Worshipped on the eighth day of Navratri, Mahagauri (one among Navadurga) is goddess Durga’s eighth manifestation. She is believed to possess the power to fulfill all the desires of her devotees and take away all their sufferings.
Mahagauri has four arms: the lower right arms stay in Abhaya Mudra (gesture of fearlessness), the upper right arms hold a trident, the lower left arm holds a Damaru (a small hand drum), and the upper left arm stays in Varada Mudra (gesture symbolizing giving out of boons).
There are two stories regarding the origin of Mahagauri: In Devi Mahatyam, Shumbha, and Nishumbha were two Asuras who could be killed only by a female child of Goddess Parvati. To fulfill this deed, Lord Shiva turned the skin of Goddess Parvati black, as advised by Lord Brahma, giving her the epithet Kali, which means goddess of death or time.
Parvati was teased because of her complexion, so she performed severe penance in front of Lord Brahma. He advised her to take a bath in the Manasarovar river of the Himalayas. After taking a bath, the black skin separated from the goddess’ body and turned out to be Kaushiki (an affiliation of Shakti). As a result, Parvati turned out to be of fair complexion and was thus called Mahagauri (Maha =great, Gauri = white).
For Asura’s assassination, she gave her fair complexion to Kaushiki, and she (Parvati) again transformed into Kali. Goddess Kali then transformed herself into Chandraghantha (Chandi). Chandragantha means one who has a half-moon shape like a bell. Goddess Chandi then killed Dhumralochan.
Goddess Chamunda then appeared out of the third eye of Chandi. Chamunda is a fearsome form of Chandi and is one of the seven Matrikas. Goddess Chamunda killed asuras Chanda and Munda, who were in the service of Shumbha. Goddess Chandi then transformed into Kalratri, the seventh form of nine avatars of Parvati, to kill Raktabija, an asura who fought alongside Shumbha and Nishumbha. Kaushiki later killed Shumbha and Nishumbha. After that, she merged with Kali to transform back to Mahagauri.
Another story is presented in different forms in different texts. Goddess Parvati performed a hard penance to get Lord Shiva as her husband. During this, she got covered with dirt and dust, which turned her skin into a darker complexion. Lord Shiva was pleased by her devotion and promised to marry her. To clean her body off the accumulated dirt, Lord Shiva let the Holy waters of Ganga emanating from his matted hair flow and clean Parvati’s body. The sacred and holy waters of Ganga cleaned all her dirt, and she turned out to be fair and glorious. She was then known as Mahagauri, which means extremely fair.
Mahagauri is worshipped on the eighth day of Navaratri, which falls on the Maha Ashtami Tithi (the eighth day of the waxing phase of the moon in September- October). Mahagauri is the ruler of Rahu. Rahu is a mathematical node in space. It is the point of intersection of the ascending node of lunar orbit with the ecliptic plane of Earth’s orbit. It can also be known as the point where the Earth’s equator cuts the moon’s orbital plane. It represents the ascension of the moon in its processional orbit around the Earth. Worshipping Goddess Mahagauri helps in pacifying the ill effects of this phase.
Mantras and Worship
Mahagauri is worshipped on the eighth day of Navaratri. Mahagauri is always in her sixteenth year. The appropriate flower to use on the pooja of Goddess Mahagauri is the night blossoming, Jasmine. Women feed unmarried girls on this special day to show their devotion to Goddess Mahagauri.
The main mantra to worship Mahgauri can be chanted as:
ॐ देवी महागौर्यै नमः॥
Om Devi Mahagauryai Namah||
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु माँ महागौरी रूपेण संस्थिता।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥
Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Maa Mahagauri Rupena Samsthita।
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah॥
वन्दे वाञ्छित कामार्थे चन्द्रार्धकृतशेखराम्।
सिंहारूढा चतुर्भुजा महागौरी यशस्विनीम्॥
पूर्णन्दु निभाम् गौरी सोमचक्रस्थिताम् अष्टमम् महागौरी त्रिनेत्राम्।
वराभीतिकरां त्रिशूल डमरूधरां महागौरी भजेम्॥
पटाम्बर परिधानां मृदुहास्या नानालङ्कार भूषिताम्।
मञ्जीर, हार, केयूर, किङ्किणि, रत्नकुण्डल मण्डिताम्॥
प्रफुल्ल वन्दना पल्लवाधरां कान्त कपोलाम् त्रैलोक्य मोहनम्।
कमनीयां लावण्यां मृणालां चन्दन गन्धलिप्ताम्॥
Vande Vanchit Kamarth Chandraghrit Shekharam|
Singhrudh Chaturbhuja Mahagauri Yasashwineem||
Purnandu Nibham Gauri Somchakrastjitam Astham Mahagauri Trinetram|
Varabhitikram Trishul Damarudharam Mahagauri Bhajem||
Patambar Paridhanam Mridhuhasya Nanalankar Bhusitam|
Manjir, Har, Keyur, Kinkini, Raktrakundal Manditam||
Prafull Bandana Pallavadharam Kanta Kopalam Treelokya Mohanam|
Kamaniya Lavanya Mrinala Chandan Gandhaliptam||
सर्वसङ्कट हन्त्री त्वंहि धन ऐश्वर्य प्रदायनीम्।
ज्ञानदा चतुर्वेदमयी महागौरी प्रणमाम्यहम्॥
सुख शान्तिदात्री धन धान्य प्रदायनीम्।
डमरूवाद्य प्रिया अद्या महागौरी प्रणमाम्यहम्॥
त्रैलोक्यमङ्गल त्वंहि तापत्रय हारिणीम्।
वददम् चैतन्यमयी महागौरी प्रणमाम्यहम्॥
Sarvasankat Hatri Twahim Dhan Aishwarya Pradayaneem|
Gyanada Chaturvedamayi Mahagauri Pranamabhyaham||
Sukh Shantidatri Dhan Dhanya Pradayaneem|
Damarubagh Priya Aghya Mahagauri Pranamabhyaham|
Trilokyamangal Twahim Taptriya Harinim|
Vadadam Chaitanyayami Mahagauri Pranamabhyaham||
ॐकारः पातु शीर्षो माँ, हीं बीजम् माँ, हृदयो।
क्लीं बीजम् सदापातु नभो गृहो च पादयो॥
ललाटम् कर्णो हुं बीजम् पातु महागौरी माँ नेत्रम् घ्राणो।
कपोत चिबुको फट् पातु स्वाहा माँ सर्ववदनो॥
Omkar Patu Shiesho ma, Him Bijam Ma, Hridayo|
Klim Bijam Sadapatu Nabhom Griho Cha Padyo||
Lalatam Karno Hum Beejam Patu Mahagauri Ma Netram Ghranom|
Kapato Chibuko Fatt Patu Swaha Ma Sarwawadano||