Navratri is a period of nine days celebrating the Divine Feminine and is happening from 26 Sep to 4 Oct in 2022. Sadhguru delves into the deeper spiritual aspects of this festival, revealing how the three main qualities in existence are manifest in these nine days.
Sadhguru: This culture draws its roots on profound observations of the human system and its relationship with the Earth, the Moon, the Sun, and different aspects of the Divine. This is also reflected in when and how we celebrate our festivals. Navratri literally means “nine nights.” These nine nights are counted from the day after new moon day or Amavasya. These first nine days of the lunar cycle are considered feminine. This is a special time for Devi, who represents the feminine nature of the Divine. The ninth day is called Navami. The one-and-a-half-days around the full moon are a neutral time. The remaining eighteen days are masculine in nature. The feminine phase of the month is about Devi. That is why in the tradition, all worship up to Navami is dedicated to Devi.
There are twelve nine-day periods in a year and each of these is focused on a different aspect of the feminine Divine or Devi. The Navratri that comes around October is considered the most significant one because it is dedicated to Sharada, the goddess of learning. Among the many things that a human being can do, this tradition lays greatest emphasis on learning. Other creatures can run faster than us; they are stronger than us; they can do many things that we cannot do – but they cannot learn like we can. The pride of being human is that you can learn just about anything – if you are willing.
When we say “masculine” and “feminine,” we are not talking about the gender; we are talking about the basic qualities in the existence, the polarities. The physical world can only exist between polarities – day and night, darkness and light, masculine and feminine, and male and female. Male and female is a manifestation of the masculine and feminine qualities, not a quality by itself.
The post autumnal equinox is the time of the feminine. Since this part of the year naturally supports the feminine, certain societies have worked to establish the feminine consciously, because the masculine asserts itself without much encouragement. The feminine needs support to assert itself – otherwise it moves into the background.
In any given society if feminine moves into the background, they will become conquerors. That means they will sit on an empty shell of life. They will conquer the whole world, and find that they have no taste of the world. This is the plight of the masculine that they reach the top of the world and then feel miserable right on the top.
Consciously bringing the feminine into your home, culture, and day-to-day practices is very important. The Indian culture created a whole series of processes, rituals and many other devices so that you go through this properly. You may not be conscious that it is Navaratri, so they told you to fast during these nine days. When there is food in the stomach, you forget what day it is, but if you are fasting you will be very conscious of what day it is. By the time you come to the ninth day, you will be superconscious! So, to make you very conscious and also to bring a certain level of purification in the body, you are supposed to fast.
Navaratri is all about the different Devis. Some of them are very gentle and wonderful. Some of them are fierce, terrible, or horrifying. This is the only culture which worships women who bite your head off. This is because we did not want to surrender one’s intelligence, brilliance, genius, and other competence at the altar of good behavior alone. Good behavior will give you social access. If you do not have good behavior, society will reject you, but life will not reject you. If you are the only person on this planet, no one would be there to tell you what is good behavior. You behave well as a consideration for the people around you, but as a life it means nothing.
In the making of a human being, the most important thing is that a human being blossoms into their full potential as a life. These nine days are about that and the tenth day is Vijayadashami, which means the day of victory. That means you blossomed!
Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are seen as three dimensions of the feminine, symbolizing the earth, the sun and the moon, or tamas (inertia), rajas (activity, passion) and sattva (transcendence, knowledge, purity), respectively.
Those who aspire for strength or power, worship forms of the feminine like Mother Earth, Durga or Kali. Those who aspire for wealth, passion, or material gifts worship Lakshmi or the sun. Those who aspire for knowledge, dissolution or the transcendence of the limitations of the mortal body worship Saraswati or the moon.
The nine days of Navratri are classified according to these basic qualities. The first three days are dedicated to Durga, the next three to Lakshmi, and the last three to Saraswati. The tenth day, Vijayadashami, signifies the triumph over all these three aspects of life.
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This is not merely symbolic, but true on an energy level as well. As human beings, we arise from the earth and are active. After a while, we fall back into inertia once again. This happens not just to us as individuals, but also to the galaxy, and the entire universe. The cosmos emerges from a state of inertia, becomes dynamic, and subsides into inertia once more. However, we do have the capability to break the cycle.
The first two dimensions of the Devi are needed for human survival and wellbeing. The third is an aspiration to transcend, to go beyond. If you have to bring Saraswati down, you have to strive. Otherwise, you cannot reach her.
There is no physical entity without all these three dimensions. Not a single atom is free of these three dimensions of a certain static nature, of energy, and of vibrance. Without these three elements, you cannot hold anything together; it will break up. If it is just sattva, you won't remain here for a moment – you will be gone. If it is just rajas, it’s not going to work. If it’s just tamas, you will be asleep all the time. These three qualities are present in everything. It is just a question of to what extent you mix these things.
The first three days of Navratri are tamas, where the goddess is fierce, like Durga and Kali. Tamas is the nature of the Earth, and she is the one who gives birth. The gestation period that we spend in the womb is tamas. It is a state which is almost like hibernation, but we are growing. So tamas is the nature of the Earth and of your birth. You are sitting on the earth. You must just learn to simply be one with her. You are anyway a part of her. When she wishes, she throws you out; when she wishes, she sucks you back.
It is very important that you are constantly reminded of the nature of your body. Right now, you are a mound of earth prancing around. When the earth decides to suck you in, you just become a small mound.
In the ashram I always tell people, no matter what work you are doing, every day you must stick your fingers into the earth at least for an hour. Do something with the garden. This will build a natural bodily memory in you that you are mortal. Your body will know that it is not permanent. That realization in the body is extremely important for one to keep their focus on their spiritual pursuit. The more urgent the realization becomes, the stronger the spiritual sense becomes.
Once rajas comes, you want to do something. Once you start doing something, if there is no awareness and consciousness, the nature of rajas is such that it’s good as long as the going is good. When the going gets bad, rajas is going to be super-bad.
A rajasic person has a tremendous amount of energy. It is just that it has to be channelized properly. Every action that you perform can be either a process of liberation or entanglement. If you perform any activity with absolute willingness, that activity is beautiful and creates joy for you. If you perform any activity unwillingly for whatever reason, that activity creates suffering for you. Whatever you are doing, even if you just sweep the floor, give yourself to it and do it with total involvement. That is all it takes.
When you are passionately involved with something, nothing else exists for you. Passion does not mean “man-woman” passion. Passion means unbridled involvement with something. It could be anything – you can sing passionately, you can dance passionately, or you can just walk passionately. Whatever is in touch with you right now, you are deeply passionate with that. You breathe with passion, you walk with passion, you live with passion. Your very existence is with absolute involvement with everything.
Moving from tamasic nature to sattva means you are refining the physical, mental, emotional, and energy bodies. If you refine this so much that it became very transparent, you cannot miss the source of creation which is within you. Right now, it is so opaque that you cannot see. The body has become like a wall that is blocking everything. Something so phenomenal – the source of creation – is sitting here but this wall can block it because it is so opaque. It is time to refine it. Otherwise you will only know the wall; you will not know who lives inside.
Discover the significance of Ayudha Pooja, as Sadhguru explains how this festival is much more than just a ritual and can be an important tool for growth.
Sadhguru: The best way to approach Navratri is in a spirit of celebration. This has always been the secret of life: to be non-serious but absolutely involved. The cultures that traditionally venerated the goddess knew that there is much in existence that can never be understood. You can enjoy it, celebrate its beauty, but never understand it. Life is a mystery, and will always remain one. The festival of Navratri is based on this fundamental insight.