The sun is burning. It is aflame since time unknown to man, and it is burning to give life to the earth and other planets. Without sunlight, life is not possible and there would be only darkness. The planets would have been cold and lifeless, nay, they would perhaps have been inexistent! The ancient seers and those of today say that the sun is a living being, Surya Deva. Sun worship is not mythology, but an expression of gratitude towards it for the innumerable gifts that it bestows upon mankind. It is constantly burning without asking anything from us. What an example of selflessness! Burning oneself for the benefit of others! On the other hand, however, the heat of the sun is drying rivers, lakes and plants, but is the sun to be blamed? The ozone layer was made to protect the earth from direct sunrays. But alas, we have been destroying it out of mere selfishness. Man has been contributing in some way or the other to put fire to the whole world.
The candle and the lamp, too, are aflame, and they give light in our houses. Man, too, is burning but his fire is creating misery both for himself and the world. Jealousy, desire, anger, greed, lust and hatred are also fires – they are the inner fire. They were given to us as fuel to enlighten the inner kingdom, but through ignorance man burns himself and others as well. The gross inner fire of jealousy, anger and other vices can be transformed so as to burn brightly and subtly in order to bring inner and outer joy. That is the real symbol of Deepavali. It is strange and yet true that the outer temple is lighted with the lamp, the world is illuminated with sunlight but our mind, though it hides a spark of the Supreme Light, is in darkness.
The ochre robe of the spiritual adept is symbolical of the inner fire through which the latter has passed before attaining enlightenment. It also symbolises wisdom and love that always burn like fire in the enlightened one. Besides all these, it represents the burning and ardent fire of renunciation. The halo of light of a spiritual master seen by disciples and devotees is a proof of his level of illumination.
In India, as well as in countries where Eastern tradition is followed, there is the fire-walking ceremony. Although it is performed as a ritual, it is highly symbolical. After having walked on glowing embers, the devotee enters into a pool of cold water. Here, the fire represents the acid test of life and the fire of meditation through which one has to go before achieving the coolness of immortality or the super-conscious state symbolised by the water.
The mother, too, is burning, day and night, in the fire of sacrifice and attachment to nurture her children. Lovers are aflame with passion; the sexually obsessed person is aflame with lust. Desire of power is a kind of fire that is constantly burning inside most of us. The fire ceremony commonly called “hawan” or “yagya” is symbolical of all these fires. But above all, it represents the fire of one-pointed concentration that burns all ignorance represented by the oblations. The gastric fire burns food into energy while the fire of wisdom transforms vices and virtues into the sun of enlightenment. Mysterious and marvellous indeed! Life is the path of fire.
Man, too, is burning but his fire is creating misery both for himself and the world. Jealousy, desire, anger, greed, lust and hatred are also fires – they are the inner fire. They were given to us as fuel to enlighten the inner kingdom, but through ignorance man burns himself and others as well.