DEPICTION: Goddess Brahmachirini is tremendously effulgent. She holds a rudraksha rosary in her right hand. Rudraksha is her most adorned ornament. The rudraksha mala becomes the most important item to be associated with her in her forest life while she pays penance for Lord Siva. stay It also says much about her austerities and penance. She holds the Kamandalu, the water utensil in her left hand. This symbolizes that in her final years of tapasya she reduced her diet to plain water and nothing else.
Mother is also shown with lotus attached to various parts of her body. Even her ear kundalas are two lotuses pointing towards the ground. Lotus symbolizes knowledge. The lotus plant grows from the mud of ignorance to seek light of knowledge. Towards that it grows above the water level symbolizing a person aspiring spiritual ascent. Mother is usually dressed in white saree to represent purity. She adorns a prominent crown just as Goddess Durga. This shows her majestic view despite her simplicity. Brahmacharini is always depicted with a smile and a very pleasing face. Her very sight is all but Grace.
MYTHOLOGY: Mother was reborn as the daughter of King Himavanth. She was single-pointedness of mind to win the heart of Lord Siva. The sage Narada advises her to undergo penance and she does just that. Her intense tapas for one thousand years, earn her the name Tapasyacharini. Her habits change as she is focused on tapas. She tolerates tormenting weather. Torrential rains and bitter cold do not hinder her tapas. She is simply sky-clad without heeding the scorching sun. Her mind was Siva and Siva only 24/7.
She cares not for food. Her menu is one of leafy vegetables. For three hundred years she diets on bilva leaves. When Siva does not make his descent to grace her, She is said to have given up fresh bilva leaves. She does that for Siva’s sake! It is now dry bilva leaves that the winds send dropping below the bilva tree. No Siva yet! This is also relinquished and the menu is further restricted to water only. This is the reference to her being called Aparna. She just carried her kamandala and pushed her austerities to the extremes.
Lord Siva is still not in sight. Brahmacharini continued her painstaking contemplation until she had grown thin. She reduced herself to skin and bones. This was observed by Mother Menaka one day. Looking at the skinny daughter, she exclaims ‘U’ ‘Ma’ meaning ‘O No No, Not’. In Sanskrit ‘U’ is a word of address. So Goddess Brahmacharini, the second aspect of Durga, bags another name as Uma. As Uma, she comes close to Lord Siva, doesn’t she?
Brahmacharini’s penance cannot be going unnoticed.Certainly not a penance of this nature. It starts to cause great disturbance in all the three lokhas. So the universe gets shaken. Up there the Gods, rishis, munis, sages and above all the siddhas are great Durga Maa devotees. They eulogised Brahmacharini’s virtuous tapas and the same is praised in all quarters. Lord Brahma is to act. So Brahma tells her that he was captivated by her meditation and devotion, Brahma blesses her. This blessing, after a few turns here and there, finally leads Brahmachirini into Lord’s Siva’s arms.
There she has her cut off point as being a kannya or virgin. It would be wrong to view Brahmacharini as a married consort of Lord Shiva. If they are depicted together, then Siva is the divine prize she earned out of tapasya. Saying it another way, Brahmacharini is the early phase or stage before Mother Parvathi’s marriage. This stage is called Devi Yogini and Devi Tapsvini.
PUJA: In the Hindu pantheon, each Gods and Goddess have their prayer rituals, rules and regulations. This is called pooja vidhi. Brahmacharini is sometimes worshipped along with other gods and goddesses. She is offered flowers, rice and sandalwood. These are placed in the kalash that was established on the first day of the Navrathri. Mother is given her abhishekam with milk, curd and honey. If a deity, then she is dressed immaculately. If an image, she is garlanded grandly. Aarti is performed. Prasada is offered as if it is offered to Mother Durga. Chanting is done.
It is to be noted, unlike Durga or Kali worship. Brahmacharini is not worshipped as a single deity. She is worshipped along with her consort Lord Shiva. This symbolizes the penance she did for achieve him. So she is worshipped with the Divine prize to represent that tapas pays. Hence, Lord Shiva has to be worshipped with full faith and devotion to please Brahmacharini. As prayers to her also involves Brahma in no small measure, the chant during her prayers are: Om Brahmane Namah .
CHAKRA: Mother Brahmacharini represents the Swadhistana chakra in spiritual practice. Sadhaks and yogis keep their mind on Swadhisthana Sneh Chakraburtty to maintain their devotion and dedication in a steady phase. Worship of this appearance enriches the faculties of sacrifice, honesty and self-discipline. In times of absolute distress the worship of this form gives success and the willpower to come out victorious. This way the mind of the aspirant that moves upward is established in Swadhisthana Chakra. The Yogi, who makes his mind stay in Swadhisthana Chakra, gets the devotion and blessings of the Goddess. Establishing the mind in the Swadhisthana chakra, while worshipping Devi is a pointed way of fulfilling desires.
Mother Brahmacharini represents one who practices devout austerity. She enlightens us in the magnificent embodiment of Durga with great powers and divine grace. The form of Devi Brahmacharini is similar to her name and gives infallible fruits to her devotees. By worshiping her, virtues such as penance, renunciation, dispassion and restraint progressively improves inherently. One also improves his or her ethical conduct.
MANTRA: Brahmacharini Dhyana mantra is recited on the second day of Navarathri. “Dadhanakara Padmabhyam akshamala kamandalam; Devi prasidathu mayi brahmacharinya nuththama.”
Goddess Brahmacharini is blissful and endows happiness, peace, prosperity and grace upon all devotees who worship her. A person earns freedom from all the troubles and sufferings in life. Filled with bliss and happiness, Goddess Brahmacharini is the way to liberation, Moksha.
Yet again Mother Durga is prayed to in another one of her milder and sweet manifestations via Brahmacharini. Together they bless us with immense courage, strength, dedication and concentration to face all challenges with courage and self-confidence. Goddess Brahmacharini is also not to be underwritten just as another goddess imposing the same story-line and blessing. Those having her close to the chest as Ishta Devata would know this truth. That being the eternal truth of attaining Sachidaanandamaya Brahmaswarupaya, the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss state.
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi