Before the manifestation of the universe, when nothing else existed, what existed was the Omnipresent Formless Divine Consciousness. This is also called the Static Consciousness or “Shiva” in Hindu scriptures.
When the time ripened for the manifestation of the universe, the first to manifest was the Dynamic Consciousness (Shakti) from the Static Consciousness.
Shakti is the feminine power of Shiva and is the creative force behind the universe. Shiva alone, as masculine power, is not capable of creating anything without the feminine power, hence the first to manifest is His own creative feminine power as Shakti, who was then allowed to create the universe.
This Shakti is also called the Divine Mother, as everything in the universe has taken birth from its womb. The Divine Mother, which has given birth to the universe, also nurtures and sustains it, and has the power to destroy (dissolve back) the same.
There are basically nine aspects of the Divine Mother which help it to create, sustain and destroy or dissolve back the universe and these nine aspects of the Divine Mother are worshipped in the Hindu religion as nine shaktis during the nine-day Navaratri festival.
These nine aspects of the Divine Mother (Goddess Durga) are named as Jagadamba, Bhadrakali, Annapurna, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandi, Lalita, Bhavani and Mukambika.
Durga is the inaccessible, invincible one and omnipotent, the main source of energy for creation. Jagadamba is the mother of the gross universe. All the gross objects and beings have manifested from this Jagadamba aspect of the Divine Mother.
Bhadrakali is the giver of auspiciousness, fortune and Annapurna is the one who bestows food to all beings. Sarvamangala is one who gives joy to all and Bhairavi is a good mother to good beings and a bad mother to bad beings. Chandi is the fierce and terrifying aspect of the Divine Mother and is considered to be the destroyer of evil forces. She is a combination of Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasarasvati.
Lalita is the love aspect and passion aspect of the Mother which help in procreation and in giving divine experience through the physical body of beings and Bhavani is the giver of the life force filled with mercy. The last one is Mukambika, in which “Mukam” in Sanskrit means home, place, destination or seat of being. Mukambika is the giver of the ultimate destination to beings i.e. enlightenment and self-realisation.
As per Hindu scriptures, Durga in her Kali roopa fought demons for nine days and eventually freed mother earth from their atrocities. Thus the tenth day is celebrated as Vijaydashami meaning the day of victory, triumph over bad elements.
The Navaratri festival basically denotes the tremendous potential power, the feminine aspect of creation has within herself, which also draws down to the power of an ordinary woman. Woman is the embodiment of the feminine aspect of creation and till she is respected, loved and treated as auspicious for the entire human race, she can give joy, peace and help in the growth of every aspect of creation.
However when woman is subjected to cruelty, violence, atrocity and made to suffer, then she can become fierce and terrifying like Chandi and destroy those cruel forces.
The Navaratri festival is a reminder of potential feminine power in the universe and is an occasion to offer gratitude to this feminine power in the form of women — for their contributions to creation, sustenance, growth, joy, peace and spirituality. Let us all celebrate this Navaratri festival with such pure emotions and feelings for woman power....