[Advaita-l] Significance of Navaratri

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Sep 24 01:15:10 CDT 2003

On Tue, 23 Sep 2003, Prasad Balasubramanian wrote:

> namasthe,
>  If the learned members of the group can
>  explain the significance of each day of Navaratri
>  and the specific set of Pujas that should be performed
>  with the respective name of Slokas and Stotras,
>  it'd be very helpful for the devotees all over the
>  world.

Navaratri (more appropriately sharadiya navaratri as there is also a
vasanta navaratri in chaitra masa) commemorates the nine day battle of
Durga Mata against Mahishasura.  On the 10th day She won so it is called
Vijaya Dashami (Or Dussehra as it is known in the North.)  This year
Ashvin Shukla pratipada is a kshaya tithi so it starts on the day of the
new moon (i.e. Friday.)

One should begin observing the vrata by ghata sthapana or installation of
the Goddess in the form of a clay pot.  Why a pot?  Anthropologists
suggest it is symbolic of the womb which seems plausible as the Goddess is
Mother Of The Universe (Jagadamba)  Devi is to be worshipped in this form.
In Gujarat we do the dance called garbha around Her.  In the first three
days She is worshipped as Lakshmi, in the middle three as Kali, and the
last three as Saraswati.  Together they represent wealth, power, and
wisdom.  The form of the worship is mixed Vedic and Tantric.  It is Vedic
in the sense that the text is the Chandi Patha which is from the
Markandeya Mahapurana of Shri Vedavyasa.  But commentators such as Shri
Bhaskararaya tell us that the method of the ritual is from the Katyayani
Tantra.  A full reading of the Chandi Path should be preceded by the
Kavacha, Argala, and Kilaka stotras and ended with the stotras called the
3 Rahasyas.  The text of these can be found in any good edition of the
Chandi Path.  Many people do a complete recitation every day of Navaratri.
If one doesn't have the time, he can recite one charitra or one adhyaya
per day but once you have decided you must never leave the recitation

Several days have special significance.  The 5th day is called Lalita
Panchami.  It is considered an especially good day for initiation into
Shrividya.  The 8th day is called Havanashtami.  People who do not do
havan all 9 days do it on this day.  In Gujarat many families worship
their Kuladevi on this day.  Vijaya Dashami is also the occasion of Ayudha
Puja.  This commemorates when the Devas put their shakti into Durga Matas
divine weapons so She could finally kill Mahishasura.  Rajputs and other
soldiers worship their swords and professionals and craftsmen in general
worship the tools of their trade at this time.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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