As a kid, Navratri was a welcome relief to the reluctant student in me, it being the only day in the calendar, when even parents encouraged us to not study! Beyond that heavenly relief, I never understood or even cared to figure out, what the celebrations were about! To confess, for a long time, I even believed that people celebrated Navratri because it was a welcome escape from their regular routine!
But in the years to come I was destined to realize that my childhood perceptions were true, but from a very different angle! Navratri was indeed a celebration of breaking patterns!
“So who scripted this change?” is a very inevitable question. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the wonder beyond my imagination, is the answer! Years ago when I first came to the heavenly Art of Living ashram for Navratri , I was initiated to this beautiful experience. Since then Navratri became the most anticipated event in the year. As I progressed through my teens, I started realizing the depth and meaning of the wonderful celebrations! I slowly started realizing that Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is silently taking us through that most divine experience, often unreachable for the common man.
I remember distinctly going to temples during the Navratri and waiting with folded hands for the abode to open for arathi! But since the day, I chose to walk the Master’s path; the differences in my Navratris earlier and now have been starkingly evident! Those meaningless folded hands transformed into tears of gratitude; the memorized mantra chants often gave way to prayful silence! Instead of waiting for the abode of Devi to open for darshan, I searched for the divine’s presence inside my heart. This inward journey was beyond comparison and explanation!
I remember Sri Sri explaining the science and philosophy of Navratri in a Satsang before the start of the nine nights! I sat amazed realizing the meanings behind many of those symbols! A few days before, I had heard a scientist explaining to a crowd, the science behind the poojas. As I sat hearing and loving every bit of the talk, he chose to spoil my party! He concluded his talk with this strange remark that meant the divinity of the pooja, is nothing more than a psychosis factor to motivate people to participate in them. The debate on religion and science is a never ending one and almost all intellectuals who have graced the Earth have spoken volumes about it. I am no one to question the scientist’s remark.
But I guess I have a genuine doubt! If these poojas were a mere scientific procedure, then we could recreate them in any controlled laboratory setup by combining a few chemicals. But will such experiments succeed in stimulating the positive vibes which uplifts your being! Will such chemical reactions help to stimulate a person to move towards the higher goal? Will those mechanisms transform negativity to positivity the way poojas do? I do not know the answer. Perhaps my limited knowledge shuns my understanding!
I believe there must have been a million scientific phenomenona that our ancient Rishis would have mastered, before giving shape to these powerful rituals. But should we bank on a few scientific theories, which can be proved wrong any other minute from now, to prove the significance of these rituals? Don’t we have a bigger and deeper spiritual and philosophical significance to highlight? The lines of science and spirituality are at times blurred and at times distinct! So every individual reading this blog can interpret or introspect on this question to the best of his\her knowledge!
But I believe the real success of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar comes here! He gave a new dimension to these age old traditions and made them accessible to many parts of the world with the perfect blend of scientific reasoning. He attracted the seekers craving for scientific rationale to the Yagnashala without diluting its spiritual quotient! Many intellectuals have bitten the bullet, failing to strike this balance. Today when thousands are celebrating and rejoicing the poojas of Navratri in the Art of Living International Centre in Bengaluru, similar kinds of poojas are happening around the world under his direct guidance.
Millions of people caught up in the hassles of daily life, are now coming to these celebrations where subtle energies are invoked through mantras and yagnas and are experiencing deep and authentic joy! Sri Sri, has undoubtedly revolutionized this spiritual wave which is bringing together people from all age groups and cross sections to participate in the Navratri celebrations as enjoined by the Vedas.
Every year, I see more and more youth, taking up the responsibilities of the festival and turning out in large numbers for participating in these poojas! Isn’t this the revival that Swami Vivekananda spoke off? If we can sustain this spring in our footstep, then many of our social dogmas and evils will not have a place in our society in the years to come! I was travelling across USA, when the Christopher Nolan movie “The Dark Knight Rises” hit the cinemas. I witnessed the enthusiasm and excitement of the youth those days! It was an absolute frenzy! But today, when I see the excitement of the youth in the Navratri Yagnashalas in organizing the pooja celebrations, I doubt if “The Dark Knight Rises” can even come close! Of course, the comparison itself is very unfair and illogical! After all, these nine nights are undoubtedly the “brightest”, spreading the light of love & knowledge!
Perhaps the time is ripe to ensure that this precious and ancient knowledge is passed on to the next generation. In this auspicious moment I pray that we realize the significance of these poojas in elevating us to become better individuals. Let us all celebrate with true spirit, the victory of the good over the evil, the victory of unconditional love over hatred! Let us get drenched in this amazing eternal bliss & devotion! I Happy Navratri!
Posted by Rahul Riji Nair – Noted Film Maker,Columnist, Business Analyst, Social Entrepreneur, Founder Director of Save My Ten Foundation and Active volunteer of The Art of Living Foundation.