7.18.2010

Fire, the mystical path to the other world


Srinivasan sat down and took a deep breath, and lit the lamps to the Lord. He stared at the flame catching on, while the fire grew gracefully into a small droplet of light. He watched the flame, dancing around on its wick but steady at the same time it seemed to give a mystical look to itself. He watched and wondered, this little drop of light appeared when he lit a match. This little drop of light lives while we feed it and disappears when the oil or ghee is over. Where does it go? It just seems to vanish into thin air, into that unknown world to which we have no ticket.

He started his prayer and as he progressed he watched the flame stay completely still on the wick. There was warmth in it and a silent magic that made he revere it more than take that little flame for granted. It had the power to make or break this puja, and what ever happened, this flame, he was taught, must never die during a puja.

This new perspective quite changed the entire equation of worship. It was no longer a mechanical task of lighting a fire because that was the done thing. It was now the starting point of a dialogue between him and that mystical world out there. The path of light had been created, he now needed to walk it and learn to light his inner flame. Sweet words rolled out, the rhythm got set and he sang out in praise of the Lord. Pure water washed the throne on which the Lord sat. Oil, honey and sandalwood bathed the Lord in turns. The Shiva Linga now looked so pure and divine in the light. The flame circled the Lord, and as it did he drew divine symbols. It felt like a grid of fire and light was the path to getting closer to the divine on the other side of this flame. Streaks of light drew a mesmerizing grid, symbolized by fire that would grant the seeker the divya drishti to see the Lord in his real self. How pure should this light be, and how sacred is this flame that it can purify the nature of the thoughts that go through his mind while he sings out these divine verses?

Srinivasan was intoxicated with this bliss that covered him, with the thoughts that ran through his mind. He could stay this way forever. He stared back at the light and thought about how the ancient sages performed their yagna. This small flame of light gave rise to a roaring fire. A roaring fire that grew with every offering made with ghee and mantra prayer. This flame was capable of doing many more things than just be a flame for 3 hours.

Great sages have performed miracles with this little light, they have created being both good and bad, enabling them to rise out of these flames. They have even challenged Lord Shiva with the creation of the grotesque red haired dwarf, Apasmara Purusha to fight him. A small flame in a lamp definitely has the capability to drive any being from the other world into this one. How then could he have taken this flame for granted?

Fire has made its way to various references in the scriptures. It appears in the form of a Jyothir lingas on this divine earth. 12 sacred shrines hold this very same flame within them.  What appears to be a hard, cold and rocky stone outside actually hides its potential molten white flame within. Is fire the life energy within them? Is it that which is referred to so carelessly as Prana? Fire is what is known to us, and it probably has more forms that can be felt but cannot be seen.

Srinivasan got up to do his final arti, raising the flame to the Lord as the culmination of the puja. He fed the wick with a little more ghee and left it to die gracefully. The path to the other world was now closed.

This little drop of light, this little flame that illuminated this chamber, has the potential of far greater powers undiscovered, and its significance fades back into history to be read as a mythological event that once took place in ancient days. 


Photo courtesy:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/arun-susmitha/

9 comments:

YOSEE said...

What a sparkling discourse on that mesmerising elemental Tatva: Agni ! (No wonder it is the first word of the vedas !)

"Agni kunjondru kanden,
athanai
Aangor kaatilae pondhidai vaithaen..
Vendhu thaninthathu kaadu
-Thanal
Neruppinil kunjaendrum mooppendrum undo?"
( Bharatiyar)

Agni, the purifying, the illuminating, the enlightening element,burns down the tangled forests of ignorance,egotism and desire.
A flamelet or a conflagration,the flame intimates us of the significance of Aruna-achala.

JC said...

Ancient Indians, called ‘Hindus’,relating them with ‘Indu’ that is Moon, perhaps because they were relatively advanced astronomers and had realised and developed correlation between the infinite unending universal void and temporary human being, as its model/ image, represented through selected nine numbers members (from Sun that is Brahma the creator as the sole source of ‘fire’ that is energy in the system to the ring-planet Saturn as the most evolved member that represents the mythical Lord Vishnu the ‘sudershan-chakra dhari’) of our solar system, as its essence, that all go into sustenance of the variety of physical forms on Earth the Mrityulok or the heavenly body where death of all life forms is inevitable (Shiva the Destroyer of the mythology with Moon representing Parvati as the source of ‘Amrit’ that is essence in the form of life-giving water to the variety of temporary life forms that exists here since eternity)...

Like the ancient Hindus apparently had realised it, ‘scientists’ in the present also have realised macrocosm and microcosm to function in a similar manner in ‘Nature’,,, thus the flame of a candle could be visualised to function similarly to our Sun as its model: act primarily as a source for dispelling darkness, “Tamaso ma jyotirgammaya...” or “Lead the kindly light..” etc,,, and just as one knows that our sun is responsible for the eternal water-cycle on earth thanks to the functions performed by the so-called five basic elements, earth, water, air, land, and sky (that is space), hot air moves upwards while its place is taken by relatively cooler air in the surrounding space, and the flame also ever remains upwards, even when the candle is inverted, that is symbolic of the lower-most level of hierarchy, one can also read the message in it for us humans: to raise the soul (energy within) upwards, from obviously sme lower rung of hierarchy in human form to Shiva the immortal’s level, or the highest possible level...

