Friday, November 5, 2010

Killing the Inner Demon

We celebrate Deepavali today and many of us are aware of the mythology behind the festival.

“In Hindu mythology, Narakasura or Naraka is the asura son of the earth goddess Bhudevi (Bhumi) and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha (boar) avatar (incarnation). His mother, the earth, sought the boon from Vishnu that her son should have a long life, and that he should be all powerful. Vishnu readily granted these boons but put a rider saying that only he will be killed by his mother.
Narakasura became evil, in association with another Asura named Banasura. Drunk with power, as he knew himself to be unrivalled in prowess, he brought all the kingdoms on earth under his control. Next, he turned his eyes towards Swargaloka. Even the mighty Indra could not withstand the assault of this son of Vishnu and had to flee the heavens. Now Narakasura had become the overlord of both the heavens and earth. His reign of oppression was in full swing. Addicted to power, he abducted 16,100 women and imprisoned them in his palace.

All the Devas, led by Indra went to Vishnu, to ask him to deliver them from Narakasura. Vishnu promised them that he will attend to this matter, when he will be incarnated as Krishna.
As promised to mother earth, Narakasura was allowed to enjoy a long reign. At last Vishnu was born as Krishna. Satyabhama (believed to be an Avatar of Bhudevi - Narakasura' mother), was approached for help to end the atrocities of Narakasura. When Satyabhama heard of the Narakasuara's ill treatment of women, she was enraged. Satyabhama approached Lord Krishna for permission to wage a war against Narakasura. As promised to the Devas, Krishna attacked the great fortress of Narakasura, riding his mount Garuda with wife Satyabhama. The battle was furiously fought. Narakasura possessed 11 Akshauhini (a division of the army) large army which he unleashed on Krishna. However, the Lord slew them all with little effort.
In desperation, Narakasura launched his great weapon, sataghini (a thunderbolt) on Krishna. However, it made no impact whatsoever on Krishna. At last, when Narakasura tried to kill the Lord with a trident, Krishna beheaded him with his Sudarshana Chakra (discus). Before, dying, the Asura requested a boon that his death anniversary should be celebrated by all people on earth.………………(Due Acknowledgement to Wikipedia)

This is the festival of Deepavali.”

There is a great spiritual significance in this myth.

The very first message we receive is that evil we perceive is also the very element of the divine, but which manifests when the higher level of consciousness takes root in the womb of material nature and is subject to corruption. This is the significance of Narakasura being born to Lord Vishnu and Bhudevi. The annihilation of all evil will take place only through our physical birth and in material nature because evil is not an attribute of the higher levels of consciousness.

The 11 Akshauhini represent the excess attribute of the guna of Rajas. It is in this mode that a corrupted ego operates resulting in duality and alienation from one’s true nature. We can see the same symbolism in Kurkshetra where the army of Kauravas had 11 Akshauhini while the Pandavas had 7 Akshauhini, seven being the numeric symbol of perfection.

It is also important to see that Satyabhama was given in marriage when her father Satrajit overcomes his ignorance in realization of the higher nature of Lord Krishna. The union with the divine can take place only when wisdom is evoked to remove all ignorance and illusions. This is the combined attribute which is carried by Garuda, the vehicle of transcendence, in overcoming the evil nature.

It is also significant that the liberation of 16100 women points to liberating the wisdom dimension in one’s nature to restore a satvic (Pure) existence in our lives.

This whole episode can be applied to each and every one of us. Deepavali is the festival where we celebrate the killing of the inner demon, our ego, which operates in the material dominated mode.

Happy Deepavali to you all.

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