Durga (in Sanskrit: “the Inaccessible”), in Hindu mythology, is one of the many forms of Shakti, often identified as Shiva’s wife. It is well known the battle in which she defeated the demon Mahishasura, in the form of a buffalo. According to the myth, Durga was created for this very purpose with the flames coming out of the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and other minor gods. She was born already adult and beautiful, although to her enemies she presents herself with a terrible shape. She is depicted riding a lion or sometimes a tiger, with eight or ten arms each carrying one of the weapons the other gods gave to her for the battle against the buffalo-demon. The Durga-puja is one of the most important religious holidays held in Northern India, between September and October. A special image of the Divinity is worshiped with unique ceremonies for nine days, and then immersed after being carried in procession by the Brahmins followed by the population.
According to the Devi Mahatmyam story of Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, Durga’s form was created as a warrior goddess to fight and destroy the demon Mahishasura. Thanks to intense prayers in Brahmā, Mahishasura had the grace that he could not be defeated by any man or celestial being. By reason of this power, he attacked the Deva who came to help the Trimurti (Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva), but Mahishasur defeated all the gods including the Triad itself. He unleashed a reign of terror on earth, in heaven and in hell. Finally, since only one woman could have killed him, the gods and the triad created a dazzling ray of energy from which Durga was born.
Her shape was of blinding beauty, with her face sculpted by Śiva, her bust by Indra, her breasts by Chandra (the Moon), her teeth by Brahma, her buttocks by Earth, her thighs and knees by Varuṇa (the wind), and her three eyes by Agni (the fire), her golden body and ten arms. Each god also gave her his most powerful weapon: Śiva the trident, Viṣṇu the disc, Indra the vajra from which the lightning bolt, etc.
The word Shakti, which means “strength”, reflects the goddess’ warrior aspect, embodying a traditionally male role. But she is also remarkably beautiful and initially Mahishasur tried to marry her. In her other incarnations, like Annapurna or Parvati, she appears more maternal, and like Karunamayi (karuna, “kindness”) she looks sweeter.
There are ten different forms of this goddess representing ten of her exploits, among which the long war against the Asura stands out.
The day of the killing of Mahishasura by Durga is celebrated as Vijaya Dashami (in Eastern and Southern India), Dashain (Nepal) or Dussehra (Northern India): all these terms mean “tenth day”. In Kashmir it is worshiped as shaarika (the main temple is located in Hari Parbat, Srinagar). The real worship period, however, can take place during the nine days before Navaratri (Northern India) or the five days (Bengal and Orissa).
Below is the complete Durga Chalisa in English
Namo Namo Durge Sukh Karani
Namo Namo Ambe Dukh Harani
I bow to you O Goddess Durga, the bestower of all happiness! I bow to you O Goddess Amba! Who ends all miseries.
Nirakar Hai Jyoti Tumhari
Tihun Lok Phaili Ujayari
The radiance of your light is limitless and pervading and all the three realms (Earth, Heaven and the Nether World) are enlightened by thee.
Shashi Lalat Mukh Maha Vishala
Netra Lal Bhrikutee Vikarala
Your Visage is like the moon and your mouth very huge. Your eyes are bedight with a red glow with the frightening frown.
Roop Matu Ko Adhika Suhava
Daras Karat Jan Ati Sukh Pave
O Mother! Your view is enchanting, the very sight of which ensures welfare of the devout.
Tum Sansar Shakti Laya Kina
Palan Hetu Anna Dhan Dina
All the powers of the world repose in thee and it is you who provide food and money for the world’s survival.
Annapurna Hui Jag Pala
Tumhi Adi Sundari Bala
Like the feeding mother Annapurna you nurture the whole universe and you are the one who appear like the timeless Bala Sundari (young girl of extreme beauty).
Pralaya Kala Sab Nashan Hari
Tum Gauri Shiv-Shankar Pyari
At the time of Dissolution it is you, O Mother, who destroys everything. You are the beloved consort of Lord Shiva, Gauri (Parvathi)
Shiv Yogi Tumhre Guna Gaven
Brahma Vishnu Tumhen Nit Dhyaye
Lord Shiva and all yogis always chant your praise, Brahma, Vishnu and all other Gods ever meditate on you.
Roop Saraswati Ko Tum Dhara
De Subuddhi Rishi Munina Ubara
You also appear in the form of Goddess Saraswati to grant wisdom to the sages and thus ensure their welfare.
Dharyo Roop Narsimha Ko Amba
Pragat Bhayin Phar Kar Khamba
O Mother Amba, it was you who appeared in the form of Narismha, sundering the pillar.
Raksha Kari Prahlaad Bachayo
Hiranakush Ko Swarga Pathayo
Thus, you saved Prahlaad and Hiranyakashyap also went to Heaven as he was killed by your hands.
Lakshmi Roop Dharo Jag Mahin
Shree Narayan Anga Samhahin
In the form of Goddess Lakshmi, O Mother, you appear in this world and repose by the side of Shree-Narayan.
Ksheer Sindhu Main Karat Vilasa
Daya Sindhu Deeje Man Asa
Dwelling on the Sea of milk, O Goddess,with Lord Vishnu, please fulfil my desires.
Hingalaja Main Tumhin Bhavani
Mahima Amit Na Jat Bakhani
O Bhavani, the famous goddess of Hingalaja is no one else but you yourself. Illimitable is your glory, defying description.
