I have dealt with many Devis in my life, and keeping them all happy has been quite a challenge; this is, no doubt, true for many of us. We all have our mother as the first Devi, and we may also have to deal with grandmothers, sisters, cousins, assorted aunts, spouse, sisters in law and possibly, girl friends and granddaughters.
The Durga Saptashati, or Devi Mahatmya, gives us all the guidance we will ever need on how to handle these Devis , a life-saving skill for some men. This book is largely a collection of hymns in praise of the Goddess Durga, interspersed with a few stories about her prowess.
Hence the first lesson from this great book is about appreciation, the key to a woman’s heart. Do you ever appreciate the women in your lives ? Do you ever tell them how well they are doing? Do you ever appreciate their skills, their looks? Learn from the Durga Saptashati. You don’t have to sing hymns in their praise, but, sometimes, a few kind words can make all the difference.
The book talks about the nine forms of the Goddess Durga; all of these forms exist in real life, in the Devis around us. When my daughter was born, she was Shailputri, an angel from high above.Later she became a student, a housewife and a mother. The Devis in our lives can also be our protectors, and destroyers when they are annoyed. They also play an important role in our spiritual journey. Swami Om himself has said that you cannot do Devi Sadhana without respecting women. As a matter of fact, you cannot do any form of meditation or Sadhana without respecting women, as the word Sadhana itself is in the feminine gender.
The Durga Saptashati talks about the divine qualities of the Goddess. She is worshipped as Vidya, Buddhi, Daya, or Shakti, to name just a few attributes. Maybe it is just a peculiarity of Sanskrit grammar, but all of these qualities are in the feminine gender. This explains a lot of things about women, including the fact that they are often smarter than men in so many ways.
My wife has Buddhi, or wisdom. Sometimes , she will say the most illogical things to stop me from doing something rash. In most cases, she turns out to be right. She knows intuitively whom to trust, and who is going to cheat us.Men may have more logical thinking, more knowledge and more arguments, but women always have more Buddhi.
One of the attributes of the Devi is Trishna, or desire as in the phrase Mrig Trishna. The word Mrig refers to deer, and the phrase Mrig Trishna relates to Sita ji’s desire for a golden deer that caused her so much trouble. It might explain why women love shopping so much, it is Mrig Trishna at work and it can cause no end of trouble.
Women generally like to dress better than men. They can make even torn jeans look good, making them into a fashion statement. It’s because women have Aakarshana Shakti, the power of attraction. In Sanskrit, all Shaktis are in the feminine gender. Who can argue with the logic of grammar?
Daya, or compassion is very much a feminine quality, because women have strong emotions, unlike some men. Men are willing to fight for a cause, but women will try to deal with the issue in a more compassionate way. There are exceptions, of course; there were women like Draupadi and Helen of Troy who caused wars and let brave, foolish men fight it out for them.
As in any good book, the best part of Durga Saptashati is near the end: the kshama prarthana, or prayer of forgiveness. It’s a must read for every man and should be memorized by all. I say a shortened version of this prayer mentally every morning before getting out of bed. It helps the day go by well.
In essence, the prayer says: I am dumb , I make mistakes every day. I am too dumb to know the right way of doing anything and I tremble in your presence. Please forgive me, and keep on forgiving me, for all my mistakes.
If you say this simple prayer with sincerity every morning you will have found the key to happiness in this life, and, in any future life.