Led by Om Swamiji, this Chaitra Navratri (also known as Vasanta Navaratri), many devotees embarked on a special Sadhana dedicated to Ma Durga. With the sole aim of harnessing divine power towards the manifestation of one single intent, the nine auspicious days from March 25 to April 2, 2020, saw devotees from all over the world come together. A collective Sankalpa (resolve) to ‘pray for the welfare of the whole world, and for it to be free from the grip of coronavirus’ was taken.
Owing to the lockdown imposed in the face of the unforeseen pandemic, COVID-19, the Nav-Durga Sadhana event was conducted virtually. Following the detailed sadhana instructions shared before the event by Swamiji, each morning devotees invoked Ma Durga in her specific manifestation of the day with Divine Tantric Mantras, which formed the core of the japa (chanting) worship. A devotee humbly shared her feeling complete for the first time in worshipping Mother Divine, her deity, and Om Swami, her Guru, whom she hasn’t yet met in person.
The evening worship mandated a fire offering or Yagna. Om Swami himself performed a yagna every evening at the Ashram. Hundreds of devotees followed him and performed the yagna ritual to perfection in their assigned sanctified ritual spaces within their homes. Leading the sadhana, he stressed upon keeping the process very simple so that the devotees focused their entire attention on their devotion to Divine Mother and not be anxious about the rituals involved.
A couple, married for 17 years, shared the newfound completeness they experienced in their marriage. For the very first time, they discovered the joy in taking a sankalpa together and immersed themselves in chanting, following all the rituals of the Divine yajna in their home. This was also the first time when the wife, whose life had always revolved around her family, was doing something for herself. The sadhana, they stated in gratitude, had helped them grow spiritually and closer as a couple.
Swamiji shared that this Nav-Durga Yagna was to happen at the Ashram with all devotees being present. But with the sudden turn of events, it seemed ordained by Sri Hari that he was to conduct this ‘first yagna’ by himself. He also termed the virtual participants of this first yagna as special beings, for they were still able to partake in it.
Some nights, Swamiji revealed sacred mysteries about mantras ‘awakened by him’. Each night culminated with his rendition of the ‘Devi Dhyanam’, a eulogy very close to his heart, leading everyone into a state of blissful transcendence.
On the last day, during the Mahayagna, he explained the tantric significance of the seed mantras chanted during the novena. To everyone’s delight, he also announced the disbursal of the ashes from the yagna as prasadam.
All the devotees who embarked on this nine-day sankalpa observed the days with purity, the right attitude, and, more importantly, with utmost reverence for Mother Divine. Another ardent follower expressed the inexplicable deep connect experienced by her. Worshipping each day and night, celebrating a specific manifestation of Ma Durga led her on an inward journey filled with tranquillity. The nine days, she felt, were symbolic of a lifetime of blessings.
Everyone expressed unceasing gratitude for this spiritual experience. As the flames of the yagna fire leapt higher, it seemed like Mother Divine accepted their prayers and oblations. With each passing night, devotees immersed themselves more deeply in their reverence to the supreme consciousness. A regular visitor at the Ashram commented that the online event did not seem virtual because she felt the Guru’s live presence while performing the yagna. Though she has done a few of them before, this time, she experienced a subtle bliss-filled immersion with each chant and each offering.
To become aware of new sadhanas, how various sadhanas complement each other and what completes them; to realize the immense power of the Mother in potent mantras, and things sacrosanct for those who wish to pursue the path of Tantra, formed the priceless learnings of this utterly divine experience. Swamiji encouraged everyone to, ‘Aspire to do the sadhna – and to realize that the Goddess is not separate from oneself. Eventually, this will lead seekers to the Supreme reality.’
Everyone is waiting expectantly for the next Nav-Durga Sadhana.
Om Swamiji’s Grace is cascading. His blessings remain.
“May the world move towards a healthier state. Narayani Namostute!