The sixth aspect of Mother Durga is known as ‘Katyayani’ or Kathyayani In Tamil she is known as Kartiyayini. She is worshiped on the six day of Navaratri festival. Incidentally, the Amarakosha, the Sanskrit Lexicon states Katyayani as Goddess Parvathi’s second name. In the Dakshan’s yagna episode, Lord Siva addresses Parvathi as Karthiyayini. She is also known as Katyayani Gouri later manifesting as the fierce form of Shakti, including Bhadrakali and Chandi. Katyayani is first mentioned in the Tittiriya Aranyaka part of the Krishna Yajurveda. Details about Katyayani is also found in the Matsya Purana, Agni Purana and Vamana Purana. Indeed some scriptures suggest that Goddess Katyayani is just another name for Mahishasura Mardini Durga.
Goddess Katyayani is depicted to be extremely divine and radiant. She is of golden complexion. At times she is shown to be of the colour of Atasi flower which is sky blue or violet blue. She is Chaturbhuji or four-armed. He arms blesses the devotees. Her one hand is in Abhay Mudra and the second hand is in Varamudra. She holds a sword as weapon in her left upper hand. Her lower left hand is adorned by a lotus. She wears a jewelled crown with a prominent Crescent moon. Katyayani is also adorned with beautiful bangles, wrist band and attractive anklets. In all Katyayani portrays herself to be plain and simple. Her vahana is a lion on which she is seated like a radiant gemstone. Some scriptures describe her Vahana to be Sardula, a mythical animal regarded as the Mother of Tigers.
The Vamana Purana depict Katyayani’s fierce form. The Trinity emit fierce flames that a mountain of efflugence was formed manifesting Goddess Katyayani. She had three eyes, black hair, and eighteen arms all wielding weapons. She held Brahma’s rosary and water pot; Siva’s trident; Vishnu’s Sudarshana Chakra; Varuna’s conch shell; Agni’s dart; Vayu’s bow; Surya’s arrows; Indra’s thunderbolt; Kuvera’s mace; Visvakarma’s battle axe and other weapons. Armed with weaponry, Katyayani proceeded to the Vindhya hills. There her beauty captivated Mahishasura. His anxiousness to obtain her brings his disastrous end.
MYTHOLOGY: Goddess Katyayani’s name is explained in a myth linked to the great sage Kata. He is also known as Katyayan Rishi of the Katya lineage. He had a son named Katya. Kata was very famous and renowned in the lineage of saints. Kata yearned for a daughter in the form of the Goddess and does severe penance of Maa Bhagavati Devi. Mother was pleased with Kata’s tapas so she graces him his request. Goddess Katyayani is born as a avatar of Durga.
In the Vamana Purana, it is also said that when the demon Mahisasura became high-handed, the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and other Gods apportioned some part of their splendor to destroy the demon. Goddess Devi manifested as Durga. The sage Kata had the first privilege to worship her. Thus she was called Katyayani.
After sometime when high-handedness of Mahisasura, the demon, crossed every limit, the trinity of Gods-Brahma, Visnu and Siva, got infuriated and they created a goddess by apportioning some part of their splendor, in order to destroy the demon. The Kalika Purana states that the sage Katyayana had the first privilege to worship her, so she was called Katyayani. It is also said that the Kata’s daughter was born of the 14th dark month Asvina and accepted worship of Goddess Katyayani for three days of the bright fortnight in the same month and killed Mahisasura on Vijayadasami. Her exploits are also described in the Devi Bhagavata Purana and Devi Mahatmyam in the part attributed to the sage Markandeya Rishi.
Goddess Katyayini is the Queen of Vraj, said to grant the wishes of Her sincere and unnerving devotees. She is ever unfailing in granting the wishes of the devotees. For instance, the pastimes of Radharani and Sri Krishna are self-efflugent. They are happiness personified, unlimited and all-powerful. But their spiritual pastimes are never complete without the Vraja damsels. They are Sri Krishna’s personal friends and Radha’s aides.
It is said that the Vraja gopis worshipped Goddess Katyayani with a desire to have Sri Krishna as their husband. They therefore observed Katyayani vrata and ate only unspiced khichri after their Yamuna bath. In Tamil this vrata is known as Margali Nombu. They make an earthen, clay or mud deity of the goddess on the riverbank and worship her with aromatic substances. The deity is later immersed in the Yamuna. This episode is the one that tells the story of Sri Krishna taking the gopis’ clothes away. Indeed she is an established presiding deity of Vraja area. There is a Sri Katyayani Peeth Temple in the Vrindavan.
Devi Katyayani Puja Vidhi is not dissimilar to the first five days of prayers. The sadhak establishes the Ajna Chakra in his or her mind by worshipping her with devotion and faith. This leads to the attainment of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
The Kalash puja is done after Lord Ganesha is venerated. It is believed that Goddess Katyayani resides in the kalasa and worshipped as such. The family of goddesses are seated on both sides of the kalasa.They are prayed to and Goddess Katyayani is worshipped in the end with flowers and mantras. As with the previous aspects of Mother Durga, Lord Shiva and Brahma should also be worshipped after worshipping the goddess.
Goddess Katyayani’s bhaktas are equipped with an unearthly splendor and influence. They becomes immune from all diseases, sorrows and fears etc. Worshipping Mother is made flexible as love and dedication is the basis to her prayers. It is said that worshiping Katyayani is a better and easier way for the destruction of sins accumulated in the previous lives. Her bhaktas are said to be always in close company becoming fit for the supreme abode.
Pongal is a harvest festival in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, The Thai Pongal coincides with the Makara Sankranthi. During this festival young damsels pray for rain and prosperity. They avoid milk and milk products. Worship of Goddess Katyayini takes place after the morning bath. Sometimes the idol of the Goddess is carved out of wet sand. Katyayani is also worshipped for blessings of good husband and household.
In the Yogic discipline Ajna Chakra is of greatest importance. In Hindu Yoga and Tantra, Katyayani is ascribed to the sixth ajna chakra or the ‘Third Eye Chakra.’ The sixth day of Navarathri the mind of the sadhaka stays in ajna chakra when Goddess Katyayani is worshipped to invoke her blessings. The bhakta, while concentrating on the ajna chakra completely surrenders to Mother. Such unconditional surrender is the way to get the direct vision of the mother Katyayani. It is also a way to achieve the purushartha goals. Katyayani puja during Durga Navaratri prepares devotees to be mentally and physically fit to face challenges in their life and proceed with courage.
Om Durgaye Namaha.