Art of Living Stories, Art of Living Wisdom.

At the end of a kalpa (epoch), when the universe was one ocean and Lord Vishnu was stretched out  on Shesha and took a mystic slumber (Yoganidra), two terrible Asuras (demons), Madhu and Kaitabh took birth from the dirt of Vishnu’s ears. These two Asuras sought to slay Lord Bramha, the creator of the universe, who was sitting in a lotus that came out from Vishnu’s naval. In order to awaken Vishnu, Bramha prays to Yoganidra (Devi) dwelling in Vishnu’s eyes. Upon this Narayana (Vishnu) rises from his sleep and sees these two powerful and evil Asuras endeavouring to devour Brahma. Bhagwan Vishnu fights with these Asuras for five thousand years. The Asuras frenzied with their enormous power and deluded by Mahamaya (Devi) tell Vishnu to ask for any boon he wants from them. Bhagwan Vishnu says, “You both should get slain by me now, my choice is this much indeed.” These two Asuras, knowing that the whole earth is flooded with water tell Vishnu, “Slay us at a spot where the earth is not flooded with water.” Bhagwan Vishnu says, “So be it”, and expands his thighs and asks the two Asuras to put their heads on his thighs where there is no water. The Asuras also expand their bodies and Vishnu again expands his thighs ten times more. Seeing this, the two Asuras lay their heads on Bhagwan Vishnu’s thighs and the Lord then cuts off their heads with his Sudarshan Chakra.

On one hand the above story appears as a children’s story with not much essence in it. But if you understand the meaning, the story becomes quite interesting. Madhu means craving and Kaitabha means aversion.

So cravings and aversions are born out of the ears; you hear some words about something and you develop an aversion or craving for it. All cravings and aversions are nothing but thoughts and thoughts are nothing but words. Words can become cravings and aversions when awareness is sleeping. Cravings and aversions try to kill the creativity. The Nabhi Chakra (naval centre) is said to be the seat of creativity and Lord Bramha (the creator of universe) is also born out of Lord Vishnu’s naval centre. Narayana awakens from his sleep by the grace of Devi Maa and realizes that Madhu and Kaitabh are trying to kill Lord Bramha. We realize that cravings and aversions are causing havoc in life only when awareness dawns. However hard Narayana fought, he could not win over Madhu and Kaitabh because they were born out of Narayana. Cravings and aversions are nothing but thoughts in mind and you cannot win over your thoughts by fighting with them. On the level of mind whatever you resist will persist. With your own cravings and aversions; the more you fight with them the more they grow stronger and you are unable to win.

Here Devi again comes to Narayana’s help. Devi signifies the spiritual energy and water denotes love and attachment. So long as you are attached to your thoughts you cannot win over cravings and aversions. Only with the help of spiritual energy you can detach yourself from your cravings and aversions. Realizing that you are much bigger than your thoughts, you can get victory over your cravings and aversions. Only awakening of spiritual energy can make you realize that you are much bigger than your cravings and aversions. Only spiritual energy can make you realize your true nature. Meaning of Sudarshan is right vision and Chakra which is a ‘circular disc in motion’ indicates uninterrupted activity. Sudarshan Chakra indicates the power of uninterrupted, unblemished, choice-less awareness. Only with such awareness you can gain the final victory over cravings and aversions. 

May Maa Durga bless us all with such uninterrupted, unblemished, choice-less awareness!

Third Navadurga : Chandra Ghanta

On the third day of Navaratri the Divine Mother is worshipped in the form of third Navadurga – Chandra Ghanta. This form of Devi is depicted as wearing a bell-like ornament in the shape of the moon. The moon is connected the mind and the Ghanta or the bell is an instrument connected with alertness. The ringing of the bell brings the mind to the present moment. Just as the moon waxes and wanes the mind also wavers. By Chanting the name of this Devi with alertness the mind comes under our control. When such quality of alertness and steadfastness arises then the mind becomes like an adornment. Chandraghanta represents this aspect of beauty in the mind.

 3rd day

या देवी सर्वभुतेषु चेतनेत्यभिधीयते 
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥७॥

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Cetanety-Abhidhiiyate |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||7||

7.1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Reflected as Consciousness,
7.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, I bow down to her again and again.

 

या देवी सर्वभुतेषु बुद्धिरूपेण संस्थिता  
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥८॥

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Buddhi-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||8||

8.1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Intelligence,
8.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, I bow down to her again and again.

 

या देवी सर्वभुतेषु निद्रारूपेण संस्थिता  

नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥९॥

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Nidraa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||9||

9.1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Sleep,
9.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, I bow down to her again and again.

Also Read Significance of Navaratri 

                  Devi Mahatmya – Day 2

Jai Gurudev

Sanjay Sabnis

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Wisdom.

The Devi Puja during Navratri festival is not considered complete without recitation of the Devi Mahatmya.  Recitation of verses of Devi Mahatmya is one of the most important aspects of “Chandi homa”. The Devi Mahatmya (also called as the Durga Saptshati or Chandi) is an ancient Sanskrit text dedicated to the glory of Mother Divine.

Devi Mahatmya is  divided into 13 chapters consisting of 700 Shlokas (verses). (Therefore the title Saptashati).  Three aspects of the Divine Mother have been depicted in this great work. These are -

  1. Mahakali (The Tamasik form of Devi)
  2. Mahalakshmi (The Rajasik form of Devi) and
  3. Mahasarasvati (The Satvik form of Devi)

Devi Mahatmya has multiple dimensions, some comprehensible and some beyond comprehension. For a simpleton, the Devi Mahatmya is full of awe-inspiring descriptions of the glory of the Devi and fascinating stories of battles fought by the Devi with the Asuras (Demons). For a Bhakta (Devotee) the Devi Mahatmya is the main pillar of strength for his faith. For a seeker, these stories depict the inner battle going on in human psyche and how the Devi shows the ways to emerge victorious in these battles. For some the Devi Mahatmya is like beautiful Sanskrit poetry and for others it contains powerful sacred mantras (incantations). Some consider the entire Devi Mahatmya as one single Mantra. One thing is for sure, the chanting of Devi Mahatmya has a definite positive impact on all levels existence.

The sacred text of Devi Mahatmya begins with the story of powerful King Suratha who lost his kingdom first due to external enemies and then due to his own powerful, vicious and evil-disposed ministers. The King goes to the forest and stays in the hermitage of Sage Sumedha (proper intellect). Even there the King continuously thinks about his kingdom and becomes miserable. One day he meets a merchant near the hermitage, whose name was Samadhi. Samadhi tells the King that he is a wealthy merchant who has been deprived of all his wealth and cast out by his greedy and wicked wife and sons. Now he is very sad and miserable because he does not know the welfare of his family and sons, whether they are living a good life or evil life? His mind is still attached to his wife and sons.

To get rid of their mental agony both Suratha & Samadhi approach Sage Sumedha and ask the Sage, “Both of us are drawn by attachment towards objects whose defects we do know and are exceedingly unhappy. How this happens, then Sir, that though we are aware of it, this delusion comes?” Sage Sumedha tells them, “Men are hurled into the whirlpool of attachment, the pit of delusion, through the power of Mahamaya, who makes the existence of the world possible. Marvel not at this. This Mahamaya is the Yoganidra, of Vishnu, the Lord of the world. It is by her the world is deluded.”

The King asks the Sage, “’Venerable Sir, who is that Devi whom you call Mahamaya?” The sage then narrates to them the story of the Devi, her glory and her victories over the Asuras (demons). Hearing this story both Suratha and Samadhi pray to the Devi, undertake penances and with controlled minds propitiate the Devi for three years and she appears before them in visible form as Devi Chandika and asks them to choose their boons.

Both have heard the same story yet the King saw the Devi vanquishing the Asuras. He saw that the people who had usurped his kingdom had done an evil act. So he was inspired to pray to the Devi for justice. He asks to become ruler not only in this birth but also in the next. The Devi blesses him with the same.

Samadhi is a businessman. (Yet his name suggests otherwise) Being in the material, his sights are firmly on the spiritual. All it takes is a little push for Samadhi to come searching for truth. Realising that the negative forces are within, he seeks pure wisdom and devotion which is the highest wealth. The Devi is pleased and grants his wish too and Samadhi gets enlightenment.

The Devi is like a wish fulfilling tree. It is up to us what we seek.

