Navarathri Golu at Bangalore house- Photo by NV Sharadha
India -our great Motherland is holy and resplendent with several festivals-of all religions practiced in this Punya Boomi! Of the many longest, is DASERRAH otherwise known as NAVA RATHRI-nine nights!This has not only religious and spiritual significance but also social dimensions! This Sunday story carries us to Puttaparthi where Sathya Sai Baba detais us about the significance of this great FESTIVAL.(Courtesy: Sathya sai Website)
Exposition by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Dashara Or Dasara
Purpose Of Dashara Or Dasara
“Festivals like Dashara are designed to make man aware of his divinity, to endow him with purity, to become aware of its holiness, to imprint on his heart the wisdom won by sages after years of yearning.” Sai Baba.
“It is to give Ananda (bliss) to the Bhaktas (devotees) that I arrange this festival (Dashara). I have no other wish. Do not muddy the pellucid waters of your faith by the slightest trace of doubt.” Sai Baba,
“The Dashara Festival honours the victory of the Devas (gods) over the Asuras (demons), the forces of righteousness over the forces of evil. They (gods) were able to win, because Para-shakti, the Dynamic Aspect of Divinity, the power that has elaborated God into all this variety and all this beauty, came to succor them and fight on their behalf.” Sai Baba,
“Dashara is the festival that celebrates the victory of the forces of the good over the foes that resist the progress of man towards light. The sages who have decided on these festivals have a high purpose. They want us to imbibe the inner meaning and use each day as a step in Sadhana, as a reminder of the journey, which each person has to undertake alone to the Feet of the Lord. The forces of good (Devas) are combating with the forces of evil (Asuras) in every living being and if they only rely on Mahashakti, the great Divine Force that fosters and fends the universe, they can easily win and reach goal.”
Importance Of Dashara
“During the Dashara festival, the three Goddesses- Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati – are worshipped according to certain traditional practices. The tenth day of the festival is celebrated as the victory. The celebration has its roots deep in ancient history of Bharat. In the Dwapara Yuga, when the Pandavas had to spend one-year incognito, they hid their weapons on the advice of Krishna, in a Jammi tree which is thick in foliage and whose branches are filled with latent fire. Vijayadashami was the day on which they retrieved their weapons from the tree and used them to win victory over the Kauravas.”
In the Treta Yuga, Sri Rama’s coronation, after his victorious return to Ayodhya from Lanka, was performed on the Vijayadashami day.”
Significance Of Dashara
“Today (23 October 1966), Vijayadashami is a thrice sacred day for Prasanthivasis. that is to say, those who live in Prasanthi Nilayam, here or elsewhere. It is as sacred as, Triveni, where three rivers commingle their holy waters. Today is the Samapti (Conclusion! Festival) of Dasara. It is also the Samapti (conclusion) of the Yajnasaptaha, the seven-Day-Rite of Puja and Parayana. It is also the Samapti Day of the Poorva-avataram, the Samadhi Day of Shirdi Shareeram. Sam-apti also means attainment of Brahmanandaand on this day you have a chance to the Bliss Indescribable.”
Inner Meaning Of Dasara
“The term’ Devi’ represents the Divine power which has taken the Rajasic form to suppress the forces of evil and protect the Satvic qualities. When the forces of injustice, immorality and untruth have grown to monstrous proportions and are indulging in a death-dance, when selfishness and self-interest are rampant, when men have lost all sense of kindness and compassion, the Atmic principle, assuming the Form of Shakti, taking on the Rajasic quality, seeks to destroy the evil elements. This is the inner meaning of the Dasara festival.”
Inner Meaning Of Devi Worship On Dasara
“When the Divine Goddess is in dreadful rage to destroy the wicked elements, she assumes a fearful form. To pacify the dreaded Goddess, Her faminine children offer worship to her with red kumkum (sacred red powder). The Goddess, seeing the blood-red kumkum at her feet, feels assured that the wicked have been vanquished and assumes her benign form. The inner meaning of the worship of ‘Devi’ with red kumkum is that thereby the Goddess is appeased. During the ten days of Dasara, the demons (Raakshasas) in the form of wicked qualities have been routed. Raakshasas do not mean demonic beings. The bad qualities in men are the demons. Arrogance is a demon. Bad thoughts are demons.”
