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Shakambari Poornima just passed.

The following passage pertaining to this holy day was shared among the devotees by a member of The Mother team.

One form of Chandika has always been very fascinating. In this form the mother goddess, All-Compassionate, All-Giving, All-Caring, looks upon the entire mankind with a thousand eyes. Each eye rains compassion. She is Shakambari – The One who nourished mankind with fruits and vegetables.

Once upon a time, demon Durgamasura, through his long penance and boon of Brahma, became powerful and seized all the four Vedas, and began to oppress gods and humans alike; all the worlds were thrown into calamity. Holy bathing, twilights, daily rituals, faith, sacrifices, and Japam and other rites and performances, all became extinct. Gradually, as he usurped all dharma, mankind seemed to face a famine that lasted for a hundred years. The wells, tanks, pools, rivers all were dried up. Everything had dried down, there was not a drop of rain. Vegetation dried up and consequently animals began to die. Human beings too suffered from hunger and thirst and began to fall dead. There was no solace.

The saints, perturbed by this situation, went to the Himalayas and began to pray for relief. It was then Mother Goddess appeared before them. She grew a thousand eyes and came to be known as Shata-akshi Devi. She was the Essence of all Beauty, lovely, luminous like the thousand Suns, and the ocean of mercy. Moved by the pain of all beings, she rained tears continually for nine days.

Her tears of compassion filled the wells and ponds, became torrential springs, rivers and rain. She incarnated as vegetation, filling the whole Shivalik range of Himalayan mountains. Shatakshi Devi transformed her appearance into a wonderful form, her eight hands held foods like grains, cereals, vegetables, greens, fruits and other herbs, she wore a beautiful garment.

She killed Dirgamasura and became the protecting, nourishing Mother, Annapoorna.

The word Shakambhari means ‘she who bears vegetables’. Shaka which means ‘vegetable/vegan food’ and bhari which means ‘holder/bearer/wearer’ which is ultimately derived from the root word bhṛ which means ‘to bear/to wear/to nourish’.

She is Nadambari in Rajasthan, Banashankari in South India, Shakambari in the North.

Worship her tomorrow, on the day of Shakamabari Poornima by offering (to whichever Devi you have at home as Her) three or five types of greens/ leafy vegetables such as spinach, mustard green, fenugreek, amaranth etc. Cook the offered veggies and have it as prasad.

Close your eyes and try to visualise a blue hued Devi looking at you with compassion and offering you food. And chant the following mantra seven times.

Aum Sarva baadhaavinirmuktoDhanDhaanyaSutaanvitahmanushyo mat prasaadenabhavishyati na sanshayah ….

Shortly after this message and the full moon day, one of the recipients of the above note, a retired Colonel from the Indian Army, wrote:

“Thirty one years ago, I was undergoing training at IMA (Indian Military Academy) Dehradun. During one of the rigorous field exercises which we call the Diamond Ring that involves preparing and planning attack. We were taken to Saharanpur forest area, and while walking through one seasonal nallah – the dry beds of streams there are called Raos, when they are full in one season perhaps they all join a river beneath.

So, while walking there I saw the temple of Mata Shakambari on the hill. Now, there are plenty of Shakambari temples in our country, I thought this was one such. But I remembered my aunt speak of Shakambari temple which is located in a small town Bhalwani, near Pandharpur (Maharashtra) where she resides, and I was drawn by some sort of magnetic pull. Although fatigued, I was inclined to climb up to the mandir and was blessed with Mataji’s darshan.

This incident was fresh in my memory and I could relate to it with a sense of gratitude and awe for the Divine only after reading about Shivalik Range of the Himalayas in your communication where divine mother Shakambari blossomed as vegetation. To ascertain if what I remember was correct, I called up IMA and it was confirmed that we had been to Saharanpur. I consulted the Google map and further confirmed the kshetra. Even after 31 years, I could visualise the premises and ambience very clearly.”

How wonderful is that! We in India meet the Gods and Goddesses in the most unexpected places!

When I discussed this episode with the publisher of this magazine, he told me, it is likely the Devi temple perhaps remains just as it was thirty years ago, and many centuries before as well, because it is under the care of the local Rani.

So many of our ancient temples, then under the active patronage of the kings and queens, and now passively so, still remain unsullied by encroach of modernism. There is still a glory in that ruin, and the divinity, which is timeless, breathes palpably through structures and edifices that seem to have fallen in neglect – the stone and mud chambers and wooden pillars, verandas and terraces, the dusty deity corners and screeching staircases – they have a beauty that the concrete touch of modern bricks and mortar can only ruin.

It’s best we left these in supposed ruin which would still harbour the soul, than to ruin them forever!

This devotee and Colonel was indeed deeply moved remembering Shakambari temple visit. So are we all, and so often too.

How wonderful is our life with gods and temples in Bharata Mata! We walk forward with faith in Hindu gods, naively, and perhaps blindly honouring traditions for whatever they are worth, and the deeper meanings and greater elaborations come to meet us lighting up the path we have walked over so many years.

~ Raj Supe (Kinkar Vishwashreyananda)
Editor, The Mother