The holy festival of Navratri brings with it renewed energies and positivities. Ratri means ‘night’ and nava means ‘nine’. During Navratri (nine nights), the Lord in the form of the Mother Goddess is worshipped in her various forms as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Though the Goddess is one, she is represented and worshipped in three different aspects. As per the myth, Goddess Durga sat on the tip of a spine for nine days, doing rigorous self-punishment to destroy the evil Mahishasura. While Navratri, the first three days she meditated as Durga, the next three days as Mahalakshmi and the last three days as Saraswati. The following tenth day is called Vijayadasami, that represents the victory over our own minds. This whole divine practice signifies progression of soul from tamasic to rajasic to sattvic and finally achieves free will. Sharad Navratri is considered to be extremely sacred and auspicious as this is the time when all the divine forces are at their highest level of percipience.
This divine festival also carries with it meanings, reasons and insights that can change our lives for good, and it is a kind of a ‘soul spiritual management programme’ both at the person and interpersonal levels as well. If you observe nature closely, then you can also see it transforming during the course of this holy festival — climatic transformation, eliminating the old and exploring or making way for the new etc.
The velocity of this change is so powerful in nature during this time that we, humans, need to stabilise ourselves and prepare our minds, both at the physical and mental levels just to cope with this change. Due to climate change and solar influence, the energy level of the body goes up and down. If energy level is up, Satwa increases, therefore, positivity increases. As a result of which, human beings become dynamic, enthusiastic, creative and happy. When energy level is down, Tamas increases, hence negativity such as greed, jealousy, hatred tend to develop in human minds.
Basically during Navrati, we fast, pray and recite mantras, we cleanse the environment, silence and meditation facilitates the mind to go beyond the three gunas and become free from dualities of the world — joy and sadness, happiness and irritation, craving and aversion, pride and shame and reach the Samta state of being. Self-realisation and soul calmness can only be achieved when we can learn and understand the root cause of negative thoughts. It is required for the identification of our true self.
Celebration of Navratri and its various practices heal us, and our negative patterns move away as we start purifying our soul. To gain noble virtues, all evil tendencies in the mind must be destroyed. This destruction is represented by the Goddess Durga. Durga is durgati harini — she who removes our evil tendencies. This is why she is called Mahishasura Mardini. Mahisha meaning “buffalo.” The buffalo stands for tamoguna, the quality of laziness, darkness, ignorance and inertia. We have these qualities too. We love to sleep. Although we may have a lot of energy and potential inside us, we prefer to do nothing — just like the buffalo that likes to lie in pools of water. In the Puraanic story, Durga Devi’s killing of the Mahisha demon is, symbolically, the destruction of the tamoguna within us that is very difficult to destroy. In the Durga Devi Havana (sacrifice), we invoke that divine power within us to destroy our animalistic tendencies.
Nature also provides positivity in abundance, which in turn allows us to align our thoughts and transform negative energy into positivity. During the festival we also invoke Goddess Saraswati. 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. Lord Krishna himself says in the Bhagavad Gita: “The knowledge of the self is the knowledge. It is my vibhuti, my glory.” In other words, we may have knowledge of many other subjects and sciences but if we do not know our own self, then that is the greatest loss. Therefore, the supreme knowledge is the knowledge of the self that is represented by Goddess Saraswati.