What a wonderful Navaratri it has been so far. We have the tradition of having the Devi puja at home, involves some elaborate rituals, but for the last two years have been so very fortunate to be doing this Puja at home. The early morning kriya, meditation along with the Rudra Puja chants followed by Devi chantings and the culmination in the Devi Arati gives a completely different dimension to the start of the day. Also been reading a shloka a day from Soundarya Lahiri and remembering the meaning and essence of the Shloka all through the day- the awareness is at a completely different level.
Guruji was in silence for the last 5 days at Ashram and though didn’t get an opportunity to go to the ashram everyday, I am looking forward to the Yagya and Homa’s that start from tomorrow. While Guruji is in silence, Swami Pragyanandji(?) gives a small talk from Bhagvatam. For the last couple of days his talk has been on the generosity of Devi. He said and I quote from Bawa’s facebook posts:
These are the days of the Mother Divine and She is most generous with whatever you ask for with a clean heart full of faith… The impossible will become possible with Her Grace!
Learn how to ask.
This Creation moves on your intentions. What you are today is what you have wanted to be. What you are going to be tomorrow is what you are wishing today… So be careful what you wish for…
The Veils of Maya are drawn over the Ultimate Bliss… If you ask for stuff of the Veil, you will get that. If you ask for the Veils to vanish and the Bliss be revealed to you, you will get that… Ask for the Big stuff, ask for Love, Joy, Peace, a wonderful fulfilling Life and that will be granted through the Benevolence of the Divine Mother to you…Ask for the Ultimate and see what happens! Learn how to ask, Learn to make good Sankalpas (intentions) … Ask for big things
Do Seva for a Satguru, be in His company and then make your good intentions … I want the Ultimate, the Highest, I want Guruji’s love … and it will be granted
He added, especially in the night before sleeping, you have great power so make your Sankalpas at that time and then again first thing in the morning when you wake up … and Life will be great!
Narayana, Narayana, Narayana, Narayana … Jai Gurudeva!
There is just one consciousness, the seer and the scene are one … Just as the reflection that you see in a mirror doesn’t really exist, it is there because you are there, similarly this entire creation is just a reflection of the One
Realizing this One is possible. The price is simply your asking for it! This time is a Divine time, ask for the amrit (the divine nectar) … This is the time for asking for this beautiful Prasad which can come your way, simply by asking for it!
Recognize that the Divine that we think is outside, somewhere out there, is in Reality, right here, within us… The Grace of an Enlightened Master and the time is right… Ask! Swamiji reminds us again, that we can ask for an Ocean and get it, don’t sit there and ask for a few drops of water. Narayana Narayana Narayana Narayana!
So, where to begin and how much to write? I am not sure, just back from the 7th day of the Navaratri – the day of Rudra and Sudarshana Homa at the ashram and here is what Guruji spoke today. Standard disclaimers apply, this is not a verbatim translation and all errors are mine!
“The Yagnas are very significant for they create unseen forces. What is unseen in the universe is much larger than the seen. For example, when you talk in a cell phone, the voice gets transmitted in an unseen way through the electromagnetic waves till it gets manifested in the receivers cell phone. Similarly the effect of Yagyas are unseen…a force is generated which elevates the consciousness. The Yagyas and Homas are conducted using an ancient technique of chanting seed mantras (“beej mantras”), 108 types of herbs from all over the place are offered in the ceremony..this creates that energy that purifies heart of people.
…..Uniting with Being is to let go of all bickerings…of what is not right. When you start looking at what is not right, the only thing that is not right, is your own self. You start perceiving things as not right and you become like a hard rock.. and you become part of that which is not right. We are not born to be like rocks, we are meant to be like flowers, so celebration means to let go. There is no end to correcting and making things perfect…how much can you do? You end up losing your soul! Yagya is total acceptance and immersing in the YES mind, uplifting people. All of us here are from so many different age groups and continents. Keeping aside the differences, rejoicing and celebrating, this is Yagya and that is how prayer happens. Prayer is not about asking for things. All your desires will be fulfilled. This is Devi Chaitana! This is the time to realize it, celebrating our wishes getting fulfilled.
