In several states of India, Diwali symbolises the return of Rama to Ayodhya after vanquishing the demon Ravana and rescuing his consort Sita from his evil imprisonment. So Lord Rama is worshipped and effigies of Ravana are burnt. The demon Ravana with his ten heads represents the ego and its six vices along with like, dislike and the cunning and scheming mind. Rama symbolises divine grace that liberates the soul (Sita) from the captivity of the ego.
The story of Narakasura is a legend handed down by tradition. Before Narakasura dies, Krishna grants his wish. He also says, “I will give you liberation and wisdom. But to grant you this, I have to invoke Adiparashakthi (The primordial energy that manifests as the divine mother) and seek Her permission.”
So Lord Krishna prays to Adiparashakthi. Krishna is the personification of Madhura Bhava (Pure nectarine Love that is as sweet as honey). When faith and devotion (Bhakti and Shraddha) are firmly established in our hearts, Madhura Bhava is born.
Adiparashakthi is primordial, formless and infinite. But when invoked through devotion and surrender, She manifests Herself as Mahakali, Mahalakshmi or Mahasaraswathi. Since it was Krishna, a manifestation (Avatar) of Lord Vishnu who was invoking Her, She appeared before Him as Mahalakshmi. At His behest She blessed the demon Narakasura with the boons of salvation and divine wisdom. So that is why we worship Goddess Lakshmi on that day. When we pray to the divine Mother, devotion and wisdom overflow from our beings.
Depending upon the innate temperament of the devotee, She reveals Herself in one of Her three forms. Each of these forms has a particular, predominant kind of energy. Mahalakshmi is spiritual abundance, Maha Saraswathi is divine wisdom and Mahakali is the vanquisher of ignorance and the ego. So, each devotee channalises one of these primary forms of energy.
The Sages who approached the divine Mother through Madhura Bhava became channels of devotion (The Bhakti Movement). The songs that they composed and books that they wrote reflect this feeling of melting devotion.
When wisdom is their chief characteristic, this is expressed through their life and writing.
When we experience Madhura Bhava, we are filled with contentment. Contentment brings peace. Peace leads to a calm mind that can engage one-pointedly in sadhana. So if one follows the path of Madhura Bhava, one is established in a state of supreme contentment even before self-realisation.
Each deity establishes us in a particular frame of mind. Goddess Lakshmi confers contentment, Lord Rama grants a Dharmic state of mind and Lord Krishna makes all our talents blossom to express wisdom.
The mode in which divine grace expresses itself varies. The path followed by each sadhak may also vary. But just as all rivers flow into the ocean, all paths meet at the same goal — the Self.
(This article has been taken from the book Wisdom through the Eyes of Shri Nimishananda by Shri Nimishananda Guruji)