As the nine nights represent the nine planets, we will be focussing on Navaratri and the nine planets with an account of one or another the planets for nine nights. For the eighth night of Navaratri, we will take the planet Ketu. The colour for the Ninth day of Navaratri (Navami) is Peacock Green, so we scribe in Peacock Green for this ninth day observance of Navaratri. The Goddess is Siddhidhatri.
Today is the Ninth day (Namvami) of the Navaratri celebrations which are held for nine nights. All festivals are meant to remind mankind that they should cultivate noble qualities by engaging themselves in activities beneficial to one’s own self and society. Sai Baba made this reference to Navaratri and the Nine Planets:
As part of Navaratri celebrations, people worship different forms of divinity. You should develop sacred feelings and experience divinity. What is the inner meaning of Navaratri celebrations? These nine nights represent nine planets. Each planet has its own significance. However, these planets are not outside, they are within. If your feelings are impure and unsacred, the result also will be the same. You are responsible for the good and bad you think and experience.
Ketu, the opposite node to Rahu, came into being during the churning of the Ocean of Milk. The last gift of that churning was the emergence of the God of Healing, Dhanvantari, with the pot of amrit, the nectar of immortality. Ketu and Rahu were whole at that time, in the form of a demon known as Swarbhanu, who engaged in subterfuge to obtain the nectar whilst it was being served out by Mohini. At that time Mohini was distracting the demons and giving the amrit to the gods. The deception was discovered by the Sun and Moon, who ran tale-telling to Vishnu, who promptly sent his discus and separated the head from the body; that body is today known as Ketu, South Node of the Moon.
In other legends, Ketu is known as the tail of the dragon. Ketu is considered to be signifier of limitlessness; Ketu is thought to be absent, wandering, disinterested, disengaged, disembodied, diffused, apathetic, directionless, destitute, beheaded, surrendering, abandoning, lost. We keep in mind that Ketu is a shadow planet, a karmic repository and an important agent on the journey toward the goal of life. Ketu (which means flag) – due the deep inquiry that this shadow planet is capable of actually flags important staging posts on the human journey of return to the Source.
Devi Siddhidatri is the ninth form of Navdurga and is worshipped on the ninth or final day of Navratri Pooja. In Sanskrit ‘Siddhi’ means perfection and the divine Goddess is revered to seek all types of Siddhi. The grace of Devi Siddhidatri can put an end to greediness and help to control and satisfy the desires of her devotees.
Goddess Siddhidhatri is portrayed wearing a red sari and sitting on a lotus flower. Her vahana (vehicle) is a lion. She is depicted holding a Gada (mace) in her upper right hand, a chakra in her lower right hand, a lotus flower in her lower left hand and a conch-shell in her upper left hand. It is said that one can even see a disc of light around her golden crown. This light is believed to instil devotion in the heart of devotees towards the Supreme Power and liberation from karmic bindings. Goddess Siddhidatri bestows occult powers on her worshippers and is therefore revered by beings from all three realms i.e. heaven, hell and earth.
It is commonly believed that Lord Shiva is half-male and half-female and this form of Shiva is worshipped as Ardhanareshwara. Ardhanareshwara is a combination of three words “Ardha,” “Nari,” and “Ishwara” means “half,” “woman,” and “lord,” respectively. According to Vedic scriptures, Lord Shiva attained all the siddhis by worshipping this Goddess.
Ketu and the Feminine
Ketu has very poor reputation garnered over the ages and in narrative, yet, is disposer of intelligence of a deep order. Ketu is also disposer of spiritual intelligence. We know that Ketu is disconnected from much of the world, very much an entity, and energy devoted to its own private realm, perhaps the cave of the mystic who intuitively comes to know what reality actually is. This is very much activity driven by the feminine within, that which is fecund, life-forming, life-giving and birthing into the new world. It is the feminine that nurtures and sustains us in the night-sea journey of the inner small self. It is the feminine that calls us unto the deep to explore the real, the touchstone of life, the life beyond imagination, feeling, attachment, delusion: the urstoff of what it means to be human. Ketu hears the deep calling unto the deep.
Significance of Navaratri
(On the life of Adi Shankara)
“The great Acharya was barely four years old at the time. His father, a devout scholar, used to offer daily worship to Goddess Raajeshwari every morning. Meditating before the Goddess with closed eyes, he would offer a bowl of cow’s milk to her. When he opened his eyes after meditation, he would find that bowl was only half-full, the other half having been accepted as an offering by the Goddess. One day, he had to go to a neighbouring village for three days. He told his wife to arrange worship of the Goddess in the customary manner with the offering of milk, with the young Shankara deputizing him in the worship. In accordance with his father’s instructions, the young lad sat in front of the Goddess in the sanctum and performed the prescribed ritual. After meditation, when he opened his eyes, he was astonished to see that the bowl of milk offered to the Goddess remained full. He felt sad and cried out: ‘Divine Mother! What wrong have I done? I cannot bear this punishment. Please show your grace on me as you did for my father.’
He prayed intensely for some time with closed eyes. When he opened his eyes he saw that the bowl was now totally empty. All the milk had gone. He was in distress again and cried out: “Devi! You have consumed all the milk. Where is our share of the Prasadam? If we are denied this, what mother will say and what will others think? I will not leave this place till the bowl is refilled.’ In response to fervent prayers, the Goddess spoke: “Dear child! When the river has joined the river, how can it be redirected? Shankara said: “Nobody will believe me when I say that no milk was left in the bowl after my worship. They may think that I drank all of it. I cannot face them. Devi! Without your Prasad, I will not leave this place. I will lay down my life at your Feet.” Swami concluded this moving account of the episode with the following finale: “Devi Raajeshwari’s heart melted on hearing the young boy’s appeal. She took the bowl and poured her Divine breast-milk into it and gave it to the young devotee.’ The compassion of the Divine, Swami said, has no limits.” Sai Baba. SS. 6/97. p. 153