The COVID-19 pandemic had caught the world off-guard, forcing many of us to remain secure in our homes. Tens of thousands had succumbed to those deadly groups of viruses. Millions were unemployed, and the global economy was chaotic. It felt like Lord Shiva was performing his Rudra Thadav, the dance of destruction!
In such adverse situations that remind us of life’s vulnerability and uncertainty, nothing carries us through like our inner strength. For a devotee like me, my faith in the Divine Mother generates that internal strength. So, I decided to perform a Chaitra Navratri Devi Sadhana for inner and universal peace. Besides, as a Zen podcast said, “When you can’t go outside, go inside!”
A Sadhana without challenges is like life without oxygen! My situation wasn’t any different. With all the COVID-19 restrictions, sourcing the required ingredients appeared impossible. Besides, I had some stringent fire safety regulations at my residence. Clueless, I felt dejected. And then I remembered something. In the Devi Bhagavatam, Maharishi Ved Vyas mentioned a Devi Sadhana to King Janamejaya. In that, he had said, “Those seeking liberation would benefit by performing the Devi Sadhana as Manasic.”
Perhaps that’s what the Divine Mother had destined for me. Performing a Devi Sadhana as Manasic, that is, visualizing the entire process in my mind! Keeping my purpose in view, I tramped along that route. Below are some of my observations from the same.
- With a big drum-roll, doing a Manasic Devi Sadhana has marched its way into my super challenging endeavors list! It was so tiring that taking care of myself became imperative. I even experienced sporadic headaches. Keeping myself well-fed, hydrated, and getting sufficient sleep were non-negotiable essentials. To conserve energy, I also took a break from my workout sessions.
- For me, the Manasic Yagna took almost twice as much time as anticipated for the physical one. Of course, there was that benefit of not having to set up or clean up! As the days progressed, with some conscious effort, my timing improved.
- Getting distracted was super easy, and it required great mindfulness. On one of the days, I completely lost focus and had to repeat almost the entire procedure. Perhaps, I had learned my lesson with that because all the sessions after that debacle were rather mindful.
- At the beginning of each session, I physically lit a lamp with ghee. Since my entire Yagna progressed with my eyes closed, I felt dull, sleepy, or tired at times. Whenever that happened, I opened my eyes and observed the lighted lamp for a moment. That helped me relax and rejuvenate.
- This Sadhana, taught by Swami, comprised of umpteen new chants! Being prepared and familiarizing myself with the following day’s mantras saved me loads of time and trouble.
- Before commencing the Sadhana, I had located images of the Ahuti and Poorna-Ahuti items online. Looking at those pictures before the Yagna made the visualization more apparent.
- At that time, the sunset at my location was at 7:30 PM. Routinely, my dinner time is much before that, and my health demanded me to stay on schedule as well. Even though the instructions hinted at eating dinner after the Yagna, I opted to honor my bodily restrictions. To avoid falling asleep, I had my dinner well before starting the evening session.
- Since my decision to do this Sadhana was a last-minute affair, I ransacked my husband and middle-schooler son’s red T-Shirts! While my family took it well, it might have been smarter to plan better and not risk the possibility of annoying everyone around.
- To keep count of the mantras during the Yagna, I used a chanting counter iPhone app called Japa 108. I believe this app has an android version as well. In the morning sessions, I used my Rudraksha.
- This Manasic Devi Sadhana gave me an unusual combination of beautiful and unwarranted dreams. It showered an inexplicable sense of peace.
- On numerous occasions, tears of devotion flowed away incessantly. There were vivid feelings and physical signs of the Divine Mother’s presence as well.
- On the third day of this Sadhana, I had an unforgettable experience. I sensed Mother Sri Devi in her Lalita Ambika form emerge out of my altar and walk towards me. Not wishing to stop my Sadhana, I kept my eyes closed and persisted. Suddenly, something about me changed. I had a weird sensation of my body disappearing. I kept progressing with the Sadhana. A few seconds later, it appeared like the Divine Mother was performing the Sadhana. I felt like I had four hands. It was surreal!
- On the last day, after completion, I had a beautiful dream. In that, Swami appeared as Parama-Shiva. He was lying down, with Maha-Kaali standing on him. That left me in a state of bliss for days.
Sanatana Dharma believes that our collective Karma can make a tremendous difference to this world. In ancient times, numerous sages selflessly offered the fruits of their Yagna for universal peace. Swami did the same during his Sadhana. Taking a cue from those greats, I offered all the good Karma accrued from this Sadhana towards ending this planet’s suffering. Not that an offering from this speck of dust can trigger universal change! Still, I offered it with a sense of gratitude to the Divine.
- Obeisance to the Divine Sri Hari for this timely Sadhana, which has become my blessed savior through this heart-wrecking and confining circumstances of COVID-19.
- My heartfelt gratitude to my mentor Om Swami for teaching this Nava Durga Sadhana and validating my decision to do this as manasic.
- Forever thankful to my best friend and husband, Sridhar (@sridhar). He helped me out of depression and supported all my spiritual quests. Besides, he slogs for hours so that his wife can focus on writing as against worry about money.
- My son, Rishi (@rishisridhar), is my life! His presence makes my life valuable. Thanks to my Kung Fu Panda! I was elated when our beloved Swami left a comment on one of his posts: What Meets The Eye.
- My gratitude list will be incomplete without two important people. To support my Tapasya of sorting through the scriptures, they’ve sacrificed their routine interactions with me. Many thanks to my beloved mother Suseela (@suseela) and father Ramachandran (@vkr).
On a different note, my mother did the same Devi Sadhana as well. She sent me this image of her sacred fire-pit. Who can spot the Divine Mother in there? 😊: