Vijayadashami, also known as Dussehra is celebrated throughout India on the last day of the Navaratri. Mythology says that it is the day on which Devi killed the demon Mahishasur; Shri Ramachandra killed Ravana; and the Pandavas took back their weapons after completing their incognito and exile period (the Ajnaatavaas & Vanavaas). Thus, the festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil. It depicts the removal of darkness and spreading the light of wisdom. Thus, arises the association of Vijayadashami with the concept of Vidyaarambham, according to which a person gains the light of knowledge eliminating the darkness of ignorance. It is widely believed that this day is auspicious to start learning something new. Hence, parents bring their kids to the temple for the ceremony of Vidyaarambham, where the priest will initiate the child to the characters of the syllabary. Moreover, this day is considered ideal to start learning dance, music, painting and various other disciplines of knowledge. Dussehra is celebrated around India in a number of ways, varying from region to region.
Maha Chandika Havan
Chandi or Chandika is a manifestation of Goddess Durga. It is believed that she has the combined power of all Gods and appears to destroy all evils. Maha Chandika Havan is one of the most powerful rituals performed to seek the blessings of Shri Bhagavati. The havan is conducted in order to invoke Chandika – the combined form of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvathi.
As a befitting conclusion to Navaratri, Shri Chandika Parameswari was worshiped at Adi Sankara Nilayam by performing the Maha Chandika Havan. The havan held on the Maha Navami day was performed by Swami Sharadananda Sarasvati. Devi was invoked in the holy fire and aahutis were offered chanting the Durga Saptashati. The devotees who took part in this auspicious ceremony were considered to be blessed by Shri Jagadambika with health, wealth, wisdom, bliss and spiritual awakening. The havan conducted in the central courtyard of the Illom was witnessed by more than 50 devotees on site and by around 800 devotees online through the LIVE YouTube link. The video of the havan is available on YouTube under the following link.
Navaratri – Day 1
Navaratri is a grand festival of worship of Bhagavati! Devi is worshipped as Saraswati, Mahalakshmi, Durga and Lalita-tripurasundari on all days! She also has a special form and name on each day.
Today on the first day she is worshipped as शैलपुत्री – the daughter of Himalaya! Devi in this form is depicted to be seated on Nandi with a lotus in her left hand and a trishula in the other. She personifies strength, courage and composure.
Today is also the day of घटस्थापना, which marks the beginning of Shaaradeeya Navaratri. Ghatasthapana literally means ‘establishing a pot’. A Kalasha (holy water pot), symbolizing Goddess Durga is established on the first day & worshipped during the nine days!!
In Vedanta, साधन-चतुष्टय (the four-fold qualification) gives the necessary qualities that a seeker must imbibe to walk the spiritual path. They are विवेक, वैराग्य, शमादि-षट्-सम्पत् & मुमुक्षुत्व. In the coming days of Navaratri we shall see each one in essence!
Navaratri – Day 2
Nava means nine or new and ratri means night or that which protects (राति इति रात्रि)! So Navaratri indicates nine days of protection! Since the main puja is at night, it is called ratri!!
Today on dwitiyaa, Devi is worshipped as ब्रह्मचारिणी/Brahmacharini – ब्रह्मणि चरति इति – one who is dedicated to the path shown by Veda – Vedasvarupini! Waking barefooted with a japamala in one hand and a kamandalu in the other, she stands as a symbol of calmness and bliss.
विवेक/Viveka is the ability to discriminate between the impermanent and the permanent. All the sensory pleasures are ephemeral. The Self of the nature of supreme Bliss alone is permanent. Cultivating this kind of thinking is the first step in the spiritual path.
Navaratri – Day 3
Navaratri is a very ancient festival! Even Shri Ramachandra and the Pandavas prayed to Mother before their fight!
Today on triteeya, Devi is worshipped as चन्द्रघण्टा/Chandraghanta – one who has Ardhachandra (crescent moon) on the head! She is becoming the consort of Shri Shiva today and hence she is in the bridal dress! Since she will be His अर्धाङ्गिनी (wife) from now, she gets the Ardhachandra from Lord Mahadev!! It is believed that chanting her name will help you control your mind and boost up your level of alertness.
वैराग्य/Vairagya means detachment from the hankering for the sensory pleasures; which are understood to be ephemeral by viveka. Vairagya is not to give up the objects of the world; but to give up the attachment towards their enjoyment.
Navaratri – Day 4
Navaratri comes in शुक्लपक्ष (bright fortnight) of the आश्विनमास (7th month according to Hindu calendar) when the glow of moon goes on increasing night by night! Along with that the positive energies and the womanhood in man, society and the world also grow through nine steps!!
