Burn vices within
Take refuge in the Vishnu
Let’s colour our life…
The day of Holi has arrived. We all will lite up wooden logs to mark the arrival of Summer. The Prasad of coconut and Jaggery is to cool our body and prepare it for the coming summer’s. The next day is celebrated as “Dhulivandan” or “Rang Panchami”.
But do we know the historical significance of Holi?
Why do we celebrate it?
How is it related to Prahlad?
Who is Holika, who is supposed to have been burnt of the Holy pyre?
Let us take ourselves back to a time, more than 15000, maybe 17000 years back, (a time I leave upto historians and archaeologists to decide) when Man had learnt agriculture and started settling down. The Varah Avtaar had started a civilisation. The Avtaar of Vishnu had just killed Hiranyaksh (the one whose eyes see Gold everywhere and in every thing). People were moving from an only materialistic outlook to a spiritual one. From looking outside to looking inside. For that they needed to settle down, and not move from one place to another like nomads in search of food. Vishnu, the Operator, had taught his people to sow and cultivate and this led to their settling down at a place. Once the problem of basic necessities was solved, people started looking inwards. Now it is very easy to write the whole transformation in a few sentences, but it must have taken years of toil to do this. Imagine how much time we take when we want to change one habit! But, the road to civilisation is always filled with obstacles. There were many people who just loved the life of a Nomad and just loved accumulating wealth. Their leader at that time was Hiranyakashyap, the brother of Hiranyaksh. He did not believe in the ways of Vishnu and did not want a civilisation to thrive. He believed that action is the highest good and sitting back, looking inside oneself, would make people, lazy and overdependent on a God who was never seen nor heard. So he simply didn’t believe in God and tormented and tortured people who did believe. He had built his empire on the basis of Action, Action and only Action to earn Gold, Gold and only Gold. Many people despised him and his ways but did not have the courage and strength to fight Hiranyakashyap. Such people like Hiranyakashyap have been called “Rakshas”, the one who believes that one can take care of oneself. They did not have any horns on their head or have any long teeth like the ones shown in serials or as articulated in books and by “kathakaars”. They were normal people like you and me, dressed in their best attire and ornaments. Only difference was they believed only in today and worked for today. They did not believe in the authority of the Vedas. They did not believe in Life after Death. They believed in “Aham Rakshyami” ( I can take care of myself)
But Nature has its own ways.
Hiranyakashyap had a son “Prahlad”. He was an ardent devotee of Shree Vishnu. He believed in civilisation and used to go house to house to spread His thought. He was a small kid so used to share his thoughts with his friends. Some elders found this irritating so they complained to Hiranyakashyap. The King tried many methods of changing Prahlad’s way of thinking. The first being through education. He sent Prahlad to the best teachers in town. Prahlad would question and counter question them, leading to the other kids gathering around Him and slowly they started doing what Prahlad said. The teachers tried to drive sense in this boy! But he was very firm with his thoughts. The kids in turn would go home and share these thoughts with their parents. The thoughts spread like wild fire and slowly the tide started changing. The believers of Vishnu started gaining strength. Now all this must have taken some years to happen. At last the teachers became completely frustrated and sent back Prahlad to Hiranyakashyap citing their inabilities to teach him.This enraged Hiranyakashyap.
It was like the whole world listened to him and did his biding, except his son. He tried various methods to kill him. Throwing him down a cliff and setting the most poisonous of the snakes onto him. He also planned to get Him killed by intoxicating an elephant, which failed. The people who were given the tasks loved Prahlad so much that they either refrained from performing the tasks or went underground to escape the wrath of Hiranyakashyap. This torture by Hiranyakashyap slowly started increasing the already growing love, of the people, for Prahlad. Cause even in all difficulties Prahlad stood firm in his belief. The anger against Hiranyakashyap started brewing inside the hearts of the people.
The torment reached its pinnacle when Hiranyakashyap with his sister Holika planned to burn Prahlad to ashes on a pyre. It is said that Holika had some kind of technology (maybe what the fire fighters wear today, a coat of asbestos which does not burn) with which she could stay alive in fire and not get burnt. They both decided to make a spectacle of this. So, in midst of the town, Prahlad was asked to sit on the lap of Holika on a wooden pyre and the pyre was lit. But the winds that day were so forceful that the coat which Holika wore to save herself from fire, blew off and killed her before she could even get Prahlad on her lap. The people rejoiced. Now the anger had reached its peak.
By then, Hiranyakshyap was back in his palace with Prahlad bound in chains. The people had followed them to the palace. He shouted at Prahlad to show him his God. Prahlad said that He is everywhere. Hiranyakashyap took his mace in hand and pointing to the people standing there asked whether God existed in those people who stood in front of him like dead pillars? And Prahlad replied in positive. This enraged Hiranyakashyap who lifted his mace to kill Prahlad. But this time, the people had seen and heard enough. They just lost all their senses and in a bid to save Prahlad, pounced upon Hiranyakashyap and killed him. The “nar” (people) had turned to “simha” (lion). Thus Narsimha was born.
After killing Hiranyakashyap, they just went on a rampage. Prahlad approached them and asked them to come back to their senses. People realised that it was only Hiranyakashyap who was to be blamed and not others, accepted their folly and apologised. They lifted Prahlad on their shoulders and crowned him their King. And they celebrated the Day with colours and ashes left from the pyre lit to kill Prahlad. From that day, Holi is lit to remember the trouncing of evil and the advent of the good. The next day is celebrated as Rang Panchami.
People and many respected historians call this mythology and try to belittle our history. But for Macaulay kids, it is simply unimaginable, that India could be so advanced then. They look through their own myopic lens and judge every event from their lessons and own understanding of history. The Wendyputras and putris from India atleast need to open their eyes and look at our history with our perspective and try to understand and explain it.
Hope that the winds on this day will blow off the covers from their eyes and burn their bias towards Indian civilisation.
Let us pray to Bhagwaan Vishnu to lead us to a life that all our Rishis have lived for.
Let us be blessed with unflinching love towards God, like that of Mahatma Prahlad.
Let us all burn all our vices today and fill our lives with colours.
Wishing you all a very Happy Holi and Dhulivandana.
PS: The whole idea behind the history written above is inspired by my guide and elder brother Revered Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale.