MYTHOLOGY: Her legend is found in the Shiva Purana and Devi Bhagavatam. ‘Shail’ means mountains. ‘Putri’ means daughter. As such she is the Daughter of the Mountains. The implication here is Shailputri being born as the daughter of Himalaya. As such she is popularly known as Uma-Parvathy in Puranic mythology. King of the Mountains, Himalaya and his wife performed many austerities. The Divine Mother was pleased and manifests as their daughter.
In previous birth she was the daughter of Prajapati Daksha. Her name was Sati, Lord Siva’s wife. Once Daksha had organized a big Yagna and did not invite Shiva. But Sati being obstinate, reached there against Siva’s advise. Thereupon Daksha insulted Shiva. Sati could not tolerate the insult of husband and burnt herself in the fire of Yagna. Shiva carried her and shook the world with his Thandava. Seeing his agony, Lord Vishnu used his sudharsana chakra to dismember the corpse. They fall on to the earth and became Shakti Peeths. In her next birth, Sati, became the daughter of Himalaya as Parvathi. In the Nava Durga pantheon she is referred as Shailaputri.
DEPICTION: Goddess Shailaputri has a half moon in her forehead during the Navarathri festivals. She rides a bullock. Shailputri holds a Trishul or trident in her right hand and a lotus in her left hand. Shailaputri wears a light pink or white coloured saree. She is portrayed to be calm and pleasing. She is the absolute form of the Mother Nature.
THEME: Durga’s slaying of the demons as per Purana stories has important lessons for the spiritually minded . Durga is a very important feminine form of divinity, especially for personal transformation from our lower or animal nature to our higher spiritual nature. These are all symbolical. Heaven is our own mind. The demon is our lower nature. And the demon in heaven is our own inability to control our own mind. By slaying them, she has torn down ego. In reality, this is a common challenge for most people, so one can see the relevance of the story and importance of Durga.
As Durga represents transformation through elevation in consciousness, we call on Durga to transform and elevate our minds. Durga as a goddess is a feminine form and therefore the divine mother, but she also has a form that relates to the earth – Shaila Putri. Her birth connections to the mountains are indicative of the sacredness of the mountains and their important connections to the earth. Goddess Shaila Putri is also strongly associated with the waters and air as well, as the waters represent the flow of consciousness, cleansing and purity. As she is associated with the atmosphere, Durga is on a similar level as Shiva in the cosmological hierarchy, as Shiva is also a deity of the atmosphere.
CHAKRA: Shailaputri is mobile. As from her father she begins a search, awakens her Shakti, sits on the Nandi, makes upwards journey to search for Lord Shiva. She is also the root chakra, whom when awakened begins the upward journey from the Muladarachakra. The first day of the Navarathri puja is the starting point of spiritual discipline for sadhaks. They keep the mind concentrated on Muladhara. Yoga sadhana starts from here. Shaila putru is the Muladhara Shakti to be realized within Self. The sadhak seeks higher depths in his yogic journey.
MANTRA: Dhyana Mantra of Shailaputri:
Vande vaanchhit laabhaaya chandrardha krita shekharaam,Vrishaarudham shuladharam Shaila-putrim yashasvinim’ meaning Salute the Mother Goddess who has a half moon in her forehead, who rides a bullock and holds a Trishul. We chant your name and praise you always Maa Shailaputri.
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi