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Friday, October 12, 2007

Durga Pooja - celebrating the feminine form

Durga Puja seems like is the greatest festival of the world in which God is adored as Mother / Devi Maa i.e Goddess Mother. Hinduism is the only religion in the world where motherhood is so revered and celebrated. It is a paradox, considering how even now (more so in rural India due to economic reasons) the girl child is unwanted. But the arrival of a female born in any household is usually heralded as the arrival of Laxmi Maa / Saraswati Maa / Durga Maa - as Shakti's arrival into the household. It is really surprising how only Hinduism incorporates the female energy as part of everything God. Wouldn't the world perish without this?

During this Navaratri season, I bow before every woman of the world as a representative of the Divine Mother. The beauty and the character, qualities that are exhibited by the women of the world, seem to have a strong connection with Shakti and Maa Durga, and I cannot help but bow in front of the magnanimity of this power. The female race is so held in awe by me. Super women of the world indeed! Increasingly, the woman of the world has matched every step of the man, but they also find the energy to be so giving and nurturing - that a man does not easily do. They have become corporate leaders but are equally adept and driven to executing the duties of the home with acumen and a deep sense of giving. Where does this come from? It can only be the SHAKTI energy, resplendant in this universe in the female form.

Here is Phil Servedio's write up on his spiritual awakening...merger of Shiva and Shakti

But the gaze with Ardeliza was nothing short of phenomenal that day. When I started gazing with her, something clicked, as if some part of me that was "out there", was acquired and brought back into the fold, into me, resulting in me being more "here".... I never felt more present in my whole life. It is as if something lines up at a fundamental level. It is a difficult experience to describe, save that it results in a deeper sense of wholeness and presence. Perhaps all my ducks are now lined up in a row..As the gazing continued with Ardeliza, I became not just utterly still, but utterly, utterly still. I felt like I was Shiva, and she was Shakti dancing, in movement around the corpse of me. I was a statue, no movement at all at any level, even physically. ...It was an intimate experience of gazing with both of them. Gazing with Ardeliza, being a woman, had a particular tantric quality to it, a meeting of consciousness with shakti, and it was very profound and intense for me. After the meditation was over, the feeling of love was thick in the room. We joked a lot, which I thought kind of blew off some of the energy, but hell, it's just energy......"sacred marriage" - the union of consciousness with phenomena, Shiva with Shakti. What occurred for me was a literal "embrace" of this world by consciousness, my own self-nature - a sexual act at the level of the heart. And it wasn't lost on me that my gazing session with Ardeliza was the final blow for my transition to this "sacred marriage" - it took a woman to send me across the line.

Understanding the shakti energy is the key, seems like, for any spiritual awakening. The women of the world are portrayed as objects and that takes us away from recognizing and reconciling to this ever pervading energy of Shakti, of Devi Maa resident in every woman.

This segues into yet another thought that all of human kind itself is a form of Godliness. If we can all reconcile to this one fact, how peaceful would this world become. But, we don't. And I see the play of God in this. Why are there so many variations of people and roles. Thinking of my own role. There seems to be no escape in the role that has been thrust upon me. As if, all the forks that came along, were just a means to get me here, and this role was chosen upon by me - with not much say into it. It seems like the world is a movie where there are villains and heroes/heroines and all of us are cast to play 'that' character and once the play is done we are all free to go back to our original spiritual selves. But we are type cast, unless we make an attempt to get out of that mold. We are all components of that one power (the director) that is running the show and the director gets to live vicariously. This is the theory that makes the most sense to me today as to why the world is so. But as Ramana Maharishi always directed us to NOT think or question the world. The world is not to be understood or interpreted by us, but we should merely get to know ourself. "Know thyself that you are God". If I can come up with this one true fact, that would pretty much be the end objective of this life, and our mission (truly) accomplished.

On this day of the Navaratri (nine-nights) festival, my salutations to the Divine Mother, Durga, who exists in all beings as Shakti. During these 9 nights we seek to propitiate Shakti, the Mother Goddess in Her aspect, to bestow wealth, auspiciousness, prosperity, knowledge, and above all spiritual progress towards enlightenment upon us.

