Durga Mantra

Durga Goddess Mantra

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Durga Mantra: Stories of the Hindu Goddess

Most Durga mantras are for spiritual  protection. Every Durga mantra reflects this goddess’s role as a warrior and a principal form of the Divine Mother in Hinduism.  She is also known by the terms Devi and Shakti. Devi is a feminine form of god. Shakti is the unformed energy that pervades of all creation.

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Durga’s Primary Mantra

Durga’s primary mantra includes her seed syllable and name. Seed syllables are concentrated sounds in Sanskrit that embody a particular force or energy. Durga’s seed syllable is DUM (short form “duhm”; long form “doom”). The words to this mantra are “OM DUM Durgayei Namah.”

Meaning of “Namah”
The chant is sometimes sung with the ending “svaha.” The ending “namah” or “namaha” means “I honor” or “I bow to.” The word svaha is usually associate with a fire offering. Svaha is traditionally used at certain times such as during certain astrological cycles.

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Durga’s Seed Syllable

The seed syllable DUM is a fire element syllable. This Durga mantra is a powerful fire mantra with a weapon-like effect. DUM is an earthly fire rather than an etheric fire. The martial energy of DUM overcomes opposition.

The Energy of “DUM”
DUM is also a transformative energy to eliminate sorrow and obstacles both within and without. DUM grants self-control. DUM combines protection and self-discipline, saving us from difficulties whenever possible.

Long Vowel Form of “DUM”
DUM with a long vowel (pronounced doom) is similar but softer and more feminine. This form of DUM also neutralizes negative forces projected against us. DUM is beneficial for tissues in the body and can be used to burn away toxins and also to increase the digestive fire. DUM is a solar rather than a lunar energy. Read full article on seed syllables: One Word Mantras: Powerful Bija Seed Syllables.

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Durga Mantra for Protection

Durga is known by many names including Bhagini (sister), Devi, Shakti and more. Durga personifies the vibration of the fierce mother, only moving into battle to protect her own and never for the sake of violence. In some circumstances, Durga leads a divine army.

Durga as a Warrior
Durga is a warrior goddess. She overthrows the forces that threaten peace, prosperity and all that is good. The name Durga means a fort or a place that is difficult to overrun. Durga is a goddess who saves her devotees from difficulties whenever possible. 

The Many Arms of Durga
Durga is depicted as having eight to sixteen arms. This allows her to battle evil in every direction. Her eight arms hold an arrow, a bow, a sword, a discus, a lotus flower, a snake and a mace. A final hand is raised in a sign of peace. Durga remains peaceful even in the midst of battle.

Protection Mantra Lyrics
Some Durga mantras contain a powerful sequence of multiple seed syllables. The lyrics to Durga’s Mantra for Protection are “OM HRIM KRIM DUM Durgayai Svaha.”

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Meaning of Durga’s Mantra

The Sanskrit word OM is familiar to most people as the quintessential one-word mantra. OM is the fundamental sound connecting us to higher reality and the highest aspect of our own beings. Although a mantra all unto itself, OM is also the most common word in longer mantras.

The Meaning of OM
OM is believed to be a sound of the whole cosmic manifestation. OM is the sound of the universe, the sound from which all other sounds are formed. OM represents past, present and future. OM is a seed or building block of creation.

The Meaning of HRIM
HRIM (hreem) is a mantra for the heart: the spiritual heart, the emotional heart and the physical heart. This mantra aids in longevity by energizing the heart. Due to the healing and stimulating influence on the heart, HRIM is also said to promote circulation and positively affects the lungs and nervous system. This word in the Durga mantra accelerates the fire in the heart.

The Seed Syllable KRIM
KRIM is a mantra of divine manifestation, specifically the divine electricity that exists behind all things. There is something about repeating this sound that feels like a mild, positive electrical stimulus. The word KRIM adds a second kind of fire to Durga’s mantra.

