Shārdiya Navrātri Anushthān 2020

The journey of a woman through forms of Mā

The Journey of a woman depicted through the different forms of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati:

Śrīhariṃ paramānandamupadeṣṭāramīśvaram
Vyāpakaṃ sarvalokānāṃ kāraṇaṃ taṃ namāmyaham

Bhavānīśaṅkarau vande śraddhāviśvāsarūpiṇau
Yābhyāṃ vinā na paśyanti siddhāḥsvāntaḥsthamīśvaram

Sarvamaṅgalamāṅgalye śive sarvārthasādhike
Śaraṇye tryambake gauri nārāyaṇi namo’stu te

During Navarātri, we celebrate and worship the manifestation of the Absolute Reality (Brahma) as the feminine and motherly (vātsalya) energy in the form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati. Although Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati manifests in nine main forms during the nine days of Navarātri, this article will focus on the journey of a woman, as explained by Pujya Bhaishri, through illustrating the significance behind a few of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati’s forms (avatāras); namely, Her first five forms— Mā Śailaputrī, Mā Brahmacāriṇī, Mā Caṃdraghaṃṭā, Mā Kūṣmāṇḍā and Mā Skaṃdamātā.

Mā Śailaputrī is the first form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati who is worshipped in Her nine manifestations called Navadurgā. She is named “Śailaputrī”, since She is the daughter of the mountain king— himācala. In Her previous birth, she was Dakṣa Prajāpati’s daughter—Sati, who was married to Lord Śiva; before Sati immolated Herself in the sacrificial fire, She had asked to only to be wedded to Lord Śiva in her every birth:

Sati marata hari sana baru māgā, janama janama siva pad anuragā |
Tehi kārana himagiri gruh jāī, janami pārabatī tanu pāī ||

She was reborn as Mā Śailaputrī (also known as Pāravati or Hemavati). Mā Śailaputrī is a small girl (bālika), whose nature is gentle and compliant. Her birth symbolises the prosperity and joy that every girl brings to her family. It also shows the respect that we should pay towards the feminine energy, throughout her journey from a small girl (who is under the protection of her father) to the old woman (who is under the protection of her son). When Mā Śailaputrī was born in Himācala, many ṛṣi came to Himācala, and made hermitages (āśramas). Through their penance (tapasyā), the country began to prosper. Nāradaji too, came to their home. Amongst his many roles, at Mā Śailaputrī’s home he came as an astrologer (jyotiṣa) to read Mā Śailaputrī horoscope (kuṃḍalī). He informed Her parents that it seems like she’s going to get a very special husband, mentioning Lord Śiva, and then describing the His ten qualities—after which both parents were shedding tears of sorrow, whilst Mā Śailaputrī was shedding tears of happiness; because She realised that she was going to attain Lord Śiva, as she had asked for. Nāradaji consoles the parents, explaining to them that there will be nothing greater than Mā Śailaputrī attaining Lord Śiva as her husband, and that if she does tapasyā, she will surely attain Him.

After seeking her parents’ blessings to go perform penance to attain Lord Śiva, Mā Śailaputrī leaves Her home to perform severe penance in the forest, and thus becomes known as Mā Brahmacāriṇī —the second avatāra of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati. “Brahma” means penance or observance of strict disciplines; and “Brahmacāriṇī” means the one who observes spiritual penance and behaves with austerity. Therefore, Pujya Bhaishri explains that in one perspective, a woman’s life is tapasyā from the day that she is born. She first serves her family by upholding her father’s honour and dignity, and in this phase of her life, every girl does rigorous tap to attain a suitable boy and family.

After having performed extremely severe penance, to the point where Her body became emaciated, Mā Brahmacāriṇī attains Lord śiva, and gets married to Him. Thus, She is now known as Mā Caṃdraghaṃṭā (the third form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati)—the married form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati, in all her adornment (śrṛṃgāra). This form of Mā represents the transition of a girl to a married woman entering the householder (gṛhastha āśram) stage of life. She is a housewife, whose face is like a moon (caṃdra) and radiating moonlight, and voice is as sweet as a bell (ghanti); signifying how a woman is best suited in sweet speech and a gentle temperament. She has ten hands, highlighting the various and unending tasks a married woman has to carry out (taking care of her husband, in-laws, children, the house, etc), and being able to do them all equally well—thus, she’s a multitasker. Mā Caṃdraghaṃṭā epitomises a married woman’s dedication and correspondence towards the husband, such that she slowly becomes like him (pati ki svarūpa).

