9.22.2006

Shakti worship during Navaratri

Navaratri is attributed to 9 days when Shakti is worshipped in all her forms. The three primary forms of Shakti worshipped are Durga, Saraswati and Lakshmi. Durga renders courage while Saraswati gives knowledge and education and Lakshmi brings home wealth and prosperity.

During the first three days, three forms of Durga are worshipped respectively. They are Maheshwari, Gaumaari, and Varahi who are Durga swarupinis. On the next three days Lakshmi Swarupinis are worshipped and they are Mahalakshmi, Vaishnavi and Indrani respectively. On the last three days three forms of Saraswati are worshipped and they are Brahmi, Narasimhi and Chamundi respectively.

The origin of Navaratri came about when Adi Shankaracharya gave Upadesham to the people at two primary locations during the installation of the Sri Chakra. He delivered his Upadesham at Srisailam(Andhra Pradesh) and Koolurmugambika(Karnataka). He directed the women folk to worship the Goddess and seek her blessings for wealth, prosperity and long life for their husbands and overall hapiness in the family.

Shakti is worshipped through puja, music, rangolis as well as through daanam all of which are done at the same time.

Shakti worship in Puja:

Navaratri is the time when the great Rishis performed puja through the medium of fire. This is known as Sri Mangala Chandi Maha Chandi Homam(Havan). Markandeya Rishi gives references of 108 forms of Shakti from the Devi Bhagavata in 700 mantras
spread across 13 chapters. During the worship through fire, banyan sticks and ghee offerings are made along with the offering of a saree into the flames of the yagna. Mantras sung during this Homam offer worship to SriMahakali, SriMahalakshmi,
SriShankari, SriJayadurga, SriMahasaraswati, SriPadmavati, SriRajamathangi, SriBhavani, SriAarthaambika, SriKameshwari, SriBhuvaneshwari, SriAgnidurga and SriShivadharika Parameshwari who is another form of Ardhanaarishwara. During the worship, the Goddess reveals each of these forms during the time of Navaratri.

While Rishis perform through the medium of fire, women at home perform the same puja through the medium of water. Water, considered as the essence of the Goddess Herself is taken in a brass Kalasham(pot) on which sandalwood paste is applied. Turmeric powder and Kumkum are smeared on the sides of the Kalasham. The mouth of the pot is covered with mango leaves held in place by a coconut. The Kalasham is covered with a red cloth and this whole arrangement is placed over raw rice.

The arrangement of dolls on steps follows this where all the Gods and Devas are arranged at home. This is called Gollu puja in the south of India.
The significance of keeping Gollu at home is to teach the yourger generation of children the tradition of worship of the Goddess through a medium best understood by them. Oil lamps are lit for all the Gods and this ensures that the oncoming
generations of the family do not move away from the spiritual path or tradition.

Shakti worship in music:

Carnatic music makes references to the 108 forms of the Goddess through songs composed in her praise. These songs are sung during this period in 9 ragas namely Todi, Kalyani, Kambodi, Bhairavi, Banduvarali, Neelambari, Bhilahari, Punnahavarali and Vasanta Ragas.

Shakti worship through rangoli:

9 types of rangoli are made at home for each day.
Day 1: Rangoli is made with dots
Day 2: Rangoli is made with squares
Day 3: Rangoli is made with flowers (lotus, rose etc)
Day 4: Rangoli is made with steps (like gollu puja)
Day 5: Rangoli is made with birds
Day 6: Rangoli is made with one of the names of Shakti
Day 7: Rangoli is made with Vittarani (designs from the palm of the Goddess's hands, like shanka, flowers etc)
Day 8: Rangoli patterns with the trishul (trident) she holds in her hand
Day 9: Rangoli is made with Hridaya Kamalam (Lotus of her heart)

Shakti worship through daanam:

Married women( sumangalis) are invited home during this period and offerings of gingerli oil, turmeric powder, kumkum, rose water, sandalwood powder, cosmetics oils, nalangu manjal (a red paste made of kumkum and turmeric and applied to the hands and feet), ground mehandi and flowers are made.

This completes the worship of Shakti during the 9 auspitious days of Navaratri.

21 comments:

JC Joshi said...

Hi Kavitha,

Thanks for educating me about the rituals related with worship of ‘Shakti’ or energy and its forms associated with colours - yellow (essence of moon), red (essence of core of earth) and white (essence of sunlight) - and the three aspects (of creation, sustenance, and transformation) of each of those, in South India over nine days of Navaratri…

JC Joshi said...

