Click here for a discourse on Deepavali by Swami Sivananda.
Deepavali Message, 1949.
Light, light, dazzling light everywhere! May our obeisance be to the Light of Lights, Brahman of God!
Deepavali is one of the numerous celebration to which we are heir and which take us at once back to the thought of our own Godhead. This particular festivity has a deep significance in several directions.
I have myself always been a staunch advocate of early rising. Waking up in Brahmamuhurta (about 4 A.M.) is a great blessing from the standpoints of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work, and spiritual advancement. It is on Deepavali day that every one wakes up early in the morning. The Sage who instituted this custom must have cherished the hope that their descendents would realise its benefits and make it a regular daily habit.
Every one wears new clothes. (Often, for the poor, this is the only new cloth for the year.) Masters present new clothes to their servants; those who can afford distribute clothes freely to the poor and the needy. Charity, especially in the matter of distribution of clothes, is freely resorted to; the heart expands. Here, again, the Rishis have hidden a divine seed which, given the favourable circumstances, would sprout forth into an all-pervading tree of Universal Love and Charity.
In a happy mood of great rejoicing the village folk move about freely, mix with one another without reserve; all enmity is buried deep under the earth; people embrace each other in fond love Deepavali is a great unifying factor. Those with keen ‘inner ears’ will clearly hear the Ancients’ Voice: “Children of God! Unite; Love all.” The vibrations produced by the greetings of love which fill the atmosphere are powerful enough to bring about a change of heart in every man and woman in the world. Alas! This heart has considerably hardened; and only a continuous celebration of Deepavali in this holy land can re-awaken humanity to the urgent need of turning away from the path to ruin.
India has to do it. That is her duty and privilege in this New Age. Her liberation from foreign political yoke is but the first step in that direction.
Rama Rajya can first be established in India alone. It will be India’s duty, then, to spread the Message of Rama Rajya throughout the world. Deepavali is just a day’s reminder of Rama Rajya. Mythology has it that it is on this sacred day that Sri Rama returned to Ayodhya after destroying the Rakshasas and established Rama Rajya.
In our Rama Rajya (which is brought to our mind’s eye by Deepavali) there will be a complete absence of hatred, ill-will or self-aggrandisement. People’s hearts will be filled with thoughts of Love, charity, and selfless service. When these come to stay in the Indian heart, I call that a perpetual celebration of Deepavali! India alone can do it at the present time. For it is in her soil alone that this seed has been left unscorched.
Merchants turn over a few leaf on this day. They close their accounts and open fresh books. How I wish every Indian ‘turned over a few leaf’: close the previous year’s account of recriminations, reprisals, retaliatory schemes, of hatred, ill-will and rancour, and open a fresh Book of Love! A New Year, and with that will dawn a New Era of Peace.
Sri Lakshmi, the Goddess of all Auspicious Qualities, is worshipped. All the Daivi Sampatti (Divine, Virtuous qualities) have their origin in Her alone. She is the Source of Peace, Love and Joy. She is the Mother of all, who preserves and protects every one. On Deepavali day Goddess Lakshmi is invoked and the devotee prays to Her to bestow on all Her choicest blessings, in the shape of Peace and Goodwill. He surrenders himself at Her Lotus Feet and seeks protection there. He gives up the little ego and drinks the sweet nectar of wisdom and love that drips from the lotuses She holds in her hands. Lakshmi alone can root out the evil qualities that lurk in the man’s lower self. Oh Man! Invite Her to occupy the lotus of your heart on this great day, so that She can awaken in you the latentpowers of love and joy!
Every household is illuminated on this day. Everywhere you look there is Light. This is intended to remind man that his essential nature is Light: that the Atman, his own real Self, is the Light of all lights, the Light that lends luminosity to countless suns, moons and stars in the infinite universes. It is Avidya that produces a semblance of darkness!
This Avidya consists of Nama-Rupa, name and form, characteristics of the organs of sight and hearing. In Reality there is nothing but one Infinite Consciousness–Akhanda Ekarasa Satchidananda Swarupa Para Brahman. Even as the same sulphur is made into a variety of fireworks–with differences only in name and form, in the sound that they make and the spectacle they produce–even so, Brahman, the Reality, is the same: Avidya has manufactured names and forms, sounds and spectacles, out of It for the amusement of children! No man, however erudite a scholar he may be, whatever be his age, learning, or wealth can call himself other than an ignorant child, till he actually perceives this Unity in diversity.
Oh Man! Awake! Arise! It is Brahmamuhurtha now. Sing the Names of the Lord now. Worship Goddess Lakshmi, the Abode of all virtues. Love all. Be charitable. Turn a new leaf in the book of your life. Light the lamp of wisdom in your heart and dispel the darkness of ignorance or the perception of name and form! Behold now the Light of lights–the Atman, within yourself!
That is the Message which the Seers of India intended to convey through the Deepavali celebration. That is the true message of Peace and Love. That is the Message which India will have to broadcast to the world.
The Western Scientists’ Brains Trust, working at a furious rate for the past many centuries, has not been able to bring about that peace and freedom from evil which every one seems to seek. It has, on the other hand, striven to lead civilisation astray. I must say that in spite again of their gigantic endeavours, the scientists have not been able to disturb the fundamentals of Indian culture, thanks to the many apparently superstitious rites and ceremonies that our wise ancients have left for us as a precious legacy.
The rational mind calls these ceremonies superstitions. The bogey of superstition which they bring up is itself a superstition! The modern scientific mind revels in the superstitious belief that all that the ancients have left us is a bundle of superstitions: for man’s intellect, deprived of its purity by continuous rusting, is incapable of transcending itself into the realms of Pure Reason (not to speak of the realms of Intuitive Perception) and perceiving, the Truth through a maze of apparent superstitious beliefs.
No nation, not even a village or a household, has ever produced individuals of exactly the same faculties, temperaments and spiritual evolution. The Indian Seer who had to cater for entire humanity, for all generations, was evidently farsighted enough to synthesise in every bequest he has left behind, food enough for the soul of all human beings–intellectual, rational, emotional, credulous and sceptic!
Thus, we find that Deepavali has a message for one and all!
May all men’s heart be illumined with wisdom!