Navaratri means "nine nights" and also "new night". Creation happens in the darkness, in the womb of the mother and underneath the soil. Nine months in the womb are like nine long nights where the spirit takes human form.
Night provides rest and rejuvenation. At night, the entire creation goes to sleep. People working come home at night and they celebrate, rejoice, and pray. These nine nights are precious as they have subtle energy. The subtle is enriched.
There are 64 Divine Mother impulses that govern the subtle creation. These are responsible for restoring all earthly and spiritual benefits. These nine nights are celebrated to rekindle those divine impulses and celebrate the innermost depth of our lives.
Navaratri celebrations at different Art of Living centers include performance of Yagnas, music, meditation, chanting, and dancing. During the nine days, we reflect, rejuvenate, and recharge ourselves to come out refreshed!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Our consciousness is so old, older than the trees; the mind is nothing but energy and intelligence. When you chant, sing bhajans, the deepest layers in our consciousness vibrate with the oldest sounds; the whole system resonates—it is very powerful.”
Chanting specific mantras makes the connection of the microcosm to the macrocosm. Our body is made up of the five elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. All five elements are involved in a Yagna.
Yagnas are the ancient method of enriching the subtle. They also purify the individual and the collective consciousness. A Yagna has three aspects:
1. Deva Puja: Acknowledging and honoring the Divine in all forms.
2. Sangatikarana: Hastening the process of evolution by bringing together all elements and people in creation.
3. Dana: Sharing and giving what one has been blessed with.
At The Art of Living International Center, Yagnas are conducted by pundits who have been trained for more than 6 years at the Vega Agama Maha Vidya Peetam, a school that has been providing education about chanting, Vedas and mantras since 2002.
The sounds charge the atmosphere and uplift the energy. It causes a healing effect on the body. The chanting, when done at the right speed, intonation, metre, volume, and rhythm, gives an amplified positive result in the surroundings. When we sit together in a Yagna and participate, the benefits are multifold and the results are immediate. When the same is done alone, it’s called Tapas. It’s not only more challenging, but it might also take us a longer time to reap the benefits.
Gurudev says we do not have to do anything when we sit in a Yagna. In Meditation, we don’t "do" anything to meditate—meditation just "happens". If we try to do something, we are creating an obstruction for the meditation to happen. Likewise, in a Yagna, we simply have to sit, listen, and soak in the vibration innocently. Like a sponge in water; the water goes in and the sponge allows it to go in—absorbs it. In a Yagna, we sit with the same rules of meditation – "I want nothing", "I do nothing", and "I am nothing".
Written by Karpagavalli
Based on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Wisdom Talks