“A million things in the universe have to align to make a moment possible.”, Om Swami once wrote.
The Navdurga Sadhana 2023 was undoubtedly one of those moments. This year the misty valley, and frequent rains during the Navratras, gave the devotees of Mother Divine a glimpse of how Swamiji’s stint of solitude in the middle of the Himalayas would have been. Rainy, divine and blissful.
And so it began, for the third time, in 2023. It had initially begun in 2020, whereby Om Swami conducted the sadhana on His own physically, while devotees joined Him virtually through their laptop screens due to the pandemic. The yagna was in the evening, after sunset. When He conducted it physically at the ashram, as an event, in 2022, the timings were similar. However, this year, Mother Divine worship would be done a bit differently. During these nine divine days, devotees would chant their mantras (Japa) in the evening, and this would be followed by an elaborate Yagya with Om Swami during the early hours of the next morning, at 5.30 am to be exact. With a schedule similar to the Sri Suktam Sadhana held just a few months earlier, the worship of Mother Divine throughout the nine glorious days was off to a great start.
Will a Nav Durga sadhana yagna happen again? Only time would tell, but for now, sadhaks from India and around the world gathered for several days of bliss, whereby they would immerse themselves in the remembrance of Divine Mother. The potency of the sadhana was only to be increased as it would be performed in the presence of one of the most loved living entities in current times, their Guru, Om Swami.
Jaya jaya japya jayejaya shabda ,
Parastuti tatpara vishvanute ,
Bhana Bhanabhinjimi bhingrutha noopura,
Sinjitha mohitha bhootha pathe,
Nadintha nataartha nadi nada nayaka,
Naditha natya sugaanarathe,
Jaya Jaya Mahishasura mardini ,
Ramya kapardini, shaila Suthe.
Victory and victory to you,
Oh darling daughter of the mountain,
Oh Goddess, whose victory is sung,
By the whole universe,
Which is interested in singing her victory,
Oh Goddess, who attracts the attention of Lord Shiva,
By the twinkling sound made by her anklets,
While she is engaged in dancing,
Oh Goddess, who gets delighted,
By the dance and drama of versatile actors,
Even while she is half of Lord Shiva’s body,
Oh Goddess, who has captivating braided hair,
Who is the daughter of a mountain,
And who is the slayer of Mahishasura.
This specific verse from the beautiful Mahishasur Mardini hymn of Divine Mother would resonate at 5.25 am across the peaks of the mountains as Om Swami gracefully made His way every morning, from 23rd March to 31st March, down to the yagyashala, by the banks of river Giri. The beautiful river Giri flowed gracefully, the exotic birds chirping, the living and the non-living beings, the Siddhas, the seen, the unseen, all present in the moment, none of whom could contain their joy. The joy was palpable and one-of-a-kind, noticeable if only one were to stand still and listen. The excitement in the depth of the Himalayas, including that of the devotees at Sri Badrika ashram, was at its peak.
The daughter of the mountains lived on this land, The Goddess – Mother Divine, whom everyone would worship in just a few moments, with their beloved Om Swami. She would surely come because, at the fervent cry of Her child, the Mother rushes forth, He once said.
Over the years, it has almost become a tradition that, during each sadhana, Om Swami emphasises the importance and principles of sadhana.
“It’s incredible how much Sadhana can give you.” “This Nav Durga sadhana is a very potent one. It’s one sadhana which I have benefited immensely from. […] It’s unlimited Her grace, what She can do, and it’s immeasurable to even comprehend the extent to which one can transform one’s life with Her grace.”
These encouraging words of truth-filled the physical and virtual devotees with hope, determination and reverence. They also listened with rapt attention, as Swamiji explained that every sadhana almost always depends on one’s focus, reverence, devotion, as well as our intention and conduct.
“If your conduct is not in line with the conduct of the deity, then you are unlikely to realise the essence of the deity. You’re unlikely to absorb the energy from that deity. The ultimate goal of sadhana is to become the one you pray to, the one you look forward. And that only happens when there is no difference between your view of life and the view of life of the deity.” He added.
Swamiji also explained that it’s why we read the scriptures: to understand the view of our deity. The yagnas usually began with words of wisdom and encouragement from Swamiji as He addressed the eager devotees ready to perform the yagna every morning, physically, virtually or mentally. After offering utmost respects to all divine beings, including one’s guru, the Siddhas and the Gods, the preliminary fire offerings began.
The Nav Durga sadhana yagna consisted of worshipping Mother Divine, with fire offerings using the main mantra of the day, the Navarna mantra, the tantric mantra of the day. It was completed with Bhairavi puja – 108 offerings to Lord Shiva.
During the second yagna, He emphasised the tantric mantra of Maa Brahmacharini and expounded on the power of speech. He explained how using this mantra; we pray to Mother Divine to come and reside at the tip of our tongue – to enable us to remain in harmony with the elements of Nature. Wisdom flowed from Swamiji, as He further shared that the tip of the tongue cannot gather any taste and based on that, if we are not attached to the taste (desires), we can then remain situated in the truth.
He also made a reference that the tantric mantra of Maa Chandraghanta was one of His many awakened mantras—a sadhana which He plans to write about in the future.
As the yagnas progressed, the chanting of numerous mantras echoed through the yagnashala, with Swamiji’s deep voice, accompanied by hundreds of devotees, every day. The presence of Mother Divine was noticeable as the beautiful Divine energy gained momentum through the yagna. During the offerings of the Navarna mantra, the yagnashala was throbbing with Her presence as the fire in each kunda came alive. The fragrance, the love, the devotion and the reverence filled the atmosphere. The birds of the Himalayas wouldn’t remain unnoticed during these nine mornings, for they made their presence known through their continuous chirping. Perhaps, after all, it was their attempt to be part of these nine divine yagnas.
Yagnas are potent, and although the physical ones are the most practised types of yagnas so far, Swamiji confirmed that a physical yagna isn’t the only way to experience Her grace and presence. Even if virtual participants (through the Sadhana App) may not have experienced the fragrance in the air or the joy of making offerings to the physical fire, He said that the focus required during the mental worship within the Sadhana App was intense and unique. With immense conviction, He guaranteed every one of the online attendees that they would be flushed with unearthly bliss and joy as soon as each yagna was completed in the Sadhana app. This is a statement that devotees could confirm after experiencing this unique feeling in their homes.
Every morning, the devotees would feel peaceful and soaked with devotion as Swamiji sang the beautiful Devi stuti to mark the completion of the yagna. The sound of the beautiful ode of nine verses resounding across the mountains and the river was a soothing balm for each living entity present at that moment. A sense of calmness diffused through the air, the fire within each yagna kund became tranquil, and the soft breeze touched each devotee. The energy within the yagyashala could unquestionably be described as Mother Divine gently taking each child in her lap and comforting them, something every participant knew would be felt consecutively for nine days. Possibly afterwards, too.
The Divine Mother’s love could also be felt through the words of Swamiji. On the third day, participants struggled to contain their joy and gratitude as Swamiji shared how unreal it felt to Him that He was performing these collective yagnas and sadhanas with all the lovely people present. It left everyone pensive as they heard their beloved Swamiji add that maybe one day, in another lifetime, although they would not know why, they may feel an inexplicable wave fill their entire being with bliss, love and joy. Their soul would know that it’s from something magnanimous, like these sadhanas, which they would have been part of.
On 30th March, the day of Ram Navami, Raghu Swamiji, who usually remains with Sri Hari in the temple, also walked down to the yagnashala with Swamiji. It was a sight to behold as Swamiji elegantly made His way, followed by Vidya Swamiji and Raghu Swamiji. That day, Swamiji shared His love and gratitude for Raghu Swamiji’s service. Raghu Swamiji sat and listened to his praises with utmost devotion, humility and a wide smile. Swamiji also emphasised how He never forgets any sewa done for Him and remembers it eternally. During the last yagna, as more yajmanas joined, Her grace was palpable through the rain and expectant atmosphere across the mountains and the flowing Giri.
“We cannot pray to Mother Divine without Her permission.”
With that statement, Swamiji gave hope to many. Here they were, worshipping Divine Mother, which was Her will too. Sadhanas of Mother Divine were only possible with Her grace, with Her permission, and sadhanas could help us purify ourselves, as Swamiji would state again and again.
“Tendencies can only be eradicated with diligent prolonged, and genuine effort. Each step we take towards it is going to bring us some benefit. I just hope that you never give up. If you don’t give up, you will benefit in unimaginable ways. Do whatever you will; just don’t give up. Whenever you feel like giving up, just tell yourself ‘a little bit more today’ How I feel tomorrow, I’ll see to it tomorrow. Today is not the time to give up.”
The nine yagnas came to an end but these motivating words by Swamiji encouraged everyone never to give up, and to keep walking the path one step at a time. And then one fine day, one single call would be enough for Her to come. As He said:
“If there is reverence, if there is sincerity, if there is devotion, then one call is enough; Dwarka isn’t too far then.”
After the final yagna, with the rain drizzling and the clouds lower than usual across the peaks, Swamiji walked up the slopes, leaving everyone soaked in the blissful energy of Mother Divine, with the zeal to perform more sadhanas, with focus and discipline in the future. They knew they should never give up until the day that just one call was enough. The day that She would come. The day they all wait for.