The story behind the myth. Navaratri: The nine nights of Durga.
Each festival in India has a reason and meaning behind its celebration.
And this is the story behind the myth of Durga and Navaratri.
And this is the story behind the myth of Durga and Navaratri.
The Vedas, the primary source of Hindu Philosophy, start from the idea that "I am God", but that part of me is in the deepest, my essence, my soul (Atman). Therefore, all these rituals are performed to communicate with that part of us that connects with these energies. The universal energy (Brahman), on which we all depend, is disseminated into more specific ones. All the deities in India represent certain characteristics of that Universal Principle.
Behind the myth of each Hindu deity, hides the true essence and importance of its reality. Our understanding of the world is usually formed by the interpretation of our mind through the senses. That is, the mind only has space and value to interpret aspects of reality outward (through the senses). However, the answers to the most important existential questions have to be resolved not outwards, but inwards. The more I let my senses to explore, the more limited my capacity for understanding about my Being is. However, in order to undertake this spiritual path, we must begin by sensory stimulation. That is why in India divine icons or deities are used, each with a specific and genuine personality and features that make them easy to distinguish. All of them are still part of that Everything, as if it were a company.
The next thing to keep in mind is that all the events that take place in the universe as a whole at the macro-level, manifest in the same way in each one of us in the micro-level. Therefore, when I connect deeply with one of those energies, I am actually communicating with that part of myself and remembering to my Being the complexity and transcendence of my existence; that, therefore, "I am God" and I must find the way to understand it. That path has a direction: inwards. Every year, between September and October, the most important Hindu festival at an introspective level in India is celebrated: Navaratri or the nine nights of Durga.
How is the soul purified according to Hinduism?
Since we are born, our mental nature tends to face these forces that damage and hinder progress towards deeper knowledge and understanding of our Being and our existence. In this case there are 6 main ones, called Shadripu:
2) Krodh (Anger)
3) Lobh (Gred)
4) Moh (Attachment)
5) Mada (arrogance)
6) Matsarya (Jealousy)
Our body (and especially our mind - thoughts and emotions) becomes the battlefield between the forces that fight against these "demons" and these negative energies that constantly provoke us to fall back into the trap of the illusion (maya) and prevent us from obtaining the highest spiritual knowledge necessary to transcend all earthly limitations and attain salvation (moksha), the gratest goal of human life according to the Hindu Philosophy. In fact, this is the underlying theme in the totality of the Vedas (the oldest texts of Hindu Philosophy).
All this knowledge is focused on explaining this struggle of good and evil through various mythological representations. Just as we explain complex stories to children through tales and fables, humans are "children" on the spiritual level, and we need to understand this depth with metaphors to connect more easily.
This fight takes place between gods (Devas) and demons (Asuras): Between the positive virtues to be gained through the purest knowledge of the Self (Devas) and our natural tendencies that impel us to focus our life towards the mundane instead of towards the spiritual, outwards instead of inwards (Asuras).
What is Navaratri?
The nine (nav) nights (ratri) in which Durga (the universal energy that generates the movement of our soul) fights against those "demons", especially against the most ferocious of them all, the Ego, to free mind from their influence and to be able to travel towards self-discovery and deeper knowledge of our Being. The nine nights are divided into three large blocks (three nights each), in which we focus on understanding the three main elements or forces to be taken into account during our existence until we reach the total liberation of our soul. These three forces are feminine, because it is the energy responsible for the creation and universal movement and, therefore, of evolution. It is represented in three units, all of them forming a single consubstantial energy called Shakti. Each personification explains to us genuine features of that supreme unit, responsible for generating movement:
In the first three nights, Durga is invoked for its strength and ferocity that are required to eliminate from the mind its negative and deep-rooted tendencies. The noble virtues and the supreme knowledge of the Self can only be obtained when all the malignant tendencies in the mind are destroyed. The energy behind Durga is the one responsible for fighting against these damaging forces.
The murder of Mahishashura (demon Mahisha) by Durga essentially symbolizes the destruction of the malignant tendencies of the mind. But destroying them is very difficult. Maybe the most difficult challenge we have to face in life. The buffalo that demon rides represents the evil qualities within of all us. It reminds us that, despite having a lot of energy and potential, we prefer not to do anything for our spiritual emancipation. Our homage to Durga during the first three nights of Navaratri is, in reality, our invocation to the Divine Power within us to help us destroy our animal tendencies. This year is celebrated from the 10th (New Moon) to 18th October, 2018. And in every Hindu house is venerated during these days...
Durga is the Mother Goddess and symbolizes the source of all energy, birth, creation, Nature without being tamed... That energy is what generates movement in all the elements of the Universe. The soul, or the existential center of our Being, is not able to generate movement by itself, it is static in essence. It needs, therefore, an energy that drives it. This energy is called Shakti and Durga is the personification of that force that moves the universe as a whole. As this Philosophy believes in the cycle of reincarnations (rebirth) until we get free from our karmic burdens, throughout our lives we face various challenges to get rid of the enemies of our soul, that is, the elements that hinder their purification.
On the next three nights, Laxmi is revered. For the knowledge of self-realization to reach us, we must first prepare our minds. She represents the wealth that we assume only as material wealth. But material wealth is necessary only in this world and must always be considered from discipline, respect, sincerity, kindness and love. This energy helps us to understand that we need material elements, but always from self-control and with an evolutionary attitude toward material detachment. Anything in excess can be positive. The values represented by Laxmi impel us to nourish and purify our minds.
The last three nights focus on reverencing the goddess Saraswati. Victory over the mind can only be gained through adequate knowledge and complete understanding. She symbolizes the highest understanding of the Self. If we do not obtain it, then our knowledge about all other matters has no validity or real value.
Moreover, each of the 9 days that Navaratri lasts focuses on the struggle of those forces that disturb the mind and, therefore, block the way for the purest knowledge of the Self. If the mind keeps blocking us, it is very difficult to understand the immensity of our existence and origin and, therefore, we continue to understand the world only through our senses, i.e., outwards. That is why Durga is represented in different ways, each with a genuine personality and energy to combat those forces that block us and get the highest wisdom about ourselves and about who we really are.The message behind Durga's icon is that, if we want to find our divine essence, we must be able to control and tame our instincts and animal impulses. Therefore, the Vedas give guidelines on how to achieve it and, one of the bases for understanding and managing the aspects of the mind is Yoga and, especially, through its Philosophy, since it gives us useful recommendations on how to deal with the issues related with the mind, its balance and understanding.
According to this Philosophy, we are spiritual beings (atman) having a human experience (maya). However, the role of our mind is to create challenges that contaminates our being as a whole. To discover and connect with that spiritual being that we all are in essence, what we really need is to cultivate wisdom, manage our senses and get rid of our ego.
Because ... "The unexamined life is not worth living" (The Apology of Sócrates 399 BC.)...
*We apologize for possible errors made in translation.
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