This is what Pujya Guruji Shri Shri Nimishananda discoursed during the 10th night of Navaratri -The glorious Vijayadashami in the year 2009.
Today is Vijayadashami, the most joyous day when we celebrate and rejoice at the victory of Devi who destroyed all the demonic forces and re-established Dharma or righteousness in this world. During this Navaratri the Divine Mother granted us the great blessing of adoring Her through Her external, contemplative and meditative forms. We laid all our troubles at Her Lotus Feet and She compassionately removed our mountainous burdens of hardship making us feel light and free. We invoked the Divine Mother as our Guru and asked Her to correct all our imperfections by slaying the demonic forces in us. We offered our strengths as weapons at Her Lotus Feet to be used for the welfare of all beings and received the most valuable weapon of Anugraha or Grace from Devi.
Though this day marks the ending of Navaratri, it is the first day of our new lives, our new incarnations. Purified by sadhana and Devi’s Grace, we begin our lives afresh with reinforced faith, belief and surrender. Now that we have established the priceless treasure of the Divine Mother’s Grace in our hearts, let us learn what we should do to retain it permanently in our lives. Again it is Devi who has to give us this knowledge. Let us offer our reverent salutations to Goddess Saraswathi, who is the fount of wisdom and pray for Her constant Grace and Guidance. Many of us very wrongly think that as soon as we complete our studies, we do not require the blessings of Goddess Saraswathi anymore. Even when we worship Her during Navaratri, we keep only our children’s books before Her altar and ask Her to grant them a good education. It is in fact we who need Her Grace more than our children.
Without Knowledge from Saraswathi, we cannot resolve any crisis. Whenever we try to find solutions to the problems in our lives, it is always Goddess Saraswathi who gives us the right prompts and flow of ideas from within. If we are usually able to resolve our problems quickly and easily, it means that we are blessed with Her Grace. Sometimes when we reach a dead end in our search for a solution, Devi sends somebody who resolves our problem in no time. This is also a sign of Her Grace. However, if the same problems have been plaguing us for a long time because we are unable to solve them, it means that we must perform more sadhana to tune in to Her Grace.
So let us invoke Goddess Saraswathi and pray – “Mother, you are present in me as intelligence, comprehension and intuition. Give me the patience and tolerance to understand each problem and find the solution. Please bless me with Your Grace so that I maybe always be open and receptive to Your flow of knowledge, creative ideas and intuitive prompts from all sources.” All of us are very calm, patient and tolerant when things go well, but when problems arise, we over- react and become impatient, tense, irritable or panicky. So the patience and tolerance required to calmly examine and analyse a problem also comes from Saraswathi.
‘Om Mahasaraswathyei Namaha’ is the mantra of Goddess Saraswathi. Whenever we are confronted by a problem or feel stressed, we should remove our footwear and chant this in our minds to tune in to Her Grace. Within a few minutes we will experience the presence of Devi as peace, calmness and resourcefulness. When we chant Her mantra everyday, Her Jnana or knowledge fills every pore of our being. Goddess Saraswathi is always depicted in a flowing white sari playing a stringed instrument called the Veena. Her white robes symbolise pristine purity. When we keep the mind pure, it becomes the abode of Saraswathi. It is because Goddess Saraswathi is continuously playing Her Veena that the Vedas are being chanted and bhajans, kirtans and satsangs are being conducted in this world. The four strings of Her Veena symbolise the four Vedas and the fifth string on which the beat is strummed denotes the Upanishads. While the Vedas which are a treasury of knowledge were directly revealed to Sage Veda Vyasa, the Upanishads arose from the rich spiritual experience of several Sages. Both the Vedas and Upanishads describe the relationship that exists between us and the Cosmos. That is why the larger hemisphere on the Veena represents the ‘Brahmanda’ or Macrocosm and the smaller hemisphere represents the ‘Pindanda’ or Microcosm and knowledge is the indispensable link that connects the two. From knowledge arises experience, from experience arise faith and belief, from faith and belief arise divine emotions, from divine emotions arises contemplation, from contemplation arises meditation and from meditation arises Self Realisation or Salvation. For all this we must seek the Grace of Goddess Saraswathi who is the Source of all knowledge.
When we have established Saraswathi inside, Goddess Lakshmi turns towards us. Lakshmi is the fount of inner abundance and outer prosperity. When we cultivate wise, gentle and pure speech through the Grace of Saraswathi, Lakshmi comes looking for us. When we inculcate the virtues of humility and generosity, She abides in our hearts. She is a lover of ‘guna’ or sublime, divine qualities. To acquire Her Grace we must have :
- A pure mind
- Cheerfulness and a constant smile
- Complete trust. For this we should give up our tendency to be doubtful and suspicious about everybody. When we place our implicit faith in Her, Devi will not allow anybody to misuse our goodness. She will increase our level of awareness and give us an intuitive prompt if somebody is not trustworthy.
- Freedom from assumptions and presumptions
- Total belief in ourselves and Devi
- The courage and conviction that we will always be victorious. Where there is courage, there is knowledge. Where there is knowledge, there is virtue. Where there is virtue, there is humility. Where there is humility, there is always abundance and victory.
- Connectivity with our Soul. Goddess Lakshmi abides only where Her divine consort, Lord Vishnu is revered and honoured. The Consciousness of Lord Vishnu is encapsulated in us as our Soul. When we perform sadhana everyday it activates our Soul and therefore invokes the presence of Goddess Lakshmi. The mantra to tune in to Her Grace is ‘Om Mahalakshmiyei Namaha’.
The third aspect of Devi is Goddess Parvathi. Just as Saraswathi loves purity and Lakshmi loves virtue, Parvathi loves the devotee who leads a disciplined and principled life. When we do not structure our time efficiently, our lives become disorganized and undisciplined. Without discipline, we can never accomplish much in life. Besides, when we do not follow a regular routine regarding work, food, sleep, exercise and sadhana, it depletes our physical health, mental strength, stability and spiritual well being. When we do not value time, we will never be able to control time. Since Goddess Parvathi is an amsha or part of Kali who controls time, those who follow discipline will also be able to transcend time and space. Automatically they gain control over Death.
When we follow discipline and transcend time, Devi becomes our constant companion. She follows us everywhere like our shadow and protects us all the time. That is why the Devi Stuti in the Devi Mahatmyam says – “Yaa Devi Sarvabhuteshu Chaaya Roopena Samsthita, Namastasyei, Namastasyei, Namastasyei, Namo Namaha,” which means – “We offer our reverent salutations again and again to the Divine Mother who always accompanies us everywhere like our Shadow.” If we continue our sadhana with this faith and belief, we will certainly experience Devi’s Constant Presence. The Divine Mother is the embodiment of care, concern, love and compassion. She will never ever forsake us. So as we come to the end of Navaratri, let us offer ourselves at Her Lotus Feet in complete surrender and seek Her constant Guidance in our lives.
May you experience the constant Presence of the Divine Mother. May your lives overflow with Her Love and Bliss. May all of you become channels to take Her Light to all the souls in this world. May all beings be enveloped by Her Grace. May all beings be happy.
Jai Matha. Hari Om Tat Sat.