Second Navadurga : Brahmacharini

On the second day of Navaratri, the second Navadurga Brahmacharini is worshipped and honoured. Brahmacharya is celibacy. Celibacy brings strength, lot of strength. Brahmacharya has higher meaning than just celibacy. Brahma means “infinity” charya means “moving” – Brahmacharya means “moving in infinity”. Knowing your vast nature, not thinking that you are just the body; you walk like you are a glow of light; you move in the world as though you are space. The more joyful you are, the less you feel the body. The more you are in the infinite consciousness the less you feel the tension or the physical weight of the person – that is “Brahmacharya”

This aspect of the Mother Divine is present in the Svadhisthana Chakra. Invoking the qualities of this Devi our consciousness is expanded to infinity; starts moving in infinity, in our true nature; in that space you become vast and powerful with a lot of vigour, valour and strength.

 

2nd day

 

दुर्गायै दुर्गपारायै सारायै सर्वकारिण्यै 
ख्यात्यै तथैव कृष्णायै धूम्रायै सततं नमः ॥४॥

Durgaayai Durga-Paaraayai Saaraayai Sarva-Kaarinnyai |
Khyaatyai Tathaiva Krssnnaayai Dhuumraayai Satatam Namah ||4||

4.1: (Salutations to) Durga, Who helps us in Crossing over the Difficulties and Dangers of Life and Who is the Essence of All Causes.
4.2: Salutations Always to Her, Who is Renowned and Widely Known Outside (in Creation) Just As She is Dark and Smoky and Difficult to Know Inside (in Meditation).

अतिसौम्यातिरौद्रायै नतास्तस्यै नमो नमः 
नमो जगत्प्रतिष्ठायै देव्यै कृत्यै नमो नमः ॥५॥

Ati-Saumya-Ati-Raudraayai Nataas-Tasyai Namo Namah |
Namo Jagat-Pratisstthaayai Devyai Krtyai Namo Namah ||5||

5.1: Salutations to Her Who is Extremely Gentle like the Moon and also Extremely Terrible like Rudra,
5.2: Salutations to the Devi Who is the Supporter of the Universe and Salutations to Her Who is the Creator of the Universe.

या देवी सर्वभुतेषु विष्णुमायेति शब्दिता 
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥६॥

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Vissnnumaayeti Shabditaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||6||

6.1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Called Vishnumaya,
6.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, I bow down to her again and again.

Also Read Significance of Navaratri – Day 1

Sanjay Sabnis

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Stories, Art of Living Wisdom.

Today is the first day of “Sharad Navartri” also called as “Maha Navaratri (the Great Navratri). Today is the beginning of the most auspicious nine days period.

Navaratri has two meanings – “New Night” and “Nine Nights”. ‘Nav” means either New or Nine and ‘Ratri’ means nights.

Now, why these nine days are called nights? ‘Ratri’ or night relieves you and puts you to sleep. No animal needs to worry at night. Whether happy or unhappy everybody goes to sleep. Night is when our body gets rested and the spirit gets rejuvenated. The word “Ratri” is made up of “ra” and “tri”. Here “ra” means giving solace and “tri” means three types. Solace from three types of problems in life – physical, ethereal and causal. Every night during very deep sleep, for a few moments when all mental activity has ceased, the spirit merges with its source and gets rejuvenated. So these auspicious nine days of Navratri are meant for renewal of the life force energy and removal of all obstacles from life.

It takes nine months for a child to be born. The child rests in the womb during this period. Similarly during the nine days of Navaratri you get back to the Self. Dip into yourself and then you come out with more creativity, more clarity, more energy and become victorious in life. You get relief from all the negative forces like craving and aversion, dullness and inertia, lust and obsession, ignorance  and doubts  – get relief from all these. Get renewed by connecting with the source within.

During Navratri the seeker gets back to the true Source through fasting, prayer, silence and meditation. While fasting detoxifies the body, silence purifies the speech and brings rest to the chattering mind, and meditation takes one deep into one’s own being.

Gurudev says, “Just as the nature celebrates when spring comes, the Spirit celebrates when Navaratri comes.”

There are two aspects of Divinity, ‘Shiva and ‘Shakti’. Shiva is the un-manifest and Shakti is the manifest form of the same consciousness. The whole creation is a primordial dance of Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is the very basis of creation and Shakti is the creation itself. All creative impulses originate from Shakti. During Navratri we honour and worship this ‘Shakti’, the power behind creation, maintenance and emancipation of the universe.