Symbolism Of Ravana
“Ravana is depicted as the king of Raakshasas. He is said to have ten heads. He was not born with ten heads. Who is this Ravana and what are his ten heads? Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Moha (delusion), Lobha (greed), Mada (pride), Maatsyasya (envy), Manas (mind), Buddhi (intellect), Chitta (will) and Ahamkara (the ego) -all these ten constitute the ten heads. Ravana is of all the ten qualities. Each one can decide for himself whether he is a Ravana or Rama according to his qualities.”
Symbolism Of Rama
“Rama is the destroyer of the bad qualities. When engaged in this act of destruction of bad qualities. He manifests his Rajo-guna. But his Rajasic quality is associated with his Satvic quality. Even in cutting off Ravana’s ten heads, Rama showed his love. This was the only way that Ravana could be redeemed.”
Rama Vs. Ravana
“Ravana was one who was endowed with all wealth and prosperity. He lacked nothing in terms of comforts and luxuries. He had mastered the 64 categories of knowledge. His capital, Lanka, rivalled Swarga (heaven) itself in its grandeur. Instead of showing regard for Ravana, Valmiki extolled Rama, who gave up the kingdom, donned the robes of an ascetic and lived a simple life in the forest. What is the reason? It was because Rama was the very embodiment of Dharma. Everyone of his actions stemmed from Dharma. Every word he spoke was truth. Every step he trod was based on Dharma. Hence, Rama has been described as the very image of Dharma.”
Teachings From Dying Ravana For Lakshmana
“When Ravana lay dying, Rama directed his brother, Lakshamana, to go to him and learn from him the secrets of successful statecraft. Ravana taught him that a king who is eager to win glory must suppress greed as soon as it lifts its head, and welcome the smallest chance to do good to others, without the slightest procrastination. He (Ravana) had learnt the lesson through bitter experience. Greed arises from attachment to the senses and catering to them. Put them in their proper place; they are windows for knowledge, not channels of contamination.”
Lord’s Rajasic Acts Are Tinged By Satvic Qualities
“When the Lord metes out a punishment, it may appear harsh. But what appears extremely as Rajasic is, in reality, Satvic. In a hailstorm, along with rain there will be hailstones. But both the rain and hailstones contain water. Likewise, there is Satvic quality even in the Lord’s Rajasic actions. Similarly, there may be Satvic quality even in Tamasic actions. These depend on the time, place and the circumstances in which the Lord acts. Butter can be split with finger. But a powerful hammer is needed to break a piece of iron. The Lord deals with Satvic persons in a Satvic way. He applies the Rajasic weapon against Rajasic persons.”
Roudrakaara Worship Of The Divine
“People worship the Lord, attributing dreaded forms and qualities (Roudrakaara) to the Divine. This is not proper. The Divine has only one attribute, the Embodiment of Love. It has been said: ‘Love is God. Love pervades the cosmos.’ Hence, one should not view the world from a worldly point of view. It should be viewed from the eye of love.”
Sai’s Divine Will For Dashara
“The Maharani of Cutch, who is to preside over the Hospital Day this evening, was very much agitated whether she could come in time, on account of the disturbed conditions on the border with Pakistan, or whether Dashara itself will be cancelled by Me, as so many have been done in Mysore and elsewhere. But in spite of all obstacles, the fighting has stopped and news has come that peace is restored. This is another instance of the Grace, which Prasanthi Nilayam showers. This is the way Mahima works.”
Participation In Dasara At Prasanthi Nilayam
“This Prasanthi Nilayam is the Nilayam (abode) of Nitya (eternal) Shanti (peace), that cannot be disturbed, because it is based on deep discrimination and on unshakable renunciation of Vishaya Vasana (vagaries of mind and urges). To be here on this sacred day is indeed a great piece of good fortune. Thousands of Sadhakas (spiritual aspirants), aspirants and seekers have assembled here and those who have come into this auspicious company have to make the best use of chance. Instead of celebrating this Dashara in feasting and catering to the frailties of the senses, I am happy you are determined to spend it in holy thoughts.”
