This weekend, the World will celebrate Deepavali or Diwali and welcome in the New Year. Nothing spreads happiness and good feelings like Light. Deepavali (the “vali” or row of “Deep” or lights) is a celebration of Light, not just light itself but an eradication of Darkness with Light.
The pursuit of Light is a central tenet of the Vedic or Eternal Dharma. That is why every morning begins with an invocation of the Brightness of the Supreme Entity – the eternal invocation known as the Gayatri Mantra:
- We worship the Glorious Brightness of the Lord; May He Illuminate our Buddhi – Rg-Ved III.62.10
This was followed by the eternal invocation in the Brihad-Aranyak-UpaNiSad:
- Lead us from Darkness to Light; Lead us from Non-Truth to Truth; Lead us from Death to Immortality
The central tenets of the Eternal Dharma were laid out at the beginning of known history and precede every other religion that is practiced today on earth. The all encompassing Universal approach, the global humanist outlook is deeper and broader than any we have seen in other philosophical thoughts.
This aspiration of an illuminated mind is behind the dedication to education in Indian culture. Centuries of foreign occupation and continuous plunder of Indian society narrowed both the minds and aspirations of Indian society. The path for a new awakening in Indian society remains what it has always been – illuminating the Buddhi & minds of every one through education.
And there is no better way to bring the Light into a family than bringing education to women. It is the mother who plays the central role in a family’s welfare. And today’s girls are tomorrow’s mothers.
Eternal Dharma has a tradition of famous women scholars, from Gargi & Maitreyi in the ancient days to Ubhaya- Bharati, scholar wife of the celebrated Mandan Mishra in 8th century CE & Avanti-Sundari, the brilliant wife of Rajsekhar of the Kanya-Kubja period in 10th century. The last 1,000 years of Muslim & Christian occupation & plunder minimized the status of women & women’s education. That is now changing as economic conditions improve and as Indian society begins to shed the horrible practices imposed on it.
The education of women has an important angle in America as well. The proportion of women in science, engineering and Mathematics is still abysmally low. We hear of bright young women giving up on science courses in high school because being popular means being bad in science and math. Women Mathematics Ph.D. candidates in Ivy League universities routinely write about being treated like second class citizens who are thought of as taking up the space that male students should have.
A recent New York Times article exposed the horrific treatment of women students & professors at Harvard Business School where “women were more likely to be sized up on how they looked” and as one put it “As a female faculty member, you are in an incredibly hostile teaching environment, and they do nothing to protect you”.
The above issues are just as important a part of Diwali. After all, darkness does not get eradicated by itself and evil needs to be vanquished before Good can prevail. And you can only celebrate victory after winning the war. So when you celebrate Diwali this year, remember that the need to fight and keep fighting the war against darkness in society and in our minds. That is the only way to protect future Diwali celebrations.
And what do you get when you eradicate the darkness and evil in society, the darkness in minds? You then attain the state of sublime light, the blissful peace of Atman, mind and body, the state known as Svasti.
That is why the Eternal symbol of Indian Culture is the Invocator of Svasti or the Svastik, the real symbol of Diwali.
So we end with the eternal benediction of Sages and teachers:
स्वस्ति अस्तु भवतु
Let Svasti be with You
Editor’s Note: A unique feature of Indian Philosophy is the distinction between Buddhi and Mind. Buddhi, understanding, wisdom etc., is
a hard concept to describe in English because European philosophy lacks this concept. Philosophers like Plato, Kant & others have tried to discuss the two aspects of mind, as they put it. But they did not have the Metaphysical framework to do so. In fact, this distinction between Buddhi and Mind is the basis of Yog. That is why Yog was only developed in Indian Metaphysics and not in any other.
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