The Darknight Diwali Light

Hearty, Happy Diwali Greetings to every dear reader-devotee! May this Diwali lighten up your life, may it lighten down your burden and may it enlighten your intellect and lead you from dark alleys to Lighted path!

This is a repeat Post originally published in this blog on 26th October 2011.

 

Five-day Festival

Our world today is at the crossroads. While charity to help the poor and needy is delightfully increasing, it is disconcerting to see the rise of violence – domestic or national, crime, obscenity, corruption and other expressions of ill-gotten wealth. Serious people devoted to God and godly means of living are indeed worrying about the future prospects of their children. Is there, among the gloomy cloudiness, any shiny ray of hope?

It is in this context that the various celebrations that have come to us from time immemorial from the spiritual land of Bharat hold the clue. One of the most loved celebration of all the Hindus the world over, is the Festival of Lights – Diwali, also called Deepavali.

Sri Rama with Sita and Lakhshmana returning to Ayodhya by pushpak-vimaan

Diwali signifies lighting of lamps in every household on the Amavashya night that follows the bright fortnight after Vijaya Dashmi. No doubt this occasion marks joy and merriment. On the Diwali night, rows of lamps decorate the houses and presents are exchanged. Diwali, in the north of India, is associated with the coronation of Bhagawan Sri Rama when he returned to Ayodhya (in Uttar Pradesh) by pushpak-vimaan after vanquishing the demon King of Ceylon, Ravana on the day of Dasshera. Sri Ram had been in exile for fourteen years and the people were pleased to see and welcome back him with rows of lit lamps.

This festival of five days gives us, Hindus, an opportunity to go beyond all external extravaganza. First day marks Dhanteras meaning the thirteenth day of wealth.  It is also called Dhanwantari Triodashi indicating the adoration of Dhanwantari. He is the God of Medicine for the devatas and originator of Ayurveda science. The importance of keeping one’s physique in a healthy way cannot be over stated. As the ancient Sanskrit dictum says, “shareeram aadyam khalu dharma saadhanam” – body is the best means for practising dharma, taking steps to improve one’s health becomes mandatory.

Sri Krishna releasing 16 000 princesses from prison…

From here, with strong body, one has to ascend to the state of strong mind. Thus the second day, called naraka chaturdashi, is the fourteenth day signifying release of 16,000 princesses from prison by Sri Krishna. Bhagawan Sri Krishna encountered the demon Narakasura and killed him after granting his wish that on his death day people must celebrate with lighting of diya (lamps) in rows, taking oil bath, distributing sweet meats and burning firecrackers. We all do the latter part but do not pay attention in removing the darkness that has come to reside in our hearts! As Swami Vivekananda says, darkness in a sealed room over one thousand years will instantly vanish the moment a matchstick is lit. Knowledge of God is light. The ignorance  inside is darkness – a prison. 16,000 women are none but our 16,000 nadis to be liberated from impurity.

If body and mind are kept free from impurities, then only this life can be truly enjoyed. As the Isha Upanishad says “ tena tyaktena bhunjeetaah” – this life can be enjoyed when detachment comes. The mind searches for the purpose of life and it tries to fix the goal. Lakshmi word comes from lakshya meaning goal. Thus the third day which is the most important day of the five days of festival is spent in the worship of Goddess Lakshmi whose dazzling luminosity is represented by rows of lamps. What is the ultimate goal of life? Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna clearly spells out the purpose of human birth. He says that a man is born in vain who inspite of having a human body, does not attempt to realise God! In eastern parts of Bharat, Goddess Kaali is worshipped. She is evidently invoked in order that our rakta (blood-attachment) is dried up (swallowed) and our munda (ego-head) can be cut asunder by Her grace.

Sri Krishna holding mount Govardhan – painting of Bikaner School of Art – Circa 1690

When God becomes the focus, all obstructions, sufferings, troubles come to an end. Did He not assure in Gita that His devotee is never destroyed? – na me bhaktah pranashyati. Thus the fourth day is important milestone in the spiritual development of a sadhaka when he/she is rest assured of the protection of the Lord. This day is remembered as Govardhanpuja signifying how Bhagawan Sri Krishna lifted with his small finger the massive Govardhan mountain in order to protect his people from the deluge of rain.

Progress in spiritual life has some definite signs. One of them is the cheerful attitude with which one serves all brothers and sisters. The amity that is brought forth among the sisters and brothers is practised on the final fifth day as bhaidhuj. As per puranas Yama, the Lord of Death has assured that he would not bother those mortals who spread the message of love to their sisters. A perfect harmony leads to moksha, the ultimate liberation.

Thus this ‘Five-day Festival’ traces the spiritual expansion of human growth culminating in the gaining of knowledge of God. It offers an opportunity to dive deep into one’s heart and search for all types of demonic qualities residing inside. Thus, the need is felt to clear the darkness from the heart. To dispel away the internal darkness we have to light the lamp of knowledge. When a lamp is lit on Diwali, just pray to your chosen ideal that the darkness of ignorance be removed from your heart.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagawan Sri Krishna says that out of compassion for the devotees, He, residing within their hearts, certainly destroys the darkness born of ignorance with the radiant lamp of knowledge. (Ch X.11). Hence, while celebrating Diwali, let us pray to the Divinity (in whatever form one may believe in) to bestow the right knowledge by which we can lead a peaceful and prosperous life with service to the poor and needy.

==============

Vedanta Retreat

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 6.38.36 AMA Good Friday Gift

Vedanta Retreat

A Good Friday Gift was presented by the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa to devotees in the form of its annual Vedanta Retreat on Friday, 18 April 2014 from 6 a.m to 12:30 p.m at the Glen Anil Ashram.

The programme commenced at the Sri Ramakrishna Temple with a satsang that included the opening prayer, singing of stotrams/bhajans, silent meditation and the chanting of the Vaidika Dasha Shantih Mantras. Reading from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna was done by Ms Kirthi Rabikissoon. Dr Rajesh Singh, a member of the Executive Committee welcomed the audience.

Swami Saradaprabhananda addressing the audience...
Swami Saradaprabhananda addressing the audience…Image courtesy: Veresh Singh

After breakfast the devotees assembled at the Nischalananda Hall and were treated to an enlightening message by Swami Saradaprabhananda on the topic “Sage Uddalaka’s Teachings to Svetaketu: The Highest Nature of God” where he emphasised that the true purpose of learning was to uplift oneself to higher truths. He then introduced ‘Likhit Japa’  when the devotees were advised to write AUM in any language with concentrated mind for 10 minutes.

Swami Vimokshananda addressing the audience...
Swami Vimokshananda addressing the audience….Image courtesy: Veresh Singh

Swami Vimokshananda, the President of the Centre, delivered an inspiring message on the topic “The Universalism of Vedanta” clarifying the difference between the common understanding of universalism and the Vedantic concept of universalism. He also introduced a Silent Reading of Srimad Bhagavad Gita with the advise that the devotees should do the reading with complete focus on the thoughts of Gita.

Y Rugunandan, a youth speaker, delivered a message entitled “Swami Vivekananda’s Laws of Life”.
Y Rugunandan, a youth speaker, delivered a message entitled “Swami Vivekananda’s Laws of Life”. .Image courtesy: Veresh Singh

Brahmachari Akhilachaitanya eloquently chanted selected verses from the Shiva Sankalpa Suktam. The Shiva Sankalpa Sukta is a powerful six-verse hymn from the Rig Veda that entreats the mind “to dwell on the auspicious will of the Divine,” and helps one cultivate conscious resolve in alignment with the cosmic auspiciousness. Mr Y Rugunandan, a youth speaker, also delivered a message entitled “Swami Vivekananda’s Laws of Life”.

Pravrajika Ishtaprana conducting closing prayers...
Pravrajika Ishtaprana responding to a question on Brahmarpanam verse of the Gita….Image courtesy: Veresh Singh

The programme also included screening of a DVD entitled “Karma & Reincarnation” guided meditation and an enlightening question and answer session. The programme was well attended and enjoyed by all present. Ms Nikita Rugunandan was the MC for the hall program.

|| Aum Shri Ramakrishnarpanamastu ||