Nava Durga ..a study of the nine forms of Durga viewed through a lens of the world in transition

In India, in Vedic life, today is the beginning of Vasantha Navratri.

The nine nights of the Goddess. A powerful and sacred time to connect with the divine feminine within us which is connected to the large macrocosm outside as Mother Nature, Bhoomi Devi, Gaia, or Durga. This time is also Rama Navami, the nine days dedicated to Lord Rama and is also Ugadi. the beginning of the Hindu New Year based on the Lunar Calendar.

This covid19  pandemic is a reaction to humanity's disconnection with mother nature. A breaking down of our biosphere which nourishes our Prana, our very life energy. Prana brings energy and harmony to all. It is a vital force that is our individual energy and hence cosmic and collective energy.

Not heeding to the deep calls of mother nature for us to stop the destruction, not listening to her voice of pain over the last few years, our obsession with the capital systems and economies of life has led humanity into this lockdown.

Hindu practice and festivals are linked to the cycles of nature, During this time nature are moving from spring into summer. Our bodies need to reset to handle the heat. Fasting the body during this time is to strengthen the immune system. Notice how during change of seasons we have so many more allergies or the dreaded flu. Fasting resets the system. Builds strength. The festival is a guideline, a way to live in harmony with nature's cycles.

This year due to our apathy we are all being forced to stay at home. Hit the reset buttons.

With the advent of technology and the power of supremacy it bestows on people, we have behaved ruthlessly. In our race to be it all, we have forgotten to slow down. life is a gift, not a race, and must be lived in harmony with the energies and elements that reside within us.  70 percent of the human body is water, we need oxygen for our survival, our digestive fire is jatara agni the fire that fuels our bodies, space is within us and around us, the earth is who we are.

Forests, rivers, lakes, our oceans, our food, our air are all aspects of the divine mother. In our race to be dominant over her, we have felled forests, polluted rivers for fast fashion, dumped garbage and destroyed coral reefs, not support our farmers and destroyed agriculture through mono-crops, own too many cars, and jet across the world.

When we pollute mother earth we pollute ourselves.

As people, we fight, gender wars, between men and women. The recent world events have proved that this equation is confused and misplaced. It is time for us to set this right. One of the ways is to connect with the feminine within. Not just for women, but for men too. The mother resides within and we must meet her in reverence. For, if we repair the fractures in ourselves, in our society, in our opinions and move beyond right conduct for both men and women, we heal ourselves and mother earth. We make the connection.

Simply put we have lost the ability to love, the ability to be vulnerable, to break down, to be human, to meet our shadows.

We are so busy wearing masques to show an image here on social media, that we have really forgotten to connect deeply with each other. We are more obsessed with dating rules than just reaching out to express our love.

This love is universal, it is our very prana.

We are in pain, mother earth is in pain.

When we are violent to each other, we are violent to mother earth.

This is a good time to forgive ourselves and ask for forgiveness from the earth. We must think of a new earth. a new paradigm, new ways to be.

For the old ways got us here, the new way will heal us to a better more loving people.

So for the next nine days as this festival unfolds, and to those of us in India respecting the lockdown, and staying in, join the circle. share this journey. Let's think deeply about our own feminine nature, What we have done to the earth and how we can restore her.

As we stay home, we must restore ourselves. she is taking care of herself. I have always said we humans will go, she Gaia, was here before us and will continue to thrive long after we are gone. she does not need us. We need her.

Vedic knowledge opens up ideas thoughts and practices for us to live in harmony with mother nature. The nine nights of the worship of the goddess Durga in all her manifestations. this time is asking of us, to step up and take a long deep dive in.

One of the ways to restore this balance is to use the energy of the internet for our soul's purpose.  We understand that the force that drives this energy is also the energy of the feminine the Shakti. We are all irrevocably linked. It is this separation that must be healed. Between mind and body. Between man and woman. between us and the earth.

Join me as we go on a deep unfolding of the feminine in thought practice ritual music dance breath poetry, music, meditation, and love.  This is the feminine way. this is yoga. A practice to make our way through this world.

Yoga meaning linking or yoke-ing, to unite, the Jivatama(the human soul) to the Paramatma. (the universal oneness we refer to as god) Understanding yoga beyond asana practice,

in the eight-fold path of yoga,(ashtanga) we must live in accordance with the Yamas(social restraints) and Niyamas (self disciplines.) The ultimate goal is to reach, Chitta Vritti Nirodha.  To still the fluctuations of the mind to experience deep lasting bliss.

The five Yamas are Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (non-falsehood; truth). Asteya (non-stealing) Brahmacharya (non-excess, living closer to the universal oneness, expressed in the maha kavya of Vedanta as tat tvam asi, I am that often interpreted as celibacy) and Aparigraha (non-possesiveness, non-greed)

These practices as a collective would have prevented this situation. By practicing this we can heal ourselves and the energy of the planet.

The five Niyamas that relate to our inner world,

Saucha(purity), Santosha(contentment), Tapas (self-discipline, training your senses), Svadhyaya (self-study, inner exploration) ethical practices that we could consider in this lockdown, and the fifth,  ‘Ishvara Pranidhana’ (surrender to the lord/the higher power).

Being locked up in our rooms, the ethical practices of yoga give us directions to design a new way of being, new earth.

In this time, surrender is a good practice, to hope and to believe, to let go of control, and to trust that we will get through this safe.

The goddess is kind, forgiving, loving, benevolent, compassionate, and abundant.

We need to stop trampling upon her as the Earth.

In the tradition of the Navadurgas, the first night of the practice or sadhana is dedicated to Shailaputri: Shaila meaning mountain and Putri - daughter.

The absolute form of mother nature is worshiped on the first day.

Riding a bull, trident in hand, she is the goddess of the mooladhara chakra (the base root chakra of the energetic body) and upon awakening this shakti, she reveals to the sadhaka, (the seeker), the ways of the spiritual journey and ones’ purpose in life.

May we be in surrender and blessed

In these times

lokah samastha sukinoh bhavantu.

May all beings everywhere be happy, in peace, and free.

May my actions in life in some small way contribute to this happiness and freedom for all.

Shailaputri 

The mother goddess archetype is worshiped in India in all her many manifestations, aspects, and forms. She is revered as the Navadurgas, the Dashamahavidyas, the Ashtalakshmi's, and sixty-four Yoginis.

All masculine aspects have a feminine counterpart. Shiva and Shakti, Vishnu- Lakshmi, Sita Ram, Radha Krishna

Her worship is a living culture, her worship is grand and austere, and she is revered as Bharat Mata and Jaganmata. The goddess of the earth. She is also infinite bliss, boundless time and space. She is also chit shakti, the power of consciousness the self in all beings. She is the movement of energy within us. She is our everyday activity. She is our direction to live to the highest potential.

The earth and we are linked. The microcosm is the connection to the macrocosm.

Legend, myth rituals add colour and layers of emotional connection to the worship of the goddess. From kind,  benevolent to fierce and beautiful. She is the one power in varied expressions. The goddess is worshiped in fervor by her devotees. The benevolence and conscious compassion is a flow of grace. It is that grace that binds us to be in the loving service of the Devi. Makes life a lot easier, in the embrace of grace.

As Shailaputri daughter of the mountains residing in the mooladhara chakra, she is the gateway to spiritual knowledge and gives us directions to live a full human life.

That is a variable, we all are different and this is where the yamas and niyamas, allow us to make a start. To draw our own maps and guidelines.

We can consider today our connection to the earth, our relationship with gravity. What holds us connected to her.

Here is a  practice I encountered  and  have evolved, as I explored new ways to be

Standing up with our feet firmly rooted to the ground( both indoors and outdoors), one imagines roots growing from our feet deep into the earth, into the womb of mother earth.

Once we make a deep connection imagine the energy rising up from her core through the feet into our wombs and through the water element in our bodies. Fill up the entire body from the toes to the head with this energy. At this point, you can choose to sit or stand. Stay deeper in this connection and listen to what unfolds. Feel the sensations in your body.

At this point notice your breath. the inhalation and the exhalation. Stay for five, ten, fifteen mins, as long as you need. If the mind comes up, if thoughts come up, let them, do not entertain these thoughts. Listen. What is my relationship with the earth.? What is she telling me? What can I do to lead a life more in harmony with her?

Maybe I just need to stop buying mineral water, or garden, or be kinder to myself. Maybe I need to find a partner or connect more deeply with mine. Rethink my equation with my children.? Consider the impact of eating meat. Maybe I need to let go of my anger or issues with my mother?. I mean we are a million beings connected through this fine web of humanity. We are all linked. We just like to believe, we are very different.

If at any point one feels like sitting or even lying down on the ground, one can. Make this practice your own.

Once you feel like it's time to finish, you will sense this if you stay in the silence, do a namaste or cross your heart.

In the practice of the Sufi tradition before and after whirling, we bow down and kiss the earth. In my Bharatanatyam tradition, we say,

“Angikam bhuvanam yasya

Vachikam sarva vangmayam

Aharyam chandra taradi

Tam numah satvikam sivam.”

The full meaning of this sloka is:

We bow to Him the benevolent One

Whose limbs are the universe,

Whose song and poetry are the essence of all languages,

Whose ornaments are the moon and the stars…

Word meaning:

Angikam - body

Bhuvanam - universe

Yasya - whose

Vachikam - speech, song

Sarva - everyone

Vangmayam - language

Aharyam - ornaments

Chandra - moon

Taradi - starts

Tam - to YOU

Numah - to bow

Satvikam - pure

Shivam - god

The earth is both feminine and masculine. Modern life in our hustle-bustle is disorienting and disconnects us from the movement of nature. She is quiet, mystical. Once the practice is concluding kiss the earth, cross your heart, do a namaste, touch her with your palms, bow down as you feel right, and say thank you.

Then if it resonates, keep a journal and write your feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Draw..Nothing is right or wrong. Establish a connection.

The temple of Durga in Kanyakumari has a strong resonance with this practice as she lies deep in the womb of the Indian ocean. It's quite spectacular actually.

In the continuing tradition of Vedic worship, every deity has a mantra (seed sounds for the goddess) yantra (geometric cosmos representations of the goddess), and mandala (iconography, sculpture, giving a human representation for the goddess archetype).

This is the advanced practice of Tantra(largely misconstrued in its modern interpretations). These tools help us reclaim this tradition of goddess worship and allow this to heal many aspects of our life. This teaching is a guhya (secret) a sruthi ( transmission) from teacher to disciple and needs commitment and guidance. A continued living practice in our country.

In the world especially in Greece, Rome, Turkey, and Egypt the goddess worshipped was shunned. Temples were burnt down.

Did anyone of us listen when the floods came in from the mountains and wiped out villages and people in Uttarakhand? She raged. We did not listen.

This is a time for the world to reclaim our home, our practices.

sometimes lighting a lamp in her honour, turning off a running tap, feeding a hungry soul, we have so many ways to honour her.

If you feel called to do the meditation. Do it. Day or night

Some day I hope to record this as a guided one.

I will explore this a little more, but in these times, when our hearts are a little more open, where we are reaching out to check in on each other when the earth has sent us to our rooms, maybe we are being punished. We are her children after all and she has had enough.

If this is all esoteric and too much, just get a cup of tea and stare at the tree, give gratitude when we drink a cup of water, observe how time in nature changes us all. We have forgotten, she is asking us to listen. To come back. To build a new relationship.

Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates as intention, will, or Iccha Shakti, the determination and willpower that is the power of success, to complete a task. This is the energy of Shailaputri, Durga. Can we find a collective will to live consciously for better earth? What is the new way?

Maybe just reach out to the earth these days and say I do not know, teach me. Ishwara Pranidhana. As stated earlier, let's surprise ourselves.

May the blessings and benevolence of Shailaputri build a collective community of earth workers. If there was a time to rise, there is none better than now. We can do this in our rooms and homes until we are given permission to take this practice outside. As adults, we have forgotten that we are taken care of. We are not invincible. Of this, there must be no more doubt.

A universal Vedic goddess prayer honouring the goddess says

सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके ।

शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥

Sarva-Manggala-Maanggalye Shive Sarvaartha-Saadhike |

Sharannye Trya[i-A]mbake Gauri Naaraayanni Namo[ah-A]stu Te ||

Meaning:

1: (Salutations to You O Narayani) Who is the Auspiciousness in All the Auspicious, Auspiciousness Herself, Complete with All the Auspicious Attributes, and Who fulfills All the Objectives of the Devotees (Purusharthas - Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha),

2: Who is the Giver of Refuge, With Three Eyes and a Shining Face; Salutations to You O Narayani

Lokah Samastha Sukinoh Bhavantu

Brahmacharini

 

Residing in the svadhisthana chakra, the second whirlpool of energy, Durga is the form of Brahmacharani. The one who does Tapas(penance). Worshiped on the second day of the Navaratri saadhana, she represents love, loyalty, wisdom, and knowledge.

Influenced by the teaching of  Deva Rishi (the seer to the god’s) Narada, she did austere penance for several years and her determination, (Iccha Shakti) to marry Lord Shiva was fulfilled. ( Lord Shiva as a representation of the infinite consciousness. To become one with him. The Mahakavya  of  Vedanta  Aham- Brahmasmi. I am Brahman. To dissolve into the oneness)

In her iconic representation, she is radiant, serene, and beautiful. She holds a japmala (rosary) in her right hand, a kamandalu in her left ( a water pot made of metal or coconut shell), and wears Rudraksha beads. (Beads that form in the fruit of the Rudraksha trees. Beloved to Lord Shiva, the beads are sacred and have natural healing properties )

She bestows upon her devotees’ great emotional strength.  She inspires us to hold on to our ethics and do our dharma (dutiful path). When the lower energies in their Tamas Guna prove their supremacy, it is this power of Durga that assists us to understand and get rid of selfishness, ego, greed, and laziness.

In Ayurveda, nature consists of three primal qualities, which are the main powers of cosmic intelligence, and these Gunas (meaning what binds, because when misunderstood they keep us in bondage to the external world) are the subtle qualities of nature that constitute nature of matter, life and mind.

The Gunas are

Tamas (inertia- darkness- ajananam (born of ignorance) mohanam (the cause of delusion. Violence. Dominance. Lies.  Greed. Destruction. Pollution. Disrespect of living natural life. )

Rajas (energy that causes an imbalance- ragatmakam (full of passion) born out of thrishna (intense desire) and sanga (attachment). Binds the soul through attachment with action. Too much ambition. Chaos. Vanity. Show of wealth.  Obsession with work. Obsession with the physical body, of the senses. An attachment to the image. An attachment to intelligence. Negligence. Delusion. )

Sattva- (intelligence creating balance.  Pure. Without impurities. Free from disease and illness. It binds the soul through attachment with happiness and knowledge. Conscious choice, living in harmony with nature, a belief in the higher power, kindness to all beings, an inner sense of balance. Righteousness.  Inner strength and courage to withstand turbulent times)

These are the energies through which the surface ordinary mind functions.  This is also the energy of consciousness, and it is the power of the soul that holds all our karmas and desires, that creates the cycle of rebirth

.

The gunas are born from nature (Prakriti) and exist in all, including humans, in various degrees of concentration and combination. They also exist in all objects and natural products and life. Hence even the food we eat is important as it constitutes the substratum of the mind and heart and hence our thoughts and actions.

Every human being has a combination of the three gunas. This combination determines the nature of things, beings, their action, behavior and attitude, their attachments and actions in the objective world in which they live- inhabit

The primary purpose of the gunas is to create bondage, through desires for objects. Lust and sexual passions, entertainment, luxury, comfort, and ambition, keep human beings bound and in the perpetual control of Prakriti (nature)

In the Bhagavad Gita , in Chapter 14. Lord Krishna, explains the power of the three Gunas, (triguna) how to transcend them and the way’s to remain in sattva.

 

An English translation.

  1. Arjuna said:

What are the characteristics of those

Who have transcended the three Gunas,

And what is their conduct?

How does one transcend these three Gunas, O Lord Krishna?

2.

Krishna said:

One who neither hates the presence of

Enlightenment, activity, and delusion

Nor desires for them when they are absent; and

3.

The one who remains like a witness;

Who is not moved by the Gunas, Thinking that the Gunas only are operating;

Who stands firm and does not waver; and

4.

The one who depends on the Lord

And is indifferent to pain and pleasure;

To whom a clod, a stone, and gold are alike;

To whom the dear and the unfriendly are alike;

Who is of firm mind; who is calm

In censure and in praise; and

5.

The one who is indifferent

to honor and disgrace; who is the same To friend and foe; who has renounced

the sense of doer-ship; is said

To have transcended the Gunas.

6.

The one who offers service to Me

With love and unswerving devotion transcends Gunas,

And becomes fit for realizing Brahman.

7.

Because I am the abode

Of the immortal and eternal Brahman,

Of everlasting Dharma,

And of the absolute bliss.

This is the end of Chapter XIV of the Bhagavad Gita

Entitled "unatrayavibhaga-Yoga,"

Or "The Yoga of the Distinction of the Three Gunas"

The word Brahmacharya is understood by many in its most literal definition as celibacy.

From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

"Brahmacharya pratishtayam viaryalabhaha'' (II Sutra 38)

Brahmacharya = celibacy; Pratishtayam = established; Viarya = vigour; Iabhaha = gained.

"On being established in celibacy vigour is gained."

In the ancient days when life was lived in the four stages, Brahmacharya was the first phase of life before a young man got married and moved into society. Living in a gurukula and not being attached to the senses gave strength and vigour to life. The energy was contained in all spheres and aspects of life.

This is a literal meaning.

Brahmacharini yoga is more than just celibacy. For human beings. Beyond gender and its rajasic temptations and the pleasures of desire and progeny.

Brahma means infinity, charya means moving in infinity. In boundless time. Knowing that we are not the body or the mind, staying in the heart of the supreme and living in the maps of our personal, yamas and niyamas, and in surrender- ishwara pranidhana,

Brahmacharya naturally happens. The human being glows with an inner radiance and light.

The practice of yoga asana, lightens the body, pranayama,  regulates the breath and flow of prana in the body. Yogic practices eventually lead to a greater cosmic understanding of the relationship of man and nature, that we are infinite consciousness  When the human being transcends the grasp and hold of the three gunas and abides in this infinite consciousness, she or he is a brahmachari.

It is moving beyond the senses. It is coming home to our very essential nature.

Opening the gateways to the seeker to show the right way ahead, to bestow strength of mind and will, to break down the power of the senses, and to bless with spiritual insight is the presence of Brahmacharini.

We must look at the balance of gunas within ourselves and take a deep look at the world in the times of this pandemic.

What is the nature of the world as we see it?

If we see a world of chaos greed and destruction, that world exists

If we see a world of supremacy, a race to dominate natural intelligence, and the supremacy of the human race, that world exists.

If we see a world of hope, a world of balance, a world of collective commons, a will to live in harmony with nature, that world exists.

The world is how we view it, the choices we make. We all have skin in this game. No one is beyond the three gunas.

There are many ways to discover our essential nature. Yoga gives us guidelines. We must find the sattva within to abide in it. Not get swayed by the world.

Less than a year ago, a week after guru Purnima, in my gurukula, I was having a tantrum with my teacher. I said to him, I look at the world and see others my generation. I am scared. And look at me…am such a mess..in the real world. I must be pragmatic. Sensible. All this is great, this seeking, this path. But who will look after me? I was going through a life crisis.

Having taken an outing into the real world and reconnecting the dots of the rajasic world I was shaken. In this ever-expansive world of aspiration, who will take care of me. If not for Me?

I guess right now no one knows, do we?

This is a collective crisis.

What we will collectively birth is a choice.

The yoga of Brahmacharini is a good beginning.

In the Ishavasya Upanishad

अन्धं तमः प्रविशन्ति येऽविद्यामुपासते ।

ततो भूय इव ते तमो य उ विद्यायां रताः ॥

andhaṃ tamaḥ praviśanti ye'vidyāmupāsate |

tato bhūya iva te tamo ya u vidyāyāṃ ratāḥ ||

(Isha-Upanishad, 9th Mantra)

‘They enter into blinding darkness who worship avidya; into still greater darkness, as it were, do they enter who delight in vidya.’

This esoteric wisdom of the Upanishads has many commentators, many interpretations.

Knowing this yoga, this ancient wisdom, if we continue to live with our self-interests undermining the interests of the collective and this world we live in the greatest darkness. Change is within us and the guidelines are gifts from this ancient practice of yoga.

To the one’s in who Brahmacharini resides,  as conscious custodian of craft and the handmade, the many yogis on the path, my earth-worker friends in permaculture organic farming, to ayurvedic doctors and herbalists, the keepers of ancient traditions and secrets, the lightworkers and healers, the seed collectors, the honey beekeepers, the water warriors, may this tribe flourish, we are being called. The keepers of classical Indian music and dance. To the Sanskrit scholars, to the temple custodians, to the beings of love. To everyone in satsanga. To our native wisdom keepers. To everyone in the sattvic way of life, to artists, to musicians, to the ones who help the sick, to those who work unconscious of profit, those who uplift humanity with service everywhere

Especially to the medical community and the army of warriors who keep us safe to keep our essential services going. Right now

May we keep our mental balance in these dark times, knowing that we must rise to new ways of being.

We are all being invited into a deep penance.

This is the blessing of the Goddess Brahmacharini

Lokah Samastha Sukinoh Bhavantu.

Chandraghanta

Durga is worshipped as Chandraghanta on the third day of Navratri.

Chandra (moon): Ghanta (bell). The third eye on the forehead of the Goddess is like a half-moon in a bell shape. This awakened third eye bestows upon the devotee a keen power of discrimination. She is the powerful aspect of Durga, her weapons teaching the one who looks upon her image to be conscious and aware.

Her trident represents the trigunas (tamas, rajas, and sattwa), the sword (represents the power of knowledge to cut through negativity) the bow and arrow (to destroy obstacles that prevent progress on the spiritual path). Mace (conscious devotion and strength to protect us on the spiritual path).

She holds the lotus that reminds the seeker not to be attached to the game of Maya (In Hindu thought, the world we perceive with our senses and our ordinary minds is considered to be an illusion, a dream. Projections of things and forms that are temporarily phenomenal and sustain the illusion of oneness and permanence.)  The moon represents Lila, play, the cycle of life, and our connection to the cycles of nature.

Women are connected to the moon in the monthly unfolding of the menstrual cycles. The ocean tides are affected by the cycles of the moon. 70 percent of the earth is water, 70 percent of the human body is water. The feminine energy is the life-giving birth energy and its cycles are linked with the movement of the earth toward the moon.  The light on the moon is the reflection of the sun.

Our energetic body is both masculine and feminine. Yin and yang. Prakriti and Purusha, Shiva and Shakti.

The practice and way of Hindu life have always revered the feminine, given her a place of the supreme sacred in life and worship.  Women are deeply connected to nature. They represent her in the human form. So when we abuse, disrespect, and strip women of their spiritual powers,  when we are violent to women on this earth, when we forcibly abuse their bodies and tell them to live in a way acceptable to human ideas of balance, we abuse mother earth. When we destroy our forests and seas, we destroy the women on this earth. It's this simple.

The rise of the feminine is the call of the earth. She is the power of Chandraghanta.

Women’s traditions and practices have long been discarded.  It is time for the feminine to rise, to hear the call to occupy their space in this world; Women must reclaim their spiritual power. We must come together to rewrite this moment in history as the daughters of the earth. We must rise so that the feminine has the power and a voice to change the narrative. We must rise with our masculine counterparts. Beyond gender.

This time in history has shown us that our old ways have failed. If we must leave our prisons and venture out to this planet, as a society, what must we do?

A while ago, I had this image that came up in my mediation. A world where we will be locked up in our rooms and the streets will be full of people delivering things to us in our little cages to survive.  This at a time I was pondering about my carbon footprint on the earth of taking my work online.  I didn’t think there would be hand sanitizers and I would be wary to offer these brave men water when they knocked on my door.

I now understand she was speaking to us, has been in many subtly different ways. The rug had to be pulled from under our feet.  For the damage, we have all created together. Twenty-one days is just a start. The healing has to begin now. She will take her time. We will be locked up until we make a soul pact to be gentler kinder human beings.  To be in service of the earth.

Women must rise, men must rise too. The goddess Chandraghanta gives us an opportunity to work with our shadows. To let go of all negativity we harbor inside of us.  In the ancient story of the churning of Mount Mandhara, by the Devas(representation of good) and Asuras (representation of them not good) for immortality, the poison comes up before the nectar. We must let go of the tendencies that bind us to the dark before we can aspire to the greater good.

(The Devas represent all that is noble in us, the light  ...the asuras represent all that is not noble in us. Good and evil are the literal interpretations. Hindu thought does not play into opposites. The higher nature and lower nature reside within us, and our bodies and minds become the battlefield for supremacy. Our actions and choices lead us to victory. The victory can be conscious and unconscious.)

The Gita gives us a deeper understanding in chapter 7.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute

Lord Krishna is the Supreme Truth, the supreme cause and the sustaining force of everything, both material and spiritual. Advanced souls surrender unto Him in devotion, whereas impious souls divert their minds to other objects of worship.

Chapter 7, Verse 1

Now hear, O son of Partha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.

Chapter 7, Verse 2

I shall now declare unto you in full this knowledge both phenomenal and non-phenomenal, by knowing which there shall remain nothing further to be known.

Chapter 7, Verse 3

Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.

Chapter 7, Verse 4

Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego—all together these eight comprise My separated material energies.

Chapter 7, Verse 5

Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.

Chapter 7, Verse 6

Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution.

Chapter 7, Verse 7

O conqueror of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.

Chapter 7, Verse 8

O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in a man.

Chapter 7, Verse 9

I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in the fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics.

Chapter 7, Verse 10

O son of Prtha, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all-powerful men.

Chapter 7, Verse 11

I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire. I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles, O Lord of the Bharatas [Arjuna].

Chapter 7, Verse 12

All states of being—be they of goodness, passion, or ignorance—are manifested by My energy. I am, in one sense, everything—but I am independent. I am not under the modes of this material nature.

Chapter 7, Verse 13

Deluded by the three modes [goodness, passion, and ignorance], the whole world does not know Me who am above the modes and inexhaustible.

Chapter 7, Verse 14

This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.

Chapter 7, Verse 15

Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me.

Chapter 7, Verse 16

O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirous of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.

(the above is an excerpt from chapter 7 of the Bhagavad Gita)

This story of the churning of the ocean within has deep meaning today. When we come into freedom, which is the nectar, if we go back to the old ways, we raise the old patterns of the destruction frequency of the planet which got us here.  If we choose the new way we live in harmony with nature and write the chapter, where we actually care about climate change and make new choices.

Hala is poison, the energetic poison that we store in ourselves from memory, from lifetimes past. The power of discrimination must tell us that we must let go of the memory that does not serve us anymore. To do this one must find the courage. The will to meet the shadow. This courage to meet the pain, to stand strong in the face of opposition, not only from people and opinions but from our very own intellect and senses. This inner strength is the grace of the Goddess Chandraghanta.

The battle of good and evil exists within us. The victory is in peace and serenity after we use the weapons to conquer our lower energies.

In this world of duality and opposites, where we are under a deluge of information, tapping into the inner voice of reason is the power of Chandraghanta. The inner voice is very different from the noise of the mind. My gut feeling. I just know it in my gut, everyone has felt and expressed this at some point. The gut is the energetic wheel as the Manipura Chakra. The place, power, and seat of emotion. This is where Maa Chandraghanta resides.  This is where the conscious feminine resides. We must all practice deeply tune in and do our inner work. We have been given an opportunity.

She is both beautiful and brave, gives us the strength to keep negative energy away, and repels all troubles from our lives.

Troubles right now we have many. Not knowing where our lives are headed to being the biggest concern. Ishwara pranidhana to Maa Chandraghanta.

.

The waters are healing, the forests are restoring. To meet them as healed human beings is our duty. If not we will keep coming back to our cages. In one day our freedom has been taken away from us, our lives are at the mercy of this invisible virus, very much present.

This same thought can be reset to look at the power of chanting. Vedic wisdom has taught us that nature speaks to us, she communicates.  Good vibrations can change the energy of the world.

Codes were sent out through our gopuras(temple spires) to lands far away with the power of intention and energy; other cultures have similar ways of passing on information through the energetic body.  The Manipura is where the rise of this energetic body begins. To the better more conscious life.   As the seat of emotions, this is the power centre. We must keep our gut, the seat of the intuition, conscious and clean.

This powerful and popular chant has deep meaning and resonance to those who worship Durga. The chant is long and praises all her attributes. The goddess is invoked through many powerful chants. This is just one verse.

या देवी सर्वभुतेषु शक्तिरूपेण संस्थिता ।

नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ॥१२॥

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Shakti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |

Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah ||12||

12.1: To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Power,

12.2: Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations again and again.

As we move into the cycles of the full moon, in the first week of April, may the blessings of the goddess aid us in a renewal of belonging being and finding new ways to live.

A Meditation.

Deeply connecting into our fire energy, our seat of power in the Manipura, place your hand on your navel, hara or centre. Breathe deeply, expanding and contracting the stomach, with inhalation and exhalation. Gently and slowly continue the breathing. After a few rounds come back to your normal breathing. Notice the change. Sit in the stillness and see what comes up. You can set an intention before the practice. Ask a question. What do you hear….after the practice concludes bow down and journal.

You can use this practice to tune into stillness and tune into intuition.

This is grace. This needs practice and this is the blessing of the Goddess Chandraghanta.

The Devi Mahatmya or Chandi Paath is read across India during the time of Navratri.  An excerpt.

A war had broken between the Asuras and the Devas, after 100 years Mahishasura defeated Indra and laid claim to the heavens. The vanquished and anguished Devas reached Vaikunth to take shelter with Lord Vishnu.

Seeing them in this sorry state he was angered.  Shiva appeared in an intense light, Brahma too with his face on fire. From the bodies of all the other Devas arrows of powerful light and energy shot forth. This combined concentration of light rose like a blazing mountain its flames lighting up all three worlds with unique golden light. And then as the circle of Devas watched, the light slowly gathered itself into a lustrous female form

.

By that which was Shiva’s light her face came into being, by Yama her hair, by Vishnu her arms, and by Chandra her breasts. By Indra her waist, by Varuna her thighs, and by the Earth’s light her hips. By Brahma’s light her feet came into being, by Surya, her toes, by Agni her three eyes were formed and the light of Vayu became her ears. The lights of all other Devas too surged forward and they were filled with joy as they beheld the auspicious and beautiful Devi who had been thus formed.

Shiva gave the Devi a new trident made from his, Vishnu a discus, Varuna a conch. Agni gave her a spear. Indra created a thunderbolt from his own and presented it to her, Yama gave her a staff from his own of death, and Varuna the lord of the waters gave her a noose. Brahma the lord of beings gave her a string of beads and a water pot and Surya bestowed his own golden rays on her skin so that the goddess shimmered in her own light. Jewels were given by the Devas. Vishvakarma gave her a shining axe and the ocean brought her garlands of everlasting lotuses. The mountain Himavat gave the Devi a mighty lion to ride on.

Glittering with jewels, from the milk ocean armed with an array of celestial weapons shining with divine light, the Devi gave a roar of laughter.  The three worlds trembled. Victory to you cried the Devas and the Sages bowed their heads.

Following a tradition of invoking the family of Durga in the ritual offering to Goddess Chandraghanta

 Gods, Goddesses, and Planets in the Kalash to Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya and Goddess Saraswati, Lakshmi, Vijaya, Jaya – the family members of Goddess Durga. to Lord Shiva Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma.

May the grace of  Devi Chandraghanta remove all obstacles and troubles in our path and restore our lives to balance.

Lokah Samastha Sukinoh Bhavantu

 

Kushamanda

 

Seated in the Anahata Chakra (the heart centre of the energetic chakra system), Maa Kushmanda is worshipped on the fourth day of Navratri. She is revered as Adi Shakti- the creator of the universe, Adi Swarupa, exists in everything animate and inanimate as the source of this universe.

She is said to have birthed the universe from darkness, hence she abides in Surya- Loka, (the world of the sun: in Hindu cosmology Loka is also a particular division of the universe), illuminating the world, leading sentient beings from darkness into light.

She is also the source of prana, life energy, creating an all-natural energetic movement for her children to live in harmony.  Plants, fish, coral reefs, forests, lakes, rivers, animals, birds, men, women, children are all equal in her eyes. To a mother, there is no discrimination. The happiness of her children is her joy as she resides in them all.

Seated in the heart she is kind, benevolent, compassionate, wise, and abundant. The goddess guides the saadhaka, (seeker) to explore the blueprint of his or her own life as she opens the gateways of grace to understand the Purusharthas. (Purusha- a human being. Artha- purpose on earth in this lifetime)

Kushmanda Devi holds auspicious sacred weapons that must be wielded by the saadhaka in the journey of life.  To the pious and devoted, she opens the pathways of the world, to a life lived in her comforting embrace.

Navigating the Purusharthas is not an easy task.  First, we must tune into our emotions, understand the ones that matter, and use righteous knowledge to ward off the thoughts that do not serve. Moving from the seat of the Manipura into the Anahata is a long and arduous journey. This ascension in the energetic body is the grace of the Mother Durga as Kushmanda as she resides in the core of Suryaloka, aiding her devotees to move from the darkness into light, by shining the light on the Guru Tattwa. To the blessed seeker, she reveals the Guru (in human or energetic form)  (Gu- darkness. ru- light).

The Purusharthas are referred to in Vedic texts and in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Purushartha’s are the guidelines to reach the goals of human existence or living the soul’s purpose.

The four Purusharthas are Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha.  An individual can realize himself or herself by balancing and fulfilling these four objectives. These must only be understood as interdependent. The activity of fulfilling one objective must also support the fulfillment of the other objectives. Focusing on the complete attainment of one, in deference to the others, derails the blueprint.

Dharma:

An individual or person is born into this world to perform certain duties. The soul finds a body with appropriate condition to wear as a suit in the lifetime to carry out these duties.  Dharma is a difficult word to translate; it can mean physical duty, function, true calling, and soul’s purpose.  One can be a doctor, teacher, mother, businessperson, healer, guru, dancer, and writer.

Sometimes the birth can decide the dharma of the person, but not all the time. Free will is always present.

A person’s dharma can change through the different stages of life, asking the individual to honor many roles and duties in the evolution of the soul.

To understand this, we need to tune into the heart where Goddess Kushmanda awaits to reveal the blueprint.

Artha:

Is the pursuit of material wealth to secure a life of comfort.

A commonly misunderstood idea, that the spiritual pursuit does not require money, the notion that it must be achieved through poverty and no aspiration to wealth, is not only immature but reveals a premature understanding of the spiritual pursuit itself.

Poverty is also a field of consciousness.  Wealth is a field of consciousness.

The nature of the universe is abundant. So if the universe in its inherent nature is prosperous, why is the pursuit of wealth in spiritual activities and functions considered inappropriate?

The mother as Kushmanda provides for all her children. The nature of the universe is to be generous. The dharma of the individual is to only take what we need from her.

If the attention of the individual is directed towards the procurement of the next meal and a place to sleep, every day, where is the energy for a spiritual pursuit?

Basic human comforts, security for all, and commitment to the collective commons, water, air, food, and shelter as a basic human right is a blessing of the Goddess Durga. A comfort to the seeker.

When this pursuit is misplaced, it becomes the worship of money, as it has in the world we inhabit today. Where the handbag, car, home address, and international holiday goals are more important than the pursuit of the divine, the objective is misplaced.

Striking a balance is important. Understanding Artha as the functioning of energy and consciousness is key. When energy is blocked it stagnates. So when wealth is concentrated only with a few people and the world is left hungry, chaos is bound to reign.

The pursuit of wealth is awareness. One must work, perform duties and reap the rewards.  An individual must be detached from this pursuit/work knowing it is a necessity and aid, in the pursuit of the divine. Once financial objectives are met, the desire to pursue wealth diminishes paving the way for Moksha.

KAMA:

The Kama is fulfilling one’s desires. Whatever the desire may be.  For wealth, for fame, recognition or success. For higher education.  For intellectual supremacy. For sexual pleasure. For progeny. For peace. For alcohol. For gourmet food. For god. For travel. For beauty. For security. For love. For solitude.

This Purushartha advocates that we fulfill our desires, in a constant state of awareness without harming others.

One must be aware of one’s own desires.   We can fulfill desires, transcend them, or in advanced stages of yogic practice even sublimate them.

Repressing desires, for the belief of right conduct or for pious image building is extremely dangerous. This suppression can erupt and lead to irreversible consequences.  The Kama is the energy of fire. The person can implode within. Discomfort and disease take root in the physical plane.

When the desire is fulfilled, we understand its nature. We move beyond the duality in the experience of this need, and as the fire is now satiated, we are able to move into the higher realms of consciousness. There is no right and wrong on the journey. The desire within people is endless. When the desire is fulfilled without judgment, the need disappears. The seeker in time learns to transcend and sublimate desires. This is a functioning of grace and higher consciousness.  A blessing of the mother.

Moksha

In Vedic thought, the purpose of human life is to recognize that we are divine. The Mahakavyas of Vedanta (the first meaning is in reference to the concluding parts of the Vedas.  Veda- Anta.  The second meaning is a school or philosophy of Hinduism based on the Upanishads.  The third meaning is knowing and attaining Brahman. Gaining liberation.  The word has literal, philosophical, and spiritual meaning and interpretations) are

Prajnanam Brahma -  Consciousness is Brahman

Ayam Atma Brahma -  Self is an absolute entity

Tat Tvam Asi- That Thou Art: You Are That

Aham Brahmasmi- I am the Absolute.

This experience of the Mahakavyas is a blessing of grace.

The Rig Veda says,

Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti,

There is one truth; the wise call it by many names.

The pursuit of the truth to experience the dissolving into the absolute, to know that I am that, is Moksha. The ultimate purpose of human life.

When the soul becomes one with a source, the cycle of birth and death is broken.

A story

A potter spent many days and weeks crafting beautiful pots. He painted them with such finesse and imagination, he created works of art. After finishing this task, he decided to walk to the market where he was going to sell the pots and make a lot of money. As he was walking to the market he got lost in his thoughts.

How much money am I going to make?

He began to fantasize that he was a very wealthy man. He would be generous with his money. He got very excited with the idea that he would be respected by his friends. That he would lead an easy life, sit on a chair and watch the world go by.

He got so lost in this imagined frenzy that he let go of his hands. The basket he was carrying on his head, fell to the ground and the pots shattered.

He was left with nothing and he had not even reached the bazaar.

In our contemporary world, there are more teachers than disciples, says my teacher, to peals of laughter in our gatherings.

Everyone wants to be a Guru.

Today there are more conscience keepers in our society than ever before. People who advise others on how to live, what to do in a crisis.

What everyone must do.

The lack of control is an inconceivable concept. Surrender to the unknown has never been heard of. In a world of such clear-cut ideas, and always asking people to make the right choices, our voices have been silenced. It took an invisible virus.

The heart is strong and fragile. It is this sensitive play of opposites that allows acceptance to exist. It is this space that tells us we are not invincible.  Today the heart of the world is fragile, is strong, and still generous.

In the current affairs of our country.

A famous actor donated 25 crores to the Prime Ministers’ fund to help the country out in this time of crisis. He played God in a movie a few years ago.

A philanthropist businessman opened his resorts to treat patients in this pandemic, and his team has designed low-cost ventilators.

An iconic business house is providing food to the medical service staff in the country,

Ordinary people are mobilizing food for the needy. Conscious citizens are the crisis volunteers.

The police force is the lifeguard.

People are checking up on each other.

Large groups of migrant workers are leaving the cities to go back to their villages.

People are building homes on trees.

Governments are learning and fumbling.

Conscience keepers are doling out advice

People are hurt

People are shocked.

People are healing.

People are afraid.

People are vulnerable.

People are responsible.

People are making music.

People are physically distancing to stay alive.

People are rich.

People are poor.

People are in prayer.

People are on their knees

People are heartbroken.

People believe in a better tomorrow.

People have time

People are reading.

The collective Anahata chakra of the world is in motion as we are gripped in this situation of having to embrace the unknown.  Our plans, ideas, dreams, and hopes for the future have all been put on hold. To be love, to stay in our heart and know that this too shall pass …we are in a heartfelt space of living...Relearning to love...

The earth is in retreat, so are we.

Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money can’t be eaten - CREE INDIAN PROPHECY

We have been living on this planet as if we have another to go to. .Some people think that the world will go back to where it was before …the earth awaits our response...do we really need another lesson?

The Purusharthas enable us to find a blueprint for ourselves and the earth. If only our hearts would open to listening to the earth speak and Vedic guidelines influence our response.

“We are all visitors to this time. This place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love, and then we return home.” Australian  Aboriginal Quote.

May the grace of the Goddess Kushmanda heal us as we stay in our most fragile vulnerable authenticity, and relearn the ways of love and duty. The individual is the collective. May we find it in our hearts to support each other through these times, as we draw the new blueprints of our lives in the light of Sat Chit Ananda. (Truth- Consciousness -Bliss.)

Lokah Samastha Sukinoh Bhavantu

 Skandamata

 

The fifth day of Navratri is dedicated to Devi Skandamata (the mother of Skanda or Kartikeya).

The demon Tarakasura, after receiving a boon from Brahma, that he will be killed only by the son of Shiva, had gone on a wild rampage of the three worlds, terrorizing Humanity and the Gods. Shiva was always in meditation and uninterested in the ways of this world.  Lord Vishnu and the Devas with the help of Kamadeva, enticed in Lord Shiva a deep desire to wed Parvati, the daughter of the Lord of the Mountains, Himavat. Narada had already prepared Parvati for this union, as she was considered to be the incarnation of Sati. (The daughter of Daksha and wife of Lord Shiva who had immolated herself)

From the union, of Shiva and Parvati was born, the warrior, Skanda, who eventually destroyed Tarakasura and brought peace into this world. Brahma then made Skanda, the chief of the army of God’s.

For, giving birth to the Warrior God who restored peace she is worshipped as Skandamata.

Depicted seated on a lotus she is also known as Padmasana Devi. The one who is in deep meditation.

Skandamata has the complexion of the radiant sun and is the fire element in all living beings. She is Jataveda, the sacred flames of fire that dispel all negative forces in our lives.  She is also worshipped as Gowri, the universal mother of purity. Worshipping Skandamata dispels all sorrows and brings divine joy into the everyday. The goddess of peace and tranquility, she removes tensions and impurities that afflict the saadhaka from the outside world.  Experiencing immense peace and pleasure, devotees become free of worldly anxieties and meaningless activity.

She is the ascension of energy, as the goddess resides in the Vishuddha Chakra. The seeker in total surrender experiences great freedom in the heart, and inner bliss free from the physical planes of existence. She is the gateway to moksha when the seeker has perfected the Purusharthas.

The abode of Gowri is the bliss of deep meditation and the ability to work with our inner pranic fire, Jataraagni, to navigate and travel spiritual consciousness. The veil of Maya is lifted by the grace of the Goddess.

The Vishuddha Chakra is the seat of communication and creativity. When activated by the grace of Skandamata, great artistic expression flows from the devotee. She is also the mother of the Vedas, of wisdom and knowledge. She is also the clarity of thought. She is the dimension of inner bliss that is experienced through music, dance, drama, writing, chanting, yoga, healing, compassion, Ayurveda, cinema, the visual arts, and all forms of creative expression.

Artistes surrender into a flow of grace where the body becomes a mere vehicle for divine expression. This is Saadhana. Disciplined repeated practice.  This rigour and commitment is the only way to be in the presence of the Goddess Saraswathi. She is all that is sacred, she is deep insight, and she is the space of inner freedom and liberation.  She is the deity of the Vishuddha Chakra.

In her iconic representation, she is depicted riding the lion with her young son Kartikeya.  She also represents the relationship between mother and son.

The origins of Hindu Vedic thought are in the principle of Santana Dharma. The eternal teaching of cosmic knowledge and its many ways to the one source.

The teaching is reformulated to suit the present time and conditions. It is recast to suit the time and place and the capacities of the seeker.

Attempting to define the term Tantra, is sincerely attempting to find a needle in a haystack.   Tantra literally means loom and denotes weaving disparate threads into a tapestry of wholeness.

The chakra system,  rooted in Tantric tradition weaves the polarities of spirit and matter, mind and body, masculine and feminine, heaven and earth into a single philosophy of many philosophical strands reaching even back to the oral tradition that preceded the Vedas.

Texts from the tenth century, Gorakshashatakam and the Padaca Panchaka, and the Sat Cakra Nirupana written by an Indian pandit in 1577 form the basis of understanding chakra theory today.

The chakra system till the Anahata deals with the individual and the physical.

We create the world that we experience.

Through everyday communication, from board meetings, to reading the newspaper, to Instagram stories, Facebook posts, and Twitter tales. To bedtime stories, Whatsapp love letters, and break-ups, to snap chats, and TikTok mania. To emails, advertisements, legal documents, and government notices. To opinion pieces, paid media, protests, live streaming, and online courses. To cinema on Netflix, current affairs, and sports on Hotstar.The stock markets, political propaganda, and spiritual business. The library as Google God. The complex streams of information download into our energetic sheaths.

Never in the history of mankind have we had this much access to information.  Never before have we displayed this much apathy as an intelligent species.

An everyday image of the world is people in deep communion with their smartphone screens. In a decade with the rapid and rampant onslaught, of too much consumption, we have damaged the energetic communication gateways of life. Clogged the channels.

Too much consumption, too much interaction, too many ideas, too many sari divas, too many universities, too much knowledge… we live in a world of smartphone screens, where Amazon is a virtual universe of instant gratification, not the rain forest in South America. The lung space of the world.

Love is not enjoying a meal together, but waiting three days to text back to plan the meal, because we are all too busy scrolling down our feeds and constantly checking in, to the rules of the relationship as guided by the algorithm of tinder.!

This constant sharing of what I ate,  my exercise routine, my party life, my spiritual pursuits, my cocktail hour,  my pets snoozing, and some really smart jokes has left little room for the quiet life. Has left little room for deep soul conversations and reflections.

So busy building an image for ourselves, so busy painting our virtual masques on a virtual portfolio. We got so busy, that we didn’t have time to meet our shadows and heal our pain. We all began to pretend that it was one beautiful life.

We forgot that there were stars in the city sky, that the trees bloom in spring, not on Instagram stories, that the sunset is spectacular on a city balcony. We forgot the ocean speaks and silence is a part of us.  We stopped listening. We drowned ourselves in our own noise.

This collective noise is the malfunction of the Vishuddha chakra of the planet and the individual.

The technology and information onslaught has created a severe imbalance, hence the systems in the real world topple or reset. All relative to how we choose to view, understand and respond to change today.

 As we spend time, surfing and cruising and planning zoom gatherings and parties, we are still feeding into the same chaos that got us here. 

Still believing that we will go back into a world as we knew it, before these corona summer holidays!

How long will the energy of the internet bear this overload? This penetrating technology is deep damage to the biosphere of the planet.

The avaricious habitual nature of consumption and entertainment is morphing into another way of expression. The energy is dispersing and moving in the same pattern as before, just on the World Wide Web.

The world is living in the shadow of the goddess.

Do we have the courage to accept, to address policy? To regulate our consumption and expression?

Are we just waiting for this to get over to go back into rush hour routines? Back into polluted air and traffic jams?

Are we really slowing down, to listen to our heartbeats and our breaths and to the soothing orchestra of bird calls at sunset?

She is reclaiming her home, and asking us to do the same…

Vedic knowledge defines Sruthi and Smriti

Shruthi - as that, which is heard – transmitted, experienced.

Smriti- that which is remembered- written in texts. Memory. A collection of spiritual treatises.

The chakra system was taught by transmission from teacher to disciple, in gurukulas, which were abundant in nature. It is coded information ancient knowledge that was passed on to future generations for the proper functioning and protection of the planet. Hindu dharma believes in the cyclical system of life and is a response to the natural world.

Largely due to ignorance this practice and way of life have come under attack by many intellectuals across the world.  Misinterpreted, misplaced, manipulated, and usurped for political agendas and gain, this ancient sacred practice of living in harmony with nature has been discarded by many as old fashioned, mired in superstition, irrelevant, inapplicable, illogical, and unscientific.

It has been lost to the authoritative Hubris of the logical scientific mind and to half-baked knowledge and interpretation.

This attitude and treatment of the practice itself is self-inflicting damage to the vishuddha chakra

Durga is Jaganmata. 

Bharatmata. 

When we through words attack the Vedic philosophy and Systems of this land,  we damage the seat of purity in the vishuddha chakra.

Moving towards moksha is impossible. We stagnate and swim in this whirlpool.  Moving in a spiral.

This debilitating conundrum is broken when we restore the collective faith and belief in Vedic philosophy and practice.

Or just stop the judgment of it and let it serve its purpose.

In many parts of India today, people are chanting the Dhanavantari mantra. (Vishnu as the chief Ayurvedic physician. Vaidya. God of Healing. One who dispels and removes diseases of the mind and body. One who purifies) Guru’s everywhere are in Satsang. (A gathering of seekers of truth).

Medical staff in hospitals are chanting.  The Vishuddhi chakra of the planet is being purified. Vedic mantra chanting and yagna- sacred fire ceremonies are ritual worship of the goddess.

These coded practices charge the environment with positive vibrations and dispel negative, stagnant harmful energies. The right combination and use of purifying ingredients offered into the fire as oblations activate all the energetic positions of the cosmic world, creating a safe environment for people and the planet.

The Covid 19 virus attacks the throat, leading to colds, sore throats, and fevers.  The virus enters our physical body through our most vulnerable energetic sheath.   Consider this for a moment.

The Vishuddha Chakra is the throat centre.

It is the seat of goddess Skandamata as Jataragni and the seat of Saraswathi as the goddess of wisdom that embodies purity.

 The Human Being is an ecosystem.  The earth is an ecosystem. We are both sick and polluted. We are both being warriors to protect our health

The biosphere of life is in a warzone in the vishuddha chakra of the planet.  The individual is the collective.

We must turn inwards.  We must make a pact to slow down and listen, to the deep resonance of wisdom that is available to us in this time.

May the rising of the ones who hear the call (Shruthi) benefit all living beings on this planet. May the inner fire of wisdom of Goddess Skandamata purify our thoughts, actions, intentions, and speech.  May Gowri bless us with abundance and Saraswathi with Wisdom.   May we be protected by the Warrior God Skanda.

May we rise to heal, to live life in the light of our soul’s purpose.

Lokah Samastha Sukinoh Bhavantu

 

Katyayini

 

Katyayini Devi is worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri. The fierce, warrior goddess aspect of Parvati or Durga, she takes birth as the daughter of the sage Katya, to vanquish the demon Mahishasura.

She is also revered as Chamundi, Chandika and Bhadrakali. She is Durga in her wild uncontrollable rage

She is also Shanta Durga to her devotees. The one who protects.

Fearless, she is the epitome of Shakti, the power of Durga that vanquishes evil with the inner will of strength and courage

She is the goddess that women pray to, for good husbands.  It is said that the Gopikas of Vrindavan would pray to the goddess for a month.  They would observe a strict fast and follow rituals to appease her so that they could wed Lord Krishna. Young girls in Tamil Nadu appease the Goddess Durga in Kanyakumari, in the month of January every year, for prosperity, peace, abundance, and rain.

The word Katyayini specifies the power to remove all negative forces that befall an individual. Maa blesses devotees with better health and wealth. Seated in the Agni chakra which signifies the third eye, the goddess gives the devotees great strength to fight all sorrow, disease, and fear.

The Agni Chakra is the seat of seeing and intuition. It is the inner third eye. It is the witness of observing the world by removing oneself from the unfolding.  It is the ability to see beyond the physical. A gift to explore and understand the sacred architecture of life.  To transcend time and space.  The ability to observe into the future, psychic perceptions. Clairvoyance.

Katyayini maa is Durga seated in the Ajna Chakra.

As I write this and observe the state of affairs around me, I understand the fear, pain, and turmoil that has gripped our planet. For the first time in the span of many adult lives on this planet, we are faced with a calamity this intense and unknown, that doomsday predictions grip people in fear.

With an overworked and under pressure medical community, fractured governance, and a world in lockdown, we are unsure of where we will be two weeks from now.

At a time like this, it is not advisable to explore deeper into the energetic planes of consciousness.  The Ajna chakra is awakened only by the grace of the guru and goddess, after observing strict regimes and regulated practices. In some rare births, this chakra is already awakened. Hence we know of great teachers and masters in this country, who were able to change the course of the nation with their awakened inner eye.

On the day of Katyayini, I pick up the courage to say it like it is. This is a pandemic.  This is going to break our hearts on many many levels. So we must stay in our hearts, with our families. Reach out to our loved ones. Talk to our friends. Tell people we love them. That we care.  Break the barriers. Reach out to the best of our abilities. To help. To assist. To let people know we love them deeply.

We must refrain from creating noise.  Mother Nature is quiet; there is a deep penetrating silence in the cities.

On a more positive note, peacocks came into Bangalore city, a few streets away from where i live. The peacock is the Vahana(vehicle) of the warrior god Skanda. This brings hope.

I see signs everywhere.

At the same time, the yogic way is to not feed into the panic. To remain detached. Sthithaprajna is a Sanskrit term that means steady, firm, unwavering, contented, calm, and firm in judgment and wisdom.

A combination of two words, sthitha ( steady) and prajna( consciousness). It means one who is unwavering in all streams, ideas, and play of consciousness.

In these days of panic and chaos, there must be a way for us to tune in. that way is meditation.  To befriend stillness, silence, oneness.

The simplest meditation is the chanting of Om: The Pranava.

When the sages went deep into meditation they heard the cosmic sound, Om.  The frequency of OM is exactly the same as the frequency of the earth’s rotation around its own axis.

Om is the sound of creation. All of Prana’s life energy is expressed in this one syllable. Of the four elements, the first three are vocal sounds: a: u: and m:

The fourth sound which is unheard is the silence which begins and ends the audible sound, the silence which surrounds it.

The Mandukya Upanishad is twelve verses on the Om. It is said that in understanding this Upanishad, the seeker attains liberation.

The earth is in silence and so are we.

Staying in our Anahata chakra, with our hearts open and vulnerable and being aware of the pain and fear, purifying our thoughts ideas intentions, and speech in the Vishuddha, the Ajna chakra wisdom in today’s time is an invitation to stay in the steady stream of consciousness.

In surrender to the fragile vulnerability of life. In prayer to goddess Katyayini to empower us, to give us the inner strength to be warriors, and to fight this period of uncertainty in our lives.

There is something beautiful about breaking down. About shattering. Letting the heart open and letting the tears flow. This Navratri is a time of purifying ourselves and embracing our reality. It could have been better. More beautiful. More resplendent. But this lockdown and pandemic is our reality. We must face up to this heartbreaking reality and its history-altering consequences.

The pages are empty. I do hope that a chapter will be dedicated to the rise of the heart and the rise of the spiritual warriors of the earth in the narrative we will all write together.

A meditation.

Light a candle and some incense if you feel like it.

Sit in a comfortable seated posture.

With the right hand touch the space between the brows. Take three deep full breaths.

With the right hand touch the centre of your throat.  Take three deep full breaths

In the seated posture, place the left hand on the belly and the right hand on the heart.

Keep the inner awareness between the brows and on the throat.

Breathe in and out slowly a few times.

As you breathe in visualize a happy healthy free world abundant in natural resources and good health.

As you breathe out let go of all fear and panic.

As you breathe in speak to your immune system and ask the Goddess Katyayini to give you strength.

Let go of fear and panic.

As you breathe in send strength to your families, friends, and loved ones to be safe. Reach out to each one by name and ask Goddess Durga to protect them.

Let go of any fear or panic.  Embrace the vulnerability.

Breathe in and out a few more times.

Trust in the compassion of the unknown and ask for protection.

When the breath is still and calm, when the heart feels open, and you visualize new abundant earth of joy and harmony.

Breathe in love and breathe out gratitude.

Do this three times and bow down and kiss the earth.

Stay in this space.  Stay centered.

In my many paths of explorations to the divine. One that exploded and sent waves of bliss inside of me is the Mul Mantra of Guru Nanak in the Kundalini Yoga tradition. These were the first words spoken by the spiritual master Guru Nanak after he gained enlightenment.

It contains the core, essential truth of creation. Its vibration is so powerful that it can change one’s fate and rewrite destiny.

The power of goddess Katyayini seated in the Ajna chakra is just this.

Mantra: Mul Mantra

  • Complete Mantra:

Ek ong kaar…. God is One, I am One with all beings

Sat Nam… Truth is God’s Name… The vibration of God’s Name is what created all beings…. that vibration is within me…. therefore in my core, I am true.

Karta Purkh… God is the Doer…. God does all things… God works through me…. God works through everyone in my life.

Nirbhao… God is fearless… I am fearless.

Nirvair… God has no revenge…. I exist in my heart… I stay present… I don’t hold on to the past…. I live in this moment in full compassion and acceptance of what is.

Akal Murat… God exists in the undying form… God is in the purity of our efforts to live in a spiritual way, and these efforts never die… these efforts live on forever.

Adjoonee… God is unborn…. God does not relate to birth and death…. God is beyond the cycles of life…. God is infinite… I am infinite

Saibhang… God is self illumined… I am self illumined. Within me, I have the power to find light, to find love, to find joy. I don’t need anyone or anything for this.

Guru Prasaad… It is by Guru’s Grace…. it is the Grace of the teachings of the Divine One…. the Guru…. Guru Nanak, Jesus,  Krishna, Shiva, and Durga the Masters of all traditions that give us Grace.

Jap Meditate!

Aad Sach True in the Beginning

Jugaad Sach… True throughout the ages

Haibhee Sach… True here and now

Nanak Hosee Bhee Sach… Oh Nanak, forever and always true. Spirit, Truth, Love, and Light…. these are the things that are true, that have always been true

  • Language: Gurmukhi

It is said that Goddess Durga revealed herself to Guru Nanak and presented him with her sword, to bring forth into this world, a new way of being and a life of conscious service.

Listen in: dance, sway. Move, sit still. Chant and sing along.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxMgn_cphxE

May we stay protected and in the light and blessings of all enlightened beings and masters. May the grace of the guru and god and goddess protect us.

An excerpt from the Devi Mahatmya- Chandi Paat

The three worlds trembled. Victory to you cried the Devas and the Sages bowed their heads...

Mahishasura heard Devi’s footsteps and looked up at the commotion. The earth was shaking, the oceans in rage. There was a terrible noise. This angered the Asura Lord of the universe. And in his anger when he looked up, there she stood the goddess pervading the three worlds.

The earth lay curved and bent under her foot.  Her glittering diadem scraped the sky.

The battle began and on the ninth day, the Devi was filled with fury. She gave a great leap filling the sky, landed on the Asura pressing his neck down with her foot, and impaled him with her spear. Giving a great howl of pain Mahishasura became half Asura and half buffalo as he fought to free himself.

The goddess lifted her greatsword and with one mighty blow cut off his head. As soon as he was killed, Mahishasura’s entire army of Asuras too perished with a collective sigh.

The host of Devas and all the Sages bowed before the Devi, as the Gandharvas sang and the Apsaras danced. One by one, the Devas came forward to sing their words of gratitude and to praise the victorious goddess. They worshipped her with flowers from the divine garden Nandan, anointed her with sacred unguents and lit incense,

O Devi, we bow before you, who are yourself, good fortune in the dwellings of the virtuous and ill-fortune in those of the vicious: intelligence in the hearts of the learned: faith in the hearts of the good and modesty in the hearts of the high born. May you protect the universe.

The Durga Suktam

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAoaecQYMDU

My deepest Pranaams to everyone on the journey of Durga, on these sacred days and nights.

