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    Navaratri or Dussehra is a nine nights Hindu festival celebrated in the month of September or October. The unique beauty of this festival is that it is celebrated differently in various parts of India. It’s one of the most colourful festival.
    However, celebration of any festival will hold true only when there is Bhakti or devotion involved. One has to remember the God whilst praying otherwise the prayer will go unheard. The Manasa Puja or puja where the mind the totally focussed on the Lord, is Puja in the truest sense. How can we develop this? We can develop this by following the Nine Forms Of Devotion. These nine forms enable the devotees to cultivate a deep connection with the deities of their choice. These begin with listening to the glories of the Lord and ends with the feeling of oneness with the Lord.
    This Navaratri festival, let us strive to understand the Nine Forms Of Devotion and by incorporating the choicest form of devotion into our day to day life, we shall connect with the Divine Mothers in seeking their blessings!


    How to Celebrate Navaratri ?

    “The Navaratri festival should be used as an occasion to examine one’s own nature whether it is human, animal, or demonic, and strive to transform the animal nature into the human, and divinise the human nature. Wisdom cannot be acquired from outside. It has to be got through inward Sadhana”.

    [Sai Baba, SS, 11/92, p. 271]



    Significance of Using Kumkum For Worship ?

    “During the Navaratri festival, for the purpose of eradicating one’s demonic tendencies, the deities are worshipped with Kumkum (sacred red powder). The red powder is a symbol of blood. The meaning of this worship is offering one’s blood to the Lord and receiving in return the gift of peace from the Lord.”

    [Sai Baba, SS, 11/94. p. 290]



    Significance of Aayudha Puja ?

    “The Navaratri festival is observed by contemplating on God for ten days, cleansing one’s self of all the impurities to experience the Divinity within. The penultimate day of the festival is dedicated to what is termed ‘Aayudha Puja’ (worship of weapons). The weapons to be worshipped are the divine powers in man. When the Divine is worshipped in this way, one is bound to progress spiritually.”

    [Sai Baba, SS, 11/94, p. 291]

    “Today is Ashtami. Ayudha Puja is performed on this day. What is the significance of this Ayudha Puja? After Mahishasura and other demons were slain by Chamundeshwari, there was no more use other weapons. So, the weapons were kept aside and worshipped. The Ayudha Puja is being celebrated since ancient times. But of what use arc such weapons to us? In fact, our weapons are Sathya, Dharma, Shanti and Prema. Prema is more powerful than hydrogen and atom bombs of today. Why worry when such power is within us.”

    [Sai Baba, SS, 6/2001. p. 191]



    Significance of Anga-Arpana Puja ?

    “During Navaratri there is a form of worship called Angaarpana Puja. In this form of worship, all the limbs of the body are offered to the Divine in a spirit of surrender (Sharanagati). Surrender means offering everything to the Divine and giving up the idea of separation between oneself and the Divine. There can be no true surrender if there is a sense of separation. There must be conviction that it is the same Divine who dwells in all beings (Ekam Vasi Sarvabhuta-antaraatma). In the performance of Anga-Arpana Puja, there is a form of self-deception. When a devotee says: “Netram Samarpayaami”(I offer my eyes to the Lord) and offers only a flower to the Lord, he is indulging in a kind of deception. The proper thing would be to say that he is offering a flower. Actually Mantras like “Netram Samarpayaami” arc intended to indicate that one is using his eyes only to see God. The real significance of the Mantra is that you think of the Divine whatever you see or do. Therefore, the true meaning of Anga-arpana puja is to declare that you offer all your limbs in the service of the Lord. This means that whatever work you do should be done as an offering to God. Now-a-days selfishness is rampant among devotees and they love God, not for God’s sake but to get their selfish desires fulfilled. As long as selfishness prevails, the Divine cannot be understood”.

    [Sai Baba, SS, 11/92. p. 271]



    Purpose of Devi Worship ?

    “Ichcha-Shakti (the Will Power) arises from thoughts. This ‘Iccha-Shakti’ is the source of several other potencies like intellectual power, the discriminating capacity and others. To develop this ‘Ichcha-Shakti’ (Will Power), one has to worship Devi. This calls for the cultivation of renunciation or detachment. For instance, if one has a desire for various drinks, he can bring the desire under control by giving up, to begin with, the desire for some of them. Thereby the Will Power (Ichcha-Shakti) is developed, and in due course, it becomes easier to give up other desires. In Vedantic parlance, this is described as ‘Vairaagya’ (renouncing all attachments). Vairaagya is not abandonment of hearth and home and retiring to a forest. It means developing godly thoughts and reducing worldly feelings. It is when this balanced development takes place that one acquire-control over the powers of nature (Praakrita Shakti). When these powers are got, the mental power in a person increases.”

    [Sai Baba, SS, 12/92, pp. 304 & 305]

    “The Devi Puja performed during Navaratri is intended to get rid of worldly attachments and divert-the mind towards God.”

    [Sai Baba, SS, 12/92, p. 305]



    The Day of the Wordly ?

    “The six enemies of man are eating into his vitals, embedded in his own inner consciousness. They are the demons to be killed. They are lust (Kama), anger (Krodha), greed (Lobha), attachment (Moha), pride (Mada), and malice (Matsarya). They reduce man to the level of a demon. They have to be overpowered and transmuted, by the Supreme Alchemy of the Divine Urge. Then, the nine (Nava) nights (Ratri) of struggle will become new (Nava), a new type of night, devoted to the purification of the mind, illumination of the soul – the night described in the Gita as “the day of the worldly”. What is clear and attractive to the ordinary man is uninteresting and unknown to the Yogi. What is clear and attractive to the Yogi is uninteresting and unknown to the worldly man. This is the nature of this topsy-turvy world.”

    [Sai Baba, SSS, Vol. VIII, dis dtd 12-10-69, p. 107]



    What is Dasara ?!~It is now Dasara festival time. What is Dasara? The celebration of Dasara festival is meant to purify the actions performed by the dasendriyas (5 senses of action and 5 senses of perception). Every human being in this world has to perform some kind of karma (action). The presiding deity or the driving force behind these actions is Devi (also known as Durga), who is the personification of energy. She is the bestower of all kinds of energy to perform various kinds of karma by the human beings. [SSS-vol-41-Disc-16]



    Respect Nature ?

    To receive the permission (anumathi) from nature, we need to have the grace of the Lord (anugraha) too. If you forget the grace of God and want to experience and benefit from nature alone, our lives would become like that of Ravana. What fate did Ravana go through by forgetting Paramathma (Lord Rama) and wanting to experience Prakruti (Mother Sita)? If only he could have earned the grace of Rama, he could have got Sita’s grace easily. So one must worship Nature, in order to earn the grace of the Lord.

    Lakshmi, who is the embodiment of all prosperity, is represented by the heart. The spoken word represents Saraswathi. Kriyaa Shakthi (action) is represented by Durga. That is why it is said, a person who has the unity of thought, word and deed is a Mahatma or a Noble man. Therefore, for inspiring this unity of thought, word and deed, and to enable man to lead a life as a human, and to dispel ignorance, the observance of this festival of Devi Navaratri was begun.

    [Prashanthi Mandir, 27 Sep 1992]




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