Monday, 23 April 2012

DEVI MAHATYAM/CHANDI PATH 108 DAY TAPASYA



Note (2015):
This tapasya was undertaken some years ago, under very different conditions and life circumstances, and it is more a historical document of what it was like  at the time (there is a similar post detailing the days and experience). From this 108 day tapasya, life flowered in marvellous ways - but at the time it seemed there was little point behind the effort. With the benefit of hindsight, it set the blogger firmly on a path of doing tapasya as a way to cleanse the inner spirit, with the formidable power of Sri Durga Mata. What a tough undertaking, because I had to travel al lot during the recitations, but it brought a whole new birth and role in spiritual life. If you do this, do it faithfully, don't try any shortcuts, and understand that it is tough and demanding. This is the tapasya that, as the English proverb says, sorts out the sheep from the goats...



Today, Monday April 23rd, 2012,  is the day I start the Shata Chandi Vrat, a vow to recite the Devi Mahatyam every day for the next 108 days without fail - a serious and well-known austerity or tapasya. (updates on how it all went are included in a SEPARATE entry which follows this one..).

The kicker in this instance is that the recitation is not going to be done in the quiet centre of an ashram but at the end of a long day at work, given that I still live in the world and have to earn my keep on this earth. So, no shelter, no congenial cave or hut, nothing like that.

There are some extra constraints, too. As I only return from work at 5pm, the whole evening will be taken up with the recitation and meditation and an evening meal will not be possible...

Seen through the eyes of our normal world, it seems a crazy thing to do for a westerner, for no tangeable benefit at all. But seen through the eyes of a serious and dedicated spiritual practitioner, a lover of God or the Goddess, the true value of this sadhana can be appreciated. Can it actually be done while being in the world? I'm hoping it can!

The Devi Mahatyam/Chandi Path for those who don't know this scripture, is one of the truly glorious gemstones of Hindu devotional texts which are chanted aloud in sanskrit. Every word is a mantra, and its 700 verses or slokas are a manifestation of Mahamaya herself, of the great Devi, the mother of the Universe, may she be exalted! 

So, it's not just a reading exercise, but a chanting exercise, in one spot, in one asana, for at least 3 1/2 hours. Done without reverence, it's just gabbling. Done with reverence, humility, and joy, it's a beautiful wonderful practice.

I aim to do this for some specific purposes related to spiritual matters, and as a way to help world peace, and peace on the streets in London where I live. I'll be reporting on progress and pitfalls and you can check out subsequent posts on this blog, but would also like to share with you what happened after I'd decided to do this.

That evening I cycled back as usual the 1 hour ride back from my office to my home, and got caught in a terrific April storm, pelting rain and black clouds... as I struggled through this I thought "This is a good metaphor for my life and for the recitation to come!" Because, by the final 20 minutes or so of the journey (which is all uphill) the rain had stopped and the blazing sun reappeared. A good omen! And 2 days prior to starting, I chanted the Chandi Path, getting up at 4am, and as dawn rose I saw out of the window three beautiful horizontal clouds, edged in pink - the mark of Lord Shiva. Another good omen! With such things we can push our lazy minds into fufilling to project.







Below, I've cut and pasted some extra info that may be of help... they are not my words but give you an idea of the benefits of chanting the Chandi Path.

"Though Devi Mahatmyam looks like stories, there are very valuable lessons on Her nature in it. The deeper you go, the more you can understand and appreciate the lessons in the stories."

The benefit of reading Devi Mahatmya several times is given below:
  • Three times - to get rid of effects of black magic
  • Five times - to get rid of difficulties caused by planets
  • Seven times - to get rid of great fear.
  • Nine times - achieves Peace,
  • Eleven times - to get over fear of death, attention of the king
  • Twelve times - getting desires fulfilled and destruction of enemies
  • Fourteen times - to attract partners  as well as destroy enemies
  • Fifteen times - Pleasant life and obtaining of wealth
  • Sixteen times - to get sons and grand sons
  • Seventeen times - to get rid of fear of the King
  • Eighteen times - to get occult powers
  • Twenty times - For war to end
  • Twenty-five times - To come out of prison
  • Hundred times - to get rid of great sorrow, banishment from caste, Loss of life, salvation
  • Hundred and eight times - Fulfilling any wanted desire
  • One thousand times - Goddess Mahalakshmi will visit him and he will get all wealth

A great list, I'm sure you will agree. Just be careful though about general expectations. We live in times that are not conducive to this kind of pure effect, but the Chandi Path really does stir up the sediment in your own inner bathing ghat! You may be exceptionally pure, free from rajasic moods, stresses and strains, in which case the sun will shine for you. This was certainly not the case for me, and the energy unleashed by the recitation can be unsettling... in a nice way. 







