By -Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
There is so much wisdom and insight in our ancient practices and rituals, even about when or what time they are done and how they are done. We celebrate Diwali in Karthik month. During the entire month, people light a lamp in front of their homes. One reason for this is, Karthik is one of the darkest months of the year in this hemisphere, marking the end of Dakshinayana, when the sun travels south, and there is less light.
Lighting a lamp has yet another symbolism. Lord Buddha said – appo deepo bhava – be a light unto yourself. One lamp (light) is not enough to dispel the darkness. Everyone should glow. Why did Lord Buddha make a sangha? He did so because he knew that many lives need to awaken in wisdom. When more people are awakened, it will create a happy society. When He says, be a light unto yourself, be a light to everybody around you, he means be in knowledge, and spread the knowledge and wisdom to those around you.
Kali Chaudas: The glory of night
Diwali is also celebrated as the Kali Chaudas in many parts of the country. This festival dedicated to the worship of Goddess Kali is a beautiful reminder of the grandeur of the night. If there were no night, no darkness, we would never know the magnitude of our Universe. We would’ve never known that there are other planets. It might appear as though we see more in the day, and less at night. But, what we see at night is the brahmand – the infinite glory of the Universe. When we close our eyes to the small things, we open them up to something much bigger. If you notice, the pupils in your eyes are dark – they are also called Kali. If we didn’t have the dark pupil in our eyes, we wouldn’t be able to see anything, right?
Kali is a symbol of knowledge. She is the Mother of wisdom. She is not someone sitting out there with her tongue out, trying to scare you. They are all mere depictions. She is an energy we cannot describe or comprehend with our intellect. It can only be experienced.
Kali also stands on Lord Shiva. What does that mean? Shiva means the silent infinite principle. When we experience the deep, silent, non-dual principle of Shiva, we understand that it is our very own Self. There we experience the Kali energy, where we open ourselves to higher knowledge.
Diwali and the Goddess of Wealth
We invoke and seek the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth on Diwali. She brings with her a sense of thrill. You know, the thought of receiving wealth evokes a thrill in many people. So, the second sign of the Goddess of Wealth is a sense of thrill. The third sign is there is beauty and light.
She loves one-pointed devotion. There is a beautiful story depicting this. When Adi Shankaracharya was only 8 years old, he had composed the Kanakadhara Stotram, a very rhythmic, powerful and meaningful verse. The story goes, one day Adi Shankaracharya stood outside a home to beg for alms. The lady of the house was so poor that she had only one gooseberry to offer. She placed that in his bowl. Moved by her devotion, Adi Shankaracharya sang the Kanakadhara Stotram in praise of Lakshmi Devi, and Devi showered the home with golden gooseberries, it is said.