 Kaalaratri

The seventh day of the Navratri saadhana is auspicious and sacred to Yogis and Yoginis on the path. The night is dedicated to Maa Kaalaratri also referred to as Mother Kali.

Ferocious and wild, she is the force of absolute destruction and supreme power.

Kala means time and death.  Ratri means night.

She is the mother who annihilates ignorance, destroys the ego, and vanquishes negative and evil forces. She is righteous fury and rage. She is in the chaos of churning all the poison and evil in the world.

She is the dark side of life, the shadow aspect. She is violent Mother Nature, that self-destructs to remove all the dirt and poison.  She is the aspect of Durga seated in the Sahasrara Chakra.

Maa Kaalratri has deep significance in the spiritual journey of the seeker. On this sacred seventh day, yogis across the world are in deep meditation. The portals to the cosmic world are open, and Maa Kalaratri as Shubhankari is also kind and compassionate, blessing her devotees with yogic prowess, abundance in material wealth, and spiritual power.

Meeting her with no fear, naked and in surrender to knowing that the head of the saadhaka will roll, she is the bestower of grace to merge into the supreme consciousness.  The seeker on the path must face and withstand the destructive forces of Maa Kaalaratri.  In the last stages of the journey, as the light gets stronger, the darkness gets more profound.

As we celebrate the life we must acknowledge death. We must understand the ways of Maya and her incredible fine web. To the yogi, who meditates at Manikarnika Ghat in Kashi, the mother is beyond the perception of time, beyond life and death, beyond light and dark.  She is the one who dissolves this perception of duality.

Asura Raktabeeja had a boon of immortality. He could not be killed. From every drop of his blood that fell on the earth, emerged a new Raktabeeja. Maa Kaalaratri destroys this demon, by licking the blood of every Raktabeeja and eventually cleansing the earth of his toxicity.

Her imagery is fearful.  To most of humanity, she is the goddess that evokes fear.

To the yogi, she is the ultimate goddess of compassion, and it is unto her, in our purest heart and most fearless state of being we surrender.

She is the goddess through whose grace, the outward flow of energy, powered by the senses, is turned inwards, to flow from the heart and remain in the union with supreme consciousness.

Her power dissolves all the fluctuation of the Chitta (mind) and prana (life energy), to stay in the infinite calm and bliss of the heart of Shiva. (Purusha)

She is Prakriti that unites with the Purusha in the Sahasrara Chakra. The abode of supreme bliss, freedom, truth, and consciousness.

Hence she is the goddess of Pratyahara. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Ashtanga of Yoga is an eight-fold path.

Yamas (ethical standards and integrity)

Niyamas (self-discipline, spiritual observances)

Asanas (physical practices to keep the body healthy. Body is considered to be the temple. This practice creates discipline and steadies concentration required for deeper meditation practices.)

Pranayama (regulation and extension of the breath, life force extension. Breathing exercises.)

The first four stages of this practice concentrate on refining the personality of the individual and creating the maps through the yamas and niyamas, gaining mastery of the body through asana practice, and understanding the breath and its life energy power influencing our energetic bodies through the practice of pranayama.

The next four stages, deal with the mind, the senses, and attaining a higher state of consciousness.

Pratyahara (Turning inwards, sensory transcendence, an ability to observe habits that can get the energy to move outwards into the sensory world and to control them. To keep the gaze on the inner illumined self.  The practice of turning in, to stay in the stillness of infinite consciousness and bliss.)

Dharana (Concentration. Self observance. Each stage leads to the next. With the senses under control, the mind is ready to focus on a deity, a mantra, a chant.  It is ready to work with the fluctuation of the mind itself. Focus attention on a single point for extensive periods of time. Deep concentration leads to meditation.)

Dhyana (Meditation. A state of awareness, always presents, without focus or practice. Mind is quiet; it produces few or no thoughts at all. Dhyana is the result of practice and grace.  Requires the rigour of discipline, strength, and stamina.)

Samadhi (State of ecstasy. Merging into the source.  Everlasting bliss joy freedom and truth.  Dissolving into oneness. Moksha, Nirvana, Enlightenment.  With dedication, surrender, and discipline the aspirant is blessed with this gift. The ultimate blessing to reside in consciousness)

Maa Kaalaratri blesses the yogi from the stages of Pratyahara and leads the aspirant, slowly and steadily into the ocean of bliss which is Samadhi. Seated in the Sahasrara Chakra, the centre of the thousand-petalled lotus.

Her presence in one’s life is that of a teacher and mother. Constantly reminding the saadhaka of the responsibilities that come with walking the path of freedom.

Her Darshan (communion in presence of the Mandala (idol)) of the goddess is spectacular. Jaw-dropping. My first Darshan of the Goddess Kali was in Dakshineshwar, the abode of Ramakrishna Paramahansa.

As I close my eyes and visualize that first meeting, I remember, my jaw just dropped.  Blissful, spectacular, beautiful, fierce, powerful, raging she is the spectrum of the power of the Divine Feminine. Once she captures the saadhaka, there is no more turning back.

In my continuing studies at my gurukula, I had reached a space of extreme deep frustration, with the practice and path itself.  In rebellion (which is also the force of Kaalaratri/Kali), I decided to play around a bit with the pratyahara rigour.  My teacher says common sense is the most pragmatic and powerful weapon on a spiritual quest.

The Shruthi, the transcending bliss of her grace must be experienced. The incredible strength is beyond all perception and imagination.

This is the reason why spiritual aspirants, are initiated young. The physical body must be strong and able, to handle the surges of energy. The strength required to work and meet with the shadows and dark forces requires stamina and fearlessness. This experience is felt in the body.  The saadhana must begin when one is able. This is also her grace

.

When the play got too much, I received a message in a conversation with my master. The mystic speaks in subtle ways.

Run as much as you want, time is merely an idea; you are in the grip of the noose

This was love.  This was a sign. This was Maa Kaalaratri. This is Shiva.

I embarked on a journey to meet with her yet again this January. It was after my first encounter with my guru and Kali, that the spiritual path expressed itself in my life. I finally found the courage to be the person in Satsang. To live my soul’s purpose and journey.

To walk this path of mystery and blessings. To walk in my Dharma

I understand now that this is the grace of Maa Kaalaratri. This is also the grace of Lalitha Tripurasundari. Kashi Vishalakshi. Maa Tara in Tarapith. Durga in Kanyakumari. The Dashamahavidyas in Kamakhya. Mahalakshmi in Kolapur. Chamundi Devi in Mysore. Jwalamukhi in the Himalayas.  The mother in Vaishnodevi.  Ugrakali in Chidambaram . Padmavati  Devi in Tirupati. Meenakshi in Madurai.  Annapurna in Kashi. Mookambike in Mangalore. Sharada in Shringeri. The goddess is alive in all parts of this sacred land. We must meet her in our vulnerability right now.

A calamity of this magnitude, of the spread of this malicious virus, is not just an accident. There is a larger purpose to this outbreak.  As the dark force, this is the shadow of Mother Kali.  She is present as a field of consciousness in this virus.  It is the will of God, the will of nature, and her benevolence that we as a human species are alive.

In conversations in the spiritual world, people have expressed over time that the force is going to come and get us. She has.  She has contained the world, to restore balance.

Present in the will of every human being alive, the Mother Kaalaratri, rises in us to fight this evil. She asks us to control our senses (reduce our consumption. To be kinder to each other. To regulate our ways and find our inner resources and tune in.)

The expression of the world has become a sensory overload. We consume and live on this earth with no concern for common shared resources.

When I come back to Bangalore, from my travels, I ponder this, looking at all the fancy real estate advertisements in the airport.  Destroying a natural resource that protected us to make money, we are now being sold homes with gardens and trees. Nature has become a commodity. My beloved city that was abundant in trees, flora, fauna, and lakes, was destroyed so that buildings could come up everywhere.  The garden city turned into a concrete jungle.

The steel flyover protests, which I had the privilege and blessing to co-create with a core team, saw the first conscious collective victory of civic society that stood up and said, Beda. NO. Do not cut the trees. The first video that went viral was recorded on the day of Vijayadashami.  I remember Bangalore that morning when we shot the video, so quiet, barely a vehicle or two.  A lot like what it feels, today. Again I know that the collective energy was the rising of Maa Kaalaratri in everyone who came out and created the human chain and fasted in the Satyagraha.

We have had so many warnings. Before the calm there is chaos. Before Lord Dhanavantari rose from the ocean carrying the pot of nectar, the poison was churned by the Devas and Asuras. Shiva drank this poison, to save the world, and the goddess Parvati prevented him from swallowing the poison by gripping his throat. Hence Shiva is Neelkanth. Worshipped in the foothills of Rishikesh.

It is in the Vishhudha chakra that we are able to refine and churn the poison that lives within us all. We are all a play of light and dark. the world we inhabit is in chaos.

The war is not waged out but within. A yogic practice complimented by the grace of Maa Kaalaratri gives us direction.

If we must win this war against the virus, if we must write a chapter of rising consciousness in history, Mankind has been given the greatest opportunity right now. To rise. To come together to elevate the collective, to a higher frequency, to a higher vibration. No effort is big or small. We must commit to an inner practice. Must regulate our ways, and ask for the blessings of the mother.

If each conscious adult in the world could step up, to live a better life. to pick up one practice that brings us closer to the heart, if we can begin to understand that we are not our bodies or our minds, but unity in spirit, then our actions will influence the collective rising.

We are at the beginning of the greatest opportunity of a collective awakening. As the goddess who is both light and shadow, Maa Kaalaratri gives us a final opportunity to write the new conscious narrative of the planet.

This will ask us to let go of much. There will be loss, pain. Times of discomfort.  Lots to shift. To renew ourselves. To rebirth our practices ideas and thoughts. To let go of our plans.

When we get to the other side of this, will we be a kinder, man-kind.? To ourselves and hence to others.

Spiritual pursuit is no lofty ideal.  Yogic Saadhana is a choice of a conscious way of life to be better people. It takes guts, strength, and courage. That will eventually lead us to eternal joy and bliss.

Can we be self-less right now?  Will we rise? This is a double-edged sword.  This pandemic is weeding out the poison of the planet. We must begin new conversations. Take more interest in my city, my country, my land, and my people.

Our bodies are bio-diverse and linked; the earth is biodiversity and linked. It is time to weave the threads into a narrative of harmony for all living beings, both sentient and nonsentient. For each to occupy their rightful place. Setting aside our fears, and to win this battle, will we take a deep dive in and rise

After destroying Raktabeeja, the goddess was on fire.  She went berserk, killing everyone in her way. The gods scared, prayed to Lord Shiva to stop her from this destruction. To calm her down. Shiva appeared in her path and slipped himself under her feet. Seeing her beloved husband beneath her feet and trampling on him, she stopped and bit her tongue.

To the goddess who is the movement of all nature, good and bad, right and wrong, conscious and unconscious, it was the presence and power of the unwavering field of consciousness as Purusha: Shiva, that restored balance.

Will we rise, to the yogic wisdom of the goddess who destroys time? tuning in deeply into our hearts will we shift the chaos into stillness?

History is in the Now.  Let’s make it count.

In deep reverence to this most Powerful Devi.

Yaa Devi Sarva Bhuteshu. Maa Kaalaratri Rupena  Samasthitha|

Namsthayai, Namasthayai, Namsthasyai, Namoh  Namah ||

Lokah Samastha Sukinoh Bhavantu

 

Mahagowri

 The Ashtami or the eighth day of Navratri is the resplendent form of Durga as MahaGowri.  The divine feminine in her celebration of beauty, love, heart, and grace.  Maa Kaalratri burns the ego of the aspirant, shatters all pre-conceived ideas and notions of the way of the spiritual life, demands of the seeker to embrace the dark and shadows, testing the spiritual stamina. Maa Kalaratri walks with the dedicated aspirant until the saadhak finds oneself at the vast abundant resplendent feet of the great goddess Mahagowri.

The primordial force of life and creation in all its beauty and softness, she is Uma, the powerful consort of Lord Shiva, and daughter of the Himalayas. Effulgent, she is the radiance of the conch, the beauty of the jasmine flower, and the mystery of the moon.

To marry Lord Shiva, Uma/Parvati did years of Tapas (austere Penance). This time has turned her skin dark as she merged with the soil and the heat of the sun had burnt her. When Shiva met his wife, he bathed her in the water of the Ganges. The water purified and cleansed her, and she emerged radiating the glow of the sun. He called her Maha Gowri, the one who emanates spiritual light.

The ritual bath in the Waters of the Ganga, purify the seeker, to come closer to the inner light. It is a letting go of weight and burden to break the cycle of birth and death. What is believed to one can be a foolish approach to another. a theory accepted in the Hindu way of life. to each their own.  The vibrations of belief and faith are the blessing of Mahagowri.

Maha Gowri hence cleanses the saadhak, of all of life’s sins, of all lifetimes. The seeker who has sincerely surrendered to Maa Kalaratri eventually finds herself at the feet of Maha Gowri. This goddess is the nurturing mother. The one who embraces the exhausted aspirant after a long period of difficulty and struggle.

“At that time of deep frustration, fear, and exhaustion, when the surge of the shadow was too much, my physical body dropped the armour and gave up. It was draining my energetic body to be the warrior. I learned to walk with my shadow. Awaiting to fall and break into pieces, I was taken by surprise with the surge and rise of blissful compassion and the Darshan of light as I found myself on a yatra to the most sacred spaces of light. In the Himalayas, at the Char Dham’s, in Vrindavan,  in Jaganath Puri, In Kamakhya, and finally in my spiritual heart home in Kashi.  A gift of her light was guiding me into teaching and unfolding of the unexpected splendor of her manifestations. The early morning of Shivaratri at the feet of Kashi VIshalakshi has reset the journey. traveling to holy spots is unnecessary. the divine is within. I am grateful to her for tuning into my spiritual gypsy."

(An excerpt from my diary)

The seeker finds her, just at the time when she is ready to give up. When one cannot take the fire of Maa Kaalaratri anymore, the aspirant finds herself on her knees, humbled by the power and might of that fierce goddess. The darkness breaks, the shadows dissipate, the play dissolves, and in that flash of a moment, the feet of Mahagowri is the seeker’s joy and blessings.

She transcends the logic of the human mind and guides the aspirant on a journey of cosmic freedom. Jnana (wisdom) is what is felt and heard beyond speech. Hence she is also Vak, (divine instruction sound, intuition, and beyond sound). The guidance of the highest order.

She protects the yogini on her journey into the higher realms. Gifting the seeker’s conscious powers of astute judgment, she is the power of the mystical, cosmic spiritual journey. The gateway to a life unable to be grasped by the senses, to be lived in the heart of seva. (service)

Maha Gowri is the Goddess of Mother Nature. She is everything that stirs and lives. She is the flight of transcendence. She is Sat chit Ananda. She is awe-inspiring beauty. She influences Mankind towards the path of truth and purity. Illuminating the energetic body of the saadhaka with her grace, she opens the portals to the maps of dharma and facilitates the way for nature to align for her devotee to adhere and walk the path with no hurdles.

She does not grant selfish desires but bestows with grace the conditions the seeker requires, to ascend to higher planes.

Human beings are a vibration.  Every human has an energetic resonance and relationship to the universe or god. Maha Gowri aligns these vibrations, for the human being to realize their divine nature.

Merging into Shiva, She is the play of consciousness. She is conscious of Free Will. She is Dharma. She is Love. She is the goddess of the awakened saadhak. She is the abode of the sacred divine feminine. She is home.  She is the mother.

Soundaryalahiri written by Adi Shankaracharya is a text celebrating the goddess.  Literally translated as Waves of Beauty, it is a venerated Tantric Text of our Sacred Vedic Land. Worship of the Goddess in Mantra, the first 41 stanzas - Ananda Lahiri is believed to be etched by Lord Ganesha on Mount Meru.  Sage Goudapada read this on Mount Meru and taught it to his Disciple Adi Shankaracharya.  Adi Shankara himself wrote and added the next 59 stanzas – Soundarya Lahari and completed this Shakta Tantra.

This seminal work brings the reader into the presence of the goddess. It is an exposition of the feminine divine.

A merging into the Goddess Bhavani, the devotee seated at her feet asks for just a glance from her, to be absorbed into the cosmic self. This is one of the most comprehensive, beautiful, transformative meditation and visualization of the Devi, who is the root matrix of creation. The verses depict her form as the highest path of saadhana and realization. There are many masterful commentaries on the Soundaryalahiri.

Tantric Shakta Saadhana is an esoteric tradition, the bridges the gap between the outer and inner experience of the Devi. (Goddess)

The opening four stanzas of the Ananda Lahari are timeless, evocative prayers to Goddess Mahagowri, Bhavani to raise the energetic consciousness of the planet.

Shivah shakthya yukto yadi bhavati shaktah prabhavitum

Na chedevam devo na khalu kusalah spanditumapi;

Atas tvam aradhyam Hari-Hara-Virinchadibhir api

Pranantum stotum vaa katham akrta-punyah prabhavati

Lord Shiva, only becomes able.

To do creation in this world along with Shakthi

Without her, Even an inch he cannot move,

And so how can, one who does not do good deeds,

Or one who does not sing your praise,

Become adequate to worship you

Oh, goddess mine, Who is worshipped by the trinity.

2

(Attracting all the world)&

Taniyamsam pamsum tava carana-pankeruha-bhavam

Virincih sanchinvan virachayati lokan avikalam;

Vahaty evam Shaurih katham api sahasrena shirasaam

Harah samksudy'ainam bhajati bhajati bhasito'ddhalama-vidhim.

Lord Brahma, the creator of yore,

Selects a particle of dust from your feet,

And creates this world,

The great Adisesha with his thousand heads,

Somehow carries a  particle of dust of your feet,

With effort great,

And the great Lord Rudra,

Takes it and powders it nicely,

And uses it as the holy ash.

3

(Attainment of all knowledge)

Avidyanam antas-timira-mihira-dweeppa-nagari

Jadanam chaitanya-stabaka-makaranda-sruti jhari

Daridranam cinta-mani-gunanika janma-jaladhau

Nimadhanam damshtra mura-ripu-varahasya bhavati.

The dust under your feet, Oh Goddess great,

Is like the city of the rising sun,

That removes all darkness, unfortunate,

From the mind of the poor ignorant one,

Is like the honey that flows,

From the flower bunch of vital action,

To the slow-witted one,

Is like the heap of wish giving gems,

To the poorest of men,

And is like the teeth of Lord Vishnu

In the form of Varaha,

Who brought to the surface,

The mother earth,

To those drowned in this sea of birth.

4

(Removal of all fears, Curing of diseases)

Tvad anyah paanibhyam abhaya-varado daivataganah

Tvam eka n'aivasi prakatita-var'abhityabhinaya;

Bhayat tratum datum phalam api cha vancha samadhikam

Saranye lokanam tava hi charanaveva nipunav..

Oh, She who is a refuge to all this world,

All gods except you mother,

Give refuge and grants wishes,

Only by their hand.

But only your mother

Never show the world in detail,

The boons and refuge that you can give,

For even your holy feet will suffice,

To remove fear forever,

And grant boons much more than asked.

In the 22nd stanza.

Bhavani tvam daase mayi vitara drishtim sakarunam

Iti sthotum vanchan kadhayati Bhavani tvam iti yah;

Tadaiva tvam tasmai disasi nija-sayujya-padavim

Mukunda-brahmendra-sphuta-makuta-nirajita-padam.

If anyone has a wish in his mind to pray.

"You, Bhavani, my mother,

Please shower on me, a part of your merciful look",

Even before he says, "You Bhavani",

You, my goddess,

Would give to him the water,

Falling from the crowns,

Of Vishnu, Rudra and Brahma,

At your feet,

And grant him, eternal life in your world.

These verses, when chanted, bring us closer to the benevolence of the Goddess.

The surge of the Divine Feminine is the need of the hour.

Women and men must find within themselves, the power of the sacred divine feminine, and stand together. Blessed by the dust of her feet even, the goddess can restore peace to this world when we find peace in our human hearts.

We must trust in her presence and compassion.

In Sanatana Dharma, goddess or god is not a force in heaven that must be feared, ever willing to punish us and send us off into hell.

The goddess is a living breathing entity, embodying the human experience, embracing the saadhak in her ever-present grace. In the practice of Hindu dharma, heaven and hell is a state of our mind. The gods are divine beings within our grasp, the controls are available to us, and we must just press the right buttons and navigate the flight of the human journey. Trust enough to have the Goddess as our co–pilot.

Her easiest visual representation is Mother Nature.

When we surrender control to her, she takes our hand and walks with us, on this complicated meandering unknown journey of life.

The human being thinks of himself to be superior. The politician and the priest over millennia have manipulated fear in the hearts of humanity, to create a world where power is wielded by a few. The desire for absolute power and economic superiority,  to harness toxic technology for profit, greed, lust, and violence within religious ideologies and systems, has led to a fragmented society. It is a fallacy to believe that all religions, practices are the same. Contemporary society is mostly agenda-driven with hidden constructs of gain for the few who will profit. Religion has become a tool, whilst nature a commodity.

When the god is in heaven and is not life affirmative, life is lived in sin and in fear. When the fire of sex and desire is considered to be evil and to be punished, the practice of all duality within religion is destructive, as is the harnessing of technology, harming our biosphere.

Millennia ago, Women were the Spiritual leaders and healers of this world. Naturally, in tune with Mother Nature, people lived in a world of peace, harmony, and respect. The god people worshiped was visible breathing living Earth

Burnt, maimed, killed, and abused, the devadasi, the high priestess, the healers, witches, wild women were eradicated from mainstream society. To be replaced by religious dogmas.

If all healing modalities were in the grasp of all, if collective commons were the responsibility of life if kindness and love were the principles of life, why would we need governance and societal rules.? If living close to nature, can regulate our lives and thinking, to be in harmony as a collective biodiverse species, as taught by many ancient cultures,\, why would we need the politician or priest.?

This sloth of thinking and action is being eradicated, as systems of greed are self-destructing. This pandemic will change the fabric of the world as we have known it. Space is being made for women and men to rewrite this time in history, this time of transition. And all we are being asked to do is sit on our couch, and find our authentic purpose.

The time has come again, where the feminine must rise. We must tune in to the Shakthi of the goddesses, and walk the path of purity, truth, and righteousness if we must thrive. Walk the Jnana path of MahaGowri.

We must Hug Love, Sing, Dance. Kiss and hold hands, and feel the collective heartbeat of a healed planet. For this, we must begin the work within. Social isolation is toxic to the nature of the human condition. This cabin fever will asphyxiate us if we do not dive in.

Tuning in to the sacred body and giving gratitude to this vehicle is a start. The suit we wear in this lifetime is a gift that can be maintained by yogic discipline and practice. Humanity must take a dive into the unknown. For the only way ahead is a practice that is a worship of nature and her protection.

MahaGowri manifests in the healing energy and recovery from discomfort, illness, and disease. She brings back hope in this time of fear and panic. She works through the beings in service.

She is the comfort in our homes. She is my divine protection, as I write this text.

Through her Grace may we find a cure.  May we believe that the healing is within us.  May we lead more authentic lives.

May her grace bless us with abundance in our material and spiritual lives

May we remain peaceful and enjoy the natural beauty of this earth.

May we stay in our hearts always.

May we take a trusting dive, into the unknown, surrender into the void and find ourselves healed and on a planet that is life affirmative.

To the inner bliss of MahaGowri in deep prayer

Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu  Maa MahaGowri Rupena Samsthitha|

Namasthasyei, Namsthasyei, Namasthasyei Namoh Namah ||

The ninth day is also Rama Navami. The day Lord Rama Vanquishes demon Ravana and restores balance and harmony to the earth. Also in reverence to Hanuman, to give us strength to heal, teach us to surrender, and illuminate the principles to the path of devotion.

