El Festival de Navaratri

¿qué es navaratri?

En sánscrito, nava significa nueve y ratri significa noche (así como tenemos Shivaratri –la noche de Shiva) y entonces, de acuerdo con la tradición, durante estos 10 días consagrados a la Madre Divina, celebramos un ritual para adorarLa y pedirLe Su gracia y Sus bendiciones. En sánscrito, riti significa “regresar a la fuente.” Mediante el ritual, por lo tanto, adquirimos la capacidad de regresar a nuestro origen divino, el redescubrimiento de lo Divino dentro de nosotros.

Swamiyi generalmente alienta a los aspirantes espirituales a realizar una puya, o a asistir a ella, con regularidad, si les agrada, porque durante el ritual la mente y el cuerpo quedan plenamente absortos en la adoración de lo Divino. Es un medio de aprender a controlar la mente y también purifica la mente. Al mismo tiempo, absorbemos mucha energía espiritual y disfrutamos de la conexión física y mental con lo sagrado divino.

¿quién es la madre divina?

bhuvaneshwariDios, o la Energía Divina, es llamado ‘Madre’ por aquellos que La conocen porque sienten y ven cómo Dios cuida de nosotros de forma tan perfecta y que está constantemente tratando de hacernos realizar nuestra verdadera naturaleza divina, la que hemos olvidado.

Si consideramos el Ser Supremo (Brahman), que es trascendente, infinito, eterno y más allá del alcance de los sentidos y de la mente, podemos decir que lo que llamamos la Madre Divina es el aspecto dinámico del Ser Supremo. Ella es el poder consciente de Dios, la fuerza de Dios manifestada, el aspecto creativo de Dios.

«Ella es la forma manifiesta del principio fundamental, Brahman.
Ella es eterna, sin comienzo ni fin.
Ella es la energía inherente del Ser Universal.
Ella es la totalidad de la conciencia,
el origen de la inteligencia y la sabiduría.
Ella representa el origen de todo lo que es, la causa de todas las cosas.
Ella es la totalidad del Universo.
El Universo manifestado es Su cuerpo.
La forma del espacio es Su forma.»
Los Vedas (antiguas Escrituras sagradas) – acerca de la Madre Divina

La relación que existe entre la Madre Divina y ­Brahman es, por lo tanto, la que existe entre lo manifestado y lo no-manifiesto. Ambos son inseparables. Uno no puede existir sin el otro. Son como el fuego y su calor.

Así, los cinco elementos (aire, fuego, agua, tierra y éter) y sus combinaciones son manifestaciones externas de la Madre. La inteligencia, el discernimiento, el poder psíquico y la voluntad son Sus manifestaciones internas. Ella es la vida toda del Universo. Ella es el poder cósmico que aparece en todas las formas y en todos los nombres.

Formas de la madre divina – ¿qué representan?

De acuerdo con la cultura hindú tradicional, la Madre Divina es Una, pero Se nos presenta bajo diferentes aspectos a los que se les han dado distintos nombres. Para explicar la esencia de la Madre a la gente, los antiguos rishis enseñaron a la humanidad a adorarLa como las manifestaciones de creación, preservación y destrucción. Los nombres correspondientes a estas tres funciones son Sarasvati, Lakshmi y Durga. Éstos son los tres aspectos que encontraremos durante los días de Navaratri. Tres días están dedicados a Durga, los tres siguientes a Lakshmi y los otros tres a Sarasvati. Este orden de rendir culto a estos tres principales aspectos de la Madre posee un significado muy profundo, el que veremos a medida que avancemos juntos en la celebración.

Durga

Los tres primeros días rendiremos culto a la Madre Divina como el aspecto de Durga, la Shakti de Shiva. A primera vista, cuando miramos Su imagen, bien podríamos pensar que estamos venerando una Diosa temible cuyos atributos son armas amenazantes. Primero debemos comprender completamente el simbolismo, el profundo significado.

durga

En general, a Durga se La representa sentada sobre un león. El león, rey de las bestias, puede indicar avidez por hallar comida y, más aún, ansia por encontrar todo tipo de bienes materiales y placeres. Para alcanzar lo Divino debemos tener completo control sobre nuestros instintos animales. Si miramos a Kali, un aspecto de Durga con una apariencia sanguinaria, advertimos que en una de Sus manos izquierdas sostiene una cabeza degollada, sangrando profusamente.

