Durga is seen as one of three dimensions of the feminine, symbolic of the earth and tamas (inertia).
Navratri are nine powerful nights dedicated to Devi – a feminine manifestation of the divine. Linga Bhairavi manifests all the three dimensions of the divine feminine, traditionally represented as Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. These three dimensions represent the three basic qualities of existence – tamas (inertia), rajas (action), and sattva (transcendence). The first two are oriented towards wellbeing and prosperity, and the third towards the aspiration to go beyond.
Festival of Navratri
The Indian festival of Navratri is dedicated to the feminine nature of the Divine. Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are seen as three dimensions of the feminine, symbolic of the earth, the sun and the moon, or of tamas (inertia), rajas (activity, passion) and sattva (transcendence, knowledge, purity) respectively. Those who aspire for strength or power, worship forms of the feminine like Mother Earth or Durga or Kali. Those who aspire for wealth, passion or material gifts worship Lakshmi or the sun. Those who aspire for knowledge, dissolution or the transcendence of the limitations of the mortal body worship Saraswati or the moon.
The nine days of Navratri are classified according to these basic qualities. The first three days are dedicated to Durga, the next three to Lakshmi, and the last three to Saraswati. The tenth day, Vijayadashami, signifies the triumph over all these three aspects of life.
This is not merely symbolic, but true on an energy level as well. As human beings, we arise from the earth and are active. After a while, we fall back into inertia once again. This happens not just to us as individuals, but also to the galaxy, and the entire universe. The cosmos emerges from a state of inertia, becomes dynamic, and subsides into inertia once more. We do have the capability however, to break the cycle. The first two dimensions of the Devi are needed for human survival and wellbeing. The third is an aspiration to transcend, to go beyond. If you have to bring Saraswati down, you have to strive. Otherwise, you cannot reach her.
What is the best way to approach Navratri? In a spirit of celebration. This has always been the secret of life: to be non-serious but absolutely involved. The cultures that traditionally venerated the goddess knew that there is much in existence that can never be understood. You can enjoy it, celebrate its beauty, but never understand it. Life is a mystery, and will always remain one. The festival of Navratri is based on this fundamental insight.