Hard Consonant Seed Syllables
In fact, KRIM is the most important of the seed syllables beginning with a hard consonant. The Sanskrit letter “k” or “ka” is an initial thrust of energy or prana. The letter “r” or “ra” adds fire and the “i” (ee) adds focus.

KRIM as the Power of Shakti
KRIM is the Kriya Shakti or power of action that operates on all levels. The inner action is the awakening of the kundalini. KRIM also rules over time, helping us to move from past karma and master time, space and action. KRIM is the final seed syllable in this mantra to Durga before her own seed syllable DUM, described in detail in Durga’s Primary Mantra above. Or read a full article on seed syllables: One Word Mantras: Powerful Bija Seed Syllables.

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Durga’s Shield Mantra

When the warrior goddess Durga defeats the generals Chanda and Munda sent to attack her by the demon kings (see Another Victorious Battle for Durga), she earns the right to be called by a new name: Chamundaye, meaning simply the one who defeated Chanda and Munda. The use of this name is the focus of the mantra to Durga known as the Chamunda mantra or Durga’s Shield.

Durga’s Shield Lyrics Translation
The words to Durga’s Shield Mantra are “OM AIM HRIM KLIM Chamundaye Vicche.” The word “Namaha” meaning “I bow or give honor” can be added at the end of the mantra. The meaning of OM and HRIM are discussed above in Durga’s Protection Mantra. AIM is the feminine counterpart to OM. AIM is a seed syllable or fundamental energy for goddesses in general. KLIM is a bija seed syllable meaning divine magnetism. The word “Vicche” means shield.

Story of the Goddess Durga

In Sanskrit, the name Durga means “inaccessible” or a “fortress.” Other translations of her name are “impassable, invincible, and unassailable.” Her name is related to the word “durg” which means “something difficult to defeat or pass.” Ultimately, Durga is “the undefeatable goddess.”

Symbolism of Durga
Durga is associated with protection, strength, motherhood, destruction, and wars. The most famous legend about Durga is the killing of the buffalo demon, Mahishasura. After doing severe penance to appease Brahma, the Creator god, the buffalo demon asked for immortality. Brahma denied the plea, insisting that all things must die one day.

Pride of the Demon Mahishasura
Mahishasura appealed this decision, asking that only a woman could kill him. Mahishasura believed women to be powerless and weak. Brahma granted his wish. Afterwards, Mahishasura started to torture innocent people. He attacked and captured heaven without any fear.

Gifts to Durga from the Gods
To save the innocent people who were being harmed, the gods combined all of their energy to create Durga. Shiva formed Durga’s face. Yama, the god of death, gave her dark, black hair. Vishnu gave her many arms. Durga is generally shown with 8 to 10 arms. Vayu, the wind god, gave her a bow and arrow. The mountain god Himalaya gave her a lion to ride. As the recipient of their collective energy, she became greater than all. She emerged as the ultimate warrior goddess. 

Weapons from the Gods
The gods gave her duplicates of all of their weapons to be held in her many hands. Like other goddesses, Durga is renowned for her beauty. Receiving their gifts and energy, Durga became the inner power or shakti for all of the gods. With her many weapons and impenetrable power, Durga fought Mahishasura and destroyed him.

A Victorious Battle for Durga

In the Hindu tradition, the forces devoted to good are called devas. The enemies of the devas are the asuras or demons. Both sides have magical powers. If members of either side practice yogic austerities, they must be granted powers and boons by karmic law.

Infamous Brother Demons
Two infamous demons named Shumba and Nishumba are brothers. They have impressed Brahma the Creator by standing on one leg amidst five fires for a thousand years. In return, they are granted a boon: neither man nor god can defeat them in battle. This sounds similar to the story of the buffalo demon Mahishasura! They have become invincible and have conquered the heavens and the earth.

