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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

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