Goddesses of War
Victory of Good over Evil
The Invincible Ones
Fierce forms of Mother Goddess
The Navadurga’s.
Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta,
Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayini,
Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidhatri.
Affiliation Devi, Durga, Adi-Parashakti, Chandika, Gauri, Parvati
Mount Tiger, Lion, Bull, Donkey
Festivals Navratri, Dussehra, Durga Puja, Durga Ashtami

Navadurga (Sanskrit: नवदुर्गा, lit. Nine forms of Durga), are nine manifestations of the Goddess Durga in Hinduism, especially worshipped during the festival of Navratri where each of the nine manifested forms are consecutively venerated throughout all the nine nights. The nine manifested forms of Goddess Durga (Gauri) or (Parvati) are: Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayini, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidhatri.

Etymology and iconography

Each manifestation of goddess Durga of is known by her respective name, governing planet, iconography, mantra for invocation (usually repeated 108 times at each sitting during the period of Navratri), dedicated day of Navratri worship and respective prayers.

About: After self-immolation in Her form as Sati, the Mother Goddess took birth in the house of King of Mountains, as the daughter of Lord Himalaya.

Etymology: Shailaputri literally means the daughter (putri) of the mountain (shaila)

Day of worship: 1st day of Navratri

Governing planet: Moon

Mantra: Om Devi Shailaputryai Namah ॐ देवी शैलपुत्र्यै नमः॥

Iconography: Devi Shailaputri is depicted with two hands and has a crescent moon on her forehead. She holds a trident in her right hand & a lotus flower in the left. She rides on mount Nandi (bull).[1]

About: After the Kushmanda form, the Mother Goddess took birth at the home of Daksha Prajapati, as his daughter, Sati, who was born to marry Shiva. This unmarried form of the Mother Goddess is worshipped as Brahmacharini.

Day of worship: 2nd day of Navratri

Governing planet: Mars

Mantra: Om Devi Brahmacharinyai Namah ॐ देवी ब्रह्मचारिण्यै नम

Iconography: Walks on bare feet, carrying a japa mala in Her right hand and a kamandalu in Her left hand.

About: Goddess Chandraghanta is the married form of the Mother Goddess following on from Shailputri and Mahagauri. After getting married to Shiva, Goddess Mahagauri started adorning her forehead with a half moon(Chandra) shaped like a bell(Ghanta) due to which, she became known as Goddess Chandraghanta.

Day of worship: 3rd day of Navratri

Governing planet: Venus

Mantra: Om Devi Chandraghantayai Namah ॐ देवी चन्द्रघण्टायै नम

Iconography: Goddess Chandraghanta mounts the tigress. She wears the semi-circular moon(Chandra) on her forehead. The half-moon on her forehead looks like the bell(Ghanta) and hence, Her name. She is depicted with ten hands. Goddess Chandraghanta carries Trishul, Gada, sword and kamandalu in Her four left hands and keeps the fifth left hand in Varadamudra. She carries a lotus flower, arrow, Dhanush and Japa Mala in Her four right hands and keeps the fifth right hand in Abhaya Mudra.

Special powers: This form of the Mother Goddess is ready for war with all her weapons, to protect the peace and welfare of Her devotees. It is believed that the sound of the moon-bell on her forehead drives all types of evil away from Her devotees.

About: After taking the form of Siddhidatri, the Mother Goddess started living within the Sun thereby liberating the Sun's energy to the universe. Since then, this form of the Goddess has been known as Kushmanda, namely for her power and capability to live inside the Sun. The glow and radiance of her body is as luminous as that of the Sun.

Day of worship: 4th day of Navratri

Governing planet: Sun

Mantra: Om Devi Kushmandayai Namah ॐ देवी कूष्माण्डायै नम

Iconography: Rides on a lioness and has eight hands. She holds a kamandalu, Dhanush, Bada and Kamal in Her right hands. Her left hands hold Amrit Kalash(pot of nectar), japa mala(prayer beads), Gada and Chakra - in that order.

Specific power: She created the universe in the flash of Her smile and is believed to bestow siddhis(supernatural powers) and niddhis(wealth) to Her devotees.

About: In her form as mother of the God of War, Lord Skanda(also known as Kartikeya), she is known as Goddess Skandamata.

Day of worship: 5th day of Navratri

Governing planet: Mercury

Mantra: Om Devi Skandamatayai Namah ॐ देवी स्कन्दमातायै नम

Iconography: Goddess Skandamata mounts the ferocious lion. She carries baby Skanda in her lap. Lord Skanda(also known as Kartikeya or Lord Murugan) is the brother of Ganesha. Goddess Skandamata is depicted with four hands. She carries lotus flowers in Her upper two hands. She holds baby Skanda in one of Her right hands and keeps the other right hand in Abhayamudra. She sits on a lotus flower and because of that, is also known as Goddess Padmasana.

Special powers: Devotees who worship this form of the Mother Goddess get the added benefit of blessings of Lord Skanda, the God of War(also known as Kartikeya).

About: To destroy demon Mahishasura. The daughter of sage Katyayana, who incarnated to help Devas

Day of worship: 6th day of Navratri

Governing planet: Jupiter

Mantra: Om Devi Katyayanyai Namah ॐ देवी कात्यायन्यै नम

Iconography: Goddess Katyayani rides on a magnificent lion and is depicted with four hands. She carries a lotus flower and sword in her left hands respectively and keeps her right hands in Abhayamudra and Varadamudras.

About: This is the fiercest and the most ferocious form of the Mother Goddess, in which she manifests to destroy the demons, Sumbha and Nisumbha.

Day of worship: 7th day of Navratri

Governing planet: Saturn

Mantra: Om Devi Kalaratryai Namah ॐ देवी कालरात्र्यै नम

Iconography: Her complexion is dark black and She rides on a donkey. She is depicted with four hands. Her right hands are in Abhayamudra and Varadamudra. She carries a sword and deadly iron hook in her left hands.

About: Goddess Shailputri at the age of sixteen was extremely beautiful and blessed with a fair complexion. Due to her extremely fair complexion, she was known as Goddess Mahagauri.

Day of worship: 8th day of Navratri

Governing planet: Rahu

Mantra: Om Devi Mahagauryai Namah ॐ देवी महागौर्यै नम

Iconography: She rides the bull, just like Goddess Shailputri. She has four arms, holding a Trishul in one of her right hands and depicts the Abhayamudra with the other right hand. She carries a Damaru in one left hand and depicts the Varadamudra or kamandalu in her other left hand.

Specific power: She is known as the forgiving goddess and forgives sinners and purifies them.

About: In the beginning of the universe, Lord Rudra worshipped the unmanifest form of the Mother Goddess, Adi Parashakti for creation. As Adi Parashakti, the Mother Goddess was pure energy and had no form. She thus appeared in the form of Siddhidhatri from the left half of Shiva.

Day of worship: 9th day of Navratri

Governing planet: Ketu

Mantra: Om Devi Siddhidatryai Namah ॐ देवी सिद्धिदात्र्यै नम

Iconography: Goddess Siddhidatri sits on Kamal and rides on the lion. She is depicted with four hands. She has Gada in the one right hand, Chakra in the other right hand, lotus flower in the left hand and Shankh in the other left hand.

Specific power: She bestows all types of siddhi(supernatural powers) to her devotees and hence is worshipped by humans, ghandarvas, asuras and devas alike.


The names of the nine Durgas are Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri, the nine beautiful, divine, radiant, benevolent but yet violent forms of Goddess Durga.

First: Shailputri means the daughter of Mountain-King Himavan, her vehicle is a bull and is hailed as Vrishabhda.

Second: Brahmacharini, Brahma means penance and Charini is a lady follower, this form is the embodiment of knowledge and teaching, the way she attained Lord Shiva to be her husband.

Third: Chandraghanta, a semi-circular moon shaped like a bell on her head, this form is very serene and victorious, weapons are strongly held in her eight hands, her third eye is always open, Chandraghanta's vehicle is a lion, by worshipping her, she is always prepared for war, one can experience fearlessness and bravery by worshipping her, the death imparted by her assumes the state of assureness and happiness.

Fourth: Kushmanda, that is the fourth form of Navadurga, eight-armed, the holder of weapons, rider of the tiger, the cheerful Goddess, she is the only one who resides in the core of the sun, all the ten directions are being lightened up.

Fifth: Skandamata meaning the mother of Kartikeya, the fifth form of Navadurga, rider of the lion, by worshipping her, one is on the way to salvation.

Sixth: Katyayani, one can receive righteousness, desire, salvation and sense from worshipping her. She killed demon Mahishasur.

Seventh: Kaalratri holds an iron weapon in one hand, and another a sword, a trident, hook and scimitar is held. This form destroys all darkness, one can scare away the demonic forces by worshipping her.

Eighth: Mahagauri is white complexioned, wearing white clothes, four-armed, holding a trident, and a musical instrument in another.

Ninth: Siddhidatri has the eight powers - Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakambya, Ishitva and Vashitva can be attained by her grace, his half-Shiva and half-Shakti form of Ardhanarishwar is granted by her.

At the beginning of Time, the Parabrahma becomes two parts: Man and Nature. Man divides himself in three parts: The creator, Brahma, the preserver Vishnu and the meditator, me. To provide these elemental powers, Prakriti herself is divided in three parts: Lakshmi, Saraswati and Shivaa (Parvati). These powers become three forms. The three, creator, preserving and source are the main reasons. These nine forms are known as Navadurgas (Nine Forms of Durga).

Each of these Goddesses has a special form, story and a special significance.

Shailputri is well known for being the first of the nine forms of Goddess Durga. She is Goddess Parvati who is depicted mounted upon a bull and holding a trident. She is the caring daughter of the Mountain-King Himavan as well as the doting wife of Shiva and nurturing mother of her sons, Kartikeya and Ganesh.

Brahmacharini is Goddess Parvati in the form of a female ascetic. In this form, she had performed severe penances and austerities to please Lord Shiva to attain him as her husband. In course of time, Lord Shiva became pleased by her devotion and fulfilled Parvati's boon by marrying her and both of them started a happy married life. She is depicted as a female ascetic with two hands, both holding a rosary and a waterpot with handle. She is worshipped for renunciation, virtue, emancipation, peace, prosperity, happiness, peace and nobility.

Chandraghanta is one of the most violent forms of Parvati or Goddess Durga. According to legends, Durga incarnated as Kaushiki Devi, the daughter of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati, in order to destroy demon Kings Shumbh and Nishumbh and all their demon armies and associates. The beauty of Goddess Kaushiki was to lure all the demons to their destruction. Shumbh desired to marry Kaushiki to his brother Nishumbh and sent Dhumralochan to bring her. When she did not consent to his request, Dhumralochan proceeded to attack her. Enraged, Parvati transformed herself into a warrior form, mounted upon a lion and bearing eight hands, each of them holding a discus, conch shell, trident, sword, shield, mace, bow and arrow. This warrior form of Parvati was none other than Chandraghanta. Chandraghanta came to the rescue of Kaushiki and, uttering a ferocious bloodcurdling roar, reduced Dhumralochan to ashes, destroying him and killed his entire demon army. As Chandraghanta, Parvati is Lord Shiva's consort and mother of Kaushiki Devi, an incarnation of Durga. She is depicted as a golden woman, having eight hands, each of them holding a discus, conch shell, trident, sword, shield, mace, bow and arrow. She is seen mounted upon the back of a tiger or a lion.

Kushmanda is one among the benevolent forms of Goddess Durga, possessing divine radiance from the core of the sun. One who worships her, attains powers for destroying ailments and sorrows. Life span, name, strength and health is improved. She bestows prosperity and pleasures as well. When this universe was non-existent and darkness prevailed everywhere, it was Goddess Kushmanda herself who created the Cosmic Egg with her light smile. Because of this, Kushmanda is known as the creator the universe. She is the only one who has the power and strength to live in the core of Suryalok. Her body shines like the glowing Sun. All directions get light from her divine smile including the Sun God itself. She dwells in the abode of the Sun God. That is why her hue and splendour is as brilliant as the sun itself. It is her splendour that pervades every plant and creature of this universe. All the ten quarters are illuminated by her divine refulgence. Depicted as a radiant female, with eight arms, six of them holding a lotus, discus, arrow, mace, bow, rosary and two others holding an elixir of honey and waterpot with a handle. She is seen mounted on a tiger.

Skandamata is the benevolent, benign and the radiant Goddess Parvati herself, the Goddess of love, devotion, power and motherhood. She is sometimes identified with her son Kartikeya, known as Skanda, seen on his mother's lap. Parvati as Skandamata is seen mounted upon the back of a lion, acting as her vehicle. Depicted as a shining female with four hands, two of them holding lotuses and one other holding a waterpot with handle and her one hand is open to assure her devotees protection from fear. She is known as the Goddess of Fire.