Anonymous said...

Happy to see our heritage...

hope to see many more so that many people will get knowledge of them....

Kavitha said...

Thank you Yosee for that beautiful verse.

Joshi uncle, that was an interesting bit on the 5 elements, i didnt make that connect till now... but come to think of it we are so dependent that the 5 elements perform the way they are supposed to in order to sustain life on the planet and how horribly we humans are killing this natural cycle in the need for wealth...

this is getting scary.

JC said...

Kavitha, in the grand drama that human life is believed to be, as part of the various truths, ideal man has been realised as model of our planet earth, the central physical figure (hero) in the infinite universe. Which is an infinite void that is filled with infinite numbers of a variety of temporary galaxies in which our galaxy (Milky Way Galaxy) was realised as the most evolved one…

It is conveyed popularly to have 'Krishna', also a 'sudershan-chakra dhari', at our galaxy's centre as Vishnu's representative.

And, in the present also it is realised that a 'Black Hole' (black meaning krishna), a super gravity heavenly body, is located at the centre of our galaxy. While each different appearing heavenly body also similarly exists in space thanks to its own different gravitational force that is concentrated at their centre. And, as models, humans are also believed to have a soul within each temporary form till it lasts and eventually merges with the Supreme Soul (Treyambakeshwar or three-in-one God, Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesha). Or continues to remain engaged in the eternal cycle of birth-death-rebirth according to a grand plan,,, thus the advice to remain unmoved under all circumstances: like the flame that ever looks upwards only, as can be observed by one and all Hindus when they preform aarati of a diety!

Fear of death is indicated to be on account of lack of overall knowledge of the Absolute Truth, ie, existence in the present of the formless only that continues to review His past, which conveys life in reality to be projection of His Past!

In view of the above, in short, life forms are indicated to merely act as models made from different proportions of the members of our most evolved solar system. For example, Brahma could be visualised as model of our Sun in human form. Or Sun's characteristic properties would be seen at any time reflected even through other human forms as the universe evolved, such as Rama and Arjuna of Hindu mytology as both are indicated as 'archers from whose bows arrows flew straight', just as sunrays emanate from our Sun in a straight line... Thus one could visualise each typical character in the mythology related with some member of our solar system. For example, earth could be related in the evolutinary process at different stages as Yudhisthir, Lakshamana, Shiva etc... howver, like one night follows another with appearance of drama of life in between, as we apparently know, it is certain that one Ice Age follows another as a 'natural phenomenon', thus one must surrender to 'Nature' (if you are an atheist!), or 'God' (if you are a believer!)...

JC said...

The flame of an earthen lamp or diya needs materials to keep burning till the matters last. But Shiva is the 'fire' that doesn't need material for its existence as it is unborn and unending,,, it believably is unaffected by fire, water, air etc...

JC said...

Ancient Hindus were advancd scientists who indicated basically three centres of energy within our Milky Way Galaxy: mythlogical stories indicate 'Krishna' as the 'cowboy' during Dwaperyuga as the Hero on whose tune danced all the residents of Gokul & Brindavan, thus reflecting the characteristics of our galaxy; the other centre of energy within our galaxy is our Sun that similarly makes the planetary system go around it, but like cream in a centrifuge it is located at the periphery of our galaxy; and the third centre is our earth as the essence of the universe that makes our moon go around it... However, earth is indicated as the centre of our universe by ancient astronomers. It can help visualise earth's centre as the original Formless creator, or Nadbindu Vishnu, that reportedly is the primary cause of the physical universe... And thus the visualisation of it being represented by shivlinga, as the Treyambakeshwar or the three-in-one God, Shiva the Tripurari or Master of the Three worlds...

JC said...

One knows how man today feels comfortable only when 'fire' is under one's control. And one fears uncontrolled fire, eg, jungle fire that could burn everything, all flora and fauna involved...Homo sapiens apparently advanced only when Homo habilis (in Africa?) learnt to make their own fire...

It is believed that earth itself originally was a ball of fire, till it started cooling down and its exterior got solidified to a certain extent and reached a stage (in about one billion years) when it could sustain 'life', in the form of e-coli, an ordinary bacteria, and evolved eventually to reach believably the 'superior-most stage', man, as the head of the food-chain on earth...

JC said...

The 'Hindu Mythology' indicates essentially creation of material world with 'fire' (in the form of 'sound energy' or 'Big Bang') in the second stage of 'churning of the milky ocean' and its evolution during Dwaperyuga, of duration two and three times respectively of that of Kaliyuga when poison had mostly prevailed, and Tretayuga... while Satyuga of four times duration of Kaliyuga is related with spirits or 'hootas'...

And finally with the most evolved soul reached at the end,in the form of Shiva, the bhootnath or lord of ghosts, who is a balanced personality between material and spiritual, now believbly is reviewing the creation or His Own History, and that 'we' are souls during the beginning of 'hurning' and therefore less advanced, 'we' need to visualise backwards to realise Shiva the perfectly balanced being as He originall;y existed also to start with, as Vishnu,the 'Nadbindu'!