This article is a chapter from the book The Devi Mahatmya.
India now celebrates after the achievement of Her long-cherished goal of Independence, the nine-day worship of the Divine Mother—the Durga Puja. It is important for all to know and rightly understand the real spirit and significance of this worship so that tangible spiritual and material benefit of a lasting character may be derived by everyone to a maximum extent.
Rightly understood, the method of this worship shows you the true way to lead the divine life. It teaches you to live in such a way as to make your life a real and practical worship and adoration of the Divine Mother. It reveals the secret of rising from darkness, untruth and mortality unto the grand realm of light, truth and everlasting life.
The three aspects of the Devi Puja are Goodness, Prosperity and Knowledge. Goodness reveals the Truth; Prosperity ushers in happiness; and Knowledge precedes the dawn of intuition and leads you to the goal of Satchidananda. To strive to bring about these three above-mentioned factors into the life of mankind constitutes the real invocation and adoration of the Divine Mother who is manifest in every form of humanity.
Ritualistic or ceremonial worship is no doubt good, but it is the living worship that truly transforms and spiritualises you more quickly and leads you on to the highest realisation. To consecrate the Divine Mother in the holy altar of your heart, to manifest Her Divine Power within and to live to serve and do good to all is the best and the dynamic way to adore and worship the Divine Mother, Durga.
To invoke the Goddess Lakshmi, you have to try ceaselessly to bring prosperity into the lives of all. Its significance is to be large-hearted and generous, charitable and kind. The Sadhaka will have to strive hard to remove the pain and sorrow and bring happiness to all as per his capacity. Those who are monetarily gifted, to them I would ask to open free dispensaries for the poor patients, feeding centres for the destitutes, to educate the illiterate and to aid and encourage through every means to increase the wealth of the country; for where prosperity and happiness prevail, there alone Goddess Lakshmi is more easily propitiated.
Now, to manifest the Goddess Sarasvati you have to educate yourself first. You have to become a flood of light, and thereby you should radiate the Divine Knowledge to everyone. Such sincere aspirants can go to the slums and backward, illiterate localities and give free lessons on secular and spiritual matters as well. As such you can offer the grandest and worthiest form of worship to Devi Sarasvati.
The message of Navaratri is a call to purity, plenty and wisdom. Where wisdom and virtue combine and become livingly manifest, there we have the Divine Life. Therefore, you should strive your best to grow in spirituality and aspire fervently to usher in an era of living purity, of dynamic virtue and of practical wisdom.
All hail to such living worship! and all hail to such cosmic worshippers!! May the blessings of the Divine Mother usher in peace, plenty and prosperity to everyone’s life!