Swami Sukhabodhananda explains the metaphysical meaning of Navaratri and its applicability in our daily life towards attaining true victory. The term ‘Navaratri’ means nine nights or bringing in Nava or newness to the ratri or night (darkness) in our lives. In other words, the festival seeks to inspire a spiritual awakening. There are reasons why celebrations are spread over nine nights.
The practice is that the first three days we invoke Saraswati, Goddess of learning, the next three days we pay tribute to Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and the last three days are devoted to Durga or Parvati, goddess of strength.
In order to destroy the darkness in our lives, we need the blessings of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga respectively. Learning happens in one’s life not only from books but also from the experiences of life. When your eyes are open with devotion, learning happens. We generally operate from raga (like) or Dwesha (dislike).We are filled with likes and dislikes and hence our perception is polluted by the perceiver. Our listening is backed by likes and dislikes and our thinking is grounded on likes and dislikes.
In such a state, is there any freedom in one’s learning?.As we are bound by likes and dislikes there is no freedom in perception, in listening and even in thinking. To be free to learn involves not operating from likes and dislikes. We need to learn to transform ‘likes into love and love into devotion’.When our ground of being comes from ‘devotion’ the very attempt becomes a prayer and so it is a festival;a celebration.In DurgaSaptashati,there is a narration of demon called Dhoomra Lochana which means ‘foggy perception.
Dhomra means foggy and lochana means perception. Our perception can be foggy when we are imprisoned by likes and dislikes. Likes and dislikes serve one’s ego. Ego is nothing but darkness and to dispel such darkness a new light has to be brought in; the new light of understanding. This is Navaratri meaning ending the darkness of night by bringing in new light of understanding. How can our perception come from devotion?.One has put aside likes and dislikes.Instead, start learning to operate from devotion.
It means bringing the macro into one’s perception. Like is limited to what ‘I want” and hence it is micro. Devotion is to the whole and hence it is in the realm of macro and thus free from ego which is always limited to what ‘I like or dislike’.In our daily lives, in the simple act of looking at a flower or listening to someone, can we put aside like and dislike and learn to look or listen from devotion…from totality?.Then a new learning or new light emerges. Then we are invoking Goddess Saraswati.
In other words, can we look at life without the frame-frame being our likes, dislikes, ego and expectations? And in such a ‘looking’ there is no limitation and hence there is freedom. Goddess Lakshmi denotes wealth. Wealth is not just money or material wellbeing. There is richness or wealth in life; the richness one sees in a flower, the richness one perceives through sun, stars, in the very experiences of life. Instead of experiencing richness, more often one is lost in the ‘desire mode’ and thus misses the richness of’what is’.
Experiencing the richness of ‘what is’ as ‘what is’ is the essence o praying to Goddess Lakshmi.One can perceive a great wealth through one’s eyes ears or brain. They are indeed a reservoir of wealth in each of us. Rejoicing thankfully for what we are blessed with is truly respecting Lakshmi.Goddess Durga or Parvati represents strength. Even a blade of grass or a fragile flower or thin leaf is a storehouse of vast strength if one were to observe them closely.Plants is a source of many herbal medicines.
So there is strength. There is Shakti,a form of Parvati,in them, is it not?.Similarly in one’s commitment, in expression of purity, in doing good to others there is Shakti and thus there is the presence of Durga.Seeing these as a wonder and living them is like worshipping Shakti or Durga.To make it happen requires a commitment and not complaint. We need the power or blessings of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati-learning, wealth and strength respectively. What represents night or darkness in our lives?.It is the ego.
The Rakshasas or demons mentioned in the puranas and scriptures and their acts are expression of ego. How ego has destroyed them and their attempt to destroy others is beautifully demonstrated in the scriptures. In our lives too, it is ego which is the greatest darkness that is ravaging our lives. When understanding of the three goddess dawns in one’s life,it is indeed victory over oneself.Hence,it is celebration in the form of Vijayadashmi on the tenth day of Navaratri. True victory is where such energies are triumphing.
So,one can celebrate Navaratri in a metaphysical dimesnsion,too.Worship the forces of the three goddess and when these energies triumph and win, it is Vijayadashmi.
WISHING ALL THE KANNADIGAWORLDS READER A VERY HAPPY NAVARATRI.
Compilation from Swamy Sukhabodhananda speech