SIGNIFICANCE OF NAVARATRI*
*The festival of Navratri begins on the first day of Ashwin of the bright fortnight. On the first three nights Durga is invoked for her strength and ferocity, which are required to cut out from the mind it’s strong- rooted, deep-seated negative tendencies.Noble virtues and the knowledge of self can only be gained when all evil tendencies in the mind are destroyed. *The killing of Mahishashura (Mahisha demon) by Durga Devi actually symbolizes the destruction of the evil tendencies of the mind. To destroy our innate evil tendencies is very difficult. *The buffalo stands for the malefic qualities in everyone of us. It reminds us that despite having a lot of energy and potential inside us, we prefer to do nothing for our spiritual emancipation. Just like the buffalo that likes to lie in pools of water, we too like to rest and spend our time and energy in worthless pastimes. Our worship of Goddess Durga during the first three nights of Navaratri is actually our invocation of the Divine Power within us to assist us in destroying our animalistic and basal tendencies.In short, dusting the house of the mind clean of all it’s impurities, in a way wherein those tendencies do not find their way back into our minds.*
*On the next three nights, Goddess Laxmi is worshipped. For the knowledge of self-realization to dawn on us, we have to first prepare our minds. Our worship of Goddess Lakshmi is actually our attempt to seek the blessings of the divine being to help us in obtaining the purification of mind. Goddess Lakshmi represents wealth that we assume to be only material wealth. But material wealth gains utility in this world if and only if virtuous values like self-discipline, respect, sincerity, kindness and love manifest in our lives; else, material wealth can make our lives miserable. The real wealth is the wealth of virtues, the spiritual wealth that we can gain by the practice of the right values in our lives, which purifies our minds and takes us closer towards our goal of realising our hidden potentials. Goddess Lakshmi is our source of this true wealth. By Her worship, we invite her to bring into our homes Her wealth of noble values to nourish and purify our minds.*
*The final three nights are spent in the invocation of Goddess Saraswati. Victory over the tendencies of the mind can be gained only through proper knowledge and thorough understanding; Goddess Saraswati symbolizes this highest knowledge of our innate natre. Lord Krishna himself says in the Bhagavad Gita: “The knowledge of the Self is the knowledge”; and He adds, “It is My vibhuti, My glory.” If we do not have the knowledge of the Self, then our knowledge of all other subjects has no real worth. The knowledge of the Self that is represented by Goddess Saraswati.*
*Fasting, prayer, silence and meditation these are recommended during Navaratri. Night is also called ratri because it brings rejuvenation. It gives relief at the three levels of our existence – physical, subtle and causal. While fasting detoxifies the body, silence detoxifies our minds, prayer purifies the speech and brings rest to the chattering mind, and meditation takes one deep into one’s own core being.*
*Devi and the Demons:*
*(Our Sattwa mind and the negative qualities)*
*Today, though Devi is seated in the lalaat as Lalitha, she has receded to the background of our minds because the demonic forces have occupied the foreground. So let us chant at least 27 names from the Lalitha Sahasranama or the Lalitha Trishathi and invoke her grace by praying – “Today I became aware that you are seated in the lalaat between my brows. I adore you and worship you, mother. Help me to remain connected to you by following the traditions established by the Sages.*
*Please uproot all the demonic tendencies in my mind and make me always aware of Your presence, mother.” May the divine mother remove all the troubles in your life and shower you with Her grace and knowledge. May all beings be happy.*
*We have worshipped Devi Lalitha who is seated at the convergence of our brows and prayed to her to make us ever aware of Her presence by vanquishing the demonic forces that have occupied our minds. As well as extolling the glories and leela or divine sport of Devi, the Devi Mahatmyam is also a symbolic depiction of our own inner state of being. Each demon represents a particular negative quality in us which is blocking our awareness of Divinity and preventing our complete inner potential from blossoming. So the Devi Mahatmyam is completely linked with us and reveals innumerable spiritual secrets which empower us to transform ourselves. It shows us how to lead our lives. This is true of all the scriptures like the Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads. They are user manuals given to us by our Sages to tell us how to use the body, mind and soul to make our lives ever joyous. It is from this angle that we should read them. If we ignore the scriptures, we will have to learn these truths the hard way through trial and error. Besides taking innumerable lifetimes, this will be extremely detrimental to our own well being. We learnt that the demon Mahishasura represents our own ego. Today, Devi vanquishes the three demons Chanda, Munda and Raktabijasura. The presence of Chanda and Munda within us makes us stubborn and adamant. If we are rigid and have many mindsets, it means we are in the clutches of these two demons. Even when people and circumstances show us clearly that we must change certain traits, if we still feel – “I am fine as I am. This is the way I am. I am not going to change for anybody,” then we certainly need the help of Devi to remove our rigid mindsets. In the Devi Mahatmyam, Devi manifests as Chamundi to kill Chanda and Munda. If we feel that our behaviour has become adamant, we should go to a temple of Devi Chamundi to have her darshan. Though all forms of Devi are only different aspects of her unified energy and equally powerful, each form manifests to vanquish certain negative traits in us.*
