• Wednesday, May 22, 2024


‘Ram’s victory over darkness is a teaching for our times’

Swami Chidanand Saraswati calls for harmony and protection of nature

His Holiness Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji

By: Eastern Eye

DEAR divine souls, I hope that – by god’s grace – this finds you all in the best of health and happiness at this holy and divine time of Diwali.

The festival of Diwali signifies the joyous return of Bhagwan Ram to Ayodhya. Its residents filled the streets with brightly burning lamps to welcome the lord home and with which to behold his divine face. When Ram returned to Ayodhya and took the throne of the city, it was the beginning of what is called “Ram Rajya” or the rule of Ram. Ram Rajya is referred to, again and again, not only in the Ramayana, but in innumerable other literary works, as an era of perfection, dharma, righteousness, integrity and equality. It is the era which we need to create again – a time of peace, joy, harmony, health and abundance. That can only happen when our lives, our communities and our nations are ruled by goodness and divinity and not by ego, greed and polarisation.

As the golden glimmer of Diwali approaches, casting its illuminative dance upon our homes and hearts, it is important to realise that the epic tale of Lord Ram’s victory over darkness and his triumphant return to Ayodhya is not just a beautiful historical event of that sacred day, but it is also a powerful teaching for our times. Today the darkness is not just the absence of light, but the shadow we cast through the darkness of our ignorance upon our earth – through thoughtless actions, excessive consumption and a disconnect from nature’s rhythms.

From record-breaking temperatures to massive and destructive fires and floods across the globe, we have never seen such extreme and detrimental climate changes in such a short period of time. Mother Earth is ailing and her children – all our sisters and brothers of every race, religion, color, culture and even every species – are ailing, as well. We do everything for our children, but if we don’t provide them an Earth with clean water, air and soil, everything else will be meaningless.

Our beautiful spiritual culture prays for and to nature – our atmosphere, our rivers, our mountains and our plants. We must be sure to take care of that same nature. We must remember that one of the greatest gifts of abundance and prosperity we have been given is our mother nature and our mother Earth, both of whom provide us with everything we need. All the water, food, sunshine, oxygen, vitamins and minerals in the soil – everything at all that we need for our life – is provided abundantly through mother Earth and mother nature.

Sadly, we have learned that we are the problem for mother Earth and mother nature. When so many nations went under lockdown during the Covid outbreak, mother Earth healed. The air was cleaner, water was cleaner, carbon emissions were down. In Haridwar and Rishikesh in north India, we saw elephants coming and bathing in mother Ganga. Nature became rejuvenated – blue skies, clean flowing water. When we started opening up again, the pollution and destruction returned. The problem is us. So, we must be the solution.

Just as Lord Ram, with devotion and righteousness, vanquished the darkness of ignorance, ego and illusion of the 10-headed demon king Ravana, we too are called upon to dispel the darkness of environmental neglect and ecological imbalance. We must be prepared to work toward creating Ram Rajya. Ram did not simply wave a magic wand and create a paradise on earth. Rather, the lord called upon the citizens of Ayodhya to join hands in bringing about a new world order. In the same way, if we are truly going to celebrate Diwali, we must be prepared to join our hands and create a world in which we bring back health to our trees and planet. Let us organise riverside cleanups and tree plantations to celebrate Diwali and all our special occasions. Let us pledge to end use of single-use plastic and become truly conscious consumers. Let us, together, usher in an era of a green economy, rather than a greed economy.

Additionally, this year Diwali is tragically being celebrated against the backdrop of hate, violence and divisiveness in Israel, Ukraine and many other places across the world. Our tradition and teachings remind us that we are all one family. May the sacred light of this festival shine in our eyes, minds and hearts enabling us to see that oneness in all and to live in harmony and peace.

While Diwali is a festival of light, victory and prosperity, this year let it also be a festival of awareness, responsibility and reverence for our mother Earth and all our sisters and brothers on this sacred planet. As Diwali’s lights beckon, remember, our earth too was once radiant with pristine beauty. Our dharma, our sacred duty, is to ensure that its light never diminishes. This Diwali, let us pledge to tread gently, love deeply and live in a way that honours the sacred interdependence of all life.

With love and blessings to you all and all your families at this sacred time.

In the service of God and humanity, Swami Chidanand Saraswati President, Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh PujyaSwamiji.org parmarth.org

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