Lesson Of Unity
“Pilgrimages impress on people the lesson of unity. They bring together people from all comers of the world, irrespective of language or locality. Festivals like Dashara at Prasanthi Nilayam bring together Sadhakas from all the continents, irrespective of religion, caste, creed, and colour. They are motivated by the same urge, to involve themselves more and more in attempts to realise their innate divinity. They have met here to enjoy the supreme delight in the holy presence of the Lord and to recognise the unity of all in the Divine Atmic Splendor.”
Experience Of Dasara Festival At Prasanthi Nilayam
“The Dashara Festival has filled your eyes, ears and minds with Ananda (joy) for ten days and, with the bodies transformed by this rich experience, you are returning to your places.”
Activities During The Dasara Festival At Prasanthi Nilayam
“You will find in the Dashara programme here various items like Veda-parayana (recitation of the Vedas), Puja for Divine Forms, the feeding of the poor, dramas, music, Harikathas (stories about God), reading Puranas, lectures on shastras (scriptures), etc.
“This Puja, this Yajna, and this Homa, are arranged here every Dasara, in order to help you to leam that other everlasting, abstract Yajna, which everyone of you has to do, to save yourselves from fear, grief and anxiety.”
Purpose Of Conducting Various Activities On Dasara
“All activities (on Dashara) are designed for various purposes that may not be evident on the surface. You may be under the impression that all this is but customary and traditional. No. Each item has a deeper significance. It is intended to bring about a definite change for some section or other. The Vedas are for entire mankind. They have prayers for peace, subjugating the anger of the elements and of human communities. They invoke the forces of nature to be calm and beneficent. So, the Parayanam of the Vedas promotes world peace and human welfare. For those who derive joy when names of the Lord are recited, each Name invoking one facet of the splendor of God, we have the Pujas. For those thirsting for directions along the path of Sadhana, we have discourses by the Pundits. Musical recitations and discourses transmit the teachings of the Shastras and Puranas in pleasant palatable ways. The dramas are visible representations of the essential lessons embodied in our scriptures. All these unfold the petals of the heart of man.”
Dasara Activities At Prasanthi Nilayam
Veda Purusha Sapthaha Jnana Yajna
“A Yajna for peace in the world is performed in Prasanthi Nilayam as part of Dasara and Navaratri celebrations. This year the Yajna started on 13th October 1999.
After Puja in Prasanthi Nilayam Mandir, the Ritwiks went in a procession to Poomachandra Auditorium at 8.20 a.m.to start the Veda Purusha Sapthaha Jnana Yajna in the divine presence of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Yajnagni (sacrificial fire) was lit at 9.00 a.m. and placed in the decorated Yajna Kundam with the chanting of the Veda Mantras. The Yajna continued for six days and concluded on 19th October, the auspicious day of Dasara with Poomahuti performed by the Veda Purusha Bhagavan Baba Himself. After Poomahuti, Bhagavan sprinkled Yajna Teertham (sacred water) on the devotees in the entire Poomachandra Auditorioum and outside it. With Mangalaarti to Bhagavan at 9.20 a.m, the Yajna came to a happy conclusion.”
Prasanthi Vidwan Mahasabha
“The programme included the Discourses of Bhagavan Baba and speeches by scholars and students during the Navaratri celebrations. With Bhagavan’s blessings, three speakers addressed the devotees on 13th October 1999. The first speaker, Sri G.V. Subbarao, told that Yajna meant sacrifice.. The purpose of holding the Yajna was to transform us, so that we could imbibe the virtues of Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema, Ahimsa. The second speaker, Sri Sanjay Sahni, narrated a few incidents to show how Bhagavan Baba revealed His identity in an extremely subtle way. The third speaker of the afternoon was a senior student, Sri Y. Arvind. He noted that sometimes
Bhagavan did not accept a devotee’s letter or respond to his prayer immediately. He said that by doing so, Bhagavan gives us an opportunity for self-introspection and purification.