We all are floating in the effulgence of one scintillating, unseen, vibrant cosmic energy of the Divine Mother or the Devi. The Devi (Mother Divine) is called Shodashakala (The One with all 16 Divine qualities or attributes). It means that she possess all divine and noble qualities, and lacks nothing.  If you see the Devi, on one side she is so beautiful and full of love, compassion and grace, but on the other side she is also Maa Kali (one of Her more terrifying and violent manifestations). She is graceful and serene in one form, but at the same time in another form she is terrifying and fearsome.

Goddess Lakshmi is very calm and graceful while Goddess Durga is very terrifying and awe-inspiring. The all-bestowing Goddess Lakshmi rides the harmless owl (the mount) and in another form the vanquisher of evil and ignorance, Goddess Durga rides the fierce lion.

You can see all the opposite aspects of Divinity coming together in the Devi. The world created by the Devi is also made up of opposites and it is sustained by opposites.

In the Durga Saptashati it is said,

“Ya Devi Sarva-bhutesu Bhranti-rupena Samsthitha Namastasyei Namastasyei Namastasyei Namo Namaha.….”

Oh Mother Divine, you are present in all beings as peace and as disturbance; as knowledge and as delusion. I adore you, I bow down to you again and again!

During these nine days of Navratri we will be honouring different aspects of Mother Divine called as the Nava Durgas or Nava Shaktis. Nava Durga are the nine aspects of Durga Shakti which act like a shield to ward off all negativities.

The First Avatara of Goddess Durga is Shailputri 

Shailaputri : Among the Nine Durgas, Maa Shailputri is considered to be the first manifestation of Goddess Durga.  She carries the trishul and the lotus in her hands. Her vehicle is the Bull, Nandi. Her worship takes place on the first day of Navaratri. “Shaila” means stone, “putri” means daughter.

Praying to her brings strength like a stone. It brings commitment. When the mind is wavering, chanting the name of this Devi helps the mind to be centred and committed. It gives us strength, courage, and composure.

Shailaputri

नमो देव्यै महादेव्यै शिवायै सततं नमः 

नमः प्रकृत्यै भद्रायै नियताः प्रणताः स्म ताम् ॥१॥
Namo Devyai Mahaa-Devyai Shivaayai Satatam Namah |
Namah Prakrtyai Bhadraayai Niyataah Prannataah Sma Taam ||1||

1.1: Salutations to the Devi, to the Mahadevi; Salutations Always to Her Who is One with Shiva (the Auspicious One).
1.2: Salutations to Her Who is the Auspicious (being One with Shiva) Primordial Source of Creation and Controller of Everything; We Bow Always to Her.

रौद्रायै नमो नित्यायै गौर्यै धात्र्यै नमो नमः 
ज्योत्स्नायै चेन्दुरूपिण्यै सुखायै सततं नमः ॥२॥

Raudraayai Namo Nityaayai Gauryai Dhaatryai Namo Namah |
Jyotsnaayai Ce[a-I]ndu-Ruupinnyai Sukhaayai Satatam Namah ||2||

2.1: Salutations to the Terrible, Salutations to the Eternal, the Shining One and the Supporter of the Universe.
2.2: Salutations Always to Her, Who has a Cool Brightness like the Moonlit Night, And the Radiant Form of the Moon, and Who is Joy Herself.

कल्याण्यै प्रणता वृद्धयै सिद्धयै कुर्मो नमो नमः 
नैर्ऋत्यै भूभृतां लक्ष्म्यै शर्वाण्यै ते नमो नमः ॥३॥

Kalyaannyai Prannataa Vrddhayai Siddhayai Kurmo Namo Namah |
Nairrtyai Bhuubhrtaam Lakssmyai Sharvaannyai Te Namo Namah ||3||

3.1: We Bow to Her Who is the Source of Welfare, Who is Great, Fulfilled and Abides as the Universe,
3.2: Salutations to Her Who is the Destroyer as well as the Prosperity which Supports the Earth and Who is the Consort of Shiva (in the Divine Play of Creation, Sustenance and Destruction).

 

Keep watching this space …More to come

Sanjay Sabnis