Devi Navaratri

Navaratri - The Traditional 9 day Devi Worship is celebrated with splendour and gaiety in Mysore Ashram generally during the month of October according to Vedic Calendar.The Ashrama wears a festive look with elaborate decorations and the enthusiasm of devotees from all over India and abroad.

Sri Swamiji worships Goddess Sri Rajarajeshwari during Navaratri by invoking her in Kalashas(Sacred Pots) placed in and around the Pooja Mantapa (Altar).
9 Kalashas are placed around the altar while two pots are placed inside the Mantapa and Sri Swamiji performs a unique puja to Rajarajeshwari and this is called Nava-Avarana puja. This Nava-Avarana puja is performed everyday for 9 days during Navaratri. Sri Swamiji follows all methods starting from Markandeya Purana.So its believed that "Everything is there in the puja".

The Devi Navaratri Puja commenses with Sri Swamiji wearing a silk sari arrives at the Datta Temple and offered prayers there. From there the morning procession with Sri Swamiji and the palanquin carrying the idol of Raja Rajeswari made of Pancha Loha (an alloy of five metals) goes around the Prayer hall. The procession is led by Nada Swara Band (traditional Mysore Pipers), torch bearers, flag bearers, Poorna Kumbha bearer, Rudraksha Kireeta bearer and the students of Ashrama Veda school chanting Vedic hymns to the Nada Mantapa.

During Navaratri, Swamiji first performs Kumari Puja to sixteen female children aged 1 to 16 years. Swamiji's attire will be in correlation with the color of the form of Mother Goddess to be worshipped on that day. After Kumari Pooja, Swamiji approaches the main Pooja altar. Different energies are invoked into each of these pots. The deities are invoked and seen off every day. Along with Mother Goddess, other deities such as Arka Ganapathy, Sphatika (crystal) Dattatreya, Narasimha Saligrama, Anantapadmanabha Saligrama and Lakshminarasimha Saligrama are also worshipped.

There are two Golden pots in the front. First they are installed. There is an Emerald Srichakra. On top of the Marakata Prastara is the Ruby Sumeru. It is very unique. When water is poured on it, different colours emanate from it. In front of this is a Golden Srichakra. Mother Goddess will be offered different necklaces made from various gems on each day. Special worships such as Mangayarchana, Kunkumarchana (worshipping with Kunkum), Sugandharchana (worshipping with fragrant substances), Padmarchana (worshipping with lotuses) etc., are also performed.

Next is Naivedya (Food Offering). There are nine different Naivedyas for 9 days. After this comes Panchamrita Abhisheka. Then comes Homa performed using Beejaksharas (seed letters). This is called as Agni Pooja also. It includes worship of five elements, the twelve astrological signs and the nine planets...

An important feature of Navaratri Puja is the worship of Turmeric Srichakra. It is an old tradition. Swamiji used to prepare Turmeric Srichakra everyday till 1981. After preparing the turmeric Srichakra, seed letters (Beejaksharas) are written on it. It is a complex system involving drawing of straight lines, triangles and other diagrams interspersed with Beejaksharas. On top of this Swamiji creates a Sumeru and places a crown on it. What does this crown symbolize? It is symbolic of Nirvikara (Formlessness). Thus, in effect, Srichakra worship is the worship of the Formless. The Mantras used here are devoid of words and letters. There are merely Bhavanas (Mental Feelings).

During the Navavarana Puja, Swamiji goes round the altar nine times per Avarana. There are nine such Avaranas to be worshipped every day. During each round, Swamiji stops near the nine sacred pots and worships the invoked energies with special Beeja Mantras (Seed Hymns). After Navavarana Pooja comes the Tarpana (Special Ablution). Swamiji performs Tarpana to Mother Goddess with milk, using a special conch.

Annarchana (Worshipping Mother Goddess with Cooked Rice) is a very special worship which is very dear to Swamiji. The Mother Goddess is worshipped with food so as to ensure prosperity everywhere. At this juncture, the Goddess is worshipped using 108 sacred pots. The cooked rice is piled up in front of the altar and Srichakra is drawn on it and the heap of rice is decorated as Mother Goddess.

After the Navavarana Puja, the Maha Mangala Arati (final and grand Arati) is performed. All this looks very elaborate. However, in Swamiji's view, this is the shortest form of worship. The full form takes much more time. Each Avarana might take 24 hours. Such elaborate worship is not possible now. Therefore, Swamiji has made it concise.
Throughout the Puja, chanting of different sacred mantras such as Lalita Sahasranama, Trishati will be going on automatically in Swamiji's mind.

The concluding part of the Pooja is the Dolotsava (keeping the Mother Goddess in a swing). Before this, immediately after Maha Mangala Arati, selected passages from the Vedas, Upanishads and other scriptures are chanted as Seva to Mother Goddess. After Dolotsava and distribution of Prasadam to those who contributed for the Poojas, Swamiji will proceed to the Vyasa Peetha (The special chair Sri Swamiji uses for Bhajan and discourse sessions) and explains about the form of the Goddess worshipped on that particular day.

While Pooja is going on, there will be music Seva by eminent artists on the stage arranged in the Nada Mantapa. Thus, there is Veda, Nada and Yoga simultaneously. The devotees sit and continuously watch the Puja with concentration. This itself is Yoga. This nutshell is Navaratri Pooja.

Devotee's Experiences

Swami Sahaja Datta Pada, Mysore
"Swamiji, you give so many things to your devotees, how come you never give me anything?"
He looked at me and said in the most compassionate voice, "I don't give you anything, for I have kept you in my heart"

Swamy Vishnudatta Padarenu, Russia
Sri Swamiji addressed me by my name, Varada Raja, greeted me, allowed me to do Namaskaram, and then began speaking with me as though He had known me for several years....

Mysore Patrike Venkatramu
"I bless all those who come to me irrespective of their caste or religion. If a Christian comes to me I tell him to believe in Jesus and continue to have faith in his own religion. Likewise, if a Muslim comes to me I stress upon the importance of being a good Muslim and follow his own faith..."

S Dwarkanath, Mysore
"Your friend Satyanarayana has become a Swamiji, I went and paid my respects, you also go and do the same", I did not pay any attention to this talk so she hit me on the head....

C S Venkatesh, Bangalore
"Wherever you work, as a clerk or an engineer, be honest and sincere and pray to God and your Guru. You will come out good in life".....

Krishan Kumar, Mysore
Then He took me to His room and showed me a map of India, showing certain places saying that He wanted to go there. "Will you take me? Will you take me?"....

Sheetal Persad
"Don't worry; Sri Swamiji will take care." I realized at that moment that he was answering my thoughts. He knows everything for He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. He is my master.....