“Give light and the darkness will disappear of itself.” – Desiderius Erasmus
This month, people all over the globe will celebrate a very special holiday called Diwali. This holiday has its origins in mythology from India. It is a celebration “good” over “evil,” light over darkness, truth over illusion.
The mythological story from which Diwali originates is the Ramayana, which describes the life and journeys of the avatar Rama. It is said that Rama, the next heir to be king, was exiled to the forest with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman. On their journey into the forest, Sita was kidnapped by Ravana. In the search for his wife, Rama met Hanuman, the “flying monkey-God,” who represents devotion, courage, and fearlessness. Hanuman discovered Sita’s location and led the monkey army to fight for her release from Ravana’s hostage. As Rama, Sita, and Lakshman journeyed back to their village, all of the villagers eagerly and joyously lit oil lamps to guide them home.
The deities in yoga mythology represent various aspects of our self. This particular story is one of good over evil. It offers us an opportunity to reflect on eliminating our own vices and unhelpful qualities, such as anger, greed, lust, and jealousy. It connotes that the way to eliminate these qualities is to shed light on them; to acknowledge their presence and then cultivate the opposite qualities, qualities of love, peace, joy, and compassion. Through the cultivation of these “positive” qualities, the “negative” ones diminish of themselves.
Hanuman plays an important role in this story as he represents the courage and devotion required to move forward on this journey. Inner strength and faith are necessary for allowing these open-hearted qualities to flow through us, thereby letting go of the Ego defenses that we cling onto so tightly. We have been conditioned to believe that these Ego defenses are qualities necessary to survive in our daily lives; we must protect ourselves at all costs! But, what we learn through these ancient stories and our yoga practices is that the greatest defense of all is pure, universal, infinite love. Once we begin the journey of performing all thoughts, words, and actions from this place of love, all fears and Ego defenses simply dissipate naturally. It is from this space of love that we connect with all other beings and that we find ways to help each other on our journeys.
So, Diwali is a celebration; it’s a celebration of that love and light which exists within every single one of us. In honor of this holiday, people all over the world decorate their homes and offices with lights and candles, fireworks light up the sky, and families gather together in joyous celebration.
The love and light within me is the same beautiful love and light that is within you.
Namaste, and Happy Diwali!
*The exact date of Diwali is based on the lunar calendar, and this year falls on November 11, 2015.