Navratri: Shakti’s Triumph
In India, the nine lunar days of Navratri are spent in festivities that celebrate the victory of Shakti over negative influences.
On the spiritual level the goal is for the individual soul to reach the state of Shiva gradually through sadhana, or spiritual practice. The nine days are divided into three parts of three days each devoted to worship of Shakti, the Divine Mother, in the forms of Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati.
For the first three days we invoke Maha Kali to destroy our negative tendencies so that our hearts are purified.
Meditation on Maha Kali
I resort to Maha Kali, who has ten faces, ten legs, and holds in Her hands the sword, disk, mace, arrows, bow, club, spear, missile, human head, and conch, who is three-eyed, adorned with ornaments on all Her limbs, and luminous like a blue jewel, and whom Brahma extolled in order to destroy Madhu and Kaitabha, when Vishnu was in mystic sleep.
On the following three days Mother Lakshmi is worshipped to acquire positive qualities and noble emotions. She grants both material and spiritual wealth and helps prevent negative qualities from repossessing our minds. We pray to Her with love and devotion to enhance our divine qualities.
Meditation on Maha Lakshmi
I resort to Maha Lakshmi, the destroyer of Mahashasura, who is seated on the lotus and is of the complexion of coral and holds in Her eighteen hands the rosary, axe, mace, arrow, thunderbolt, lotus, bow, pitcher, rod, Shakti, sword, shield, conch, bell, wine cup, trident, noose, and the discus Sudrashana.
It is only after this that we become fit for knowledge through the grace of Maha Saraswati, the Mother of wisdom. We pray to Her for spiritual enlightenment.
Meditation on Maha Saraswati
I meditate on the incomparable Maha Saraswati, who holds in Her eight lotus-like hands bell, trident, plow, conch, mace, discus, bow, and arrow; who is effulgent like the moon shining at the fringe of a cloud; who is the destroyer of Shumbha and other Asuras; who issued forth from Parvati’s body and is the substratum of the three worlds.
The goal of human life is to move away from identification with the body and to attain the state of Shiva. The first step toward this goal is for the disciple to sincerely and from the depths of the heart remove all negative qualities and tendencies and replace them with positive, or sattvic, attitudes. With the destruction of tamasic,, or negative qualities and dominance of sattvic, the heart is purified and becomes ready to receive divine knowledge. To attain this, tremendous will and ceaseless efforts are required. Each and every atom and molecule has Shakti; without it no success can be attained in any field. Since all Shakti is focused in the soul, realization of the soul is essential.
These nine days of Navratri are followed by the “tenth day of victory” known as Dashera. This “victory” is referenced in the Ramayana when Lord Ram was victorious over the ten–faced demon, Ravana.
As Ma said in a talk given on Dashera in 2009:
During these ten days, the concept and understanding is that the individual should do something to control and transcend the five senses each of action and knowledge. Navratri is all about the victory over these ten senses. The very name of Lord Rama’s father, Dasharath, the one who had absolute control over these ten senses, symbolizes the tenth day of Navratri.
The ultimate goal is to control the mind. With that control, we need to close the nine doors of the senses and open the tenth door, the Sahasrar, to unite the soul with the universal and achieve our very worth. The tenth day of victory that we celebrate as Dashera is the victory of Lord Ram over the various negative forces and tendencies. These negative forces, demons, whatever they may be called, are a part of daily life, both internally and externally. The whole battle of life is to overcome those forces, within and without, and to be in absolute control of the mind. All the external running around needs to be stopped, checked, and made internal; that is what the victory of life is all about. (click here to read Ma’s complete Dashera talk)
May Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati help you remove negativity, gain all positive qualities and, ultimately, through the divine sound from the vina (an instrument played by Maha Saraswati), grant you bliss and eternal happiness and finally, liberation.