Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India
Today the only thing observed in Navratre is food-fast for nine days and most of us either do not eat anything or eat only limited food during these days.
Fast does not mean ‘not eating’. Rather it basically means controlling the desires and simultaneously cultivating positive mental attitudes. Desires can be of many types. Desires to eat tasty food, desires to smell, desire to listen to a particular music, desire to watch beautiful things, etc.
Fast therefore can be of many types. Food fast means controlling the desires for food items which you otherwise may not resist to eat. Eye fast means, not watching things which are Rajsic in nature. Ear fast means avoiding listening to Rajsic (stimulating) music. Action fast means not indulging into activities which stimulates and creates Rajsic thoughts in the mind, and speech fast means not speaking anything evil, etc.
The next three days, after the negativity in the mind has been reduced, involves building positivity in the mind by way of various positive mental exercises. These involve mixing up with people, sharing, giving, donating, socializing, reception, etc. Cultivating an opposite thought to a negative thought in the mind is the easiest way of tackling the negative thought. Calling all the people you know during these three days helps in creating social health.
The same was taught by Gandhi Ji as “ do not see evil, do not hear evil and do not speak evil”
The last three days involves reading and understanding good scriptures and learning from the sins of others.
Once you have concurred 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 spiritual knowledge (representing Saraswati). During these last three days a person is purified enough to understand and grasp the knowledge of ‘Self’ and to understands 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 is complete, the person acquires inner happiness which is nothing but one’s exposure or appointment with the true self or the consciousness ( Rama). That is what Dusshera is with killing of Tamas (Kumbhakarana), Rajas ( Meghnath) and ego (Ravana).
And the birth of consciousness is equivalent to being in touch with birth of Lord Rama which is called “Ramnavmi”. Hence we should celebrate Ramnavmi as a disciplined way of acquiring internal happiness and not as a forced nine days of fasting.
The same interpretation lies in the Navratre ending up with Dusshera the win over the ego and attaining inner happiness.