Monday, November 7, 2016

Diwali - Deepawali # 2

Though every Indian religious tradition has its own reason for celebrating Diwali, mostly it is associated with the story of Lord Ram coming back to Ayodhyaa after defeating Ravan, and is looked upon as the victory of good over evil. However lately, the authenticity of the popular version of this epic story and the morality of certain events described by Sant Tulasi Das in the 'Ram-Charit-Maanas' have become questionable and a matter of debate.

Instead of searching for the historical facts and its authenticity, let us examine the metaphorical meanings of certain events to draw some useful conclusions for our own advancement.
 
By carefully examining the nature of the two main characters of this larger-than-life story, Lord Ram could be considered a symbol of Gyan; full of wisdom, tolerance, patience, love, kindness and sympathy along with sense of morality - and Devi Sita, a symbol of Bhakti or devotion.
During the exile, after leaving the palace, they lived in forests without any luxuries or even simple household facilities. Though they did not have much, they seemed to be quite happy and comfortable for the most part of their exile; meeting ordinary people and enjoying the company of learned Rishi's and sages as well.
But then… one day Devi Sita saw ‘the golden deer’ and the problems started when she became obsessed with the desire to have it.

The ‘Golden deer’ is obviously a symbol of ‘Maya’. Lord Ram, ‘Gyana’ tried to convince Sita, the Bhakti, that the Golden deer is a mirage; it’s illusion and she should not get attached to it. Looking at it, enjoying and admiring its beauty would have been alright, but Devi Sita wanted to possess it. She eventually convinced Lord Ram to go after it and bring it to her.
For practical purposes, even today, this story could be related to the life of many spiritual seekers. When a Gyani Bhakta becomes obsessed with Maya, Gyana tries to constraint him by reminding that all Maya is transitory and its obsession may become a distraction and take him away from his aim to achieve the Moksha, the ‘Ultimate Freedom’. The desiring Bhakta tries to find logics to justify his desires; by reasoning that Bhakti does not mean living in isolation with no desires or comforts. That a Bhakta can be very rich and own everything he desires, live a luxurious life and still maintain his devotion and spirituality.

In fact, this logic is absolutely right. We can find many Gurus, Rishis, Avatars and highest spiritual icons such as Maharaj Janak, who lived a rich and luxurious life style and some of them even ruled as kings. Undeniably, this ideology is true, but, if used as a justification for the excessive desires and wrong means to achieve them, it becomes a problem.

Lakshman was always guarding and protecting both; Lord Ram and Devi Sita with his watchful eyes. He drew a circle; a boundary line around Sita to protect her. And the moment Sita ji crossed that ‘Laxman-Rekha’, she got kidnapped.

Contentment is an important part of Bhakti. 
Desires and wants, and the means to fulfil them must remain within the ‘Lakshman-Rekha', the 'Maryaada'.

However, ‘Lakshman Rekha’ or 'Maryaada' does not mean just to control desires and attachments. It is actually the means; the ways how we try to achieve and fulfil our desires. Baba Avtar Singh ji used to emphasize on the virtues of honesty and truthfulness in how we live; how we earn and spend our money. In his discourses, he often used to say: “Do not lie, do not cheat anyone, earn your money with honest means. Do not try to harm anyone – even if they have done some wrong to you”.
I remember him and Bhai Sahib Amar Singh ji Patiala quoting this verse from the Gurubani many times:
             "हक़ पराया नानका उस सूअर, उस गाय"
        “Haq paraaya Nanakaa, us soo-ar us gaaye”  
Meaning: To take away what rightfully belongs to someone else, is like a Muslim eating pork, or a Hindu eating cow.

Unfortunately, we are hardly reminded anymore about the importance of keeping these codes of conduct, the Maryaada to make our spiritual journey smooth and to maintain our Bhakti in it's pure form.
If excessive desires and attachments, and the ways to fulfil them are wrongfully justified with the Gyana, then the Gyana itself gets lost. When Lord Ram, persuaded and convinced by Sita, goes after the Golden deer, their happy and peaceful life in exile turns into chaos. Devi Sita is kidnapped and Lord Ram is also lost; wandering from forest to forest searching for her.
To be re-united - to bring Sita back, the golden Lanka had to be burnt and Ravan had to be defeated.

Without each other – just like Ram and Sita, Gyana and Bhakti cannot achieve Divine Bliss - ever happiness and Moksha; the ultimate freedom. They have to stay together in their purest forms.

To bring the Bhakti back, the golden Lanka, symbol of Maya has to be burnt, and Ravan; the symbol of Ego has to be killed.

           ‘Rajan Sachdeva’


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