When nothing seems around to help, a simple positive thought can change people’s life. Diwali is a unique festival when positive thoughts, well wishes, blessings and prayers pour in from all directions through different channels. The beauty of Vedic culture is, every festival has its roots and reasons dating back thousands and even millions of years.
Diwali is one such festival with a rich cultural history. Traditionally people go out to meet their family and friends, wish them well and exchange sweets. At night they enjoy the street lighting and firecrackers. Some people call it a festival of lights.
But Diwali is much more than a festival of lights, sweets and firecrackers. How many of us remember Lord Ram on Diwali? It is the day He came back to Ayhodhya after spending 14 years in the forest. This was the reason the residents of Ayodhya lit lamps across the city welcoming Lord Ram along with mother Sita Devi and brother Lakshman. Interestingly, the fact that dashera or vijaya dashami, the day when Ravan was killed by Lord Ram, comes a few days before Diwali, shows that Lord Ram indeed returned to Ayodhya on this day after vanquishing Ravan together with his formidable flank of demon soldiers.
Talking of Lord Ram (or Rama), it is important to remember that He is an expansion of Lord Krishna. People get confused about this because Krishna appeared after Rama, but as a matter of fact both Krishna and Rama are eternally residing in the spiritual world in their respective abodes beyond this universe and they visit this and other universes as per their schedule.
rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan nānāvatāram akarod bhuvaneṣu kintu kṛṣṇaḥ svayaḿ samabhavat paramaḥ pumān yo govindam ādi-puruṣaḿ tam ahaḿ bhajāmi
Meaning: (Lord Brahma says) I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who manifested Himself personally as Kṛishna and the different avatāras in the world in the forms of Rāma, Nṛsiḿha, Vāmana, etc., as His subjective portions. (Brahma-samhita 5.39)
Why unconventional Diwali wishes
You may have read, or skipped reading, myriads of Diwali wishes for a great year ahead. For most, great year is great prosperity, good health and peace of mind. The irony, however, is, peace and prosperity hardly go together in today’s world. Similarly health and wealth also hardly go together these days. This is not due to the nature of peace and prosperity but due the way they are being used. For example, someone may destroy his enemy to get peace of mind, or someone may misuse prosperity in a way which ruin lives. Finding pleasure or pride in consuming exotic wines, for example, is a known way to ruin health and shorten lifespan. Similarly, sponsoring killing of animals, i.e. eating non-veg, is a guaranteed path to suffering.
Our choice of wishes reflects our thought process. Are we just being formal in wishing people peace and prosperity every year and getting used to look away when they end up in opposite situations? While every positive wish helps, wishing beyond the routine is very much in order.
This year I thought of unconventional Diwali wishes not because the wishes for peace, prosperity, health and lifespan are worthless but because even if those wishes turn out to be miraculously true, they are temporary. Besides, I wanted to be more personal in what I wish.
Do you wish people get prosperity that become cause of their own ruination? No. Would you wish your friend material success if it pushes him or her towards sinful activities and self destruction? No. Or, in present context, would you wish your dear one to become a political leader if it poses threat to his or her life? I don’t think you would.
In other words, we wish them health, wealth, name, fame and all that not because they are what they are but because we believe they will make them happy. So the purpose behind such wishes is happiness. If we know of wishes that can give them greater happiness we would offer them that.
Poverty is better than prosperity if it brings you one step closer to God under whose shelter lasting prosperity eagerly awaits you. Physical weakness is better than strength if it prevents one from committing sinful activities and harboring sinful desires. Not being famous is better than having great fame if it helps one remain genuinely humble under all circumstances. So it is the good result that matters, not the good wishes themselves.
For these reasons, I wish you prosperity this year only if it is going to be harmless to you and others around you. I wish you peace this Diwali only if it does not come at the cost of someone else’ peace. I wish you great health this year only if it’s going to not encourage you to indulge in sinful activities. I wish you all success this year only if they don’t deviate you from leading a religious life.
Going one step up, let this Diwali bring you the most auspicious desire of surrendering at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, the fountainhead of innumerable Vishnu incarnations including Lord Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. May Lord Krishna give you the strength and commitment to fulfill this desire and resolutely move towards the ultimate goal of life; the goal that has been forgotten by most of us since countless lifetimes and the goal that is the permanent answer to our repeated Diwali wishes.
Let this Diwali bring you the heart that goes to those who are suffering in this world for want of surrender to the same supreme Lord who is the bestower of salvation, known as nirvana or moksha, from the pangs of material sufferings.
May this Diwali infuse in people spiritual intelligence with which they can better understand the purpose of human life, athato brahma jijnasa, and get inspired to free themselves from the vicious cycle of birth, old age, diseases and death. Taking shelter of the Lord is the best and the only way to achieve this.
Just as the inhabitants of Ayodhya lit lamps across the city to celebrate the returning of their beloved Lord Rama, let this Diwali kindle in our hearts a light so bright it can destroy the firmly rooted darkness of ignorance and return our original consciousness. May it show us the perfect path back Home back to Godhead with a deep sense of belonging to our eternal father, friend, master and lover, Krishna. May He bless one and all. Hare Krishna.