Navadurga Brahmacharini: Blessing the Seeker

Originally posted on the Princeton Hindu Satsangam blog as part of our Navratri series.

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When I was assigned to reflect on the sec­ond form of Devi, I was both excited and intim­i­dated to med­i­tate on the Divine as the bestower of grace and patron of spir­i­tual seek­ers. Brah­macharini, the form of Devi who is hon­ored on the sec­ond night of Navra­tri, is the daugh­ter of Brahma and is revered for her aus­ter­ity and divine grace. She blesses the spir­i­tual seeker with bliss and peace and aids in aus­ter­i­ties and spir­i­tual prac­tice. As I pre­pared to write this arti­cle, I was faced with the uncom­fort­able truth that right now, deep spir­i­tual prac­tice and spir­i­tual joy are about as far from my expe­ri­ence as grow­ing a beard. I think of myself as a spir­i­tual per­son with a good sad­hana and with a decent level of peace, equa­nim­ity, and joy. But when I’m being hon­est with myself, I really strug­gle to have a decent spir­i­tual prac­tice when immersed in my stud­ies and seva at Prince­ton, and I’m far more famil­iar with the emo­tions of frus­tra­tion and anx­i­ety than spir­i­tual joy and peace. It doesn’t feel good to be called out on my ten­dency for spir­i­tual pride, but I’m grate­ful for the reminder to return to hon­esty and humility. The other rea­son that med­i­tat­ing on Brah­macharini was dif­fi­cult for me today is that a non-Indian Hindu, I often feel uncom­fort­able with Hindu fes­ti­vals and cul­tural tra­di­tions, espe­cially those out­side of my par­tic­u­lar lin­eage of Vaish­nav­ism. I love div­ing into phi­los­o­phy and spir­i­tu­al­ity, but often shy away from the cul­tural tra­di­tions that put flesh on the bones of reli­gion and breathe joy and togeth­er­ness into the some­times stale air of phi­los­o­phy and aus­ter­ity. Brah­macharini some­how brings both together. She is that form of the God­dess who blesses and aids the spir­i­tual prac­ti­tioner and the stu­dent (whether a bhakta or a jnani). But as a form of the God­dess, She is sur­rounded by rich cul­tural tra­di­tions of intense devo­tion, togeth­er­ness, and vibrancy.

 

Tonight, on the sec­ond night of Navra­tri, I pray that She may fill my heart with peace and inspire me to greater aus­ter­ity, devo­tion, and love of community.

 

Dad­hanakara padmab­hyam akshamala kamandalam

Devi prasi­dathu mayi brah­macharinya nuththama

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