As various earlier articles have amply shown, there is far more to Rakhasas than their diverse and hideous forms. While as Children, we may have enjoyed simply listening to the stories of the slaying of Daanavs by Dev or Devis, one’s growing up should also entail the maturity to decode the messages hidden within these stories and treat them as guidelines for Living. Without this, there is really no point in celebrating these festivals. Let’s delve deeper into the significance of Vijayadashmi.
Our longings are fundamentally very deep and cannot be easily satisfied by temporary makeshift or a day-to-day adjustment of outer circumstances. Our desires are profound; our inner yearnings are very unintelligible to the outer environment of our daily life. We seem to have a root which is deeper than what can be comprehended by our normal understanding of the world. We must evolve at various levels, and when we long for, or desire, or yearn, or aspire, we do so in a very comprehensive manner. This aspiration of the human being is really the soul’s longing for liberation. The Devi-Mahatmya which, in a majestic poetry in Sanskrit ( part of Markandeya Puran) , describes to us the epic of the march of the human soul to its destination – the realization of this freedom – is the dramatic aspect of the great worship of the Divine Mother during these nine days of Navaratri, and Dassehra as we call it. The march of the soul is dramatic.
*The march of the soul is graduated into three major steps: These threefold transformations of the spiritual being of the aspiring soul are dominated or presided over by three deities known as Maha-Kali/ Durga, Maha-Lakshmi and Maha-Saraswati. These three presiding forces are representative of the powers of the spirit within manifesting themselves in an upward ascent towards freedom ultimate, and this journey is couched in very beautiful stories.*
The first step is where Adi-Shakti (Durga Ma) awakens Maha-Vishnu who was asleep, so that he may destroy or overcome the original demonical forces, Madhu and Kaitabha.
The second stage is where the same Shakti manifests herself as Maha-Lakshmi and overcomes the evil forces, Mahishasura and Raktabija. The third one is where the sinful brothers, Sumbha and Nisumbha are destroyed by Maha-Sarasvati.
*In the nine days of worship, which are referred to as Navaratri, these three stages are adored in three days of worship, each. The final victory is called Vijaya-Dasami, the tenth day. That is the day of Victory, where one is urged to master the forces of Nature completely and your goal is reached. When you overcome nine, Infinity is possible. Digits are only nine; you do not have ten digits. All the arithmetic is within nine digits only. The whole cosmos is within nine (Navagrah)*. Let’s examine the three stages:
_The lower powers of Nature are like obstructing dirt. The Madhu and Kaitabha, two Rakshasas (demons) are supposed to have come out of the dirt of the ear of Vishnu. They are killed by Vishnu after Devi woke him up. The lowest category of opposition is of the nature of dirt, Mal; and psychologically, from the point of view of the seeking soul, this dirt is in the form of Kama, Krodh and Lobh._ These three are the gates to hell. These three are regarded as dirt, because they cover the consciousness in such a way that it appears to be not there at all. However, when this Mal or dirt is removed, one is still not off the hook..
When we manage somehow to overcome this Madhu and Kaitabha, we get into the clutches of Mahishasura and Raktabija. _They represent the Vikshepa Shakti, the tossing of the mind…here and there. Every minute the mind changes its forms which multiply in millions. In the Devi-Mahatmya, this is depicted by how Mahishasura changed his form. Now he is an elephant, now he is a buffalo, now he is something else. If you hit him in one form, he comes in another form. And this is the inexhaustible opponent. However much you may try to oppose the Vikshepa Shakti, it will manifest in some form or other. This is described in the form of the demon Raktabija, whose drops of blood were seeds of hundreds and thousands of demons like him coming up_. When the Devi severed the head of one Rakshas, the blood fell on the ground profusely and from that blood, millions cropped up. And when she killed them, again another million cropped up. So there was no end to it. So what did the Devi do? She took the help of Kali ma – now the Goddess started cutting their heads and when the blood fell, it fell not on the ground but on the tongue of Kali. So she sucked everything up. Likewise, we have to adopt a technique of sucking the very root of desires and not merely chop off its branches. Otherwise, desires will take various forms like Mahishasura. Thus Mal and Vikshepa are the primary oppositions in our spiritual pursuit and Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali have to help us vanquish them. While unselfish Karma removes Mal, Upasana (worship) removes Vikshepa. But even now, we are not fully safe. While Mala might have gone and Vikshepa is not there, we may have a third trouble, namely, a complete lack of consciousness. While Mala represents Tamas, Vikshepa represents Rajas.
While we always praise Sattva and regard it as desirable, even Sattva is a subtle medium of obstruction. _Sattva acts in a double form – as complacency or satisfaction with what has been achieved, and ignorance of what lies beyond. These two aspects of Sattva are indicated by the two personalities of Sumbha and Nisumbha_. They have to be dispelled by the power of higher wisdom, which is Maha-Saraswati.
Action, contemplation and self-knowledge are the three ways through which we have to pierce through the veil of Prakriti, or the three Gunas. The path of Sadhana also is a cosmic effort of the soul, a subtle secret which most Sadhakas are likely to forget. So, the dance of the cosmic spirit, in its supernal effort at self-transcendence, is majestically described in the beautifully worded sonorous songs of the Devi-Mahatmya, where we are given a stirring account, a stimulating description of what Maha-Kali did, what Maha-Lakshmi did and what Maha-Sarasvati did in bringing about this evolution, transformation of the whole range of Prakriti from Tamas to Rajas, from Rajas to Sattva and from Sattva to Supreme Vijaya, mastery in the Absolute, God-realisation.
So, through the worship of Maha-Kali, Maha-Lakshmi and Maha-Sarasvati, we worship Mula-Prakriti, Adi-Sakti in her cosmic dance-form of transformation, prosperity and illumination. In the beginning, what happens to a Sadhaka? There is a necessity of self-transformation. It is all hardship, rubbing and cleaning, washing, sweeping, etc. Thus, from obstruction to prosperity, from prosperity to enlightenment, and from enlightenment to Self-realisation, do we proceed.
1. Navratri to Vijayadashmi = transition of the soul to ultimate perfection*
2. The journey has 3 transition points:
a. Tamasic: overcoming basic barriers anger and greed represented by Devi Durga (goodness) helping slay Asuras Madhu and Kaitabh
b. Rajasic: overcoming extra restless mind and endless desires represented by Devi Laxmi (Prosperity) killing Asuras Mahishasura and Raktabeej
c. Sattvic: overcoming complacency and lack of quest for perfection by Devi Saraswati (wisdom) vanquishing Asuras Shumbha and Nishumbha
*Wish you and your family members a Shubh Vijayadashami!*