Diwali Blessings – Let Us All Burn Like Diyas – Giving Light & Life to Others
The meanings of the auspicious holiday of Diwali are innumerable. Whether one looks at the story of the return to Ayodhya of Lord Rama or the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakaasuras or the fall of Bali, Diwali is a holiday which symbolizes the vanquishing of evil by good, the return of righteousness and divinity.
In past years I have discussed numerous aspects of this holiday, its spiritual and historical significance. This year I will focus on the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya, for within this aspect are numerous crucial messages for our lives.
Diwali is the day that, after 14 long years of exile in the forest with his wife Sita Ma and his brother Lakshman, Lord Rama returned to the kingdom of Ayodhya. The people were so thrilled at the return of their King, that they lined the roads of the town, the shops, the homes and every place with brightly burning lamps. Today, throughout India and wherever Indians have settled in the world, one can see beautifully lit oil lamps and candles glowing in the darkness of night.
All Parts of the Lamp Are Important
What is the deeper meaning of the Diwali oil lamp? From the oil lamp one learns humility, one learns to be a nameless and faceless part of a team working for the betterment of humanity. There is a beautiful saying which goes as follows: “Karta kaam koi hai. Naam kisi ka hota hai. Jalte tel aur bati. Naam diya ka hota hai.” It means, “Someone may do the work. Someone else may get the credit. In an oil lamp it is the wick and oil which burn, but we give credit to the diya.” In life also this happens. There are always those who get the credit, those who are always in the center receiving the appreciation and reward, while those doing the real work frequently find themselves in the background. This should not bother us. We must learn to be like the wick and the oil of the lamp. Just keep burning and bringing light to others. Don’t worry whether people acknowledge you properly or not. Whose name gets the credit is not what’s important. What’s important is that light has been brought to the world.
However, when we find ourselves in the position of the wick and oil, feeling like we do all the work and not getting the credit or appreciation, what do we do? We sulk. We complain. We grumble. This is not the divine way and it is not the message of Diwali. As we watch the Diwali lamps burn, bringing beautiful illumination, we must take the message that all parts of the lamp are crucial. If there were no oil, or no wick, or no clay pot in which to hold them, there could be no flame. Each part is essential and of equal worth. No one is small and no one is big. In our lives as we work to bring light to our family, our communities and our world, let us worry less about who is doing what and who is getting credit and let us worry more about whether we are being the very best wick, the very best oil and the very best pot we can be.
Let Us Burn FOR Others, Not FROM Others
Another message to be taken from the lamp is that it burns for others, with no selfish motivation and no expectation. The sole purpose of an oil lamp’s existence is to bring light to others. They burn FOR others, with every minute, every moment of their lives and every ounce of their existence. We also burn. But we burn FROM others rather than FOR others. We burn with anger, jealousy and frustration. The heat is on, but rather than bringing healing, it brings hurt, to ourselves and to others. The flames of our internal fire engulf us, suffocate us and burn the very core of our beings. We must learn to burn FOR others rather than FROM others. Look at Bhagwan Rama. How easy it would have been for Kaikeyi’s insistence upon his exile to ignite the flames of anger and resentment within him. How easy for him to burn with jealousy for Bharat who was undeservedly being given the title of King. How easy to become indignant, to sulk and complain. However, He did none of that. Rather, Kaikeyi’s pronouncement and his father’s compulsion to acquiesce, caused the lamp of compassion, love and service to burn even brighter for him. He was overjoyed at the opportunity to offer these years of his life to Kaikeyi and to help his father fulgill the Kshetriya’s vow. Bhagwan Rama’s life was truly a divine lamp, burning for others and bringing light wherever He went.
The Underlying Cause of Bhagwan Rama’s Exilr
Another important and rarely discussed aspect of Bhagwan Rama’s exile to the forest is how it really began. What was the root cause, the fundamental cause? It was not Kaikeyi who was evil, but rather her maidservant Manthara who slowly and insideously poisoned Kaikeyi’s mind against Bhagwan Rama. Manthat convinced Kaikeyi, deliberately and deceitfully, that if Bhagwan Rama became King he would deprive Kaikeyi of her role as favorite wife and Queen. Manthara so successfully turned Kaikeyi against the members of her own family that she insisted upon Bhagwan Rama’s exile. So, actually, Bhagwan Rama’s exile and King Dasaratha’s tragic death is not due to Kaikeyi’s selfishness but rather due to the ignorant, conniving nature of her trusted servant.
This happens frequently in our own families, communities and workplaces. Our minds and hearts get polluted against our loved ones, colleagues, friends and co-workers by others who are acting either out of their own ignorance or through cunning ulterior motives. If Kaikeyi had trusted her sister/friend Kaushalya, her husband Dasaratha and her step-son Rama as much as she trusted her servant, none of the tragic events would have come to pass.
So, at this time of Diwali, let us renew our commitment to let the light shine not only in our lamps and in our temples, but to let the light of discrimination, love and loyalty shine in our minds and in our hearts. Let us not be blinded by the darkness of ignorance, negativity, jealousy, anger and greed. Let us pray for God to shine His divine light upon us, showing us that the sinister-looking shape on the ground is truly just a harmless rope and not a poisonous snake. Else before we know it we’ve exhausted and wasted our energy trying to beat to death a simple piece of twine.
At this holy and auspicious time of Diwali, let us pray to the Lord Almighty to bestow His divine light upon us, bringing the light of wisdom, peace, joy and love to our lives.
With love and blessings to you all and all your loved ones,
In the service of God and humanity,
Swami Chidanand Saraswati