When a married woman is ready to create a new world, a new life, after marriage, she is known as Mā Kūṣmāṇḍā, explains Pujya Bhaishri. Mā Kūṣmāṇḍā, who is the fourth form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati worshipped in Her nine manifestations, is known to have created the universe with just her smile. Thus, Pujya Bhaishri here connects this avatāra to the journey of a woman, by pointing out why most women get married: to have their own house, children and a prosperous family! More specifically, he mentions the two desires that most women have: 1) to get a suitable husband, and 2) to be a mother to good children. Thus, after having attained a suitable husband, Mā Kūṣmāṇḍā represents that feminine energy’s willingness or readiness—to create and uphold for nine months, the creation of a new universe (in the form of a new life) within Her. This form represents every woman’s desire to create her own world; her own family.

Mā Skaṃdamātā, who is the fifth form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati worshipped in her nine manifestations, is the mother of her first born child, Kārtikeya (also known as Skanda). In this form, we worship Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati specifically as Kārtikeya’s mother, hence, the term— Skaṃdamātā. Whenever a woman becomes a mother, she becomes or feels complete. She feels so complete in becoming a mother, she no longer feels the need for any other creation or venture to complete her, explains Pujya Bhaishri. Yes, if she wants to do out of her own joy, it’s a different thing; but it’s no longer a need because to become a mother is absolute good fortune (param saubhāgya) for a woman and the sign of fulfillment (pūrṇatā). Thus, the married woman who is now a mother, with a baby playing in her lap, busy feeding it and bringing it up with virtuous values (saṃskāras), is the very form of Mā Skaṃdamātā, reveals Pujya Bhaishri.

Although we worship the nine manifestations of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati that we worship during the journey of the nine days of Navarātri;

Prathamaṃ śailaputrī ca dvitīyaṃ brahmacāriṇī
Tṛtīyaṃ candraghaṇṭeti kūṣmāṇḍeti caturthakam
Pañcamaṃ skandamāteti ṣaṣṭhaṃ kātyāyanīti ca
Saptamaṃ kālarātrīti mahāgaurīti cāṣṭamam
Navamaṃ siddhidātrī ca navadurgāḥ prakīrtitāḥ
Devīkavacam 3-5

This article focuses on the first five forms of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati, owing to Pujya Bhaishri’s unique and relevant elucidation of what they each mean in relation to a woman’s journey in the present day. May we recognise and honour the feminine energy that lies within every woman, and respect her, because her very life is a loving sacrifice (yajña)!

Jai Mā!

Mā Karuṇāmayī Darshan – 19/10/20

Mā Karuṇāmayī Darshan – 19/10/20

Mā Karuṇāmayī Darshan – 19/10/20

Shārdiya Karuṇāmayī Navratri Anushthān 2020

The Nine Forms of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati

The Nine Forms of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati and what they each give:

 ShriHarim Paramānandam
Upadeshtāramīshwaram |
Vyāpakam sarvalokānām
Kāranam tam namāmyaham ||

bhavānīshankarau vande shraddhāvishvāsarūpinau |
yābhyām vinā na pashyanti siddhāh svāntahsthamīshvaram ||

Sarva mangala māngalye shive sarvārtha sādhike |
sharannye tryambake gauri nārāyani namostu te. ||

During Navratri, we celebrate and worship the manifestation of the Absolute Reality (Brahma) as feminine and motherly (vātsalya) energy in the form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati. Whilst Mā has countless forms (swaroops), in Navratri, we focus on Her nine main ones, where each day represents a different form of Mā. Thus, Her nine forms—or names—are: Shailaputri, Brahmachārini, Chandraghantā, Kushmāndā, Skandamātā, Kātyāyani, Kālarātri, Māhāgauri and Siddhidātri.

Prathamam Shailaputri cha, Dwitīyam Brahmachārinī;
Trutiyam Chandraghanteti, Kushmāndeti Chaturthakam;
Panchamam Skandmāteti, Shashtam Kātyāyaniti cha;
Saptamam Kālarātri cha, Māhāgauri cha ashtamam;
Navamam Siddhidātri cha, Navadurgāha Prakirtithāha.

And each of these unique forms of Mā gives us—Her children and seekers—different boons.

