Brass-Deepa-LakshmiNamaste! From tomorrow, Kartika Masa, the month of Akash deepa starts. Since Dakshinayana is a malefic period, and lighting of a lamp and praying to Shiva/Ista Devata is supposed to protect one from going to naraka (hell) “Traahimaam narakaath ghoraath, deepajyothi namosthute”, I just felt like sharing a few thoughts … please pardon (but do correct) any errors that creep into my modest narrative. What I am offering is just like a fistful of “arghyam” to the Almighty…

om bhur bhuva svah
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah pracodayat

The Gayatri mantra exhorts us thus Chanting Omkara, forget the “vaasana” and “vichara” of the three worlds, and concentrate on Surya alone, the “Trailokya timiraapah”. Let the Surya, the “Jyothiswaroopa” flood our hearts with His radiance. Let the effulgence of Surya engulf us, burn away the darkness, and sharpen
our faculties. Let the intellect glow steadily,
unagitated and unbiased. Let it remain chaste…
unsoiled by the shadripu.

This ancient invocation embodies the man’s perennial quest for Light, which is synonymous with the Supreme Being. All ancient religions in the world have revered “Light” from time immemorial and designated the time of conjunction between darkness and light (Sandhya samaya) as especially sacred for worship.

While day represents “jagrithi” (wakefulness); night represents “sushupthi” (state of sleep), and the brilliant twilight represents “Swapna” (the dream-state), the junction of the conscious and the unconscious, where everything gets dramatically colored and highlighted.  The fourth dimension is the “thuryavastha”, which is indefinable and permeates all states, like ether, the “Akasa tattwa”. Just to illustrate..this is most akin to the fleeting, trance-like state of the pale pre/afterglow. It is like the vibrating silence that follows “AUM”. It is where the soul is in its highest state of  “nirvikara” … and closest to God.

This is the time of  “Nitya Deepaaradhana”, a daily Hindu ritual of lighting the lamp during dawn and dusk, which signifies man’s basic desire to stay close to Light/Dharma, and derive comfort, despite the apparent and sometimes, overwhelming darkness. Infact, Light is an inextricable part of Hindu sensibility. From birth to death and even beyond, lighting of a lamp accompanies virtually all activities.
The Purana have described the Lamp as “Suryamsa sambhavo deepah”(an aspect of Surya) and according to Rigveda it is Amritamaya (full of nectar). It is one of the 16 upacharas / services / offerings to God and is one of the 16 “mahadaanas”. The light of lamp can be resolved into three components:

Blue, White and reddish Gold, representative of Durga/Parvati, Saraswati and Lakshmi and lighting of the lamp is to ignite/launch/channel the three guiding shaktis (Iccha/Gyana/Kriya shaktis) of human destiny into action for our benefit.
The lighting of lamp is usually accompanied by rendition of the sloka,
Deepam Jyothi parabrahmam
Deepam sarva tamopaham
Deepena saadhyate sarvam
Sandhya deepam namosthute

The lighting of lamp is not just a routine religious task and is highly symbolic:
Vairagya thaila sampoorne
Bhakti varti samanvithe
Prabodha poorna pathrouthe
Jnyapthi deepam vilokayeth

Fill a vessel called “Prabodha” (teachings of Guru) with oil called “Vairagya” (detachment) and put a wick called “Bhakti” (devotion) and let the lamp of wisdom glow gently within and without, at the feet of God. Where the heart is touched by the Divine Spark, the mind is truly enlightened and both are immersed in the constant contemplation of God, inner light pours out from every pore, says Taittiriya Upanishad. And that person will himself grow into a “Viswamurti”, because Lord Krishna in Bhagavadgita emphatically says that He’s the “Tejas”(brilliance) of the Sun, the Moon, the Agni and wherever else it is found.

In Purusha sooktam, the description of the Viswamurti goes like, “chandrama manaso jaatah chaksho Suryo ajaayatha…” establishing Eyes and Heart as the twin primary seats of Light /luminaries in the human body. Now, relate this to Jyotish Sastra which is identified with the eyes of kalapurusha…and there, in the center/core (Bhrumadhya) lies the Third Eye/Aagya chakra, the seat of wisdom and intuition, ruled by Jupiter, who alone can unlock a shimmering path into the sheer, translucent Light that is Sahasrara Chakra and Mother.
Asatoma Sadgamaya
Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya
Mrityorma Amritamgamaya

Translation: Oh Lord, Lead me… from Untruth to Truth Darkness to Light Mortality to Immortality
Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih!