is a time when the ashram is full of people from all over the world. We have about 5000 people doing the Advanced course including people from all over India and also many countries.
Sri Sri goes into silence for the first few days of this annual nine day event. He is phenomenal to hear when he speaks but he’s a sight to behold when he’s silent. The way he appears in the satsang, eyes lowered, moving with relaxed but sharp awareness, completely content within himself. Every move, every step has a graceful flow. He is not just moving silently, he is silence itself in motion. He ascends the stage, takes his seat and, still without looking at the vast crowd who is fixated on his every move, closes his eyes.
If you’ve ever taken the advanced course, you know that in silence, the integral elements of your personality that you so dearly identify with start falling off. You are not talking, which is what you do most of the other days; your daily routine involves yoga and meditation for the most part, which is also an unusual lifestyle; you are on a very different diet than you normally have; because you are not doing much else, thoughts and mental activity slows down and you sink into deeper layers of your identity – all these things put together for just a few days produce an experience that goes far beyond the image you so far had about yourself.
In satsangs on other days, Sri Sri comes on stage, waves to the crowd who cheers his arrival, takes his seat and asks, “How are you all?” None of that during these days of silence. The personality is taken off and kept aside to reveal raw presence. He keeps his eyes closed through the satsang and then, as silently as He came, retraces His steps and leaves without ceremony.
His first words, after a few days as he opens his silence, drives the crowd into excited cheers. He usually speaks very little but that is enough to cause hysteria. The next few days are marked by homas or elaborate vedic ceremonies
, which include hours and hours of chanting by priests with occasional offerings in the sacrificial fire. Sri Sri has explained that these are not random rituals but a process to invoke the Divine Energy
from the subtlest space element through air, fire and finally, encapsulate it in the water element with the help of mantras. Experiment and research in the last few decades show that water absorbs sound vibrations but these ancient rituals not only know but utilize this property of water for a very specific purpose. The evening satsangs get more and more celebrative – side effects of advanced course sadhana coupled with subtle effects of the chanting. These days of Navratri also see heavy rain and thunder in the ashram every year. Peculiarly, surrounding areas may or may not receive this rainfall.
The ceremonies reach a crescendo on the eighth day with Chandi homa. Bringing the formless Divine Energy into a form is a very intense and extraordinary process. Though It is unseen and invisible, this Energy in the environment is very palpable during Chandi Homa. The ceremony culminates with Sri Sri sprinkling the mantra charged water on the gathering after having been anointed with it. It carries on long past normal lunch hours and years ago Sri Sri would serve lunch himself to all the guests afterwards.
The tenth day is the day of victory, Vijaya Dashami. The story associated with Navratri is that the demons grew strong and began oppressing the gods. The gods prayed to the Goddess who appeared and slayed the demons, all different kinds of them. The significance of this in real life is that different kinds of demons like dullness, ego, extreme argumentativeness etc., which are aspects of our personality, often overshadow our virtues, the gods. Just like there is a systematic process to invoke Divinity in the elements of nature outside, it is possible to invoke Her within yourself too. And when She rises, She prevails over all shortcomings and Her presence brings supreme fulfillment. Your life is the canvas on which this story is played out and it is quite worthwhile to nourish a desire to have a direct experience of Divinity. A mother cannot stay away for long when her child calls.