Katyayani is kindhearted as well as violent, another among the manifestations of Goddess Durga. According to folklore, The world-renowned sage Katyayan was born in the dynasty of sage Katya. Katyayan was very famous and renowned in the lineage of saints. He was an excellent devotee of Goddess Durga and performed an austere penance for many years to propitiate her. Being delighted by his devotion, Goddess Durga appeared before him and asked him to demand the desired boon. Thereupon sage Katyayan demanded that she should be born as a daughter to him. Goddess Durga granted his wish. Meanwhile, the powerful demon Mahishasur, who could only be killed by a female, had reached heaven to overthrow the Gods from their abode. The trinity of Gods - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, got infuriated and they caused Goddess Durga to appear, who was a culmination of the powers of all deities. Sage Katyayan had the first privilege to worship her, so she was also named Katyayani. In course of time, Goddess Katyayani assassinated Mahishasur and his demon armies and associates. She is depicted as a radiant four-armed female, mounted upon a lion. Two hands hold a lotus and a sword while the two other hands blesses her devotees and eradicates their fears.

Kaalratri is widely regarded as one of the many violent, terrifying and destructive forms of the Mother Goddess, such as Kali, Mahakali, Bhadrakali, Bhairavi, Mrityu, Rudrani, Chamunda, Chandi and Durga. Although her image is black and extremely frightening, she always bestows boons on her devotees. Because of this, she is hailed as Shubhamkari as she bestows good fruits towards her devotees. One who perceives the deadly form of Kaalratri experiences no fears but she instills all fear and terror in the minds of those who are vicious and sinful, who flee upon learning of her arrival. Kaalratri is the death-night of destruction, meaning that at the end of Time, when destruction makes its arrival, Durga transforms herself into Kaalratri, who devours all Time, without leaving any remains. Kaalratri is the destroyer of demons, ghosts and malignant spirits. Portrayed as a black female, with flames radiating or emanating from her body. She is donned with a garland of human skulls around her neck which emantes divine refulgence. She wears a tiger-skin skirt, adorned with severed human arms. Her three eyes each represent the past, present and future. She is also seen with four hands, each holding a trident, sword, scimitar and vajra and is perceived mounted on the back of a mule.

Mahagauri is one of the most benevolent and peaceful forms of the Goddess Parvati, also known as Mother Gauri. According to legends, for the destruction of demons Shumbh and Nishumbh, it was mandatory for Parvati to have an unborn female child, who would kill them. As requested by Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva had magically made Parvati's fair complexion turn black and teased her and called her Kali (the Black One). Saddened, and angry at her husband's actions, Parvati went to an isolated place and began her penances upon Lord Brahma to have her fair complexion again. After many years, Lord Brahma became pleased and informed her to go to the Manasarovar River to take a bath in the Himalayan region. Abiding by Brahma's orders, she took a bath, her dark skin separated from her and transformed into a female. This female was none other than Kaushiki, born from the sheath of Parvati/Gauri, the incarnation of Durga. As a result of which Parvati got her fair complexion back due to the pure waters of Manasarovar. Once demons Chand and Mund laid eyes on Kaushiki, they informed their Demon Kings Shumbh and Nishumbh about her. Shumbh sent his emissary Sugriv to her with the proposal of marriage to the Demon Kings. Kaushiki Devi refused saying that Shumbh and Nishumbh will have to defeat her in battle. So, a violent battle followed in which demons Dhumralochan and Nishumbh were destroyed by Parvati, in the form of Durga. Demons Chand, Mund and Raktabeej exterminated by Kali and finally, Kaushiki herself killed Shumbh. Mahagauri is depicted as a white female with four arms. Three of them holding a trident, rosary and damru while the other hand eradicates her devotees' fears. She is seen mounted upon a white bull.

Siddhidatri is known as the Goddess or 'The Mistress of all Supernatural Powers'. Depicted as a female with four arms, each bearing a discus, conch shell, mace and lotus and mounted upon a fully bloomed lotus, she is mostly seen surrounded by Gods, demons and sages, seen worshipping her to attain divine powers. Siddhi defines the supernatural power or meditative ability. The Siddhi that she provides is the realization that only she exists. She is the Mistress of all achievements and perfections. In this form, Goddess Durga removes ignorance and she provides the knowledge to realize That or Brahman.


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  • Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dhallapiccola
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