of The Divine as Mother is a special characteristic of the Indian Culture. God is mostly referred as the Father of all creation or the Omnipotent ruler of Nature in other religions. Navaratri
or Navadurga Parva happens to be the most auspicious and unique period of devotional sadhanas and worship
(the sublime, ultimate, absolute creative energy of the Divine conceptualized as the Mother Goddess–Durga, whose worship
dates back to prehistoric times before the dawn of Vedic age.
A whole chapter in the tenth mandal of the holy Rigveda deals with the devotional sadhanas of Shakti. A hymn here describes – "I (Shakti) am the Omnipresent Power. I am the ultimate savior, who stretches and empowers the arc of Rudra to ruin the demonic evils. I alone generate the valor and move the forces in the battlefronts. I am the Mother (Genesis) and the sole Protector of the whole creation. I am in every living being (as the source of life-force). I am the paramount divine power, which knows its unity with the Para Brahm; I am the absolute reality". The "Devi Sukta" and "Usha Sukta" of the Rigveda and "Ratri Sukta" of the Samveda similarly sing paeans of praise of sadhanas of Shakti.
Before the beginning of the Mahabharat war, Lord Krishna had worshipped Durga – the Goddess of Shakti– for the victory of the Pandvas, on whose side laid justice, morality and wisdom. The epic Ramayana also describes Rama’s worship
of Goddess Durga. Worship
in different forms has been popular in Buddhism as well. The upasana
is the basis of all tantrika practices.
also describe in parables, stories and anecdotes the pre-eminence of Shakti. In fact, one of the Puranas- "Devi Bhagavat"- is exclusively devoted to the Divine exploits of Durga. The "Markandey Purana" describes the manifestations of the Supreme Shakti
as Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati. Mahakali destroys the forces of the evil, crushes ego and eliminates ignorance. Mahasaraswati is the deity of discerning intellect, pure knowledge and creative talents. Mahalakshmi is the Goddess of beauty, harmony, prosperity and progress. The hymns describing the magnificence of the great manifestations of Shakti
and the 700 mantras of its sadhanas are compiled as "Durga Saptashati" in this Purana. The Skanda Purana describes the epic incarnation of Goddess Durga. The Brahm
Purana and Brahmvaivarta Purana also narrate the divine descent of the powers of the supreme Shakti. Lord Brahma is cited in the Markandey Purana as mentioning to Rishi
Markandey that the first incarnation of Shakti
was as Shailputri. Other incarnations of the Divine Mother are: Brahmcharñi, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri in that order. These nine manifestations of Shakti, are worshipped as "Nava-Durga". The fifth chapter of the Rudra Sanhita of Shiva Purana also vividly describes the various Divine Emanations of Durga.
Shakti is the original power at the root of creation, limitless expansion and expressions of Nature. It is also referred to as the Âdi Shakti
Shakti. All the visible and invisible plays of Nature are reflections of this eternal Shakti. All powers originate from it; all existence emerges from it. She is who enables the creation, growth and protection of the universe. She is the Mother of Trinity- Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. The Skanda Purana describes this fact in a telling manner– Lord Shiva without Shakti
is like a shava (a corpse); Lord Shiva is "Shiva" because of the presence of Shakti
The Cosmic Consciousness
Force and its endless expressions also emanate from Shakti. This alone is expressed in the beings as life-energy, consciousness, vigour, courage, intelligence, radiance, thought-power, memory, steadiness, contentment, compassion, generosity, intrinsic light, faith, emotions, etc. The Primordial Shakti
generates the potential and tendency of motherhood in the living world. Its different manifestations in the cosmic creation are indeed countless. Shakti
is Mahasaraswati, Mahalakshmi, Mahakali as manifested respectively through its sublime, eternal attributes (guñas) of sat, raj and tam.
In fact, all the manifestations of divine powers emanate from and merge into the single Brahm
Shakti, which is known in the spiritual literature as Gayatri. Since the Vedic Age of the Rishis, the devotional practices recommended during Navratri are primarily those of Gayatri
Anushthana. The varied customs of arbitrarily worshiping of this Omniscient Shakti
are offshoots of the medieval era of religious anarchy and cultural pollution. In spite of the ignorance and superstitions introduced in this period, the sadhana
has maintained its pre-eminence. The light of truth
of the Vedic Culture
could not be extinguished even in the dark phases of our history.
In the Vedic Age of the Indian Culture, the religious philosophy and devotional practices were focused towards true knowledge and ultimate realization of the supreme power of Gayatri
(Bram Shakti). The Vedas were the basis of all streams of spirituality
and science those days. Gayatri
has been the source of the divine powers of the gods in the heavens and their angelic manifestations and incarnations. Gayatri sadhana
was also paramount in the higher level spiritual endeavors of the yogis and tapaswis. Gayatri Mantra
was the core-focus of daily practice of sandhya-vandan (meditation and devotional worship) for everyone. As guided by the rishis, specific sadhanas and upasanas of the Gayatri Mantra
were sincerely practiced during the festival period of Navaratri
by every aspirant of spiritual enlightenment.
The nine-day period of Navaratri
is of supreme importance for physical, mental and spiritual health as it lies at the juncture of two seasons. The nourishing energy currents in Nature are at their peak during this transitive phase to eliminate the harmful, negative elements and impressions from our gross and subtle bodies. The sublime domains of consciousness
force as stabilized in earth consciousness
by the rishis and yogis are most active during this special period. It thus offers us a rare opportunity of expeditiously accomplishing the sadhanas of spiritual elevation. It assumes greater significance in the first decade of the 21st Century, which is prophesied to be the heralder of a new era of Divine Manifestation of life, love and light on earth – through humanity.
Laghu Anushthana sadhana
is recommended as most suitable for the Navaratri
period. It consists of twenty-four thousand japa
(repeated rhythmic chanting) of the Gayatri Mantra
with meditation on the rising sun and adoption of certain self-control disciplines. Mental or upanshu japa
of twenty-seven rosaries (malas) needs to be completed every day for this purpose. This can be done in about three hours' duration by the people who are used to daily practice of the japa
of this mantra. Completion in one sitting in the early morning (by commencing the japa
two hours before dawn) is the best. However, depending upon one's constraints, it could be completed in two to three sittings at convenient times. But the regularity of timings and place where the japa
is carried out should be maintained. Ideal sitting posture is sukhasana
with erect spinal column. One should not sit directly on the earth. Sitting on kusha mat or cotton cloth is most suitable.
Essential disciplines include strict chastity of body and mind and prohibition of using anything made of leather. The subtle properties of what we eat have great impact on our mind. Fasting is therefore prescribed during this sadhana. Depending upon one's health and level of self-control, the fasting could be observed by consuming only milk or fruits once or twice a day; taking tasteless (without salt and sugar) food; or taking simple and light vegetarian food only once a day, etc. The other common disciplines include – austere life-style; sleeping on a mat on the floor or on plain wooden cot; attending to one's personal tasks by oneself; observing honesty and humility in conduct. The advanced devotees may also adopt some higher level disciplines that serve the dual purpose of cleansing and purification of the body and the mind and thorough practice of self-restraint.
A havan (yagya) should be performed on the last day of the anushthana to mark its completion. The number of herbal oblations (along with loud chanting of the Gayatri
Mantra) made in the sacred fire of this yagya should be at least one hundredth of the total number of japas completed. Those who cannot do twenty-four thousand japas, may do the sadhana
of chanting the Gayatri
Chalisa two hundred forty times or that of writing two thousand four hundred Gayatri
Mantras in the nine days, along with adoption of as many of the above mentioned disciplines as possible.
The sadhana-anushthans of Gayatri
accomplished during the Shakti
Parva (Navaratri) will prove to be milestones along the path of spiritual elevation. The grace of Divine Mother bestowed upon the sadhaka
would orient his otherwise dry knowledge and ego-centric scholarly attainments towards sagacious activities and altruistic purposes. This would transmute his religious faith and devotion into inner enlightenment without which these are nothing better than emotional excitements and superficial rituals of worship. The hidden force of Shakti
awakened within the sadhaka
transforms his shraddha
(deep intrinsic faith) into nishtha (firm motivation and enlightened faith) towards divine values and noble deeds. The same shraddha, which was evaporating in the void without Shakti, could now be the source of supramental attainments and spiritual awakening.
Let us all resolve to be the true devotees of Shakti
by completing the anushthana-sadhana of Gayatri
on the forthcoming auspicious occasion of Navaratri
or Navdurga Parva falls during the first nine days of lunar month of Ashwin according the Hindu Calendar. (From 26th September to 4th October this year). Another Navaratri
period spans the first nine days of lunar month of Chaitra (the first month of the Hindu Calendar).
Japa: Rhythmic chanting in which the lips and tongues would move but the voice would be so slow that it can't be heard (not even as murmuring) even by the sadhaka