Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader, works towards a violence- and stress-free world through bringing about the inner growth of individuals. During Navaratri, this gets highlighted through Devi Mahatmyam or Durga Saptha Sati. Devi Mahatmyam, the ritual text for performing Chandi Homa, is performed for the general welfare of the people, bringing peace to all participating and to the world in general. This year, the Art of Living celebrates Navaratri in 32 cities across the world, with lakhs participating.
The Devi Mahatmyam depicts the victory of the Goddess Chandi, the amalgamation of the feminine divine trinity of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswathi, over the negative tendencies of the mind, depicted by the asuras Madhu-Kaitabha, Mahishasura, and Shumbha-Nishumbha.
The Chandi Homa is performed with scientific precision and depicts the preservation of life, Nature, and all animal species. It is a confluence of the Vedas, languages, knowledge, and different art forms. Reverence is shown to young girls, married women, young learned boys, elephants, and cows. Every being is respected, cared for, and honored as part of the Homa process, depicting the true role of humans towards Nature and the world. The four Vedas are chanted to ensure continued sharing of Knowledge.
Devotees participating across the globe in the last 30+ years share that their experience has been invigorating, fulfilling all inner faculties and taking them to a higher realm of existence. The number of people participating increases exponentially every year. The Art of Living is expecting over a hundred thousand participants from across the globe, including over the Internet.
The Devi Mahatmyam takes us through our journey to overcome the unrighteous urges within every human mind. The negative tendencies of the mind are depicted by the asuras Madhu-Kaitabha, Mahishasura, Raktabija, Chanda, Munda, Dhumralochana, and Shumbha-Nishumbha. The three Gunas, or qualities of the mind, that bind us to ignorance are Tamas, Rajas, and Sattva. Sattva leads us to the knowledge of freedom, hence is the preferred quality till we attain freedom.
Victory, over asuras Madhu-Kaitabha is overcoming aversion, and cravings; overcoming lethargy is victory over Mahishasura. Similarly, deep impressions embedded in the DNA is Raktabija, anger, strong headedness is Chanda, not using head is Munda distorted perception is Dhumralochana, and overcoming the self doubt, Shumbha or doubting others is depicted as Nishumbha asura. Listening to the stories from Devi Mahatmyam leads us to live righteously, in harmony with the world as an evolved happy human being.
As a participant for more than a decade, I have experienced the uplifting energy, the immense joy, and the fulfilling experience of thousands around me. Witnessing the complete flow of thousands of offerings done rhythmically with music, dance, festivity, and color brings the mind to a deep state of silence. The culmination of discipline of the mind and the body leads to deep meditations with the Devi Mahatmyam chants and refreshes and cleanses us inside out. Every Navaratri, one is able to overcome some limiting factor within, and this aids in marching forward successfully towards the ultimate goal of complete inner freedom.
Inputs by Sivagama Visharada, Sivasri.A.S. Sundaramurthy Sivam, Principal, Veda Agama, Samskrutha Maha Patashala, Ved Vignan Maha Vidya Peeth, Sri Sri Gurukul, Bangalore.
Written by Radhika Santhanakrishnan