By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Oct 9, 2010
Navaratri is celebrated to celebrate victory of spirit over inertia, pride, shame, craving and aversion. We rejoice in the three primordial qualities that make up the universe.
The first three days of Navaratri are attributed to tamo guna, signifying depression, fear and emotional instability; the second three to rajo guna characterised by anxiety and feverishness and the last three days to sattva guna that pertains to calm, peace and dynamism.
When we move from tamo guna to sattva, victory happens. That is, we overcome our own devilish tendencies like raag dvesh – cravings and aversions, raktabijakshur or inertia and dhumralochan or laziness. By venerating Mother Divine during Navaratri, we harmonise the three gunas and elevate sattva in the atmosphere. The nine nights of the festival are enriched with subtle energy as 64 impulses of the Mother Divine that govern subtle creation rekindled with yagnas and chanting.
Navratri is also the time to reflect on and renew the inner depth of our lives. Krishna used to do a lot of Devi puja during Navaratri. He said, "I take a dip in my own Prakriti (nature) and come out to create a new". So, take a dip in your own nature and come out fresh and new. The yagnas that are conducted during Navaratri have all the aspects of life beautifully covered. They bring rejuvenation at the three levels of our existence -- physical, subtle and causal.
During these nine nights, we should keep our mind in Divine consciousness. When negative forces haunt us, we are disturbed and we grumble. To get relief, we need to go to the source of energy within. The seeker returns to the source through fasting, prayer, silence and meditation. While fasting detoxifies the body, silence purifies speech and rests the chattering mind, and meditation takes one deep into one's own being.
That Navaratri is time to shed our inertia and other negative tendencies is beautifully encompassed in the symbolism of the bull being overcome by Devi. What do we call someone who is dull, thick-skinned and insensitive? A buffalo! Only the Mother Divine can destroy this buffalo with the collective energy of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Just as a baby's gestation period in the womb is nine months before it is born, Devi took nine days to rest and emerged as pure love and devotion on the tenth day. With that purity and devotion, Devi overcame the buffalo of inertia and dullness.
There are many stories on how the Divine Mother manifested to restore peace and order by slaying asuras or demons -- Madhu and Kaitabha, Mahishasura and Shumbha and Nishumbha. These demons are symbolic of the negative forces that can take over anyone at anytime. Madhu is craving and Kaitaba means aversion. Raktabijasur means deeply ingrained negativities and obsessions. Mahishasura means dullness. It is symbolic of heaviness and inertia. Divine Shakti brings energy, and inertia is lifted.
Though Navaratri is celebrated as the victory of good over evil, the actual fight is not between good and evil. From the Vedantic point of view, the victory is of the absolute reality over the apparent duality. Navaratri is time to drop the separateness and recognise that life in everything. Mother Divine or pure consciousness pervades all forms and names. Recognising the one divinity in every form and every name is celebration of Navaratri. Hence, special pujas honouring all aspects of life and nature are performed during the last three days.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi