All Indian households will perform one activity compulsorily, light a Deep दीप ie a lamp in front of the household deities, or their object of faith, at least once a day. This is so deeply programmed in us that even if we do not really know why, we do it daily. Some households light the lamp twice a day at twilights, ie dawn/dusk and in some, like mine, it burns continuously. Akhand Deep, अखण्डदीप the infinite unbroken illumination.
Physical light is considered to be similar to the knowledge of Illumination. It primarily removes the darkness and confusion caused by ignorance. You know the true nature of things around and about you once they are brought to light. The ogre under your bed disappears when you switch on your bed-side light. This is a permanent and lasting awareness. Knowledge is the greatest wealth which never diminishes even if you give it to everyone. You and everyone benefits when you give. When you give of your wisdom and knowledge, both your and your student’s clarity increases.
But then if it is about just the light then an electric light should be be used for doing pujas. Keeping with the times, so as to say! And you will find plastic lamps shaped like the traditional ones with an electric bulb fitted in it. These do bring in light, but they do not have the spiritual connection that a traditional lamp has. In the Deep, we burn either ghee/clarified butter or sesame oil with the help of a cotton wick. This Light brings Life.
Now oil in the lamp represents our karma. (Eg A good remedy to balance out the energies of Saturn is to light a sesame oil lamp on Saturdays with full intention.) If you burn ghee/clarified butter in the lamp, it represents the Vasanas, the desires which make up your mind and which reside in your individual ego. The wick represents the self-ego. When you light the lamp with intention it represents the slow but sure burning of the desires and the karma which were linked to the self-ego. The oil burns and exhausts, finally the self-ego also perishes, ie the wick is also burnt out. All your negative tendencies are burnt in the fire of the Deep. The flame of the light always moves upwards, a subtle reminder that you should always rise upwards, away from the karma, desires and the ego. Kundalini herself is fire, she also has to rise. When your soul is finally illuminated with self knowledge you realise the Parabrahma.
Now the Deepak is also a tool. It reminds you to use your desires and karmic actions to actively burn your self-ego and turn all this into light. Take control of your mind where these desires reside, train your mind to desire self-illumination. Use your self-ego where your personal Will resides and make it work for the Ultimate realization. The desires and karma if harnessed correctly with the self-ego can work wonders. Then the Vasana/desire is converted to the right intention. The self-ego fed by the desire to perform the right action, changes its character. What desires you feed your self-ego with, decides your evolution.
Now, it is ideal if you can recite a mantra while lighting the Deepak, lamp. Mantra is an intention expressed in Sanskrit (Devbhasha Samskrutam). Every sound of this eternal language is linked to your internal chakras, so it works on the deepest levels on you.
You can recite any of the following mantra,
The Gayatri mantra, Om Bhuh bhuvah swahah, Om tat savitur varenyam, bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prachodayat, Om ॐ भूः भुवः स्वः । ॐ तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम । भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि। धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात॥ ॐ (detailed post with meaning here)
Om Deepajyoti parabrahma, Deepajyoti janardana, Deepo haratu may papam, Sandhyadeepa namostute Om ॐ दीपज्योतिः परंब्रह्म दीपज्योतिर्जनार्दनः। दीपो हरतु मे पापं संध्यादीपः नमोस्तु ते॥ ॐ
- Om – Ultimate Reality.
- Deepjyoti – The brightness of the lamp, the eye of illumination, intelligence, lightning seen at the third eye, life, fire, meter of prosody, time, the light which precedes self-realization, etc
- Parabrahma – the unknowable Reality which cannot be described in the language of the created worlds. The ‘beyond intelligence’.
- Janardana – the energy which excites, causes movement and changes other energies. ie brings about creation, maintenance and destruction of the created.
- Haratu – request to take away, remove, carry, wear, destroy
- May – of me, for me
- Papam – inauspiciousness. (There is only one form of genuine auspiciousness, ie Self-Realisation. There is only one form of non-auspiciousness, ie Self-Delusion.)
- Sandhyadeep – the internal illumination that you see at your third eye in deep Dhyan. or alternatively the lamp which is lit at dawn and dusk. Sandhya is the junction where real and unreal meet.
The Agni Gayatri mantra. Om Sapta jivhaya vidmahe, havya bhadraya dhimahi tanno Agnih prachodayat Om ॐ सप्तजिव्हाय विद्महे हव्य भद्राय | धीमहि तन्नो अग्निः प्रचोदयात || ॐ
- Sapta-jivha Vidmahe – First ‘seven tongued’. This refers to the seven chakras from the Muladhar to the Sahasrara, ie their conscious energies. These 7 chakras are the seven tongues of the conscious energy of life. The intelligence of the fire animates these. Then ‘to get, to know, to find, to understand’. You are asking the conscious energies of the fire to bring you the understanding of your internal energies.
- Havya – means ‘an offering or to call’. Bhadra – ‘excellent, auspicious, great, gold, that portion of the Ganga which resides in the celestial realms,’ ie your Ida nadi. It means the one who carries the offered energies through your Ida nadi and distributes it to the conscious intelligence who creates your body/mind. Dhimahi – धीमहि is a verb in the present imperfect tense. धी/Dhi is Intelligence. This word indicates that Intelligence is never a stagnant closed end, it is in continuous motion even if it is in the present Moment. You are asking the Supreme to grant you that ever-evolving Intelligence of the present Moment. In short you are calling on the energy of the fire to take these energies inside you and build your body/mind.
