ON Deepavali, Hindus light lamps, wear new clothes, visit friends and savour traditional sweet mix and other dishes.
It is a time of celebration, but what is it that is celebrated?
What is the meaning of Deepavali, or the festival of lights?
Besides the victory of Sri Rama at the battle of Lanka and his subsequent coronation as emperor in Ayodhya, the destruction of King Narak by Sri Krsna is also connected to Deepavali.
Narak was not an ugly demon with two horns that is depicted in movies.
Narak was a normal man. He was chosen to rule the kingdom of Pragjyotishapura, although the seers objected on the grounds that he had not controlled his desires and sensed danger in the kingdom’s future.
As soon he was crowned king, he became strong, ambitious and hungry for power, but this led him to develop hate and anger.
He ruled his kingdom in conflict with the sacred Vedic law and injunctions prescribed for a king.
His fall from the Vedic path was imminent. Vice and violence were rampant under his rule.
He inflicted immense sufferings on his subjects and those of the conquered kingdoms.
The worship of the “formless Brahman” (God in Hinduism) was prohibited.
All saints and sages were annihilated.
When all evil qualities had consumed him, he was called “Narakasura”, or Narak the demon.
Finally, in a raid, he had captured 16,000 women to be tortured and later slaughtered.
Sri Krsna, the prince of Dwaraka, decided to rescue the people, as well as the 16,000 prisoners before the mass slaughter.
Sri Krsna invaded Pragjyotishapura and Narak was killed.
Contrary to popular belief, Sri Krsna did not marry the 16,000 female prisoners.
This is a huge misinterpretation.
Scholars were confused between the yogic science of the “Sahasraara Chakra” in the human body — which is said to have 1,000 petals and each carry 16 phases, where it is believed Sri Krsna is symbolically the lord presiding over it— and the 16,000 women.
These are two distinct and separate issues.
There are many misinterpretations and false accusations by so-called scholars on Sri Krsna. Sri Krsna was a great and pure teacher.
As the people of Pragjyotishapura were poisoned with vices, Sri Krsna began to teach them and guide them back to the Vedic path to redeem themselves from sins and to worship the formless Brahman again.
He taught that every Hindu should realise the light in themselves known as the “Aathma”. Hence, the ancient Vedic words: “Lead me from darkness to light”.
The Deepavali light is also the constant repetition of the formless Brahman’s names. This practice is known as “Naamasma-rana”.
According to the Vedas, it is this light that will illuminate human lives and eliminate evil thoughts, words and deeds.
The light of “Aathma” and “Naamasmarana” is the real festival of lights that Deepavali means.
I wish all Hindu brothers and sisters a very auspicious and saathwik Deepavali.
ARIFF SHAH R.K.
George Town, Penang