IF YOU WANT TO DO THIS TAPASYA, SOME TIPS:
  1. Be extremely clear-sighted about what you can and cannot achieve. It may be you do not have the inner or outer resources to do the full 108 days. There is absolutely no shame in that. I suggest you simply try step by step... start with 1 in a row, then 2, then 3, see how it goes. I found in my own life that after a week of chanting I was thinking "I've taken on way too much", but a vow, a vrata sworn before the goddess, is a vow. So don't bite off more than you can chew.
  2. Whatever you decide, add a touch of flair: tie a raksha, a string bracelet , round your right hand which reminds you of your intention and won't leave your wrist until the tapasya is completed. I have found there is one string that is really hard-wearing and ideal, and oddly enough it is in IKEA of all places, their free wrapping string which is pretty hardy. This has acted as a wonderful visual reminder throughout the tapasya. 
  3. Pronunciation of the mantras correctly is essential, unfortunately. If you don't really know how to pronounce sanskrit, this could be a problem. So read it all through before you cant, and with respect work out where difficulties might arise, and mark your text accordingly. A purist would say if you are marking your text you are wounding the body of the goddess, but apply common sense here.
  4. Having said that: devotion is the real essence of this, devoted concentration and one pointedness. She will not be able to resist a longing heart.
  5. Meaning is also really important: make sure you know what is going on, what is being said, when you recite. I've had to adjust my text so that I can easily see what is the meaning of what is being chanted.
  6. Preparatory mantras are crucial, as are closing mantras. The only place I've actually found these in English is the Devi Mandir printed version is by the American Sadhu Swami Satyananda, and there are at least 4 extra chants you need to do. Plus the Devi Kavachyam.
  7. Water: if you are completely austere, you'll chant without a sip. If you are a little more humane to yourself, make sure you have some water. I always take a sip at the beginning of every new chapter.
  8. Shifting your asana/seating position: again, depends how flexible you are. I sit in either 1/2 lotus or siddhasana, but with a crippled back i find i have to shift positions as follows, following the natural flow of the text: After ch4, after ch 7, after ch10...
  9. REVERENCE! easy for mind to wander: be hard on yourself and make sure you pay attention when you chant, and keep the proper attitude. This may sound wierd, but when my mind really begins to gohere there and everywhere, i slap my own cheeks to bring the mind back again.
  10. Timing: when you chant is of course up to you. I live in the world and have to work for a living, so it is early evening for me. Early morning is a great time, but this chant definitely feels at its most appropriate in the evening.
  11. Place is crucial , the right isolated spot either in your house or outside. This is a ritual, after all, and rituals derve their own place and space in order to unfold. 
  12. As for the list of benefits, also be clear-sighted. Just be aware that changes will occur in both you and your environment, but not neccessarily ones that are easy to spot. 
  13. Chanting this for 108 days takes tremendous perseverance and doggedness, real courage, and sometimes you are going to rebel, try anything not to do it. Don't worry, be gentle with yourself, think that you are leading a very fidgety nervous horse to pasture, a horse that wants to bolt. Think the mind will want to leap anywhere else, that you will face restlessness, anger, aversion, all might come up. But stick to it! All will be triumphantly achieved for you. It is truly a golden lifetime achievement.

Below are the covers of the 2 books I use, which give the English and Sanskrit texts...








