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Posted on: Oct 01, 2014
Respect Nature and Purify Thought, Word and Deed
The Devi Navaratri or the Sharad Navaratri is one of the most important festivals observed in the Bharatiya tradition. Different regions of the subcontinent celebrate it in their own unique ways, but it goes without saying that this indeed is an auspicious nine-day period for all. Since the early 1940s Dasara (another name for this festival) has been observed with much gaiety and reverence in the presence of Bhagawan too. For devotees of Bhagawan, the Dasara festival was an occasion to adore Swami as the Divine Mother Principle. Yes, we wish to worship Him during this festival! Yes, we wish to celebrate His matchless Divine Persona! But if worship is offered to please the Lord, isn't it important to worship Him in the manner that pleases Him? Isn't it essential to offer what He expects rather that what we wish to give? Bhagawan explained lucidly what is the true worship we must offer during this sacred Navaratri festival, during a discourse delivered on 27 Sep 1992. Interestingly, Swami speaks of the importance of Nature. What is the relationship between nature and God? But why should we worship and adore Nature? Let us hear what Swami had to say.
First and foremost, one should worship nature (Prakruti) and then receive the blessings of the Lord (Paramatma). The former is Purusha Prayatnam (Man’s effort) and the latter is Daiva anugraham (God’s grace). Prakruti and Paramatma are like negative and positive. God (Paramatma) who is all powerful may be positive, but if there is no involvement of negative - Nature i.e., (Prakruti), there would be no creation. The basis for the whole creation is - Nature (Prakruti).
Take for example, in your hands; there are seeds which are very sweet and nectarine. They are all very powerful seeds. Only when you sow them in the ground, they would become trees and they would in turn bear the fruits for you. On the other hand, if you do not sow the seeds and keep them in your hands, what is the use? So, if you want the seeds to bear the fruits in future, you should sow them in the ground. It is Earth which makes the seed grow into a tree and later on bear the fruits. So for all the existence, earth is the basis. So, if man has to remove his ignorance, he has to worship the nature. You should worship the nature and receive the grace of the lord.
Bhagawan beautifully explained that for anything to be successful, one needs both human effort and Divine Grace. And that is why it is most essential to worship Nature, a practice which is part of all ancient cultures. This reverential attitude will also ensure that we do not misuse Mother Nature. But how is the worship of nature related to the worship of the Divine Mothers? What is the relationship between the Devis and Prakruti?
Prakruti (Nature) is made up of the three qualities, Satwa, Rajas and Tamas. Lakshmi represents the Satwa Guna. Saraswathi represents the Rajo Guna and Parvathi represents the Tamo Guna. As Prakruti (Nature) is made up of these three qualities (Satwa, Rajas and Tamas), to get control over Nature and to receive grace from Nature, man has been offering worship to Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. These are not goddesses but deified symbols of the three qualities. This Prakruti is made of these three qualities, and the worship of this Prakruti is the very purpose of human life.
Now that we have learnt that Nature is a composite of the three attributes or Gunas, and that each one of the Devis represents one of the Gunas, how should the three Goddesses be worshipped? Is it enough if we offer ritualistic worship alone? Or is there something more subtle to this 'Devi Puja'?
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.
That’s why Upanishads declared and paid their obeisance to actions (Tasmai namaha karmane). It declared, “First and foremost, my obeisance (Namaskar) to nature (which is an embodiment of incessant karma)”. Offering Namaskar also signifies, doing good deeds. What is the inner significance behind the worship of nature consisting of the three gunas - Satwa, Rajo and Tamo? Heart should be pure, words should be pure and actions should be pure. These are the three forms of the three Gunas. These three are also called the three instruments (Trikarnamulu). Purity of thought, word and deed would enable one to receive the grace of God.
‘The proper study of Mankind is Man’. Who is this human being? Only the one who has the unity of thought, word and deed is said be a true Human being. 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.
Indeed a profound message – True Devi Puja is the observance of Trikarana Shuddhi (Unity and Purity of thought, word and deed). If this is how we should offer worship, why do we observe festivals? If not for praising and worshipping God, what are these festivals meant for?
