‘The celebration is not just about lighting lamps outside – an Inner Light has to come. Light means clarity. Without clarity, every other quality that you possess will only become a detriment, not a gift’
By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee
Thanks to my friend Ram in Djakarta who sent me a post in which Shri Satpal Singh beautifully explains the symbolism of Divali in simple, clear language. He asks: Do we know why Divali is celebrated on the darkest night of the year? He goes on to say that the story starts with the Ramayana, one of the greatest spiritual epics of all times. It has many layers of meaning but at the core is every person’s struggles to know themselves. The message of Ramayana will help you to understand how to live a better life.
Divali. Pic – Istock
It is the story of the battle between Lord Ram and Raavan, king of Lanka. It is not just one that happened thousands of years ago. It is happening right now inside each one of us. Lord Ram represents our Higher Self, our Divine soul, the infinite life force that lives inside everyone and in all places. Our soul lives in Ayodhya, the place of no conflict (Sanskrit yuddh means war, prefix a means opposite of i.e., no war): our soul therefore lives in peace. It isn’t concerned with trivial things like how do I look today, what do others think of me, how much money do I have, what’s my relationship status or my next career move.
In the story everything changes with the marriage of Ram and Sita, i.e., the union between the body and the soul. As soon as that happens they are banished from Ayodhya; in our own lives whenever we focus our thoughts on our body more than on our soul we too lose our peace and are banished into the jungle of the world. Even in the jungle Sita continues to meditate on Ram, but one day she sees a golden deer and gets totally enamoured by it, just like our eyes and senses are always distracted by worldly things. When she stops meditating on Ram and goes after the deer, she is trapped by a demon called Raavan, who represents our ego. He is depicted as having ten faces and twenty arms – signifying that our ego is not so easy to identify, as it often comes in disguises in many different forms.
So the battle begins between Ram and Raavan, and eventually Ram is victorious. He manages to defeat Raavan and bring his soulmate Sita back home. The Spiritual Master Gurū Nānak, founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus, summarises the real struggle between our ego and our Divine Light as follows: in each and every heart is the unseen and infinite Ram. When we kill our egos, only then will we unite with this invisible and infinite Truth.
So why do we really celebrate Divali on the darkest night of the year? It’s so that we can remind ourselves to break free from our own dark habits, our worldly obsessions, egos, self-importance, insecurities and all our inner demons.
This year as well as lighting lamps and fireworks, let’s learn and share the deeper meaning of this celebration. Let us make this Divali a challenge for us all to let our own Divine nature shine as bright as possible so that we too can become a beacon of light and help those who are still in darkness.
What a profound message!
Isn’t this indeed a most profound message to every human being? In fact, all Hindu festivals, such as Durga Puja/Navratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, Cavadee, etc., are about how to overcome the ego-driven compulsions that tend to dominate our lives so as to discover our Inner Truth or Divine Light, allow ourselves to be illuminated by it so that we can live a life of purity and harmony, at peace with ourselves and with everybody else, with the world in fact. Each festival lays emphasis on one of the paths that can lead us to this discovery: bhakti or devotion, karmayoga or selfless service, rajayoga or meditation/mind control, and jnanayoga or Self-knowledge.
Specifically, about Divali, which glorifies light, Sadhguru of Isha Foundation has equally elegantly elaborated on it. He writes: ‘…the celebration is not just about lighting lamps outside – an Inner Light has to come. Light means clarity. Without clarity, every other quality that you possess will only become a detriment, not a gift, because confidence without clarity is a disaster. And today, too much action in the world is performed without clarity.’
Further, ‘Without the necessary clarity, whatever you try will be a disaster. Light brings clarity to your vision – not just in a physical sense. How clearly you see life and perceive everything around you decides how sensibly you conduct your life. Divali is the day when the dark forces were put to death and light happened. This is also the predicament of human life. Like the dark clouds which brood in the gloomy atmosphere, not realizing that they are blocking the sun, a human being does not have to bring any light from anywhere. If he just dispels the dark clouds that he has allowed to gather within himself, light will happen. The Festival of Lights is just a reminder of that.’
It is all but too obvious that since about a month now the dark clouds of religious obscurantism have burst upon the world, which is in evidently great and urgent need of light and clarity. These dark clouds have spread across and convulsed the streets of several cities in Europe and North America, purportedly triggered by a toolkit that had been prepared well in advance by similarly tenebrous minds.
Europe was supposed to have come out of the dark ages when the so-called age of enlightenment, premised on logic and reason rather than blind belief, brought about modernity and all the material goodies that we have gotten used to. However, leaders there are belatedly discovering that the dark clouds that have overwhelmed their cities may well be the prelude to a latter day version of the dark ages all over again, and are at a loss to know how to stem that tide. One prominent thinker there, Konstantin Kisin even opined that far from the barbarians being at the door, they are already inside!
As philosopher-President of India Dr S Radhakrishnan – the closest approximation perhaps in history to have met the philosopher-king wish of Socrates – wrote, that one little flame can light up the sky, so too let us hope that all the lights of Divali that will set skies aflame this Sunday penetrate the hearts and minds that are bent on destruction, clear the cobwebs of barbarism that populate evil minds, and grant them instead the clarity that is needed for a conversion to saner and kinder mindsets and in the process imbue them with a modicum of humanity.
That only can save the world from perdition and put civilisation back of course.
Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 10 November 2023
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