Katyayani is one of the Navadurgas, the Goddess Durga's nine forms. Katyayani is a fierce embodiment of Shakti, the divine female power. Durga means "the invincible," and Katyayani, the warrior Goddess, is one of them. On the sixth day of the Navratri festival, she is worshipped as the sixth of Durga's nine forms.
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According to legend, she is the daughter of sage Katyayana, who was born in the Katya dynasty, which descended from the great rishi Vishwamitra. As a result, she was known as Katyayani, Katyayana's daughter. Other texts, however, believe she was first worshipped by sage Katyayana, which is why she was given her name.
The Vamana Purana describes Katyayani's incarnation and heroic feats in great detail. Several demons once performed penance in order to please the Gods and obtain boons. Mahishasura was the most powerful of them all. He had the face of a buffalo and was already extremely strong. He did severe penance to Lord Brahma and received various boons from him, making him nearly unconquerable. The most important of the boons he obtained guaranteed that if he was killed, it would be by a woman.
He went on the rampage, fully armed with many blessings and well protected by boons, wreaking havoc on heaven and earth, committing unspeakable atrocities against the Devas and humans. The supreme Gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, decided to put an end to his wrongdoings and emitted a massive flame from which Devi Katyayani emerged, with the brilliance of innumerable Suns. She was stunning, with three eyes, eighteen arms, and flowing black hair.
While the heavenly beings bowed to her, the Gods fully equipped her with powerful weapons such as a trident, discus, conch, dart, sword and shield, bow and arrows, thunderbolt, mace and battle axe, as well as a rosary and water pot. The Goddess then rode her lion, accompanied by her army, to confront Mahishasura.
However, taken aback by her stunning beauty, the demon simply asked for her hand in marriage rather than engaging in combat. But the Goddess smiled and told him he had to first win her over. Then they fought a terrible war in which the Goddess completely defeated the demon and cut off his head with her sword. The grateful world hailed Devi Katyayani as Mahishasuramardhini for her great victory over Mahishasura.
According to another legend, Katyayani accompanied Goddess MahaLakshmi to modern-day Kolhapur to battle demons such as Kolhasur and Rakthabeej. The latter possessed the ability to create a new demon for every drop of his blood spilled on Earth, making it a difficult battle for the divine forces. Katyayani began completely swallowing Rakthabeej's blood spills, allowing the demons to be destroyed. This exploit of the Goddess is commemorated in a Katyayani temple near Kolhapur.
This form of the Mother Divine - Katyayani - rules the subtle world, which is invisible and unmanifest. She represents everything that cannot be seen or understood in this form. Katyayani represents Divinity's deepest and most intricate secrets. Katyayani is the divine force or principle of the unmanifest Divinity that manifests in the subtle layers of creation to combat negativity and restore Dharma. It is said that a wise person's anger only brings about greater good, whereas an ignorant or foolish person's love can only bring about more trouble. As a result, Devi Katyayani represents a positive and uplifting force.