let go desire for temporary happiness
Nine days of navavarana puja
The unique Sri Chakra Navavarana Puja, performed as part of Sri Devi Sharannavaratri at Avadhoota Datta Peetham celebrates its golden jubilee as Parama Pujya Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji has performed this powerful puja continually since the past fifty years! 2016 is also the golden jubilee year of Avadhoota Datta Peetham, that has, over decades, evolved into a Universe in itself. Beginning on October 1, Devi Sharannavaratri concluded on October 12, Vijayadasami, a day of great significance for followers of Sanatana Dharma across the world.
Worshipping Mother Goddess
On the sixth day of Navaratri, Goddess Raja Rajeswari was worshipped as Visalakshi. Archana was performed with betel leaves, and sweet Pongal was offered to the Goddess. On October 8, the seventh day of Navaratri, the Goddess, and Sri Swamiji, decked in white, symbolising Sattva guna, arrived in Nada Mantapa, where hundreds of children waited eagerly to receive blessings in the form of pens for a good education and bright future. Addressing the devotees on this day, Pujya Sri Datta Vijayananda Teertha Swamiji advised students to work hard and pray for an education that will be useful to Sri Swamiji’s mission as He is the ultimate teacher and His teaching is the Ultimate knowledge! Ashtami is celebrated as Chandi avatara, the Goddess of a fierce and powerful nature. The most important and powerful Chandi Homa was performed on this day. Believed to bestow protection and success, hundreds of devotees participate in this event seeking Her blessings. On Navami, the final day that marks the end, Goddess is worshipped as Shakti Durgi. The Goddess, who is worshipped as a kind and compassionate Mother manifests as the mighty and terrible Durga to protect Her child, the Universe.
Vijaya Dasami celebrations
The nine-day ritualistic worship of Sri Rajarajeswari concludes on the tenth day, Vijayadashami, with jubilant celebrations. Revered as the day marking the destruction of the mighty demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga after waging a fierce nine-day long battle, the death of Ravanasura brought upon by Lord Rama, the completion of the one-year ajnata vasa (incognito) of the Pandavas and several other connotations, Vijayadasami, on the whole marks the start of auspiciousness and prosperity. Any undertaking on this day is believed to yield success
This day begins with Goddess Rajarajeswari being taken on a festive procession with inmates of ashrama offering their prayers and respects when the holy chariot approaches them. The experience of being a part of the event where the Goddess in full grandeur, accompanied by Parama Pujya Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji and Pujya Sri Datta Vijayananda Teertha Swamiji surrounded by music and dance is truly surrealistic!
On this day, plants sprouted from the grains sown in the nine kalashas installed around the puja mandir also are used to worship Goddess Rajarajeshwari. Following the puja with a simultaneous offering of Sangeeta seva, a beautiful dola seva, preceded by the series of various other ceremonial offerings was performed. Another unique, first-time-ever, feature of this year’s Navaratri was continuous video coverage and projector screen display of the entire Navavarana puja, which, all these decades, has never been fully visible to the audience. A rare, unexpected and great blessing, devotees present in the auditorium felt extremely fortunate!
Shami Shamayate paapam Shami Shatru vinashini
Shami tree, upon which Pandavas concealed their weapons during the one-year incognito period is believed to dispel all sin and destroy adversaries. Hence, on this occasion, Sri Swamiji performed Shami aradhana. Since it is impossible for thousands of devotees to go to a Shami tree to offer prayers, a bonsai Shami, grown in ashram's bonsai garden, was brought to the dais for devotees to witness the puja! Shanti Homa, the final event was performed on October 12 thus concluding the grand Devi Sharannavaratri festival.
During these nine days, Sri Swamiji’s gave discourses on Tripura Rahasya, a treatise on the truth beyond the existence of the trinity: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Enraged to know of Lord Rama, a Kshatriya alive despite His annihilation of all Kshatriyas, Parashurama confronts Lord Rama, but in vain. A dejected Parashurama eventually seeks refuge in Adiguru Dattatreya who preaches to Him, the truth of the Self. The story of this seemingly abstract but powerful and sacred truth forms the narrative of this spiritual treatise.
Spread over nine days, Sri Swamiji’s presentation of this work was distinct; philosophically practical and seriously simple. In addition to contents of the book, with reference to the preceptor-student relationship of Lord Dattatreya and Parashurama, Sri Swamiji elaborated on Guru tattva and Guru-Shishya a with significant emphasis on the role of Sadguru in such a relationship. His words were truly enlightening even as He spoke about the commitment made by Sadguru when He accepts a disciple and the responsibilities of that disciple in reciprocation to that promise.
Speaking about the realization of the inner self, Sri Swamiji summarised that consciousness of being one with the entire Universe itself was atma jnana, atma Darshana. There exists no second, as everything is just one Supreme consciousness. One must let go the insatiable, neverending train of the desire for temporary happiness and must pursue permanence instead. The sole path that leads us to such a state is our association with Sadguru, clarified Sri Swamiji. Citing instances from the thousands of experiences of His devotees, Sri Swamiji pressed upon the need for steadfastness in devotion.
During these sessions, the peppy bhajan numbers with heart-warming lyrics in praise of Mother Goddess, further charged the devotees to better absorb the knowledge being imparted by Sri Swamiji. Each day concluded with the beautiful arati sung by the devotees in unison while Sri Swamiji offered Maha Mangala arati and prayers to the Goddess. In Datta Peetham, during these Navaratri celebrations, a day concludes only because the sun sets for, the participants remain charged, with devotion and eagerness and the surroundings continue to be vibrant, with preparations for the next day already begun!
Another memorable event concludes, only to usher in a series of unique and exciting activities. Stay tuned for further updates on Avadhoota Datta Peetham.
Compiled by - Nagini Nagamani