the entire Cosmic Puja and Chandi Path every day.
When during Navaratri do we worship Durga, when Lakshmi, and when Saraswati? What prayers are done during this period? Can Lalita Stotram also be recited?
We perform the entire Cosmic Puja every day. That includes Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasarasvati.
Lalita can also be recited, but Chandi Path is not to be neglected.
Photo of the week – Apr 15 – Apr 22 2007
(Picture taken January 2007 at Devi Mandir, Napa, CA)
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Ambuvaci is a festival to honor and respect Divine Mother Earth during Her menstrual period. It is celebrated once a year at the temple of Kamakhya Devi. This year Ambuvaci is from June 22nd to June 25th.
There is never a time when the Divine Mother of the Universe is impure, so the idea that the Goddess hides during Her period is a misunderstanding. The period of menstruation is a time when women can become extremely still and silent, and get in touch with the ultimate consciousness of their feminine nature.
In ancient India a woman’s puja consisted of chopping wood, carrying water, preparing the prasad, cooking over a open flamed wood stove, in addition to making offerings at the altar. The Vedic Rishis suggested that women living in a joint family community, have no need for such strenuous activities during their monthly menstrual period, when their sensitive nature will allow them to go deeply inside. This time would be better spent in meditation.
There was no issue of impurity. There was a proscription against strenuous activity in preparing for worship during the time of menstruation. Allowing other family members to participate in the woman’s share of physical responsibilities, created a greater sense of understanding and appreciation for her contributions to the family.
Ambuvaci is the celebration of the Divine Mother’s retreat from the demands of Her devotees, who are constantly beseeching Her for intercession in their lives. For three days She resides in the solitude of Her feminine nature and enjoys the freedom from the concerns for Her children.
For three days we do not disturb the earth, we do not move fire, and the devotees make kirtan and mental worship. The sadhus sit outside Her temple and chant and sing and allow the Divine Mother the privacy of Her solitude.
At the end of the three days the temple is opened, and everyone enjoys darshan and blessings of the Divine Mother. In the Kamakhya Temple a famous piece of red cloth is offered as prasad. It is said to be cloth upon which Divine Mother sits during Her period, and it is highly cherished because it conveys powerful blessings.
Panchang 2011-2012: At Devi Mandir we follow the traditional sacred calendar called the Panchang, which gives the dates for the holy days and festivals through out the year. The Panchang is the Hindu lunar calendar. The Hindu Panchang for 2011-2012 is available for download: Panchang Please use the Panchang to find the western dates for […]
This is the story of the worship to be performed on sixteen consecutive Mondays.
One day Bhagawan Bhutanath, Lord Shiva, as the Lord of all Beings, went to tour the sansar (the world of objects and relationships) along with his beloved wife Parvati. They were traveling, seeing many different lands, when they came to the city of Amaravati. There they saw a great shining city, and they took shelter in one particular Shivaloya, a temple of Lord Shiva.
One day Parvati had a desire to play “chalsar”, an Indian dice game. While Shiva and Parvati sat enjoying this game, a Brahmin pujari walked into the temple. Parvati stopped and asked the priest, “Who will win this game?”
Without hesitation or much thought the pujari immediately responded, “Shankarji. Shiva will win.”
After a short time Parvati did in fact lose the dice game and she became very angry. She thought that it was because of the Brahmin’s prediction that she had lost the game. Shiva advised Parvati to remain calm and to control her anger, but Parvati would not be easily appeased. Her anger grew into a great rage and she cursed the Brahmin who had said she would lose the game. Parvati cursed the Brahmin that he would suffer from leprosy.
The Brahmin priest was immediately attacked by the disease, and he became very sad and was filled with great pain from the leprosy that developed. Many days passed and the priest suffered a great deal. He thought, “For what karma have I received such a curse from the Divine Mother? What will I ever be able to do to get her grace once again?” In this way his mind was extremely agitated, and his body pained.
One day that Brahmin priest went into the Shiva temple, where he saw a most beautiful heavenly nymph. This beautiful and shining angelic lady was an Apsara, a celestial maiden who serves the Gods. Standing before the pain stricken priest, she gave him the following instructions: “With all of your energy and devotion to the greatest extent of your capacity, perform the vow of Shiva’s worship on sixteen consecutive Mondays. All of the pain and suffering that now afflict you will completely dissolve if you worship Lord Shiva with pure devotion.”
The radiant Apsara then proceeded to tell the poor afflicted Brahmin exactly how to perform the puja. “In the early morning of each Monday you will bathe and wear a pure white cloth on your body. At the time of cooking you will take a pound of pure white wheat flour, mix with gur and ghee and fry. Offer this ‘Churma’ along with a ghee lamp, as well as gur, beetle nut, a sacred thread, sandal paste, some grains of rice and flowers. With these items especially, you will worship Lord Shiva. You will adorn the blessed Lord Shiva with three lines horizontally and with one mark in the center, and after this you may also take prasad just as you have offered to Shiva. Recite his mantras, sing His songs, perform the fire sacrifice, and other forms of worship for the Lord.
