Speech on Navratri and its significance
Navaratri is one of the most important and biggest festivals celebrated across India and even other parts of the world. It is a festival where for ten days or nine nights the various forms of the Devi or the Divine cosmic energy, the Divine Mother, is worshipped in all her forms.
Every year there are four Navaratris, two of which are secret, and two of which are celebrated. But the most important one is in September/October. “Nava” means nine, and “Ratri” means night. The literal meaning of “ratri” is a one turns inwards, when one rests and becomes rejuvenated. In Sanskrit “ra” means that which gives solace, and “tri” refers to the Taapa Traya, or the three types of afflictions or problems, suffering, misery that comes to us in life. On the physical level, the body or the environment,any pain, or any disease, any problem; the mental level, in the mind, the thought level;and on the causal level, which means the past impressions, the karmas, in the consciousness. So that which gives solace from all is what is ratri. And Navaratri is a time where the sadhaks, the spiritual seekers go deep within to rest, to become rejuvenated, become refreshed, and become free from all these afflictions, and start the year afresh. So it is also compared to the nine months we spend in the womb of the mother, those nine nights, where the child is in the wom band
it doesn’t have to do anything, it just goes within, and it comes out new. Now during this time, the Devi Mahatmya, ascripture, is read or recited, and also chanted in the pujas and yagyas, which talks about the Devi fighting various demons and destroying those demons. And this has a very beautiful deeper meaning,because the Devi represents the Shakti, the pranashakti or the power of the consciousness,the energy. And all of these demons, if you see the names are very symbolic. The first demons she slays are Madhu and Kaitabha,which stands for craving and aversion, that is what their name means. Then there are other demons like Dhumra lochana,which literally means one whose eyes are smokey, whose vision is not clear. Sometimes our vision is not clear. Then there is Raktabijasura, which means the seeds which are there in the blood, which refers to our genes. When there are any genetic problems, and even if you talk about things like cancer, these are seeds in our own blood. So these are all different types of demons,they have been depicted as demons.
Then we have Shumbha and Nishumbha, which means doubting oneself and doubting others. There is Mahishasura, which is the inertia,the dullness, laziness, depression. Chanda means one who opposes anybody, doesn’t agree. Sometimes our mind becomes like that, that whatever people say, we disagree. You are in such a negative mood and you are not ready to listen to anybody. And Munda, another demon, means one who doesn’t have a head, sometimes you simply don’t listen to people, it is like you don’t have ahead, you don’t have any ears. Whatever they say it falls on deaf ears. So through Navaratri we invoke the Shakti,we honour and worship the Devi Shakti, the Divine energy, the Divine Mother, the Cosmic energy, we invoke it in our life, so that it may overcome all these negative tendencies,it may destroy all these negative tendencies in us, and make us free from that. So during this time people usually fast, they have light food, just fruits, juices, or light food. Fasting purifies the body and the mind. Then people keep silence, silence purifies sour speech. Then they listen to knowledge, they discuss knowledge, because knowledge purifies the intellect. They sing devotional songs, bhajans, that purifies our emotions. So all these things, the pujas, the yagyas,the mantras, it allows us to purify ourself, go deep within, connect with the consciousness,and increase the prana shakti, raise our energy. And then throughout these nine days, the firstthree days are reigned by Maha Kali, which is the Adhisthata or the ruler of Tamoguna, Tamas. So these days the Tamas energy is more. And then we go through that, we worship that,we honour that, we move through that.
Then the next three days is connected to Rajoguna,Maha Lakshmi, the Adhisthata of Rajoguna. And then moving through the Rajas the lastthree days we come to the Sattva, Maha Saraswati, so that finally at the end, when moving throughall this, when we have conquered all these demons, we have invoked the Devi, increased the pranashakti, connected to the consciousness, and it has destroyed all these negative tendencies,the last day is called Vijaya Dashami, which is the day of victory, where the Devi is victorious over all the demons and the gods rejoice. It is said that this is the best day to start any thing new in life. Now why is that? Because when you practice this in the proper manner, what happens is that after these nine days of fasting, of silence, of meditation,of satsang, our mind is so much in the present moment, the sattva is so high, energy is so high, you have so much clarity, so much peace, no craving, aversion, you are open, you arecentred, and with that state of mind anything you start will definitely be more successful. So it is a beautiful opportunity to go within,go deep, and experience that Shakti which is pervading this whole creation, and that it may guide our life.