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.