Get the strength to take action and you can do that only when you have reformed yourself. Life is for celebration, bring this celebration in the world. Become the agent of change in this world. Doctors cannot treat when they are sick, similarly we cannot reform others unless we have reformed ourselves.
The effect of the Yagyas is not limited to this place or a person, it is for the whole world. We are part of the Universal Mind. Navaratri is realizing that you are not the individual but the cosmos itself.
Navaratri is about spending time your own self, looking deep within.
Guruji spoke in Kannada, Hindi and English. While speaking in Hindi, he said, this knowledge will make you an emperor and not a pauper (yeh gyaan tumhe badshah baneyga, bhikari nahin) and I loved it. Hasn’t this knowledge made a difference in our own lives?
Guruji then talked about the significance of the Sudarshan Homa and then led us all into a short Kriya. This was followed by offerings in the various forms of Chanting of Vedas, Playing of various Musical instruments and various dance forms. The highlight obviously was Guruji playing the song “Narayana Hari OM” on the Veena. There is a very interesting story as to how this melodious bhajan has come about… Rashmin blogs about it here.
(You can find the recording of the first few minutes here at Youtube, it is a short 2 minute recording and obviously the clarity isn’t so good, since it was recorded on a handset off the screen, My apologies to the ashram…for breaking the rule and recording it!)
Tomorrow is Chandi Homa and I need to be at the Ashram by 7AM, so time to catch up on some sleep!
PS: Updated and made a few changes to the font
Today marked the begining of the Yagnas/Homas and the first Homa is the Ganapathi Homa to propitiate Lord Ganesha – the destroyer of all obstacles on the path. The Homas begin with Guruji taking a sankalpa (an intention) for health, happiness and prosperity of the mankind.
A sankalpa is an intention, which is recited before performing a Pooja in order to obtain the divine blessings for the fulfillment of that desire.
It is very interesting to know and understand how an intention or sankalpa is taken. We start by remembering the time when the Universe was created and coming all the way down to the present time and location in relation to the Universe. All the way from the macrocosm to the microcosmic level and then one says “Let Good things happen to everybody”. Let everybody be prosperous….and for this purpose I am going to perform this worship – and the sankalpa is completed.
If you would like to read more about how to take a Sankalpa, do read “The Space Within….Talks on Meditation by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar”.
During the Homas, one can take individual sankalpas and we took the opportunity to do so and I sat there, figuring out what to desire…and as the thoughts started coming up, I kept on rejecting them, looking at the pettiness of the desires….and when the time came to wish….all I could muster was “Let thy will be done”!
Bawa writes about the first three days of Navaratri at the Ashram
Guruji maintains a very strict silence during the first 4-5 days. He even does an almost total fast on these days. If you have never seen Guruji in His Silence, then you have missed something ethereal. The Silence around Him is so thick it could be cut with a knife. You know that just His body is here. That He is in some other dimension. His eyes are always almost closed and a beatific smile adorns His face.
He doesn’t really even recognize anyone of us. No one is allowed near Him… He is Silence and Bliss personified.. And you can see the lightness in His steps as He almost floats into Satsang and back when its over.
It indeed is a blessing to be in the physical presence of Guruji during Navaratri. One look at Him in the Yagyashala and one could instantly feel His silence and the deep peace rubbing onto you. Suddenly you feel the deep urge to be in that same space of silence. The mind stops its chattering and the one feels drawn into the same meditative space. It is an utterly indescribable feeling that brings several thousands from all over the world to be in the same space.
The meditations, as Bawa writes, both at home and at Yagyashala, are so much more deeper and so much more fulfilling. I do not even make an effort to meditate when in Yagyashala…I just sit there and the meditation happens spontaneously…so effortlessly and so deeply refreshing. It is almost like waking up after the first Kriya experience.
