Dussehra (Dasha+Hara) literally means remover of bad fate, victory over evil and creating your own fate full of happiness, joy and enlightenment.
Dussehra denotes victory of good over evil, victory of virtue over sin, victory of Gods over demons, victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura and victory of lord Rama over Ravana but from spiritual perspective it is the victory of gyana (spiritual knowledge) over ignorance as it is ignorance which is the main cause for bad fate, unfavorable situations and adversities in life.
Mahishasura, Ravana, Kansa and other demons are projections and embodiments of Ego (ahamkara). When Rama returned back to Ayodhya after winning over Ravana and freeing Devi Sita from the clutches of Ravana, he was congratulated by everyone saying Rama killed Ravana but Rama said that “maine Ravana ko nahi maara, Ravana ke mai (ego) ne hi use maara” which meant that it is not me who killed Ravana but it is Ravana’s “me (I… Ego)” that killed him.
We are ourselves the biggest impediments in our happiness, success, prosperity and peace. Our own negative aspects, predominantly our Ego, are the main obstacle and creator of bad fate in our lives. Ego is the cause for anger, pride, jealousy, enmity, revenge, disappointment, depression, desires and sins. If ego is reined all other negative aspects automatically gets reined and bad fate is removed.
The nine-day Navaratri festival is meant to overcome these obstacles and win over our negative aspects and clear the path for success and prosperity.
These nine days/nights are specifically devoted to each aspect of life, which if followed with bhava, clears off the obstacles and take our life to an altogether new era and new pedestal.
Mahishasura and Ravana are not outside us but are our inner demons. Scriptures have projected them as embodiments of ego and personification of our own inner demonic qualities.
They could be killed by invoking our inner divine energies (shaktis) which are personified as Durga, Rama etc. Awakening the shaktis (energies) of Gods and Goddesses within our inner self and winning over bad fate caused by our demonic aspects is the real essence of Dussehra.
All those who burn external Ravana and witness killing of external Mahishasura might only glorify Goddess Durga and Lord Rama but will not be able to win over their own fate. To remove bad fate and create a new fate we need to kill our inner Ravana and inner Mahishasura who exists within us in the form of Ego.
Ego springs up from the darkness of ignorance and can be overcome by pure gyana (knowledge of the Self). Self knowledge is like the bright light which when appears, removes the darkness automatically like in the case of a cave wherein even if darkness existed for thousands of years yet a small flame of light is sufficient to remove it.
Ego has the doership (kartabhav), ego has “me” and “mine” in it as against the fact that everything in the universe is created and operated by divya shaktis (divine energies). We have no role to play in any aspect of life. We are like puppets in the hands of these divine energies who control and operate the universe but under the darkness of ignorance we feel and believe that everything is done by us.
This is the reflection of ego and is the cause for all the sufferings and pains in life. Self-knowledge is the knowledge which reveals the secret of our real being. The real being is beyond the physical body, mind and senses. Once this knowledge dawns on us we get liberated from doership (kartabhav) and ego burns away. Once the ego burns and doership is killed, the inner Ravana and Mahishasura, too, gets burnt and killed thereby removing bad fate from our lives (Dasha+Hara). Only in this state we get the right to celebrate Dussehra in its true sense.