The following poem, "Kaatyaayani" from Great Men and Women by Sri Swami Sivananda highlights the Divine Mother's powers.
Once, Mahishasura defeated the Devas.
He pleased Lord Siva by penance.
He became very powerful and strong.
Devas prayed to Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.
Their energies heralded the advent of Kaatyaayani.
She killed all demons,
And established peace in Heaven.
She is the creative force of Brahma,
Sustaining force of Vishnu,
And destructive force of Siva.
She is the Substratum for this universe.
She is famous as Ugrachandi, Bhadrakali and Durga.
Those who worship Kaatyayani,
During Navaratri, become free from evils
And attain her glorious Abode.
Glory to Kaatyaayani!
My prostrations to Her!
In the following readings adapted and summarised from Hindu Fasts and Festivals, Sri Swami Sivananda explains the significance of Vijaya Dasami. He says that Durga Puja or Navaratri begins on the first and ends on the tenth day of the bright half of Aswayuja (September-October). The tenth day is called Vijaya Dasami or Dussera. The Master explains further that Vijaya Dasami is observed for various reasons and in various forms in different parts of India. He says, "The mother of Durga, that is, the wife of the King of the Himalayas, longed to see her daughter. Durga was permitted by Lord Siva to visit her beloved mother for only nine days in the year. The festival of Durga Puja marks this brief visit and ends with the Vijaya Dasami day, when the Goddess leaves for her return to Mount Kailas. This is the view of some devotees".
Sri Swami Sivananda explains that the tenth day, Vijaya Dasami, marks the triumphant victory of the soul in having attained freedom and liberation while living in this world, through the descent of divine knowledge by the Grace of Goddess Saraswati. The soul rests in its own Supreme Self or Satchidananda Brahman. This day celebrates victory and the achievement of the goal. The banner of victory flies aloft. The Divine Master explains further that it was on this day that Arjuna worshipped Devi before starting the battle against the Kauravas on the field of Kurukshetra. Sri Rama worshipped Durga at the time of the battle with Ravana, to invoke Her aid in the war. This was on the days preceding Vijaya Dasami. He fought and won through Her Grace.
The Master's poignant message has relevance for modern-day man. He says, "At times, religious observances and traditional worship have several meanings. Apart from being the adoration of the Divine, they commemorate stirring events in history. They are allegoric when interpreted from the occult standpoint, and lastly, they are deeply significant pointers and revealing guides to seekers on their path to God-realisation".
Sri Swami Sivananda continues, "This day, however, has much to do with the life of Sri Rama. Nowhere in the history of the world can we find a parallel to the character of Sri Rama as a man, son, brother, husband, father or king. Rishi Valmiki has exhausted all the superlatives in describing the might and glory of Sri Rama. We shall be celebrating Dussera rightly if we make honest efforts to destroy the demon of our ego, and radiate peace and love wherever we go".
The Master's profound advice to all aspirants is pregnant with meaning. He advises that we should all resolve to become men of sterling and pure character. He says that the story of Sri Rama is known in almost all parts of the globe, and if we but succeed in following even a hundredth part of His teachings, we shall make our lives more fragrant and sublime.
May all celebrate this Dussera with full faith and sincere devotion to face the challenges of the world. May our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and Mother Durga give us all Divine wisdom and take us all to magnanimous heights of Divine spendour, spiritual enlightment and bliss.