Saturday, September 2, 2017

Return to Our Higher Manifestation

I promised to write this article to evoke the higher meaning behind the festival of Onam and the mythology associated with it. I will briefly tell the mythical story behind the celebration of Onam.
Long ago, the beautiful state of Kerala was ruled by an Asura (demon) king, Mahabali. The King was loved and respected in his kingdom and was considered to be wise, judicious and extremely generous. This was the period when the kingdom witnessed its golden era. Everybody was happy in the kingdom, there was no discrimination on the basis of caste or class. Rich and poor were equally treated. There was neither crime, nor corruption. People did not even lock their doors, as there were no thieves in that kingdom. There was no poverty, sorrow or disease in the reign of King Mahabali and everybody was in state of bliss and content.
We usually assign a very negative connotation to ‘Asura’ as demon or evil but in the ancient part of the Rg Veda, asura refers to the supreme spirit, like the Zoroastrian Ahura Mazdah, or to Vedic deities (devas) such as Varuna, Agni, Mitra, and Indra. In younger Vedic texts and Hindu mythology asuras become demons who war against the devas (gods). (cf., in the Iranian tradition ahura came to mean "god" while ‘dacva’ came to mean "demon"). Asuras are not necessarily evil while devas are not necessarily good. They are consubstantial, distinguished only by their mutual opposition, which is not conceived as an absolute ethical dualism. In fact King Mahabali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, the preserver God of the Hindu Trinity.
The devas became jealous due to the popularity of Mahabali. It is important to note that Mahabali was the great grandson of Hiranyakshipu, the grandson of Prahlada. As many of you may know that Hiranyakshipu was the embodiment of evil while Prahlada was the embodiment of the Divine essence from his very childhood and was the invoker of Narasimha avatar of Lord Vishnu.
This perennial iteration between evil and good as manifestations of the dual and nondual nature of the Divine can be seen in most deep mythological lore.
To continue the mythological story of Mahabali, The mother of the Gods, Aditi, sent Lord Vishnu as a dwarf Brahmin, Vamana, to Mahabali to ask for alms. In his generous nature Mahabali asked what Vamana wanted and he asked for land which he will measure by his feet, seeing this as an easy gift the King agreed. Lord Vishnu assumed his cosmic form and took the first two steps enveloping the whole world and seeing that the third step would destroy the earth, Mahabali asked the lord to put his third step on his head thus sacrificing himself.
Lord Vishnu, witnessing the selfless sacrifice, finally condescends to his devotee’s request for a boon to return to his kingdom every year. This is celebrated as Onam festival.
The deeper meaning of this mythological story is that both evil and good are purely dualistic perception of the human mind. If we analyse this episode from purely a rational perspective then we see that a good and benevolent king was tricked due to jealousy of gods who were supposed to be the good. But if we see this episode from the point of view a perennial manifestation granted through a boon to the benevolent king by the Divine, the methodology to which we assign attributes as evil and good becomes a collective objective perception. These type of perceptions become invalidated when we consider the subjective perception of the person experiencing a transcendence. For King Mahabali, this would have been a subjective experience from deeper consciousness level tod in a narrative form in this myth. Those who were witness to the event would have only seen the King collapse and die as soon as he granted the gift of land to the dwarf Brahmin. What happens at the supreme consciousness level would be purely subjective and will always remain hidden from the outside world.
This mythical episode and many similar ones in many spiritual traditions are created to evoke our inner spirit so that we may also celebrate our higher nature in the midst of the world of turmoil.
A very meaningful celebration of Onam to all my friends.
Love to you all.

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