It was a personal duel between me and my teacher. She did not view it as such. My high-school teacher most probably was not even thinking of me. She was just doing her job, setting a Physics paper for the final exams. I stayed up the whole night studying, preparing. Not out of tension, not because I wanted x marks. I viewed it as a personal duel between me and my teacher, and I was enjoying myself thoroughly. I was having fun. It was the only time when I did an all-nighter.
That is what Raavan wanted too — a good hard knock with a worthy opponent, and who better than his teacher. Raavan wasn’t having fun mindlessly. He chose to abduct Sita but he was not interested in Sita one iota bit. He was interested in Raam. The idea was to pull Raam into his den for a good meaty duel. Which super-capable warrior will not want a good hard knock with a worthy opponent? There wasn’t anyone else available, other than Raam.
Of course he would get mad at Vibhishan. “Tejo-vaddha” it is called, when someone tries to shake our resolve and focus — and Raavan would have none of it. This happens at times. We worry about safety, but fail to honor the spirit.
“This is not the proper thing to do. We will all perish. Raam is God incarnate.”, Vibhishan said. It makes sense from a conventional perspective, especially if you are operating from the conventional rules of right and wrong. This article is, however, about the other perspective. Raavan knew of the consequences well — erudite and an ardent devotee that of Shiv that he was. So what if this, that and the other will get destroyed. He didn’t give a hoot about the body getting destroyed. His spirit soared. That is what he wanted — a good hard knock with the one whom he not only worshiped, but who he had started thinking of as his buddy. He wanted light (Raam) to come and penetrate the very core of darkness, his belly. He wanted it.
There is deep satisfaction in being destroyed at the hands of the one’s love.
All this talk of victory of light over darkness is a half story. What victory is there to be had? They are equals and they love each other. They are langotiyaa-yaar (buddies from when they were in their nappies) — light and dark. They are wedded to each other (Kali and Shiv), one willing to lay itself down for the other. Till we eulogize only one and not the other, we are doing gross disservice to ourselves. For the light and the dark in us are both equally divine, equally wise, equally powerful — and equally desirable.
“He was evil. He was filled with pride. Dambh“, people say of Raavan. That sounds superficial to me. If you are the best, you are going to say you are the best. Our reality is not half divine half evil, satan and God at war with each other. Our reality is already fully-divine. We slash ourselves into half and say this is good, this is bad. It is self-hatred.
Here is a direct example of how we slash our self in half –
“Serve water with the right hand, serving water with the left is bad. Take money in the right hand, not the left,” so many children are taught this from a young age. For some weird reason half the body is good, and the other half is not so good?
My right hand weakens during MS attacks. During this time I fall back on my left hand, for eating, for writing, and various other tasks. In the process I have become somewhat ambidextrous and have learnt of the deep wisdom and power that resides in connecting with the ‘other’ hand. We do gross disservice to our self by splitting our self into good and evil, desirable and undesirable.
The way to ‘kill’ evil is to recognize there is no evil. All forces play an extremely crucial role in the scheme of things. What we consider evil, is something beautiful and divine in us seeking acknowledgement and acceptance. When we consider any aspect of our self as undesirable, as an individual, family or society, then that thing rises further taking on grotesque proportions.
The should, should-not teachings of dharma talk of shreyas (what is good for you), and preyas (what is dear to you and you would rather do), as contrary things. We learn that we must choose one over the other – that we should get over our desire to do what is preyas and choose the shreyas instead. This again is an incomplete perspective that causes a horrible split within. Our good lies exactly where our joy lies. Self-awareness makes us know what is truly dear and preyas to us, and how it can take us to what is good and shreyas for us. But we go about denying our self.
While we celebrate Diwali and the victory of light over darkness, it is important to remember to celebrate Kali too – the seat of the dense dark and the power it holds. The darkness in us, the times of challenge, depression, even delusion – hold immense power within, which can only be tapped when we go deep into that darkness. The trick is to carry the light of self-awareness in one palm and self-acceptance in the other. The dark night is silken beautiful – the literal dark night, as well as the metaphorical dark night in our life – both are silken beautiful. Go forth and experience it.
The night is the womb of power.
Image credit: http://www.vanamaliashram.org/TWELVEJYOTIRLINGAMS.html