Holi is a festival of colours, reminding us about this whole world that is so colourful. Just like nature, there are different colours associated with our feelings and emotions: anger is associated with red, jealousy with green, vibrancy and happiness with yellow, love with pink, vastness with blue, peace with white, sacrifice with saffron and knowledge with violet. Each person is a fountain of colours that keeps changing.
There is one story related to Holi in the Puranas which is very interesting. 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 got burnt, Prahlad came out unharmed.
Hiranyakashyap symbolizes one who is gross. Prahlad embodies innocence, faith and bliss. The spirit cannot be confined to loving only matter. Hiranyakashyap wanted all joy to come from the material world. It did not happen that way. The individual “jivatma” cannot be bound to the material forever. It’s natural to eventually move towards Narayana, one’s higher Self.
Holika symbolizes past burdens that try to burn Prahlad’s innocence. But Prahlad, so deeply rooted in Narayana Bhakti, could burn all past impressions (sanskaras). For one who is deep in devotion, 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 bother you; in knowledge, the same emotions add colour to your life.
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 the office. When you mix the roles in your life, you start making mistakes. Whatever role you play in life, give yourself fully to it.
Any the joy you experience in life is from the depth of your Self – when you let go of all that you hold on to and settle down being centred in that space. 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 and 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.
In a state of celebration, the mind often forgets the Divine. We should experience the Divine’s presence, the Divine’s light around us. You should have a desire to experience something by which the whole world is running. To experience this through your prayers, there should be total involvement. If the mind is preoccupied elsewhere, then that is no prayer at all.
When you are faced with obstacles, deep prayers can work miracles. Prayer happens in two situations. When you feel grateful or when you feel utterly helpless. If you are not grateful and prayerful, you will be miserable. The feeling that ‘I am blessed’ can help you overcome any failure. Once you realize that you are blessed, then all the complaints, all the grumbling and all the insecurities disappear.
Only then, we are able to understand the uplifted state of being and see that the whole world is all spirit or consciousness. And in that state of being, celebration dawns spontaneously and life becomes colourful.