It is a fact that man seeks pleasures in the pursuit of various desires and objects and still remains dissatisfied. The great goal of life according to Vedantic philosophy is the attainment of Bliss by knowing self.
This spiritual emancipation is known as God realisation or Moksha. The Devi Mahatmya is a magnificent poem in Sanskrit describing the epic march of the human soul to its freedom. In the spiritual march, man is faced with hurdles of vasna, impressions, acquired from previous lives which act as obstacles in our journey. The three main are Maya, desire and anger. Vikshepa, tossing the mind and Avarna, ignorance. The Devi Mahatmya describes these three stages of transformations.
It begins with story of Raja Suratha, defeated by his foes and he takes refuge in the ashram of Rishi Medha. He broods over his lost kingdom and new rulers. In the ashram, he meets a merchant named Samadhi, who has also run away from home after losing his wealth. Both face similar situations. They discuss among themselves and sort for advice of Rishi Medha. The Rishi defines Maya and says that the Lord, through this power, sets going the Universal Drama of creation, preservation and ultimate dissolution of all names and forms and back into its state of pure being.
Thus, all our festivals have a deep spiritual meaning. The nine day festival of Navratri is the worship of the Divine Mother. The first three nights, she is worshipped as Durga or Kali, the succeeding three nights as Mahalakshmi and the last three nights as Maha Saraswati. These three are not different Devis but one Devi worshipped in three different forms or aspects as depicted in the Devi Mahatmya. When Maha Vishu, the Lord of Preservation, was merged in Yoga Nidra during dissolution, two demons – Madhu & Kaitabhu, emerged from the dirt of Vishnu’s ears and attacked Brahma who was projected from Vishnu’s navel. Adi Shakti, the divine Mother was invoked to wake Vishnu who then killed the demons who had come out from dirt, representing lower nature. Maya, desire, (kama) and anger (Krodh).
In the second stage, as Maha Lakshmi, (Amba) she kills the demons Mahishasura and Raktabija. Mahishasura, when attacked, changes his forms to elephant, then a buffalo and a bull, then back again as demon until he is ultimately killed. This represents Vikshepa, the tossing of mind, and its desires manifest in some form or other exemplified by demon. Raktabija who when attacked by Devi, gives rise to thousands of demons like himself upon his drops of blood touching the earth. So Kali had to spread her tongue throughout the earth in order to suck all his blood. Similarly, our desires which are deep rooted have to be destroyed at the root instead of chopping the branches.
The third stage is when the demons, Shumbha and Nishumbha are destroyed by Maha Saraswati who represents the highest power of wisdom to remove Avarna or Ignorance.
Ancient Religious philosophy says that to cognise the self, a pure mind, Antahkarna is required to overcome the three obstacles of Maya, by karma actions performed with an attitude of worship, Vikshepa by Upaasna, mental worship and Avarna by Nidhidhyasana, Meditation.
The tenth day, Dussera, is the victory of three undesirable obstacles in our spiritual path by the Divine Grace of Maha Saraswati. This is the esoteric significance of Devi Mahatmya in relation to the Navratri Festival.
Amba mata Aarti
Shiv Shakti nee Arti je koi gaashe,
Bhane Shivanand Swami sukh-sampati Thashe
Har Kailashe jashe, ma Amba dukha harshe
Om Jay Om jay Om Maa Jagadambe
(” One who ever sings this Arti of Shiv & Shakti,
As said by Shivanand Swami will enjoy the bliss of happiness within
and attain salvation at The Mount Kailash
( the Abode of Shiv-Shakti )
Their pains and sorrows will be burnt away by Maa Amba.)
Ambe maatki jai