From ignorance, lead me to truth;
From darkness, lead me to light;
From death, lead me to immortality
Om peace, peace, peace
I learned the above shloka in the year 2009 when I went to SVYASA to do my Teacher’s Training Course. I found that I was the only one unfamiliar with it. When I went on to star teaching yoga myself, I learned from my students that this is a shloka taught widely in schools here in India. This shloka is found in the Upanishads and is a prayer to Light.
If you look at this shloka closely, you can see the definition of the word ‘guru’ in the second line. ‘Gu’ means darkness and ‘ru’ means light. A guru is someone who enlightens you; takes you from the darkness to the light. A guru gives you the strength to recognize your own ignorance and guides you towards your truth.
Diwali is then, perhaps, also a celebration of moving towards the light of truth and peace. We celebrate the triumph of good over evil, but we should also reflect on the inner darkness that exists in all of us and pray for it to be illuminated.
During Diwali we perform the Lakshmi puja, and many people also worship Ganesha and Saraswati during this puja. Ganesha is worshipped at the beginning of any puja and symbolizes that which clears the way to our goal. Saraswati is the goddess of books and learning.
A yogi carries the light (deep) of yoga within. As yogis we are on the path to truth, to the light, to peace in every moment of every day. When we unroll our mats we are lighting a diya to a practice that is our path to a higher truth. When we practice we are paying tribute to goddess Saraswati because the practice is a study of ourselves and humanity. And when we resolve that we will continue the practice no matter what, it is an invocation to Ganesha to clear the hurdles that may stand in our way.
For a yogi, every day is Diwali.