On Sunday the 21st, we will do a Sudarshana Chakra Yajna, which is rare to find and very powerful, at the Gayatri Temple in Portland, OR. See the link under Chanting Groups, below right.
Navaratri begins on September 30. This is the opening evening of the Nine Nights of the Great Goddess, which is followed by a fire ceremony on the tenth night. The mantras for this month will bring you the most powerful protection.
In late September, I will be at Keene, NH, and at Kripalu in Western Massachusetts. In October I will be in Chicago, Los Angeles, and British Columbia.
| Durga and Chamundi - The Power of Protection|
Humanity is growing spiritually and will become a divine species when all our lessons have been learned. But as we grope our way along, we are sometimes bothered by things that frighten us.
- Have you even been in a parking lot in an unsavory part of town at night and you are just the slightest bit nervous? I have.
- Have you ever been in your own home and seen something just out of the corner of your eye that made you feel uneasy, but when you turned toward it there was nothing there? I have.
- Have you ever had dreams that caused you agitation, even upon waking, because of someone or something you encountered in the dream? I have.
It is in circumstance like this that I use mantras to invoke the protective powers of the great feminine forces of Durga or Chamundi.
Here is a story about how Durga came into being and defeated the most powerful forces of evil.
While Narayana was sleeping, just after he had created Brahma (who would soon start the process of creating the etheric universe through Saraswati,) two demons, named Madhu and Kataibha, emerged from Narayana's ear. Quickly testing their strength, they were about to attack Brahma, when he pleaded with Narayana to awaken. Whereupon a feminine part of Narayana - Lakshmi - emerged and asked Brahma why he was supplicating Narayana. Brahma pointed to the two demons and pleaded for protection. The divine feminine image turned to the demons and hearing their request to be banished to a far point in the universe rather than be destroyed, she sent them far, far away. Of course she knew that the evil would return one day.
Many thousands of cycles later, one of those two demons, Mahi Asura, who performed a great spiritual discipline that resulted in gains of unconquerable strength, armed with terrible might engaged some of the celestials in battle to test his prowess. He was easily victorious. Sensing he had a chance to establish a foothold in all parts of the celestial spheres, Mahi Asura led the rest of the demons in war upon the celestial forces and defeated an army lead by Indra (just as Saraswati said he would at the time of Brahma's marriage to Gayatri.)
One by one, Mahi Asura took over jobs usually performed by the celestials. He gained rulership of the moon; he became ruler of the eight cardinal directions, including the Northerly direction where Kubera ruled over certain kinds of wealth. Forced to flee, the celestials were finally forced to the Earth plane, where they disguised themselves as ascetics and hermits, and disappeared into the crowd of general humanity. Secretly, so as not to be discovered by the demon forces, they took their case first to Vishnu and then to Shiva who is always unbiased in conflicts surrounding celestials and demons.
At the Celestial Council, Indra spoke first. "Oh, compassionate one who is revered by all, due to your selfless dedication to the benefit of all, we need your help." He felt great respect for Vishnu who had made good his pledge on more than one occasion to aid him in his job as chief of the celestials.
Varuna also spoke. "This Mahi Asura fellow has gained great power from someplace. He does not seem like just another tiresome fellow with wicked ways and insatiable appetites. He has something more . . . " His words trailed off, as he attempted to put into words what his intuition was shouting to his mind.
Vishnu, ever attentive to the needs of the celestials, asked if any more information was available. To this purpose, it was Lakshmi, instead, who spoke, "Many cycles ago, when the universe was so young that expansion had not yet begun, I encountered one who bears a striking resemblance to this Mahi Asura fellow." She paused for a moment, and Vishnu enquired further, "Can you give us any information pertaining to the extent of his power?" he asked. "I cannot," replied Lakshmi. "When I first met him, he was just an ordinary troublemaker who entreated me to let him live. I could not refuse. In a sense, I am somewhat responsible for the present state of affairs."
"Not at all, most regal one," said Indra, who was still exceedingly fond of Lakshmi, even though she had chosen Vishnu over him, "Your most compassionate nature would not allow you to do otherwise. Besides, how could you know that somehow he would gain such power?"
Lakshmi smiled and said to Vishnu so that only he could hear, "If they only knew that this was then foreseen . . . " Turning to Indra, Lakshmi spoke more loudly, "Your faith in me is both noble and touching. I can say this much with the authority Narayana has given me: This crisis shall be weathered and you shall prevail. It is up to you to determine how it will be accomplished."
Now it was Vishnu's turn again to comment, "Since he is always impartial in such matters, I suggest we all go to Lord Shiva. As the quintessential consciousness of everything, he will certainly be able to correctly advise us."
The celestials all quickly agreed and without further delay they mounted their respective vehicles and went off toward Kailas Mountain, where Shiva and Parvati dwell in the Himalayas. Arriving in just a few minutes, they were astonished to see Parvati emerging from the cottage she and Shiva shared with a tray full of steaming cups of tea. Smiling broadly, she set the tray down and spread a clean white cloth on the ground for them to sit around. Then without a word, she went into the cottage and returned with another tray filled with more tea, cream and sugar, and a plate piled high with sweets and snacks. "News travels fast in this cosmos," she joked. Then she vanished inside the cottage just as Shiva emerged to join them around the cloth.
"I'm so glad that you all could come, although I wish the circumstances were more pleasant. Tell me, how can I help?" Shiva reached up and stroked the sleepy snake that lay coiled around his neck.
Vishnu spoke for the assembly, "We know that Mahi Asura has accumulated a significant store of spiritual power, but we are unsure of where he got it, or how. Thus, we are at a loss concerning how best to relieve him of it or neutralize it. We beg your counsel."
Going inward for a second, Shiva shifted the focus of his eyes upward for just a flash in time, then back to the group before him. and said, "It was a boon, received from a very powerful source due to a monumental spiritual discipline he completed. His power was a reward."
Vishnu narrowed his eyes and spoke, "But who could have given such a boon? I tell you clearly it was not me. Lakshmi, was it you?"
"Not at all. Once is enough," replied Lakshmi.
"Lord Shiva, it is well known that you are impartial in matters of consciousness, was it you perchance?" Vishnu enquired with respect.
"No, in truth, it was not me. Neither has Parvati dispensed such a powerful boon to anyone. I suspect that it is Brahma you seek." Shiva finished with the revelation, then proceeded, "Here, let us ask him. And with his chin lifted up from his body, and with deep resonance Shiva chanted, "Om Sat Chid Ekam Brahma."
Immediately Brahma appeared before them. "Who is it who calls so beautifully?" said the grandfather of sages.
"It was I, grandfather," replied Shiva. "Please sit; have some tea. We have a question I think only you can answer."
Brahma was pleased at the invitation and noted the august gathering as he stirred sugar into his tea. "My, my, quite a select group we have here. What is the occasion?"
Vishnu cleared his throat and was about to speak when Indra interrupted him, "Lord Brahma, did you give Mahi Asura a boon that granted him great power? He has beaten us all in battles that he, himself, started, and we are reduced to hiding from him lest we experience yet another defeat at his hands. Come tell us, did you aid him?"
Brahma appeared crestfallen, "You did not invite me here to honor me, I can see that. You have some quarrel?" He looked around the group of celestials who sat mute at his question.
Shiva placated the quivering Brahma, lest he say something that would cause them all endless misery. "No one ever has a quarrel with you grandfather. It is just that not having your infinite knowledge of the cosmos, there are times when we have questions that only you can answer. This is one of those times. We only beg your advice. Nothing more."
Brahma, calmed down and poured some cream into his tea, looking at it swirl into the brown mixture. "Looks just like the creation of the universe, if you stir slow enough," he commented, apparently absorbed in the contents of his cup. No one else said so much as a single word. They just waited him out. At length Brahma spoke once more, "Mahi Asura completed one of the most strenuous spiritual disciplines I have ever seen. You all know that whosoever practices such disciplines and austerities shall gain great power through my favor. It is part of the fabric of laws that govern the cosmos. Just because I evaluate various efforts impartially to mete out rewards, do not blame me for this current state of affairs. I don't see any of you performing great spiritual disciplines. I could just as easily have been one of you, but is wasn't, was it?" Brahma did not need to be accusatory. His simple statement of the facts was quite enough.
The silence was palpable as the celestials felt the truth of Brahma's words, and it stung.
"Nonetheless, I will give you some assistance," said Brahma in a sigh of compassion. "The boon I gave Mahi Asura was that no one could defeat him other than a woman. Mahi Asura thought this laughable, and was satisfied in every way."
As moment after moment rolled by, each of the celestials wondered to themselves why none of them had completed a great discipline. In hindsight, it seemed that Indra, at the very least, should have done some kind of discipline. Catching the draft of thought, Indra spoke, "It is my responsibility. I should have completed a great discipline just as Grandfather has said. I apologize to you all. Even though I am constantly engaged in activities for your welfare, I have no excuse. I should have dome something." Indra was not at all pleased with himself, and his face showed it.
