Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Navratri - A significance
The demon Mahishasura represents symbolically, the vast dense mass of darkness and ignorance, puffed up with egoism and arrogance. Similarly, the other demonic forces present in the human mind are symbols of passion, anger, self-conceit and self-deprecation, impediments to spiritual growth. There is a continuous long drawn and fierce struggle that goes on within every soul between these hostile forces and the divine powers, and then there is ultimate victory of Knowledge over Ignorance.
The Navaratri is not observed merely to celebrate the destruction of mythical demons like Mahisasura by different manifestations of the Devi such as Maha Kali/ Durga, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati. Though the Goddess is one, She is represented and worshipped in three different aspects. When it is understood in the above perspective, it stands out as a practical manual describing the various obstacles an aspirant faces in our quest for Supreme Knowledge and how these obstacles can be overcome by invoking the help of the spiritual shakti/energy latent in us. Therefore, the Navaratri celebrations are of great spiritual value, not just an occasion for social gatherings.
Navratri symbolically represents the victory of good over evil – Goddess Durga slaying Demon Mahishasura and Lord Rama killing Ravana. This same struggle is constantly taking place in human hearts. Like Mahishasura, the human mind armed with ego, anger, greed, lust and envy negate the supreme force. The nine-day Navratri fast slowly annihilates the Mahishasura in us and help us to realize us that we are part of Brahman – the supreme spirit present in all animate and inanimate.
When a person gradually gains victory over evil tendencies, there is a void or emptiness. If left empty, the new found victory over evil tendencies will be lost soon. Therefore, this void should be filled with spiritual wealth. For this a devotee approaches Goddess Lakshmi, who provides all kinds of wealth. But what is real wealth? Even if we have material wealth but no self-discipline or self-control, nor the values of love, kindness, respect and sincerity, all our material wealth will be lost or destroyed. The real wealth is the inner wealth of spiritual values that we practice in our lives, by which our minds become purified. Only when we have these noble values will we be able to preserve our material wealth and make good use of it. Otherwise money itself becomes a problem.
Goddess Lakshmi should not be merely understood as goddess of wealth or gold or money. She represents– prosperity, peace, purity and serenity. For knowledge to dawn within us, we have to prepare our minds. The mind must be pure, concentrated, and single-pointed; this purification of the mind is obtained through the worship of Lakshmi Devi.
But still the true knowledge is elusive - an individual has not attained true knowledge. This is because we feel Goddess Durga and Goddess Lakshmi is outside and not within. Goddess Durga and Goddess Lakshmi remain supernatural forces. This is ignorance. The supreme wisdom is still lacking. Goddess Saraswati is worshiped to gain this supreme wisdom. Victory over the mind can be gained only through knowledge, through understanding; and it is Goddess Saraswati who represents this highest knowledge of the Self.
The following tenth day is called Vijayadasami. Vijaya means "victory", the victory over our own minds that can come only when we have worshiped these three: Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Finally, on the tenth day the supreme wisdom dawns in a devotee. He/She realizes that Goddess Durga,Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswathi are nothing but the supreme power manifested in different ways. Then the person moves a step ahead, and realizes the ultimate truth that he/she is nothing but part of Brahman and that life is a continuity.
Scientific and spiritual truths of Navaratri:
Both the Vasantik and Sharadiya Navaratris fall in the twilight period between two natural seasons. The scientific reason for this is that during the twilight period, when one season ends and the next one begins, the position of the planets and atmosphere are both very conducive for the spiritual progress of human beings. Due to the change in seasons, the chemical compositions in the human body also change. Therefore, it is most beneficial to do various spiritual observances during this time.
The theme of the entire Vedas is reflected in the Navaratri festival: Purify the mind and remove all negativity; cultivate positive virtues; gain spiritual knowledge and transcend limitations. This is the real victory - the dance of joy - ritualistically performed at night, to signify our spiritual awakening.