Bawa refers to Tamas as the dominating Guna in the creation during the first three days of Navaratri. Tamas, as I recall reading somewhere, could be looked as frozen power that has been put in a deep freezer for ages and has turned into a solid block of ice. Meditation helps to melt this ice block, releasing all the latent energy that helps us overcome the deeply rooted habits of lethargy and apathy. More about the Guna’s later, for now it is time to enjoy and celebrate the remaining 6 days of Navaratri in HIS presence!
Today’s edition of The Times of India carries an article on Navaratri by Guruji.
This period is a time for self-referral and getting back to the source. During this time of transformation, Nature sheds the old and gets rejuvenated.
Vedanta says, matter reverts to its original form to recreate itself again and again. The creation is cyclical, not linear; everything is recycled by nature in a continuous process of rejuvenation. The human mind, however, lags behind in this routine cycle of creation. Navaratri is a festival to enable us to take the mind back to its source.
The seeker finds the true source through fasting, prayer, silence and meditation. Night is called ratri because it brings rejuvenation.
It gives relief at the three levels of our existence physical, subtle and causal. While fasting detoxifies the body, silence purifies speech and brings rest to the chattering mind, and meditation takes you deep into your own being.
The inward journey nullifies our negative karmas. Navaratri is a celebration of the spirit or prana which alone can destroy Mahishasura, inertia; Shumbha-Nishumbha, pride and shame and Madhu-Kaitabh, extreme forms of craving and aversion.
They are opposites, yet complementary. Inertia, deeply ingrained negativities and obsessions, Raktabeejasura ; unreasonable logic, Chanda-Munda and blurred vision, Dhoomralochan can be overcome only by raising the level of prana and shakti , the life-force energy.
The nine days of Navaratri are also an opportunity to rejoice in the three primordial qualities that make up the universe. Though our life is governed by the three gunas , we seldom recognise and reflect on them. The first three days of Navaratri are tamo guna , the second three of rajo guna and the last three of sattva guna.
Our consciousness sails through the tamo and rajo gunas and blossoms in the sattva guna in the last three days. Whenever sattva dominates life, victory follows. The essence of this knowledge is honoured by celebrating the tenth day as Vijaya Dashami.
The three primordial gunas are considered as the feminine force of the universe. By worshipping the Mother Divine during Navaratri, we harmonise the three gunas and elevate sattva in the atmosphere.
Navaratri is celebrated as the victory of good over evil. From the Vedantic point of view, the victory is of absolute reality over apparent duality. In the words of Ashtavakra, it is the poor wave which tries to keep its identity separate from the ocean, but to no avail.
Though the microcosm is well within the macrocosm, its perceived separateness is the cause of conflict. For a gyani or a wise person, entire creation comes alive and he recognises life in everything in the same way children see life in everything.
The Mother Divine or pure consciousness pervades all forms and has all names. Recognising the one divinity in every form and every name is the celebration of Navaratri . Hence, special pujas honouring all aspects of life and nature are performed during the last three days.
Kali is the most horrific manifestation of Nature. Nature symbolises beauty, yet it has a horrific form too. Acknowledging the duality brings a total acceptance in the mind and puts the mind at ease.
The Mother Divine is recognised not just as the brilliance of intellect buddhi, but also the confusion, bhranti; she is not just abundance, Lakshmi, she is also hunger, shudha and thirst, trishna . Realising this aspect of the Mother Divine in entire Creation leads one to a deep state of samadhi .
This gives an answer to the age-old theological struggle of the Occident. Through wisdom, devotion and nishkama karma , one can attain advaita siddhi or perfection in the non-dual consciousness.
The attributes of Devi that Guruji refers to in the article above is beautifully captured in the DeviSthuthi “Ya devi Sarva Bhuteshu…”. A beautiful rendering of the same on YouTube is here and the text can be found here