These seven verses are from the Devi Mahatmyam, an important 5th century scripture taken from the Markandeya Purana that invokes the power of Goddess in her form as the Great Goddess (Mahādevī) by chronicling Her triumph over evil. These verses, taken from various chapters, hold the essence of the entire scripture and may be recited together as a short hymn to the Goddess as a means of cultivating pure devotion.
Devotion, along with humility and compassion, is one of the greatest tools and biggest allies on the Tantric path. The Manthanabhairavatantra Siddhakhandah declares:
Devotion (is of three kinds, namely, devotion) to the Transmission, devotion to the teacher, and devotion here to the teaching itself. Devotion is power and the Transmission is transmitted by power. Speech is transmitted from the Transmission and the Command operates by Speech. Devotion is liberation that beholds the end of the Transmental.
– MBT, SKh 4:36-7. Translated by M. Dyczkowski.
There is a lot going on in this statement – but what I want to focus on is the necessity of devotion on the Tantric path.
“When offerings are made in worship, with or without proper knowledge, I will receive them gladly, and also the fire offerings made in a similar way.”
– Devi Mahatmyam 12.11
In this verse from the twelfth chapter of Devi Mahatmyam (also Chandi Path or simply the Chandi), the Goddess tells us that She accepts all worship, regardless of whether it is performed with proper knowledge. What is proper knowledge? The “right” mantras, the “right” procedures, the “right” pronunciation, the “right” gestures, the “right” understanding. There is another kind of “right” understanding, which is quite personal and flows from pure devotion.
In the West, there is often a lack of understanding about the tradition of touching the Guru’s feet. Such an act can seem like groveling, or an act of inflating the Guru’s ego. But this shows a very limited understanding of what it means to pay respect to the Guru.