The first speaker of the afternoon on 14th October was Sri Sudhindran, a student of Brindavan Campus. He said that the Vedas bring home the immense importance of Yajna as means of liberation and immortality…. The second speaker, Sri V. Ashwin, a student of M.Sc II year, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus, made a beautiful analogy between his mother and Mother Sai. While his mother gave him physical sustenance, Sai mother gave him physical as well as spiritual sustenance. The third speaker of the afternoon was Sri B.N. Narsimha Murthy, Warden of Brindavan Campus. Dwelling on the concept of Avatarhood, he said, ‘An Avatar is divine mystery. It is therefore futile to try to understand the Avatar. In the end, Sri Narasimha Murthy prayed to Swami for His Divine Discourse as the devotees were thirsting for His nectarine words. Thereafter, Bhagavan Baba blessed the devotees with His discourse.
On the afternoon of 15th October 1999, the third day of the Prasanthi Vidwan Mahasabha, the programme started at 3.50 p.m. with Veda chanting by the students. Sri Ram Parsuram, a student of M.Sc 1st Year, was the first speaker of this session. He lamented that modem man had forgotten to love.. .The second speaker. Dr. T. Ravi Kumar, a faculty member of Brindavan Campus, narrated some of his personal experiences as to how he had lost his eyesight twice in accidents in the Chemistry Lab and how Bhagavan showered His grace by restoring his eyesight to the surprise of the eye specialists. The third speaker of the session was Dr. G. Venkataraman, former Vice Chancellor, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. He said, Navaratri was celebrated to worship God as Shakti or Divine Mother, who was not only the ocean of compassion, kindness and love, but also energy. After these brief speeches, Bhagavan Baba blessed the devotees with His Divine Discourse. The programme came to a close with Aarati to Bhagavan at 5.40 p.m.
On the afternoon of 16th October 1999, the first speaker was Sri. T. G. Krishanamurthy, President, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization, Tamil Nadu. Referring to the Veda Purusha Saptaha Jnana Yajna, Sri Krishnamurthy said that Bhagavan Baba Himself was Yajna Purusha to whom all the sacrificial offerings were being made. The second speaker of the session was Sri K. Raghupati, a B.Com (Hons.) student of Brindavan Campus. He told that God was the only true friend of man and all other worldly friends were not dependable… The last speaker of the session was Sri Sandipan Chatterjee, a faculty member of Prasanthi Nilayam Campus. Sri Chatterji narrated several incidents of Bhagavan’s miracles and exhorted the devotees to follow the teachings of Bhagavan to raise their consciousness to a level where their will and Bhagavan’s will would become one. After this, Bhagavan gave His Divine Discourse. The programme came to a close with Mangalaarati to Bhagavan at 4.15 p.m.
On the afternoon of 17th October 1999, Sri V. Srinivasan, All India President, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization and Central Trust Member, was the first speaker. Sri Srinivasan dwelt on the auspiciousness of the Navaratri festival and said that Bhagavan Baba Himself was auspiciousness personified. The next speaker. Major General S.P.Mahadevan, said that science had brought about material progress in the world, but it could not give peace of mind to man. The last speaker was a member of the Faculty of Commerce, Brindavan Campus, Sri Ruchir Desai. Sri Desai said, ‘Bhagavan Baba has incarnated to teach the message of love.’ After these brief speeches, Bhagavan narrated some of His childhood Leelas in His Divine Discourse. The programme came to a close at 4.35 p.m. with Mangala-aarati to Bhagavan.
In the afternoon of the 18th October 1999, the first speaker, Sri S.V. Giri, Vice Chancellor, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, spoke about the importance of nine days’ festival of Navaratri. The second speaker of this session was Bhattam Sri Rama Murthy, a former Minister in the state of Andhra Pradesh. He narrated a few touching personal experiences to bring home the point that Swami’ s life was only for devotees. The third speaker was a Sanskrit scholar from Rajamundry, Dr. Rama Somayajulu. He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Bhagavan for this opportunity to speak in His Divine presence. After these speeches, Bhagavan Baba showered bliss on the devotees by speaking about His childhood in His Divine Discourse for the second consecutive day. The programme came to a close at 5.10 p.m. with the offering of Mangaaarati to Bhagavan.