*Devi has receded to the background of our minds, because the demonic forces have occupied the foreground.*
*Demons whom the Devi fought with-*
*”Shumbh” “Nishumbha” – doubting on everything*. *“Shumbh” means doubting*
*oneself and “Nishumbh” means doubting others*. *Doubting at every step.*
*“Chanda” and “Munda”. Chanda means opposite head. Chanda will oppose*
*anything you say. One who cannot agree with anything. “Munda” does not*
*have a head at all*. *Whatever you tell them, it will all go in air.*
*Chanda is person who is stuck in mind n Munda in the body.*
*Noose of light are practices like pranayama n sudarshankriya which relives such personality.*
“Dhumralochana”, “Dhumra” means smoke and “lochana” means eyes – smoky
eyes.They see everything hazy.*
*He represents low Prana n when ever your Prana is low you can’t see things clearly. Mere hmmm increases the Prana n vision becomes clear.*
*All this is due to lack of Shakti. When you are full of energy and enthusiasm none of these rakshasas (demons) can come in you.*
*The battle to overcome mind , body is called maha yagna because this the ultimate aim of yagna , to have control over body and mind which needs lot of discipline and sacrifice.*
*The inward journey nullifies our negative karmas. Navratri is a celebration of the spirit or prana which alone can destroy mahishasura (inertia), shumbha-nishumbha (pride and shame) and madhu-kaitabh (extreme forms of craving and aversion). They are completely opposites, yet complementary. Inertia, deeply ingrained negativities and obsessions (raktabeejasura), unreasonable logics (chanda-munda) and blurred vision (dhoomralochan) can be overcome only by raising the level of prana and shakti, the life-force energy.*
[01/10, 6:26 PM] giridhar599: *The battle-field is our own Mind!*
The scriptural text of Durable Saptashati, containing 700 verses,exhaustively chanted during the Navaratri, elucidates the fight between the The Mother Durga and the demons in the battle-field.This battle has a strong and a clear message to humanity at large, wherein the battle-field here is our own mind, these demons representing our debilities of personality, and the Mother being that sattwic (pure) element fighting this battle with the demoniac forces.
During the course of this battle, the Mother Goddess Slains all the demons and emerges victorious from the battle-field.
The purity element – the Devi – engages with the demons – the impurities – in the battle-field – our mind, and this purity destroys all the demons, all the debilities of our personality and emerges victorious.The process of evolution is nothing but an engagement of the good and evil forces in a fierce battle within our minds.The text of durga saptashati shows the way to evolve.
Let us examine the nature and character of this battle, the battle-field, and the good and devilish elements.
Mythological anecdotes is a very effective ancient way of teaching. What cannot be conveyed through philosophical discussions and logical debates can be transmitted more easily through myth and metaphor. Sacred myth speaks to us in multiple ways both rational and non-rational. Thus at one level the Devi Mahatmyam (Durga saptashati) chronicles the battle between the Devi and the Asuras (demons). At another level it deals with the battle of life. At yet another level it deals with the inner battle between the divine and the demoniac forces within the human psyche, between the positive and negative traits. The battlegrounds represent our own human consciousness, and its events symbolize our own experiences. The demons are symbolic of the psychic forces within the shadow. They represent all the evils in the external world that have been internalized. Whatever has been internalised in turn again manifests externally in our life. The Divine Mother is our own true being, our inherent divinity and wholeness – the sattwa (pure) element. Her clashes with the demons symbolize the outward and inward struggles we face daily. The Devi, personified simultaneously as the one supreme Goddess and also the many goddesses, confronts the demons of ahamkara or ego (our mistaken notion of who we are or what we identify ourselves with), of excessive tamas and rajas, that in turn give birth to other demons of excessive craving, greed, anger and pride, and of incessant citta vrttis (compulsive inner thought processes springing from past karmic residue). In the ultimate sense the dichotomy between the bad and the good is also a false one. There is no duality. Both are part of one single paradoxical reality. The text drives home this truth so beautifully.