Así, Durga destruye, pero lo hace para salvar, para construir. Sin pena por nuestro ego, Ella destruye todas nuestras imperfecciones. Destruye la ignorancia para instalar el conocimiento y destruye la oscuridad para restaurar la luz. Para desarrollar nuestras buenas cualidades, primero debemos eliminar nuestras faltas. Necesitamos tener una base estable sobre la cual construir. Si oramos a Durga, Su energía divina intervendrá prácticamente en nuestras vidas para ayudarnos a hacer justamente eso. Como este ‘corte’ del ego es un proceso doloroso de abandonar tantos viejos patrones y apegos, a Durga, y especialmente a Kali, se La representa por medio de imágenes que podrían confundirse con las de crueles destructoras. Y no obstante, por el contrario, todo lo que hace la Madre Divina lo hace de puro amor divino por todos Sus hijos, pues quiere que regresen a Ella, su fuente original, y que redescubran su verdadera naturaleza bienaventurada.

Por lo tanto, durante estos tres primeros días, vamos a implorar a la Madre que nos ayude a destruir nuestras faltas y tendencias negativas. El último de nuestros 10 días señalará la victoria de Durga sobre el demonio Mahisasura, o, en otras palabras, el triunfo de las fuerzas positivas sobre las negativas, de la luz sobre la oscuridad.

En general, Navaratri representa la Victoria de lo Divino y de las fuerzas superiores sobre lo negativo y las malas características que hallan expresión en la injusticia, la opresión, la vanidad, la envidia, el egoísmo, el orgullo y otras fuerzas negativas que incrementan el sufrimiento humano. En un nivel más personal, ­Navaratri representa la victoria del aspirante espiritual sobre el ego.

Esta filosofía de dejar de ser de una forma para transformarse en otra, constituye la base de la concepción de la Madre como Durga y Kali. Es la necesidad de trascender lo inferior que nos hace posible alcanzar lo superior. Así, no es sólo una destrucción sino también una trascendencia.

Mediante el auto-análisis necesitamos percatarnos de nuestras tendencias negativas si queremos tener éxito en destruir nuestros rasgos indeseables. Necesitamos practicar introspección. Si no sabemos exactamente qué faltas tenemos, ¿cómo podemos eliminarlas?

Si, habiendo llegado a conocer nuestras faltas, no hacemos entonces nada al respecto, éstas simplemente seguirán en nosotros. Necesitamos tener una firme determinación y una voluntad resuelta para destruir nuestras cualidades egoicas. Si no hemos arrancado enteramente todas nuestras faltas, ellas resurgirán con la más leve perturbación que se nos cruce.

La Madre, como Durga, es quien nos ayuda en esta primera etapa.

Lakshmi

After Durga, who has helped us to purify ourselves, Lakshmi will aid us with the following stage, which is the acquisition of moral and spiritual qualities. Lakshmi is the Shakti of Vishnu. Within the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, Vishnu is the energy that maintains and preserves the world. In order to maintain one must first own. Therefore Lakshmi, who manifests the power of Vishnu, is in charge of nourishing and maintaining the earth. She is, therefore, also considered as the goddess of abundance, fortune, health and beauty.

lakshmiWhen we observe Lakshmi we see that with one hand she is generously dispensing golden coins, while with the other she grants her grace. In her two other hands she holds lotus flowers. The immaculate lotus that rises above the muddy and stagnant waters is associated with the notion of purity.

These days people attach more and more importance to material goods and often venerate Lakshmi with the hope of acquiring wealth. In modern culture we say that someone is successful because she or he earns a good wage, owns a big house, a second residence, a big car, lots of money, etc. However, the wealth that Lakshmi distributes should not be understood uniquely in the material sense. In fact Lakshmi is teaching us that the only true riches worth acquiring are inner riches. She will make it possible for the spiritual seeker to acquire all the moral and spiritual riches necessary to attain knowledge, that is to say, willpower, moral stamina and also intellectual strength. This is the reason Lakshmi is worshipped after Durga but before Sarasvati.

Sarasvati

The next three days are dedicated to Sarasvati. Literally, Sarasvati means «She who gives us the essence of our true Self.» Sarasvati is the Shakti of Brahma, the creator. Thus, she is considered as the Mother of the entire creation. She represents power and intelligence, the wisdom of the sage, without which organized creation is impossible.

sarasvatiShe is the origin of all things but she is also the conclusion, the goal to attain in the evolutionary process. Being at the origin of all things, she also represents creativity: the sciences, arts (painting, music, literature), professions and trades and all that is studied. Hence she is the deity for school children and students. In many schools throughout India lessons begin with a collective prayer to Sarasvati. Knowledge is the opposite of ignorance and obscurity. This is why you will often find Sarasvati wearing a white dress, showing also that the exercise of her powers is totally pure. She is described as having an extraordinary grace and beauty and is represented sitting on a white lotus flower.

In the Vedas it is written that in the beginning the first manifestation of Brahma was a vibration which was expressed under the form of the original sound or Pranava, the sound OM (don’t confuse Brahman, the absolute, the non-manifest, with Brahma, God the creator). This is why Sarasvati plays the veena, the instrument that produces the original pure sound. All of creation is but the manifested form of this music from Sarasvati’s veena. In one of her left hands she holds a book representing the totality of all knowledge. She holds a mala (rosary) in one of her right hands symbolizing all spiritual sciences or yogas and sadhana, including tapas (austerities), meditation and japa (repetition of Divine names). In this way she reveals to us that intellectual knowledge alone is not enough. Developing the qualities of the heart (or the opening of the heart chakra) is essential.

