Dr (Pundit) Roshan Singh
The Ramayana describes, how when Lord Rama was exiled due to the misdirected intrigues of Kaikayi, Ayodhya became almost like a ghost city. All its citizens were plunged into an ocean of separation and sorrow for fourteen agonizingly long years. When Lord Rama finally returned, their heart’s innermost longing was at last fulfilled. They spontaneously celebrated this joyful reunion of divine love by illuminating their houses.
Apart from being a historical reality as scientific evidence still exists in India, this event also has immense relevance to our lives. Ayodhya is like our heart and Lord Rama is the Lord of our heart, the supreme object of love and devotion for all of us. Due to unfortunate misconceptions, we too have exiled the Lord from our heart. Just as Ayodhya became a ghost town when Lord Rama departed, our heart too has become infested with negative – and often self-destructive – feelings like anxiety, boredom, loneliness, depression, stress, prejudice, envy, anger, lust, greed and hatred. And, just like the citizens of Ayodhya, our lives too have become filled with emptiness and lamentation.
There is one important difference between us and the citizens of Ayodhya. They clearly knew that their grief was due to bereavement from the Lord. We however are often slow to recognize this root cause of our malaise. We try to hide and forget the existential emptiness of our life by accelerating its pace in pursuit of mundane goals – wealth, enjoyment, entertainment, fame, power and position. But these illusory substitutes for love of God offer only flickering titillation, not lasting fulfillment. Consequently, despite the frenzied pace and the jazzy gadgets that are the pride of our lives, we still remain largely unfulfilled and disappointed.
Take for example the manner in which our country is run and controlled. People with a lack of knowledge of the purpose of holding high positions in government take control of the country and the lives of its citizens. An election is contested to acquire positions for selfish purposes who believe in “let us see what is in it for me”. The innocent populace who have hope that their lives will be made better continue to live in a fools paradise as very little is done for them. The cause of this is that we live in a Godless society where a country is run without proper guidance and instructions from a Guru or qualified spiritual masters as the law is made and broken by the very people who formulate the laws. We can either choose to live in Ram Rajye or Ravan Rajye. Diwali is a time for stock taking where we are given the opportunity to make the proper choices and choose to rid ourselves of negative qualities and fill our heart and minds with pure and divine qualities.
Historically, the import of Diwali is not the lighting of lamps, but the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya. So our celebration of Diwali will remain incomplete if we continue to restrict ourselves to lighting lamps. Then how can we welcome the Lord back into our hearts and experience the essence of Diwali?
On this day historically the following incidents also took place on the earth planet. Lord Krishna killed a demon Narakasura. So we call that day Naraka Chathurdasi which refers to the 14th day of the dark fortnight when Narakasura was killed. Goddess Lakshmi Devi the Goddess of wealth and the consort of Lord Vishnu manifested out of the Milky ocean when Devas and Asuras churned the ocean for Amrutha or ambrosia. The Pandavas came out of the forest after their year banishment.
These happenings show us that victory of good doesn’t come that easily. Lord Rama suffered for 14 years, the Pandavas suffered great atrocities for 13 years. Goddess Lakshmi, that is wealth, doesn’t come easily but through hard work. Krishna had to travel all the way from Dwaraka in Gujarat to Kamaroop in Assam to kill Narakasura. To achieve success in anything, you have to struggle hard, but final victory will be yours.
Lord Rama answers in the Ramayana through His instructions, which inform us of our actual identity and purpose. We are all eternal spiritual beings, belonging to the kingdom of God, where we eternally enthrone the Lord as the king of our hearts and rejoice in selfless loving exchanges with Him. When we exile the Lord from our hearts, we exile ourselves from that world of endless love and come to this mortal world, where we misidentify ourselves with temporary material bodies. Covered by spiritual amnesia, we play illusory roles and pursue illusory goals, but get only disappointment and distress. Though we exile and forget the Lord, He never forgets us and never actually leaves our heart. He just becomes unmanifest to our vision and continues to accompany and guide us throughout all our adventures and misadventures in this world, eagerly waiting and inviting us back to His loving shelter. By cultivating knowledge from the sacred scriptures about the Lord and His love for us and reviving our dormant love for Him by chanting His holy names, we can invite Him back to our hearts. Therefore while lighting the earthen lamps this Diwali, let us also light our heart with divine wisdom and love.
I pray that you will take stock of your lives and vow to give up your bad qualities of anger, lust, greed and hatred and to bring in pure and divine qualities of love and care which will naturally allow pure and divine qualities to self manifest in our hearts to become worthy persons to our families and the nation.