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.
“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.
The Mahishamardini Stotra, from the Kulachudamani Tantra, is a beautiful hymn meant to be recited by the sadhaka (Tantric practitioner) to glorify Devi. In this hymn, the violent struggle represents the struggle within, the necessary battle with ahamkara, literally the “I-maker,” and often referred to simply as the ego. It is that function of the mind which creates the illusion of separateness. The ego is a wily creature, constantly taking on different forms, as the buffalo demon Mahishasura does in the mythology. But step for step, Chandi (Durga, Mahamaya, Mahadevi) transforms along with him, chasing right behind him and outwitting the demon at every turn, until she finally defeats him with a stroke of Her sword.