Posted by on Oct 23, 2012 in Breath and Body | Comments Off on Durga


When a demon who possessed the power to evade death by man wreaked havoc upon the earth, the gods combined all of their power and radiance and created Durga, an incarnation of Devi the divine mother, to slay him.  In doing so, she brought love and light back to the world.  Wife of Shiva, mother of Ganesha (in the form of Parvati), she is a fearless warrior.  Using her many arms to hold a variety of weapons, she is the one equipped to slay the many faces of evil in the world.  Because she can bring an end to darkness and suffering, jealousy, ignorance, ego and fear, she is seen as the embodiment of compassion.

In India, today marks the end of the 9 day celebration of the Durga Puja, a celebration of good reigning over evil.  Offerings of red flowers and clothing, rice and sweets are made, rudraksha malas are used to recite the mantra Om Dum Durga-Yaye Namah.  Workship of Durga during this time is believed to remove hardship and bad luck.

I’m inspired by the story of Durga, by the deep devotion to her around the world, by her endless supply of compassion and her erudite approach to every fight.  I’m inspired by her fierce commitment to goodness.  Her demonstration of selecting different weapons to slay the various incarnations of the demon symbolizes that we all carry the tools we need to go about breaking apart the factions of our own suffering.  She inspires us to use wisdom to save ourselves, to cure our hearts of darkness.

In light of this auspicious time I will be drawing upon the story of Durga and leading my students to meditations on compassion and insight.  She encourages us to find compassion for ourselves, a task which is often a difficult one, but also to bring compassion into our more tumultuous relationships.  This is a courageous fight; it makes us vulnerable and forces us to set aside our pride.  We must also work to identify our biggest personal demons and labor just as hard to find the right weapons to slay them.  It is in this insight that lies our biggest challenge.  We need to break free of the deep grooves left by the running of our demons but also the ones made by our often ineffectual, shallow approaches to beating them.  If we look to the story of Durga, we can see that in the wake of this arduous slaughter of our dark habits and fears lies a peaceful heart.  Is there anything more worth the fight?

Dedicate a practice to Durga.  Before you begin, set aside some time for quiet meditation.  Where can you make room for more compassion in your life?  What demons do you need to fight?  Can you look deeper within yourself to recognize what qualities you need to draw upon to move forward?  Where do you need to turn for help?  I like to incorporate 10 prostrations as offering in these more devotional practices.  When you encounter moments of challenge in your practice, face them knowing that you have the tools to embody them with intelligence.

All content by Lisa Veronese. Please do not publish or copy my material without my consent.