DEEPAVALI: A Warm Welcome with Lamps of Love
By Gauranga Darshan Das
Just as the Ayodhya-vasis welcomed Lord Rama back to Ayodhya with the lamps of this love on the Dipavali day, after fourteen years of separation, let us all welcome the Lord back into our hearts, with the lamps of our love, after many lifetimes of separation. Although the Lord always stays in our hearts, we cannot feel His presence unless we love Him.
Every living entity is a child of the Supreme Lord. And the Lord loves them all impartially and gives them facilities and independence to live a righteous life. Sometimes, the living entity misuses his independence and causes disturbance in the world. Lust, greed, pride, envy, anger and illusion influence a living entity to act in heinous ways. At such times, as a loving father corrects his mischievous child, the Lord corrects the rebellious souls out of love, for their benefit. Here is a lesson from the great Indian epic Ramayana that describes how the Supreme Lord Rama lovingly punished the miscreant Ravana who was afflicted by lust.
In Treta yuga, Ravana, the king of demons caused great turbulence in the three worlds. He tortured devotees and saintly people. The benedictions he received from Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva made him invincible. As a loving father of all living entities, the Lord desires that there be love and cooperation among all the living entities. It’s naturally painful for a father to see one of his children troubling his other children. So, one of the main purposes of the Supreme Lord’s incarnation in this world as Lord Rama is to annihilate the king of demons Ravana.
During Lord Rama’s exile, Ravana kidnapped Sita devi in the absence of Rama and Lakshmana. Although Ravana was a learned scholar and powerful warrior, he still performed this heinous act of kidnapping a chaste woman, impelled by his uncontrolled lust. He took Sita devi to his kingdom and gave her twelve months’ time to submit to him. Well-wishers of Ravana, like his younger brother Vibhishana advised him not to be adamant, and return Sita devi to Lord Rama. But Ravana, victimized by his pride and lust wouldn’t listen to any good advice. Such is the nature of lust. It captivates even great scholars and powerful kings in its shackles, and ultimately leads to their ruination.
When Lord Rama and Lakshmana along with the monkey army were at the sea shore to cross the ocean, Vibhishana approached Lord Rama seeking His shelter. He abandoned his corrupt brother Ravana. When the monkey chiefs like Sugriva and Jambavan expressed their doubts in accepting the enemy’s brother into the troop, Lord Rama said, “If anyone says once, ‘O Lord Rama, I am Yours!’ I will give him My shelter. I will give shelter even to Ravana if he seeks it.” And the all-merciful Lord lovingly accepted Vibhishana as His companion. Such is the nature of Love – willing to forgive even an enemy. And the epitome of such loving nature is exhibited by the Supreme Lord who forgives and forgets the misdeeds of His children, if they are willing to surrender unto Him. But it is insatiable lust of the living entity that keeps him away from that mercy of the Lord.
After the vanaras crossed the stone bridge across the ocean and reached Lanka, Lord Rama had sent a peace message to Ravana through Angada. The Lord thus gave another chance to Ravana to surrender. But Ravana, who is infatuated by lust wouldn’t hear. This lead to the great war between Rama and Ravana. In the hand-to-hand combat, great heroes from both sides fought to the death day after day, with thousands of fatalities among the troops. Finally, one by one, the great Rakshasa chieftains fell before the powers of heroes of Rama’s army. At last, in the fierce battle, Lord Ramachandra slew Ravana. Such is culmination of one’s lusty nature. Thus the Lord lovingly punished the lusty miscreant. And he encouraged Vibhishana to perform the final rites for Ravana, although Vibhishana was not willing to do. Such is the loving nature of the Lord. The day on which Lord Rama conquered Ravana is Vijaya dasami. This is the day when lust is defeated by love. When love conquers lust… that is Vijaya dasami.
Having punished evil Ravana and established noble Vibhishana as the ruler of Lanka, Rama returned to Ayodhya. After 14 years of exile, Rama came back to Ayodhya on the day of Deepavali. Love for the Lord is experienced in two ways – Vipralamba and symbology or union and separation. The pleasure of meeting the Lord and the pain of being separated from the Lord, both enhance the love between the Lord and His devotees.
When Lord Rama went to vanavas, the Ayodhya-vasis were devastated. Finally after 14 years of exile, when Rama returned to Ayodhya, their ecstasy knew no bounds. Rama went on a procession into Ayodhya and all His beloved devotees lit lamps to receive Him. They were the lamps of their love, gratitude and affection. Lord Rama happily reciprocated with the lamps as their pure love with unlimited joy. This reunion is a great celebration in Ayodhya. And that is the significance of Diwali – welcoming the Lord back into our lives.
Just as the Ayodhya-vasis welcomed Lord Rama back to Ayodhya with the lamps of this love on the Dipavali day, after fourteen years of separation, let us all welcome the Lord back into our hearts, with the lamps of our love, after many lifetimes of separation. Although the Lord never leaves our hearts, we cannot feel His presence unless we love Him.