By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Mar 25, 2013
The word Purana comes from the Sanskrit word ‘pure nava’ which means 'that which is new in the city'. It is a new way of presenting things. Puranas are full of colourful illustrations and stories. On the surface they appear to be mere fantasy, but actually, they contain subtle truths.
An Asura king, Hiranyakashyapa, wanted everyone to worship him. But his son Prahlada was a devotee of Narayana, the king's sworn enemy. Angry, the king wanted Holika, his sister, to get rid of Prahlada. Empowered to withstand fire, Holika sat on a burning pyre holding Prahlada on her lap. But it was Holika who was burnt; Prahlada came out unharmed.
Hiranyakashyapa symbolises the one who is gross. Prahlada embodies innocence, faith and bliss/joy. The spirit cannot be confined to love of material only. Hiranyakashyapa 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, the higher Self.
Holika stands for past burdens that try to burn Prahlada's innocence. But Prahlada, so deeply rooted in Narayana Bhakti, could burn all past Sanskaras or impressions and joy springs up with new colours. 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.
Each emotion is associated with a colour — 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.
Like Holi 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 and more colourful.
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 His Samadhi to join Parvati, for celebration to take place. 'Parva' is festival and 'Parvati' means 'born out of festival' — celebration!
For Samadhi to unite with celebration, the presence of desire was necessary. So, Kama or desire 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.
Focus attention on the desire and surrender it. This act of focusing awareness or sight on the desire or Kama is called 'Kamakshi'. With awareness, desire loses its grip and surrender happens and then nectar flows out from within. The goddess, Kamakshi, holds a sugarcane stem in one hand and a flower in the other. The sugarcane stem is so hard and has to be squeezed in order to obtain sweetness, while the flower is soft and collecting nectar from it is so easy. This truly represents life, which indeed has a little of both!