During Navaratri, we invoke the divinities who are in Arupa state, to Rupa state, in the form of Shaila. This transformation of divinities into Rupa state, is represented by the form of Shailaputri.
Navaratri begins with the worship of Devi Shailaputri on its first night. Shaila means a mountain, a hill, a rock. This name is in reference to Devi’s incarnation as Parvati, the daughter of Himavana, the king of the Himalaya.
Parvat – Parvati
King Himavam is also known as Parvata Raja. Thus, since Devi in this form is the daughter of Parvata Raja, i.e. Parvata Kumari, she is known as Parvati.
Shiva chooses Kailash
On this earth, Shiva Tattva in His form as Shankara, has His Abode in the Himalayan range in Mount Kailash, Kailash Parvat.
As per the Puranic legends, Shiva in His Avirbhava form on this earth, Bhuloka chose the daughter of Parvata as His consort.
The name for Parvathi, His consort, comes from the word Parvath, meaning the great mountain.
Having chosen Her as His consort, Shiva made one of the main peaks in this Himalayan range, Kailash Parvat His abode on earth.
Touching the Sky
Kailash etymologically means touching the sky.
Similarly the two other popular abodes of Shiva too are in the Himalayan ranges, Kedarnath and Amarnath, all of which are at high altitudes.
We speak about Kedarnath, and the calamity that struck the temple, in our article – “Himalayan Tsunami – Waiting to Happen. Happened – Why?”
More on this in our book, Understanding Shiva.
The Highest Peak of consciousness
The mountain symbolized the highest peak of consciousness. When you are situated in this highest state of Consciousness, the Divinity in you is awakened.
Shaila, Shila, Shilpi, Shilpa
Shaila also means a Rock. From this word, is derived the term Shila, meaning an idol. The word Shilpa, meaning decoration also has the same roots. Shilpi is the one who sculpts a Shila from a Shaila, and enhances the Shila through Shilpa Kala, the art of decoration.
A Shilpi Sculpting a Shila from Shaila
The whole universe consists of the Shila of Devi, and She is also the Shilpi who has sculpted the whole cosmos out of Herself, and has performed Shilpa to it through the countless forms that She has created.
The names Shaila, Shila, Shilpa, Shailendra etc. have been part of the Indian tradition, from ancient times.
Sila Bhadra Maha Thera
Xuang Zang, also known as Hiuen Tsang, was a scholar from China, who visited India in 600 CE.
From Huien Tsang’s records, we learn that, when he came to Nalanda in 630 CE, there were 10000 resident students there from India, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, Sumatra and Java. There were 1510 teachers and 1500 workers within the campus and the Chancellor then was Sila Bhadra Maha Thera, who was a foremost Buddhist scholar.
Xuan Zang (Huien Tsang) and Silabhadra Maha Thera
More on this in our book, Brand Bharat – Vol-5.
Form of Devi Shailaputri
In this Shaila form, Devi is shown as seated on a Vrshba, bull with a Trishul on one hand and a lotus on the other.
In the Indian concept, there is a practice of attributing a Vahana, Vehicle for the various divinities.
Thus Shiva, and Devi’s form as Shailaputri have a Bull as their Vahana.
Bull, Pashu – Symbol of the Gross
A bull is known in Samskrt as Rishabha and it is a Pashu. The translation for Pashu is animal. But Pashu is an encompassing term that includes all living beings or bodily forms.
Going beyond gross
Brahman, the Divine Consciousness as a principle of the Universe can only be realized through subtler means and not in a physical or gross form.
Thus Pashu or bodily forms are a stumbling block in the way towards realizing Shiva. Only when one is willing to go beyond the bodily level of understanding and hones the subtler senses, can one understand and realize Divinity.
Rishabha – natural body forms
The word Rishabha can also refer to natural bodily forms that can move. When the body and mind are in unison and tuned to the subtle natural rhythm of the Universe, the person is said to be in a peaceful and calm state, which is one’s natural self.
Nandi : Bharath Gyan Short Film : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FSVsG5QHro&t=18s
The Trishul here represents the three Guna, Satva, Rajas and Tamas. When we go beyond the body level, then we transcend these three Guna.
Then one lives like a lotus and is never drowned in the water of worldly existence.
A lotus grows out of the waters. It has got a long, flexible, winding stem which supports the flower to bloom just on the surface of the water.
Lotus adjusting to water height
Whether the water rises up or goes down in height, the stem adjusts itself in such a way that the flower does not drown itself in the water and holds it just above the water level so that the lotus bud can receive the energies from the sun and blossom.
Lotus – The Flower of Life: Bharath Gyan Short Film:
More on Rishabha, Trishul and Lotus in our books and films, Understanding Shiva and Creation, and film, Wonders of Indian Astronomy.
The form of Devi Shaliputri beautifully brings out these aspects.
Dasamahavidya and Navadurga on the outside silver door of the Shaila Devi Temple at Amer Fort in Jaipur