The first speaker on 19th October 1999 was Sri Indulal Shah, Chairman, Sri Sathya Sai World Council. Sri Shah referred to the significance of Dasara and said, ‘It reminded us of the victory of the good over the evil. It also brought home the message of self-transformation through genuine spiritual practice.”
The second speaker, Sri V. Srinivasan, All India President of Sathya Sai Seva Organization, referred to the Navaratri festival which was celebrated to commemorate the destruction of demons by the Mother Goddess. He said, ‘Bhagavan Baba, who is the embodiment of all gods and goddesses, destroys the demons of greed, ego, hatred and attachment through the weapon of love.’
The third speaker was Sri C. Srinivas, Member, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. Sri Srinivas said that one was filled with awe and wonder when one thought how Bhagavan had totally changed this small hamlet of Puttaparthi into one of the biggest pilgrimage centres of the world. He referred to a book published in America, which gave the designs of 100 best-designed hospitals of the world, in which Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences had been given on the first page.
After these brief speeches, Bhagavan delivered His Dasara Sandesh. The programme came to a close with Mangala-aarati to Bhagavan.”
Glimpses Of Dasara Celebrations At Prasanthi Nilayam (1998)
“Dasara and Navaratri celebrations started at Prasanthi Nilayam on a grand note on 25 September (1998).
Bhagavan Baba came to the fully-decorated Sai Kulwant Hall at 7.00 a.m. and took a round of the rows of the vast gathering of devotees to shower the bliss of His Divine Darshan on them on the auspicious Navaratri day. After a brief round of Darshan, Bhagavan Baba ordered the distribution of Prasadam. Mangala-vadyam started about 7.45 a.m. Then at 8.00 a.m., all eyes turned towards Veda chanting Pundits, who came to the Sai Kulwant Hall in a procession followed by a group of Veda chanting students. They all came to the Mandir and received the blessings of Bhagavan before getting ready for starting the Veda Purusha Saptaha Jnana Yajna.
Soon after that the venue of the programme was shifted to Poomachandra Auditorium, where Veda Purusha Bhagavan Sai inaugurated the Saptaha Jnana Yajna.
The ceremonial lighting of the sacred fire was done by rubbing two pieces of wood against each other by the Pundits amidst the chanting of Veda Mantras.
After the fire was lit, the priests sat around the beautifully decorated Yajnashala and started the Yajna. While some Pundits sat near the Vedi and performed the Yajna by putting Ahutis (offerings) of ghee and other sacred articles in the sacrificial fire amidst the chanting of Veda Mantras, some other Pundits were engaged in performing Surya-Namaskaar, reading the sacred epics, worshipping Shiva, Devi, Ganesha and other related rituals.
At 11:30 a.m., Aarati was offered to Veda Purusha Bhagavan by the Pundits. The first day’s Yajna programme concluded at 12:00.
The auspicious day of Vijayadashmi, 1st October 1998 marked the completion of the Veda Purusha Yajna with Bhagavan offering Poomaahuti (final offerings) in the sacred fire. In the end, Bhagavan showered His blessings by sprinkling sacred water on all devotees inside and outside the Poomachandra Auditorium.
While the performance of Yajna continued for seven days in the morning, Bhagavan delivered His nectarine discourses in the evening. Bhagavan also showered His love and blessings on a galaxy of speakers by permitting them to make brief speeches before His Divine Discourse. Thus, while the Yajna fumes and Vedic chanting sanctified and spiritualized the atmosphere, the Divine Discourses and other speeches provided a veritable feast for the soul.”
