The story is told in the Devimahatmyam of a dark time in history. It seems two evil kings came to power, wreaking havoc on a kingdom that had once been peaceful. As the darkness of their new power spread, life shriveled up, and all the things that allow life to flourish disappeared. The result was great pain and suffering throughout the kingdom.
In their despair, the people gathered to pray for deliverance. Out of the earth God appeared in the form of Devi, who took compassion on the people and went to battle against the evil forces. The battle was fierce and long; as we know evil has many resources and is quick and fierce with surprise attacks. But Devi was steady and enduring and eventually prevailed against the evil kings. Rightness was restored to the kingdom, and the people once again flourished.
The victory of this event is celebrated twice a year in India for nine days in a row. But what does a story like this mean for us in our daily living? The story is an allegory that asks us to take a deep look at who is sitting as ruler of our hearts. Is it the divine or has ego with its attachment to its preferred likes and dislikes usurped the throne? And where are these false rulers wreaking havoc and despair in our lives and the lives of others?
When we begin to see the utter bankruptcy of our ego’s agenda, our practice takes on a new meaning. It becomes irresistibly naturally, like words uttered from our heart straight to our lips. We begin earnestly and hungrily to seek a different self with different outcomes. Whatever tradition or form our practice takes, it becomes in its deepest sense a prayer that puts us on the steady and enduring path of transformation and new life.