the festival of Lights is celebrated on the new moon day in
the month of ‘Ashwin’ of the Indian lunar Calendar.
It usually falls in late October or early November.
Deepavali or Diwali, the most pan-Indian
of all Hindu festivals, is a festival of lights symbolizing
the victory of righteousness over evil and the lifting of
spiritual darkness. The word ‘Deepavali’ literally
means ‘rows of lamps’. The lamp is not merely
the symbol of knowledge of Truth, but also of the one Atma
(spirit) that shines in all.
Legend has it that it was on this day the
demon ‘Narakasura’ was vanquished and 16000 Gopikas
(cowherd maidens devoted to Lord Krishna) who were held in
captivity were freed from the clutches of the demon by Lord
Krishna. To mark the end of gloom and sadness, the Gopikas
celebrated the occasion by lighting lamps and bursting crackers
“Today is the day on which Naraka,
the demon was killed. What does this event signify? It signifies
killing the demon in man. 'Nara' means man and 'Asura' means
demon. This demon is present in every human being. It is not
necessary to acquire great weapons to kill this demon. Man
is called 'Nara' because there is Atma (spirit) in him. That
Atma is the embodiment of love. It is possible to kill the
demons only through love. Therefore, realize the Atma Tathva
and develop love. This is true Bhakti (devotion)”.
- Divine Discourse: November 4, 2002
"The flame of a lamp has two significant
qualities. One is to banish darkness; the other is a continuous
upward movement. Even if a lamp is kept in a pit, the flame
is directed upwards. The ancients have taught that the upward
movement of the flame denotes the path to wisdom and the path
to divinity. However, the external light can dispel only the
external darkness, but not the darkness of ignorance in man.
When Narakasura was killed all those who
suffered under him were overjoyed. Having led a life of darkness
till then, both internally and externally, they celebrated
the occasion by lighting lamps. There is significance in lighting
lamps. The flame of one lamp can light the whole array of
lamps. That one lamp symbolizes the Parama Jyothi (supreme
effulgence). The others symbolize the Jeevana Jyothis (light
in individual selves). Deepavali is celebrated in order to
teach this truth to the world. People celebrate this festival
by bursting firecrackers signifying the victory of good over
The inner meaning underlying the Bharatiya
festivals should be rightly understood. On each festival day,
people have a sacred bath early in the morning and wear new
clothes, keep their houses and surroundings clean. Thus the
festivals teach us the importance of internal and external
cleanliness. The Vedas declare, "Anthar Bahischa Tat
Sarvam Vyapya Narayana Stithaha", God is present within
and around. So, one has to be pure both internally and externally.
It is the water that helps to keep your body clean. But it
is love that keeps your heart clean. You should celebrate
the festivals in full realization of their inner significance”.
- Divine Discourse: October 19, 1998