The fourth form of the Mother Divine is called Kushmanda. Kushmanda is also the Sanskrit word for ‘pumpkin’. Now, if you even jokingly call someone a ‘pumpkin’, they will feel insulted and charge at you!
What does the word Kushmanda really mean?
A pumpkin is round. So here, it refers to your Prana (subtle life force energy) and that too, Prana which is total; complete like a sphere.
It used to be a traditional custom in India that the pumpkin was eaten only by Brahmins, the intellectuals. No one else in society used to eat pumpkin. A pumpkin is supposed to enhance one’s Prana, one’s intelligence and energy. A pumpkin is said to have the unique property of absorbing Prana and also radiating Prana. It is one of the most pranic vegetables on the planet. Just like the leaves of the Ashwath tree generate oxygen 24 hours through the day, in the same way, the pumpkin absorbs and also radiates energy.
This entire creation – both the manifest and the unmanifest – is like a huge round ball or pumpkin. You have all kinds of diversity here, from the smallest to the largest.
“Anda” here means the Cosmic Egg or the Cosmic Sphere. “Ku” means small, “sh” means Energy. So energy pervades this entire Universe from the smallest to the largest. From small it becomes big and from big it becomes small. From the small seed it becomes a huge fruit, and from the huge fruit it comes back into seed.
Our energy has this unique quality of being smaller than the smallest, and larger than the largest. This is explained by Kushmanda and this is why the Mother Divine is also called Kushmanda. It means that the Mother Divine manifests as the Prana, as the energy within us.
Just sit and think of yourself as a pumpkin for just five seconds or so. The meaning here is to elevate yourself to the Supreme Intelligence which is the Mother Divine Herself. Like a pumpkin, you too should feel the abundance and fullness in your life, and see everything in creation as so alive with Prana in every particle. Seeing that awakened intelligence manifest and pervading everywhere in creation is the meaning of Kushmanda.
Navratri & The Three Gunas
Gunas are our innate qualities that can be refined through the Divine consciousness. The Devi is Trigunatmika – the owner and master of the three Gunas. She is the storehouse of good qualities.
During Navratri, the first three days are attributed to Tamas and the Devi is honored in the form of Durga. Worshipping Devi Durga during the first three days, brings a balance to the Tamasic tendencies.
The next three days of Navratri are attributed to Rajas and the Devi is honored in the form of Lakshmi. Worshipping Devi Lakshmi brings balance to the Rajasic tendencies.
The last three days of Navratri are attributed to Sattva where the Devi is honored in the form of Saraswati. Worshipping Devi Saraswati enhances the Sattva in us. During Navratri, our consciousness sails through Tamas, Rajas and blossoms in the Sattva Guna on the last three days.
Gaining victory over the three Gunas (through worship and spiritual practices) and being centered is the purpose behind the celebration of Navratri.