The foremost worship to Devi Maha Lakshmi was performed by Maha Vishnu Himself, followed by Brahma and Maha Deva. Also Svayambhu Manu, Indra, various Celestial Bodies, the entire Sagehood, humanity, Sub Terrain regions and indeed the whole Universe without exception are devoted to the Goddess for Prosperity, Happiness and Wellbeing of varying kinds- Dhana, Dhanya, Kirti, Vidya, Svasthya, Ayush, Punya and Moksha. Be that as it may, Sage Durvasa once visited Vaikuntha to pray to Maha Vishnu who out of appreciation gifted a Parijata Flower to the Sage. On return from Vishnu, Durvasa met Indra and gifted the Flower to Indra, as the Sage felt that Indra would be the best of Devas who deserved the gift. But out of vanity and intoxication of power, Indra gave the Sacred Flower to elephant Iravata, not comprehending the consequences. The sordid happening offended Devi Lakshmi and She as the Rajya Lakshmi of Indraloka left for Samudra Deva (Ocean of Kshira), Her father. She declared that She would leave a place as a general rule, where there was scant respect for Maha Vishnu, where there was no worship of Maha Deva too, where Ekadasa Pujas were not performed, Brahmanas were not respected, girls of marriageable age were left unwedded for long, where purity of body and mind were poor; where no fastings, pujas, Vraths, regular Sandhyavandans were performed and so on. Thus as She left, the chain reaction shook away all concerned right from Vishnu to Durvasa and Indra. The final impact was on Indra who sought the counsel of Deva Guru Brihaspati, both visited Brahma and finally to Maha Vishnu Himself. Maha Vishnu who apparently planned the episode to teach lessons to the persons concerned, advised the hard solution of Churning the ‘Kshira Sagara’ and involved Demons and Devas for the mammoth task by utilising Sumeru Mountain as the Churning Rod, Ananta Deva as the powerful string and Himself as the Kurma (Tortoise) Avatara. In the drama, Mahadeva also got a role of devouring the powerful poisonous fire ‘Halahala’ in His throat, thus giving Him the name of ‘Neela greeva’. Various Sacred Objects emerged in the process of churning- the Ucchaisvara Horse, Kalpataru (Tree), Sacred Cow ‘Kamadhenu’, most significantly Maha Lakshmi Herself and finally ‘Dhanvantari’ the God of ‘Vaidya’ or of Medicine emerging with the Pot of ‘Amrit’, the Celestial Drink of Eternal Life of Youth. Indra was humbled and Maha Vishnu advised Maha Lakshmi to re-inter Indraloka once again. Coming fully to senses, Indra executed sincere ‘Puja’formally by offering the traditional ‘Shodasopacharas’ the sixteen services of comfortable seat on a bejewelled carpet, Ganges water with sandal paste, flower perfumed scents, silky clothes to wear, excellent ornaments of gold and jewels, agarbathi (Incense)‘Dhupa’, camphor and ghee soaked vick lighting, variety of luscious fruits, main-course food dishes, sugarcane and other juices, ‘payasam’ (boiled rice, cow milk, sugar and dry fruits), other Sweets, garlands, ‘Achamaniya’( mouth rinsing with perfumed water), water to drink Ganga water and betel leaves with scented dry nuts as a digestive material. Thereafter, Indra meditated Maha Lakshmi with the Seed Mantra as Brahma taught him viz. Om Srim Hrim Kleem Aim Kamala vasinayi Svaha for hours together with earnest concentration. By the power of this Siddha Mantra, several illustrious personalities fulfilled their desires, like Kubera with unparalelled wealth; Daksha Savarni Prajapati and Mangala became Emperors of Seven Islands; Priyavrata, Uttanapada and Kedararaja became Emperors and Great Siddhas too. As Maha Lakshmi relaxed after the Puja so graciously, then Indra eulogised Her to say that She was Rajyalakshmi to Kings and Griha Lakshmi to house holders, Aditi or the Mother Figure to Devas, Surabhi born of Ocean, Embodiment of ‘Suddha Tatva’, the ‘Svaha Svarupa’ or the offer of Sacrifices to Agni; ‘Svadha Swarupa’,or food offerings to the anxiously awaiting ‘Pithris’ of dead persons; ‘Dakshina Svarupa’ (the Fees paid to Sages and Brahmanas to perform Mantra-filled Sacrifices, Vratas, and Pujas), Bestower of the Best Boons to Mankind viz.‘Dharma (Virtue), ‘Artha’ (Wealth), ‘Kama’ (Fulfilment) and ‘Moksha’ (Salvation) and so on. Who ever recites the Siddha Mantra, Siddha Stotra and ‘Sree Suktam’ thrice a day would indeed be blessed with the Four Boons of Life.
