Diwali – Lighting the Fire Within
Sadhguru: Diwali is celebrated for various cultural reasons but historically, it is called Naraka Chaturdashi because Narakasura, a very cruel king, was killed by Krishna. Because of that, this celebration happened in such a big way. The celebration is auspicious in so many different ways. On this day, it is said that if someone needs money, Lakshmi will come in. If someone wants health, Shakti will come in. If someone wants education, Saraswati will come in. These are all dialectical ways of expressing that it will lead to wellbeing.
Creating an Inner Light
Diwali is the Festival of Lights. On Diwali, you will see every town, city and village is lit up with thousands of lamps everywhere. But the celebration is not just about lighting lamps outside – an inner light has to come. Light means clarity. Without clarity, every other quality that you possess will only become a detriment, not a gift, because confidence without clarity is a disaster. And today, too much action in the world is performed without clarity.
On a certain day, a rookie police man was driving for the first time through a town with his experienced partner. They got a message on the radio, which said that there was a group of people loitering on a certain street, and were asked to disperse them. They drove into the street and saw a group of people standing at one of the corners. As the car came close by, the new policeman rolled his window down with great enthusiasm and said, “Hey, all of you. Get off that corner!” The group looked at each other in confusion. Then he yelled louder, “Didn’t you hear me? I told you to get off that damn corner!” They all dispersed. Then, pleased with the effect that he had on people when performing his first official task, he looked at his experienced partner and asked, “Did I do well?” His partner said, “Not bad at all, considering that it was a bus stop.”
Without the necessary clarity, whatever you try to do will be a disaster. Light brings clarity to your vision – not just in a physical sense. How clearly you see life and perceive everything around you decides how sensibly you conduct your life. Diwali is the day when the dark forces were put to death and light happened. This is also the predicament of human life. Like the dark clouds which brood in the gloomy atmosphere, not realizing that they are blocking the sun, a human being does not have to bring any light from anywhere. If he just dispels the dark clouds that he has allowed to gather within himself, light will happen. The Festival of Lights is just a reminder of that.
Life as a Celebration
In the Indian culture, there was a time when there used to be a festival every day of the year – 365 festivals in a year. The idea behind this was to make our whole life into a celebration. Today, maybe only thirty or forty festivals remain. We are not able to celebrate even those now because we have to go to office or do something else daily. So people usually celebrate only around eight or ten festivals annually. If we leave it like this, the next generation will not have any festival. They will not know what a festival is. They will just earn and eat, earn and eat – they will go on and on with just this. It has already become like this for many people. A festival means they give you a holiday, and you wake up only at noon. Then you just eat more, go for a movie or watch television at home. And only if they take some external stimulants, will these people dance a little. Otherwise they will not sing or dance. It wasn’t like that before. A festival meant that the whole town would gather in a place, and there would be a big celebration. A festival meant we got up at four in the morning, and very actively, lots of things happened all over the house. To bring back this culture in people, Isha celebrates four important festivals: Pongal or Makar Sankranti, Mahashivratri, Dussehra and Diwali.
Non-serious but Absolutely Involved
If you approach everything in a celebratory way, you learn to be non-serious about life but absolutely involved. The problem with most human beings right now is, if they think something is important, they will become dead serious about it. If they think it is not so important they will become lax about it – they don’t show the necessary involvement. When someone says, “He is in a very serious condition,” that means his next step is you know where. A lot of people are in a serious condition. There is only one thing that is going to happen to them which is of any significance. The rest will bypass them because with anything that they think is not serious, they are unable to show involvement and dedication. That is the whole problem. The passage, the secret of life is in just this – seeing everything with a non-serious eye, but absolutely involved – like a game. That is the reason the most profound aspects of life are approached in a celebratory way so that you don’t miss the point.
The idea of Diwali is to bring that aspect of celebration into your life – that is why the fire crackers, to set fire to you a bit! So the purpose is not just to have fun on this one day and go. It must happen like this within us every day. If we simply sit, our life energy, heart, mind and body must be exploding like a live cracker. If you are a damp squib, then you need a cracker from outside every day.
Editor’s Note: At the Isha Yoga Center, major festivals, including Makar Sankranti and Pongal, Navratri and Mahashivratri are celebrated with great exuberance. These festivals are a part of Isha’s efforts to rejuvenate the ethos of Indian culture.