Finding a Way to Victory
One day a friendly sage tells Indra, the god of heaven, that there is a loophole: perhaps a goddess can defeat the demon brothers. Therefore, Indra and the other gods of heaven go in search of Durga, who is hiding in the mountains. To lure her into the open, the gods sing her praises for 20,000 years. She must be asked for help according to cosmic law. Finally Durga appears and agrees to save the world and the realm of the gods.

Durga Arrives at the Palace

Durga arrives at the palace of Shumba and Nishumba where they have amassed both armies and harems of beautiful women. She rides majestically into the courtyard on her lion. The guards have never seen a woman like her and invite her into the palace. The guards assume that she has come to offer herself as yet another bride to the demon brothers.

Durga Defeats a Large Platoon
Durga says that she can only marry a man who can defeat her in battle. The brothers laugh at this and send a small platoon to capture her. They tell their soldiers to drag her into the palace by her hair. She defeats the platoon. A larger platoon is sent and again defeated. Now the kings realize that the loophole has been discovered and they may be in trouble.

Durga Fights the Demon Kings

The demon kings now send their massive armies under the command of the generals named Chanda and Munda. They also send beasts of every type from every part of their kingdom. All of the forces attack Durga at once. Kali emerges ferociously from Durga’s third eye. A host of other goddesses emerge from her form. After a furious battle, the army of goddesses defeats the army of demons. Now the demon kings Shumba and Nishumba emerge from their palace.

Durga Overcomes the Demon Kings
The demon kings tell Durga that she must fight them alone. She withdraws all of the goddesses back into herself. Durga fights them alone, defeating them both. As they die, the demons melt into Durga’s heart. They declare that she is their Divine Mother, passing from life into bliss.

Goddess Durga’s Unique Aspects

Durga is always depicted with a calm and serene face even in the midst of battle. This tranquility is derived from the fact that she only acts out of necessity. Durga does not fight for the pleasure of battle. She seeks only the good and the freedom those who depend on her. She is the guardian of the soul’s journey to liberation.

The Power of Durga’s Many Limbs
Durga’s many limbs allow her to always be ready for battle in any direction. She also has three eyes, like her consort Shiva. Durga’s left eye is associated with the moon, symbolizing desire and lunar energy. Her right eye is connected to the sun and symbolizes action or solar energy.

Durga’s Third Eye
The third eye in the middle of her forehead represents intuition and wisdom. Like Shiva, famous for shooting bolts of lightning from his third eye, Durga’s third eye is connected to the fire element. The three eyes also symbolize her vigilance. She is ever ready to do battle.

Symbols of the Goddess Durga

Symbols of Durga

The many symbols associated with Durga include the seven items that she holds in her hands as well as the lion or tiger that she rides. References to these weapons and her powers appear in many Durga mantras.

Conch Shell: Durga’s conch shell is connected to the word OM, the sound an source of all creation. The conch shell is used as a musical instrument. This is the sound that awakens the crown chakra, the place of final enlightenment. Om is the first word in many of Durga’s mantras.

Sword: Durga’s sword symbolizes knowledge of the sacred word, a weapon that overcomes all others. Durga’s sword also serves the practical purpose of self-defense against demons.

Disc: The disc held in Durga’s hand symbolizes the spinning wheel of the chakras. The chakra disc was given to Durga by Lord Vishnu. This chakra disc also represents the revolving of the universe around Durga as a representative of the Divine Mother.

Lotus Flower: The lotus flower is a symbol of Durga’s compassion for for her devotees in their struggles to attain liberation. The lotus grows in the mud but radiates beauty and fragrance.

Bow and Arrow: Durga holds both a bow and arrow in a single hand. This indicates complete mastery over energy, both potential (the bow) and kinetic (the arrow).

Snake: The snake held in Durga’s hand is symbolic of the kundalini energy. This is the feminine energy that lies coiled at the base of the spine, waiting to be drawn to meet the masculine energy in the crown chakra.

