Sep 25: Navaratri and its significance

25 Sep
This week being Navaratri, is indeed a very auspicious week. The divine mother is celebrated in three forms (form of Shakti, Lakshmi and Vidhya [Saraswati] )There is a beautiful reason as to why Shakti is considered to be the consort of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is considered as the god for destruction and Shakti is required for destruction. So Sakthi is the consort of Lord Shiva. For any kind of creation, it only requires knowledge. Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge. Wealth is verily required for sustenance and Goddess Lakshmi is the consort of Lord Vishnu. Navaratri is a festival to worship and celebrate the divine mother in these three different forms. The culmination of Navaratri is celebrated as Durga Pooja in the Northern part of India and as Vijayadasami in the South. In the northern part of India, they consider this as the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana and in south people consider it as the victory of Mahishasuramardini over the demon Mahisa. On the day of Vijyadasami, people start off to acquire some new skills[ Aksharaabhyasa and Vidyabyasa]. It is said that the learning flourishes very well when initiated on a Vijayadasami day.

What is the greatest quality of a Vidwan? One who is a scholar and very humble is indeed  a vidwan. When we start to learn something, the first thing we need to pray to the Lord is to bestow humility. That is the first lesson in education.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says “Thrunatapi sunichena tharorapi  sahishnunaa amanina manadena kirthaniya sadaa harih”
It is said that there are other qualities that one needs to follow in addition to the divine names chanting of the Lordin order to be called as Bhagavata. He should be as humble as possible. He should be resistant to others who have a negative effect on him. On the auspicious day of Vijayadasami, let’s pray to the Lord to bless everyone with humility and start off with new lessons.
Followed by introductions, Tejasji from Pearland Texas discoursed on the significance of Navrathri.
Navaratri is celebrated over a period of nine nights and prayers are offered to the divine mother. Traditionally the nine nights can be split into three groups of three and dedicate each group to the different forms of mother. On the first three nights Goddess Durga is worshipped,  on the following three nights prayers are offered to Goddess  Lakshmi and the last three nights are devoted to goddess Saraswati. We worship these three forms of deity as they symbolize many things that are very essential for the spiritual advancement of spiritual lives. The first three nights are dedicated to Mother Durga or Kali. One of the famous stories of Mother Durga is the killing of the buffalo demon Mahishasura. If we delve into this story, we can clearly see an analogy. The buffalo symbolizes Tamoguna, which is represented by darkness and is associated with laziness, ignorance and inertia. Procrastination and ignorance is found in human-beings as well. Everyone of us loves to sleep. Every individual has a lot of energy and potential, but prefer to do nothing.  Similarly the buffalo loved to stay in the water by being idle. Therefore the killing of the buffalo symbolizes the destruction of Tamoguna in each person. It is also seen in the Mahamantra
“Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”  Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare hare
The keyword Hare is requesting Mother Durga to absolve the evil tendencies in a person. This destruction is akin to removing the old lifestyle and rebuilding a new spiritual life.
The next three nights are dedicated to Mother Lakshmi. One needs to lucidly note that the wealth used for improper ways is Alakshmi [the opposite of Lakshmi]. The wealth that we used for our own needs is “with a” [plain money]. The wealth that is used to benefit others is Lakshmi. The wealth dedicated for the service of the Lordis called Mahalakshmi. Without spiritual wealth, self-discipline, self-control, kindness, love and respect one will abuse material wealth and eventually lose it. Hence the meaning of Lakshmi is to acquire spiritual wealth in the form of spiritual values that will purify our mind.  In the Upansihads, the Rishis have asked for material wealth, only after acquiring the spiritual wealth. The material wealth that they desire to gain is only for doing service to the lord. Material wealth that is devoid of spiritual wealth will most likely be used improperly and gets depleted very quickly. Adi Shankara in his Viveka Choodamani has lucidly explained the six real forms of spiritual wealth [sathsampati]. They are the mental peace, self-control, self-withdrawal, moderation, faith and concentration. There are eight forms of Lakshmi [Ashtalakshmi].
The eight forms of lakshmi are
Adhilakshmi [Mahalakshmi] –An ancient form of Lakshmi
Dhanalakshmi – Associated with wealth
Dhanyalakshmi – Giver of agricultural [grain/food] wealth
Gajalakshmi – Bestows animal/cattle wealth. The term ‘gaja’ means elephant, symbolizing power and royalty.
Santanalakshmi – Blesses with prosperity
Veeralakshmi  or Dhairyalakshmi – Represents valor, strength and courage
Vijayalakshmi –Removes obstacles and ensures victory.
Vidhyalakshmi – Denotes to wisdom and education
These are the forms of wealth that one should seek to acquire from mother Lakshmi.
The last three nights are dedicated to mother Saraswathi, who represent knowledge.  There are different kinds of knowledge –astronomy, physics, arts, math, science etc
However, Lord Krishna in Bhagavath Gita says –
“adhyatma vidya vidyanam” Of the different types knowledge, I am the knowledge of the self.  This knowledge of the self is attained solely by self-realization. Therefore, we pray and perform other austerities to Goddess Sarawati during Navrathri to bestow everyone with the knowledge that is superior among other types of knowledge and it is verily the self-realization.
In Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna says –
“tesham evanukampartham aham ajnanajam tamah
nasayamy atmabhavastho jnanadipena bhasvata”
I sit in the hearts of the self-realized and by shining the lights of divine knowledge, I dispel the darkness created by ignorance. Therefore we offer prayers to Goddess Saraswati to bestow with the knowledge of the Self.
By praying to the divine mother we also acquire the nine treasures [nava-nidhi].  We can lucidly see this in Sundarkand in Ramayan that Mother Sita blessed Hanumanji with the nava-nidhis. One can clearly see this in hanuman chalisa  – “Ashta Sidhi nava nidhikae datha”. Hanumanji has the power to bless anyone with these nine treasures. That’s another great benefit of performing pooja during Navaratri.
The festival of Navratri concludes with Vijayadasami. It is on this day that Lord Rama killed Ravana and Mother Durga slaughtered Mahishasura. In other words, this day commemorates the victory of good over evil and light over darkness in our hearts. This is because of the spiritual knowledge that one has gained during the period of Navratri. If we look at the life-history of Ravana we can see that he had acquired lot of wealth, power and knowledge but ended up using them in wrong ways. And eventually he lost all of them. One must pray to the Lord to bestow oneself with the right type of wealth, knowledge and power.
So why is Navratri celebrated for nine nights and not for nine days? The nine nights symbolize a wake-up call. We are in the deep sleep of ignorance [tamoguna]. It is time for us to wake-up and perceive the divine lights of self-realization. So during Navrathri, we first pray to Mother Durga to absolve the tamoguna in us. We then pray to Mother Lakshmi to bestow us with the spitirual wealth of noble values and then we ask Mother Saraswathi for divine knowledge so that the Lord Himself will perpetually sit in our hearts to keep out the darkness and shine the divine light. We then conclude with Vijayadasami to celebrate the victory that one has achieved by gaining the divine knowledge and shunning the darkness.
The satsang concluded with prayers and Namasankirtan.

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