Around a time when we are celebrating Goddess Durga through Navaratri and Durga Puja, perhaps it is time we reminded ourselves of the true worth and potential of the girl child. As parents, uncles & aunts, brothers, teachers to young girls, we must delve into Mother Durga’s life, and seek lessons on how to treat women, why they are so vital to our very existence, and how to bring up girl children.
Read more about: Celebrating the Hindu Festival of Navaratri
Given the times we are living in and going through, we can only look to our revered Guruji, and each other to learn how to endure, overcome and lead a righteous, fulfilling life. Over the past few days, I have been exceptionally focused on Mother Durga. Her appearance, her characteristics, her qualities, her stories and ultimately her teachings; and this is what I have learned:
9 Lessons from Mother Durga this Navaratri
The end is just the beginning.
Durga, stands for both destruction and creation. This symbolizes that the end of something is not necessarily a bad thing. It also signals new beginnings and regeneration.
Hard work and patience go hand in hand.
Mother Durga’s second manifestation, Brahmacharini, went through years of penance to achieve her goal. According to different versions of her myths, the maiden resolves to marry Shiva. Her parents learn of her desire, discourage her, but she pursues what she wants and did tapasya for about 5000 years. She walked on barefoot and did several thousands of years of penance by living only on flowers and fruits, then later only leaves and stopped even that eventually, living on mere air. Her hard work was her patience.
Change is the prerequisite of survival amidst adversities.
Goddess Durga transformed herself into many avatars depending on the situation. She would transform into the best version of herself, required for that particular situation. Just like the mother, we too must transform amidst adversities so we can be the best versions of ourselves in every situation we face.
Power is both external and internal.
Durga stands for determination and perseverance. Her strength lies not in just wielding a sword, but also in her vigilance. We too, should not only be positive and strong in our words and actions, but more so in our thoughts, ideas, values and morals.
It’s vital to cleanse one’s soul every once in a while.
The eight manifestation of Durga, Mahagauri stands for purity. She bathed in the Mansarovar River to cleanse herself.
- Stand barefoot on the earth for a while, take a walk through nature, exercise, take deep breaths, meditate, do japa and seva.
Real power comes from helping others
Durga destroyed the evil Mahishasura & Chanda-Munda who were sent to wreck Devaloka (she came to be known as Chamunda). In the celebration of Vijayadashmi, we celebrate the triumph of a Goddess. A female in the victory of Good over Evil – help others, especially women. Not only in the form of giving alms, but also in showing support in something as big as standing in solidarity for women empowerment and as small as doing the housework etc.
You can be both fierce and compassionate
Durga destroyed, she was able to accomplish what no other could, but she did it to protect others. She portrayed her fierce side out of love and compassion for others.
- To the elders of a girl child, when she is being stubborn and feisty and won’t give up, that’s Durga. Instead of scolding or getting upset with her, remind her of the mother’s compassion and love too.
Sacrifice for the greater good, but also be true to yourself.
One of Durga’s most important characteristics is her magnanimity and love for others. She was not afraid to sacrifice herself for others – but she did it in her own way by her own choice and in doing so, stayed true to herself.
Strength, courage and compassion pave the road to success.
Durga wields a trishul that represents the power of the trinity – strength, courage and compassion. With a combination of these qualities, one can overcome any hurdle.
To conclude: Let us consciously choose instead, to take inspiration from Durga’s own life and develop a genuine understanding, appreciation, and respect for the girl child. For if there wasn’t Mother Durga, there would be no universe and none of us in existence.
*extracted from a discourse rendered by myself on 19/10/2020 at the Maha Shakti Chandi Durga Temple in Durban.