The chanting of the Devī Mahātyam also known as Srī Durgā Saptaśatī or the Caṇdipāṭhaḥ is a sacred text from the Mākaṇḍeya Purāṇa, which is one of the 18 major Purāṇa-s. Celebrating the divine feminine power, Durgā – Śakti, with her innumerable names, She is the ultimate life force. All objects of this universe – moving or stationary, all the gods, elements, all beings, even demons are but Her. In the Devī Mahātmyam, we see the Goddess in her full glorious splendour.

Chanting 700 (śaptaśatī) verses is not an ordinary feat and requires discipline, grit and grace to learn, master and offer back to the Goddess during Navarātri. There are also several protocols to follow before, during and after the “pārāyaṇa” – a one time recitation of the text from beginning to end. The protocols vary depending on tradition & lineage but common to all traditions is the recitation of the “tryaṅgam” hymns or “3 limbs”.

  1. The Devī Kavacam – armour of Devī. By learning and reciting, one effectuates an armour of protection by the Goddess.
  2. Argalā Stotram – hymn of bolt. Through the recitation of this hymn, the devotee understands the bolt, which offers one the knowledge to open to the doors to the secrets revealed in the Devī Mahātyam.
  3. Kīlakam – hymn of “pin” – this chant reveals the condition that one must fulfil for the Durgā Saptaśatī pārāyaṇa (recitation) to be effective.

There are various vidhi-s or methods to recite the Devī Mahātmyam, but one starts first by the worship or Pūja of the actual book, placed on an elevated stand. Several other disciplines are a requirement and must be learned from a teacher. For devotees, this text and its sound is the Śabdāvatāra or a manifestation of the Divine Goddess Herself. The book is therefore treated with reverence and the accompanying disciplines to follow for the pārāyaṇa become easy to perform.

For those who would like a gentle introduction to this important text and learn a small extract from it, sign up to this on-demand 2 hour mini-workshop and study at your own pace. Meanwhile here’s a Navarātri listening for our community at Veda Studies – a recitation of The Devī Kavacam, Argalā Stotram and Kīlakam. May this be a start (or continuation) to learn the majestic Devī Mahātmyam. Happy Navarātri to everyone!

A note on the chanting: Once one is trained in the lineage of The Challakere Brothers, it becomes inevitable that one applies all the rules of Vedic phonetics to ALL chanting. So, if you are hearing slightly different nasal or anunāsika sounds, this is because of our Veda training. It is helpful if your principal practice is chanting Veda mantras to follow consistent rules.