Receiving Grace from Faminine Energy
In the yogic culture, the summer solstice which falls in the month of June marks the beginning of Dakshinayana, which means in the Earth’s sky, the Sun begins to trace a southward movement in the northern hemisphere of the planet. Similarly, the winter solstice which falls in the month of December marks the beginning of Uttarayana or the northern run of the Sun. The half of the year from the beginning of Uttarayana in December to the beginning of Dakshinayana in June is known as gnana pada. The other half of the year from the beginning of Dakshinayana to the beginning of Uttarayana is known as the sadhana pada.
The southern run is the phase of intimacy or the feminine. The earth is acting out her role as a woman. Festivals concerned with the feminine energy are celebrated only in these six months. The whole culture of this land was attuned to this. Every month, there is a festival of some kind.
In the Indian culture, there was a time when there used to be a festival every day of the year – 365 festivals in a year – because a festival is a tool to bring life to a state of exuberance and enthusiasm. That was the significance and importance of festivals. The whole culture was in a state of celebration. If today was ploughing day, it was a kind of celebration. Tomorrow was planting day, another kind of celebration. Day after tomorrow was weeding, that was a celebration. Harvesting, of course, is still a celebration.
Nowadays, unfortunately, a festival means a holiday, and wake up only at twelve noon, then eat a lot and go for a movie or watch television at home. It wasn’t like that earlier. A festival meant the whole town would gather in a place and there would be a big celebration. A festival meant to get up at four early in the morning, and very actively, lots of things happened all over the house with full involvement of altogether.
In this feminine half of the year, September 30th, marks the autumnal equinox, and the first Amavasya or new moon after this is known as Mahalaya Amavasya. Mahalaya Amavasya is a special day dedicated to making an offering (shraadh) to express our gratitude to all the previous generations of people who have contributed to our life.
Mahalaya Amavasya is also the beginning of Devi’s time. The quarter from the Amavasya to the beginning of Uttarayana in December is known as the Devi pada. In this quarter, the northern hemisphere of the planet becomes “gentle” because it is the quarter where the northern hemisphere receives the least amount of sunlight in the year. So everything becomes subdued; it is not “on” in a big way.
Worship of the feminine energy
The day after Mahalaya Amavasya marks the first day of Navaratri and Dussehra, which is all about the goddess.
The nine days of Navaratri are classified as per the three basic qualities of tamas, rajas and sattva. The first three days are tamas, where the goddess is fierce, like Durga and Kali. The next three days are Lakshmi related – gentle but materially-oriented goddesses. The last three days are dedicated to Saraswati, which is sattva. It is related to knowledge and enlightenment.
Tamas means inertia. Rajas means activity, passion. Sattva, in a way, is the breaking of boundaries, dissolution, melting and merging. Among the three celestial objects with which the very making of our bodies is very deeply connected – the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon – Mother Earth is considered tamas. The Sun is rajas. The Moon is sattva.
Tamas is the nature of the Earth, and she is the one who gives birth. The gestation period that we spend in the womb is tamas. It is a state that is almost like hibernation, but we are growing. So tamas is the nature of the Earth and of our birth. The moment we come out, we start activity – rajas begins. And if we are aware enough or fortunate enough, sattva will touch us.
Those who aspire for power, for immortality, for strength, will worship those forms of the feminine which are referred to as tamas, like Kali or Mother Earth.
Those who aspire for wealth, for passion, for life and various other gifts that the material world has to offer, naturally aspire towards that form of the feminine which is referred to as Lakshmi or the Sun.
Those who aspire for knowledge, knowing, and transcending the limitations of the mortal body, will aspire for that aspect of the feminine which is referred to as sattva – Saraswati is the representative of that – or the Moon.
These nine days are arranged in this way because it is after all from the earth that we arise, and we could live an active life which is rajas – the second nature of the Devi. The third one may come in our way or may not. If we want to bring her down into us, we have to strive. Otherwise she will not get down to us. Kali is on the ground. Lakshmi is sitting on a flower. Saraswati is riding a peacock.
It is important to approach these nine days and every aspects of life in a celebratory way.
If we approach everything in a celebratory way, we learn to be non-serious about life but absolutely involved. The problem with most human beings right now is if they think something is important, they will become dead serious about it. If they think it is not so important, they will become neglectful about it – they don’t show the necessary involvement. The secret of life is in seeing everything with a non-serious eye but absolutely involved, like a game.