Navaratri festival is celebrated from ancient times as a mode of worship of Devi, the Divine Mother. Vijaya Dashami commemorates the day Goddess Durga appeared, riding a lion, to slay the buffalo demon, Mahisasura.
Vijayadashami is the day that follows the nine days of Navratri. Vijayadashami is a composite of two words "vijaya" and "dashami", which is the festival of celebration of victory of good over evil on the tenth day. Dasara is a compound Sanskrit word composed of "dasham" and "hara" meaning "evil" and "destroying."
The first day of Navaratri has another special significance to Sai devotees. Shirdi Sai Baba was born on this day in 1838. His Maha Samadhi occurred on Vijayadashami day in 1918. Swami has said, “The two bodies are different, but the Divinity is one. The first advent was revealing Divinity. The second advent is to awaken the Divinity (in human beings). The next advent is for propagating Divinity. The three Sai's are: Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai and Prema Sai.” (Divine Discourse: September 28, 1990)
Vijaya Dashami is also the day on which Lord Rama killed the 10-headed demon king Ravana, who had abducted Lord Rama's consort Mother Sita, and it signaled the victory of good over evil.
The tenth day of celebration, Navratri is replete with symbolism about vanquishing evil and wanton nature, and about having reverence for all aspects of life. The nine days of Navratri are classified as per the three basic qualities of tamas, rajas and sattva. First three days are tamas, where the goddess is fierce, like Durga and Kali, next three days are rajas which is related to Lakshmi who bestows wealth and material comforts and the last three days are related to sattva dedicated to goddess Saraswati who bestows knowledge and enlightenment.
After Navratri, the tenth and final day is Vijayadashami. We go beyond all the qualities to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death. This also means we are making progressive steps constantly in conquering all these three qualities. With the guiding principles of sathya, dharma, shanti, prema and ahimsa, we never give into any one of them i.e., tamas, rajas, sattva.
Over the past many decades, the festival of Dasara or Navratri in Prasanthi Nilayam has been closely associated with the "Veda Purusha Sapthaha Jnana Yagna", the week-long sacrificial ritual conducted in the Divine Presence, for the welfare of the whole world.
What should one do during these ten days of the Navaratri festival?
- Intensify our yearning for God.
- Sincerely practice the five fundamental human values.
- Get rid of our negative qualities and purify our heart.
- Live in unity, realize our innate divinity and the divinity inherent in everyone.
Let us then resolve as follows:
This Vijayadashami, I promise to revere the earth I walk upon, Love Mother Earth plus keep her clean by adoring her at all times, constantly remind myself to Love All and Serve All at all times, honour and respect all religions, make efforts to experience the oneness by seeing the world as one happy family (Vasudaiva Kutumbakam), be an exemplary citizen, and ensure to always speak obligingly, curb hatred and become self-reliant.
May our Mother Sai shower Her choicest blessings on all of us!