Kavitha, the ancient Hindus visualized the Himalayas as Goddess (Devi) reclining west-east with her head towards the western end. And just as they visualized concentrated energy centres within the human body along different locations on the spine, each as an essence of some selected planet, they built temples on the different selected locations in the Himalayas where energy believably is concentrated…

Nainadevi temple in Himachal Pradesh signifies the believable location of the eye of the Goddess, the "Ajna Chakra"…On one end of the Nainital, towards China Peak, (like a model of Mount Kailash-Mansarovar lake), in Uttaranchal, also there is a temple where the Formless Mother, who is believed to have 108 forms, is worshipped in the form of Nainadevi’s idol…And, like Meru Town in Kenya, Africa, the hill-station at Almora is also located around 5000 feet altitude. And, although the west discovered Meru town sometimes around the year 1972, from time immemorial the Hindus refer to the spine in human body as “Merudand”, and it was Meru Hill which believably was used for the mythological "churning of the milky ocean" by the Devtas and the Rakshashas!

A period, from 23rd September to 1st October, is dedicated to the Goddess this year. The dates are decided every year based on the lunar cycle, for festivities all over India during Navaratri or nine nights - three each to mark the aspects of creation, sustenance and transformation of earth and human life upon it by the Goddess as Mother - to conform to nine selected planets (Navagrah), one central to perhaps represent the formless that covers directions upwards and downwards, and one each responsible for eight other cardinal directions…

Although one might not know the significance of it, one would have perhaps known today how in any year a period of one month duration each is assigned a different Zodiac sign related to it - out of the total number of 12. This is seen translated in the horoscope of any individual, prepared by the ancients in ‘India’, which indicates the positions (in the sky or one of the “panchabhootas”) of ‘grahas’, literally the planets, but includes the Sun also, as they stood at the time of the concerned individual’s birth (in 12 “houses”), each representing 30 degrees to cover 360 degrees in space, which is also reflected in 108 (9x12) forms of Devi…

JC Joshi said...

PS –

Kavitha, I would like to add that Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam, in the northeast India, is believably located at the “Mooladhar Chakra” of Devi, for it is cryptically communicated - in the mythological story related to Shiva’s marriage with Parvati (models of Earth& Moon) - as "the location where the consort of Ardhanarishwar Shiva’s, or Sati’s, genitals fell when Her dead body was removed from His shoulder by Narayana with His Sudershan Chakra, lest the angry young Shiva break the earth with His Tandava Nritya, performed after the death of Sati in the sacred fire”, that signifies the eruption of a volcano and resultant evolution of moon from the heart or core of earth as believed by the "scientists" today!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kavitha,

It was good education and all 30 years in my life I never tried to understand the subject behind this festival..... Today I came across with your article for some reason and I undertood the basic purpose of celebrating Dasara festival. Thank you, once again.... All the best in your life and happy and warm wishes on Dasara....

kavitha said...

Thank you anonymous for leaving your wishes here. I shall be writing more on navaratri shortly.

regds
Kavitha

JC Joshi said...

Kavitha,
I am so sorry! There is a factual error. Please read in place of “discovery of Meru town in 1972”, “A nearly complete skull of Homo habilis was reportedly discovered in 1972 on the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya, with an estimated age of 1.8 million years, and that the Homo sapiens all over the world today are believed to have their roots in Africa...”

It is interesting that as per Hindu mythology, Kashi (present day Varanasi) reportedly is indicated as the absolutely original root of human race, as “the original abode of Adi Shiva, or Ardhanarishwar”.

The mythological story further indicates the root of human race to change from one location in an era to another in another era, as the story indicates that after Sati’s death, after the marriage of Shiva with Parvati (another form of Sati Herself!), their abode shifted to the Mount Kailash, in present day Tibet, in China. [The Christian belief of “Adam’s creation in the Eden Garden, and thereafter that of Eve from Adam’s own rib,” incidentally also sounds somewhat similar to the Hindu mythological story]…

And, perhaps as the basis of ‘Nature’s’ design, this phenomenon is also exhibited by a Banyan tree (as it is being cited in respect of Buddhism also that had its original roots in India) when the original root might disappear while new roots hanging down from the branches catch fresh grounds at new locations…

Mount Meru or Sumeru, referred in the Hindu mythology, believably is an infinitely high imaginary mountain of fire or energy located at the centre of the universe, in the island of Jambudweep or the original India related with Adi Shiva. The appearance of Himalayas in its north from under the sea bed, subsequently, apparently pushed the then existing seawater around its northern end southwards over the relatively lower Vindhyas, till then the highest mountain, to the sea in the South of India…And they termed it as Sage Agastya emptying the sea!

