Honoring Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati

By Bhanu Didi

During Navratri, the first three days celebrate the Devi (Divine Mother) in the form of Durga, second set of three days honor the Devi as Lakshmi, and final three days are dedicated to Saraswati.

Durga- the goddess of courage and strength

The goddess Durga is epitomized as the shakti (energy) who wards off all evils. Durga also means hill. A very difficult task is often described as mountainous or uphill. When there is positive energy or the Durga shakti, negative forces cannot overpower us.

The Goddess is shown to be riding a lion, complementing the aspect of courage or valor, which is the essence of Durga Shakti.

The Goddess is depicted with many hands – one hand with a noose, one with a goad, one with a sword, one with a scripture – she represents multifaceted skill in action and the capabilities to surmount all obstacles.

Lakshmi- the goddess of wealth

Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Wealth is a vital ingredient bestowed upon us for the maintenance and progress in our lives. It is much more than just having money. It can mean abundance in knowledge, in skills and talents and so on. 'Lakshmi' implies the complete spiritual and material well-being of a person.

The goddess is depicted as being seated on a lotus in water. Water by nature flows. Similarly, wealth gets its value if it is serving some purpose and not kept stagnant. The lotus is stable though the water is flowing. This represents stability in dynamism, culminating in progress.

Saraswati- the goddess of knowledge

Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge. She is the one who gives the essence (Saara) of the self (Swa). She is often depicted as being seated on a rock.

Knowledge, like a rock, is a steadfast support. It stays with us at all times.

Her vahana or vehicle is a swan. It is said that if a mixture of milk and water were given to a swan, it will drink just the milk. This symbolizes the power of discrimination (viveka), using which we must take the positive in life and leave out the negative.

The writer is the sister of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, meditation teacher, and Director of Women and Child Welfare programs of The Art of Living.