Article in Kannada by: Tarodi Suresha
English Translation by: Padmini Srinivasan
A glowing lamp dispels darkness, and fills its brilliance everywhere. All living beings desire light with the exception of nocturnal birds like an owl.
In our country Bhaarata, the greatness attached to the lamp is not accorded to any other thing. 'Bhaa' means light and ‘rata’ means those who revel. The name 'Bhaarata' stands for those who seek and rejoice in this enlightenment. Here we begin all occasions with the lighting of a lamp. All along the length and breadth of the country, absence of a lamp is considered inauspicious.
The lamp we light is considered as a representative of Paranjyoti (the Supreme Self-Effulgent Lord), as He is the foremost radiance at the root of all creation. He is described in literature as "Jyotiriva Adhoomakah" meaning - a light free from smoke; "Deepavad vedasaaram" - the essence of all Vedas, glowing in the innermost lotus-like recess of the heart etc. The inner light is ‘Nidhi’ (meaning original treasure) and the lamp we light outside becomes its 'Pratinidhi' (a representative of the original). To be a true representative, it should also have the ability to help one reach the ultimate Self-Effulgent light. A true representative should necessarily possess the characteristics of the original, that too in a large measure.
A lamp glows on its own like the self-shining Light. Just as the Supreme Lord vanquishes ignorance, a lamp dispels darkness. As a lamp resembles the Lord’s radiance, its sight is capable of elevating a person to experience the Supreme Light.
Yoga shaastra says that one who is in a state of Samaadhi, is stock-still like a lamp, glowing without any flicker caused by wind. Our national poet Kaalidaasa has portrayed Parashiva as ‘A flicker-free lamp glowing in the absence of wind’. This symbolises a steady state of mind, without distractions – an essential requirement for one to see the bright form of the Supreme Lord.
A lamp when used to light another lamp retains its constancy. Its brilliance does not increase or decrease. This represents a steady Bhagavat Dharma (God’s distinctive quality).
Supreme Lord is like a maternal house providing ultimate happiness. So also a lamp signifies Mangala - which gives happiness. There is a saying by the experienced Seers that a lamp when used (as per their guidelines) as an instrument to attain salvation, serves as an entry point to experience the absolute happiness of Lord’s vision.
God alleviates living beings from the cycle of birth and death. As per the saying "Tamasomaa Jyotirgamaya" – a lamp, serving as a tool for penance, guides one towards the Absolute principles and protects him from getting caught in the chain of repeated births. Hence it is also praised as "mrutyu vinaashino deepah".
Looking at a lamp is akin to looking at ourselves in a mirror. The process is similar to understanding earth through a map. There are three components in a lamp viz. the wick, oil (or ghee) and the lamp post (carrying the lamp). The lamp is a wonderful creation by our rshis. Serving as a representative of the supreme Lord, it reflects our complete life too. Lamp represents the Supreme light; the three components are the three characteristics of the human body viz. satwa, rajas and tamas; oil stands for the sticking nature of bhakti. The lamp post represents the spinal cord or the human body itself. Yoga shaastra vividly describes the secret involution path lodged within the Meru-danda (spinal-cord) and the Self-Effulgent Paranjyoti glowing at the tip of Meru-danda in Sahasraara Chakra.
Life’s basic principles, the lotus structure, vidyaas etc., are all discernible only through a yogic inner vision. As a reminder, our rshis have outwardly designed Mangalaarati (a flame circulated around the deity at the end of pooja) with different number of wicks and shapes of the lamp as an offering to the Lord.
All these secrets have to be learned only from revered people who are capable of comprehending the minds of rshis. Our salutations to all the Maharshis, who have taught us the usage of a lamp as Paranjyoti’s representative in our daily lives and communicated the message that the lamp is nothing but a manifestation of Paranjyoti !.
Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs
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