Thunderbolt: Holding a thunderbolt indicates firmness in convictions. The vajra weapon represents the power of thunder. The thunderbolt shows that Durga attacks in complete confidence without fear.

More Symbols of Durga

Lotus Flower: Durga holds a lotus that hasn’t bloomed yet. This represents the certainty of success along the spiritual path before the final stages are reached. The lotus grows in the mud of the world but stays true to its inner nature.

Chakra Discus: The chakra discus spins around on one of Durga’s fingers. This demonstrates that the energy of the entire world is subservient to Durga’s will.

Durga’s Sword: Durga’s sword symbolizes knowledge. Her mind and wisdom are indicated in the sharpness of the sword. The shine of the sword represents knowledge without doubts.

Trident: The trident (Trishula) is a symbol of Satwa (inactivity), Rajas (activity), and Tamas (nonactivity). Durga uses them all in the trident to alleviate physical, mental and spiritual suffering.

Lion or Tiger: Durga rides a lion or tiger, representing her mastery over power, will, and determination. She poses easily on the lion or tiger, demonstrating her freedom from fear.Durga Yantra Illustration

Durga’s Yantra and Sacred Geometry

Durga’s stories and iconography are based on the idea that it is better to protect yourself and divert misfortune whenever possible. For this reason, the Durga Yantra as well as Durga mantras are used primarily for protection. Read more about the symbolism of yantras in Yantra Meaning: Powerful Sacred Symbols.

Durga’s Indomitable Strength
As a warrior goddess with indomitable strength, Durga will help you to let go of anything that is no longer serving you. In addition, she can serve as a shield on many levels as you move through the world. See Durga Mantras: Shield Mantra Above.

Meaning of the Upward Pointing Triangles
Durga cultivates a unique combination of fearlessness, courage and love. The many upward pointing triangles in the yantra emphasize spiritual freedom. Durga’s colors are white, silver, gold, saffron, orange and red.

Mantra Associated with Durga’s Yantra
The mantra associated with the Durga Yantra is “Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundaye Viche.” As noted above, the word “Chamundaye” is a reference to Durga and the slayer of Chamunda, an evil demon.“Viche” means a “shield” and indicates Durga’s role in protecting her own. Durga has the role of destruction for the sake of universal harmony.

Nine Forms of Durga the Goddess

Durga appears in nine different forms, each with unique traits and powers. Together, they are called “Navadurga” or the “nine Durgas.” In the festival called Navaratri, all of her forms are celebrated over nine nights. There are Durga mantras for each of her nine forms.

Durga Mantra to Shailaputri (First Day of Navarati)

During the first night of Navarati, Durga’s avatar Shailaputri is celebrated. This name means “daughter of the mountains.” She is the daughter of the king of the Himalayas. Shailaputri is the highest or purest form of Durga. In this form, Durga is the mother of nature. She is pictured riding a bull while holding a trident in one hand and a lotus blossom in the other.

Durga Mantra for the 1st Day: Om Devi Shailaputryai Namah

Durga Mantra to Brahmacharini (Second Day of Navarati)

The second day of Navaratri is devoted to Durga as Brahmacharini. This name means the “one who practices devout austerity.” She holds a rosary in her right hand and a water utensil in her left hand. The rosary symbolizes special Hindu prayers recited to her. The water is for marital bliss. Durga is believed to endow peace, prosperity, happiness, and grace upon her followers.

Durga Mantra for the 2nd Day: Oṃ Devī Brahmacāriṇyai Namaḥ

Durga Mantra to Chandraghanta (Third Day of Navarati)

The third manifestation of Durga is a representation of peace, tranquility, and prosperity. Her name, Chandraghanta, is derived from “Chandra” (a half moon depicted on her forehead) and the ghanta (a bell). Durga rides a lion in this form. Chandraghanta is celebrated on the third day of Navarati.

