Navaratri is one of the most ancient methods of recognizing the force, the shakti, the power and wisdom of God. There has been much speculation about who or what God is. However, while everyone claims to speak the truth, very few can claim to see the truth.
We all have a body but also inherent in the body is the force or shakti. Where does the strength come from when you have to win a 100 metre sprint, or need to lift a 100 kilos on your shoulders? That strength is contained in the body. When the energy in the body is focused, it is recognized as strength.
Similarly, when the energy of God is focused, when the three qualities of omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence are focused, what manifests at the point of focus is creation, shakti. Just as the coming together of the energy in your body is known as strength, similarly, the coming together of the shakti, the energy of God, is the expression of God's focus. It is here that the motherly nature, the creatrix, is perceived as one of the multifaceted personalities of God.
Being inherent in the body, this strength is therefore no different to the body. So it is visualized as the life force, the life principle. There is a saying that God sleeps in minerals, opens the eyes in trees, walks in animals and thinks in human beings. So, if the God within us is wisdom, knowing when to step forward and when to step back, without arrogance, then by being that we can worship the cosmic nature, the Cosmic Mother.
The nine day sadhana of Navaratri is an age-old practice of worshipping the cosmic nature, the Cosmic Mother, the lone of creation. After all, who can judge whether God is male or female? How can one know the true Self? Whatever is known, there is another layer behind it. It is like peeling an onion-all you will find is another layer.
Being transcendental, God is incomprehensible through the intellect. Therefore, predominantly intellectual people think that God-realization is only a mental fantasy. But people with heart, with feeling, have the conviction and the faith to know that they can find and experience God in their lives. They gain strength from bhakti. Bhakti is opening up of the heart and becoming one with the energy of the environment.
When you spend time with someone you love very deeply, there is a total merger of awareness. It is possible to lose the concept of time when there is that feeling of happiness, contentment and euphoria. It is the same when that energy is channeled, guided and directed towards the force of creation, which is known as shakti.
From "Yoga Magazine, Issue Oct 2004", Sw Niranjanananda Saraswati