Sunday, March 18th, 2018 – Shylaputri
By: Amisha Tewari
Sunday evening marked the first night of the most auspicious Vasant Navratri, where our vyaas, Guruji Pandit Ram Hardowar gave an enlightening pravachan on the Devi Argala Stotram, most commonly known for the line:
Rūpaṃ dehi jayaṃ dehi yaśo dehi dviṣo jahi
Guruji began his talk by analyzing the meaning of this powerful line in which those who recite it prostrate to the Divine Mother and ask to be blessed with a pure mind, victory in all endeavors, fame, and most importantly, the knowledge and understanding that there is no difference between the individual self and others around you. Guruji, then, beautifully compared the Durga Kavach (discussed in morning session) the Durga Argala Stotram, and the Keelakam Stotram to the 3 phases of construction of a building. The Kavach was described as being the sheetrock as it protects the building, the Argala Stotram as the compounding and sanding of the building, and the Keelakam as painting of the building. The building, which represents us as individuals and the society as a whole, is protected and enlightened using these three mantras. Guruji continues by describing the main message of this stotram, which is that we must get rid of all likes and dislikes. Once there is a like, there is automatically something that is disliked. Therefore, it is vital that we abstain from these dualities because it will ultimately lead to unhappiness. The Argala Stotram beautifully lays down the framework for the knowledge given by the Divine Mother which leads to true happiness.
The first night of Navratri is devoted to Maa Shylaputri. Shylaputri Maa, which translates to daughter of the mountain, was previously Sati Maa and also became the wife of Lord Shiva in this form of Sati. After her father, Daksha Prajapati, did not invite Lord Shiva to a grand yajna he hosted and therefore insulted Lord Shiva, Sati Maa burned herself in a fire. In another birth, she was born again as Parvati Maa and was then reunited with Lord Shiva. Shylaputri Maa resides in the Muladhara Chakra (which is considered the foundation of Shakti). This first day of Navratri is dedicated to concentration on this specific chakra, which helps to generate this powerful energy, or Shakti, to gain spiritual enlightenment. She is depicted with a half moon on her forehead, a trident in her right hand, and a lotus flower in her left hand and her vahana is Nandiji. Worshipp of Durga Maa in the form of Shylaputri Maa will also help to overcome any bad effects caused by the moon.
Monday, March 19th, 2018 — Brahmachaarini
By: Tapeshwar Singh
On the second auspicious night of Vasant Navratri, we continued embracing the divine and blissful mother, Durga Maa. As it was the second day, we worshipped the mother in her glorious form of Bramhacharini Maa. Dressed in all white, Bramhacharini Maa, represents penance and serenity, as depicted in the splendid puja done by the shrotas.
Vyaasji Pandit Anand led us in a discourse about the Durga Saptashati, specifically the Keelakam Stotram. Whilst chanting the Keelakam Stotram, Pandit Anand explicitly delivered his message on the importance of chanting the Stotram and the meanings/ benefits to it. Not only this, but he explained the different types of individual in the world and how we can become better overall, through following the footsteps of Bhagwan and the mother.
Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 — Chandragante
By: Avinash Bisram
On the third night of Vasant Navaratri, Pandit Ishwar Tewari led a beautiful pravachan on the katha of Sukhadevji, the son of Vyas.
Sukhadevji is the main narrator of the Devi Bhagwatam as most of the text consists of Sukhadev reciting this tale to the dying Raja Parikshit after he attained his seven day curse. Sukhadev was born with an immediate understanding of the vedas and all the knowledge in the universe. When a parrot was caught listening in on Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati’s conversation, Lord Shiva tried to catch the pregnant parrot. The dying parrot was pregnant for 12 years and as a dying wish it asked Lord Shiva to lift the illusion of Maya for 60 seconds before she died. Lord Shiva accepted the condition and during that time, a rishi named Vyas, had a son named Sukhadevji. Although he did not want to get married, his father insisted that he consult a guru to complete the matrimony. Vyasji recommended that Sukhadevji visit a wise King named King Janak. King Janak was known as a Jivamukta or a person who resided on Earth but renounced all material possessions. King Janak explained to Sukhadev the four ashrams or stages of life that every person goes through on Earth. These four stages are Bramhacharya (student), Grihasta (household or marriage), Vanprashtha (the retiring stage), and Sannyas (a renounced life).
After being educated about these four stages of life, Sukhadev agreed to get married and continued his life. Soon after, he returned home and began practicing the path of yoga where he eventually met the dying Raja Parikshit who had been cursed to die after seven days. Eventually, the enlightened Sukhadevji obtained moksha and became one with Brahman. The tale of Sukhadevji illustrates that while on Earth we don’t have to be bound to anything to reach happiness. Sukhadevji was a shining example that through his renunciation of material possessions much like King Janak, he was able to teach others and acquire moksha.
This third lunar night of Navaratri is also dedicated to the third form of Mother Durga known as Chandragante. On this day, Durga Maa destroyed the evil raksha Dhumralochan and she is portrayed seated on a tiger and holds a trishul and lotus flower in her hands.
Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 — Kushmande Devi
By: Yeshivana Mahadeo
Vyaasji/ Guruji Pandit Ram Hardowar led us in a brief, yet beautiful pravachan on this wintery Navratri evening. He started off by bowing and saluting to the senior moms who braved the inclement weather to perform puja to Durga Maa.
Guruji gave many examples from our shastras of how Raja Yudhistir prayed to Durga Maa for him and his brothers to become unrecognizable when they were exiled for twelve years. Bhagwan Krishna also prayed to Sarva Shakti, the all-powerful Maa before the Mahabharata war and performed penance. He also told the story from the Srimad Bhagavatam of the gopis worshipping the mother in the form of Katyayani Maa. They would take their bath in the Yamuna river, and observe daily fasts and prayed to her for one month hoping that Bhagvan Krishna would become their husband. Due to the mother’s blessings, Bhagwan Krishna performed Raas Leela and then multiplied himself to match the number of gopis.
On the fourth evening of Navaratri, Durga Maa takes form as Kushmanda Devi. Kushmanda is broken up into three parts; ku meaning little, ushma meaning energy and ande meaning cosmic egg. Therefore, she is considered the creator of the Universe. According to our shastras, it is said that at one time, complete darkness enveloped existence and Kushmanda Maa created the cosmic egg, therefore illuminating the universe. Kushmanda Devi is seen with eight hands in which she holds the kamandal, a bow, an arrow, a jar of nectar, a discus, a mace, a lotus, and a mala. Her vehicle is a tiger and her color is green.
Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 — Skandamata
By: Devi Arjune
Guruji Pandit Ram Hardowar delivered a beautiful pravachan on the story of Mahishasura’s Defeat by Skandamata on the sixth night of Navratri.A couple wanted a son who would be unconquerable, so they performed great penance. However, their penance was relatively futile due to their selfish nature. Despite this, after their intense prayers thus came Mahishasura, who prayed for 10,000 years to be blessed with the power of victory that he would never be defeated in battle. Of course, this penance was also selfish because the prevalence of self-interest from the parents was then passed on to him.
Seeing this intense worship, Lord Brahma appeared before Mahishasura and inquired what his wish was. Mahishasura asked for a boon that would make him unconquerable to all males. One loophole was evident, though; such desire was not inclusive of females. Lord Brahma granted him this boon, and Mahishasura was undefeatable on the battlefield. He challenged all the devatas, and was able to conquer all. The devatas were afraid, and they sought change immediately; they all united and approached Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva. Sitting in a circle, they begged and prayed that someone conquers this demon. They opened their eyes and when they all looked at each others eyes, a ball of energy and light burst in the center. Out from this ball came Skandamata, who was given weapons by all the devatas to defeat Mahishasura — after all, Mahishasura’s boon excluded defeat by females. She challenged him in battle, and eventually killed Mahishasura by using her chakra to behead him. The devatas cheered, and a holy temple was consecrated on that same battlefield in her name.
It is believed that Skandamata blesses devotees with salvation, power, and prosperity. Her blessings are doubled, because when the devotee worships her, Lord Skand, is also automatically worshipped. Thus, the devotee happens to enjoy the grace of Skandmata along with the grace of Lord Skand. If a devotee worships her devoid of selfishness, Skandmata, like a true mother, blesses them with power and prosperity.
Friday, March 23rd, 2018 – Katyaayani
By: Avinash Bisram
On Friday, March 23, 2018, we celebrated the sixth night of Vasant Navratri by listening to a wonderful pravachan which was given to us by our Guruji Pandit Ram Hardowar. In his pravachan, Guruji gave a very rational and understandable explanation as to how we, through the worship of the mother, can change the way we are influenced by our surroundings.
He began by giving listeners a brief scientific background, saying that everything in existence, when viewed in its most rudimentary form, is a form of energy. He continued by saying that all forms of energy are forms of Shakti, which is the essence of the Mother and driving force of the universe. If everything is energy and energy is Shakti, Guruji concluded, then all we must do to change the nature of anything or situation is simply worship the mother. In the same way that the evil asuras Chanda and Munda were transformed into the gracious Chamunda Maa through the grace and power of the mother, any hardships or obstacles we face in life can be transformed into something beneficial with a simple prayer: Jai Mata Di!
The sixth night of Navratri is associated with the worship of the sixth form of Nav Durga: Katyayani Maa. In the Devi Bhagwat, Katyayani Maa is depicted as being dressed in red, riding a lion and having four hands, her left hands holding a lotus flower and sword respectively, while her right hands are in the Abhaya and Varada mudras. Katyayani Maa is said to have been born in the home of the sage Katya, with the purpose of destroying the evil demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura was a very powerful warrior who had the ability to change his shape, and his defeat at the hands of the mother tells us all that difficulties in life will come in many shapes and sizes, but through the worship of the mother, we will be able to get through them all with ease.
