Lead, Kindly Light

Deepavali, ‘The festival of lights’, is celebrated every year with great joy by all the Hindus. The meaning of Deepavali and the reasons for celebrating it are many and varied. Some of the most popular among them are Sri Ram’s home-coming to Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile, Sri Krishna’s victory of slaying the demon Narakasura, and the destruction of the ego of king Bali by Mahavishnu, in the form of the dwarf Vamana. Though these events happened in different ages, basically they all carry the universal message to mankind, cheap NFL jerseys that light dispels darkness, good succeeds wholesale MLB jerseys over evil and knowledge overcomes  ignorance.

Traditionally, this festival of lights is celebrated with rows of earthen oil lamps lit all around the house, to dispel the darkness and brighten up the surrounding areas.  The inner significance of Deepavali is to lead man from darkness to light and show him Antwerp the way through the journey of life. The flame of the lamp not only banishes the darkness, also it always points upward. The significance being that the flame of knowledge leads to higher states of understanding of the Divine. That is the reason our sages adore the lamp, as the lamp of wisdom, ‘Jnana deepam’.

From time immemorial, we worship the light as symbol of God, the formless consciousness of light. The light indicates the radiance of wisdom and awareness. It is also the purifier and always illuminates without discrimination. When a man writes a cheque for donation and another one forges a cheque, the same lamp shines for both. Similarly, sun shines on all, irrespective of good or bad, sinner or saint, pure or impure, because light is God and God is beyond good and bad qualities.

In human beings, the light of God is veiled because we are bound under the influence of the qualities of nature with its three constituents – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, called the three gunas. Sattva is of the pure nature, luminous and stainless. But it binds human beings through attachment for happiness that comes through knowledge. Rajas is of the nature of passion and binds us by attachment to action, greed and restlessness. Tamas is born of ignorance, binds us fast by inertia, indolence, miscomprehension and delusion. All these three gunas are mixed up and dwell in human beings in different proportions.

The light of our individual consciousness is part of the cosmic consciousness, which is pervading the entire universe. An individual cannot exist independently. A little ray of light cannot exist without the Infinite Light. “The Light, which residing in the Sun, also in the moon and in the fire, illuminates the whole world – know that light to be mine.” (Gita, xv –12.) The Divine Light, which is one, pervades at the same time the whole universe and is eternally indivisible.

Narayana Parojyotiratmaa Narayana paraha,

(Narayana  is the Light Supreme, He is the Paramatman.)

The nature of the Light that is within us is described in various scriptures. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad there is an enlightening discussion between the sage Yajnavalkya and king cheap nba jerseys Janaka, who was endowed with spiritual insight and Vedic knowledge. One day, when the sage came to his court, the king asked him, “Yajnavalkya, what serves as light for a man?” The sage replied, “The light of the sun. It is through the light of the sun, he sits, goes out, works and returns. When the sun has set, the moon serves as the light”

“When the sun and the moon have both set, what exactly serves your as the light for man?” Janaka asks.

“The fire serves as his light.”

“When the sun and the moon have both set, and the fire is extinguished, what exactly serves as the light for man?” Janaka persists.

“Speech serves as the light. Even when one’s own hand is not visible, if a sound is uttered, one manages to go there.”

“When the sun and the moon both have set, the fire has gone out and the speech has stopped, Yajnavalkya, what exactly serves as the light for man?”

“By the light of the Self. It is through the light of the self he sits, goes out and returns.”

Janaka was highly pleased by the answer and he asked for further instruction about Self.

Sri Sankaracharya gives a beautiful image to think upon the Light. Imagine a pitcher ma with many holes and a candle placed in the pitcher. The light shines through all the holes. Our body-mind complex is like a pitcher with holes and the light of the Self in our hearts shines through all the sense organs and through the mind and its activities. Because of the light of consciousness within, we are conscious of the outside world. When we go to sleep, in our dreams and also in our deep sleep, the Light is always shining within us. Without this Light, we cannot exist.

All light that we see is a reflection of the light of the Self, within us, (the light of consciousness) which is Self-luminous. It is the innermost layer, bright, pure, and the supreme reality. In the Mundaka Files Upanishad, it is described:

Na tatra suryo bhati na chandra tarakam,

neta vidyuto kutoyamagnih,

tameva bhantam anubhati sarvam,

tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati.”

There the sun does not shine, nor the moon, nor the stars; nor do these flashes of lightning shine, how can this earthly fire shine there? Everything shines reflecting His glory; by His Light the whole world is illumined.”

Because of our ignorance caused by our ego, we are plunged in darkness. The light of consciousness is always shining in us, wholesale NBA jerseys but we are not aware of it. The goal of human life is to wake up to the light of wholesale MLB jerseys wisdom from the darkness of ignorance. We live in different levels of life: physical, intellectual, and spiritual. Physical light removes external darkness and helps us in our daily work and activities. Intellectual light removes our ignorance by study of books and learning from great teachers. Spiritual light enlightens us about the Self.

For a Hindu, lighting a lamp every day is of great significance. This lighting the lamp outside is a symbol of a greater light that we have to light in our hearts every day. Nobody likes darkness. ‘We are infants crying in the night, infants crying for light, and no language but a cry.’ Therefore in our scripture the universal prayer of human heart is found:

“Asatoma sadgamaya,
Tamasoma jyortirgamaya,
Mrityorma amritam gamaya”

(Lead us from unreal to the real, Lead us from darkness to light, Lead us from death to immortality.)

We, human beings are craving for life, light and knowledge. It is by our own effort and hard work we have to reach it. There is no other way. External lights are the symbolic forms to remind us that we should surrender our ego and light the lamp of pure love and devotion to God. The lighting of Deepavali every year is a reminder for us to assess ourselves, our Web! good and bad deeds, our failures and faults, and our progress and achievements. In the light of wisdom, we can eliminate the things that inhibit our progress and cleaning the dark corners of our minds, we can make it a worthy place for the Divine light to shine in our hearts.

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Posted by on Nov 15 2010. Filed under Body Mind Spirit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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