The significance of nine…

सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके ।
शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥

sarvamaṅgalamāṅgalye śive sarvārthasādhike .
śaraṇye tryambake gauri nārāyaṇi namo’stu te ..

The number nine holds special significance in our lives. In fact, we begin our journey with the number nine – that is the number of months we spend in our mother’s wombs.

Yog shastras consider the human body to have nine openings through which we interact with the external world – two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, a mouth and the reproductive and excretory organs.

Hindu philosophy counts the universal elements as the पृथ्वी (earth), अप: (water), वायु: (air), अग्नि (fire),आकाश (space), काल (time), आत्मन (soul) and the मनस (mind)…also nine.

Śṛṅgāraḥ (शृङ्गारः): Romance, Love, attractiveness, Hāsyam (हास्यं): Laughter, mirth, comedy, Raudram (रौद्रं): Fury, Kāruṇyam (कारुण्यं): Compassion, mercy, Bībhatsam (बीभत्सं): Disgust, aversion, Bhayānakam (भयानकं): Horror, terror, Veeram (वीरं): Heroism, Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Śāntam (शान्तम्) Peace or tranquility…these form the Navarasas (the nine emotions).

Indian Jyotisha, or the science of astrology, is based on the नवग्रह (Navagrahas) – or nine cosmic influences (not planets, as is commonly translated). They are सूर्य (Sūrya), चंद्र (Chandra), मंगल (Mangala), बुध (Buddha), बृहस्पति (Brihaspati), शुक्र (Shukra), शनि (Śani), राहु (Rāhu) and केतु (Ketu).

In accordance with the nine cosmic influences, are the navratnās, or nine precious gems, namely heera, panna, manik, neelam, pukhraj, moonga, moti, gomedh and lahsunia.

Hindu philosophy also believes in nine elements comprising the three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas, the three parts of the karmic cycle – creation, preservation and destruction, and the three factors of time, space and causation.

The number system too, ends in nine, with the rest essentially just repeating the first set.

The Bhagavatapurana mentions nine forms of devotion : sravanam (hearing about God), kirtanam (singing the praise of God), mananam (remembering God), padaseva (serving the feet of God), archanam (worshiping God), mantram (offering prayers to God), seva (serving the cause of God), maitri (friendship with God) and saranam (surrender to God).

And so, it is only natural that one of the biggest celebrations of the year – Navratri, continues for nine days.

I bet you didn’t know quite a bit of the above, and even if you did, you may not have connected them all…

These nine days, I invite you to a celebration of the self. Rituals and fasts apart, let us spend these nine days in introspection – be honest to ourselves and evaluate where we are at this point in our lives. It should be simple, for who knows you better than…YOU?

But we will be in for a surprise. We lie so much to the external world that we start to believe in our own untruths…and the result is a very different perception of our own self. We have forgotten what we are inside…instead, we are living a life of an elaborate lie that we constructed for the outside world.

Don’t believe me? Check your browser history for one. Or your phone messengers. There are a lot of lies that we tell ourselves, from the photos that we subtly alter to the people who we love. We lie thinking that we are making it easier for others to digest a more acceptable form of us, and we have become so good at it that we have started to deceive our own selves.

These nine days are a chance to examine those lies, and see which ones you are aware of, and which ones you aren’t. Of those stolen glances at the opposite sex, to the thoughts that run in your mind – a complex web of secrets that has now become so dense that you are unable to see within.

And so approach these nine days with an open mind – open your mind, peep inside, and don’t feel horrified at what you find. You have accumulated this over the years, and you will continue to do so, even after the cleansing process. The cleaning next time will be incremental, but will be required. Year on year. Until you die, or become a yogi (whichever comes first).

Lay yourself bare. Others may not be able to tolerate your naked mind, but I sure hope you can. Well, here is your chance to find out!

Happy Navratri!