Diwali and Aether

  • 683px-Diya

I was compelled to write this post due to a disturbing trend I see and that is people replacing real earthen lamps on Diwali with battery operated ones. Though mindfulness movement has gained a lot of traction, a lot of old traditions have been rendered ineffective in the name of convenience. Let me make an attempt to make some people see light here.

In spiritual traditions, 5 elements are described: fire, water, air, earth and aether/akasha. Akasha or Aether is the element which is omnipresent, still incomprehensible. Aether is responsible for peace and happiness besides other things. Its food for the mind, if that makes it easier for you to understand it.

Ascetics with deep transcendental meditation can generate immense amount of aether but what can be done to generate it for regular householders was the question Indian spiritual masters had. In dark ages when natural amount of aether was low, this problem became even more acute.

Many tools and techniques were devised to increase aether in small increments. Chanting hymns and mantra with right combination of mnemonics was the most effective one though it depended a lot on the person who was doing the chanting and how much purity of consciousness that person had.

Lighting a lamp came second. It was easy for lay people. Before advent of electricity, lamps and torches were lit for lighting anyway. For rituals, special material like ghee etc were recommended to enhance the effect.

The way it works is that natural flame has a quality of producing a layer of aether around it, no wonder most of shamanic rituals are performed near flame. . If you go to a large temple, you will see not only large lamps but multiple of them (scale up vs scale out, enterprise software folks).

There are various other things are done to enhance quality of aether like certain type of incense sticks. The easiest part still is, light a lamp. Please do not make a mockery of this tradition.

For the folks who would argue that I do not feel it, my answer is Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule. Most of the spiritual concept make sense like any other complex phenomenon in life. You need to spend thousand of hours to develop skills to feel it. For folks who could not do it, masters created tools.

Hope you all have happy and joyful Diwali.