Navratri is an annual Hindu festival observed in the honor of Goddess Sakthi. As the name states, it is a celebration across 9 days culminating in the victory of the good over the evil. In the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, Durga puja is a grand event and something I hope I get to see in person one day. In the south, in my house in particular, it is celebrated by worshipping 3 forms of Shakti for 3 days each. Durga for courage, Lakshmi for Wealth and Saraswati for education. The tenth day is celebrated as Vijayadasami(victorious 10th day) when the 3 Goddess combine together to win over the evil of darkness. To me, it implies that you cannot win over the evils in the world by possessing just one quality, you need to have all 3 – Courage, wealth and education – to overcome your internal and external demons.
This Navratri, my wife and I would like to proudly present the theme of Navavidha Bhakti. The following sloka told by Bhakta Prahalada a great devotee of Lord Vishnu illustrates the 9 forms of Bhakthi.
“Shravanam Kirtanam Vishnoh Smaranam Paadasevanam
Archanam Vandanam Daasyam Sakhyam Aatmanivedanam“
Shravanam – hearing to the stories and glories of God, is one of the foremost steps in developing steadfast devotion and faith. Sanatana Dharma emphasises on the importance of Satsangam (being in company of good people), always listening to various leelas of God, in the form of Stories (kathas),Songs (Bhajans and Kirtans) and mantras. Shravana or hearing about the glories of God is highlighted in the Srimad Bhagwad. In modern times, how do we listen to God, reach out to your Gurus who will show you the right path.
Some examples of Shravana Bhakthi – Prahlad heard the glories of Lord Narayan when he was in his mother’s womb from Sage Narada and he was born with great bhakti for Lord Narayan. King Parikshit attained liberation through Shravana. Suka Maharishi spoke about the glories of the Supreme in the Naimisharanya forest amidst many great Saints and Rishis.
King Parikshit heard the supreme nectar from the mouth of Suka Maharishi and attained salvation on the seventh day and enjoyed Supreme Bliss. After all, modern science has also been emphasising on the importance of what a human hears from their very first creation in Mother’s womb and how it is affects their growth. Also, our thoughts are impacted by our language, thoughts impact our emotions and how we react at work or home. Negative thoughts sows the seed of doubts and confusion thereby causing us to react angrily while hearing positive talk lifts our mood and enables us to do better things in life.
For our Golu this year, we have recreated the scene of Pariskhit Maharaja listening to Srimad Bhagavatham from Shuka Maharishi as a part of our Golu ensemble this year. Let us thank all the great Rishis, Yogis, Hari-Katha exponents and Gurus, who impart Shravan Bhakti in our day to day lives.