Today (18) is Saraswathi Pooja; Vijayadasami tomorrow (19) The importance of Navarathri in today’s context

Published : 12:01 am  October 18, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 

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What connects Robert Oppenheimer of the Manhattan Project, the oil slick Middle, East, and Navarathri?

The Hindu Pantheon has innumerable Gods- 33 million or so to be more precise. Navarathri which is celebrated (nine plus one) for ten days celebrates three important Goddesses. Among them, namely Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi the patron Goddesses of metaphorical courage, wealth and wisdom or education, however, wisdom is more associated with Ganesh.

A pan-Indian Hindu celebration, the ten-day observance falls in October-November based on the Hindu calendar. The days may vary according to  different schools of Panchankam (Calendar).

At the end of the nine days of evening poojas, to Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati, the tenth day called Vijayadasami is again attributed to Godess Durga. It is the most auspicious festival during Dakshinaayana or the southern motion of the sun. Vijaya is victory. It is the day that Durga defeated the Asura Mahisha (Mahisasura) after nine days of battle.

Durga meaning “the inaccessible” or “the invincible”, is the most popular incarnation of Mother Goddess and one of the main forms of the Goddess Shakti in the Hindu pantheon. Durga is the original manifested form of Mother Parvati or Adi-Parashakti. Durga is Adi-Parashakti herself. The Devi Gita, declares her to be the greatest Goddess. According to the Skanda Purana, the goddess Parvati accounted for the name “Durga” after she killed the demon Mahishasura.

It metaphorically means victory over evil. The puranic tradition has it that Durga vanquished several other the asuras as well during the course of the battle– Mahisha (The Asura with Buffalo Head, Chanda-Munda, and Shumbha- Nisumbha. The tenth day is also called Vijaya Kaal – the most auspicious time to begin the journey to accomplish one’s aims.

As Ananda Kentish Kumaraswamy observed Hinduism is layered with complex symbolism and metaphors. If one analyses, he/she can see that the nine-day Saraswathi Pooja, in fact, poses the primordial and universal questions on the existence of life and intelligence.

As many would know Durga is the Patron Goddess for Courage; Lakshmi for Wealth and, Saraswathi, always depicted with a string instrument of Veena (Symbol of skill, education and particularly the Vedas) is the Patron Goddess of education. Each aspect of the important aspects of life is celebrated for three days totalling nine respectively.

Many Hindus across the world celebrate the nine holy days in various ways depending on their beliefs.

Setting it up of ‘Golu’ is in just one of them. The Golu is a representation of society, where all kinds of dolls are placed.  The top row portrays images of Gods while the bottom row exhibits inanimate and lowly beings thus reflecting the social pyramid.

Since associated with Saraswathi, the Goddess of learning Vidyarambam (Auspicious time start education) or introducing a child to letters and starting to learn a new skill is also done during these days, on the last day of the three-day Saraswathi Poojas, which is the ninth day (Today).

The question then is which is more fundamental to human existence. However, it seems that the ancient Hindu wisdom has tacitly answered the question by placing Durga as the first and the last in the ten-day observance, metaphorically courage defending both-wealth and knowledge

The nine-day observance poses basic and universal and never ending debate –which is important to life: Courage, Wealth or Learning.

The question then is which is more fundamental to human existence. However, it seems that the ancient Hindu wisdom has tacitly answered the question by placing Durga as the first and the last in the ten-day observance, metaphorically courage defending both-wealth and knowledge.

This poses the question ‘Why courage?’

The debate is generally considered neverending. But courage in its broader sense seems to be the basis for everything, including wealth and education and/or knowledge. Knowledge is also wealth.

Many authors in Tamil- all Hindu, Buddhist and Jain- have dealt with these issues. One has to keep in mind that almost all of these writings had been didactic works. For example, the Nannool is a work on Tamil Grammar written by a Jain ascetic Bavananthi Munivar around 13th Century AD.  One may wonder what a book on grammar has to do with Saraswathi Pooja. A logical question indeed.

A stanza in its First Chapter, on to whom a teacher should not impart his knowledge, Bavananthi Munivar was clear that a teacher shall not take someone, who is afraid of books/education or course of study, as student.

Hence, clearly, to study or to engage in any worldly activity, courage is the basis.

Even to create wealth, even if one has the know-how, to embark on a career of business and wealth, courage is needed.

The ‘courage’ discussed here should not be confused with gun-toting or sword-wielding courage. It is the concept of courage. One needs the courage to face life in society. It was, it is and it ever will be to anyone in all spheres of life. It also forms the basis, even for the evolutionary process.  

One may possess an important piece of knowledge, but if he/she lacked the courage to put it into proper use or prevent improper use- it is useless.

Robert Oppenheimer comes in view. He was the American theoretical physicist and is among those who are credited with being the “father of the atomic bomb”.  In the same vein if he/she can’t protect it from wrong hands in can pose a threat to all. Knowledge in the wrong hands is dangerous. So, is wealth. Countries with the wealth of resources should have the courage and the military to protect their wealth. And Iran has all right to have nukes. Makes sense. Or go the way Libya, Iraq and Syria did. If one had wealth, then it goes without saying that he/she should be able to protect it.  One should understand the fundamentals. Hope many will hereafter.

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