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Lessons from Dussehra celebrations.

The beauty of Indian philosophy known as 'Sanatan Dharma' (the eternal laws) is, that it's all encompassing. It accepts that existence cannot be one dimensional such as just good or evil but existence is all about balance.

Indians believe that existence and time are a circular phenomenon going from one extreme to another and then reversing in a balanced way. Day follows night, joy and sorrow come together, pure and evil coexist, etc. When the balance is disturbed, existence inevitably moves to correct it. This is the moral of one of India's greatest annual celebrations, 'Dussehra' also known as 'Vijayadashami'.

India has always had a rich tradition of transmitting knowledge, wisdom and historical lessons through the art of story telling, both to celebrate and to reflect. To provide a guide on how to cope with different situations in life. The most frequent being how to cope with contradictions the greatest being the conflict between good and bad.

Every human faces the conflict between good and bad and this is represented in the conflict between Devas and Asuras.

It is said that the 'Devas' (gods, but not to be confused with God or Creation), the good guys were constantly battling the 'Asura' (demons), the bad guys. Both powerful and striving for supremacy of the worlds.

During one stage the demons under the leadership of Mahishasura, the buffalo headed Asura, had all but vanquished the Devas.

Mahishasura represents the merging the strength of the beast with the cunning and intelligence of a human.

The frightened gods were at wits end and knew not what to do. They asked the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, (the three aspects of divine existence, of creator, preserver and destroyer {detachment} which is present within each human being).

They focussed their energies to generate a brilliant bolt of lightning, which produced the 10 armed beautiful, virgin goddess, 'Ma Durga ji' riding astride a 'Sher' (tiger).

The goddess represents a powerful entity. She is complete with purity of purpose, thought and focus of action. A trait necessary for success in any venture.

The 10 arms represent power, as manifest in the multiplicity of weapons and tools she possesses and uses. This provides the lesson that one must use a multiplicity of weapons and approaches as necessary to achieve objectives.

All the positive energies of the gods and creation were merged into Durga ji and placed at her disposal. Representing strength in unity, especially in adversity.

The goddess Durga ji, fought with Mahishasura for nine days and nights called 'Navratri' (nine nights), for battle and bloodshed is always a dark matter;

This is why Indians fast, pray and moderate their lives even more on these days. This is an attempt to vanquish the demons within our own minds, and hearts. This takes time as represented by nine days and nights of effort and sincere struggle as evidenced even by the all powerful goddess Ma Durga ji.

The evenings on these nine days are spent in community song and dance, called Garba which is dedicated to to Durga ji - who typifies the feminine form of divinity and 'Navadurga' her nine forms and the cyclical form of life.

All battles end, and on the tenth day, Ma Durga ji, destroyed Mahishasura. This is why the celebration is called 'Dusshera' or 'Vijayadashami', (the tenth day victory).

Ma Durga ji is representative of the two beautiful, mysterious and contradictory aspects of beauty and power of the feminine. Gentle, nurturing and protective on one hand, and fierce and destructive on the other.


Dussehra is also the 10th day of the month of Ashwin, the day on which Lord Ram slayed the powerful, King Ravana, also known as Dashanan (ten-headed person) ruler of the golden island of Lanka as narrated in the great Indian epic 'Ramayana'. Ravana's knowledge and wisdom was so vast it equalled that of 10 other mortals hence he is usually depicted with 10 heads. This event signifies conquest of good over evil, and celebrated by praying and burning of the effigy of Ravana.


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Ref: G0719

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