How to Illuminate Your Inner Self
Deepavali or Diwali means “a row of lights”. It falls on the last two days of the dark half of the Hindu month of Kartik. Mythical Origins of Diwali There are various alleged origins attributed to this festival. Some hold that they celebrate the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. In Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali. It also commemorates that blessed day on which the triumphant Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana.
On this day also Sri Krishna killed the demon arakasura. In South India people take an oil bath in the morning and wear new clothes. They partake of sweetmeats. They light fireworks, which are regarded as the effigies of Narakasura who was killed on this day. They greet one another, asking, “Have you had your Ganges bath?” which actually refers to the oil bath that morning as it is regarded as purifying as a bathin the holy Ganga. Give and Forgive Everyone forgets and forgives the wrongs done by others. There is an air of freedom, festivity and friendliness everywhere.
This festival brings about unity. It instills charity in the hearts of people. Everyone buys new clothes for the family. Employers, too, purchase new clothes for their employees. Rise and Shine Waking up during the ‘Brahmamuhurta’ (at 4a.m.) is a great blessing from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work and spiritual advancement. It is on Deepavali that everyone wakes up early in the morning. The sages who instituted this custom must have cherished the hope that their descendents would realise its benefits and make it a regular habit in their lives.
Unite and Unify In a happy mood of great rejoicing village folk move about freely, mixing with one another without any reserve, all enmity being forgotten. People embrace one another with love. Deepavali is a great unifying force. Those with keen inner spiritual ears will clearly hear the voice of the sages, “O Children of God unite, and love all”. The vibrations produced by the greetings of love, which fill the atmosphere, are powerful enough to bring about a change of heart in every man and woman in the world. Alas! That heart has considerably hardened, and only a continuous celebration of Deepavali in our homes can rekindle in us the urgent need of turning away from the ruinous path of hatred.
Prosper and Progress On this day, Hindu merchants in North India open their new account books and pray for success and prosperity during the coming year. The homes are cleaned and decorated by day and illuminated by night with earthen oil-lamps. The best and finest illuminations are to be seen in Bombay and Amritsar. The famous Golden Temple at Amritsar is lit in the evening with thousands of lamps placed all over the steps of the big tank. Vaishnavites celebrate the Govardhan Puja and feed the poor on a large scale. Illuminate Your Inner Self The light of lights, the selfluminous inner light of the Self is ever shining steadily in the chamber of your heart.
Sit quietly. Close your eyes. Withdraw the senses. Fix the mind on this supreme light and enjoy the real Deepavali, by attaining illumination of the soul. He who Himself sees all but whom no one beholds, who illumines the intellect, the sun, the moon and the stars and the whole universe but whom they cannot illumine, He indeed is Brahman, He is the inner Self. Celebrate the real Deepavali by living in Brahman, and enjoy the eternal bliss of the soul. The sun does not shine there, nor do the moon and the stars, nor do lightnings shine and much less fire. All the lights of the world cannot be compared even to a ray of the inner light of the Self. Merge yourself in this light of lights and enjoy the supreme Deepavali.
Many Deepavali festivals have come and gone. Yet the hearts of the vast majority are as dark as the night of the new moon. The house is lit with lamps, but the heart is full of the darkness of ignorance. O man! Wake up from the slumber of ignorance. Realize the constant and eternal light ofthe Soul, which neither rises nor sets, through meditation and deep enquiry. May you all attain full inner illumination! May the supreme light of lights enlighten your understanding! May you allattain the inexhaustible spiritual wealth of the Self ! May you all prosper gloriously on the material as well as spiritual planes!
Dhanteras is an important part of Diwali celebrations. Dhanteras marks the first day of Diwali celebrations. hanteras is also called Dhanvantari Trayodashi. It falls on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha in the Hindu onth of Kartik (October-November). The word ‘Dhan’ signifies money or wealth. On the day of Dhanteras, people worship the Goddess of Wealth (Goddess Lakshmi). Since Dhanteras is associated with the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, it is a very important celebration in the homes of the mercantile community.
In India, houses and market places wear a festive look on the day of Dhanteras and market places are abuzz with people all around. Legends of Dhanteras Like most of the Indian festivals, Dhanteras too has some legends associated with its celebration. Let’s have a look at some of the popular legends that are associated with this Dhantears celebration. Legend of Dhanwantari Churning of ocean (Samudramanthan) by Gods and demons forms an important part of the Hindu mythology. It is believed that during the churning of ocean by Gods and demons, Lord Dhanvantari (the Physician of Gods) emerged out with a jar of Amrit (elixir) on the day of Dhanteras.
Thus, the worship of Lord Dhanvantari has become a part of Dhanteras celebrations in most of the home. Legend of Yamadeep Daan Ritual According to this legend, the sixteen-year-old son of King Hima was doomed to die of snakebite on the fourth day of his marriage.Aware of the forecast about her husband, the intelligent wife of the young prince made a plan to save her husband. On the predicted day, the wife made all arrangements so that her husband did not fall asleep. Bedsides this, she also put all her silver and gold ornaments at the entrance of the door and illuminated the whole place with lamps and lights.
To insure that the husband did not sleep, the wife sang and narrated stories all through the night.Lord Yama, the mythological God of Death, arrived in the guise of a serpent but the illumination caused by lights dazzled his eyes and he was not able to enter the room of the young prince. The legends have it that the serpent, mesmerized by the melodious songs of the Princess’s wife, sat on the heap of ornaments and spent the night and went away in the morning. Thus, the Prince was saved by the illumination of the lamps and devotion of his wife. This legend led to the popularization of the tradition of ‘Yamadeep Daan’. It is due to this reason, lamps and diyas are kept burning all through the night on Dhanteras.
Rituals and Celebrations of Dhanteras As Dhanteras is associated with the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, people draw small footprints with rice flour and vermilion powder throughout the house right from the entrance (indicating the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi). As Dhantrayodashi or Dhanteras is considered very auspicious, people shop for gold, silver and some utensils. To celebrate the auspicious arrival of Goddess Lakshmi, the homes of people are illuminated by oil lamps,which are lit throughout the night. Lakshmi Puja is also an important part of the Dhanteras celebrations. The Lakshmi-Puja is performed at midnight.
How to Illuminate Your Inner Self