Friday, November 5, 2021

Why is a lamp important ?

Kannada Article by: Mythili Raghavan
English Rendering by: M R Bhashyam
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In the culture of Bhārat, the lamp has a special place. Lighting a lamp in front of the Lord during dawn and dusk is a practice in every household.  Some people even argue, "In these days where the price of oil used for lamps is going up, why waste oil? Instead, why not light an electric lamp similar in shape and form?" A lit lamp is a sure sign of inaugurating some function or event.  The question that "when there are bulbs and electric lights which are powerful a hundred times in these auditoria, why should there be a lit lamp?" appears both reasonable and rational.

The answers to these questions must be explored in the intent of the sages of Bhārata. We can cite the explanation given by Śrī Śrīraga Mahāguru, who had known the heart of the great sages of India. The sages of India had witnessed an eternal effulgent light, the root of all creation, during their meditation and samādhi. This light, not to be found in the physical world, gave them wondrous peace and joy. With the great desire that the entire human race may enjoy that joy, they brought into practice daily lighting of lamps which were similar to that Light, and to draw the minds in that direction.

With the intent that this substratum of all activities becomes the starting point of all our actions, lighting a lamp in functions and gatherings at the beginning is practiced. The sages with extraordinary exploratory minds discovered the oil and wick combinations that resulted in flames which were similar to the inner light. They discovered that the combination of the wick of the hallow of a lotus stem with the freshly prepared ghee from cow's milk would give a flame almost similar to the flame seen internally. Even the smoke that emanates from that flame helps to draw the mind inwards. Flames lit using other oils and wicks also resemble the effulgent primordial internal light to some extent.

Though a small lamp may be sufficient to bring out the light, using a lamp-post is more appropriate. The lamp-post indicates our spinal cord and the lamp lit at its crown represents the effulgent light which glows at the terminal of the spinal cord - the Sahasrāra cakra, the thousand petalled lotus. One can also see lamp posts in our country, which are designed in such a way to bring out the details of various aspects and experiences while traversing the spiritual path through the spinal cord. These also act as guiding maps in our journey towards the eternal effulgent spirit and the ultimate joy. 

The act of lighting lamps is being currently practiced mechanically. If we can understand the true significance of lighting a lamp and perform the activity with an informed mind, we will progress towards the eternal and will be blessed.

Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blog.