The Navratri – the nine nights before Vijaya Dashami or Dussera are a time when millions across India celebrate the glory of the goddesses from the Hindu pantheon. Central to this celebration is the recitation of the powerful Devi Mahatmya, also referred to in many parts of the country as the Durga Saptashati or ‘Seven hundred verses to Durga’. An ancient text dated back to around the 5th century CE, little is known about its authors, but what we do know is that this text has an even deeper history. It brings together strains of myths and legends from Shaivite, Vaishnavite, and tribal traditions that go back thousands of years!
The seven hundred verses of Devi Mahatmya narrate three separate episodes or narratives, in which the great Goddess achieves victory over demon kings or Asuras – a depiction of good over evil.