या देवी सर्वभूतेषु क्षान्तिरूपेण संस्थिता।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥
yā devī sarvabhūteṣu kṣāntirūpeṇa saṁsthitā |
namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo namaḥ ||
To the goddess who dwells in all beings in the form of compassion, empathy and unconditional love, salutations to Her, salutations to Her, salutations to Her, over and over.
Navarātri is a very popular festival in India, which takes place in the month Aśivinī of the Hindu calendar, and is also marked by the beginning of autumn, Śarad Ṛtu.
Nava means ‘nine’ and rātri means ‘night’. These are nine nights dedicated to the worship of the three main female deities of the Hindu pantheon – Śrī Durgā, Śrī Lakṣmī and Śrī Sarasvatī.
The way this occasion is celebrated and its focal point differ from region to region. We take as a basis, in this text, the south of India, where Śrī Sarasvatī, the goddess of knowledge, is emphasized.
During the nine nights, certain discipline is observed, such as fasting, performing pūjās (rituals) and pārāyaṇam (recitation of verses such as Śrī Durgā Saptaśatī, Śrī Lalita Sahasra Nāma), among others. The rituals are divided into phases, with each devī (female deity) being worshiped for a period of 3 nights.
The first three nights are dedicated to Śrī Durgā, the next three to Śrī Lakṣmī and the last three to Śrī Sarasvatī. Although the count is based on nights, as the name of the festival suggests, the rituals take place during the day.
The next day after the nine nights, Vijayadaśamī takes place. An exclusive day for the devotion of Śrī Sarasvatī. Vijaya means victory. We can interpret the celebration of this day as the victory of knowledge, the removal of ignorance about the Limitless Being, which is our true identity. On that day, books and work utensils are placed on the altar. It is the only day of the year on which no type of study should take place, so that the next day, known as Vidyārambha, studies begin.
Śrī Durgā is the consort of Lord Śiva. In the Purāṇas (texts that tell stories about the gods and goddesses of Hinduism), it is said that Devī Durgā was born from the union of the powers of all the Devas (gods) for the defeat of an Asura (demon) in the form of a buffalo.
One explanation for this symbology is that the Devas represent our qualities and virtues which, once gathered for the acquisition of knowledge, personified in the image of the Devi, are capable of annihilating ignorance in the form of the Asura.
In the Kena Upaniṣad itself, the goddess Pārvatī, who is also Śrī Durgā, appears as Brahma Vidyā Devī, the personification of the knowledge of the limitless reality, Brahman. She imparts to the king of the Devas, Indra, the knowledge of Brahman.
Śrī Lakṣmī is the consort of Viṣṇu, known as the goddess of prosperity, harmony and wealth.
Resources are necessary and the Vedas do not deny this, in fact, they prescribe the proper way for the acquisition and distribution of wealth, as well as the attitude a person should have towards resources. Therefore, money itself is seen as Lakṣmī Devī.
In addition, wealth can also be the attribution of what is endowed with value. In this sense, each individual can have a concept of wealth. The culmination of all wealth is knowledge, for it shows us how unlimited we are, where all searches cease. In the world of transactions, wealth of any kind is finite. The result of the knowledge of reality is unlimited and it alone guarantees freedom from any type of slavery that presents itself in the form of always seeking more to fulfill oneself.
What is sought with wealth is the feeling of sufficiency or fullness. Knowledge reveals that fullness is our nature, this being the greatest wealth that one can have. The purpose of a life is fulfilled in feeling full, for knowing that one is of the nature of fullness.
Śrī Sarasvatī is the consort of Lord Brahmā. Being the personification of knowledge, she is also the goddess of music and the arts. Art contributes to the refinement of personality and emotions.
While the other devīs work on tamasic (dense) and rajasic (active) aspects of our personality and emotions, Sarasvatī invokes sattvic (sublime) qualities, qualities necessary for knowledge of the Limitless to take place in the mind. The mind needs to be sufficiently calm and centered so that the knowledge of what is more subtle can be assimilated.
The goddess Sarasvatī is also known as Vāg Devī, the goddess of speech, of speech. Knowledge happens through śabda pramāṇa, that is, through words.
Vedānta is the unfolding of the Mahāvākyas, affirmations by which the truth is revealed through the jīva (individual), jagat (the world) and Īśvara (God the All) as a single, non-dual and unlimited consciousness/existence; the real meaning of the word “I”. The goddess Sarasvatī is one who flows, as knowledge, through words. It flows and takes place in the intellect of those who seek to understand Brahman (the Unlimited) as Itself.
May the Devīs bless our quest and journey towards knowledge and its assimilation, helping us with personal refinement and increasing clarity. May through your blessings we have all the necessary conditions to live a life of purpose, with courage, resources and knowledge, free from limitations and seeing that we are already the Plenitude that, out of ignorance, we live looking for. And that this understanding is expressed in our lives in the form of satisfaction, lightness and tranquility.
| om aiṁ hrīṁ klīṁ sarasvatyai namaḥ |
Om sadguravenamaḥ _/\_
Written by Maline Ribeiro