Why do we celebrate Navratri?
by Jyotinanda Malekzadeh
I will try to tell from my true nature with intellect what does this mean. I feel Navratri is the celebration of the divine Mother: the entire perceivable universe (Chandi, The Highest Meaning of theGoddess) and the imperceptible subtle being (Chandi, Fourth Chapter)that is the source of everything, or the relative world and the absolute world. Mother can be described, but not known,using any of thoseintellectual constructs that pair what seem to be two opposites as one phenomena. The classic example uses fire and heat. Though they are intellectually objectified as two distinct parts, we experience fire as an inseparable entity. Mother is that way ,too. She is Hrim: The threeworlds and that which is beyond maniefestation, thus, she is the totality
of existence.(Shiva Puja, Hriileka nyaasa). We experience her fullness of existence in every breath we take,yet we don't know that it is she who dwells closest to us.(Chandi, Rigvedoktam Devi Suktam)
So Navaratri is the celebration of the Divine Mother in all her diversity and how She helps us to regain our divine essence through recognition that we are none other than her. During Navratri we celebrate the victory of the Goddess over the forces of duality, the forces and energies which make us think that we are separate from Mother. The principal scripture, the Chandi depicts the pyschological drama through which we pass to come to realize who we are. The internal battles fought are ferocious and seemingly interminable especially the one fought with the Great Ego, the subtlest of all demons with his myriad cohorts and advisors of duality.
Navratri is a time for a conscious and rigorous examination of our own lives. For nine days, we pray to the
three Goddesses: Mahalakshmi, Mahakali, and Mahasaraswati who wield many weapons to cut away at the demons, the confusions that keep us away from our divine nature.(Chandi, Navarna Vidhi) While the weapons are the attitudes we assume, and like weapons of war, their intention is to destroy, the goddesses are none other than our selves seeking to reestablish our divinity. During this self-examination we have to be very honest with ourselves and this attempt at honesty, what Swamiji calls Indra (Rule of the Pure),a new wave of demons and confusions arise who want to obscure the truth.
Despite all the battling,the nature of Navratri is redemptive because it gives us a second chance at restoring ourself and reconnecting with our divine nature. Actually because it happens four times, there are four chances a year each with nine days! Apparently, the sages of long ago recognized the inevitability of the Great Ego to raise its ugly head at any time and the need to tame
it immediately. Mahalaya which preceeds each of the four Navratris means the Great Dissolution. It is a time when all of creation is destroyed and then recreated with the help of the Nine Durgas.
The whole process of dissolution and creation gives us another chance at reworking ourselves and our perceptions of the world around us. Each of the Nine Durgas is part of the creative process of Navaratri allowing for the construction of a portion of a new creation on one of each of the nine days. The first being the Goddess of inspiration who initiates the whole process with a vision, a ruup of who we want to be. Then follows the Goddess of Sacred Study who begins to mold the vision and flesh our the concepts. There is a goddess of practice, and so on. Each of the Durga's effects is cumulative and recursive, and possibly sequential; explained by Swamiji as united in succession. Each Durga performs a specific function until the final Durga who is the grantor of
perfection manifests on the ninth and tenth days as our newselves, victorious over the Great Ego and transformed with reinvigorated resolve to live as closely as we can to the spirit of Mother's life.