The latest in the series of two-weekly Friday evening Satsangs, given on 20th November 2020, and hosted by Mandala Yoga Ashram.
Swami Nishchalananda gave this online satsang and guided meditation on Friday evening, October 16th, just before the start of Navaratri. The following is his explanation of this celebration, and recommendations for mantras and chants during the period.
NavaRatri starts next Saturday 17 th October and ends on Monday 25 th October (depending on the
tradition and parts of India there are different dates, mantras and rituals; some celebrations are very elaborate over the nine days; below we have given a streamlined version). Navaratri literally means ‘Nine Nights’. It is celebrated every year all over India and elsewhere in the world among Hindus as well as many yoga practitioners. It is a celebration of the Goddess, the cosmic energy (known as Durga, Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswati and countless other names). This energy creates, sustains and destroys the universe, including everyone and everything in it.
Navaratri is based on the lunar calendar and comes just after amarvasya (new moon) in the month of Ashwin. (It is also known as Durga Puja, especially in Bengal and Bihar etc., celebrating Durga’s victory over Mahishasura, the buffalo demon, who symbolises blind ignorance, especially spiritual ignorance).
I would like us to join together in participating
in this celebration. I propose the following mantras
(which I have greatly simplified, but which,
nevertheless, will be enormously effective),
together with the corresponding dates:
The mantras are as follows:
Durga Sat/Sun/Mon 17, 18 & 19 Oct
Lakshmi Tues/Wed/Thurs 20, 21 & 22 Oct
Saraswati Fri/Sat/Sun 23, 24 & 25 Oct
Om Dum Durgayai Namaha
Om Shrim Lakshmyai Namaha
Om Aim Saraswatyai Namaha
The last day, the tenth day, is known as Dashmi, Dussehra (Hindi) or Vijayadashmi. (It also celebrates Rama’s victory over Ravana). On this tenth day, you are invited to chant Om Namah Shivaya.
OR, if you wish, you can chant the 32 names of Durga throughout the nine days (see at the end of this message).
Note: Divali or Deepavali comes this year on the 14 Nov (based on lunar calendar it comes on the 15 th day of the lunar month of Kartik on the amarvasya, or new moon). This is the Festival of Lights which symbolises Enlightenment.
The 32 Names of Durga:
OM Durga Durgartishamani Durgapadvinivarini
Durgamacchedini Durgasadhini Durganashini
Durgatoddharini Durganihantri Durgamapaha
Durgama Durgamaloka Durgamatmaswarupini
Durgamargaprada Durgamavidya Durgamashreeta
Durgamoha Durgamaga Durgamarthaswarupini
Durgama surasamhantri Durgamayudhadharini
Durgamangi Duramata Durgamya Durameshwari
Durgabhima Durgabhama Durgabha Durgadarini
(In my opinion, the sound vibration is more important than the meaning, but you will find the meaning on page 82 of the Ashram publication ‘Mantra Yoga and Ashram Chants’)
An online satsang given on the evening of Friday 9th October, 2020
After a poignant rendition of Maha Mrityun Jaya Mantra, chanted for those who need healing, Swamiji responded to a question from someone who had been reading the Markardeya Purana. The Puranas are ancient text that use a story form, often to convey some wisdom from that time. This text contains a discussion on the theory of the ‘Yugas’ or epochs of time lasting many thousands of years. In the satsang Swamiji explains how this model depicts a progression though ages where the Knowledge of the Self is foremost, through to the age of ‘Kali Yuga’ where people live as if such knowledge is completely absent and utter selfishness rules.
Swami Nishchalananda gave this satsang via Zoom on Friday evening, 25th September
The themes in this session were driven by people’s questions. The first one was asking for tips on surviving the see-saw regulations being imposed on us during the coronavirus ‘Pandemic’.
A commentary on the Ishavasya Upanishad by Swami Nishchalananda on Friday 28th of August. This was Swamiji’s usual Friday evening online get-together with people from Europe and the UK, organised by Mandala Yoga Ashram.
This Upanishad starts with the Shanti Path (Invocation of Peace), Om Purnamadaha – for a translation and to hear this wonderful chant, here’s a link to a post on this blog from earlier in the year.
A commentary on Verse 16 of Chapter 2 from the Bhagavad Gita by Swami Nishchalananda, extracted from a longer online transmission given to a group of people from Europe and the UK.
Swami Nishchalananda studied with his teacher, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, in India for 14 years and during that time explored the rich history of Yoga and Tantra in the land of their origin. The Bhagavad Gita is an astonishing text. It doesn’t matter whether it narrates a historical event or whether it is allegorical myth; the Wisdom expressed is profound. The translation Swamiji is using is that of Swami Sivananda Saraswati, the Teacher and Guru of Swami Satyananda.
The Process of Spiritual life, it’s really just a process of more and more identifying with this Conscious Presence….. the fact that we are Conscious
An online satsang given by Swami Nishchalananda to participants worldwide, 31 July 2020
Even if a sense is cut off you can still perceive through the subtle medium of that sense. This is the basis of using the senses inwards, just think of what happens in dreaming. But from the perspective of Conscious Presence what is outside is outside but also what we considered to be inside, mind emotions and feelings, they are also outside.
This is the mystery, if we go deeper, that nothing is outside of consciousness.
‘Michael McCann is Ireland’s preeminent Yoga Philosophy Teacher. A profound presence with his wise and heart-felt teachings. He has inspired so many with his limitless wisdom.’Saol Beo, Ireland
Actually… the day before. On a Friday evening the day before Swami Nishchalananda’s birthday we again got together with people from around Europe and the UK courtesy of online videoconferencing platform Zoom. We started with a rousing, and raucous, rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to you’. Set the atmosphere for a session underpinned with a feeling of love and affection. Nice.
Of his birthday, Swamiji said that anyone’s birthday is an opportunity to re-affirm the mystery of our life…. to come back to the basics with regard to our way of thinking, feeling, doing…. look at ways in which they block the natural unfolding of our realisation of conscious presence.
Then a question, one of the big ones…. ‘Is there a conscious presence even when there is no-one to perceive it?’
As individuals, we are expressions which come out of Conscious Presence.Swami Nishchalananda
There’s a discussion regarding the way we’ve taken the description of Reality given via the materialistic paradigm taught to us as children, and the fact that now some branches of Science put consciousness at the centre of their paradigm (e.g. especially Quantum Physics).
Further to the discussion of Consciousness as the centre of our life, Swamiji also points out that we also have our Personalities which are expressions of our uniqueness as human beings, but we can get stuck in repetitive ways of acting and feeling, and that can cause us problems.
Spirituality, Yoga, doesn’t mean we have to reject our personality. It just means that we have to get a feeling for that which underlies that personality.
The last of the Friday morning Web-based Q&A sessions (they are moving to Friday evenings) started as usual with a guided meditation on the Chakras to develop awareness the ‘spaciousness from which everything arises’.
The satsang responded to questions from participants in the UK and Europe, and one of the biggest issues naturally, is the dramatic changes brought about by the ‘lockdown’ in many countries around the World. Swami Nishchalananda raised the issue of honesty; saying there is so much potential now that the World could be destroyed by people with power; it’s crucial that we look for honesty both in ourselves, and in those to whom we give political power.