The Navaratri has been observed for this purpose of leading man on to the sacred path and transforming human nature into divine nature; to attain purity of heart and destroying ego and ignorance. Unfortunately man today does not enquire into the purpose behind the celebration of these festivals. With the commencement of Navaratris, ladies arrange Bommala Koluvu (a neat arrangement of toys and idols of various deities) and offer their worship. These toys and idols represent 'Mrunmaya swarupas' (physical forms made of inert matter). Worship of these physical forms should lead us to the realization of the formless Divinity, the Chinmaya Swarupa (the embodiment of divine consciousness). That is the power hidden in man.
First of all you should understand the significance of celebrating Durgashtami. The inner significance of celebrating festivals is to experience Divinity. This has been the motto of Bharathiyas since ancient times. Every festival is associated with divine feelings and a sacred purpose. But unfortunately people today focus only on external ritualistic practices without trying to understand their inner significance. As a result, the performing of Puja, distribution of Prasadam etc., has become mechanical and artificial. They also do different kinds of Archanas or worships. The types of worship offered are devoid of earnestness and devotion (Shraddha and Bhakti). They all can be termed as meaningless rituals.
Swami began by exhorting us to worship nature. If the internal worship is to try and achieve purity in thought, word and deed, what is the external worship we must perform? How should we worship nature which is, as Swami explained, the manifest form of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati?
So, the most important thing in Devi Navaratri is to worship the nature. Nature is verily the form of Devi (Bhudevi). All that man requires are available with Mother Earth. Scientists are traveling up to Moon. But even when he goes to moon, he takes the oxygen from earth only. He carries the water from earth. He takes the food required also from Mother Earth. He has to take all these from earth, as none of these would be available to him on the moon. So all that man requires are available in earth itself.
Students! We aspire and look for something more on top. Nothing is available there. Only ether is available. Beyond that region we find ozone. This ozone protects from the sun. Without ozone layer, the sun rays would fall directly on earth, if that happens none of the human race can exist, as it would lead to evaporation of all water and ultimately lead to destruction. Because of ozone’s presence, sunlight is being filtered and we are receiving the light, as much as is required. Man today, to fulfil his selfish desires, invents new technologies, vehicles, industries etc. All these are promoting huge amounts of smoke and this smoke in turn is depleting the ozone layer and today, that ozone layer has a big hole in it. Because of this the sun rays are directly falling on us. Now to correct this situation, all nations like Russia, America, and Japan are coming together. How do they tackle this problem? Nothing! They have to reduce the emission of smoke in earth. Smoke here doesn’t mean what comes out of cigarettes or bidis. The smoke which emanates from industries and vehicles should be reduced. Until and unless we reduce these things, countries would not develop. If this continues in future, we will not even have water to drink. On one hand, we have the ozone layer getting destroyed. On the other hand, we have the government pushing for development of industries. They both are opposite to each other. So protect and live with what is given to you.
Navaratri signifies, worshipping nature and protecting all that is given to us. We should not waste or misuse things available in nature. What are the powers existing in nature? For example, there is this electric light. We are misusing it and thereby causing harm to the nation. Use the light to the extent you may require. Unnecessary usage of it leads to wastage of energy. Similarly, use water wisely and do not indulge in wastage. By wasting and using the water excessively and unnecessarily, we are wasting one of the five elements. Say you had your lunch and wish to wash your hands. Take the mug and wash your hands. Instead, we use tap, where washing hands would have taken a mug of water, we end up using almost a bucket full. Wasting water is equivalent to wasting Ganga itself.
The smoke depends upon the type of fire, the cloud depends upon the type of smoke, the rain depends upon the type of cloud, and the crop depends upon the type of rain. As is the crop, so is the food. As is the food, so is the intellect or Buddhi. So our thoughts depend upon what we eat. Our food depends upon the rain. Rain instead depends upon the cloud. The cloud depends upon the type of air. That is the reason for asking all of you to do Nagarsankirtan and Bhajan. What is the significance behind this? When we chant the name of the lord, the good vibrations would spread around and clean up the atmosphere.
Let this be the grand Navaratri message for all of us – True worship of the Divine Mother can be performed only when one respects Nature with an attitude of gratitude. And within us, the three Mothers are manifest as Iccha Shakti, Vak Shakti and Kriya Shakti (thought, word and deed) and endeavouring to purify these, pleases the Lord more than all the ritualistic worships we can offer.
- Radio Sai Team
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