Pause; ponder; proceed!

All Hindu festivals are multi-layered. The most popular Deepavali at a superficial level, comes at the start of a season when there is extended darkness in the mornings and early ones in the evening. The array of lights and burst of crackers are meant to usher in an early dawn and spread brightness and bonhomie during those dim climes. Suffice to say that solar and lunar influences have been adequately factored in, lending the symbolisms scientific and astronomic credence too.

Peel off that outer crust and you get to a subtler version. The festival of light switches to enlightenment mode. Deepavali is now an occasion for erasing all bad and gloomy thoughts and replace them with pious, positive ones. The celebrations, that have no doubt changed form over ages, have however retained the zest and happiness that Deepavali is a harbinger of. We live in our minds and this habitat has to be in a healthy frame, rain or shine. Deepavali dispels the mental darkness and makes the mind a healthy home.

But there is a core that lies deeper, not just with Deepeavali but all facets and festivals of Bharath’s glorious culture and traditions. This common denominator is soul-realisation. The individual soul’s, i.e jivatma’s, search for and its ultimate salvation through identification with the paramatma, is what Hindu dharma is all about. This process transcends births and experiences and festivals are some of the many signposts that help the soul’s sojourn.

For such a liberated soul, it is eternal Deepavali, having merged with that everlasting light. Indeed, it is small wonder that all cultures and religions relate God with light.

Deepavali, despite being associated with many stories and histories, follows the above pattern in all its varied versions. It is possible that all variants are valid as a year has only 365 days and each of those events would have happened in different periods, making the same day an occasion for celebration for several reasons. The most popular one is Narakasura’s killing by Lord Krishna, in the company of consort Sathyabhama. The light of freedom and peace dawned on a populace caught in the grim grind of an asura’s rule. Taking the cue, each one is exhorted to exorcise their mental demons too. And when still unrest and yearning lingers, a clear mind now sees the lighted road ahead, at the end of which the Lord awaits in all His effulgence.

Let’s shift to the present. Troubling questions arise. Where are we on this scale of soul elevation? But then is there any cognisance at all of something called soul in this wholly material world? Has a spiritual mindset become totally incompatible with modern living? Is the complete eclipse of Deepavali by commerce and entertainment proof that life itself has become bereft of any higher callings, religious or aesthetic? Sure, the bygone ages were not without material pursuits. Still, at the back of the mind was a constant longing for something more blissful and lasting, beyond the mundane and monetary milieu. Have we now lost the script and strayed from that search, blinded as we are by the self-imposed smokescreens of practical life?

That I have said this all proves no enlightenment or realisation. May be some hindsight and belated wisdom. And that I am getting old. Otherwise I am as guilty as all. Still there is this urge to render some unsolicited advice, particularly to the youth: Despite the pressures, do take a step back and scan the scenario, often. Icons on screen should not be mistaken for the OS itself, to put it in current jargon. There is surely a larger picture, rather the real picture, beyond all the apparent lights, delights and din of Deepavali.

And that is true of life itself. Once we banish the blots and blinkers on our vision, the blur in the background will only get brighter and eventually materialise. Outer light. Inner light. Eternal light.

Now, choose the Deepavali you want! But whatever, may it be a happy one!

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Jawahar T R