Chandi is a powerful manifestation of Sakthi, the ultimate, universal energy. She is a mighty Goddess, who is regarded as a divine combination of the three supreme Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Kali. She is considered as one of the extremely aggressive forms of Adi Parashakti, the fundamental and all-pervading feminine force. Chandi is a personification of unbridled fury and remains a merciless annihilator of evil and its perpetrators. Her name itself bears out this truth.
The Sanskrit word ‘Chand’ can be said to mean ‘tearing apart’ and ‘Chanda’ can indicate ‘raging anger.’ Goddess Chandi thus remains an embodiment of extreme ferocity and is as much feared as she is venerated. She is also worshipped in some other names and can be seen in pleasant-looking forms, under some of those. These include the aspects of Mangal Chandi, Jai Chandi, Chelai Chandi, etc.
Depiction of Chandi
Chandi is ferocious and looks as such. She is usually seen as dark in complexion and sometimes as red-colored too. She wears a garland of severed heads or skulls and sports as many as 18 hands. In these, she holds a variety of things most of which being weapons. These include a rosary of beads, water vessel, damru, the small drum, sword, trident, arrow, thunderbolt, battle-axe, noose, the discus, a skull mace, a snake and a skull cup. She is seen as standing on a dead body or as seated on a lotus or as riding her mount, the lion.
She is also often depicted with burning eyes, long and pointed nails, adorned with ‘ornaments’ like serpents, scorpions, and bones, having snakes for her hair and riding an owl or a tiger.
Legends about Chandi
There are quite a few legends that speak about her origin and exploits. As per one of them, Chandi is the companion of Goddess Kali, who helped her in her battle with Raktabeeja, the mighty demon who had obtained an incredible boon that every drop of blood that fell from his body on earth, gave rise to a new Raktabeeja. While Kali drank away the demon’s blood, it was Chandi who is said to have annihilated the entire demonic army that was born out of Raktabeeja’s blood and slain the cruel demon in the end.
However, somewhere else, Chandi is also considered as Devi Katyayani or as Goddess Mahalakshmi or as Mahishasuramardhini, the slayer of the ferocious demon Mahishasura or as Kaushiki or as Goddess Mahasaraswathi, who destroyed the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha, along with their army. Worshipping her in different names, different forms and for seeking different benefits has been in practice in the country, especially in the state of West Bengal from time immemorial.
Chandi is a terror only for the evil-minded, while she remains a compassionate mother for the virtuous. Reciting of Devi Mahatmyam in praise of the Goddess is said to be highly propitious, and it is believed to bestow people with a host of benefits. Also called as Durga Saptashati or Chandi Path, its recitation with devotion can remove negative feelings, self-pity, and ego, and purify the thoughts and actions of the devotees. Also, Chandi Homa, the fire ceremony, dedicated to this Goddess remains a very popular ritual undertaken in our country. Elaborate prayers are also offered along with the seeking of blessings of the divine mother.