April 2 to 10, 2022 India is celebrating the festival of Chaitra Navaratri – the nine nights dedicated to Devi. Like everything else, Navratri in Braj is also subsumed in Krishna Bhakti, whether through the worship and contemplation of Radha and her ashtasakhis or through the nine manifestations of Devi associated with Krishna lilas in various forms and names. Everyday during ‘Navratri’ our articles will take readers on the trail of Braj’s own shakti peethas – the nine energy centres dedicated to celebrating the feminine. On the third day of Navratri, we pay our obeisance to Shri Mansa Devi of Govardhan.
Mansa Devi, Govardhan
Seeing his seven-year-old child lifting the seven-kos Giriraj for seven days on the little finger of his left hand, Ma Yashoda grew extremely anxious. In deep distress, she called out to Ma Bhagwati to protect Krishna. Appearing as Mansa Devi (the one invoked in the ‘manas’ or mind of Yashoda) from a shila on the holy mountain, the divine mother assured Yashoda that she would take care of him. This divine shila was eventually consecrated by Krishna’s grandson Vajranabh in the foothills of Govardhan.
For the loving mother all Brajwasis are the manifestations of Krishna. Sitting along the Mansi Ganga, she takes care of her children even today. Mansa Devi is the kuldevi or clan goddess of the Tomar clan. Her temple in Govardhan was built by Maharaj Anangpal Tomar, the ruler of Tomar Rajput Dyanst who is credited with establishing Delhi in the 11th century.