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Light On Love November 15, 2020

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.
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[“Happy Diwali!” to anyone celebrating! May you be healthy, wealthy, and wise!]

“Embrace me completely

just as a creeper completely embraces a tree

May you be the one loving me only, not another

may you not go away from me”

Atharva Veda 6.8 (translated by Dr. R. L. Kashyap)

In India and Southeast Asia, Diwali (the 5-day festival of lights) is celebrated by a very diverse group of people. Not only religiously and spiritually – as it is a tradition for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Newar Buddhists – but also culturally. So, as you can imagine, there are lots of different ways that people tell the story of light overcoming darkness, good overcoming evil; life overcoming death, wisdom overcoming fear; love overcoming hate; hope overcoming despair, and knowledge overcoming ignorance.

For instance, in some rural parts of north, west, and central India, the fourth day of Diwali is a day people observe Govardhan puja, an offering to honor the legend of Krishna saving the cowherds and farmers from the rain and floods by lifting Mount Govardhan. People build miniature-sized mountains out of cow dung and also “build” mountains of food and mountains of sweets. There is also thanksgiving, especially around the purchase of staples, like salt, which are considered essentials to life.

“with my mind I attract you

just as a bird on the ground beats its wings to go up

May you be the one loving me only, not another

may you not go away from me

Atharva Veda 6.8 (translated by Dr. R. L. Kashyap)

The main day of Diwali, yesterday, is often associated with the part of the epic poem the Rāmāyaņa when Rāma, his bride Sītā, and his brother Lakshmana return home after 14 years in exile. According to the legend, their homecoming is met with brightly lit candles, lamps, and fireworks. The homecoming, and the light festivities, marks the end of darkness that represents the jealousy which led to the trio’s exile and Sītā’s kidnapping during the exile, as well as the doubt and fear felt by some of the characters that appear throughout the poem. The light symbolizes the couples love, devotion, and faith in each other; Lakshmana and Hanuman’s devotion to Rāma; and victory over those who tried to defeat them.

Ergo, for a good majority, this fourth day shines a light on love, relationships, and devotion – especially between husbands and wives. In some areas, husbands give their wives gifts and other areas parents treat their newlywed children to a feast (which also involves gifts).

In addition to telling those aforementioned parts of the Rāmāyaņa, people will also celebrate the story of the defeat of the evil King Bali. Sometimes the story is related to a husband and wife (Shiva and Pārvatī) playing a game of dice on a board with twelve squares and thirty pieces. Every element of the story is symbolic – including the fact that it is a “strip” version of the game and the husband ceremoniously looses all his clothes.

One of my favorite husband-wife Diwali stories is actually associated with the first day; but I also tell it on this day. It is the story of a clever wife who uses light (and all the properties of light) to “defeat” Death (Yama, in the form of a snake) when he arrives on the fourth night of her marriage in order to take away her new husband, the prince. The legend always reminds me of Scheherazade, in that the wife in the Diwali story also spends the night telling stories and singing songs in order to extend life.

“I go around your mind just as the sun[light] goes around heaven and earth

May you be the one loving me only, not another

may you not go away from me”

Atharva Veda 6.8 (translated by Dr. R. L. Kashyap)

Please join me for a 65-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom today (Sunday, November 15th) at 2:30 PM. I am in the process of updating the links from the “Class Schedules” calendar; however, the Meeting IDs in the calendar are the same and are correct. PLEASE NOTE: Zoom 5.0 is in effect. If you have not upgraded, you will need to give yourself extra time to log into Zoom. You can always request an audio recording of this practice (or any practice) via email or a comment below.

Today’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “Diwali (Day 4) 2020”]

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

An extraordinarily beautiful version of love from Atharva Veda 6.8 (which is only on the YouTube playlist)