Why do we light lamp?
Ever wondered, why we do light a lamp during our prayers and pooja that we offer to the temples?
The ancient tradition of lighting oil lamps has a special significance. In almost every Indian home a lamp is lit daily before the altar of the Lord. In some houses it is lit at dawn, in some, twice a day – at dawn and dusk – and in a few it is maintained continuously – Akhanda Deepa. All auspicious functions commence with the lighting of the lamp, which is often maintained right through the occasion.
Lighting Lamp Reasons | Significance
Light symbolizes knowledge, and darkness – ignorance. The Lord is the “Knowledge Principle” (Chaitanya) who is the source, the enlivener and the illuminator of all knowledge. Hence light is worshiped as the Lord himself.
Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness. Also knowledge is a lasting inner wealth by which all outer achievement can be accomplished. Hence we light the lamp to bow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms of wealth.
Why not light a bulb or tube light? That too would remove darkness. But the traditional oil lamp has a further spiritual significance. The oil or ghee in the lamp symbolizes our vaasanas or negative tendencies and the wick, the ego. When lit by spiritual knowledge, the vaasanas get slowly exhausted and the ego too finally perishes. The flame of a lamp always burns upwards. Similarly we should acquire such knowledge as to take us towards higher ideals.
“God is represented as a subtle, infinitesimal point of light. He is not visible to the naked eye but it is eminently possible to experience His presence and proximity in meditation. He is incorporeal in the sense that He does not have a body of His own,” says Shivani, a Brahma Kumari Rajyoga meditation teacher.
In Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism, lighting candles and lamps signify the presence of the Divine. In the Quran, there is a chapter devoted to the importance of the inner spiritual light that connects the pious and the faithful to Allah, the Most Merciful. Putting the spiritual significance in perspective, Swamini Vimalananda and Radhika Krishnakumar of Chinmaya Mission, say, “A single lamp can light hundreds more just as one person of knowledge can share that knowledge with many more — each of whom in turn can bring light into even more lives.
Lighting the lamp – Mantra in English
Deepa sarva tamopahaha
Deepena saadhyate saram
Sandhyaa deepo namostute
Lighting the lamp – Mantra in Hindi
दीपा सर्व तमोपः
दीपेन साध्यते सरम
संध्या दीपो नमोस्तुते
I prostrate to the dawn/dusk lamp; whose light is the Knowledge Principle (the Supreme Lord), which removes the darkness of ignorance and by which all can be achieved in life.
The light of the lamp stands for the Unmanifest Truth as well as for Lord Vishnu in His manifest form. Let that light of lamp remove my sins, results of omissions and commissions.
Shubham karoti kalyaanam
Shatru buddhi vinaas(h)aaya
Lighting the lamp – Mantra in Hindi
शुभम करोति कल्याणम
शत्रु बुद्धि विनास(ह)आया
Suvarna vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri
Sudhaanya vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri
Kalyaana vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri
Vibhoothi vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri
सुवर्ण वृद्धिं कुरुमे गृहे श्री
सुधान्य वृद्धिं कुरुमे गृहे श्री
कल्याना वृद्धिं कुरुमे गृहे श्री
विभूति वृद्धिं कुरुमे गृहे श्री
I pray to Goddess Lakshmi to shower my house with abundance, grains, auspiciousness and prosperity.
Keetaa pathangaa mas(h)akaashcha vrikshaaha
Jalae sthalae ae nivasanthu jeevaaha
Dhrishtvaa pradeepam na cha janma bhaajo
Bhavanthi nithyam svachaahi vipraaha
कीटा पतंगा मास(ह)आकाशचा वृक्षाः
जलए स्थलए ऐ निवसंतहु जीवः
धृष्ट्वा प्रदीपं न च जनमा भाजो
भवंती नित्यं स्वचाहि विप्राः
Learned people say that by seeing the brightly lit deepam, insects, birds, reptiles, trees and plants, all living things residing in water and light can be permanently liberated from bondages due to that particular janma.
The flame is fed on the oil of clear devotion and enlivened by the breeze of intense love of contemplation on the Lord. 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 benefitted. A better, more beautiful explanation for lighting a deepam, cannot be given !
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