“The first speaker on 30th September (Dasara Festival Day), Prof. G. Venkataraman explained the significance of Veda Purusha Jnana Yajna by saying that this Veda Purusha Jnana Yajna assumed importance because it was willed, organized and performed in the year 1998, which was being celebrated as the year of peace. He said true peace could be established on the foundation of Sathya, Dharma and Prema.
The present Vice-Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Sri S.V. Giri was the next speaker.
Explaining the significance ofNavaratri, Sri Giri said that the nine days of Navaratri, devoted to the worship of Durga, denoted the principle of energy; Lakshmi symbolized power and prosperity and Saraswati granted intellectual illumination. So, the last day of Navaratri marked the culmination of nine days of penance, dedication, devotion, intellectual illumination and mental purification.”
Dasara Celebrations At Prasanthi Nilayam – 1988
“The Dasara celebrations began with Kalasha Sthaapana in the Prasanthi Mandir on 11th October 1988. Devotees had started streaming into Prasanthi Nilayam from the beginning of the month.
There was Narayana Seva on 13th October on the spacious grounds of the Hill View Stadium. Nearly fifteen thousand men, women and children from all the surrounding villages had gathered on the grounds. As in previous years, Seva Dal volunteers and students of the Institute arranged for their sitting in orderly rows for the feeding.
Bhagavan arrived exactly at 9.00 a.m. and went to the rooms where the food was kept. Swami blessed the Prasadam and Himself inaugurated the Narayana Seva by serving food to some of the men and women. Scores of students from the Sathya Sai Institute and the Higher Secondary School served food to the thousands with remarkable speed and enthusiasm. Swami was on His feet for over half an hour attending to every detail of the Narayana Seva, inspiring the students and the Seva Dal by His presence.
Feeding the poor was followed by distribution of clothes (saris and dhotis)to thousands of men and women, with Bhagavan Himself presenting saris to a few women and dhotis to some men. Some overseas devotees participated in serving food and distributing clothes.
Veda Purusha Jnana Yajna
On the 14th, Bhagavan came in a procession, headed by a large group of students chanting Vedic hymns, and Ritwiks who were officiating in the Yajna. Leading the procession was Bhagavan’s Sai Geetha, followed by a band troupe.
Bhagavan inaugurated the Athirudhra Homa. Besides the Ritwiks officiating at the Homa, there were others chanting the Vedas, an old couple doing Linga Archana and Devi Puja, a Purohit who performed Surya Namaskar, and two pundits who were doing Parayana of Devi Bhagavatam and Valmiki Ramayana.
Bhagavan Darshan And Discourses
Bhagavan gave Darshan to thousands of devotees in the Auditorium every morning. In the afternoons, during six days, there were discourses by Bhagavan, preceded by speeches by some old devotees and by research scholars and post-graduate students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute.
The speeches of the students not only testified to the extent to which they had imbibed the teachings of Bhagavan, but also revealed numerous instances in which Swami had given protection to the students or other devotees in critical situations. A common theme for all of them was the infinite love of Bhagavan, which they had experienced in innumerable ways. All of them pledged themselves to live up to the ideals of Bhagavan and dedicate themselves to His global mission for the transformation of mankind.
Conclusion Of The Yajna
The Yajna concluded on 20th October 1988, with Pumaahuti and adoration of Bhagavan as Veda Purusha by the Ritwiks. Bhagavan came to the auditorium from Prasanthi Mandir in a procession led by a large number of students reciting Vedic hymns.
Bhagavan delivered His concluding discourse, emphasizing the inner significance of festivals like Navaratri and exhorting all devotees to rise above barriers of caste and creed, language and nationality and develop love towards each other as children of one God.
Swami later went round the auditorium sprinkling the mantra-charged Yajna-tirtham on all devotees and conferring His benediction on them.
The crowning event of the celebrations was the Jhoola festival in the evening (20th October), when Swami, wearing an immaculate white robe, showered bliss on thousands in the Poomachandra Auditorium from the glittering silver Jhoola. The Institute’s students’ orchestra provided a concert for the evening’s function, which concluded with Aarati to Bhagavan.”
From the book – An Exposition by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba – Compiled and Edited by Suresh C Bhatnagar.