Goddess Durga is meditated upon even by the great wise men. She can remove ignorance of the mind by force, destroys fear and blesses beings who think of Her. She removes the thought of poverty, sorrow and fear. Who else is there other than Her to grace our lives? She is the auspiciousness of everything that bestows us with auspiciousness, She is an embodiment of peace and goodness, She is the one who can help us to remove all our troubles. She is the refuge of all those who seek Her, the three-eyed goddess, sister of Narayana, the maintainer of this Universe, I surrender unto you.
This is the prayer to the Goddess Durga that marks the beginning of the chants of the Durga Saptasati, also called the Devi Mahatmyam or the glory of the goddess. The Rishi Markandeya narrates how a king called Suratha, who was ruling the earth during the time of Swarochisha Manu, became another Manu himself and ruled during the life time of Brahmaji. It was possible with the grace of Maha Maya—the universal mother.
Suratha was taking care of his kingdom well but he had a difficult enemy in the form of people of the Kola city. They invaded his kingdom many times and once when he was defeated, he left his kingdom and went to the forest nearby in the garb of going out on a hunting expedition.
Tired and hungry, he came to the hermitage of the sage called Medhas. Amid the sylvan and serene surroundings of the forest, even surrounded by fierce wild animals, the hermitage was a soothing and calm presence for the king.
He stayed there for a few days and one afternoon, he was lost deep in thought. “Alas! How well I took care of my kingdom! I wonder what those hopeless invaders are doing in my city.” He was thinking of the elephants, his servants, his treasures among other things. The king met another trader near the hermitage. He had a sorrowful face. The king asked him who he was, why he looked so sad and what brought him there.
“Samadhi is my name,” said the trader. His wealth was stolen away from him by his own sons and wife. He was kicked out by his relatives too and filled with grief, he came to the forest. He wondered what happened to his family without him. The king asked, “How are you thinking about them who have no concern for you?” “True indeed,” said the trader. “My mind is going all out to them who hurt me.”
Markandeya Rishi, who was narrating this story, said: “Both the king and the trader went to Sage Medhas. After enquiring about the Sage’s well-being, the king asked, “O Sage, how is it that, even after my kingdom is no more mine, I am thinking about my kingdom and this trader, after his family has spurned him, is thinking about them alone? The Sage answers... The author is Acharya, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi