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Vedanta Sandesh

...The Free Monthly Newsletter of Vedanta Mission


Navratras

Navratras - the time to worship Adi Shakti :
    Nine days prior to Dasshera (Vijaya Dasami) are called Navratras, literally meaning nine days & nights full of worship & austerities. This is a very auspicious time and is devoted specially to the worship of Adi Shakti-the mother, the great power of God. People who worship the almighty in the form of Shakti - for them this is most auspicious time of the year. In Bengal the Puja-time, as it is called, is as auspicious as the Christmas time in the west, if not more.

Power deserves reverence :
    Shakti means power. Power is something which is worshipped by one & all, irrespective of the fact whether they are believers or not. Nothing is possible without power, so it does deserve the all pervasive adoration & reverence. Creation requires power, sustenance of anything is never possible without necessary power and so too destruction which also requires immense power. Whether it is a happening at the cosmic level, international, national, social or even personal level, power alone makes our dreams come true. Without necessary shakti it is never possible to even to tread the path of spiritual unfoldment. The Upanishads thunder 'Atma is never realized by those bereft of strength & power'. It is the acknowledgment of this fact that even the various forms of God in the Hindu pantheon are always shown with their consorts - who personify their respective powers. Creation requires the power of knowledge, so Brahmaji-the creator has Saraswati as his consort. Lord Vishnu, the aspect of God responsible for sustenance has Laksmi, the embodiment of wealth, as his consort, while Shiva has Parvati as his, who has been taking terrible forms to destroy the evil. So lets acknowledge an already accepted fact and make this worship better organized. That's what the nine days of Navratras are all about. Worshipping shakti - the power. Basically Shakti is also one and its manifestations are many. We can broadly divide its various manifestations into three categories. The power of creation, the power of sustenance and the power of destruction. Worship them, adore them, find ways & means to acquire them at your own level, and finally wield them for your own upliftment and also for the well being for your near & dear ones, your country and the world at large.

Logic behind the scheme of worship :
    There is a definite scheme which is followed in Navratra worship. In the first three days Kali (Durga) is worshipped, next three days are devoted to the worship of Lakshmi, while the last three days is for worshipping Saraswati. The reason behind this sequence is also very evident. Kali, the mighty power of destruction, is worshipped & invoked to help destroy the various negative tendencies within us, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, is worshipped to help manifest the inner wealth in the form of nobler traits & qualities and also get the necessary extraneous wealth to help fulfill our duties & responsibilities. Finally a mind free from baser negative tendencies and full with nobler & positive virtues not only feels naturally inquisitive & inspired to know the secrets of himself & the life, but is also the most fit person to know them too. He wholeheartedly invokes the grace of Goddess Saraswati, the embodiment of knowledge. As knowledge alone redeems a person, so all rituals & traditions lead us to the portals of knowledge. The day after these nine days is Dasshera, when we burn the effigy of Ravana, who personifies our ego. Spiritual knowledge should eliminate ego, then alone knowledge has dawned. With the elimination of ego there is a magnanimity, an equipoise, fearlessness, a sense of fulfillment, synonymous with the realization of the Self as Brahman - the ultimate transcendental reality.

The ritualistic aspect of Navratras :
    The ritualistic aspect of Navratras involves preparing an altar for Goddess with her photo etc., keeping a kumbha (a fresh mud pot) with water & covering it with mango leaves & cocunut, and putting some wheat seeds in a tray (with a small layer of mud) for them to sprout. The ritual involves twice a day puja with aarti, study of some texts like Durga-saptashati or Ramayan, bhajans & doing japa of your mantra for a definite number of times. These nine days are for some austerities too, take one meal a day and devote maximum time for thinking, contemplating & worshipping the Adi Shakti. Anyone who does these rituals with necessary devotion & fervor is seen to fulfill his/her desires too. So Navratras are celebrated as a mass celebration by one & all. May all make the best of this auspicious time and invoke the Adi Shakti to bless you by becoming all the more powerful in your respective field and also awake to the divinity within you.