"Shiva spoke first, "I, for one, have no complaint, Indra. I have never seen you take days of rest, nor cease in your efforts to lead us and work for our welfare in every way. No, I shall not accept your self-blame."
As if on cue, the rest realized that what Shiva had said was true in complete detail. Because of his necessary activity, it should have been one of the other celestials who undertook a strenuous spiritual discipline.
As the center of attention began to circulate among the group looking for a scapegoat, Shiva spoke again, "Why not combine your forces in some way?"
Vishnu, ever in communion with Lakshmi, noted that it is the feminine nature of things that provides all power, everywhere in the cosmos. Perhaps that might provide a key. Finally, seizing upon the counsel of Shiva and the explanations by Brahma and Vishnu, he suggested that they combine their forces with all the feminine power they have at their disposal. "It is She who weaves the fabric of this creation at every level, said Vishnu. Thus it is to Her we must make our supplication."
" A fire ceremony," said Indra immediately. "We need to perform the most powerful fire ceremony ever seen in this universe. Lord Shiva, may we use your next door valley to perform such a yajna (sacrifice - that sacrifices only part of the ego in the name of something higher)?"
"Of course," replied Shiva. "Parvati, this meets with your approval as well?"
"I wholeheartedly endorse such a ceremony. In fact, I shall prepare certain herbs myself for you to throw into the fire," said Parvati. There was a murmur at this. To have Parvati participate in such a way was a huge blessing and they knew it.
So it was that thirty of the most powerful and influential celestials created a huge fire ceremony in order to regain their rightful places in the order of things. Knowledgeable as they were, they offered all the principles connected with both energy and sound, as well as a deep understanding of the nature of sacred rituals to invoke a powerful force.
· They engaged in Vishatkare - The principle of sacrificial observances.
· They employed Swara - Th ruling principle of sound, both obvious and subtle.
· They invoked Swadha - The ruling principle of power of mantras.
· They practiced Swaha -The invocation and supplication power for mantras.
For many days and nights the fire blazed with each of the celestials contributing something from their own essence into the fire. One by one, a huge burst of energy shot out from the mouth of each of the thirty celestials, melding and combining in dramatic fashion until a feminine form took shape from the combining energy. Soon, a feminine force took shape over the leaping flames, became conscious and discovered her own power.
This increasingly conscious feminine force discovered the power of Shiva was in her face, the power of Vishnu moved into her arms, the power of Brahma surged into her feet, and all other celestials were represented as power in her other parts. She was wondrous, beautiful and terrible to behold, all at the same time. In the Markandaya Purana it is said that the full investure of power in her would take hundreds of pages just to describe in the most brief terms.
Now that her magnificent power had been awakened and taken form the sages, rishis and munis offered classical prayers of supplication, asking for her protection from the demons that had essentially taken over the etheric realm.
Smiling beatifically and brandishing weapons of destruction from many arms, she presented a strange picture of contrasts. When she smiled, a luminous and seductive radiance emanated from her, yet her countenance also contained the unmistakable glint of voracious anticipation of battle.
After several minutes of raging fire, thundering mantras, and potent herbs donated by Parvati, a tiger appeared under her shaking its massive head back and forth. The Tiger easily held the feminine figure on its back, even as it was ever ready and eager for the opportunity to swing a huge paw at something or take a large bite from someone.
Indra spoke for them all, as usual, "Make us victorious, oh Devi - Oh Divine Feminine One, source of all power - Durga who is hard to look at when ready to do battle."
Looking around at the gathered celestials, she spoke for the first time, "Although I was created by your power, combining from your joined efforts, know that I am wholly independent. I will belong to no one. I am the spouse of none of you. To think that I am an instrument of your bidding would be the gravest of mistakes."
"Oh Durga, Chamundi, most powerful of all, we honor your presence among us and offer ourselves as your devotees," improvised Indra with true devotion and a very quick mind. "Knowing that you go wherever you please and do as you will, be merciful to us in our predicament. Since you have emerged from each of us in some way, you know the terrible situation that exists. Pray aid us in defeat of the demons that have wrongfully assumed power in the etheric realms.
Nodding curtly at those present, she whom they called Durga or Chamundi took off into the sky in search of the demons. No further explanation was necessary. What the celestials knew, she also knew.
As Durga approached a camp where the demons were bedding down for the night, they spied her as a blaze of light in the sky. Suspecting some form of counter-attack from the celestials, the demons quickly assembled for battle. As Durga came close, the demons recognize the various powers of the different celestials composing her. Seeing thus, they assumed they would be victorious. They were, of course, quite mistaken.