Durga Puja Festivity: A Spiritual Metaphor

From twx
Durga Puja symbolises our eternal journey to self-realisation and not just the victory of good over evil. Behind the apparent magnificence of the rituals there lies a deep spiritual significance worth contemplation.

Human mind subject to limitations of time and space cannot conceive the abstract idea of infinite Brahmn, the non-dual one without a second. Ancient sages therefore contemplated suitable symbols for progressive realisation of the Divine through various levels of God-consciousness towards ultimate realisation. Durga Puja encompasses the entire gamut of spiritual realisation.

In the process of spiritual transformation we need to rise above the neuro-linguistic programmes in-built in our DNA. A fortnight before the puja tarpan or offering is made to ancestors till Mahalaya intended to work out the genetic bondage to enable us to awaken our divine consciousness or bodhan on Mahashashti, the first day of the puja.

To a hungry man food is God. That's why humans first worshipped nature. On Mahashashti, prayers are offered to the wood-apple tree as the abode of the goddess. On Mahasaptami, the second day of the puja, nine leaves including a banana tree called Navapatrika are placed for worship. The paradoxical presence of the four children of the goddess — who is otherwise a virgin — in the battlefield is highly symbolic. When subtle intelligence represented by Ganesha is applied to nurturing nature, wealth in the form of Lakshmi evolves.

Material prosperity begets two associates, learning and fine arts represented by Goddess Saraswati and military prowess for protection and preservation represented by Kartikeya. All these four offsprings of the goddess are worshipped for worldly achievements.

Material prosperity and military prowess invariably beget arrogance and egotism unless these are accepted as gifts of the divine and stepping-stones for further progress. But the pernicious ego sheltered under beastly ignorance (buffalo in the image) and identifying itself to be omnipotent breaks the natural law of harmony and peace. At this spiritual crisis primordial nature in the form of Goddess Durga intervenes to vanquish the ego and makes it surrender to her.

It is victory of the universal life force over individual egoism and upholding of cosmic cause over untoward interests of the indomitable ego. With 10 weapons in her 10 hands and the wisdom of the third eye the goddess transcends the 10 human senses of perception and action represented by Mahisha-sura. She represents the universal principle of energy or holy vibration of the cosmos.

Thus, we have progressive departure from nature worship to worship of material prosperity, military prowess, learning, fine arts and intellect. Thereafter the dominating arrogant ego is made to surrender to the omnipotent cosmic energy of Goddess Durga.

Our journey to self-realisation ends with awakening cosmic consciousness as the destination. Above the image of Durga there lies rather invisibly Lord Shiva, repre-senting cosmic consciousness.

On the fourth day of the puja or the day of Vijaya or special victory Goddess Durga is united with Shiva after her worldly play is done for establishing the divine realisation through an evolutionary process. Hence, all the peripherals are immersed into the ocean of consciousness of Lord Shiva, which is the culmination of spiritual progress along with the dissolution of delusive manifestation of the apparent reality.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, friend
    Navratri is a Hindu festival of worship and dance. The word Navaratri literally means

    nine nights in Sanskrit; Nava - Nine and Ratri - nights. During these nine nights and

    ten days, nine forms of Shakti female divinity are worshipped .The 9 nights festival

    of Navratri begins on the first day of Ashwina of the bright fortnight.



Welcome to the spirituality blog

This blog is an offshoot of a website that I had conceived as a result of the spiritual grace and resultant inspiration during Shivaratri Y2K (http://www.jyotirlinga.com) on the joy of Shiva Bhakti and my quest for spiritual progress. Not finding the time (yep, bad excuse!), this blog suits me fine in quickly adding content... my spiritual forays and thoughts - helps log them too. My spiritual journey started with Hinduism and it's simple stories/ teachings as far back as when I was a 2nd grader, with Lord Shiva and has now found convergence with Advaitism / Duality. The Advaitism gurus like Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj; they have provided that spiritual boost of energy in many lagging moments and have tremendously influenced me ... little baby steps at a time... that will hopefully all lead upto a final crescendo. The merits of satsangh are many!

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