In almost every Indian household it is customary to light the deepam (lamp) twice, both in the morning and evening. This is usually done in the prayer room before the deity. Our daily worship starts with the lighting of the lamp. All auspicious functions, religious as well as social, start with the lighting of the lamp. This custom has deep intellectual and spiritual significance.Primarily deepam signifies knowledge. All our activities should be governed by the light of knowledge, especially the knowledge of dharma. By this knowledge, ignorance or darkness is dispelled. We bow to knowledge which is the greatest wealth in our lives. Knowledge also backs our good as well as bad actions. So, the lamp which is kept lit for all auspicious occasions is a witness to our thoughts and actions.
The flame is fed on the oil of clear devotion and enlivened by the breeze of intense love of contemplation of the Divine. The wick is the intellect strengthened by impressions of strivings to cultivate the right values. This is the spiritual significance of a deepam compared to an electric light which can only remove darkness. Like the flame burning upwards, our knowledge must take us towards higher ideals.
With a single deepam, we can light many more lights. But the original lamp does not diminish when helping to light others. This shows that our knowledge does not decrease when we share it with others. The clarity and conviction increase on giving and so the giver and receiver are both benefited.
Oil lamps were a part of various traditions and cultures around the world, until electric lights became popular. The earliest known oil lamp can be dated back to the Chalcolithic Age, about 4500 to 3300 BC. Today, their use is limited to only a few homes, more often only for visual appeal.
But there is a lot more to the humble oil lamp, as Sadhguru tells us, than its obvious use of providing light and aesthetics. Find out more about how you can create an ambience of energy and positivity in your home.
Light is significant because of the way our instruments of vision are made. If our instruments of vision were made like, let’s say that of an owl, light wouldn’t be very valuable to us.
Today you have electric lights so you may wonder why a lamp. But imagine just a few hundred years ago, there was no possibility of doing anything indoors without a lamp. Historically, the lamp was an essential part of our homes because of two reasons. One, there were no electric lights. Two, homes were built from organic materials so people couldn’t afford to open up huge windows. Generally, the houses in ancient times were dark inside. Even today, have you seen that old homes in villages and slums are generally dark? So a lamp was kept even during the day, and a place of worship was created around it.
It is a part of tradition that to create the right kind of atmosphere, the first thing that you do is light a lamp. Of course, because of all our problems today, because our nails are long and polished, we can’t do this, so we use electric lights. But those of you who light a lamp, if you simply be there around it, you will notice it makes a difference. You don’t need to believe in any God. It need not even be dark, the lamp need not be a visual aid, but do you notice it makes some kind of a difference? This is because the moment you light a lamp, not the flame itself but around the flame a certain etheric sphere will naturally happen.
Where there is an etheric sphere, communication will be better. Did you ever sit around a campfire in your life? If you did, you would have seen that stories told around the campfire always have the maximum impact on people. Have you noticed this? The storytellers of yore understood this – stories told around the campfire are always the most effective stories. Receptivity will be at its best.
So if you want to start anything, or you want to create a certain atmosphere, a lamp is lit. This comes from the understanding that when you light a lamp, apart from the visual aspect, it fills the whole place with a different kind of energy. Lighting an oil lamp has certain implications. The use of certain vegetable oils, especially if you use sesame oil, castor oil or ghee (clarified butter) to light a lamp, it exudes positivity. It has its own field of energy.
Fire itself is a source of light and a source of life in many ways. Symbolically, we have always seen fire as the very source of life. In fact, your life itself is referred to as fire in many languages. ‘The fires of life’ within you keep you going. The Sun, the very source of life on this planet, is just a fireball, isn’t it? Whether you light an electric lamp or you cook at home with whatever kind of stove, or the internal combustion engine in your car, it’s all still fire, isn’t it? Everything that is driving life in this world is fire. So fire is seen as the very source of life. It also creates a field of energy around itself, and above all it creates the necessary atmosphere. So when you light a lamp before you start your day, it is because you want to bring the same quality into yourself. It is symbolism; it’s a way of invoking your own inner nature.