Why do we light a lamp?

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In almost every Indian home a lamp is lit daily before the altar of the Lord. In some houses it is lit at dawn, in some, twice a day – at dawn and dusk – and in a few it is maintained continuously. All auspicious functions and moments like daily worship, rituals and festivals and even many social occasions like inaugurations commence with the lighting of the lamp, which is often maintained right through the occasion.

Light symbolizes knowledge, and darkness ignorance. The lord is the ‘Knowledge Principle’ (chaitanya) who is the source, the enlivener and the illuminator of all knowledge. Hence light is worshipped as the Lord Himself.

Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness. Also knowledge is a lasting inner wealth by which all outer achievement can be accomplished. Hence we light the lamp to bow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms of wealth. Knowledge backs all our actions whether good or had. We therefore keep a lamp lit during all auspicious occasions as a witness to our thoughts and actions.

Why not light a bulb or tube light? That too would remove darkness. But the traditional oil lamp has a further spiritual significance The oil or” ghee in the lamp symbolizes our vaasanas or negative tendencies and the wick, the ego When lit by spiritual knowledge; the Vaasanas get slowly exhausted and the ego too finally perishes The flame of a lamp always burns upwards. Similarly, we Should acquire such knowledge as to take us towards higher ideals.

A single lamp can light hundreds more just as a man of knowledge can give it to many more. The brilliance of the light does not diminish despite its repeated use to light many more lamps. So too knowledge does not lessen when shared with or imparted to others, On the contrary it increases in clarity and conviction on giving. It benefits both the receiver and the given

Light is self-shining. The Knowledge Principle (Madam) is self-evident and illumines all without aid.

Whilst lighting the lamp we pray:

दीपज्योतिः परब्रह्म दीपज्योतिर्जनार्दनः ।
दीपो हरतु मे पापं दीपज्योतिर्नमोऽस्तुते ॥

I prostrate to the dawn dusk lamp, whose light is the Knowledge principle (the Supreme Lord), which removes the darkness of 1gnorance and. by which all can be achieved in life.

Which else shall beautify a home but the flame of a lovely lamp?
Whlch else shall adorn the mind but the light of wisdom deep?

Swani Chinmayananda

Swami Vimalananda Radhika Krishnakumar, Chinmaya Mission

Excerpts frpm In Indian Culture Why Do We?

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