By His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Holi is a festival of colours. This whole world is so colourful. Just like nature there are different colours associated with our feelings and emotions: anger with red, jealousy with green, vibrancy and happiness with yellow, love with pink, vastness with blue, peace with white, sacrifice with saffron and knowledge with violet. Each person is a fountain of colours which keep changing.
Puranas are full of colourful illustrations and stories and there is a story related to Holi. An asura king, Hiranyakashyap, wanted everyone to worship him. But his son Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Narayana, the king's sworn enemy. Angry, the king wanted Holika, his sister, to get rid of Prahlad. Empowered to withstand fire, Holika sat on a burning pyre holding Prahlad on her lap. But it was Holika who was burnt, Prahlad came out unharmed.
Hiranyakashyap symbolises one who is gross. Prahlad embodies innocence, faith and bliss. The spirit cannot be confined to love only matter. Hiranyakashyap wanted all joy to come from the material world. It did not happen that way. The individual jivatma cannot be bound to the material forever. It's natural to eventually move towards Narayana, one's higher Self.
Holika symbolises past burdens that try to burn Prahlad's innocence. But Prahlad, so deeply rooted in Narayana Bhakti, could burn all past impressions (sanskaras). For one who is deep in bhakti, joy springs up with new colours and life becomes a celebration. Burning the past, you gear up for a new beginning. Your emotions, like fire, burn you. But when they are a fountain of colours, they add charm to your life. In ignorance, emotions are a bother; in knowledge, the same emotions add colour.
One legend talks about the time when Parvati was in tapasya and Shiva was in samadhi. In facilitating the divine union of the two, Kamadeva, the Lord of Love, gets burnt to ashes by Shiva. Shiva had to come out of samadhi to join Parvati, `Parva’ is festival and `Parvati’ means `born out of festival’ - celebration! For samadhi to unite with celebration, the presence of desire was necessary. So, desire (Kama) was invoked. But again, to celebrate, you need to overcome desire. So Shiva opened his third eye and burned Kama. When desire in the mind is burnt, celebration happens and life becomes colourful.
Like Holi, life should be colourful, not boring. When each colour is seen clearly, it is colourful. When all the colours get mixed, you end up with black. So also in life, we play different roles. Each role and emotion needs to be clearly defined. Emotional confusion creates problems. When you are a father, you have to play the part of a father. You can't be a father at office. When you mix the roles in your life, you start making mistakes. Whatever role you play in life, give yourself fully to it. Harmony in diversity makes life vibrant , joyful and more colourful.
The joy you experience in life is from the depth of your Self - when you let go all that you hold on to and settle down being centered in that space. That is called meditation. Meditation is not an act; it is the art of doing nothing! The rest in meditation is deeper than the deepest sleep that you can ever have because in meditation you transcend all desires. This brings such coolness to the brain and it is like servicing or overhauling the whole body-mind complex.
Only then we are able to understand the uplifted state of the being and see that the whole world is all spirit or consciousness. Celebration is the nature of the spirit and the celebration that comes out of silence is real. If sacredness is attached to a celebration, it becomes total, complete. It's not just body and mind but also the spirit that celebrates.
In a state of celebration, the mind often forgets the Divine. We should experience the Divine’s presence, the Divine’s light around us. You should have a desire to experience the something by which the whole world is running. To experience this through your prayers, there should be total involvement. If the mind is preoccupied elsewhere, then that is no prayer at all.
When you are faced with obstacles, deep prayers can work miracles. Prayer happens in two situations, or in a combination of situations. When you feel grateful or when you feel utterly helpless. If you are not grateful and prayerful, you will be miserable. The feeling that “I am blessed” can help you overcome any failure. Once you realise that you are blessed, then all the complaints disappear, all the grumbling disappears, all the insecurities disappear.
Celebration dawns spontaneously and life becomes colourful