34 comments:

  1. MAA WHERE R UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU??????????????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cast aside maya
      Always repeat this hearts cry
      She will come
      In a form unexpected
      With a gift unexpected
      And a boon unexpected

      Delete
  2. hello,
    excellent article! where i London do you live? I live in London and currently doing chandipath! can i please contact you?
    kalyanielpass@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Remarkable achievement. I would also like to take on a similar Sankalpa - but am scared of not being able to complete. I have a full time job and 2 children aged 6 and 13. So need to be there for them from at least 7.0am and in the evenings for their school work. Last year I read the 13 chapters around 65 times. I need to get up at 2.00 am - after a while I was completely exhausted. Since then I have realised that the mantras at the start and end are important - so it takes me 3.45 minutes. I do it as and when I can but feel incomplete. I know I need to resolve this and include in my schedule so looking for ........motivation for lack of better word..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a brave and beautiful thing you are doing... My practical advice is that with yr kids being so young plus yr job you need to be sensible and there is a wonderful alternative... Chanting the Sri Lalita Sahasranam, which takes 50 mins max, is very beautiful, sweet, intoxicating and really a gift of grace. I shifted over from one to the other, and am thankful I did so. Much much easier all round. The Sahasranam is a love song, a bit like the praise shlokad in Devi Mahatyam.

      Delete
  4. Many thanks - yes chanting the Sri Lalita Sahasranam on a regular basis an option. What are your views about chanting the Chandi with limbs half one day and completing the next day? I really want to do this but practically finding this very challenging. I understand the benefits of chanting the Chandi and has brought me much peace, which I have not achieved with anything else.

    Apologies in my previous comment I wrote 3.45 minutes, I meant 3.45 hours.

    Hope your Tapasya of chantng the Chandi for 108 days is going well - that is my long term goal! Wish you the very best for it.

    Pranams

    ReplyDelete
  5. Namaste...

    Yes I did complete the 108 day tapasya last year, actually (read the NEXT post up from this one, it's called Devi Mahatyam 108 day highlights). That was all the chapters everyday plus opening chants etc.

    No angels descended from the sky with a golden crown of accomplishment, that's for sure, and it took many long months after that before my devotion to Divine Mother truly rekindled. I was wiped out by the experience, in a good way and a bad way! The time it takes is something that makes it very difficult to do if you work etc, you have to have real stubbornness and grit.

    But I will tell you that when I finally began to contemplate what had actually been done, almost 12 months later, I opened my copy of the Chandi Path. And this bolt of light and warmth shot from the boo, and I was flooded with a sense of how holy and special the intention was. It seems to me that INTENTION is the key thing here - the intention to call to the Beloved, to sing a song of love to Her. My own singing I feel was botched, clumsy, awkward. But that didn't and doesn't really matter.

    Lots of people in India, btw, chant just a chapter a day. This is one way of going thru it. The thing to avoid is overload. But whatever you decide, be happy that you will NOT be judged by some cruel authority for doing the chant according to your practical capacity. You will be LOVED. And that's enough...

    ReplyDelete
  6. what is the regular puja vidhi & sankalpa vidhi before chandipath? If we chant this in seven days then what we should do regarding above question?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The book pictured above by Swami Satyananda (first picture) contains all the necessary pujas and sankalpas and lots of other texts such as the devi kavacham. That is the book I use....

      Delete
  7. Hello Sir,
    I read your blog about the sadhana for 108 days. Is it necessary that only a man can do this and not a woman? If a woman can also do ,how to continuously do as a woman cant have all 30days a month where she can go to the puja place. Iam a 30year old lady who wish to the Sadhana.soon. Please guide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blessings and courage. If you feel your culture does not permit your access to a sacred space during menstruation, then abide by this. Others with different cultures ave different ways. But the creative answer to your dilemna is that you spend this time suspending yr 108 day chant, but instead meditating an hour a day for every day of your menses. Remember the ultimate spiritual truth: you are neither a woman, nor a man, but a spark of the Devi, so sex does not apply on the highest levels of sadhana.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your guidance. Can one do the Sadhana during pregnancy too?

      Delete
    3. yes absolutely, it is by far the best time for sacred mantras, sacred activity... has the effect of drawing royal personages desirous of yogic practice into the womb. A beautiful opportunity..

      Delete
    4. :) Thank you . Then I will do this once I conceive my second child so that I do not have to bother about the menses problem every month. Will come to you for any help or guidance.

      Delete
    5. Keep in touch... good luck and enjoy the process!

      Delete
    6. Thanks much . Will keep you posted.