Merudand has been related with human body, as ‘the model of the universe’, in the form of the spinal column…Therefore, as the present day root of the human race was perhaps found related with Africa by the ancients also, the town on the northeast slope of Kenya also seems to have got its name as Meru Town, although some stories indicate Mandar Hills, also in Africa, as the mount used for the “churning of the milky ocean.”

kavitha said...

Hi Joshi uncle,

a ver interesting analogy indeed. I was quite tempted to connect Meru with Sumer, or Sumeru as you put it. Sumer is also an ancient assyrian town around the area of mesopotamia.

Its like saying urvashi is a name given to those people hailing from Ur, another assyrian town while we give the same name to the mythological apsaras. Well we cannot deny that Gandhari belonged to Gandhar, present day Afghanistan or for that matter the egyptian ruler Ramases being equated to Lord Rama which makes Rama and Moses opponents... sounds wierd doesn't it?

just a few random thoughts :) Please dont take them seriously :D
regds
Kavitha

The list goes on...

JC Joshi said...

Hi Kavitha,

With the given background belief of “maya” that is illusion, it is pointed out that the human mind receives thoughts related with time, for example, in the good old days in the ‘past’, unlike in the ‘present’, children were raised up with the belief, “Truth ever prevails”. The practice of naming people and places after some great personalities, however, still continues, although a poet said, to the effect, “Blind people are named Nainsukh (i.e., ‘one that has good eye sight’)". And, in the present, one finds so many Ramas in India, Mauritius, Thailand, and so on - because of “churning” or movement of people from one location to another and their interaction with the locals - although their actions today might not match with the name…In Manipur, I came to learn of a legend popular among some people there. Although the characters had different names prevalent in that region, the story was a copy of Ganesha going around his parents while Kartikeya physically went round the earth (which perhaps originally communicated the relationship/ difference between the two alternative approaches to reach the assigned goal - “material” or the “spiritual”!)

JC Joshi said...

Talking of Shakti or energy, in the solar system, the sun, a ball of fire due to fusion of Hydrogen atoms in its core, is the main source of energy. All planets and planetoids, comets etc. revolve around it in their respective orbits, or elliptical paths in space, and receive energy from it for their own sustenance besides all ‘life forms’ on them, if any…

The planet closest to Sun is Mercury, followed by Venus, then Earth-Moon, followed by Mars and so on…Venus being the inner planet, it does not encircle Earth-Moon while Mars, being the outer planet, encircles them also while orbiting Sun. And in respect of the time taken by these two, Venus completes one revolution in 0.615 of a terrestrial year compared to about 1.88 years taken by Mars, the apparently slower of the two…

Perhaps the above-cited data, read with the background belief of man as model of the universe, represented through the essences of selected eight members of the solar system as its essence, could help understand the mythological story regarding Shiva-Parvati’s association with Earth-Moon; that of Kartikeya, in “fast moving peacock” as his vehicle, with Venus; and that of Ganesha, in “slow moving mouse” as his vehicle, with Mars…And, also why Ma Durga is also referred as "ashtabhujadhari" or the eight-handed Goddess (that covers the eight directions with one member each in control of one direction) and also the up and down directions as the Formless one...thus sometimes she is shown having ten hands and Dussehra is celebrated in the Northern India over ten days on the life of Lord Rama, the son of Dasarath (literally, "the one who rides a chariot driven by ten horses")during Tretayuga...

artnavy said...

I am going to be a regular visitor to your blog!!

kavitha said...

Hi Artnavy,

You are most welcome! you can also put forward your comments here.

Regds
Kavitha

JC Joshi said...

