The Tree of Knowledge
The True Meaning of Deepavali
— Sri Swami Vishwananda
Deepavali reminds us of our inner light. It reminds us that we are that light. And when we light the little oil lamp outside, we also have to light our inner light. Out of darkness the light shall shine. Out of the darkness that our mind creates, out of darkness that willingly or unwillingly we create, we ask the Divine to shine forth that light from deep within to the outside. That light which often we forget about, because when we are so much engrossed in our daily routine and we forget why we are here. We forget our true purpose.
Deepavali reminds us that we are that light and that light we shall ever be. So when we light the lamp, we remind ourselves of being. It’s not the lamp outside that has to be lit, but the light which is inside of you that has to be lit, realizing that this light is not only inside of you, but it’s everywhere. The Divine is not limited, it’s everywhere. Some people will say “But Swamiji, I don’t see that light. Well, sometimes I have seen it, but sometimes I don’t see it.” You know about that, eh? Well, at night, when we look up in the sky, we see a lot of stars. And then what do we say? “Oh, how beautiful it is. How great it is, you know, to see all these shining stars.” But during the day, when you look up, you don’t see the stars. But do you think the stars are not there? Or, only at night do they come? The stars are always there. The same way, the inner light is always there. So, when you do your sadhana, when you really yearn for that love, when you really ask the Divine, “Let that light shine forth,” then you become an instrument of this light. Then it will shine through you.
Deepavali reminds us of this inner light, which is present in each person, in each creation of the Divine. Not only in us, because we are sitting here, celebrating Deepavali and we are thinking of ourselves as being more special than anybody else. No, it’s not like that. We are not special, you know. When we think of ourselves being more close to the Divine – this is wrong. This is our ignorance that makes us think that we are special, for God loves everybody the same way. And the same light shines through you, through me, through everybody. It just needs some time to look at it. When your mind is calm, when your heart is fully open, you will see, you will feel that light. You will feel that love. And this is the real meaning of Deepavali.
A clay lamp is very symbolic, actually. We say, “God, you are the light, but we are the batti, the thread.” This is the connection that we have with the Divine. The clay lamp is our body, it symbolizes the fact that this body is just dust and dust it shall be. One day we will leave this body. The clay lamp that is burning symbolizes this body as this clay holder and inside is the burning lamp, the light burning, the love burning inside of you. So rise, make that one intellect be illuminated by the grace of God, by the grace of the Divine Mother, so that in this life you can take the opportunity and realize yourself. Realize where you come from, realize who you are in reality, realize your work, your mission and realize where you are going, what your real duty in life is and let this light shine through you. Become a messenger of this love, become a messenger of the Divine. Not just limiting ourselves, not being just what our mind perceives us to be. That’s why we also light this lamp.
Satsang in Magical Mauritius
– Smt Sharda Chawla
It happened suddenly! The trip to Mauritius (5-10 September, 2011) came completely out of the blue, a gift from the gods, as it were! It was not in my mind and certainly not on the agenda, yet it happened, almost on its own. I have to thank Poojya Guruji (Swami Pranava) and the powers above for this rare opportunity.
The first thing that struck us, just as the aircraft was descending, was the pure blue sky and the pristine blue water all around this amazing island. The surrounding mountains of different hues and sizes had peaks in shapes entirely their own – leaving our imagination to run riot! This one looked like a dome, that one like the shikhar of a temple – so lovingly crafted by nature over thousands of years!
It was not for nothing that Mark Twain wrote in his travelogue Following the Equator that God first created Mauritius and then modelled Heaven on it !
Nature’s bounty was amply matched by the “rich and precious verses” of Adi Sankara’s Dhanyashtakam (morning discourses) which began with the description of the nature and goal of true Knowledge. Thereafter, we are shown the path which is to be followed in order to reach the goal, then the obstacles that have to be countered and overcome on the way.
As ordinary mortals, we love to acquire and hoard worldly things. “Acquisition,” explained Guruji, “is great but renunciation is a greater state of bliss.” However, we can’t stop there itself because even that is not enough. We have to become serious seekers of the Higher Truth – that Truth, “having known which, we attain immortality” (or freedom from constant change).
This Knowledge leads to Enlightenment. Such enlightened persons are known as Dhanya or Gunateet or Sthitapragya, for their heart is filled with supreme bliss – a wealth that cannot be stolen or lost.
We become easily attached to objects around us. These sense objects create in us a host of desires, anger, fear and temptation. But a person of wisdom and understanding conquers his dependence
on, and attachment to, such objects through a process of gradual renunciation. This renunciation can happen only when there is an intense desire for a higher goal. More often than not, we choose to remain deluded, identifying ourselves with our physical bodies and being at the mercy of our senses.
As a result, we get tossed and turned by waves of arrogance, attachment, likes and dislikes – much like the sea at Blue Bay, Marine Park in Mauritius where one could see the huge waves at a distance. The waves were kept away from the shore by the natural coral reef barrier which was completely impenetrable even for the mighty waves! A clear case of Nature controlling Nature!
This unusual and picturesque sight has a hidden but clear message for all seekers. If our mind is like the ocean, then the waves are like the agitation of the mind. But the comparison ends here. Unlike the coral reef which does not allow waves to enter its territory, we easily allow the agitations to enter and disturb our minds. This was so completely reminiscent of the Bhagwad Geeta Chapter XIV (evening discourses), wherein Poojya Guruji talked of the play of the three gunas and how external circumstances (paristhiti) completely overwhelm our minds (manahsthiti).
What we need is equipoise of mind and behaviour. But how does one get that? By studying Upanishads under the guidance of a guru (Upanisad artha rasam pibantah). Instead, we remain bound by the ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ thoughts; or as Tulsidasji put it, constantly caught up in the notions of aham and mama (Main aru mor tor tain maya).
Once we learn to distinguish between the real and temporary happiness, we will be able to renounce the three types of bondages of this ever-changing world (vittesana, putresana and lokesana of
Satsang in the sacred company of our Gurus, sages and saints helps us to tread the path of Liberation. Through Satsang, the seeker develops “the ability to face life and to build life.”
Let us “Arise, Awake” and be counted, say the Upanishads! Let us “learn about the one Reality from the wise” so that we never have to feel dejected, confused or deluded.
Om Tat Sat
Source: The Bal Vihar & CHYK Newsletter – Chinmaya Mission (Mauritius)
You are welcome to contribute. Write to: