Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 26 Oct 2003

     

LIGHT IN THE KARTEEKA MONTH

Meaning of Light: The Veda says “Param jyotih”. The Brahma Sutra says “Jyotir adhikaranat”. This means that whenever the word light comes [in a philosophical context], it only means God. In ancient times, light [lamp] was lit using ghee [clarified butter] or oil. Neither kerosene nor electricity was present at that time. In the evening when darkness came, the lamp would be lit and it was a necessity. In such light [in that context,] the ancient people used to bring in the concept of God in that light [lamp]. Due to light, darkness vanishes. Similarly, due to knowledge, ignorance disappears. The Gita says that knowledge is sattvam and sattvam is light. Therefore, knowledge is light. Knowledge is God as said in the Veda. Therefore, light is thought to be God.

Today, why are oil lamps being lit during daytime? At night when electrical lights are present, why are oil lamps being lit additionally? The Veda says that fire exists in three forms:

  1. Loukika Agni or Bhowtika Agni, which is the physical fire that we see.
  2. Vaidyuta Agni which is the fire [energy] in the form of electricity.
  3. Devata Agni, which is the divine form of fire [deity form or Fire-god].

The first two forms are inert and there is no life or divinity in both these forms. We are imposing divinity on the inert lamp. Such type of worship is called ‘Prateeka Aradhana’ which means worshipping the representative form. For example, the three-colored flag represents India. When we salute to the flag, we are actually saluting to India. The flag represents India. Similarly, the lamp represents God. But the flag is not the actual country India. Similarly, the light is not God. Light is fire and fire is one of the five elements. All the five elements are created by God and are called as creation. God is the Creator. Creation is not the Creator, just as the flag is not India. This type of [representative] worship can be done even to the electric light. It is also one of the three forms of fire. Then why are you unnecessarily lighting the oil lamp? If you want to directly worship the divine form of Agni (fire-deity), which is also called as ‘Vaishvanara’, it is present in the form of the hunger (digestive fire) of living beings. As told in the Gita “Aham Vaishvanaro bhutva”, this form of fire [hunger] is the actual form of God. The inert form of [physical] fire is very low compared to the actual form of God, as the Veda says “Kuto’yam agnih”. The Veda says that even the sun is insignificant before God. But before the sun, this oil lamp is insignificant. So before God, this oil lamp is most insignificant.

Representative Worship

We invite an [ordinary] man and give him food, treating him to be a representative form of God [1]. Worshipping the oil lamp is also like that. Suppose we invite Krishna Himself for food. He is God in human form Himself. Then what is the use of inviting the ordinary man? Similarly, when the actual divine form of fire in the name of Vaishvanara is available, what is the use of the oil lamp and the electric light? When we worship the sun as God, the sun represents God. The sun, which is only inert fire, is not God. The Veda says “Nedam tat”, which means that this inert sun is not God. Therefore, instead of worshipping inert lamps, as representative forms of God, is it not far better to worship the divine fire itself directly, which is present as the hunger in living beings? Therefore, offering food to hungry living beings is the real worship of the divine light. You should not waste oil and ghee by burning in inert lamps. If you say that this is an old tradition [and so it must be followed], are you following all the old traditions? According to the old tradition, men do not wear a shirt and shave their heads except for a small patch at the back of the head, which grows into a [pony] tail. Scholars say “Puranamityeva” and “Tatasya kupo’yam”. This means that all that is old is not correct. Only a fool drinks even the salt water coming from his well just because his father dug the well.

The Shiva Linga represents the wave-form of energy. The life-form of energy is greater than all the inert forms of energy. The Shiva Linga, which is in the form of a wave, represents this best life-form of energy. The light represents the hunger in living beings. In this Karteeka month, you are worshipping the Shiva Linga with oil lamps. Both the Shiva Linga and the lamp indicate a living being who is suffering with hunger and the real worship is not burning oil and ghee in the lamp or pouring milk, curd, honey, ghee and sugar on the Shiva Linga. All these are food materials, which you must give to a hungry living being. That living being can be a bird, an animal, an incapable beggar or a poor devotee.

Shiva represents knowledge as said “Jnanam Maheshwarat”. Therefore, understand the true knowledge and perform worship in the original and right sense. Only then will Lord Shiva be pleased with you in this Karteeka month.


[1] As per the Veda, the guest who comes to your house should be treated as God, fed and served (Atithi devo bhava). This is an important part of Indian culture and is still followed in many parts.