While Narayana Maharshi narrated the above to Devarshi Narada, the latter raised three doubts regarding the significance of three ‘Svarupas’ or Formats of Svaha, Svadha and Dakshina in the Siddha Stotra of Indra afore mentioned. About Svaha Devi, Devas complained that they were not properly receiving the Ghee oblations in the Fire pit of various Sacrifices and Brahma prayed to Devi Prakriti. The solution was that a part of Prakriti would beget a child from the burning power of Fire by name Svaha Devi and that she would deliver three sons viz. Dakshinagni, Garhyapatagni and Avahayagni. Whenever Sages, Brahmanas or Kshatriyas recite Mantras, the terminal component of the Mantra ought to be ‘Svaha’ or otherwise the entire act of the Fire Sacrifice of pouring Ghee as also the potency of the concerned Mantra would be futile like a serpent without poisonous fangs. Even during ‘Dhyana’ or meditation the last word has to be Svaha. As regards Svadha Devi, Sage Narayana informed the origin to Narada that Brahma Deva created Seven Pitris viz.
‘Kavyahonala Somo Yamaschairyama thatha Agnivastha Barhisadah Somapah Pitri Devatah’ or Kavya, Anala, Soma, Yama, Agnivastha, Barhisada and Somapa. The daily duties of Brahmanas are bathing, Trisandhya, Sraddha upto the stage of Tarpanam with ‘Savya Dharana of Yagnopaveeta’ or normal wearing of the Holy Thread as against ‘Pracheenaveeti’ or the way worn while praying to immediate Pitris of three generations of father, grand father and great grand father. Salutations to Svadha Devi are thus a must while performing daily rites like Tarpanams and most certainly on Shraddha Days. Like in the case of Svaha Devi and Svadha Devi, Dakshina Devi too is of Maha Lakshmi’s partial extension. Without rendering prayers to Her to absolve the shortcomings by the Master of any Yajna, Shraddha, Vrath, formal worship or any such other activities in which Sages or Brahmanas are involved, the fruits of the prayers are quite incomplete.
Sashti Devi ( Devasena) is one of the Shodasa (Sixteen) Matrikas*, the Manasa Putri or mind-born daughter of Brahma, the better half of Skanda, the Sixth Formation of Devi Prakriti, a Siddha Yogini and the boon-giver of sons who have no sons, wives who have no wives and wealth to the needy. Basically, She is the Goddess of children. Once, King Priyavrata, the son of Dharma and Grand son of Svayambhu Manu performed ‘Putrakama Yajna’ being intensely craving for a son. He was no doubt blessed by a son but with scant life and protruded eye balls. Priyavrata was unable to experience the situation and readying himself to end his life but then appeared Sashti Devi, took the child on Her lap and the miracle of normalcy happened instantly.Being ever grateful, Priyavrata popularised the Devi’s worship in all the three worlds since when a new born child’s sixth day Her worship commenced and observe various formalities as a child grew including Nama Karana ( Name- Giving) on the twenty first day the ‘Annaprasana’ (feeding morsels of rice and milk) after six months and so on as the Laws of the Kingdom. Also Her worship after a child’s birth and other ceremonies or after recovery of a child’s illness became popular as formal pujas with the Mantra on the lips of the parents Om Hrim Shasthi Devyai Svaha. [The Sixteen Matrikas are Gauri, Padma, Sachi, Medha, Savitri, Devasena, Vijay, Jaya, Svadha, Svaha, Mataro, Lokamatra, Hrishti, Pushtistatha, Tushti, Atmakuladevata. The Original Sapta Matrikas are Brahmi, Mahesvari, Vaishnavi, Indrani, Kaumari, Varahi, and Chamundi].
