Dr. Vipul Chalotra
The occasion of navratras is so pleasant that anyone and everyone can take benefits out of it. Navratras means nine ratris (nights) to offer prayers to nine deities. Generally navratras come twice a year and people on a larger scale presume them as a knock to summers (navratras during March or April) and secondly to winters (navratras during September or October). Spiritual seekers, bhaktas, demigods can attain an exorbitant benefit out of this occasion of navratras. Again to say navratras comes twice a year which means that two times a year we are given privilege to do bhakti, attain heights in bhakti or to commence internal growth and perspective. Suppose a person lives for 60 years, he/she is having or given 120 chances to purify himself/herself and to become Divine devotee. So, during navratras the Goddess Durga and her nine forms are offered prayers. Navratas are celebrated by Hindus specifically but anyone from any religion can take avenues to celebrate them and can enjoy the nectar of divine love.
Now the question arrives how to celebrate navratras? No one wants this opportunity to be missed in their lives.
Swami Sivananda (Founder member of The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh) portrays a very simple method as to how to rejoice navratras. He states that navratras are enjoyed during the nine nights of either March/April or September/October. He says that these nine nights should be segregated into three categories or parts. The first part, the second part and the third part respectively encompassed with three days each. Then he states that during the first part of three days one should do bhakti or devotion of Mahakali. Mahakali assists the sadakhas (devotees) in obliterating the demons which reside there in ones inner self. Mahakali demolishes all the ill thoughts of people who offer rigorous prayers to the Divine Shakti as SHE acts as the annihilator of the fiends. So, during the first three days of Navratras one should practice japa (recitation) of Mahakali and must request HER to make one free from all evil thoughts. Concentrating and meditating upon this part of Durga is the foremost step and of utmost imperativeness in order to proceed with pious navratras and living ahead.
The second category or part again comprises three days and demands Bhakti/devotion of Mahalaxmi. Mahalaxmi stands for peace and harmony. After offering prayer to Mahakali and doing her rigorous bhakti Mahalaxmi should be offered rigorous prayers and bhakti. Once the thoughts of demons are annihilated, the devotees during the days of worship of Mahalaxmi enjoy pleasure and nectar of peace and harmony which is the true grace of Mahalaxmi. She ascends this grace to those who are true devotees and who put their days and nights together to attain this blissful savor. So, japa of Mahalaxmi should be practised during day 4, 5 and 6 of navratras. Concentrating and Meditating upon her is indispensable during these three days.
The last and third category or part comprises of the remaining three days of navratras during which what Swami Sivananda says Maa Saraswati should be offered prayers. Maa Saraswati stands for knowledge and purity. SHE is the ambassador of acquaintance and wholesomeness. A devotee after annihilating all the demonic thoughts, fostering peace and harmony practices the japa, concentration and meditation of Maa Saraswati who relishes upon the devotee all piousness and knowledge about the self. Therefore, for a devotee its very pleasant way to acquire perfection during these nine days of navratras. So, Swami Sivananda states afore stated way of celebrating navratras. He conveys a very straightforward and fascinating way of celebrating navratras.
The second important method to celebrate navratras is to worship all the different nine forms of Maa Durga on nine days. This method could be adopted in order to experience purification and perfection. The nine forms of Durga began from the Goddess Shailputri- the devotee on the first day of navratras should rigorously offer prayers to this form and must focus on muladhara chakra.
On the second day of navratas Goddess Brahamacharani be worshipped and the devotee on this day must focus on Svadhisthan chakra. The third day of navratras stands for Maa Chandraghanta who is a form of Mahakali and the devotee this day should pay attention on Manipura chakra, Maa Kushmanda must be adored on the fourth day of navratras and the focus of bhakta this day must be on Anahata chakra. The fifth day accounts for Devi Skandamata. Her worship takes an individual from irrelevant talks to relevant and purposeful talks and the devotee this day should focus on the Vishuddha chakra, Maa Katyayani is paid obeisances on the sixth day of navratras and the focus of the devotee must be on Ajna chakra. Kaalratri- the first form of Maa Saraswati and most closest to every human heart must be worshipped on the seventh day of navratras and the focus this day must be on Sahasrara chakras. Mahagauri on the eighth day of navratras and the centre of concentration must be again on Sahasrara and Siddhidatri on the last and ninth day of navratras should be given reverences.
Another option to celebrate navratras is to read and practice Durga Sapthshati or Durga Stuti. It also acts as a mode to annihilate all the ailing thoughts and minds ponderings here and there to concentrate and meditate on the Divine shakti called Mahashwari. It comprises of thirteen chapters with 700 verses and transforms an individual from sick thoughts and vision to straightforwardness.
So, all this is about celebrating navratras and this avenue shifts one from the impurity to purity and from the ill thoughts (Vikaras) to pious thoughts. One must in any of the two navratras perform this practice and enjoy the nectar of piousness and Ananda (peace and joy) within oneself. Therefore the nine days are the transformation days which can change the attitude, behaviour and knowledge of an individual.
The tenth day-Vijaya Dashami marks the triumphant ovation of the jiva at having attained Jivanmukhti through the descent of knowledge by the Grace of Goddess Saraswati. The jiva rests in its own Supreme self of Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-knowledge Bliss-Absolute). This day celebrates the victory, the achievement of the goal.
(The author is Assistant Professor in Commerce in the Govt. Degree College Boys Udhampur)
Dr. Vipul Chalotra