I will spare you the details of war, since they are the same in any war at any time. Carnage is always carnage. What need have we to glorify destruction, for there are already those among humanity who take great pleasure in such descriptions? With an ease in victory that is scarcely ever present in mortal conflict, she returned to the celestials who then praised her mightily with the following hymn.
Pleased with their true devotion, Durga hovered over the glowing coals of what had once been a great fire. Carefully, She who some called Chamundi looked from face to face, and what she saw there pleased her. There was no guile or strategizing for her help. There were no hidden agendas lurking in quiet recesses of their minds. Only gratitude and relief. Finally, pleased with their sincerity, she spoke. "In the future, whenever evil become so powerful that you are overcome, chant my mantras and hymns, and I will come to vanquish those who oppose you." Then, she disappeared.
|From Shakti Mantras, Random House, 2003.|
September Mantra of the Month1. Mantra for general protection. This mantra is one of the most commonly used Sanskrit formulas for general protective purposes.
Om Dum Durgayea Namaha
[Om Doom Door-gah-yea Nahm-ah-hah]
Salutations to Her who is beautiful to the seeker of truth and terrible in appearance to those who would injure devotees of truth.
2. Heavy duty protection. This mantra, commonly used in particularly dreadful circumstances, also can bestow blessings of creativity and good fortune. Additionally, I know of several women who have used this mantra to increase their self-confidence with remarkable success. For that reason, I have started to recommend it for those suffering from eating disorders or other maladies that may stem from a deep-seated insecurity or feelings of lack of self-worth.
Om Eim Hrim Klim Chamundayea Vicche Namaha
[Om I'm Hreem Kleem Chah-moon-dah-yei1 Vee-chea Nah-mah-hah]
Om and Salutations to Her who is radiant with power and wisdom.
3. The Durga Mantra for Manifold Blessings. This mantra, called the Durga Gayatri, will eventually produce a sublimely elevated state of consciousness. The gayatri referred to her applies to the rhythm or metre of the mantra, and not The Gayatri Mantra.
Om Katyaini-cha Vidmahea Kanya Kumari-cha Dhimahi Tanno Durgihi Prachodayat
[Om Kaht-yah-ee-nee-cha Vid-mah-hea Kahn-yah Koo-mah-ree-cha Dhee-mah-hee Tah-noh Door-gee-hee Prah-choh-dah-yaht]
O Mother Durga kindly impell and inspire us toward enlightenment and spiritual attainment.
The works of Thomas Ashley-Farrand (Namadeva) give unprecedented, detailed instruction in how to empower yourself using the techniques of the ancient sages and rishis. He and Satyabhama have been given the mission by their Gurus Sadguru Sant Keshavadas and Guru Rama Mata to bring these teachings to everyone.
To that end, he has written and recorded a number of works, and he travels to North America and the UK to teach workshops. Bi-annually they lead a Pilgrimage Tour of India's Holy Places, visiting with the Shankaracharayas at Kanchi Math, Guru Mata at Vishwa Shanti Ashram, and doing fire ceremonies in the Himalayas, among the highlights of the trip.
They have founded a religious organization, Sanatana Dharma Satsang, which has opened a Gayatri Temple in Beaverton, Oregon. Plans are in the works to found temples with residential communities in Oregon, New Mexico, and other locations. The link to it is in the right column.
These works are offered in a spirit of service. We sincerely hope that they will further you on your path.
Prem & Shanti,
Satyabhama (Margalo Ashley-Farrand)
Saraswati Publications, LLC
2008-2009 Schedule of Workshops
We will be doing workshops in the following places in 2008:
September - Keene, NH; Kripalu, MA
October - IL: Arlington Hts, Highland Park, Chicago; CA: Los Angeles; CANADA: BC, Calgary (10/31)
November - CANADA: Calgary & Red Deer, Alberta.
December - Bangalore, India
Sadguru Sant Keshavadas' 11th Mahasamadhi Celebration
January - Los Angeles, CA
February - Albuquerque, NM; London, England
March - Keene, NH; Boston & Kripalu, MA
April - Kansas City, MO
May - India Pilgrimage - May 2009
(We still have a few places left.)
Please see our 2008 schedule for details and updates:
Los Angeles, CA
Gayatri Temple Meetup
The Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony Recordings
The Ancient Power of Sanskirt Mantra and Ceremony, 2nd. Ed., is now being revised to simplify pronunciation.
As promised some time ago, Namadeva is recording all of the volumes to be sold in CD sets of 10 or more CDs.
Volume I will be for sale at our online store in September 2008. Volume II will be ready by the end of the year and Volume III in early 2009.