By : Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Holi is a festival of colours. This whole world is so colourful. Just like nature there are different colours associated with our feelings and emotions: anger with red, jealousy with green, vibrancy and happiness with yellow, love with pink, vastness with blue, peace with white, and sacrifice with saffron and knowledge with violet. Each person is a fountain of colours which keep changing.
Puranas are full of illustrations and stories and there is a story related to Holi. An asura king, Hiranyakashyap, wanted everyone to worship him. But his son Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Narayana, the king’s sworn enemy. Angry, the king wanted Holika, his sister, to get rid of Prahlad. Empowered to withstand fire, Holika sat on a burning pyre holding Prahlad on her lap. But it was Holika who was burnt, Prahlad came out unharmed.
Hiranyakashyap symbolises one who is gross. Prahlad embodies innocence, faith and bliss. The spirit cannot be confined to love only matter. Hiranyakashyap wanted all his joy to come from the material world. That did not happen. The individual jivatma cannot be bound to the material forever. It’s natural to eventually move towards Narayana, one’s higher Self.
Holika symbolises past burdens that try to burn Prahlad’s innocence. But Prahlad, so deeply rooted in Narayana Bhakti (devotion), could burn all past impressions (sanskaras). For one who is deep in bhakti, joy springs up with new colours and 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.
Like Holi, life 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, joyful and more colourful.
Any joy you experience in life is from the depth of your Self — when you let go all that you are holding on to and settle down. That is called meditation. Meditation is not an act; it is the art of doing nothing! The rest in meditation is deeper than the deepest sleep that you can ever have because in meditation you transcend all desires. This brings such coolness to the brain. It is like servicing or overhauling the whole body-mind complex.
Celebration is the nature of the spirit and the celebration that comes out of silence is real. If sacredness is attached to a celebration, it becomes total, complete. It’s not just body and mind but also the spirit that celebrates. And in that state, life is colourful.
The author is a humanitarian leader and the founder of The Art of Living organization. He can be followed on @srisri (on Twitter) & facebook.com/SriSriRaviShankar (Facebook)