The lore & legend of Diwali

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Indian Culture


Deepavali is a symbolism for victory of clarity over ignorance. Ignorance has always been referred to as darkness, and clarity as light. So in that sense, Deepavali is about celebrating that possibility in human life.


Duration: 7 min


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The lore & legend of Diwali

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Namaskaram and Deepavali greetings and blessings to every one of you. Deepavali essentially means a festival of lights. Deepa means more a lamp – you must understand the significance of millions of lamps, when there was no electricity in the evenings, what a spectacular experience it would be, without electric lights, just oil lamps. When everybody lights up, it must have been so, so great!

Why did this come about? There are many legends. One most common legend across the country is – this is the day that Krishna vanquished Narakasura. So, that is why the Naraka Chaturdashi, and then Deepavali. In some parts of northern India, people believe it is the day Rama came back to Ayodhya after 14 years of being in the forest. So, on that day to welcome Rama, all the citizens lit up lamps, and that’s how Deepavali came into vogue. And there are many other smaller legends.

Whatever the legend is, the simple thing is this – that human beings feel lit when certain clarity arises within themselves. So essentially, Deepavali is a symbolism for victory of clarity over ignorance. Ignorance has always been referred to as darkness, and clarity as light. So in that sense, Deepavali is about celebrating that possibility in human life. Well, if you were an owl, I’m not calling you one – if you were an owl, then light would be disturbing, darkness would be clarity for you. But for the human visual apparatus, darkness does not bring clarity, light brings clarity. So, we symbolize light as clarity, as our ability to see, our ability to perceive, our ability to enhance our lives are dependent upon light. So hence, Deepavali is very, very important.

You cannot really get rid of ignorance nor can you get rid of darkness. If this room is dark, you cannot go and kick this darkness out of this room, there is no such thing. The only way is to turn on the light. So, this is the significance of light. Darkness is an absence of light. Darkness is not something that you can deal with. If you light up, then darkness is gone. If you want to dispel darkness, light is the only solution. This is why if you want to dispel your own darkness, enlightenment is the only solution. Enlightenment is the only solution, and everything related to one’s realization, one’s ability to perceive life in more profound ways – all related to light and darkness.

For example, the word guru means ‘gu’ and ‘ru’ – ‘gu’ is darkness, ‘ru’ is the dispeller. One who dispels your darkness is a guru. All spiritual terminology has something to do with light, because clarity and light are related in our perception.

What is the basis of ignorance? Why this need that one has to go beyond that? The basis of ignorance is not realizing the nature of our own existence. That is, once we have become human, one important thing is, we are human beings. That means, we must know how to be. If you knew how to be, would you keep yourself blissful, or miserable? Naturally blissful – this is your choice for yourself. The human being’s ability ‘to be’ has largely been censored, or cut down, because of the identifications that we take with our boundaries. So, when we light, if one person brings a light into this room, everybody in this room will naturally experience this.

This is the significance of light, that if we bring 5 lamps into this room, we will not experience only – this is not like your wealth, this is not like your money – if all of us come with a million dollars in our pockets, we still have only one million – unless we put it together. But if all of us come with 5 lights, all of us have the impact of 5 lights upon our life. So, this is the nature of light, this is the nature of consciousness. When you become conscious, all boundaries are eliminated. In this, there is evolution of a human being. In this, there is realization. In this, there is enlightenment. In this, there is joy and well-being for everybody around us.

So, on this Diwali, I wish all of you that at least you must do something very simple – spend at least 20 minutes upon yourself to see how you can bring clarity. To bring clarity, first of all, you have to identify the cobwebs of ignorance. What limits you, identify that and see if you can take down one cobweb down, and you will see, life will light up in many different ways. If you don’t know how to do it by yourself, we are willing to provide you necessary tools so that you can pursue this.

On this Diwali day, I wish all of you the best that you can have in terms of your life’s experience, and above all, let there be new light in your life. Namaskaram.

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