Our online Navaratri Satsangs, in worship of the Divine Mother,commenced on 7 October 2021 and concluded with Vijaya Dasami on 15 October. Throughout the nine days, we offered Bhajans and Kirtans in adoration of the Divine Mother in Her various forms. Readings & poems from our Divine Master gave listeners an insight into the significance of this festival. Our readings were taken from our Master's books, Hindu Fast & Festivals, Sthree Dharma, Yoga Lessons for Children, and Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life, as well as from Glory of Guru's Grace, written by Pujya Swami Sahajananda. The poems, "Shakti or Mother", "Katyayani", "Woman ─ Lakshmi of the House", "Devi", and "Hymn to the Mother", all contributed to giving one a good understanding of the role of the Divine Mother in the process of one's evolution. Apart from this, we included verses from Durga Stotram, Lakshmi Stotram and Saraswati Stotram as well as extracts from the Manu Samhita to further broaden our knowledge. In addition, a video presentation on Devi Stotram provided more insight and afforded a little variety.
Our Master continues, "Let us now consider how, on the first three days, the Mother is adored as the Supreme power andforce, as Durga, the Terrible. You pray to Mother Durga to destroy all your impurities, your vices,your defects. She is to fight with and annihilate the baser animal qualities in the spiritual aspirant,the lower, diabolical nature in him. Once you have accomplished your task on the negative side, that of breaking down theimpure propensities and old vicious habits, the next step is to build up a sublime spiritualpersonality, to acquire positive qualities in place of the eliminated demoniacal qualities.
"The aspirant must cultivateand develop all the auspicious qualities. He has to earn immense spiritual wealth to enable him topay the price for the rare gem of divine wisdom. This pleasant side of the aspirant's Sadhana isdepicted by the worship of Mother Lakshmi. She bestows on Her devotees the inexhaustible divinewealth or Devi Sampath. Lakshmi is the wealth-giving aspect of God. She is purity itself. Thus, theworship of Goddess Lakshmi is performed during the second set of three days. Once the aspirant succeeds in routing out the evil propensities and develops Sattwic or pure, divine qualities, he becomes competent to attain wisdom. At this stage come the devout worship of Mother Saraswati.
"The tenth day, Vijaya Dasami, marks the triumphant ovation of the soul at having attained liberation while living in the world, through the descent of knowledge by the Grace of Goddess Saraswati. The soul rests in his own Supreme Self. This day celebrates the victory, the achievement of the goal".
In Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Lifewe get a glimpse of the type of Sadhana that the Master did. "The Master did not do any formal worship of the Divine Mother. He himself clarified this point when a learned pundit of South India remarked that he must have attained perfection in Sri Vidya Upasana and that was why he succeeded in all his undertakings. 'I have not done any formal Sri Vidya Upasana,' the Master told him. 'I repeat the Mantra, along with several others, after my daily bath. I repeat the Mantras only once. But perhaps you are right when you say that I have done Sri Vidya Upasana. It is of a different kind. Whenever I see a woman, I mentally prostrate to her and mentally repeat some Devi Mantra like, Om Sri Durgayai Namah. I look upon all women as embodiments of the Divine Mother. When I apply the sacred vermilion to my forehead, I repeat, Om Hrim Om. This constitutes my Sri Vidya Upasana.'"
The Master was practical in his approach to life and spoke to suit time, place and circumstance. He said the right thing at the right time. Addressing the staff and students of the Central Hindu Girls' School, Madras, he began with charming innocence."What shall I talk to you about? You are my first Guru. Everything man has learnt from you. The child asks her, 'Mother, what is this? Ma, what is that?' and learns everything. You are the Guru of Gurus."Slowly he picked up sequence and speed and, before he ended his speech, made the exhortation, "Let patience be yournecklace. Let love be your apparel. Don't forget that the Atma is the beauty of beauties. There is no need for external beautification at all. How can you beautify beauty itself'? Wear the divine virtues as ornaments. Self-restraint, modesty, simplicity, patience, generosity ─ these are your real ornaments."
In Glory of Guru's Grace, Pujya Swamiji writes of how the Divine Mother poured Her Grace upon him. It happened immediately after Pujya Swamiji completed the monumental task of compiling the 9 volumes of Yoga Lessons for Children. Pujya Swamiji states:"All the nine volumes were now output on film and the work was complete. It was something like attaining Samadhi or Moksha! Perhaps the Master took pity on Swamiji (referring to himself) at this stage and decided to reward him with the gift of transformation. A short time after that, about the end of May, just over four years ago (in 1999), Swamiji woke up one morning with the distinct feeling that he was a new per¬son, that some great change was taking place in him. Because it was so sudden and overwhelming, he was struck with awe and wonder. Swamiji can only say that the Master came to him in the form of the all-compassion¬ate Divine Mother and began pouring into him some great power.
"For several weeks copious tears began pouring from his eyes as he felt that he did not deserve such boundless Grace. He knew that some great change was taking place. How the Divine Mother worked cannot be revealed. As the process of transformation was going on, the Master was also giving Swamiji a formula to repeat from time to time, in order to stabilise it".
Pujya Swamiji said that during this period, whenever he looked at Sri Gurudev's picture, he saw only the Divine Mother. Pujya Swamiji did not differentiate between Gurudev and the Divine Mother. In the Kirtan "Mataji, Mataji" also, Pujya Swamiji included a line referring to Gurudev as the Divine Mother.
Our sages speak with one voice when they say, "If you desire spiritual transformation, put yourself in the hands of the Divine Mother and Her Powers without cavil or resistance and let Her do unhindered Her work within you. Three things you must have: consciousness, plasticity and unreserved surrender".
We conclude this report with the words of the Master, "Nowadays many ignorant seekers aim straight at the cultivation of knowledge without the preliminaries of purification and acquisition of the divine qualities. They then complain that they are not progressing on the path. How can they? Knowledge will not descend until the impurities have been washed out, and purity is developed. How can the pure plant grow in impure soil? As you destroy one evil quality, develop the virtue opposite to it. By this process you will soon bring yourself up to that perfection which will culminate in identity with the Self which is your goal. Then all knowledge will be yours: you will be omniscient, omnipotent and you will feel your omnipresence. Glory to the Divine Mother! Let Her take you, step by step, to the top of the spiritual ladder and unite you with the Lord".