Day 2 : Brahmacharini
Brahmacharini means a devoted female student who lives in an Ashrama with her Guru along with other students. It is also the name of the second aspect of the goddess Durga (Parvati). The goddess is worshipped on the second day of Navratri. In this avatar, Durga embodies tapa or penance. The name Brahmacharini is derived from two words – “Brahma” here means tapa or penance and “Charini” means an ardent female follower.
Form of Devi :
The goddess Brahmacharini wears white clothes, holds a japa mala (rosary) in her right hand and Kamandal, a water utensil in her left hand.
Story of Devi Brahmacharini :
After Devi Sati self-immolated herself in the sacrificial fire of the Yagna, Durga took birth as the daughter of the King of Mountains, Himavan. She was named as Parvati (after the Hindi name for mountains – Parvat) or Hemavati.
When Parvati grew up, Sage Narada – son of Brahma, paid her a visit. He told her that she did have a chance to marry her husband from her previous birth, Lord Shiva, if she followed a path of penance. Determined to marry Shiva in this birth as well, Parvati embarked upon an extremely difficult regime of Penance and devotion. For a thousand years, she ate only fruits and flowers. Thereafter, for a hundred years sge ate only vegetables, followed by three thousand years of eating only fallen leaves. She slept on the floor of the forest under an open sky for years in order to successfully complete her tapa. This, she earned a name Tapascharini or Brahmacharini which means one who follows the path of Tapa.
Finally, she gave up eating leaves as well, and continued her penance without food and water for many years. Due to this act of giving up eating leaves (parna, in Sanskrit), she also came to be known as Aparna. Due to thousands if years of Penance, her body became extremely weak and fragile. Her mother, Maina, was deeply pained seeing her daughter in such a state and out of sorrow, she cried out “O! Ma!!”. Since then, Parvati also came to be known as Uma.
The news of such long penance reached everywhere. In the end, Lord Brahma appeared in front of Parvati and told her that o oe had observed tapa the way she had. He also told her that only she could have undertaken such hardships as her love for Shiva was true and pure. He also blessed her that she would have Lord Shiva as her husband this birth.
Following her penance, Parvati came to be known as Ma Brahmacharini. Later, Lord Shiva accepted Parvati as his wife. In this avatar, she holds a rosary in her right hand and a Kamandalu (a utensil to hold the holy water) in her left hand.
Spiritual Significant of Devi Brahmacharini by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar :
That which has no end, no shore nor beginning; That which is omnipresent and beyond which there is nothing; It is the ultimate and all-pervading.
If you close your eyes and meditate, then you will realize that when your energy rises to the peak, it becomes one with the Mother Divine; it gets soaked in the energy of the Mother Divine. The Divine is within you, and not somewhere outside.
You cannot say, “I know it”, because it is infinite. The moment you know it, it becomes finite. Nor can you say “I do not know it”, because it is definitely there. How can you not know? Can you say “I do not know my own hand”? Your hand is right there. It is there hence you know It, and It is infinite so you do not know It. Both of these realizations go hand in hand. Are you confused enough?
If someone asks you, “Do you know the Mother Divine”, you can only keep quiet, because if you say, “I do not know”, then that is not true, and if I say, “I know”, then you are limiting that ‘knowing’ through words and the limited intellect. It is infinity, and Infinity cannot be comprehended or contained.
“Knowing” means containing or restricting something. Can you contain infinity? If you contain infinity then it is no longer infinity. Brahmacharini means one who is present and moves in the infinity. She is energy that is not stagnant or inert, but moving in infinity.
This is a very important thing to understand – one is movement and the other is presence. This is what Brahmacharya means. Brahmacharya means not indulging in small things, not getting stuck in small limited things but indulging in the whole. Celibacy is also said to be synonymous with Brahmacharya because in that you are dealing with the greater whole and not with limited parts. Lust is always in parts, it is the localized movement of consciousness. So, Brahmacharini is the consciousness that is all-pervading.
Brahmacharini Mantra :
दधाना कर पद्माभ्यामक्षमाला कमण्डलू।
देवी प्रसीदतु मयि ब्रह्मचारिण्यनुत्तमा॥
Meaning: O Goddess Brahmcharini, who holds rosary and Kamandalu in her hands, please on me.
Colour of the Day : White