Navaratri Bhavana Post #4
Another important aspect of purifying the surroundings is lighting Dhoop (incense).
Dhoop is incense without the stick. It emits a powerful and sacred fragrance into the air, and it is the prāna (life air) which everything is dependent upon for life. It is the life of everything - including the Deities.
Deities are light entities vibrating at a higher frequency than what the common eye can see. Similarly, they emit a fragrance that is too subtle to smell with the common nose. Deities contain the five elements, of which one of those elements is earth, and it is the earth element which, through the Deity, emits a fragrance.
So dhoop is a concentrated form of the subtle fragrance of the Goddess! As the dhoop smoulders and rings of smoke expand to fill the premises, an aspect of the Goddess is activated through the fragrance (depending on the fragrance).
For example, during Navaratri, we burnt Frankincense, which acts to take away raja-tama (useless activity, restless mind, laziness) from the surroundings. It balances the environment to a sattvic (harmonious, peaceful) state.
Frankincense purifies the premises, reduces negative energies, increases positive vibrations in the brain, and removes all obstacles so the sattvic transmission of the Goddess (Chaitanya, Her Essence, Her Spirit, Her Bhavana) comes to us.
Specifically, the Goddess takes away all that is unnecessary and all that no longer serves us, and helps keep the mind focused on Her! This helps the spiritual seeker to concentrate on the puja, homa, meditation, and sankalpa. This is why Frankincense is lit before religious rituals.
Today, adapt this attitude as you offer dhoop (and if you don't have dhoop, consider adapting this attitude anyway) :
“Oh Mother, you are the pure essence of all existence. Though I have many faults, today I have made an effort to obtain the sweetest fragrance for you. Please accept this offering and remove all negative energy so that I can point my attention solely onto You.
Mother, just as this incense burns to ashes while sharing sweet aromas to everything in its environment, so to, I wish to sacrifice my life in Your service and emit the fragrance of inspiration and contribution to others.”