Our longings are fundamentally very deep and cannot be easily satisfied by temporary makeshift or a day-to-day adjustment of outer circumstances. Our desires are profound; our yearnings are very unintelligible to the outer atmosphere of our daily life. We seem to have a root which is deeper than what can be comprehended by our normal understanding of the world. We grow from all sides, and when we long for, or desire, or yearn, or aspire, we do so in a very comprehensive manner. This aspiration of the human being is really the soul’s longing for freedom. All our desires are desires of the soul, ultimately. Though they look like sensory desires, mental desires, intellectual desires, social desires, etc., they are, at the bottom, the longing of the soul of the human being, which ramifies itself into various distracted rays through the operations of the mind and the activities of the senses. Our longings are, therefore, capable of being collected into a single essential power, an inward urge, which we may call the longing for freedom. It is freedom that we ask for and it is freedom that anyone asks for. Varieties of longings and multitudes of enterprises in the world can be collected into a single focus of the soul’s aspiration for liberation. And this aspiration for liberation is not merely the longing of the human being, but of all that is created anywhere on earth or in heaven. Whether it is the plant or the animal, whether it is a man or a celestial, the aspiration is this much. All longings can be boiled down into the quintessence of the longing for liberation, freedom from all sides and an ultimate supremacy over one’s own self in the realisation of this freedom.
The Devi-Mahatmya which, in a majestic poetry in Sanskrit, describes to us the epic of the march of the human soul to its destination – the realisation of this freedom – is the dramatic aspect of the great worship of the Divine Mother during these nine days of Navaratri, or Dassehra as we call it. The march of the soul is dramatic. It is not a lagging or a crawling but a beautiful, sonorous, musical advent, we may say. This is the beauty of the Devi-Mahatmya. All epics have this particular character of grandeur, uplifting the emotions, and chastening the intellect of the devotee who goes through them.
The Devi-Mahatmya, which is a part of the Markandeya Purana, contains thirteen chapters which are grouped into three sections known as the Prathama Charitra, Madhyama Charitra and the Uttama Charitra. As in the Bhagavadgita sometimes we are told that the eighteen chapters can be grouped into three sections of teaching, consisting of six chapters in each, the Devi-Mahatmya also, which is an epic counterpart of the methods of the Bhagavadgita in its practical implementations, is capable of a division into three sections. The march of the soul is graduated into three major steps, though there are many minor steps involved in these three major ones. While we have to rise through various rungs of the ladder of evolution, we come to three points or halting places, we may call them, where there is a complete transformation of outlook, attitude and constitution of our being. These threefold transformations of the spiritual being of the aspiring soul are dominated or presided over by three deities known as Maha-Kali, Maha-Lakshmi and MahaSarasvati. These three presiding forces are representative of the powers of the spirit within manifesting themselves in an upward ascent towards freedom ultimate, so that in this march of the soul to its freedom, it carries with it everything that is connected with it. The difference between the spiritual march and your march along the road or a highway is this: that while in your march on a roadway, you alone walk and nobody need accompany you, nothing need be connected with you, and you can have a free walk independently, in the spiritual march, it is not such an isolated march because you carry with you everything that is connected with you.
Now, what are the things connected with you that you carry? There are four stages of this relationship. Consciously we are related in a particular manner and subconsciously we are related in another manner altogether. Consciously, we people seated in this hall for example, have a particular sort of relationship among ourselves, but subconsciously our relationships are of a different kind altogether and they need not tally with our conscious relationship. And deeper still, we have a layer where our relationship is more akin to a unity of life than to a diversity of personality. There is a fourth stage which is incapable of any description at all. We do not know whether we are to call it a unity or a diversity, or oneness or otherness. This is the goal towards which the soul is marching. So, in the description of the Devi-Mahatmya, we are carried forward psychologically and spiritually to our destination of the ultimate realisation.
The inward journey nullifies our negative karmas. Navratri is a celebration of the spirit or prana which alone can destroy mahishasura (inertia), shumbha-nishumbha (pride and shame) and madhu-kaitabh (extreme forms of craving and aversion). They are completely opposites, yet complementary. Inertia, deeply ingrained negativities and obsessions (raktabeejasura), unreasonable logics (chanda-munda) and blurred vision (dhoomralochan) can be overcome only by raising the level of prana and shakti, the life-force energy.
