Form of Brahmacharini Devi
Devi is in her simplest form. Draped in a plain white saree, She holds a kamandala or water pot in one hand and rosary beads in the other hand. Devi is the unmarried version of Goddess Parvati. She has a meditative aspect and her face manifests bliss and a calm strength - a mark of the intensity of the austerities she has undergone.
What Devi represents
Since Devi spends most of her time meditating, this day is good for meditation. Devi blesses those who undertake fasts, chant mantras, and meditate devoutly, with love, success, knowledge and wisdom. It is believed that praying with steadfast devotion to Devi can help devotees attain the power to control their senses, achieve what their mind is set upon, and ultimately attain moksha or enlightenment. Since Brahmacharini Devi has undergone harsh penance, she also takes away the sufferings of her devotees.
Legend behind why Devi took the form of Brahmacharini
Devi was born to the Lord of the Mountains, Himavan and his wife Menavati. As she was the daughter of the mountain (Parvat) god, she was called Parvati. From her childhood, she heard many tales of Lord Shiva from Sage Narada. Being thus influenced, she was determined to attain the Lord as her consort.
At this time, Lord Shiva had renounced worldly ways and had become a sannyasin or ascetic, spending his time meditating in the Himalayas.
Parvati undertook to look after his abode – cleaning it, keeping his food ready, and decorating it with flowers. She would also meditate and pray. At first, she ate very little, surviving on fruits and flowers, but over time, she reduced her food to just leaves. Ultimately, she completely gave up food and water. She slept on the bare floor, meditating constantly.
After following such austere practices for a thousand years, an old man visited her. He berated Lord Shiva, calling him a mendicant. Listening to his abusive language made Parvati angry. She loyally defended the Lord. Impressed with her devotion and constancy, the old man, who was in fact Lord Shiva in disguise, revealed himself, and agreed to marry her.
In reality, Goddess Parvati was the reincarnation of Lord Shiva’s first wife, Sati.
In Varanasi, there is a temple for Ma Brahmacharini that devotees visit on pilgrimages.
Spiritual significance of Brahmacharini
Brahma signifies infinity. Brahmacharini is that which moves in infinity. What is interesting is that even when infinity is all over, it can still move. Movement in infinity is the reality of the subtle. It is like space; while it seems static, it is actually dynamic. There is enormous movement in space. It may be compared to waves in an ocean. While the huge waves don’t go anywhere, they are moving.
The second meaning of Brahmacharini refers to the virgin aspect of energy. Newness is depicted in the second form of Durga. It can be compared to the rays of the sun. While the sun’s rays are old, and have been around for millions of years, they still have a fresh and new feel as they shine every day.