For the uninitiated, it is a time to dance, party and socialize in a grand way! For the Master it is a time to set an example of honoring the practice of silence! For the seeker it is a time to go within and let go of identifications with the modulations of the mind! For the ashramites it is a time to brace themselves up to handle the chaos of the crowds with their wit and patience!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
That which brings rest at three levels is ratri. Someone caught up in blaming, regretting the past, hankering for pleasure or anxiety of their future well-being is unable to really rest despite having material comforts. For such people Navaratri could be translated as Nava( no)-ratri(rest)- that the lifestyle and attitudes they are pursuing is not bringing them any deep rest.
However, for a seeker who has tasted something deeper than the transient sensory charms of the world, it is a time to honor that which moves the senses. A scenery is charming because it captures the mind, stops it from running around. The same scenery which for the bhogi is a habitual channel to run away from oneself, for the seeker-the yogi is a channel to return within.
What is the energy, what is the power by which the eye is able to see? The power by which we are able to connect to the world outside? The ancient Rishis called this the Shakti-the divine energy which is a part of the Brahman, the absolute. Manifesting as the play of the three qualities- the satvic, rajasic and tamasic tendencies, this energy brings about the cognition, activity and ignorance or forgetfulness respectively.
Of course when we first hear about the tamasic energy manifesting as ignorance the reaction would be that of aversion–wanting to move away from that. However, Navaratri is the time to honor even that. Slumber, procrastination, delusion, inertia, ignorance — if one consciously decides to honor them it is not hard to see the value they bring to life! Honoring these aspects directs them toward what is life supporting. For example procrastination is a blessing when it comes to reacting to an insult! Not knowing all that is going on in people’s minds is a blessing, else imagine the amount of noise one would experience sensing the thoughts of everyone around!
Without this tamasic energy one would not be able to sleep-as anyone who has been excessively worried and anxious sometime has experienced. Without the rajasic energy, it would be impossible to be active at all, there would be no movement! Lord Buddha as he got enlightened, just stayed silent in ecstasy as the rajas, tamas had completely subsided. The angels had to request him, nudge him, cajole him into speaking, traveling and sharing the light for the benefit of the seekers.
All these three energies are divine – and yet if one does not honor the divinity of them, the truth, the infinity which moves them, it is impossible to fathom them. In other words, on a day one feels dull and lethargic, taking a few moments to acknowledge that this is not really something that is their own but just the tamasic energy manifesting can free one! Just taking a little time to honor it — which is not same as indulging or encouraging it — and knowing that this is just a play of the divinity, of the timeless, of something much much larger! The moment this shift happens one is able to be light and playful again and not caught up in identifying oneself with the effects of these qualities!
Navaratri is the time to consciously honor these three aspects of the Shakti, which sustain life, just remembering their divine origin, their true source which is the pure untainted consciousness brings deep rest. All the meditations, ceremonies, rituals are aimed at this. May this Navaratri move you from the limited to unlimited, from bondage to freedom!
Watch the live webcast of Navratri Celebrations 2012 in presence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar from Art of Living International Center, Bangalore: http://www.artofliving.org/navratri-webcast
Posted by Dr Birjoo Vaishnav