There are three stages of transformation described in the three sections of the Devi-Mahatmya. The first one is where Adi-Sakti awakens Maha-Vishnu who was asleep, so that He may destroy or overcome the original demoniacal forces, Madhu and Kaitabha. The second stage is where the same Sakti manifests Herself as Maha-Lakshmi and overcomes Mahishasura and Raktabija. The third one is where Sumbha and Nisumbha are destroyed by Maha-Sarasvati. And the nine days of worship, which are referred to as Navaratri, comprehend these three stages adored in three days of worship, each. The final victory is called Vijaya-Dasami, the tenth day. That is the day of Victory, where you master the forces of Nature completely and your goal is reached. When you step over nine, you enter into Infinity. Numbers are only nine; you do not have ten numbers. All the arithmetic is within nine numbers only. The whole cosmos isp within nine. But when you transcend the nine, you have gone to Infinity, which is beyond cosmic relationship. The lower powers of Nature are like dirt. We call them Mala. “Vishnukarnamalodbhuto hantum brahmanamudyato,” says the DeviMahatmya. The Madhu and Kaitabha, two Rakshasas (demons) are supposed to have come out of the dirt of the ear of Vishnu. The lowest category of opposition is of the nature of dirt, Mala; and psychologically, from the point of view of the seeking soul, this dirt is in the form of Kama, Krodha and Lobha. “Kama esha krodha esha rajo-guna samudbhavah”, “Kamah krodhastatha lobhah tasmat etat trayam tyajet”: It is desire and anger born of Rajas; desire, anger and greed – these three therefore should be abandoned, says the Bhagavadgita. These three are the gates to hell. These three are regarded as dirt, because they cover the consciousness in such a way that it appears to be not there at all. It is like painting a thin glass with coal tar. You cannot see the glass. It is all pitch-dark like clouds. This has to be rubbed off with great effort. When this Mala or dirt is removed, you get into another trouble. Do not think that when you are tentatively a master of Kama, Krodha and Lobha, you are a real master of yourself. “There are more things in heaven and earth than your philosophy dreams of, O Horatio,” said Hamlet. So do not think that your philosophy is exhaustive. There are many more things that philosophy cannot comprehend. Kama, Krodha and Lobha are not the only enemies. There are subtler ones, more formidable than these visible foes. As a matter of fact, the subtle invisible enemies are more difficult to overcome than the visible ones. Sometimes an angry man is better than a smiling person. A smiling person is more dangerous than an angry one, because he can have a knife under his armpit. This is what we will face.
When we manage somehow to overcome this Madhu and Kaitabha, Kama and Krodha, we get into the clutches of Mahishasura and Raktabija. They represent the Vikshepa Sakti, the tossing of the mind. Every minute the mind changes its forms which multiply in millions. You read in the Devi-Mahatmya, how Mahishasura changed his form. Now he is an elephant, now he is a buffalo, now he is something else. If you hit him in one form, he comes in another form. And this is your inexhaustible opponent. His energies are incapable of being exhausted. However much you may try to oppose the Vikshepa Sakti, it will manifest in some form or other. This is described in the form of the demon Raktabija, whose drops of blood were seeds of hundreds and thousands of demons like him coming up. When the Devi severed the head of one Rakshasa, the blood fell on the ground profusely and from that blood, millions cropped up. And when She killed them, again another million cropped up. So there was no end to it. If you cut off one or two desires, the desire is not over. The root is still there. The branches are only severed. Unless the root is dug out, there is no use of merely severing the branches of the tree. So what did the Devi do? She asked Kali to spread her tongue throughout the earth, so that there is no ground at all for the Rakshasas to walk over. They had to walk over the tongue of Kali. So huge it was. And now the Goddess started cutting their heads and when the blood fell, it fell not on the ground but on the tongue of Kali. So she sucked everything. Chariots and horses and demons and everybody entered her mouth. She chewed all chariots into powder. Likewise, we have to adopt a technique of sucking the very root of desires and not merely chop off its branches. Otherwise, desires will take various forms like Mahishasura. When we think that Mahishasura has been killed, he comes as a buffalo, and when the buffalo is attacked, he again comes as an elephant, and if Devi attacks the elephant, he comes as a bull and attacks Her. So, there is no way of overcoming these desires by merely dealing with them from outside by a frontal attack. Their very essence has to be sucked, because a desire is not an outward form or an action; it is a tendency within. You may do nothing, and yet you will have desires, because desire is not necessarily an activity. A desireful person need not be very active. He can be sitting quiet, doing nothing, saying nothing, and yet be full of desires because it is a tendency of the mind, an inclination of consciousness, that we call a desire. That can be inside, even if there is outwardly nothing. This is the Vikshepa Sakti – distraction, tossing and the chameleon-attitude of desire – which attacks us, when, with herculean efforts, we try to destroy or gain control over Kama and Krodha, Madhu and Kaitabha. After Madhu and Kaitabha, we get Mahishasura and Raktabija. Thus Mala and Vikshepa are the primary oppositions in our spiritual pursuit.
Ancient masters have told us that while Mala or dirt of the psychological structure can be removed by Karma Yoga, by unselfish and dedicated service, Vikshepa or distraction of the mind can be removed only by worship of God, by Upasana. While Karma removes Mala, Upasana removes Vikshepa. But even now, we are not fully safe. While Mala might have gone and Vikshepa is not there, we may have a third trouble, namely, a complete oblivion of consciousness. We will have no knowledge of anything as to what is happening. Ajnana or ignorance is an opposing power subtler than its effects in the form of Mala and Vikshepa. Distraction and direct sensual desires are the outer expressions of a subtle ignorance of Truth – Avidya or Ajnana.