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ESpiritual: Navratras

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Dr KK Aggarwal    29 September 2017

Today, Navratras have come to mean simply abstaining from food i.e. food-fast for the nine days. Most of us either do not eat anything or eat only limited food.   Fast does not just mean ‘not eating’. Basically a fast means controlling one’s desires and simultaneously cultivating positive mental attitudes. Desires can be of many types viz. desire to eat tasty food, desire to smell, desire to listen to a particular music, desire to watch beautiful things, etc. A ‘fast’ therefore can be of many types. A ‘food-fast’ means controlling the desire for food items which you otherwise may not resist eating. An ‘eye fast’ means not watching things which are rajsik in nature. ‘Ear fast’ means avoiding listening to rajsik (stimulating) music; ‘Action fast’ means not indulging into activities that stimulate and create rajsik thoughts in the mind, and ‘speech fast’ means not speaking any evil, etc.   The first three days of the Navratras, require an individual to perform activities which reduce negativity in the body. The physical purification involves regular bath (of the external body as well as various orifices) and a mental bath, which involves self-confession exercises, and willful attempts to avoid thinking negatively. During these three days, a person tries to restrain himself from thinking, speaking or doing any activity that can harm the other person. The five obstacles to internal happiness are attachment, anger, desire, greed and ego. A person attempts to restrain from all these negativities. These negative thoughts should also not be suppressed or repressed as otherwise they will manifest into some internal diseases.   The next three days, involve building positivity in the mind by various positive mental exercises such as mixing with people, sharing, giving, donating, socializing, reception, etc. Cultivating a thought that is opposite to a negative thought in the mind is the easiest way of tackling negative thoughts. Calling all the people you know during these three days helps in creating social health.   The same principles were taught to us by Mahatma Gandhi as “Do not see evil, do not hear evil and do not speak evil.”   The last three days involve reading and understanding good scriptures and learning from the sins of others. Once you have conquered the negativity in the first three days (representing Kali) and have built up happiness and positivity in the mind (representing Lakshmi), the only thing left is to acquire knowledge (representing Saraswati). During these last three days a person is purified enough to understand and grasp the knowledge of Self and to understand and discriminate between good and bad. One also learns to stay cool irrespective of the face of life being joyful or disturbing. One learns to continue his actions while detaching it with the results.   After the nine days of self-discipline are complete, the person acquires inner happiness, which is nothing but one’s exposure or appointment with the true self or the consciousness.

The birth of consciousness is equivalent to birth of Lord Rama which is called “Ramnavmi”. Hence, Ramnavmi should be celebrated as a disciplined way of acquiring internal happiness and not regarded as a forced nine days of fasting.   Navratras can be interpreted in a similar manner with Dusshera or Vijayadashmi denoting victory over the ego and attaining inner happiness.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are entirely my own

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