A  Tulsidas Bhajan and The Hanuman Chalisa

For the Navami Day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyNSOu-Fl-k

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ANk4fmRNyuE

Lokah Samastha Sukinoh Bhavantu

 

Siddhidhatri

Maa Siddhidhatri is worshiped on the ninth and final day of Navratri.Navami

Siddhis in Sanskrit means perfection, accomplishments, attainments and success

This day is the culmination of the Navratri saadhana. Devi Siddhidhatri blesses the saadhak, with powers. These blessings are a gift from the goddess, who is happy with the commitment and dedication of the aspirant in persevering with the inner energy work.

The nine days of this festival is a portal, an opening into the conscious field of the Devi. To meet her, the aspirant must follow a road map. There is no one path. One must follow the heart.

As a Bharatanatyam Dancer, the goddess is very much a part of my every day. Maha Gowri, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Saraswati are goddesses I met very young in life. My grandmother told me stories. I devoured the Amar Chitra Katha.  I listened to bedtime stories of the Devi as a young girl. I remember the first time I saw the statue of Mahishasura in the Chamundi foothills. I began to cry. This is so etched in my memory that the many times I respond to her call, as I go up the hill the last few years, I smile that I understand why I cried then as a child. The present connects the dots.

On Varamahalaksmi and on Gowri Puja, the feminine divine is worshipped and invoked in my home. Goddess Saraswati is my love. My mother. The goddess of wisdom has been my inner guide for many lifetimes.  I remember going to Shringeri as a young girl, meeting Sharada, and being mesmerized.  In my adult years, I have found myself in her abode every Navratri.

More than a decade ago I woke up in the room of my childhood, saying Jai Mata Di. I had no idea what I was saying. In my quest to understand and respond to that distinct call, I found myself on a bus to Vaishnodevi a few months later.

The path to the goddess is an adventure.  Everything that I had imagined my life would be, began to fall apart. The true map emerged and with it the courage, guidance, and blessings of abundance.  To Trust. To Walk. To Rebirth.

When the Durga idol found itself to me, in my home, a few days before Navratri, many many moons ago, I knew the time had arrived to befriend the goddess. These nights have always been sacred to me. Deeply moving and powerful.

Maa Siddhidhatri gives her devotees 26 different types of power.  Powers that are bestowed, befitting the energetic configuration of a yogini’s or yogi’s saadhana.

The word yogini or yogi is deeply misplaced in today’s world. There are immense benefits to the practice of asana and pranayama. Masters of these aspects of yoga are Acharya’s –Teachers.  The practice of just these to perfection is not the final destination.

A yogi or yogini is the one who dwells in the abode of Maha Gowri, Bhavani, and Siddhidhatri. A sadhaka, who has transcended time, has great control over the senses and is able to forgo temporary pleasures and desires, to stay in the abiding bliss of the goddess is a yogi. The sadhaka practicing the rigour of pratyahara with the mind and heart rooted in the divine, Is a Yogini.

A yogi may at certain times also drop into material physical planes, but his actions do not affect the flow of grace. In our world, we are quick to judge. There is an expectation of puritanical zeal from the yogi.  Hence people get trapped in the pursuit of an image and idea when it comes to seeking a teacher or a spiritual pursuit. They lose sight of the larger picture.

The other most dangerous aspect of the path is the buildup of the spiritual ego.  Many people in the initial stages of the path, dress, speak and behave in the expected imagery of a yogi.  Again this is a trap. This imagined purity is also tested by the power of Maa Kaalaratri. The yogi’s path is a response to the present.

If a sadhaka on the path is only interested in siddhis (powers) the purpose of the journey is misplaced. Again these siddhis are bestowed on a yogi who is mostly uninterested in them or has a purpose to carry out in this world.

The great saints of India, Trilanga Swamy, could sit underwater in the Ganges in Kashi for months and meditate.  Sant Kabir and Tulsidas had siddhis, to bring people back to life. The great Adi Shankaracharya, could morph himself into all forms of energy, light as air, as heavy as an elephant, and enter physical bodies. So could the great saint of South India Tirumular.

These occult powers are a part of the yogic ascension. This is not the ultimate goal. The aspirant must strive to merge into Purusha and live in the abode of the goddess.

Purusha is a concept in Indian philosophy referring to the Cosmic Self, Cosmic Consciousness, or the Universal Principle.

Both the Indian philosophical school of Samkhya and yogic philosophy define Purusha as a masculine force, one that's opposite to the feminine force, Prakriti (primal creative energy)

. Purusha refers to spirit and Prakriti refers to matter. However, both schools believe that the realization of Purusha is a part of the path to moksha (spiritual liberation).

As these siddhis are meant to be a guhya (secret) between gurus and disciples, and not considered to be the mainstay of the path, I will not go deeper into the subject in reverence to the yogic, tantric path and the adherence to its dharma.

Many young aspirants walk the path to attain siddhis and become magicians. The fall from glory is also a gift from consciousness. Using these powers to manipulate energies is asking for trouble. The wrath of Goddess Kalaratri is fierce. It is also premature, to begin teaching yoga before the practice is perfected. In today’s instant yogi generation of 30-day certificates, as the West appropriates this ancient sacred abhyasa (study and practice) yoga teaching has been contained mostly to asana and pranayama. The practice of just these two aspects is enough for some aspirants but is not the ultimate goal of yogic saadhana

The greatest yogis are the best undercover agents.  They do not reveal the secrets of cosmic magic and mystery. The gift of Siddhidhatri is silence. To stay rooted in the flow of bliss.

Devotees ask the mother for all sorts of boons. Wealth, money, good health, prosperity, progeny, marriage, a good job, a new car, a new house, a good wife or husband, the list is endless. If these are needs to hasten life’s progress,  Maa Siddhidhatri will bestow it upon the devotee.

The yogi has only one purpose, to unite in the Purusha. Nothing will stop a committed yogi on the path to surrender. This person is the beloved of Maa Gowri and Siddhidhatri.

The highest purpose of human life is to understand that we are divine.  Self-mastery and realization through the power of yoga, to abide in the supreme consciousness, is the highest goal of life. Through this dharma, we worship to unite with the goddess Siddhidhatri.

Also worshiped as Mother Lakshmi,

She is the goddess of Tantra, Mantra, Yogic accomplishments achieved by means of spiritual practices in the form of Supernatural powers as well as worldly accomplishments. Generally, Siddhidatri considered as the goddess of Wealth is also the goddess of Beauty, goddess of the Arts and Sciences, and is the accomplishment of worldly desires

A story on her origins.

When the Universal Mother was gripped with the idea of projecting Creation, She first created Lord Shiva who prayed to Her to endow him with perfections. For this purpose, the Universal Mother (Durga) created Goddess Siddhidaatri from Her own being. At the behest of the Universal Mother, Goddess Siddhidaatri bestowed eighteen kinds of rare perfections, powers, and potentialities (Siddhis) on Lord Shiva. By virtue of these siddhis, Lord Shiva developed a divine splendor.

Having acquired the siddhis from Goddess Siddhidaatri, Lord Shiva created Lord Vishnu who in turn created Lord Brahma who was entrusted with the task of Creation whereas Lord Vishnu got the task of Protection and Lord Shiva that of Destruction.

Lord Brahma faced great difficulty in his task of Creation in the absence of man and woman. Thereupon he invoked Mother Siddhidaatri. When she appeared before him, Lord Brahma said to her, “Oh Great Mother! I cannot carry on with the task of the Creation in the absence of man and woman. You kindly solve this problem of mine through your supernatural attainments (siddhis).”

Having heard Lord Brahma, Mother Siddhidhatri converted half the person of Lord Shiva into a woman. Thus Lord Shiva became half-male and half-female and came to be known as Ardhanaarishwara. Thus the problem of Lord Brahma was resolved and the task of the Creation went on smoothly.

Mother Siddhidaatri possesses four arms and she rides on a lion. She carries the mace, the lotus, the conch shell, and the disc in her four hands. He who acquires her grace attains salvation after enjoying the pleasures of life. She fulfills all the mundane and divine aspirations of her devotees. Her worship destroys all distresses.

Siddhidayini is the form of Durga seated on a lotus who is four-armed. She holds a lotus, mace, discus, and book. In this form, Durga removes ignorance and provides the knowledge to realize Brahman. She is surrounded by Siddhas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Demons, and Gods who are worshipping her. The Siddhi that she provides is the realization that only She exists.

At the end of January and the beginning of February this year, I had the blessing to spend a few days in Kamakhya. The Sthala (ground. space. spot) of the bleeding goddess of Assam. A centre for deep yogic saadhana and meditation.

As the fertile goddess of India, she is revered as the mother of life energy, of birth, of fertility. The yoni of Sati energizes this Shaktipeetha, The goddess is all aspects of the sacred divine feminine in Kamakhya

As I spent time in saadhana there, I was blessed with deep insight. I had just wrapped my first movement meditation dance retreat in Orissa in the land of Durga. I had to give thanks for the unfolding of this phase and gift of expression,

I know now that women have to reclaim their spiritual heritage and history. We must find the courage to respond to our inner voice and calling, to rise to our feminine nature.

We must at this very important time on the planet rise together in sisterhood.

Tend to the earth. Revive and restore her.

Annapurna is the goddess of food, agriculture, soil, of all that nurtures. The earth is our life energy. This crisis of the pandemic is also creating a field of hunger. If we can just look around us, and observe, there are people starving because of the lockdown. If we can just call our inner circles, people who may need help, start with the home staff, and feed their families, the energy of Annapurna will unlock the circles of abundance. Not everyone can and aspire to great acts of service.  Feeding the hungry is the greatest and simplest spiritual Dharma. If we must rise this Navratri, let’s look around us and feed the hungry. It is heartbreaking, that is the most abundant time of food production on earth, people are starving. There is a lesson in here if we are willing to respond.

The qualities of a yogi are,

fearlessness, purity of heart, perseverance in acquiring wisdom and in practicing yoga, charity, subjugation of the senses, the performance of holy rites, the study of the scriptures, self-discipline, straightforwardness, noninjury, truthfulness, freedom from wrath, renunciation, peacefulness, non-slander, compassion for all creatures, absence of greed, gentleness, modesty, lack of restlessness, the radiance of character, forgiveness, patience, cleanliness, freedom from hate, absence of conceit.

These twenty-six qualities are all divine attributes of God; they constitute man’s spiritual wealth.

May the goddess Siddhidhatri bless us with these attributes that will rebirth humanity, rebirth the sacred masculine and feminine and restore balance onto this earth. May we aspire to be more human and kinder. May we relearn the ways of being and rethink our ways of engagement and response to life.

As news emerges of life and service getting back to normal, it is our actions and choices that will define the future

As the goddess with the Siddhi of Prapti( one who cures diseases), may she cure this Covid 19 pandemic?

As the goddess of the culmination of Yogic Saadhana, may she rise in us so that we can abide in our dharma, of collective commons and consciousness?

To the future of a simple and slow life, may the Navdurgas bless the ones who hear the call to rise.

The Navdurga Kavach

Kavach is translated as armor, and mantra is an energetic protection

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmkjNYgNQSI

Prathamam Shailputri cha Dwitiyam Brahmacharini

Tritiyam Chandraghanteti Kushmaandeti Chaturthakam

Panchamam Skandmaateti Shashtham Kaatyayneeti cha

Saptamam Kaalraatriti Mahagauriti Chaastamam

Navamam Sidhhidaatri cha Navdurgaah Prakeertitaah

In deep reverence to the sacred wild divine feminine

At the feet of my Upa Guru M, for guidance, for taming the inner fire, and for spiritual rebirth

To my parents for the gift of life and love

To my lineage of teachers, gurus, and masters across all tradition, practice, and experience.

To the lineage of authors and masters whose work has been guidance

To time and life as it unfolds, in deep prayer

I surrender this sadhana and blessing at the Lotus Feet of the Great Goddess Bhavani, Durga, Lalithambika, and Sharada

My deepest respects and gratitude to everyone, who read the text, sent me uplifting messages, responded, and opened up their ardhanaarishwara hearts, to journeying as a field of Durga Consciousness.

May we all be protected and stay safe.

May the wisdom of the goddess unfold a new narrative as we commit to leading a more earth-conscious life.

Namaste. Blessings. Love. Light

Om Namah Shivaya.

Jai Ma Durga

Lokah Samasta Sukinoh Bhavantu

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published