      Delete
  8. I am reading only translate not read whole mantra sadhna this is good for me..

    ReplyDelete
  9. Respected Sir,
    Thank you very much for the valuable information you provided in your blog 'DEVI MAHATYAM/CHANDI PATH 108 DAY TAPASYA. I want to do the reading of Durga Saptashati - 108 times. As I cannot read Sanskrit language fluently, I will not be able to finish all 13 chapters in one day. Therefore is it ok to read the first, second and the third 'part' in 3 days ? 108 times of reading will therefore take much more time than 108 days. Is it ok to do the sadhana this way ? Can you please give your valuable advice Sir ?
    Pranam

    ReplyDelete
  10. This method is used in navarartri sometimes. Remember, if you do this, then stick to the plan you decide on without fail. Best is to chant not to read it. But decide your daily routine. Then completely stick to it without deviation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for your valuable advice. I will follow the same.
      Pranam.

      Delete
  11. Thank you very much for your valuable words. Sir, instead of taking sankalpa for chanting Durga Saptashati 108 times continuously, is it ok to take sankalpa for short periods? say for 25 chantings at a time and repeat. Thus completing the total of 108 times ? I am a lady and for 5 days in a month, I cannot do chanting due to menses. I have to take break at an interval of 25 days :( Please advice.
    Thanks and regards,
    Jyotiswaroop

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That seems a very sensible solution. According to the culture you live in, respect its traditions unless they are completely silly. So, i think you have applied good discrimination to the problem. Good luck and remember to do just what is in your capacity, do not overdo it and take on more than you can practically do.

      Delete
    2. Thank you very much Sir, for your guidance.
      Regards,
      Jyotiswaroop

      Delete
  12. Thankyou for your guidance . Read it for an answer to whether women can/should continue during periods...as in sikhism women ..freshly bathed and clean can do all recitations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. . What is pure? What is impure? Tell me... If a man full of lustful thoughts 90pc of the time recites on one mat, while a woman without an impure thought in her heart and with one pointed devition recites on another, despite her menstruation... Who is the beloved devotee then?

      Delete
  13. Dear Babaji
    Can I chant one chapter per day for the 108 days.... kindly advise me
    Ravi

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great Achievement. you set an inspiration for me.. !! Though i cant chant all those chapters in a day, i want to chant few chapters per day!. Is their anything that we should chant this much chapters per day? planning to chant one chapter per day. kindly please guide me..

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sigh...well done, but...

    The blog is FULL OF SUGGESTIONS!!!! lights go out, just be practical and not full of superstition. You do not have anything like full devotion in your heart as you claim. these are just empty words. Full devotion would mean absolutely no fear, overflowing with the confidence of love. Stop all this nonsense about luck not clicking.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I like this article, All the things you described in Point no. 13 are nothing but a test to your perseverance and when you are facing distractions, it simply means your Tapasya is being acknowledged by the invisible elements around you, But you just have to keep going and understand with a higher consciousness that these are just petty disturbances coming in your way to test your will to continue with the Sadhana. Fortunately I have a great lineage of people around me, who are into Shaktha sadhana. I myself am not really a great Sadhaka, as I am also working for a living. But the people around me are. My father had chanted Chandi parayana for 108 times in a row when he wanted things to change for me and my sister. At the very least, I can say his desire was fulfilled. I am interested in finding out the methods which are being taught outside my community, I myself am aware few things according to the tantra tradition, we indulge in only Dakshina Achara, as the Vama Marga is not suitable for brahmins, which we are. I would be grateful and greatly appreciate it if we could get in touch.

    - Chandi prasad sharma (chandiprasad.sharma@outlook.com)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Guruji Is it necessary to observe celibacy while chanting Devimahatmyam

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is your choice as to the level of sacrifice you want to offer. Chanting is a formidable tapasya and many things will come up to be dealt with. But...your choice entirely

    ReplyDelete
  20. Guruji,

    Iam a small being who loves to love , speak and sing in the Glories of My Devi Ma.. While i read Kavacham , i would like to get some merciful guidance by Guru's like you... Can you help me on my Devotion Course.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sigh. Who says you are a small being? The whole blog.. Which im sure you havent really looked at...is full of guidance. So simply read the posts!

      Delete