Mangala Chandika known for the constant worship by Mangala (Planet of Mars), the son of Bhu Devi, is also a high devotee of women all over the Universe. She was worshipped foremost by Maha Deva Himself, as She was the Prime Shakti as Chandi, an Extension of Durga, with whose active involvement that the ferocious Tripurasura was annihilated, with Maha Vishnu Himself was the carrier as a huge bull. Soon after victory, Maha Deva worshipped Chandi Devi out of gratitude formally with ‘Shodasa upacharas’ and meditation of the Mula Mantra: Om Hrim Srim Kleem Sarvapujaye Devi Mangala Chandike Hum Phat Svaha. After Maha Deva, Mangala Graha worshipped on Tuesdays (Mangalvar each week), then King Mangala of Manu’s clan, the inhabitants of the Sub Terrain Regions, and all the women elsewhere as also men desirous of Victory in various tasks. She wards off all Evils and Spirits and is an epitome for bravery and success.
Mansa Devi the mind born daughter of Sage Kasyapa is also known as Manasa Krida Shakti or Mind- Play Energy, often playful within Herself. She is worshipped by Krishna and as a Siddha Yogini having a thin body owing to contant Tapasya, thus known therefore as Jata Karu as Sage Jata Karu too was too thin. Popular as Jagad Gouri illustrious for fair colour and charm, Manasa Devi is a unique Deity highly popular in the Sub Terrain world, especially Snakes and other species of the under world and also on earth, Heavens and Brahmaloka. She is named as ‘Shaivi’ as an ardent devotee of Shiva, as a ‘Vaishnavi’ as is a Bhakta of Maha Vishnu ; as Nagesvari as the Saviour of Serpents when Janamejava executed the Naga Yajna after Parishith’s mortal end following a curse by a son of a Sage’s son; as Naga Bhagini or Vishahari as a sure curer of poison by snake bites; as Maha Jnanayuta or the Possessor of Great Knowledge; as Mrita Sanjivini as the Revivor from Death and Astika Mata or the mother of Sage Astika. Thus Mansa Devi is acclaimed as Jaratkarupriya, Jarat Karu, Jagad Mata, Siddha Yogini, Shaivi, Vaishnavi, Nagesvari,Visha hari, Mahajanayuta, Mrita Sanjivini, Astika Mata and Mansa Devi.
[Mansa Devi Temple in Haridvar in Uttarakhand is situated atop Shivalik Hills by a rope way naned ‘Udan Khatola’ and is famous for fulfilling the desires of lakhs of Devotees]. The twelve lettered Seed Mantra after worship by Sixteen Services of Ahvana, Aseena, Sugandha, Padya, Dhupa, Deepa, Pushpa, Abharana, Panchamrita, Vastra, Paniya, Phala, Chamara, Naivedya, Achamaniya and betel Tamboola, followed by Stotra and Dhyana. The Seed Mantra is: Om Hrim Srim Klim Aim Manasa Devyai Swaha.
Devi Surabhi was Bhagavan Krishna’s own creation along with Her calf from His left side, as the Lord desired to drink milk during the union with Devi Radha. Krishna Himself milked Surabhi in a jar and sipped with Radha which tasted like elixir. The jar became bigger and bigger to an extent that the milk far overflowed as a stream first and finally as a ‘Kshira Sagara’ (an Ocean of Milk). From Devi Surabhi’s body pores millions of Cows emerged along with calves and since then the Universe has witnessed the presence of plenty not only for milk but its by- products, especially butter and Ghee as the latter are significant for the Yajnas as offerings into Firepits. So much so, every household could keep cows and calves as one of the sources of prosperity and dignity. Sri Krishna the World’s most renowned cowherd keeper prayed to Devi Surabhi by the seed mantra: Om Surabhai namah and the Go-Puja (worship of Cows) is a part of Hindu Faith, as is in vogue in households and temples. It is customary that the Food offerings on Shraddha days in terms of ‘Pindas’ to Pitris are fed to cows before taking the food themselves. Also cows in households are symbols of Lakshmi (Wellness) and Dharma (Virtue).