Mā Shailaputri is the first form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati who is worshipped in Her nine manifestations called Navadurgā. Mā Shailaputri’s powers are infinite; on this first day, the Yogis are known to stabilise their minds in the “Mulādhāra Chakra”, which marks the beginning of the spiritual practice that is followed for the rest of the nine days. Thus, Mā Shailaputri endows Her devotees with the strength and mental power to serve Her for the rest of the nine days. Jai Mā Shailaputri!

Mā Brahmachārini is the second form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati who is worshipped in Her nine manifestations called Navadurgā. Known to have performed severe penance to attain Lord Shiva as Her consort (and having attained Him), worship of Mā Brahmachārini ensures an increase in the qualities of penance (tapasya), sacrifice (tyāga) and detachment (vairāgya) in Her devotees, as well as their stability. Mā Brahmachārini enables us to perform our duties righteously, and by Her Grace, we always attain power and victory in our life. Jai Mā Brahmachārini!

Mā Chandraghantā is the third form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati who is worshipped in Her nine manifestations called Navadurgā. Seated upon a lion fiercely, and ever ready for battle, Mā Chandraghantā blesses Her devotees with peace and calmness. The sound of the bell that reverberates around Her, ensures Her devotees’ protection by terrifying away the Asuras and Rākshasas (demonic forces). Her vehicle, which is a lion, is symbolic of courage and fearlessness, which She endows Her devotees with. By Mā MaaChandraghantā’s Grace, Her seekers are blessed with many divine experiences such as sometimes experiencing the scent of divine fragrances, and at others, heavenly sounds. And most importantly, by meditating upon Mā Chandraghantā, we shall ensure our welfare both, in the material world, and spiritual world! Jai Mā Chandraghantā!

Mā Kushmāndā is the fourth form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati who is worshipped in Her nine manifestations called Navadurgā. Mā Kushmāndā, whose one smile eliminated the darkness and created the universe, gets pleased very easily. Thus, even a little bit of devotion towards Her, guarantees a space in Her divine abode. Her worship rids Her devotees of all diseases and sorrows related to the material world; and he attains fame, strength, health, infinite happiness and an extended life span. Jai Mā Kushmāndā!

Mā Skandamātā is the fifth form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati who is worshipped in Her nine manifestations called Navadurgā. The worship of Mā Skandamātā grants Her devotees with the dual benefit of worshipping both, the Goddess Herself, and Her son—Lord Kārtikeya (also known as Skanda). She frees Her devotees’ mind of all bondages related to the material world, and ensures the fruition of all of their desires. Thus, Her devotees should turn their senses inwards and meditate upon Her, with a single-pointed focus. As She always has a halo of divinity surrounding Her, the constant energy radiating from there promotes the welfare of Her devotees. Jai Mā Skandamātā!

Mā Kātyāyani is the sixth form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati who is worshipped in Her nine manifestations called Navadurgā. She vanquished the demon, Mahishāsura, and is also believed to be the presiding deity over the land of Vraja. Surrendering to Mā Kātyāyani ensures Her devotees’ attainment of all four objectives (Purushārthas) of the human life—Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Moksha. All of his sorrows, diseases, fears and troubles are destroyed; and She rids Her devotees of all the sins from many births, making it easier to attain Her supreme abode! Jai Mā Kātyāyani!

Mā Kālarātri is the seventh form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati who is worshipped in Her nine manifestations called Navadurgā. Even though She looks fierce, She is only so towards those so entangled in worldly pleasures that they dismiss righteousness, justice, and moralities. However, for Her devotees, she is known to symbolise auspiciousness as she fulfills their desires. Therefore, she is also known as “Shubhkari”. Mā Kālarātri destroys all evils, including those living within us, and rids Her devotees of all types of fear. She is also known to destroy obstacles in Her devotee’s path due to faulty planetary positions. Jai Mā Kālarātri!

Mā Māhāgauri is the eight form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati who is worshipped in Her nine manifestations called Navadurgā. She embodies peace, and is known to reward Her devotees with infinite powers, as well as ridding them of all sins accumulated from their previous births. Her worship inspires us towards righteousness and virtuousness, destroying all evil tendencies. Surrendering to Mā Māhāgauri removes all of our sorrows, troubles and poverty! Jai Mā Māhāgauri!