Durga Mantra for the 3rd Day: Oṃ Devī Chandraghantaye Namaḥ

Durga Mantra to Kushmanda (Fourth Day of Navarati)

Durga’s fourth form is Kushmanda, meaning “creator of the universe.” Kushmanda is the one who brought light to the dark cosmos. She also has multiple limbs holding weapons, glitter, a rosary, and holy objects. The glitter is symbolic of the light she brought to the world. In this form, Durga rides a lion. Kushmanda is celebrated on the fourth day of Navarati.

Durga Mantra for the 4th Day: Oṃ Devī Kuṣhmāṇḍā Namaḥ

Durga Mantra: Skandamata (Fifth Day)

Skandamata is the mother of Lord Kartikeya, who was chosen by the gods as their commander-in-chief in the war against the asuras or demons. Skandamata has a pure and divine nature. She is seated on a lotus or lion, possessing four arms and three eyes. She holds the infant Skanda (Lord Kartikeya) in one arm. Skandamata is celebrated on the fifth day of Navarati.

Durga Mantra for the 5th Day: Oṃ Devī Skandamātāyai Namaḥ

Durga Mantra to Katyayani (6th Day of Navarati)

Katyayani is the sixth form of Durga celebrated in Navarati. Katyayani has wild hair, 18 arms (each holding a weapon) and rides a lion. Katyayani was born in a fit of divine rage and anger. She emits light that darkness and evil cannot hide from. Though Katyayani looks terrifying, she is believed to bestow a sense of calm and peace upon her followers.

Durga Mantra for the 6th Day: Oṃ Devī Kātyāyanyai Namaḥ

Durga Mantra to Kalaratri (7th Day of Navarati)

Kalaratri is also known as Shubhamkari. Her name means “one who does good” in spite of her fearsome looks. She has a dark complexion, wild hair, four arms, and three eyes. Lightning comes from her necklace and flames shoot from her mouth.

Kalaratri is similar to Kali: she has black skin and is worshipped as a protector of faithful Hindus. She is to be honored and feared. Kalaratri holds a spiked club and a dagger. Two of her other hands beckon to the faithful to be protected and dispel their fears. Kalaratri is celebrated the seventh day of Navaratri.

Durga Mantra for the 7th Day: Oṃ Devī Kālarātryai Namaḥ

Durga Mantra to Mahagauri (8th Day of Navarati)

Mahagauri means “extremely white.” This is the eighth form of Durga. The name Mahagauri refers to Durga’s luminous, radiating beauty. By worshipping her, Hindus believe that all sins – past, present, and future – will be washed away. She wears all white, has four arms, and rides a bull. Mahagauri holds a small tambourine and a trident. Another hand grants blessings. Another is held in a gesture allaying fear.

Durga Mantra for the 8th Day: Om Devi Mahagauryai Namah

Durga Mantra to Siddhidatri (9th Day of Navarati)

Siddhidatri is the final form of Durga. Her name means “giver of supernatural power.” Hindus believe she gives blessings to gods and worshippers alike. Siddhidatri grants wisdom and insight. She also rides a lion, carries a trident, a chakra discus, a conch shell, and a lotus.

Durga Mantra for the 9th Day: Om Devi Siddhidatryai Namah

Kali Deity Art

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Differences Between Durga and Kali

Durga and Kali are sometimes viewed as different sides of the same goddess. However, there is a significant difference. Kali loves to do battle. She relishes her role as a demon-slayer. The battle is exciting and empowering for her.

Characteristics of Durga
Durga, on the other hand, goes into battle only when her children or devotees are at stake. Her face is placid in the midst of battle. She has great mastery, skills and weapons. She does not enjoy the fight, but acts only to protect her own.

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Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew, and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.

DURGA ARTICLE SUMMARY 

The story of Durga is the story of spiritual protection in the form of a Hindu goddess. Durga’s name means “fort” and her role is to defend her devotees. This article includes her story; her symbols, mantras and yantra; and the nine forms of Durga. Music videos of two mantras to Durga are also included.

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