DEEPAWALI – THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS.

Deepawali, the festival of lights is celebrated on a moonless dark night in the month of October or November every year in the whole world and especially in the Indian subcontinent by the Hindus, Sikhs, and people from all other religions who contribute to the celebrations in one way or the other. The festival has become more of a good business proposition than purely a spiritual activity. It is related to the return of Lord Ram, Sita Ji, and Laxman back to their home in Ayodhya from an exile of fourteen years during which period Lord Ram passed through different phases of life and established a proper code of conduct for all of us by creating self-examples and discipline of life(BURNING THE EVIL: DUSSEHRA). He himself underwent various difficulties and faced the challenges of life with maturity and with utmost wisdom thus setting examples for us as to how to face various problems and aspects of life in a balanced manner.

We learn a lot from the examples set by Lord Rama about our obligations to the society, family members including father, mother, stepmother, brothers, wife, friends, teachers(Guru), friends, supporters, disciples, true followers, opponents, and the learned persons.

His priority towards Mata Shabri who was a very poor lady from a lower caste, over the most learned and famous Rishis including the great Matang Rishi who were proud of their knowledge and wisdom, is a true example of the love of a Master towards his disciple. Out of this love, he ignored the feast arranged by the Rishis and chose to eat the wild berries collected by Mata Shabri from the forest and each one of which she had tasted to check the sweetness.

After winning the war against Ravana who was hurt and was about to die in the battlefield; Lord Rama directed his brother Laxman who was an angry young man to go to Ravana and approach him respectfully for a piece of advice based on his knowledge and wisdom because Ravana was highly intellectual and a learned person.

By this act, Lord Ram taught us that we should not be biased even against our foes and appreciate their good qualities.

He made Laxman shun his anger, pride of winning the war and hatred if any towards the defeated enemy. He taught everyone to eliminate only the evil and appreciate the virtues even that of an enemy.

During those fourteen years of exile, he faced all the good and bad events of his life with courage, faith, complete humbleness and with a balanced and positive approach. After successful completion of his exile, he returned to Ayodhya where he was greeted with lights, dances, fireworks and that day of victory and Homecoming is still celebrated in the form of Deepawali.

No one likes to remain in the darkness. Everyone wants to be in the light. One philosopher describes darkness as the absence of light. There is never an absence of light in this world. Sun gives us light during the day and the moon appears before the sun disappears and so the stars. The light is always there as The God never blinks. The problem is with our own attitude. We turn our back to the light and focus only on the darkness so remain deprived of its shine.

How desperately we long for the light but search it outwardly whereas God has kept the same within all of us. Being extroverts we can’t get in touch with this divine lamp to which some call Akhand jyot, some call it Noor-e-Haq or Sham-e-Allahi or by various other names. This lamp is within everyone. All we need is to be introverts and focus our attention within ourselves instead of allowing it to scatter it outside. The longing for this light is not only the domain of any particular religion. Every religion has appreciated this and has always been in search of this Divine light. Our various festivals and traditions are connected with the appearance of the sources of light such as fire,  stars, the moon, and the sun.  This is actually the light within which Lord Ram was greeted on his homecoming. This is the same light which Hazrat Moosa encountered at Koh-e Toor. This is the same light which we symbolize on the Shab-e- Raat or on a Christmas tree during the Christmas celebrations. All we need is to have a true Guru, a perfect Master, a Kamil Murshid and learn from Him the technique of becoming an introvert and focus our attention inwards and follow a simple and chaste lifestyle in order to achieve salvation.

We the humans too have been exiled like Lord Ram for a fixed time period i:e our lifespan, for having disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit. This period of exile is granted to us as a chance to purify our soul, pay for the mistakes and liberate ourselves from the shackles of wishes, anger, greed, attachment to worldly objects, and the ego/ pride. If we succeed, we will find our way back home and would be greeted with the lights which will remove all darkness from our life and liberate us from the unending cycle of birth and death thus leading us to attain Moksha, Mukti, or Najaat.

May this Diwali show us the way to the light within; the light that liberates; the light that removes all the darkness from our lives, thoughts, and the behaviors.

Wishing a very Happy Diwali to all the Readers….

BURNING THE EVIL: DUSSEHRA

Dussehra is celebrated in the Indian subcontinent with much fanfare every year after the culmination of nine Navratras. Hindus observe fast during these nine Navratras and worship Goddess Durga in order to purify their souls and burn all evils on the tenth day i:e Dussehra by burning the effigy of Ten-headed  Ravana – The king of Lanka and who despite being so learned and having so much wisdom and intellect couldn’t control the evil in his mind. Overpowered by the evil thought he committed the heinous crime of kidnapping Sita, the wife of Lord Rama, knowing it well that Lord Rama was powerful enough to defeat him and rescue Sita. Despite all the wisdom and intellect at his command, he committed an immortal sin for which he was never forgiven and we still burn his effigy every year.

Burning of the effigy is symbolic. People nowadays do burn effigies of living leaders or people of high position as a protest against their actions which don’t suit them, but the burning of the effigy of Ravana signifies the victory of Good over the Evil. Does this actually burn the evil? Where is the evil, and Does it vanish by burning it every year? The evil tirelessly follows the good and it grows like the weed. Unless we de-weed it regularly every day rather every moment, it will overshadow the good crop. Symbolism will not do any good to us. We need to cleanse our mind and soul and condition them in such a way that they always remain positive.

Ramayana the Great epic teaches us the various aspects of perfect life and duties towards others. Lord Rama is also called Maryada Purshotam,  A person with Maryada i:e proper code of dignity and decorum. Lord Rama personally practiced perfect discipline in life and set examples for the conduct with parents, brothers, wife, society, followers, associates, master(Guru), and the enemies, without the slightest care for self-ego, pride, esteem, and hardships.

Dussehra signifies the constant fight with evil which grows faster than weed in our mind and we need to burn it rather uproot it moment by moment before it overshadows our intellect and makes us Ravana.

Ravana signifies Evil, Sita signifies a Pure soul and Lord Rama signifies The true spirit and a Perfect Master. India signifies the upper region i:e the abode of The Lord and Lanka signifies the earth. The pure soul descended to this world and got entrapped by the mind and its evil designs(Ravana). Having full faith in her Master, Sita remembers and prays her Lord for help; twho then invades Lanka and rescues the pure soul(Sita).

We the enslaved souls need to trust a Perfect Master/ Lord and pray before Him for help with full faith and trust. He will listen to our prayers if we are sincere and have complete trust in Him ; He will burn all evils from our mind and liberate us from this world of delusion. So, we need to understand the core of this symbolism and resort to its actual practice sincerely.