Tag Archives: Navaratri

Navaratri Devi Pooja – Significance

SRI LALITHA MAHA TRIPURASUNDARI, the Mother of All, is invoked during the auspicious Sharannavaratri. The Sharad-Kaala (Autumn Season) represents the Creative Aspect of Nature. Since CREATION is synonymous with MOTHERHOOD, the Divine God-Principle is invoked as the MOTHER (Mathru-swaroopini) of the entire Universe of things and beings, of which we are also a part of. On the Mahalaya Amavasya day, Devi is invoked in her Jagat Prasuti Form – One who has delivered (created) the universe. With her grace and blessings alone the seeker can hope to totally dispel (Maha-Laya) the spiritual ignorance (Ama-Vasya) within himself. During the next nine days referred to as NAVARATRI, Devi is invoked and worshipped as MAHA DURGA (first three days), MAHA LAKSHMI (next three days) and MAHA SARASWATI (last three days). The sequence of worship of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati is different in different traditions and states, but the significance remains the same. The tenth day after Navaratri is known as VIJAYADASAMI (the day of Everlasting Victory – Mukti or Enlightenment).

DEVI DURGA is invoked during the first three days. Durga means “one who helps us to overcome our difficulties and negatives.” It is with her grace alone that the seeker can eliminate all the negative qualities lurking in him. They are represented as the various rakshasas whom Durga annihilates. She is depicted in red attire to represent Activity. In her hands, she carries different instruments of annihilation to destroy the various rakshasas. Mother’s destruction is ‘constructive destruction’ – it is creative and purposeful, it is for the sake of Dharma. Hence Durga is depicted as riding on a Simha (lion). SIMHA stands for Righteousness or Dharma. Its opposite is HIMSA which denotes violence and adharma. Simha also stands for “fearlessness”. 

The next three days, GODDESS LAKSHMI is worshipped. Lakshmi means “to guide” the seeker on the path of spirituality to reach the Ultimate Goal of Self Realisation (Lakshya). Lakshmi represents the WEALTH of Sattvik qualities (Lakshana-s, like Truthfulness, Humility, Nobility, Devotion, Faith, Compassion, Courage, etc.) that an individual has to nurture and nourish within himself. Sri Lakshmi’s attire is depicted in different colours depending on what she represents: White for Purity and Knowledge, Red for Selfless Activity and Material Wealth, Green for Plenty, Prosperity and Food, etc. The lotus which is associated with her represents Knowledge, Beauty, Symmetry as well as Moksha. She represents both, the Standard of Life and Standard of Living. When Goddess Lakshmi signifies material wealth she is portrayed as riding on the owl. She rides on an elephant when she is invoked for a higher and purposeful life. As the bestower of Mukti (Liberation), she along with her consort, Lord Narayana are shown seated on Garuda (eagle).

During the last three days, SRI SARASWATI is invoked and worshipped. SARA means “essence” and SWA means “one’s own”. Saraswati means “one who facilitates the individual to understand and experience his true Higher Nature (State of Immortality) within himself.” Therefore, Sri Saraswati represents Spiritual Knowledge and the Higher Divine Experience. She is always depicted in white attire indicating a pure, tranquil and contemplative mind. In one hand she holds a mala which signifies the akshara-mala or the alphabets. In the other hand she holds a book signifying knowledge. SARASWATI is invoked at every stage – right from AKSHARA-ABHYASA (initiation into the alphabets) through VIDYA-ABHYASA (study of scriptures) to DHYANA-ABHYASA (practice of contemplation). She sports a veena in the lower pair of hands. The veena represents an individual who has totally surrendered unto Mother Saraswati as an empty and willing instrument. When she uses such a devotee to accomplish her divine work, her Will and the Expression of it becomes the beautiful music of life – the Glory of a Man of Realisation! Goddess Saraswati’s vahana (vehicle) is the Hamsa (Swan). Hamsa is a mystical bird which has the ability to separate milk from water from milk-water mixture. This signifies the discrimination between the Real and the Permanent (milk) from the Unreal and the Impermanent (water). Therefore Hamsa represents a Man of Realisation. The Jivanmukta is known as “Supreme Swan” – PARAMAHAMSA. 

Alternatively, in some traditions, the sequence followed is: Maha Lakshmi, then Sri Saraswati and finally Sri Durga. Initially, a spiritual seeker invokes Goddess Lakshmi to cultivate within himself the noble and virtuous qualities. After that Sri Saraswati is invoked for Adhyatma Knowledge. Finally, Goddess Durga is invoked. By her grace alone, Mahishasura, the ego can be annihilated. Mahishasura is destroyed with the help of her trident (Trishula), which signifies the transcendence of the tri-groups (three gunas, three states of consciousness, three periods of time, the three equipments – body, mind and intellect, the three worlds, etc). This leads to the State of Self-realisation.  

During Navaratri, apart from the parayana of Durga Saptashati, Lalitha Sahasranama, Devi Stotras, etc., there is a beautiful tradition of singing Sri Kamalamba Navavarana Krithis (composed by Muthuswami Dikshitar) or Sri Kamakshi Navavarana Krithis (composed of Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer). The krithis are based on Sri Vidya Upasana and are structured around the 9-layered Sri Chakra. The 11 Krithis (1- dhyana, 9 – one for each of the 9 days, and 1- mangala), are deep in mysticism and rich in their significance. The krithis signify the seeker’s spiritual journey from the outer pluralistic world to the Innermost Divine Centre within himself. It is the unveiling of the Divinity present within us. It is the transcendence of our outer personality-layers to ultimately reach Sri Maha Tripura Sundari, the personification of Parabrahma – the Sarvanandamaya State within ourselves.

