Navratri - The Nine Nights of Divinity
'Navratri' means the 'Nine Nights'. 'Nava' means 'Nine', and 'Ratri' means 'Night'. Nights provide rest and rejuvenation. At night you turn inward (you sleep) and you feel refreshed and rested in the morning. In the same way, Navratri or the nine nights is that time (of the year) when you turn inward towards your source. It is the time of the year to spend with yourself, nurturing and rejuvenating yourself through prayers, chants, meditation, fasting, and other spiritual practices, and coming out feeling refreshed, renewed and creative.
The significance and true spirit of Navratri
Navratri is celebrated to glorify the spirit in us. The spirit in us alone can destroy all negative qualities (inertia, pride, obsession, cravings, aversions, etc). By turning inward during Navratri, and getting in touch with the spirit within, we can overcome these negative tendencies and invoke the positive qualities that are within us, thus feeling elevated and renewed.
Navratri is traditionally celebrated at the beginning of autumn every year, when everything in nature starts undergoing transformation. These nine nights are said to be precious as there are subtle energies in the creation that are enriched at this time of the year. These energies enhance and assist the experience of going inwards, making prayer, chanting and other spiritual practices more fruitful.
There are 64 divine mother impulses which govern the subtle creation. These are responsible for restoring all earthly and spiritual benefits. They are simply part of one's awakened consciousness. These nine nights are celebrated to rekindle those divine impulses and celebrate the innermost depth of our lives.
~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
IMPACT OF MANTRAS
SIGNIFICANCE OF YAGNA
Yagnas performed during Navratri
The celebrations at the Art of Living Navratri are marked by a series of yagnas and homas to nullify all the misery, sorrow and pain, provide solace and bring in peace throughout the world. They are also meant to protect the environment, by instilling honor and reverence for Mother Earth. Scientifically, the Homas have proven to purify the atmosphere, casting a healing effect on the mind and the body. Each day of this nine-day period has special implications and yagnas and homas are performed accordingly.
Sri Maha Ganapati Homa
The rituals begin with an offering to Ganesha, the Lord of Auspiciousness. Ganapathi Homa is symbolic of removing the obstacles before initiating any new venture.
Sri Navgraha Homa
Performed to propitiate Nine Planets, which influence various spheres of life. It nullifies the negative impact created by the Nav Grahas or Nine Planets.
Sri Maha Rudra Homa
Rudra is the manifestation of Lord Shiva. It is one of the most ancient Homas from the text of Vedas. It is done for overall prosperity, health, happiness and removal of obstructions.
Sri Maha Sudarshan Homa
Offered to Lord Sudarshana/Narayana, it signifies the removal of ignorance and illumination of a new life enriched with knowledge. Sudarshan signifies the discus of Lord Narayana. It is supposed to be the infallible weapon of Lord Narayana. It bestows clarity and helps remove blocks in the mind. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has blessed us with the Sudarshan Kriya.
Sri Nava Chandi Homa
The day of Ashtami or the eighth day, marks the pinnacle of all homas of Navaratri. The Sri Nava Chandi Homa(Durga, Bhadrakali, Amba, Annapoorna devi, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika or Chandi.
Sri Rishi Homa
Offered to all enlightened masters who have walked on this planet
In gratitude, you may also participate by taking a Sankalpa in the Yagnas.
The Benefits of Participating in a Yagna
Every time you are negative, you transmit those negative vibrations of anger, jealousy, greed, frustration, and hatred. Yagnas are meant to neutralize and nullify all of them.
There are many benefits of participating in a Yagna. Some of them are Swasti (good health), Shradha(unshakable faith), Meta (awakened intellect). Faith and intellect are often considered to be opposing to one another, but in a Yagna both get sharpened. Faith gets deepened and reasoning becomes very sharp. The other benefits of yagna include Pragya (heightened consciousness), Buddhi (ability to discern) Balam (strength), Veeryam (valor), Ayush (long life), Aishwaryam (wealth), and many more.
How to Participate in a Yagna
- Participate with a feeling of Faith and Reverence
Though you may not understand everything that is happening in the Yagna, just sit with eyes closed or eyes open and enjoy all that is happening. That is what is called Shradha, which means falling in love with the unknown. We know that there is something, but we don't know what that is. Once you fall in love with it then we start knowing it. Then you feel, 'Wow, there is an energy. Mother Divine is not just a concept that has come from somebody's mind, but it is a reality. The subtle energy is so real'.
So until this becomes real and obvious, start loving this unknown.
As the mantras are being chanted, just sit in meditation and bathe in that vibration of the mantras. When the people who sit for the Yagna and the people who are performing the Yagna are both meditators, then the impact is more. Sometimes people do it just as a ritual, then its impact is not that great.
- Eat light food
It is not recommend to fast, but eat less. Don't eat too much food, but eat as much as necessary because too much food brings dullness in the mind. At the same time, too much energy while fasting will also not suit you.
- Participate as much as you can. Don't strain yourself
Sometimes you may find the Yagna to be very long. If you have to get up and go, and come back, there is no problem. You don't have to strain yourself. Sit as much as you can, enjoying the chants.
- Drop your botherations in the fire of the Yagna
If anything is bothering you, as they're putting herbs into the fire, you also imagine that you are putting all your botherations into the fire. All your concerns, worries, aversions, etc., just throw them into the fire and keep a free mind.