Devi Mahatmya

The Devi Mahatmyam or Devi Mahatmya (Sanskrit: devīmāhātmyam, देवीमाहात्म्यम्), or "Glory of the Goddess") is a Hindu text describing the victory of the goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. As part of the Markandeya Purana, it is one of the Puranas or secondary Hindu scriptures, and was composed in Sanskrit around c. 400-500 CE, with authorship attributed to the sage (Rishi) Markandeya.

Devi Mahatmyam is also known as the Durgā Saptashatī (ढुर्गासप्तशती) or simply Saptashatī, Caṇḍī (चण्डी) or Caṇḍī Pāṭha (चण्डीपाठः) - where pāṭha – "reading" – refers to the act of ritual reading. The text contains 700 (saptashata - "seven hundred") verses, arranged into 13 chapters. By far the most important text of Shaktism, the text has a central place in Shakta ritual.

Devi Mahatmyam is seen as an attempt to unify the Vedic male pantheon with the pre-existing mother goddess cult possibly dating to the 9th millennium BCE, and an attempt to define divinity as a female principle. The text synthesizes a number of pre-existing Mother goddess myths of Aryan and non-Aryan origin into a single narrative. The position of the Goddess as Shakti, power itself, beyond the patriarchal position as consort of an eclipsing male deity, is an important transition in Hindu mythology. Also, there are links to aspects of Samkhya philosophy in the narrative.

For ritual reading purposes a number of subsidiary texts are appended before and after. A ritual reading of this text is part of the Navaratri celebrations in honour of the Goddess. In eastern India, the ritual reading (chandipATh) is common at several functions, particularly in death rites. On Mahalaya, the last day of the previous fortnight Pitru Paksha (Pitri Pokkho), ‘Fortnight of the Forefathers’, recitation of Devi Mahatmyam (Chandi Path), and signifies the beginning of Durga Puja festivities. Bengalis traditionally wake up at 4 in the morning on Mahalaya day to listen to Mahisasura Mardini in the voice of the late Birendra Krishna Bhadra and the late Pankaj Kumar Mullick on All India Radio as they recite hymns from the scriptures.

Read more about Devi Mahatmya:  Etymology, Significance, Place in The Hindu Canon, Philosophy, Contents, Angās (Appendages), Mantra, In Popular Tradition

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