Therefore, the entire Navaratri Puja wherein Mother Goddess is invoked as Devi Durga, Maha Lakshmi and Sri Saraswati represents the spiritual journey of a seeker from the darkness of Spiritual Ignorance to the Light of Spiritual Knowledge – from the State of Mortality to the State of Immortality – from Mahalaya Amavasya to Vijayadasami !!

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Buddhi Roopena Samsthita I

Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha II 

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Lakshmi Roopena Samsthita I

Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha II

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Shakti Roopena Samsthita I

Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha II 

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Mathru Roopena Samsthita I

Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha II

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Origin of Lalitha Sahasranama!

Surya and Aruna were the sons of Sage Kashyapa. Surya was beautiful and radiant whereas Aruna was deformed. However, Aruna was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, and pleased with his devotion the Lord made him Surya’s charioteer, and proclaimed that the time just before sunrise would be called as Arunodaya. 

Lalithambika

Surya always looked down upon Aruna and mocked at his body with deformities. When Shiva came to know about it, he cursed Surya to lose his brilliance and become dark. Surya realized his mistake and pleaded with the Lord. The Lord told him to undergo severe penance to regain back his lustre. Lord Sun came to the sacred kshetra called Thirumeeyachur (Tamilnadu) and worshipped Lord Shiva in Gaja Vimana. After months of austerity, when he did not get back his golden lustre, he cried out loudly to the Lord. His loud and thunderous voice disturbed the serenity of the place, and Parvati who was there along with the Lord became very angry and was about to pronounce a curse on Lord Sun.

Sankara immediately intervened and told her that Lord Sun was already under a curse and one more would be devastating for him. Shiva told Parvati to calm down and invoked the “shanta” (peace) aspect in her. She immediately became calm. The Lord gave her the name “SHANTA NAYAKI”. She also became known as SRI LALITHAMBIKA. From Shanta Nayaki’s mouth, the presiding deities of speech, the “Vak-Devis” manifested and glorified her through a thousand beautiful names. These thousand names came to be known as “LALITHA SAHASRANAMA”. Lord Sun was relieved of his curse and with the Lord’s grace, he regained his lost golden lustre. Since the Lord had removed the cloud of darkness covering the Sun, Shiva became known as “Sri Meghanatha”. During the month of Chithirai, for seven days, the sun’s rays fall directly on Lord Meghanatha and this is considered as the devotional offering of Surya to Lord Shiva.


Sri Lalithambika, also known as Sundara Nayaki sits on the “Srichakraraja Simhasana” as the Empress (Maharani) with her right leg folded and placed on the left. The Lalitha Sahasranama which was given out by Vak-Devis was first revealed to Lord Hayagriva, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the “presiding deity of knowledge and intelligence”. Subsequently, Lord Hayagriva taught the Lalitha Sahasranama to his disciple, Sage Agastya, and asked him to worship Sri Lalithambika at Thirumeeyachur. Sage Agastya came to this sacred place and invoked Sri Lalithambika by chanting the Lalitha Sahasranama. The divine Mother was pleased and appeared in front of him as “Navaratnas – the nine gems”. Overwhelmed at this rare and unique darshan, Sage Agastya composed and sang the “Lalitha Navaratna Mala”. From Sri Lalithambika to Hayagriva, and then through Sage Agastya the sacred Lalitha Sahasranama reached the mortals. Even to this day, those who want to learn and chant the Lalitha Sahasranama, come to this sacred place to seek Devi’s blessings. 

A unique feature of this place is that even Sri Durga who is standing on mahishasura is “shanta-swaroopini” with a parrot in her hand! It is believed that the parrot carries the messages and pleas of the devotees to Lalithambika. Even to this day, in the evening, parrots can be seen flying from the temple of Durga towards the temple of Lalithambika!

Once Goddess Lalithambika appeared in the dream of a devotee, and asked for a pair of anklets for her bare feet. The devotee got them made and took it to the temple and asked the priests to put the anklets on Devi’s feet. The priest said that it was not possible and there was no provision for the anklets to go round the feet of the deity. The devotee felt sad and asked the priest to atleast place her offerings at Devi’s feet. When the priest took the anklets to offer it at Devi’s feet, he was astonished to find a narrow opening at Devi’s ankles just enough for the chain to go through! Lalithambika wears the anklets on Her feet. Hence devotees who come to the temple offer Devi a pair of anklets – a rare and unique feature of this temple!

On the auspicious VIJAYADASAMI day, in the sanctum, plantain leaves are spread over an area of 15ft in length and 5ft in width. It is divided into three sections. In the first section closest to the deity, 100 kg of sweet pongal (chakkara pongal) is spread. In the next section, 100kg of tamarind rice and in the third section 100 kg of curds rice is spread – all one behind the other. In the middle of the sweet pongal, a huge hollow or trough is created and a large amount of liquid ghee is poured. It is called as “ghee well”. After the special alankara of Sri Lalithambika, the curtains of the sanctum are drawn apart and arati is performed. The reflection of Sri Lalithambika can be seen in the “ghee well!” This unique, most beautiful and awesome darshan is considered to be extremely auspicious. Devotees throng the shrine in large numbers on Vijayadasami day to have a glimpse of Sri Lalithambika in the “ghee well!” 

The “ghee-well” represents a pure and satvic mind. The rice pongal around the “ghee-well” represents the gross layers of matter of the individual personality. The reflection of Sri Lalithambika (Parabrahma) in the “ghee-well” (mind) represents the “vision of the Divine” (State of Enlightenment). This is the real and everlasting Victory (Vijaya).

“Sarva mangala mangalye shive sarvartha sadhike; saranye tryambake devi narayani namostute”

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