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Navratri Significance | JKYog Navratri Global Festival

Program Updates / October 17, 2020

Navratri Significance :  Wish you all a very Happy Navratri ! JKYog and the Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas are celebrating this supremely auspicious 9 Day festival invoking the causeless grace of the ever-compassionate Divine Mother from Oct 17-Oct 25. Highlights of the RKT Dallas celebration include:

  • Arati
  • Bhajan
  • Seva Opportunities
  • Durga Pooja
  • Durga Saptashati
  • Lalitha Sahasranam
  • Interactive Activities
  • Cultural Performances

Watch LIVE broadcast daily at the Radha Krishna Temple Navratri Portal. Click HERE to join.

Devotees across the USA are participating in the grand celebrations. Day 1 commenced with Lalitha Sahasranam recited by devotees from New Jersey, and Durga Saptashati, Ghata Sthapan Pooja and Devi Pooja at the Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas performed by Pandit Kaushik Kumar Purohit. The RKT Dallas Dallas Kirtan group presented beautiful bhajans glorifying the Divine Mother. Manogna Tatapudi of the Bay Area expressed devotion for the Divine Mother through an exquisite Bharatnatyam dance.

Navratri Significance: Why do we celebrate it?

Mahishasur (symbolizing the ego) was a powerful demon. He was granted the boon by Brahma ji that he could not be killed by any man or animal with a caveat that a woman would finally end him. Drunk with pride and power, Mahishasur refused to acknowledge that a woman would be the end of him and tormented the three worlds. The gods were powerless against him. They appealed to Lord Vishnu. Subsequently Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva combined forces to create Devi Durga. He eluded her for fifteen days, constantly changing form into various animals. Finally, when he turned into a buffalo, the Divine Mother stabbed him fatally with her trident on the day of Mahalaya, thus gaining the name Mahishasuramardini – the goddess who killed Mahishasur.

Usually Durga Puja is celebrated seven days after Mahalaya. However, Purushottam Maas, an extra month in the lunar calendar occurred in between this year. This auspicious month made doubly auspicious in 2020 by its coincidence with Ashwin Maas (the month in which rites are performed for all the ancestors i.e. Pitru Paksha) was also celebrated recently by JKYog/RKT Dallas with Bhagavat Mahapuran discourses, Ram Katha Rahasya, Vedic rituals and Kirtan, preparing us spiritually for the Navratri festivities.

In Bengal, Goddess Durga is believed to make her journey from Mount Kailash to her maternal home on Earth after Mahalaya, showering the devotees with her love and grace. People plan months in advance for this most important event of the year and worship Mother Durga with great devotion. Khichuri (a boiled rice/lentil preparation with various spices) is offered and a special dance called the “Dhunuchi” dance is performed to the energetic beats of the Dhol. People visit various Puja Pandals from Panchami onwards in their festive best to particpate in rousing Sandhi Puja or Evening Worship. When the Mother returns on the tenth day to her husband's home, she is bid farewell with a heavy heart by married women who apply Sindoor(vermillion) on Her forehead, Her feet and on each other in a tradition called "Sindoor Khela".

Gujaratis look forward to the all exciting Garba dance! The word Garba refers to womb (derived from Sanskrit Garbha), - women dance around earthen lamps, with the light in the lamp symbolizing the divine energy or Devi within the human body.

South Indian traditions include special prasadam prepared for each day of Navaratri – “chundal” is made from different varieties of boiled lentils. Various deities or dolls (Bommai) are displayed in homes for friends and relatives to admire – this tradition is called Golu(Tamil), Bomma Gullu (Malayalam), Bommai Habba(Kannada), Bommala Koluvu(Telugu).

Oct 17th signals the beginning of the Devi Paksha with Pratipad or the first day of Navratri. Each day a different form of Goddess Durga is worshipped: Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayini, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri respectively. This culminates in Vijayadashami – the day symbolizing the conquering of our ego and all that is selfish and evil within us to achieve selfless divine love by the grace of Devi Durga – to become tolerant, forgiving and caring just like a mother.

In many parts of India, the tenth day is also celebrated as Dussehra – Lord Ram’s victory over Ravan and His return with Sita ji and Lakshman ji to Ayodhya. Devotees burn the effigies of Ravan and Kumbhakaran, rejoice in the triumph of good over evil and celebrate the coronation of their beloved Ram as the king of Ayodhya. Ram Leela or the pastimes of Lord Ram are showcased through dance and drama over the ten days.

Navratri Significance: Nine forms of the Divine Mother

Prathama: Shailaputri

Shailaputri is the daughter of the mountain or Devi Parvati. The mountain symbolizes great heights. Parvati is a reincarnation of Sati who was married to Lord Shiva in a previous birth and later gave up her body in repentance because of the insult received by Lord Shiva at the hands of her father Daksh. Parvati is known to have undertaken severe penance to attain Lord Shiva Himself as her husband. She indicates the ideal of divine consciousness and selfless love for God for us to aspire to and hence the worship begins with propitiating her. She is depicted as riding the bull, Nandi, with a trident in her right hand and lotus in her left. She is the provider of all good fortunes.

Dwitiya: Brahmacharini

To test Her sincerity, Lord Shiva sent some yogis who tried to dissuade Her from pursuing Lord Shiva by describing his terrifying form. Parvati staunchly pursued her penance saying, “Love based on qualities of the beloved is short lived. Countless births may pass waiting for Him, but I will marry Shiva or will remain unmarried.” She first subsisted on fruits and flowers for a thousand years, followed by eating fallen leaves for three thousand years and slept in the open. Finally, she gave up eating even leaves (Aparna) or drinking water and became extremely weak. Her mother Maina Devi would be heartbroken to watch her daughter in this state and keep calling out, “O! Ma” leading to the name Uma. Devi Brahmacharini represents purity and austerity established in divine consciousness. She holds a rosary in her right hand and Kamandal(pot) in her left. She is always represented barefooted. Goddess Brahmacharini is believed to bestow her devotees with wisdom and knowledge.

Tritiya: Chandraghanta

Pleased with Parvati’s austerity, Lord Shiva agrees to marry her. He approaches her home in a terrifying form, ashes smeared on his body, with matted locks and snakes around his neck, accompanied by ghouls, ghosts, and other scary creatures. Maina Devi faints upon seeing her darling daughter’s future husband. To prevent embarrassment to her family, Parvati too assumes a fierce form of Maa Chandraghanta (or one with a crescent moon shaped like a bell on her head) with ten arms, wielding various weapons seated on a lion. She then persuades Lord Shiva through prayer to assume a handsome form for the wedding.

Maa Chandraghanta removes sins and obstacles of devotees – she represents strength and serenity. She is fierce towards the wicked but compassionate towards devotees.

Chaturthi: Kushmanda

Kushmanda means “little energy egg”. This represents the primordial power or Shakti. Ma Kushmanda produced a cosmic egg of energy from her smile which spread light everywhere. Then she went on with the task of creating the Universe. From Her left eye emerged the terrifying Mahakali, from Her center eye Mahalakshmi, and from Her right eye, the benevolent Mahasaraswati who went on the create the other living beings and gods in the Universe. She is depicted having eight arms holding a Kamandal, bow, arrow, lotus, a pot of nectar, disc, mace and rosary respectively in each of them.

Worshipping Her bestows tremendous energy on the devotees.

Panchami: Skandamata

Skanda means Kartikeya and Mata means mother. Skandamata is the mother of Lord Kartikeya and this is the motherly form of Goddess Durga. Kartikeya was born from Shiva and Parvati to destroy the demon Tarakasura. In this form she has four arms, rides on a lion seated on a lotus. She hold Kartikeya in one hand, a lotus in the second and the third and blesses her devotees with the fourth. She blesses her devotees with peace and prosperity.

Shashti: Katyayani

Goddess Katyayani was born to Sage Katyayan. She was created from Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva, and a fierce form of the divine mother whose goal is to destroy evil and protect the world from demons. She has four hands, holding a lotus and a sword in two of them, blessing with the third and protecting devotees with the fourth. She is the one who destroys the demon Mahishasur and is also known as Mahishasuramardini.

The Gopis of Braj observed a month long fast and worshipped Goddess Katyayani to obtain Shree Krishna as their husband.

Saptami: Kalaratri

Maa Kalaratri , a terrifying form of the Goddess, ends ignorance and darkness. She is also known as Mother Kali. She has black complexion, three eyes, long untied hair and breathes fire. Seated on a donkey, she has four hands – one holds a scimitar, one a thunderbolt and the remaining hands, protect and bless the devotees. She wears a necklace that shines brightly.

