The festival of Nav Raatri is observed to lift one’s consciousness from the level of materialism to that of divinity. During these auspicious nine days, the sincere aspirant worships the Divine Mother, engaging in various forms of tapasya( austerities), to bring him closer to such heightened state. In this journey, one’s material world, a world of illusion or Maayaa Shakti is transformed to the energy of consciousness or Chid Shakti.
This journey of uplift begins by acknowledging that shakti is that energy that guides the major activities of life: creation, sustenance, destruction and re-absorption. Five forms of energy activate these systems at the macrocosmic level. They also exist within each individual at varying levels of awareness. These forms of energy are:
- Chid Shakti: Energy of Consciousness
- Aanand Shakti: Energy of Bliss
- Ichha Shakti: Energy of Will
- Gyaan Shakti: Energy of Knowledge
- Kriyaa Shakti: Energy of Action
The worship of Devi brings a greater awareness of these forms of energy,gradually lifting the aspirant to the state of Chid shakti. In this state of heightened consciousness, the devotee is imbued with Aanand Shakti, a peaceful and blissful energy that guides his will or Ichhaa Shakti towards positive, virtuous, pure and ‘sattvic’ (pious) direction of life. He is imbued with wisdom or ‘Gyaan’ which translates into appropriate activities or Kriyaa.
One of the concepts that is made clear to the devotee who sincerely worships Devi is Das Mahavidyaa or the ten forms of transcendental knowledge and the powers enshrined within them. A deeper understanding of this knowledge steers one towards the development of positive behavioral patterns.
The ten forms of transcendental knowledge and the qualities inspired by them are as follows:
- Kaali Devi- the power of time and the night of eternity. Removes the veil of ignorance that draws the mind towards desires, materialism and worldly attachments. Develops an attraction towards the spiritual; inspires inner stillness and silence. Acknowledges the power and control that time has on creation, sustenance and destruction in the macrocosmic and microcosmic spheres.
- Taara Devi- the power of hunger. Develops an attitude of rising beyond all limitations and compassion for others in recognizing that the source of life is hunger and that the universe survives by consumption.
- Shodasi Devi- the personification of perfection. Strives towards attaining a sense of excellence and auspiciousness in all tasks.
- Bhuvaneshvari Devi- the power of knowledge. Develops an urge to reach beyond limitations of human life and aspires towards true self-knowledge.
- Bhairavi Devi- the power of death. Removes ignorance, the fear of death and all forms of darkness from within.
- Chhinamasta Devi- the power of sacrifice. Develops self-sacrifice, self-control and courage.
- Dhumaavati Devi- the power of poverty. Helps one to aspire towards renunciation, having recognized that unpleasant experiences engender a sense of disgust of the material world.
- Maatangi Devi- the power of domination. Teaches that peace, prosperity and success are derived from self-control, power over self, capability and royalty.
- Baglamukhi Devi- the power of cruelty. Teaches one to rise above qualities of deceit, to control the tongue, to go within and take control of one’s innate power.
- Kamlaa Devi- the power of wealth. Helps one to constantly strive towards attaining a state of divine splendor and inner worth.
Austerities of Devi worship carried out in the festivities of Nav Raatri afford each individual the opportunity to acquire these qualities and lift one’s level of consciousness to the state of Chid Shakti. This journey is one that is recommended for all.