Matangi Dhoomavati Mata
Bhuvneshwari Bagala Sukhdata
You are yourself Matangi and Dhoomavati Mata. It is you who appear as Bhuvenshwari and Bagalamukhi Devi to bestow happiness to all.
Shree Bhairav Tara Jag Tarani
Chhinna Bhala Bhav Dukh Nivarani
It is you, who redeem the world, appearing in the form of Shree Bhairavi, Tradevi and Chhinamasta Devi, and end its sorrows.
Kehari Vahan Soh Bhavani
Langur Veer Chalat Agavani
Reposing Gracefully upon your vehicle of Lion. O Goddess Bhavani, you are welcomed by the brave Langur (Lord Hanuman).
Kar Main Khappar Khadag Viraje
Jako Dekh Kal Dar Bhaje
When you appear in the form of Goddess Kali with a sword in one hand and a small cup in the other, even time flees in panic.
Sohe Astra Aur Trishoola
Jase Uthata Shatru Hiya Shoola
Beholding you well-armed, with a Trident in your hand, the enemy’s heart aches with the sting of fear.
Nagarkot Main Tumhi Virajat
Tihun Lok Main Danka Bajat
You also repose in the form of the Devi at Nagarkot in Kangara.
Thus all the three realms shudder in the might of your glory.
Shumbhu Nishumbhu Danuja Tum Mare
Rakta-Beeja Shankhan Samhare
You slayed the demons like Shumbhu and Nishumbhu and masacred the thousand forms of the dreaded demon Raktabeeja.
Mahishasur Nripa Ati Abhimani
Jehi Agha Bhar Mahi Akulani
When the earth was severtly distressed bearing the load of the sins of the arrogant Mahishasur.
Roop Karal Kalika Dhara
Sen Sahita Tum Tin Samhara
You assumed the dreadful form of Goddess Kali and massacred him along with his army.
Pari Garha Santan Par Jab Jab
Bhayi SahayaMatu Tum Tab Tab
Thus whenever the noble saints were distressed, it is you O Mother, who came to their rescue.
Amarpuri Aru Basava Loka
Tava Mahima Sab Rahen Asoka
All the realms including the Amarpuri (divine realm) remain sorrowless and happy by your grace, O Goddess!
Jwala Main Hai Jyoti Tumhari
Tumhen Sada Poojan Nar Nari
It is the symbol of your glory that is burning brightly at Shree Jwala ji. All men and women ever worship you, O Mother!
Prem Bhakti Se Jo Yah Gave
Dukh-daridra Nikat Nahin Ave
He who sings your glory with devotion of love and sincerity remains beyond the reach of grief and poverty.
Dhyava Tumhen Jo Nar Man Lai
Janam-maran Tako Chuti Jai
He who meditates upon your form with concentration goes beyond the cycle of births and deaths.
Jogi Sur-muni Kahat Pukari
Jog Na Ho- Bin Shakti Tumhari
All the Yogis, Gods and Sages openly declare that without your favour one can’t establish communication with God.
Shankar Aacharaj Tap Keenhon
Kam Krodha Jeet Sab Leenhon
Shankaracharya had performed once a special penance called Aacharaj and by the virtue of which he had subdued his anger and desire.
Nisidin Dhyan Dharo Shankar Ko
Kahu Kal Nahin Sumiro Tum Ko
He ever worshipped Lord Shankar and never for a moment concentrated his mind on you.
Shakti Roop Ka Maram Na aayo
Shakti Gae Tab Mann Pachtayo
Since he did not realise your immense glory, his all powers waned and the repented hitherto.
Sharnagat Hui Keerti Bakhani
Jai Jai Jai Jagdamb Bhavani
Then, he sought refuge in you, chanted your glory and sang ‘victory, victory, victory’ to Thee O Jagdamba Bhavani.
Bhayi Prasanna Aadi Jagdamba
Dayi Shakti Nahin Keen Vilamba
Then, O Primal Goddesses Jagdamba ji, you were propitiated and in no time you bestowed him with his lost powers.
Mokon Matu Kashta Ati Ghero
Tum Bin Kaun Hare Dukh Mero
O Mother! Severe affictions distress me and no one except Your Honoured Self can provide relief. Please end my afflictions.
Aasha Trishna Nipat Sataven
Moh Madadik Sab Binsaven
Hopes and longings ever torture me. All sort of passions and lust torment my beart ever.
Shatru Nash Keeje Maharani
Sumiron Ekachita Tumhen Bhavani
O Goddess Bhavani! I meditate only upon you Please kill my enemies O Queen!
Karo Kripa Hey Matu Dayala
Riddhi-Siddhi De Karahu Nihala
O Merciful Mother! Show me your favour and make me feel happy by bestowing me with all sorts of riches and powers.
Jab Lagi Jiyon Daya Phal Paoon
Tumhro Yash Mai Sada Sunaoon
O Mother! May I be the receptacle of your grace as long as I live, ever recounting the feats of your glory to all.
Durga Chalisa Jo Gave
Sab Sukh Bhog Parampad Pave
This way he who ever sings this Durga Chalisa shall ever enjoy all sorts of pleasures and shall attain the highest state in the end.
‘Devidas’ Sharan Nij Jani
Karahu Kripa Jagdamb Bhavani
Deeming ‘Devidas’ to have sought your shelter,
O Bhavani grant me your favour