“Completing your worship to Lord Shiva in this way for sixteen Mondays, on the seventeenth Monday you will take ten pounds of pure wheat flour, mix with ghee and gur and fry. Offer this ‘Churma’ to the great Lord Shiva with all of your devotion and love. You may then partake of the prasad, sharing in the blessings of Lord Shiva. If you observe all that I have instructed, you will certainly be freed from all pain and suffering, and you will soon attain the highest graces and good fortune.”
Finishing her discourse, the Apsara rose up and ascended into the heavens. The Brahmin was completely amazed by this vision, and with full faith, he observed the sankalpa of sixteen Mondays in every detail. Every Monday he wore a pure white cloth, and chanted the worship of Lord Shiva, offering the appropriate offerings. Following this vow, he was freed from his disease and sorrow. He became a well known, wealthy man and loved and respected by all of the people of the kingdom. He taught the worship of Lord Shiva to many people, and continued to inspire the people of his community to serve the Lord with truth and joy.
One day that Brahmin priest returned to the temple where Parvati had first cursed him. Parvati was amazed to se that the Brahmin was healed of his disease. When Parvati learned of the power of the vow of sixteen Mondays, she quickly went to her son Kartikeya to share with him this wonderful secret of the regular worship of Lord Shiva.
Kartikeya shared the secret of this worship with his friend. This friend had no wife and desiring to marry, he at once make the sankalpa, or spiritual promise, to observe the vow of sixteen weeks, praying for the blessing of a good marriage. After completing his vow of worship for sixteen Mondays, the man left his native land and traveled to another Kingdom. Arriving at this new land, he heard that the King had made a very strange public declaration. That King had promised his daughter’s hand in marriage to the one who be chosen by his elephant. The King’s elephant would place a garland of flowers around some man’s neck, according to divine understanding, and that man would become the husband of the princess.
The traveler went to witness this betrothal ceremony, as he had never heard of such a curious way of fixing a marriage. The elephant looked at all the men assembled for the occasion, and then put the garland around his neck. The king happily gave his daughter in marriage, and the traveler became a member of the Royal household.
It was some years later, that the King’s daughter found out that her husband had been chosen for the marriage after he had performed the vow of Lord Shiva’s worship for sixteen Mondays for that purpose. She was eager to have a son, and decided to perform the vow of Lord Shiva’s worship for sixteen Mondays in order to have a beautiful son who could become a king. The wife did this vow with such devotion and love that Shiva was pleased, and she gave birth to a wonderful son.
When the child grew up, he desired to become the king of a nation, and therefore, he also took the vow of Lord Shiva’s worship for sixteen Mondays to become a good king. When his vow was complete, a messenger came from another King asking whether he might like to join with his daughter to become his wife. He was very happy when he heard of this proposal, and he immediately consented, and the King performed the marriage in a gay fashion. The King was delighted to have completed his responsibility to his daughter, and being an old man, he left his body just a short time following the marriage. The young man then inherited the throne.
Immediately after taking over the duties of the kingdom, the new King asked his wife to gather together all of the ingredients for Shiva’s puja. But his wife passed this order to one of her servants, who prepared everything for the worship. While doing the puja, the King received a message which was as follows: ” If the King would not leave that insolent wife, then his lineage would be finished.”
Upon hearing this message, the King was extremely pained and filled with wonder. He asked the ministers what was the matter, and what should he do? The ministers advised him to leave the wife or he would face ruin. Because the wife had not obeyed the King’s order to get ready his puja, but instead had asked her servant to do this, such a wife would only cause him problems. The King again asked the ministers what he should do, and they quickly told him, “Leave the Queen!”
The queen was very sorry when she was exiled from the palace. She wandered on her way, but no one would give her shelter. By this time her status was reduced to a beggar. Her cloth was torn and she had no shoes.
She tried to seek refuge with an old man, but she was chased away. Then she asked for help from an old servant who was washing dishes, but she was scared away. The queen had no place and was cold and frightened. A milk man took her to a nearby Shiva temple, where she told the priest her whole story. He had deep compassion for the poor woman, and he gave her refuge in his temple. But whatever the queen touched became ruined. Worms came into all of the food that she touched, and at this the priest was extremely pained.
Then he told the queen to appease Lord Shiva by observing the vow of sixteen Mondays. He explained to her the entire process, and with great faith and devotion the queen followed this advice of the priest.
On the seventeenth Monday, the King heard a divine voice telling him to search for his wife. Then he sent ambassadors to search everywhere for the exiled queen, and finally they came to the temple where she was residing. Learning the whereabouts of his beloved wife, the king immediately went to that temple to find her.
When the King learned how the queen had performed the vow of Shiva’s worship for sixteen consecutive Mondays, then he was very happy, and he went to the temple priest to do him service and honor in thanks. The priest listened to the King’s story, and blessed them both.
When the King and Queen returned to the capital all of the subjects of the kingdom welcomed them both with great love and devotion. Then the king gave the people many gifts, and always worked hard at their service. With the grace of Lord Shiva the King and Queen had beautiful children, enjoyed many years of comfort and happiness in their Kingdom, and ultimately went to the Shivaloka.
This is the story of the vow of Lord Shiva’s Worship. Whoever will read it with devotion, or listen to it with one pointed attention, at the time of worship on Monday, will be blessed with health, wealth, the cessation of all disturbances, and the fulfillment of all desires. This is the promise of Lord Shiva. OM NAMAH SHIVAAYA.