Continuing on ‘Shakti’ or energy, one learns from Astronomers how our Solar system, which is relatively superior in all aspects - size, age, etc. within our infinite sized “milky way galaxy”, (read with the mythological story about ‘churning of the milky ocean’), of innumerable stars that are being made to go around its centre (where a Black Hole, or perhaps the prototype of “Krishna” of Hindu mythology, having super gravity is believably housed)…

And, we are told that the solar system that includes our beautiful planet earth - as one of its members so vitally important to us humans - is one of the many possible systems that could perhaps be inhabited by more intelligent life form(s) than man, in some other galaxies that fill the infinite void of the universe…However, the ancient ‘wise Hindus’, through their findings and realizations, (which is beyond comprehension of the ‘present day scientists’, perhaps because of lack of faith/ belief, although, of course, it is realized even today that macrocosm and microcosm behave in the same fashion), indicate man, and so also our planet earth (prototype of ‘Gangadhar Shiva’!), as Omnipotent Formless God’s (Naadbindu’s) superior most creation, a model of the universe itself with a component of the Formless united with Mars, but in a dormant form coiled like a King Cobra, needing to be awakened to reach the “Truth” possible only through Yogic exercises with zero thought!

JC Joshi said...

Mythological stories - enacted as ‘leelas’, be it Ramleela that is related with Tretayuga; or Krishnaleela, that is related with Dwaoeryuga, or the dramas related to apparent long lost golden past even in the ‘present’ - indicate the presence of two elevated souls as advisors to powerful kings at any time, although with lesser relatively lower reach from one yuga to another - a little lesser elevated one for advise on day-to-day material life and the other superior one for other basic issues that apparently are related to long term future, running through Yugas, with the goal for all humans to reach the ultimate truth when the time is right…The rituals thus help in carrying on the ‘Truth’ of the illusion or ‘maya’ through generations…

JC Joshi said...

Hi Kavitha,

It is interesting to note that when it comes to ‘scientific’ observations, we do not call, say for example, the falling of apples from trees as “fruits performing rituals”, or “one apple copying another apple” to fall to the ground below – we call it “natural”, as Newton believably discovered the laws related to it!... Also, we know that (atomic) energy is required to send any instrument or even man (who believably is only an instrument as per the ‘wise Hindus’) into space in rockets! The ancients thus probably similarly reached the conclusion about the human body to act like the space rocket within which the dormant formless energy is seated,as the space traveler as well as the supplier of energy required for the purpose – the only difference being that this “space ship” normally doesn’t take off physically, although the mythological stories do indicate Hanuman and many other characters flying in air, or Yogis/ Rakshasas disappearing at one place and reappearing at another. Prhaps the phenomenon is somewhat like ‘natural’ eruption of volcanoes/ rising of water in springs to great heights (and thus the use of the word “elevated souls), which perhaps exist to help inspire man to find ways to awaken the ‘kundalini’ to reach the ‘Absolute Truth’ and nothing but the ‘Absolute Truth’ for attaining “moksha” or liberation!

JC Joshi said...

We have earlier also seen how cosmic energy apparently gets purified after passing through thick masonry structures, such as the pyramids (literally “fire within”), within which a mummified body of some Pharaoh was placed in Egypt, perhaps with the intent of energizing to a higher elevation the departed soul, which is generally believed to hover around the body for twelve days or so before it either gets out of the birth-death cycle or re-enters a new body, only if it is successful in doing so...

These structures have a square base with four numbers inclined triangular surfaces, which rise to a height in a certain proportion of the width of the base to meet at a point. It is observed that these were so oriented that each side faced one of the four cardinal directions…Such structures are also used in Hindu temples at isolated locations to avoid interference from normal human activities - from time immemorial - within which a deity is placed and certain rituals are performed in order to assure that it gets energized during the day/ night, for transfer of the radiated energy to devotees in the morning/ evening...And, in Hindu mythology, Brahma, the creator of physical forms, is also described as having four faces…

JC Joshi said...

The ancients understood each physical form to be composed of two components – the material and the spiritual, or “shakti”, i.e, energy related with the soul…

Kavitha, as you have indicated different names for the shakti part, it is the energy related with the four headed Brahma that is called Brahmi, the creative part of Goddess of knowledge, Saraswati. The sustaining part that is normally related with Vishnu is called Narasimhi the fourth believable re-incarnation of Vishnu, Narsimhavatar (half man & half lion form); and the destructive part as Chamunda (literally “four headed”) as a form of the eight handed Durga or Parvati…who is related with Moon as the energy of Shiva that is Earth!

JC Joshi said...

