Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Divali, 2014

by Joanne Sullivan (Divya)

Diwali Greetings

May the ever-giving Mother Night grant us her stars
that burn as flames of souls in our clay bodies.
May each darkness of the human being turn
into light every night.
May She confer upon us the frolicsome joys
of the light-filled immortal realms.

Swami Veda Bharati

Divali is the Hindu festival of Lights. It is also called Deepavali. It is the beginning of the Hindu New Year and as such is considered a highly auspicious day on the Hindu calendar. It is a day of bright new beginnings.

In the Hindu family, on Divali, the home is a cornucopia of happiness, special foods, and merriment, with the children playing and scampering about. For Hindus, everyone stays at home on Divali night to light many candles, eat many sweets, and together share the joy of the New Year. Traditionally, no one leaves the household until the puja to Laxmi, the goddess of prosperity and well being, is complete. She represents overflowing abundance and success in every way, at home and career, in the village, the nation and in spiritual life.

Divali is the return of dharma, the cosmic order, and the sweeping out of all darkness. People light up their houses and villages with many deepaks, clay pots of oil, cotton wicks and flames. SRSG was no exception this Divali and 4000 deepaks lit up the whole landscape. Jim Fraser of Scotland climbed atop the large yajna shala (fire hut) to place many lights on its roof. Many rooftops, lawns and walkways, the cottage fronts, entryways and interiors of all the buildings invited the blessings of Laxmi and Ganesh with the purity, brightness and beauty of firelight.

Divali also celebrates the momentous event in the Hindu epic the Ramayana, when Lord Rama returns to Ayodhya with his consort Sita at his side. Everyone is there to welcome them home with many candles after their 14 years of exile in the forest. Rama returns to rule the kingdom and Ravana, the demon king, has been destroyed.

I had an interesting talk with Dr. Stoma Parker about Divali. He said that “Divali is also a holiday about forgiveness. Rama had been exiled because his stepmother gave the crown to her own son, Rama’s step-brother, even though he did not want it,” he explained. With the conquest of Ravana and the end of exile, “Rama came back to reestablish his relationships with the family,” said Stoma. Harmony and unity had returned.

“Rama was a divine incarnation of Vishnu. Sita, Rama, Lakshmana and Hanuman were all holy incarnations with their roles to play,” he continued. With the return of Rama, “dharma returns, the natural order of things returns and people get on the spiritual path.”

This year Divali was a time of great spiritual riches as it occurred during the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra course with Dr. Bettina Bäumer, a focused study of an ancient, revered text along with 4 hours of silent meditation per day, including one hour each evening of meditation with Swamiji.

For several days leading up to Divali, some guests and residents gathered in a corner of the outdoor fire hut taking precious spare moments to roll wicks from cotton wool for the Divali fire pots.

On Divali day, there was only a half day of Vijñāna Bhairava classes so that people could make beautiful rangoli from brightly colored powders, flower petals and small pots of flame everywhere.

As Divali evening approached, all the families, along with old and new friends, came together to light up the night, first sitting for an hour of silent meditation with Swami Veda in the Meditation Hall. Finally, the fires in all of the small clay pots were lit. As night descended so many beautiful candles brightened the star-studded, crisp and fragrant night air.

Later, a puja filled up the Meditation Hall with the vibrant chanting of priests, and many people offered their prayers to the light of the holy presence.  Prasad was offered to everyone after the puja.

Swami Veda came to the Meditation Hall and the night was complete with the joy of his presence and blessings. Many guests and families offered their loving respect to him and came up to him to have their pictures taken with him. This year Divali was brighter than usual because we had Swami Veda with us for so much of the day.


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