Mā Siddhidātri is the ninth and final form of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati who is worshipped in Her nine manifestations called Navadurgā. After having worshipped Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati for the previous eight days, and upon the completion of worshipping Mā Siddhidātri on the ninth day, Mā Siddhidātri blesses Her devotees with eighteen kinds of spiritual perfections (siddhis). The biggest siddhi for the spiritual aspirant (sādhak) being, that he gets liberated from all his desires—except the desire to devote oneself to Mā. All devotees qualify to achieve success in every realm of life, whether in the material world world, or spiritual. However, having partook of Her worship for the previous eight days, Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati’s devotees cross the ocean of the material world, and attain Her Grace and are filled with the nectar of peace! Jai Mā Siddhidātri!

Thus, these are the nine manifestations of Mā Parāmbā Bhagavati that we worship during the journey of the nine days of Navrātri. Although each form of Mā is distinct and special in its own way,  may we recognise and honour the feminine energy that protects us from all evil, and ultimately liberates us from sansāra (material world), by Her divine Grace.

Jai Mā!

Mā Karuṇāmayī Darshan – 22/10/20

Mā Karuṇāmayī Darshan – 22/10/20

Mā Karuṇāmayī Darshan – 22/10/20

Navratri Anushthan is held every year during Navratri (the festival of nine nights) at Sandipani Vidyaniketan.

Since it began in 1982, the tradition has been the musical recitation of the entire Shri Ram Charit Manas in the mornings spread over the nine days led by Pujya Bhaishri in which devotees from all over the world join in harmony. This is followed by bhojan prasad (lunch) for thousands of people.

Rishikumars reciting the Vedas prior to Shri Ram Charit Manas Recitation, Navratri 2016

Mahabharat Katha in the afternoon sessions during Navratri Anushthan, 2016

Thereafter, in the afternoon, discourses are held by revered saints either on various topics or on one scripture throughout the nine days. Enlightening discourses on the different scriptures in the past have included: Mahabharat, Devi Bhagavat, Bhakta Māl and also the popular scriptures of Shri Ram Charit Manas and Shrimad Bhagavat.

Following the discourses, all devotees attend the Shri Hari Mandir evening Aarati followed by garba (traditional Gujarati dance) in the gardens of Shri Hari Mandir. In the evenings, cultural programmes are also organised after dinner.

Watch garba at Sandipani by Pujya Bhaishri, Rishikumars and devotees:

Medical camps during Navratri Anushthan 2016

The event is not just packed with religious and cultural events. Medical camps covering various areas such as dental, eye, skin, gynaecology, respiratory and many others are also held during the nine days by doctors who volunteer their time. The camps not only cover free consultation by doctors, but also, free laboratory tests, medicines and follow ups for those who require them.

Read some of our reports on what is involved in the medical camps.

On the last day, a divine Sunderkand Yagya is performed. Devotees then travel to Dwarka with Pujya Bhaishri to hoist the sacred flag atop Dwarka Mandir (dhwaja rohan) and receive prasad.

On all the nine days, the temple of Shri Karunamayi Maa is decorated elegantly and devotees enjoy the divine darshan of Maa. Abhishek of Shri Karunamayi Maa is also performed along with nauka vihar (a boat ride in the stream of water) in the gardens of Shri Hari Mandir on some occasions.

The students of Sandipani take a break from their studies and immerse themselves into the organisation of the event including the stage, arrangements at Shri Hari Mandir, serving and looking after the guests, feeding everyone, the medical camps and the cultural programmes.

Shri Karunamayi Maa darshan with theme created by Rishikumars of all nine forms of Maa Durga during Navratri

Pujya Bhaishri reciting the Ramacharitamanas with his Guru Shri Hargovind Shashtriji (Tatvajyoti School) at Raval, Gurjarat

History of Navratri Anushthan

In 1981, Pujya Bhaishri was invited by the Gugali Brahmins of Dwarka to attend a Navratri Anushthan which impressed him. He decided to conduct one from the year after in a small village called Raval, near Porbandar in 1982.

Pujya Bhaishri introduced the recitation of the entire Shri Ram Charit Manas at this time with the aim of bringing the village community together and provide not only a spiritual experience, but also enjoy the cultural aspect of Navratri.

The occasion was a huge success as people from the villages and surrounding areas gathered to enjoy this festival. It encouraged people to take the holy scripture of Shri Ram Charit Manas and sing along with Pujya Bhaishri, the soulful recitation of which charged the environment with devotion.

This tradition continues with more religious and humanitarian activities added to it.