The mythological story related to Tretayuga indicates Moon as the prototype of Rama’s wife Sita – who, like Parvati in the Satyuga, was apparently born from within the earth - as “vaidehi’ or without physical form or pure energy form or, say, as the soul-mate of Rama... Read with the concept of ‘mithya jagat’ i.e., illusory earth, or creation as ‘maya’ that is illusion and the philosophy of one God and human being as His image, the wise ancients appear to communicate the whole creation as thoughts or dream of the single omnipotent being. This phenomenon is perhaps reflected in the apparent human beings today in the form of thoughts that have no inward/ outward audio-visual projection possible in the generality of men - as it is in dreams to a certain extent - in the ‘wakeful condition’ (as the universe is reported to be such a 3D projection by the Supreme Being by certain Yogis), although some ‘elevated persons’ reportedly are capable of seeing events related to the ‘past’ as well as the ‘future’ in respect of some individuals in their ‘mind’s eye’. The phenomenon therefore is like someone viewing a previously recorded film of His past failures and successes before achieving ‘pefection’!

JC Joshi said...

Of course, ‘perfection’ – seen through the eye of a purely spiritual or formless unending being - means balance between the apparent physically perfect unending form and the original spiritual energy, which apparently was achieved with the creation of our planet earth (Shiva) at the end of ‘Satyuga’, starting at the beginning of ‘Kaliyuga’ or the point where the present is apparently headed, and hence the confusion seen among the models in the form of human beings, although ‘Supreme Knowledge’ believably resides within each human form, unknown to one, perhaps mainly because of lack of faith/ belief!…

When, as per the hint in Hindu mythology, it apparently takes about 4.6 billion years to just view the complete film of ‘creation’ backwards, God alone would know how much ‘apparent time’ it would have taken Him initially trying the various alternatives to achieve perfection as indicated, perhaps therefore, by the apparent existence of infinite other believably imperfect galaxies that fill the infinite void of the universe…

JC Joshi said...

As far as the logic of 'maya'is concerned, there is no doubt that the human form is a wonderful design that apparently has unlimited capacity, but with knowledge regarding its optimum use not understood in the ‘present’, although it might be available hidden somewhere as reflected in use of sign language in the game of ‘treasure hunt’…

The ancients seem to have understood the design to be based on energy or “shakti” as the basic element. They indicate, primarily, sound energy, as in the cosmic sound “Om”, to be related with the Formless or part of the “Naadbindu” that resides within each apparent physical form…

It is originally apparently reflected in the colourless air and water, which are found necessary for human life on earth, and hence the importance of “pranayam” or control of breath in Yoga, and use of water the universal solvent in worship…

And, colours - believably as reflected in the essences of planets that go into the formation of human body, and also seen in the rainbow formed by rainwater and in earth as coloured gemstones - apparently act as more complex derivatives of the basic sound. Thus the need to eliminate interfering sounds, images and information caused due to negative ones out of those during ‘meditation’…Hence ‘gem-therapy’ appears to have come into use since time immemorial…

JC Joshi said...

Hi Aswin, Kavitha, b… b…, living away…

The ancients apparently realized God to be “Yatra, tatra, sarvatra” or “here, there and everywhere” while on the other hand they stated the universe/ world to be “mithya” or a lie, a result of Creator’s “maya” or illusion…which is apparently unacceptable to the ‘present day’ man…

Maybe for getting nearer the ‘Truth’, personally one could think what could possibly have been the original thought behind the hierarchy - as it is apparent any ‘time’ in the materially variable universe/ world - from near zero to near infinity with the given basic fact, as believably realized by the ancients of the existence of a part of the immovable formless being or “zero” as the Creator/ Supreme Knowledge or “real doer”, who itself alone is the liberated one or the one who is unaffected by time or the ”vagaries of nature”, seated inside each form…

Attainment of Supreme Knowledge or “Siddhi” believably is the real goal of ‘life’, possible only in human form or the superior most creation of God as “His Own image”…

With the given thought of one unborn or “swayambhu”, and unending or immortal God and His innumerable images, my guess is that He seeks His Own origin or “Mother” out of the innumerable possible “images”! For, it is also said by the ancients that “Krishna” alone is the male - rest all are females (who carry the “unborn God” within them)!

JC Joshi said...

The concept of “universal brotherhood” or “vasudhaiva kutumbakam”, read with “Namaste”, addressed by a “Hindu” to another, i.e., “I pray to the God within you”, indicates communication of consciousness on the basic realization of existence of one and only Creator who resides within each apparent different form (like Mother& Child and thus the idea of "love" for all) to overcome 'maya' that works constantly to distract one's attention from 'Truth'...

In the present era this realization is in a way also reflected in the thought, say, through Shakespeare regarding human life to be only a drama where every actor appears and plays one’s (assigned) role for whatever time one remains on the stage called earth…