Navratri when literally translated means nine nights. Night is the time for relaxation and rejuvenation of the mind and the body. If we don’t rest at night, it becomes hard to carry on with our activities the next day, isn’t it? Similarly, Navratri is the resting time for the spirit in you. It is the time when you withdraw yourself from all sense activities (eating, talking, watching, touching, listening, smelling) and rest in yourself. This withdrawal from all sense activities takes you deeper within yourself which is the actual source of bliss, joy and enthusiasm in our lives. It is that time of the year to spend with yourself, nurturing and rejuvenating yourself through prayers, chants, meditation, fasting and other spiritual practices, and coming out feeling refreshed, renewed and creative.
Most of us don’t get to experience this because we are constantly engaged in some activity or another. We are constantly engaged with the mind. Navratri is the time to withdraw from the mind and rest in the spirit, or soul. It’s the time to feel your soul! Navratri is celebrated to glorify the spirit in us. The spirit in us alone can destroy all our negative qualities (inertia, pride, obsession, cravings, aversions, etc.). By turning inward during Navratri and getting in-touch with the spirit within, we can overcome these negative tendencies and invoke the positive qualities that are within us, thus feeling elevated and renewed.
So this Navratri, take the opportunity to transition from the gross material world to the subtle spiritual world. To put it simply, take some time off from your day-to-day activities and entanglements and focus on yourself. Think of your origin, of who you are and where you have come from. Go within and rest in the remembrance of the love of the Divine Mother.
Navratri is traditionally celebrated at the beginning of autumn every year, when everything in nature starts undergoing transformation. These nine nights are said to be precious as there are subtle energies in the creation which are enriched at this time of the year, which enhance and assist the experience of going inwards, making prayer, chanting and other spiritual practices more fruitful.
We are connected to this universe, to some power that makes this whole creation happen. This power is filled with love. The whole creation is filled with love. Navratri is the time for you to realize that you are loved and rest in this feeling of love. When you do this, you come out feeling stronger, wiser, rejuvenated, refreshed and harmonious.
There are 64 divine mother impulses which govern the subtle creation. These are responsible for restoring all earthly and spiritual benefits. They are simply part of one’s awakened consciousness. These nine nights are celebrated to rekindle those divine impulses and celebrate the innermost depth of our lives
The way to feel your soul
Now the way to transition to the spiritual world, or make the journey to the inner self is through silence, fasting, chanting and meditation.
What stops you from experiencing inner peace is your mind thinking about this or that. Keeping silence for some time can help bring rest to the chattering mind. When the mind is quiet, you experience such deep rest, peace and clarity. This in turn enhances your ability to express yourself much better. So take out some time to observe silence as it is one of the ways to clean the mind.
With silence, the mind becomes sharper, you become more aware of what you are speaking and your intuition also becomes stronger.
Fasting is done to detoxify the body. Specific food has a specific effect on the body and also the quantity of food consumed affects the body. Fasting is done to cleanse the body by eating the right kind of food in the right quantity.
The body and the mind are very intimately connected. So when the body is purified through fasting, the mind is also purified. And a pure mind is calm and peaceful. So this Navratri, fast with a little bit of fruit and water, or small quantities of easily digestible food to keep the body light and you will see the difference it makes to your mind.
You can read more about benefits of fasting here & get tips on fasting here
Meditation takes you deep into your own being. It helps you transcend the mind and go beyond it. It is the pathway to feel your soul. So this Navratri, make it a point to meditate every day.
Meditation also makes your body strong, health better, mind clear and your emotions become softer and positive. It also improves your intuitive ability, improves your vibrations and brings positive energy around you. And if you do meditation in a group it becomes a Yagna. When done in a group, the benefits are multiplied as the group consciousness has the power to elevate you faster.
Mantras are sounds that are charged with energy. Most words have energy associated with it. If someone insults you with a word that is not very pleasant, it has an effect on your mind. And when someone praises you and calls you beautiful, or kind, that uplifts something in you.
Mantras are very ancient sounds that carry a very deep and transformational energy with it. And since the same mantras have been used for thousands of years, these sounds have gained much power.
Listening or chanting to mantras reduce agitation, enhances positive communication, bring clarity in the mind and enhances positive emotions. There are many more benefits to mantras and one of the most important benefits is that it brings refinement to our consciousness.
You can listen to Lalita Sahasranama here
Nine forms of Devi and her gifts
The Mother Divine manifests herself in nine different forms with each form signifying something subtle and deep. Discover the hidden meanings of the nine goddesses or Nav Durga. Courtesy: The Art of Living website
Day 1: Shailaputri
The first among the Navdurga is Shailaputri. Shaila means stone and putri means daughter. Praying to this aspect of Mother Divine brings strength (like a stone). It brings commitment. When the mind is wavering, chanting the name of this Devi Shailaputri helps the mind to be centered and committed. It gives us strength, courage and composure.
Day 2: Brahmacharini
Brahmacharya means celibacy. Celibacy brings a lot of strength.
Brahmacharya also has a higher meaning than just celibacy. Brahma means infinity and charya means moving. Put together Brahmacharya means moving in infinity. Which signifies knowing your vast nature. You are not just the body, you are like a glow of light. When this truth comes to your awareness, then you are in Brahmacharya.
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 body – that is Brahmacharya.
When we pray to this form of Mother Divine, we invoke the quality Brahmacharya. And our consciousness starts moving in the infinity, in our true nature. When we recognize our true nature, we become vast and powerful with a lot of vigor, valor and strength.
Day 3: Chandraghanta
On the third day of Navratri, the Divine Mother is worshipped in the form of Chandraghanta. This form of Devi is depicted as wearing a bell-like ornament in the shape of the moon.
The moon is connected with 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. Chanting the name of this Devi brings the mind in our control with increased alertness.
When the quality of alertness and steadfastness arises, then the mind is like an adornment. Such a mind adds beauty to one’s nature. Chandraghanta represents this aspect of beauty in the mind. A beautiful mind is an adornment.
Day 4: Kushmanda
Kushmanda means pumpkin. A pumpkin has many seeds and each seed contains the potential for many more pumpkins. This is representative of the creative power and its eternal nature. The whole creation is like a pumpkin. As Kushmanda, the devi contains the entire creation within her. She is the Devi who can give you the highest prana (creative energy).
Day 5: Skandamata
Skandamata is the mother of Skanda or Subramanya (Lord Karthikeya). She is depicted as riding a lion with the baby Skanda on her lap. This signifies courage and compassion. The lion signifies courage, while Mother Divine is the embodiment of compassion.
Skanda is the skillful one. Often when one is very skillful, they tend to be arrogant. Most of very talented people have arrogance. But here the skill is combined with a humility that nurtures innocence.
When we pray to this form of Mother Divine, we are bestowed with the qualities of skill along with innocence and courage along with compassion.
Day 6: Kathyayini
Kathyayini represents the nurturing aspect of the Divine Mother. She embodies the values of sharing and caring. Young girls pray to Devi Kathyayini for a good husband. Marriage comes with a sense of security, commitment, togetherness, team spirit and belongingness. She signifies the finer qualities of being in a relationship.
The ultimate relationship is the union with oneself (soul).
Day 7: Kaalaratri
Kala is time. Time consumes everything in creation and time is a witness to everything as well. Ratri means deep rest, absolute rest at the level of the body, mind and soul. Without rest, how can you be bright? Kaalaratri represents the deepest rest so that you can attain dynamism.
Day 8: Maha Gauri
Gaura varna means white color. White represents purity. Purity comes out of innocence. Maha Gauri is the combination of brilliance and innocence. Gau also means knowledge. When we pray to Maha Gauri, she gives you the wisdom that is the elixir of life.
Day 9: Siddhidhatri
Siddhidhatri is the one who gives all the siddhis. Siddhi means perfection. When we want something and before the want arises if it is available to you, that is called Siddhi (when you receive before you even feel the need and when you receive more than what you need). A sadhak or seeker will get many siddhis on the path. However if you misuse or run behind them, they will be lost.
Only when you are centered you receive the true knowledge; one who knows never loses equanimity. The tradition of the Master is very important here. The sadhak should follow the footsteps of the parampara and move in the prescribed path of knowledge. Siddhidhatri fulfills all desires and bestows powers naturally. Perfection and enlightenment are the gifts of Siddhidhatri which are attained in the presence of the Master.
WISHING EVERYONE A HAPPY BLISSFUL AND RELAXING NAVARATRI. MAY DEVI’S BLESSINGS BE SHOWERED ON ALL YOU AND YOUR DEAR ONES IN ABUNDANCE.
Content Courtesy: The Art of Living website (A Compilation from various articles)