Thursday, July 6, 2017

"The Beauty and Science of Temple Culture" Significance of Lighting a Lamp

Why do we light a lamp?

Indian way of devotion often leaves not only children but even adults question or turn curious to various practices and symbols associated with temple culture. Well, one of the most ancient devotional practices has to have not just beauty but a scientific reason for the practices that have continued all these while. 

To share the understanding of this deeper science, a series named "The Beauty and Science of Temple Culture" has been conceptualized. The objective is to understand the deeper science and the aesthetic utility, both of various practices in the temple. With each blog, we will explore one such practice or symbol having a deep connection with the temple. 

What is the significance of 'fire' or 'light' in devotion? Whether it is a church, an agiyari or any other devotional places, we see light/ fire in some candle.

Be it a Hindu temple or a house, the lamp is something that bears very close association with worship. Let us explore the science of a lamp in devotion.

Light symbolizes knowledge, and darkness symbolizes ignorance.The Lord is illuminator of all knowledge. Hence, light is worshipped as the Lord Himself. Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness.

There is a famous saying in Upanishad -"Tamaso ma jyotirgamay" तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय "From darkness, lead me to light" highlights that going towards lamp or a flame is like going towards knowledge. As lamp removes the darkness, knowledge removes the darkness of ignorance. Also, knowledge is a wealth which lasts forever. Therefore we light a lamp accepting knowledge as the greatest wealth. 

During all auspicious ceremonies, we light a lamp as a witness of our thoughts and actions. It also represents the main source of light on this earth- the Sun. The Sun is all-pervasive, omnipresent and visible to our eyes. The way Sun stands witnessing our Karmas throughout the day, the lamp is lit to stand as a witness in the home or in the temple to look over our karmas and to keeps guiding us. 

Another reason for lighting the lamp is the flame of the lamp. Whichever kind of wick you use in the diya, the flame will always go upwards and never downwards! The flame and its direction reminds us to think and grow upwards, always! This is defined as 'Urdhvagaami' approach of thinking.

Why we use a wick and oil or ghee to light a lamp and why not a bulb?- A bulb also gives the light! But when it is about devotion, we do not substitute the flame with the bulb! The ghee or oil in the lamp symbolizes the negative tendencies and the wick represents as ego. When spiritual light is lit, all the negativities get gradually vanished and the ego also perishes in the end.  

One more important reason for why do we light a lamp. A single lamp can light so many other lamps. The brilliance of lamp does not get dimmed by lighting even hundred other lamps. Likewise spreading knowledge is a beautiful way to spread light in many lives and as we all know knowledge only grows by sharing it with others. 

The lamp wick is a small start and has the capacity to ignite even a grand and holy havan kund or Yagnya when right ingredients are provided. Likewise, a small start with a good intent can yield huge auspicious results when accompanied with dedication, hard work, faith and devotion. That is the beauty of lamp!

While lighting the lamp, we thus pray:

दीपज्योतिः परब्रह्म दीपज्योतिर्जनार्दनः ।
दीपो हरतु मे पापं दीपज्योतिर्नमोऽस्तुते ॥

The light of the lamp represents the Supreme Brahman, the light of the lamp represents Janardana (Shree Vishnu).
Let the light of the lamp remove my sins; salutations to the light of the lamp.

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