The spirit of Navaratri – a festival of nine (-nava) nights (-ratri) – is a vibrant reminder to us of the power of the feminine in our lives. One aspect of the feminine is shakti – often described as power, or energy. The significance of shakti is perhaps explained best by the two words Shiva-Shakti. Shiva is the potential, Shakti is the energy that enables the realization of that potential.
While the focus of Navaratri in most parts of India is on Goddess Durga (and rightly so), some texts explain that the nine nights can be divided into three parts – for Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. The first set of three nights honor and invoke Durga the protector. The second set of three nights honor Lakshmi, the bestower of wealth and prosperity. The final three nights celebrate Saraswati, the Goddess of education. She who easily (-saras) flows (-wati) through us, in the form of the energy of speech. Her energy flows through all the creative arts – music, writing, dance and many more – any activity or endeavor that requires a free flow and transfer of energy.
One of the ways to celebrate and invoke the free flow of Saraswati in our lives is to purify and sweeten our speech. It is perhaps for this reason that our scriptures are full of beautiful mantras, which, when practiced regularly, can make the energy of Saraswati flow in our lives. One such mantra for invoking the energy of Saraswati Devi is:
yA vINaavaradanDa manDitakaraa yaa shvetapadmaasanaa
या कुन्देन्दु तुषार हार धवला या शुभ्रवस्त्रावृता
या वीणावरदण्ड मण्डितकरा या श्वेतपद्मासना ।
Listen to a short audio version of the saraswati mantra
I invoke the flowing energy of Goddess Saraswati. Her face is fair as a jasmine flower, luminiscient like the moon and delicate as a snow flake ; who is dressed in brilliant white (shubhra-) garments (vastraA-). She holds the musical instrument (vINA-) in her hands to bestow boons (varada.nDa-) to her disciples as she sits on her white (shveta-) lotus (padma-) throne (aasanA-).
This mantra forms the basis of many a school prayer in India, and is often recited by children so that Saraswati may remove any obstacles in their learning. May we take this opportunity during Navaratri, to begin by purifying our inner spirit with the energy of Saraswati. May the grace of the Goddess flow within us, and through us, to all those that we come into contact with.
Happy Navaratri – may the energy of the Goddess give light to us on our spiritual journey. In 2021, Navaratri will be celebrated from October 7th (New Moon) to October 14th, culminating with VijayaDashmi (Dussehra) on the tenth day, October 15th 2021.