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Why is Diwali celebrated? What is its significance?

By Sadhguru Email By Sadhguru
October 2022
Why is Diwali celebrated? What is its significance?

Light is important because it means clarity—to bring down the murkiness in you and to beat the inertia. Diwali is a symbol of beating inertia. If inertia is taken away, a new light shines.

Diwali is not just about lighting lamps outside–an inner light has to come. Light means clarity. Without clarity, every other quality that you possess will only become a detriment, not a gift, because confidence without clarity is a disaster. And today, too much action in the world is performed without clarity.

On a certain day, a rookie policeman was driving for the first time through a town with his experienced partner. They got a message on the radio which said that there was a group of people loitering on a certain street, and they were asked to disperse them. They drove into the street and saw a group of people standing at one of the corners. As the car came close by, the new policeman rolled his window down with great enthusiasm and said, “Hey, all of you. Get off that corner!” The group looked at each other in confusion. Then he yelled louder, “Didn’t you hear me? I told you to get off that damn corner!” They all dispersed. Then, pleased with the effect that he had on people when performing his first official task, he looked at his experienced partner and asked, “Did I do well?” His partner said, “Not bad at all, considering that it was a bus stop.”

Life is a play of time and energy. You have a certain amount of time and energy. Time passes whether you are busy or lazy, whether you are healthy or sick. But your experience of time differs depending on whether you are joyful or miserable. If you are ecstatic, twentyfour hours will seem to pass like a moment. If you are depressed, twenty-four hours will seem like an eon for you. If you are joyful, it is a very brief life. For the potential that a human being carries, even if you live a hundred years, they will pass in no time. But if inertia has set into you and you are miserable, it feels like time is not rolling.Spiritual_1_10_22.jpg

When people are miserable, the need for entertainment increases tremendously. When people are joyful, they do not have time for entertainment. Joy will take up all your time. You wake up in the morning, and before you even notice, it is already night. When you are joyful, you will do everything you can. When you are miserable, you will always see how to avoid everything.

The culture of “Thank God It’s Friday” is catching up. That means five days of misery and two days not of joy but generally of intoxication. If you want to make people laugh, sing, dance, or do something joyful, you have to drug them, or at least give them a glass of wine—otherwise it is not possible. This has happened because in a variety of ways, people are creating inertia within themselves. When inertia sets in, life will seem too long.

Diwali is a symbol of beating inertia, because inertia is the source of narak or hell. Once inertia sets in, you will not go to hell—you will be hell. In anger, jealousy, hate, and fear, you create narak and become a Narakasura, the demon. If inertia is taken away, a new light shines.

Diwali is the day when the dark forces were put to death and light happened. This is also the predicament of human life. Like the dark clouds that brood in the gloomy atmosphere, not realizing that they are blocking the sun, a human being does not have to bring any light from anywhere. If he just dispels the dark clouds that he has allowed to gather within himself, light will happen. The Festival of Lights is just a reminder of that.

Life as a celebration

In Indian culture, there was a time when there used to be a festival every day of the year—365 festivals in a year. The idea behind this was to make our whole life into a celebration. Today, maybe only thirty or forty festivals remain. We are not able to celebrate even those now because we have to go to the office or do something else daily. So, people usually celebrate only around eight or ten festivals annually. If we leave it like this, the next generation will not have any festivals. They will just earn and eat, earn and eat—they will go on and on with just this. It has already become like this for many people.


These days, a festival means they give you a holiday, and you wake up only at noon. Then you just eat more, go for a movie or watch television at home. And only if they take some external stimulants, will these people dance a little. Otherwise, they will not sing or dance. It was not like that before. A festival meant that the whole town would gather in a place, and there would be a big celebration. A festival meant we got up at four in the morning, and very actively, lots of things happened all over the house.

Non-serious but absolutely involved

If you approach everything in a celebratory way, you learn to be non-serious about life but absolutely involved. The problem with most human beings right now is: if they think something is important, they will become dead serious about it. If they think it is not so important, they will become lax about it.

The secret of life is to turn this around: to see everything with a non-serious eye, but absolutely involved—like a game. That is the reason the most profound aspects of life are approached in a celebratory way so that you do not miss the point. The idea of Diwali is to bring that aspect of celebration into your life.

Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, and visionary, and a prominent spiritual leader. An author, poet, and internationally renowned speaker, Sadhguru is the founder of Isha Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to human wellbeing. (www.isha.sadhguru.org)

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