Friday, October 28, 2005

Meaning And Explanation Of Deepavali - Scientific and Religious

Deepavali means "the array of lights." "Thamasomaa jyotirgamaya"
(Lead me from darkness to light) is an Upanishadic prayer: This
means that where there is darkness light is needed. What is this
darkness? Sorrow is one form of darkness. Peacelessness is another.
Loss is another. Disappointment is one form of darkness. Misery is
yet another. Lack of enthusiasm is another. All these are different
forms of darkness. To get rid of the darkness of sorrow, you have to
light the lamp of happiness. To dispel the darkness of disease, you
have to install the light of health. To get over the darkness of
losses and failures, you have to usher in the light of prosperity.

Looking at the Deepavali festival from the scientific point of view,
it should be noted that at one time in the distant past, our
ancestors lived in the Arctic region (the polar region). In this
region, darkness prevailed for six months. The sun appears on Mesha
Sankranthi day (the sun entering the Aries sign of the Zodiac). The
sun sets in this region on Tula Sankranthi day (when the sun enters
Libra). In the movement between these two signs, there is an
interval of six months. After the sun sets in Libra, the dark half-
year starts.

Today is Chathurdasi (the fourteenth day) in the month of Karthik.
It is Amavasya (New Moon day). The month is called Kaumudi. The
people in the polar region used to start lighting their lamps from
this day. The lighting of the lamp is not without other
significance. As they would be in darkness for a long period, they
described the lamp that was lit as Nithyajyothi (the perennial

It was on Deepavali day that Sri Rama's coronation took place after
his victorious return to Ayodhya from Lanka vanquishing Ravana and
his Rakshasa brood. For a long period Ayodhya had been plunged in
darkness when Rama was in exile in the forest. In the absence of the
effulgent Rama, Ayodhya was a city of darkness. The forests were
filled with light. The return of Rama was hailed by the people of
Ayodhya as the return of divine effulgence and hence they celebrated
the event by the lighting of lamps everywhere.

Nor is that all. Today's festival is marked by other significant
features. This is the day on which the Lord in His Vamana
incarnation sent the Emperor Bali to the Nether World after He got
the promise of three feet of ground (measured by the Lord's foot)
from Bali. Vamana (as the incarnation of Vishnu) used the gift of
three feet of land to put down the Ahamkara (egoism) of Bali.

Deepavali is a festival which is designed to celebrate the
suppression of the Ego by the Higher Self. Man is plunged in the
darkness of ignorance and has lost the power of discrimination
between the permanent and the evanescent. When the darkness of
ignorance caused by Ahamkara (the ego-feeling) is dispelled by the
light of Divine knowledge, the effulgence of the Divine is
experienced. Deepavali is also the day on which Emperor Vikrama
ditya ascended the throne.

If the darkness of ignorance is to be dispelled, man needs a
container, oil, wick and a matchbox corresponding to what an
external lamp needs. For man, the heart is the container. The mind
is the wick. Love is the oil and vairagya (sacrifice) is the
matchbox. When you have these four, Atma-jyothi (the Divine flame of
the Spirit) shines effulgently. When the light of the Spirit is
aflame, the Light of Knowledge appears and dispels the darkness of

The flame of a lamp has two qualities. One is to banish darkness.
The other is a continuous upward movement. Even when a lamp is kept
in a pit, the flame moves upwards. The sages have therefore adored
the lamp of wisdom as the flame that leads men to higher states.
Hence, the effulgence of light should not be treated as a trivial
phenomenon. Along with lighting the external lamps, men should
strive to light the lamps within them. The human estate should be
governed by sacred qualities. This calls for the triple purity of
body, mind and speech--Trikarana Suddhi (purity of the three

The inner significance of Deepavali is to lead man from darkness to
light. Man is perpetually plunged in darkness. Every time he is
enveloped in darkness, he should light a lamp that is ever shining
within him. Carry that lamp wherever you go. It will light your path
wherever you may be.