Light the Lamp Within You

Karthigai Deepam in Tamil and Karthika Deepam in Telugu, this festival of lights signifies lighting the lamp within. This post details the story behind this festival and the also the inner meaning conveyed

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Faith Works Wonders

There was once a tribal who knew the divine spell (or mantra) to cure one from snake and other poisonous insect bites. His name spread far and wide. People from far used to come to him for cure. This news reached the ears of a learned sage. This sage was curious to know, how a tribal in some corner in the world can know mantras and also use them effectively. He wanted to verify if that was really a mantra or some black magic.

On moving with the tribal for some days, the sage was convinced that this is no black magic and he really knew the mantra. Now the sage was curious to learn the mantra. After all the sage was a jignasu (thirsty for knowledge) and he wanted to learn something he didn’t know. He then approached the tribal to teach him the mantra.

The tribal is now worried. He believed that the sage is highly learned and there is nothing in this world, which he could teach to such a learned man. Even if there is something he can teach him, how can he ask such a learned man to serve him before teaching? He could neither refuse the sage nor did he have the courage to tell the truth. He slowly mustered courage to say that the student should serve the master before he can learn from him.

The learned sage being aware of the guru-sishya parampara as mentioned in the scriptures, immediately agreed. After some weeks of service, the sage now a student requested his master to teach him the mantra. The master said the time has not come yet and he has to serve him for another year. The sage had no other option but to follow the orders of his master.

A year passed and the time has come for the master to teach the student…

One auspicious day after the morning bath, on the banks of the river the master and student settle down to transact the lesson. The master tells something in the student’s ear. The sage was not able to believe his ears. He still wanted to verify the truth and requests the master (tribal) to repeat the mantra. The tribal does so, as he felt obliged to teach a sincere student to his utmost satisfaction. Soon, the sage bursts out in laughter.

He shouts in utter dismay… “How on earth did I waste one full year serving an unlearned tribal to learn this nonsense?”

He then turns to the tribal and asks “Is this the mantra which is curing people from poisonous bites?”

The tribal nods in agreement.

The learned sage then felt he has the responsibility to clarify facts to the tribal and save him from bad consequences. He explains to the tribal that “This is no mantra to cure people from poisonous bites. It is in fact a mantra in praise of Lord Shiva… And you are uttering it in a wrong way. This may cause serious problems for you in future as there is a method and tone in which any mantra has to be repeated. Wrong pronunciations may result in dire consequences. Take care”

Saying so, the sage left the place.

The tribal had lots of regard to the learned sage and completely believed in what the sage said. So, he was afraid to use the mantra again. Due to pressure from the wise-men in the tribe, he did try out the mantra in a couple of instances. But it did not work. His faith in the mantra is broken and hence it lost the power.

The sage anyway did not believe in the mantra and never used it. Consequently the world lost the power of a mantra which can cure people from poisonous bites.

The fact however remains that the mantra was real. It was passed on in the tribe for several generations in guru-sishya parampara. They did not have a written script and knowledge was passed on from master to the student. It is possible that the mantra might have changed its tone over generations, but it worked perfectly because of the faith the tribe-men had on the mantra and the shradda (there is no absolute translation for this word in English… it is more than faith and absolute conviction) with which it was administered for generations. Once the faith is broken the mantra lost its power.

With absolute faith or “Shradda” any sound can gain power, without “Shradda” even the most powerful mantra can lose its power.

This story is based on a real incident originally narrated by HH Tridandi Srimannarayana Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamiji and extracted from a discourse by his disciple HH Tridandi Srimannarayana Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji.

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