In the grand tapestry of Indian culture, there are few celebrations as vibrant and captivating as Navratri. With its rhythmic beats, colorful attire, and exuberant dancing, Navratri has become synonymous with lively festivities and joyous revelry. But amidst the whirlwind of dance and merriment, lies a profound truth – Navratri is not just a time for celebration, but a golden opportunity for personal growth and self-improvement.
Traditionally, Navratri is a nine-night festival dedicated to the worship of the Divine Mother, manifested in the form of Goddess Durga and her various avatars. Each night of Navratri is dedicated to a different form of the Goddess, representing a unique aspect of her divine energy. It is during these nights that devotees immerse themselves in prayer, meditation, and introspection, aiming to connect with these divine energies and harness their transformative power.
Navratri serves as a spiritual journey, an inner pilgrimage where devotees seek to upgrade themselves, both on a mental and emotional level. Through the act of fasting, devotees discipline their physical bodies, purifying their senses, and practicing restraint. This act of self-control helps in refocusing the mind and cultivating a state of mindfulness, allowing individuals to connect with their innermost selves. To understand this we need to understand the principle of Polarity.
The principle of Polarity posits that the entirety of the Universe comprises various forms of dual-energy, such as Masculine-Feminine, Day-Night, and Positive-Negative energies. An analogous concept in China is the well-known Yin-Yang philosophy. In our revered Indian Vedic Culture, this principle is recognized as the ‘Dhvait Law’ or ‘Sankhya Darshan.’ According to ‘Sankhya Darshan,’ it is proclaimed that the entire world is brought into existence through the union of two energies, namely Masculine and Nature, or Shiva and Shakti. Through extensive research, the Rishi Munis and ancient scholars have asserted that Shiva cannot attain the power of creation without uniting with Shakti. Creation is only possible when Shakti is united with Shiva. Even Adi Shankaracharya Ji has affirmed this in his written work, ‘Saundarya Lehri.’ The opening verse of this text reads:
शिव: शक्त्या युक्तो यदि भवति शक्त: प्रभवितुं,
न चेदेवं देवो खलु कुशल: स्पन्दितुमपि।
– आदि शङ्कराचार्य, सौन्दर्य लहरि
“Shiva, when united with Shakti, gains the capability to manifest power,
Without this union, O Devotee, even the divine is incapable of stirring.”
– Adi Shankaracharya, Saundarya Lehri.
Within our Indian Scriptures, the Shakti is described in three distinct forms:
The Power of Will (इच्छाशक्ति)
The Power of Knowledge (ज्ञानशक्ति)
The Power of Action (क्रियाशक्ति)
These powers are commonly known as Mahakali, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Saraswati. It is widely understood that creation is composed of three fundamental qualities: ‘Satva,’ ‘Rajas,’ and ‘Tamas.’ By multiplying these three qualities with the Satva quality of Mahakali, the Rajas quality of Mahalakshmi, and the Tamas quality of Mahasaraswati, we arrive at a result of 3 multiplied by 3, which equals 9. As the esteemed Rishi-Munis have proclaimed, the feminine power gains supreme potency during the night. This is why we celebrate the nine nights as ‘Navratri.’ It is indeed the hidden significance behind the festivities of Navratri.
An intriguing fact lies within the realm of our Vedic traditions – the first nine nights following Amavasya in each Vedic month are known as Navratri. However, further exploration has revealed that among these Navratris, there are four particularly potent ones. Two Navratris are known as ‘Gupt Navratri,’ meaning hidden or secret Navratri and two Navratris are referred to as ‘Pragat Navratri,’ meaning manifest or visible Navratri. Among these four significant Navratris, the first is Posh or Maha Gupt Navratri, followed by Chaitra Navratri or Vasant Navratri, then Aashadh Gupt Navratri, and finally, Sharda Navratri or Maha Navratri.
It is said that Gupta Navratri bestows greater benefits upon hermits (Sanyasis) and tantriks. Furthermore, through deeper research, it has been discovered that the four virtues of Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha are associated with these four powerful Navratris. Amongst them, Sharda Navratri, occurring in the month of Ashwin, is hailed as Maha Navratri. Its grandeur stems from the fact that on the tenth day, after the culmination of the nine nights, lies Vijaya Dashmi – a day symbolizing triumph over all adversities.
Within our scriptures, numerous religious tales are recounted, such as the stories of Rama and Ravana or the demise of Mahishasur. However, if these were the sole reasons behind the significance of Vijaya Dashmi, the day could have been named Ravana Dahan Day or Mahishasur Mardan Dashmi. Instead, we christened it ‘Vijaya Dashami,’ signifying that this Maha Navratri serves as a preparation to awaken our latent qualities and ready ourselves to emerge victorious after the culmination of these nine nights. This auspicious period grants the potential for the fulfillment of our desires – be they material wealth, harmonious relationships, success, or good health.
Now let’s go through the name and quality of each of the nine goddesses.
- The goddess of the first night is ‘Shaila Putri.’ This goddess represents trust, commitment, and faith.
- The goddess of the second night is ‘Brahmacharini.’ This goddess represents discipline, practice, and good conduct.
- The goddess of the third is ‘Chandra Ghanta.’ This goddess represents alertness and readiness.
- The goddess of the fourth night is ‘Kushmanda.’ This goddess represents a growth attitude, positive attitude, and openness to possibilities.
- The goddess of the fifth night is ‘Skandmata.’ This goddess represents courage, compassion, and self-love.
- The goddess of the sixth night is ‘Katyayani. This goddess represents sharing, nourishment, and relationship.
- The goddess of the seventh night is ‘Kalratri.’ This goddess represents time, rest, calmness, reflection, and introspection.
- The goddess of the eighth night is ‘Mahagauri.’ This goddess represents purity and knowledge.
- The goddess of the ninth night is ‘Siddhidatri.’ This goddess represents perfection, accomplishment, success, and continuous improvement.
These are the nine qualities that one can achieve or cultivate within their conscious self by awakening the latent potential residing deep within their subconscious mind. May this year’s Navratri festival have granted you gradual progress and bestowed upon you an abundance of joy and prosperity in your life.