- Tanno (tan nah) Agnih prachodayat – Tan तन् means continuing, uninterrupted propagation. Nah नः represents the ultimate creative energy and also the power to accept and receive it. It allows the seeker to focus on the infinite, thus become infinite himself. अग्नि: Agni is the conscious intelligence of fire. The ability to comprehend, to work, to move, animate, knowledge, illumination, the light of the third eye, the Ajnya chakra.
- Prachodayat means ‘to incite, inspire, urge, demand, excite, summon, proclaim, request, impel’. In short you are asking the conscious intelligence of the fire, ie the intelligence of the Ajnya chakra, by any means of action, to bring this experience to you.
Or finally. Om Shubham karoti kalyanam, arogyam dhana sampada, shatrubuddhi vinashaya Deepajyoti namostute Om ॐ शुभं करोतु कल्याणं | आरोग्यं धन संपदा | शत्रुबुद्धिः विनाशाय | दीपः ज्योतिः नमोस्तुते || ॐ
- Shubham – eternal auspiciousness, Parabrahma
- karoti – does, is
- kalyanam – fortune, benevolence, virtue, generosity, beauty, happiness, gold, self-realisation
- Arogyam – health, freedom from diseases, removal of afflictions. In the spiritual sense there is only one disease/affliction, ie self-delusion
- Dhana – gift, wealth, valued object. There is only one such, ie self-realisation
- sampada – to make complete
- Shatru-buddhi – Shatru is hostile enemy. Buddhi is the tattva in which the desires/vasana reside. These vasana are normally hostile and inimical to self-realization. If you can destroy their hostility, you can get this Buddhi to work with you for self-realization.
- vinashaya – to destroy to utterly annihilate. The inimical tendency of the Buddhi is annhilated, not Buddhi itself!
- Deep-jyoti – conscious energy of Agni, Ajnya chakra
- Namostute (namah astu te) – That infinite. That paradox of illusion and wisdom united together. That depth of stillness and ease of flowing movement together. That eternal unborn one in solitude. May that be!
And finally if it is too difficult to remember these mantras, just recite Om, three times, as you light your lamp.
When you recite any of the above mantras for Agni you are calling on all these terrible and terrifying forces which exist within your own self. You are giving them a safe and productive channel. This is the infinite power of Agni, it can be used to transform!
The lighting of the Deep, lamp at home is considered highly auspicious, it brings prosperity. And when you are doing this, for the 10 seconds, you are focussing very intensely on the wick, the match-stick and light. In spiritual terms, even one instant of intense focus is enough to bring self-illumination. The part is also the whole. So when you light lamp you are also lighting the lamp of true knowledge in yourself. The Agni/fire is called the Jata-veda, the ‘one who knows everything’. (A tip. If you have one pressing question on your mind. Light one Deep in front of your household deities before you go to bed. Think of your question and request the Agni to answer. You should get your answer in your dreams as you sleep.)
Agni is associated with the Raja gun of the Prakruti. Agni brings changes, it is linked to the potential energy of creation called Bhahmadev and the active principle of creation ie his wife Sarasvati. its conscious energy resides at the third eye, Ajnya chakra. This was the spiritual part of Agni.
When the energy of this Agni is differentiated, it also becomes at part of your internal constitution, ie in the panch-bhoot. It becomes differentiated and its tiny component resides at the Manipur chakra (Oudarya Agni), this takes care of your body’s heat, metabolism etc. Then there is the Aakaraja Agni which is present as the ‘heat’ in metals etc. Then the Divya Agni resides in the heavenly bodies, stars including our sun. And finally the physical Bhauma Agni which we see with your physical eyes as flames.
In Ayurved, Agni is associated with Pitta, it is heat. Its job is the transformation of food you eat and the pran you pull in from the Universe. And it controls all the psychic factors which drive spiritual evolution. If this Agni does not work properly you fall ill physically/mentally.
Now a few technical things. What to burn. It is ghee or sesame oil. For some typical rituals neem oil, mahua oil, castor oil, coconut oil is used. Do not use any ‘refined’ oil, it is a chemical product. The wick is made from white cotton fibres. (For doing some typical Devi pujas this wick is made bit yellowish by touching a bit of turmeric to it). You should make 2 wicks then make them one by twisting them. Never use a single wick. The lit wick of the Lamp should always be towards the east direction. Keep the lamp (should not be of steel/ iron) on a copper metal plate (don’t use a steel/ iron plate), keep a few grains of uncooked rice below the plate.
Hinduism is not a religion, it is Sanatan Dharm, the ‘Eternal way of Life’. You follow your own conscience and know that the law of Karma prevails. (There is no superstition here. And one cannot explain a Ph.D level topic to a pre-school child. The child has to go to school first and study till he reaches that level. If someone wants to criticise this Sanatan Dharm, it is the same, do study first. ie Do your Dhyan regularly for 6 months, see what you experience, then if your conscience says it is ok, go ahead and criticise.)
So if you feel like it, do light a Deep, a lamp in your house. This will not just light up your house but also your life and your energy on all levels. Experience your energy for yourself.