By her side stands a magnificently plumaged peacock representing the material world in all its glory. This peacock also symbolizes ignorance, because all the attractions of the world take us further away from true knowledge. On her other side we see a white swan, a symbol of wisdom and discernment and therefore knowledge, for it is by the intermediary of these that we will be able to attain true knowledge.

First Durga, then Lakshmi, then Sarasvati – why do we worship in that order?

When the non-manifest transcendent power became manifest, when the One became multiple and appeared under diverse forms at the moment of creation, a process of involution came into being: this process of involution takes us through progressively grosser and grosser spheres to finally reach the one of inert matter. Once the process begins, it is Sarasvati the Shakti of Brahma, the creator, who intervenes. Then, when creation has taken place the function of preservation and maintenance appears (with Lakshmi, the Shakti of Vishnu). Furthermore, since all life is perishable, destruction intervenes with Durga, the Shakti of Shiva. This is all part of the process of the descent into the material.

Observing the order of poojas during Navaratri: Durga, Lakshmi and lastly Sarasvati, we see that we are following the same process, but in reverse. It is an evolutionary process of man and woman returning to the source and reaching the Divine.

We have seen that the symbolic beginning of the spiritual journey of Navaratri, during the first three days dedicated to Durga, involves the destruction of those tendencies that bind us most to the material. It is here that Durga intervenes. Then Lakshmi bestows upon the spiritual aspirant those qualities necessary to advance successfully on the spiritual path. Although during the process of involution Lakshmi gives us material goods, in the process of evolution, the return towards the Divine, she will help us acquire and develop those moral and spiritual qualities, which will replace those ego-qualities previously destroyed by Durga. She helps us acquire vigilance, alertness, discipline, self-control, firmness of will, perseverance and determination.

Day 9: Blessing of Tools

The ninth day, the watchful wait before the victory, is traditionally the day of the blessing of tools. At first it meant the benediction of arms, which we could say are the tools of warriors, but with time this came to mean all tools used by men and women in their daily work. The potter venerates his wheel, the carpenter his hammer, the driver his cart, etc. Musicians have their instruments blessed, artists their brushes, etc. Students bring their schoolbooks to be blessed.

These arms that we venerate are in fact the divine powers of humankind. Each one of us has received certain talents from the Divine and it is our responsibility to use them for good and to make them bear fruit.

Day 10: Victory of the Light

vijaya-dasamiThe tenth day celebrates Durga’s victory over the demon Mahisasura. Mythology relates that the demon, having performed great austerities, was granted by the gods the gift of continuous victory over his enemies, plus the assurance that he could only be vanquished by a woman. He then proceeded to attack the world of the divine beings (devas), was victorious and usurped their power. The devas gathered together to figure out how they could vanquish this demon. They decided that together they would emit a very powerful energy which would create a great light and which would then condense into the body of a woman, that of the goddess Durga. Then each of the devas gave the goddess an armament and this is why we see her brandishing a weapon in each of her eight arms: a trident from Shiva, a disk from Krishna, a bow and arrow from Vayu, etc. The Goddess is thus here represented as having gathered together all the powers of the assembled gods, ready to vanquish the demon.

Mahisasura stands for the ego-characteristics of humankind: ignorance and obstinate egoism, the brutal force that tolerates no opposition to its egoistic objectives. He even triumphed over the devas, but he was vanquished by their combined powers, that is to say, by Durga.

The only way the spiritual aspirant can be victorious is if he or she gathers together all their strength, energy and willpower to fight against these negative tendencies. Then the Divine will intercede to support them.

How to put all of this into practice?

Everyone must experience Navaratri in their own way. Swamiji says, “Mother is in your heart”. If we use this time to open our hearts and minds, to concentrate on and pray to Divine Mother, to connect with the divine source within our own hearts, we will definitely receive God’s grace and blessings.

“We give names to describe God. We call it God, Lakshmi, Muruga and so on but we cannot see that great energy, the Divine. You do an abhishekam and wash the statue of the Divine Mother in the Ashram. You give the statue a name and put it in a particular place. But you are not doing abhishekam to the divine shakti – only to the statue. Where is the divine shakti? That shakti is inside you. You do the pooja to the shakti outside but you have to come to the stage where you do the pooja to the shakti, the divine energy, within you. You are doing the ‘outside’ pooja. Now you must do the ‘inside’ pooja. The first stage is doing the pooja to the deity, the second stage is doing the pooja inside yourself.”

 Swami Premananda

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