September 21th marked the Fall equinox and coincided with the beginning of Navaratri (the nine nights of the Goddess), the Durgā festival. For Hindus, the mother goddess, Durgā is able to appear in nine different forms, each of which is endowed with unique powers and traits. Every day of the festival, a specific manifestation of the Goddess is worshipped. Durgā worship is mentioned in many ancient scriptures including the most ancient, the Vedas. Hindus believe that Durgā, if sincerely worshiped will lift the divine spirit and fill them with renewed happiness. This year, the festival dates are from Sept 21 to Sept 30.
The beginning of autumn is an auspicious time as it reflects the shift from a more outward movement of energy to a more inward movement. For the yogi, Hindu mythology is an endless reservoir of metaphors. Durgā Mā is the divine cosmic Mother. When we invoke her Name or meditate on her, we draw that motherly protection, light and goodness into our lives.
A simple ritual would consist in repeating the mantra OM DŪM DURGĀYAI NAMAH 9 times. Mantra recitation is followed by a nine minutes meditation (9 symbolizes the eternal). Dur (difficult, like “dur” in French) and Ga (to get to). Invoking Durgā awakens in oneself the Force to cross over all difficulties. Like a child would call her mother, totally trusting her to provide everything. It is the mother’s nature to give and provide for a child. As yogis, the simple recognition of the graciousness and merciful nature of her Being is a devotional act. Sometimes, like children, yoga practitioners are forgetful. They forget that even when the mother is out of sight, her strength is within them. In my culture, there’s a saying that goes « Your mother’s milk quenches your thirst for a lifetime » . These rituals are a wonderful way, to remember …. To me, that’s Durgā magic: pure spiritual milk.
The Shri Argala Stotram is one of my favourite prayers. Especially the heartfelt version on Kirtan Wallah by Krishna Das. It is perfect on a playlist for building up devotion.
Durgā Mā is revered and her power to lift us into spiritually advanced realms through devotion to her is chanted:
Jayanti Maṅgalā Kālī Bhadrakālī Kapālinī
Durgā Kṣamā Śivā Dhātrī Svāhā Svadhā namo’stu te
She Who Conquers Over All. All-Auspicious, the remover of Darkness, the Excellent One Beyond Time, the bearer of the Skulls of Impure thought the reliever of difficulties, loving forgiveness, supporter of the Universe, you are the One who truly receives the offerings made to the Gods and the Ancestors. I bow to you.
Wishing you lots of inspiration for this week and success in your sadhana,