NAVARATRI – Divine Mothers Teachings – Day 1(Part1)

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Today we have all gathered here with great joy to adore the Divine Mother during these nine auspicious nights of Navaratri. Yesterday was the dark night of the new moon and today the waxing cycle begins, as the nights get progressively brighter and Navaratri culminates in victory over our vices on Vijayadashami. Like the darkness of the night is transformed by the radiance of the moon, so also a special element should enter our lives every year. This special element is knowledge. Just as our age increases year by year, our knowledge or Jnana should also increase. Knowledge should begin to bloom in us from Navaratri and culminate in total transformation on Vaikuntha Ekadashi, three to four months from now. These nine nights are set aside by Devi for the rejuvenation of our heart and spiritual knowledge. For this to happen, all of us should participate in Navaratri with the feeling - "Something new should come into me today." It is to empower us with knowledge and guide us on the spiritual path that our Sages began the spiritual tradition of the Guru Parampara or the lineage of the Gurus.
If we look at our lives today, all of us are suffering from ignorance or ajnana. If we think we know something, we actually know nothing in life. In fact, in most ways, animals are much better than us. They don't change their qualities for any reason. A lion does not try to act like a mouse and a rabbit does no try to behave like an elephant. A lion remains a lion and a rabbit remains a rabbit. However, we are not like that. We keep changing every second. Some times we have noble and divine qualities, sometimes we have ordinary human qualities and at other times we even descend to the level of base, animalistic tendencies. Since our qualities and characteristics are always changing, we are never what we are supposed to be. It is easy to understand an animal because it is predictable, but it is impossible for us to understand ourselves because we are so ignorant about our own nature. We don't know who we are and we don't know how to accept circumstances and receive them in a divine way or how to interact with people. We don't know how to be our true selves in different places, with different people and different situations. We behave differently with our family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and strangers. We keep modifying our behaviour based on our experience. What do the Vedas, Shastras and Sages say about this? They say - "The very fact that you have to think, act and express yourself in different ways with different people, in different situations is itself ignorance. You must behave in the same way all the time. You must always remain your true self without changing with the circumstances in your life. You must be just yourself - ever true to your Self."
When the Sages were asked how this could be done, they explained - "How does God appear to everybody? He was the same when your forefathers worshipped Him centuries ago, He is the same now and He will remain the same centuries from now. That is how you should be." The scientists may refute this statement by saying - "Since the deity of God that you worship is made of stone, it will naturally remain the same. How do you expect Him to change physically?" Yes, just as God appears hard and unchangeable outside because the deity is made of stone, the stability of our heart and mind should be fixed and firm. Since we are not like this, this is ignorance. The knowledge that we are ignorant is the wonderful nugget of wisdom that Devi is giving all of us today. Do we need any knowledge greater than this? We have brought our ignorance with us from our past lives. We experienced it then and we are still experiencing it now.
How and why did we first begin to experience ajnana or ignorance? This was the question asked by all the venerable Sages who had gathered in the subtle realm of Naimisha Aranya in Badarikashrama [now known as Badarinath] in the Himalayas. In response, Sage Suta Romaharshana, also known as Suta Muni began to narrate this episode that took place in Vaikuntha, the abode of Mahavishnu long ago - "Once as Lord Vishnu was reclining in Yoganidra [Meditative Trance] on the coils of the seven hooded serpent Adishesha, in the middle of the Kshirasagara or ocean of milk, two pieces of wax fell from His ear into the milky ocean. The Chetana or vibrant energy of the Kshirasagara vivified this inanimate wax. This can be compared to the process of sepsis and inflammation setting in when we have a wound on the body. It can also be likened to the way too many good things in life get converted to arrogance in us. If we are immature, too much success in life leads to the accumulation of unwanted dirt called ahankara or ego. In the same way, these pieces of wax began to bloat up with arrogance and became asuras or demons called Madhu and Kaitabha. Seeing Lord Vishnu reclining on Adishesha, they asked - "Who are you?" [From here began the ignorant custom of asking 'Who are you?' instead of probing into 'Who am I?'!!!]

-- to be continued in Day 1(Part2)
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