The demons Shumbha and Nishumbha who had captured the heavenly abode from Indra, met their end at the hands of Maa Kalaratri. Another demon Raktabeeja was also sent to kill Kali. Every drop of his blood, if it touched the ground would create a clone of Raktabeeja. To prevent his blood from falling the ground, the mother drank the blood of each clone of Raktabeeja and finally killed him.

Mother Kali is benevolent to her devotees and destroys evil-doers.

Ashtami: Mahagauri

After undergoing severe penance for several thousand years, Parvati becomes emaciated and covered in dirt and soil. Pleased with her devotion, Lord Shiva bathes her in the waters of the Ganga and she emerges as Mahagauri dressed in white. She is said to be nine years old, has four arms, and rides a bull. She carries a trident and a damaru (small two headed drum).

Both Rukmini and Mother Sita worshipped Gauri to get Lord Krishna and Lord Ram as their husbands respectively. She symbolizes loyalty in relationships, bestows intelligence, peace and purity on devotees, removing their sins.

Navami: Siddhidatri

Siddhidatri is the one who bestows perfection (Siddhi). Various powers such as Anima, Mahima, Lahima, Garima etc are obtained through propitiation of Siddhidatri.  One side of Lord Shiva’s body in the Ardhanarishwar form is Goddess Siddhidatri. She is seated on a lotus and has four hands, holding a lotus, conch, disc and mace respectively.

On this day the Navratri Kalash is worshipped and Durga Saptashati is recited.

Navratri Significance: How Mother Durga Reveals Her Powers to Shankaracharya

Swamiji relates a beautiful story about the spiritual significance of the Divine Mother.

Adi Jagadguru Shankaracharya did the monumental task of re-establishing Sanatan Dharma in India after a wave of Buddhism covered large swathes of the country.

In his commentary on Vedanta, he declared that God has no powers and is the formless Brahman. However, an incident in Kashi changed his perspective.

Every day he would go to bathe on the banks of the river. One day a woman sitting by the dead body of her husband was blocking his path. Shankaracharya asked her to give way. The woman just started wailing loudly. Annoyed Shankaracharya said, “Mother why are you crying? Will that make your husband come back?” The woman turned around and said, “Why do you ask me? Tell my husband to get up and clear the path!” Shankaracharya said, “How can he do that ? He has no energy!”

The lady responded, “In your commentary you have mentioned that God does not have any Shakti(energy). But we know that God has made this world. Can God make this world without Shakti? To do anything one needs Shakti. If your statement is correct that God can create the world without Shakti, then to prove your point let this dead body get up and walk away!”

Stunned, Shankaracharya thought, “Even Ved Vyas could not defeat me and I have been defeated by this woman!” He closed his eyes and when he opened them, the whole scene had changed. Adi Shakti, Mother Durga seated on a lion appeared before Him. Shankaracharya realized that the Divine Mother Herself had come to illumine him. He prostrated before the Mother and composed the “Anand Lahiri” in which he admitted that God creates the world with His Shaktis. Adi Shakti Durga is the governor of Maya(material energy) and the primordial cause of creation, maintenance and destruction. Durga is the Yogmaya Shakti (power) of God. Just as the different forms of God are one, similarly the different forms of Yogmaya or the energy of God are also one – Radha, Durga, Kali, Sita and Lakshmi are all one, they are not to be differentiated.

The Shaktiman(energetic) has a form because of the Shakti(energy). Shree Krishna has a form because of Shree Radha. Hence Jagadguru Shri Kripaluji Maharaj says

“Joi Radha Soi Krishna Hai, Iname Bheda na Maana,

Ika Hai Hladini Shakti Aru, Shaktimaan ik Jaana”

Shree Krishna and Radha are One, do not differentiate between them. One is the Hladini Shakti (Divine Love Energy) and the other is the Energetic.

Shree Radha (Yogmaya) has many subservient powers or Shaktis. One of the aspects of Yogmaya is the Prema Shakti or Divine Love.

Shree Krishna is not as pleased when we serve Him directly, as He is when we serve Him through Radharani.

It is thus only by the grace of the Divine Mother that we can achieve our spiritual goal of Nishkaam Bhakti through which we can serve Shree Krishna perfectly!

“Ya Devi Sarvabhutesu Shakti Rupena Samsthita

Namstasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah”

To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Energy,

Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations again and again.

 “Ya Devi Sarvabhutesu Matru Rupena Samsthita

Namstasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah”

To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of the Mother,

Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations again and again.