Saturday, March 24, 2018 — Kaalaratri
By: Jaya Hariprasad and Ganesh Dayal
Kaalaratri Maa is the 7th form of Mother Durga. She can be seen as the Mother who destroys evil. She has a dark complexion, appears extremely ferocious, and rides a donkey. Kaalratri means the one who puts an end to the evil and negative energy and attributes. Although she may seem very ferocious, she is very generous and loving to Her devotees. It is said when devotees worship Her and do not fear Her, She bears good fruits for them. The mantra that is used for Kaalaratri Maa is:
“Ya Devi Sarvabhutesu
Kaalaratri Rupena Samsthita
Namestasyai Namoh Namah”
This mantra tells us that the Goddess who is omnipresent is the embodiment of the Universal Mother, the embodiment of power, and is a symbol or peace. To this Goddess, I bow again and again.
In his pravachan, Pt. Ishwar presents many examples of how Durga Maa possesses all of these qualities. He explained to us how important it is to observe vrat, or fasting, during Navratri. Navraatri vrat is crucial to being able to destroy all negative qualities that may affect us. Pt. Ishwar further explains the power of the Navratri vrat: Lord Indra needed the guidance of the Mother to defeat Vritra, Lord Shiva to defeat Tripura, and Lord Narayan to defeat Madu & Kaitabh.
Pt. Ishwar also read from the Shri Devi Bhagvatam and explained how Shri Ram Himself needed the direction and enlightenment of Durga Maa when He did not know how to go about finding Sita Maa after Ravan stole Her. Narad Muni advised Shri Ram to observe intense Navraatri vrat and, on the 8th tithi (night), Durga Maa revealed Herself to Shri Ram. It was only after Durga Maa reminded Shri Ram of His divine purpose that He was able to fulfill His duty.
Sunday, March 25, 2018 — The Conclusion of Sharad Navratri and Ramnavami
By: Shylaputri Hardowar and Devina Persaud
On Sunday March 25th, the final day of Navratri, 3 youths of SSNM — Devaki Teekasingh and her 2 brothers — celebrated Devika’s 16th birthday, as well as the conclusion of Navratri and the birth of Shri Ram.
Guruji Pandit Ram performed beautiful pooja to Durga Ma and for the birth of Lord Rama. A beautiful pravachan was given by our Vyaasji Pandit Anand Hardowar. Pandit Anand chanted the Siddhi Kunjika Stotram and read from the Ramcharit Manas. Pandit Anand described the birth of Lord Rama in great, beautiful detail. He also elaborated on the amount of kheer each mother received. In addition, he explained why Lord Rama had to take avataar, while also explaining the etymology of the word Avataar — which can be broken down into “ava” which means “coming down” and “taara” which means “carrying across”. Therefore, by the combination of these words, avatara can be understood as the descent of Bhagwan that allows man to ascend.
As Pandit Anand went on to explain, it was because of Ravana’s boon that he had to come as an “ordinary man.” Panditji also explained a very common question. Why does Bhagwan have to take form and personally end evil when he can just send a messenger? Panditji explained this with a story. One day the great Akbar asked the wise Birbal “why does God come personally to earth instead of sending a messenger?” Birbal didn’t answer right away. Instead, he decided to show this to Akbar. The next day Birbal went on a boat ride with Akbar and his grandson, during which Akbar’s grandson fell out of the boat. Akbar immediately jumped out of the boat and saved his grandson. The moral of this story is that when the bhakta of the Lord is in trouble then He comes to save his bhakta.
The ninth day is not only dedicated to the descent and birth of Shri Ram, but also to the following forms of the mother: Gauri Maa and Siddhidhatri.
Gauri Maa is known as the eighth manifestation of Mother Durga, and is celebrated on the 8th day of Navratri. It is said that Mahagauri is able to fulfill all of the desires of her Devotees, if they approach her with a pure heart and a pure mind. Mahagauri Maa is often seen with 4 arms, fair in complexion, with a Trishula, and often a tambourine/ musical instrument.
The final form of the mother is Siddhidhatri Maa, and her name loosely translates to “the giver of meditative ability” or in other words, a focused mind. Siddhidhatri Maa is often seen seated on a lotus flower, holding a mace, Sudarshan Chakra, and shanka. In this form, when a devotee worships her with a pure mind and heart, they may be blessed with the knowledge and ability to realize Brahman.
Overall, celebrations at Shri Surya Narayan Mandir for Vasant Navratri were a great success, with grand splendor, energy, and vibrations throughout these 9 sessions. If you enjoyed this and want to learn more, please visit our YouTube channel (link below) for pravachans you may have missed, or watch us on Surya Sandesh on ITV every other Sunday. Until then, JAI MATA DI!
SSNM Website: www.ssnm.org