Today on chaturthi, mother is worshipped as कूष्माण्डा/ Kooshmanda – one who is carrying the entire world in her womb as an egg. She is a pregnant lady today!!
Navaratri – Day 5
Along with the celebrations, Navaratri is a very good time for spiritual sadhana! Generally during these days, Durga-saptashati parayana is to be performed along with the japa of navakshari mantra – ॐ ऐं ह्रीं क्लीं चामुण्डायै विच्चे।
Today on the Panchami, mother is worshipped as स्कन्दमाता/Skandamata – the mother of Kartikeya (Shanmukha). The goddess can be seen carrying Skanda on her lap. This manifestation of Devi depicts motherhood. She is the mother of entire universe!
Today is also a very imp day in Navaratri called as Lalita panchami! Mother is in her most auspicious form today!!
दम/dama is the second inner wealth which means control of the senses. When शम is not that strong, दम becomes extremely important. It is to control the mind on the level of the organs of perception & action. Avoiding going to the tempting places, controlling the physical outburst when you are angry are some of the examples of दम.
Navaratri – Day 6
There are not many Goddesses. There are different forms of the same Goddess! The Supreme Goddess alone manifests as ज्ञानशक्ति, इच्छाशक्ति and क्रियाशक्ति – The power of knowledge, will and action – as Saraswati, Mahalakshmi and Durga! This Supreme Goddess is not only the power of Brahman, but She is Supreme Brahman in a female form!!
Today on Shashthi, Mother is worshipped as कात्यायनी/Katyayani – the warrior goddess. A kind Mother becomes fierce against the enemies to protects us, her children!! This form of Devi has four hands. She holds a lotus and a sword in two of her hands, while the remaining two depict the mudras of blessing and fearlessness. It is believed that the gopikas prayed to Katyayani and being blessed by Her got Lord Krishna as their Pati – the one who protects!!
उपरम/Uparama is the third inner wealth which means effortless withdrawal. In शम & दम, one controls the mind & senses respectively by force. But in उपरम the withdrawal from the world of objects is effortless. It also indicates the attitude of renunciation that one develops by following the duties sincerely!
Navaratri – Day 7
भारत/India is the land of festivals! Numerous festivals celebrated here are not only for fun or just to bring everyone together! They are to remember God and divinize our life!! Navaratri is the festival celebrated in each and every corner of India which serves all these purposes!!!
Today on Saptami, Mother is worshipped as कालरात्री/Kaalaratri – the savior in our dark times!! She is portrayed as the destroyer of all the negative energies & demonic forces. In every Sadhaka-s journey, there comes a time when everything looks impossible! Mother helps him to come out of it!!
तितिक्षा/Titiksha is the fourth inner wealth which indicates forbearance. It is an ability to cheerfully accept all the difficulties in life without worrying or complaining. Pujya Gurudev used to call this as the patience to go through the little pinpricks of life.
Navaratri – Day 8
Ahimsa is a very important value in Hinduism; then why all of our Gods n Goddesses are endowed with so many weapons? Our scriptures say that the weapons are – to destroy demons, for the welfare of Devata-s and most importantly to protect the devotees!!! Let us not forget that the weapons are sometimes essential in re-establishing dharma.
Today on Ashtami, Mother is worshipped as महागौरी/Mahagauri – one who shines in a beautiful golden colour! Today is also the most auspicious day of Durgaashtami!!
श्रद्धा/Shraddha is the fifth inner wealth which indicates strong unwavering faith in the the scriptures, teaching of the Guru & the supreme Lord. It is that quality which will take us to the Liberation (श्रद्धावान् लभते ज्ञानम् – यया वस्तूपलभ्यते). One who has doubts शास्त्र, गुरु or ईश्वर, can’t proceed on the spiritual path (संशयात्मा विनश्यति)!
Navaratri – Day 9
The goal of human life is Moksha (Liberation). Liberation is not to go somewhere after death! It is attaining permanent happiness without a dash of sorrow, here, in this life itself!!!
Today on Navami, Mother is worshipped as सिद्धिदात्री/Siddhidatri – one who gives Siddhi. The real Siddhi is Liberation, the culmination of all our उपासना (spiritual practices)! Being pleased with the upaasaka, Mother blesses him with Moksha!!
समाधान/Samadhana is the final sixth inner wealth which indicates single-pointedness of the mind. It is the ability to keep mind focussed on the supreme Reality. शम, दम, उपरम, तितिक्षा, श्रद्धा & समाधान together form शमादि-षट्-सम्पत् (the six inner wealths), the third qualification of the साधन-चतुष्टय. Since all of them are related to the mind & mutually help each other, they are clubbed together!