On November 25, 2015 the Hindu world will embark upon the annual pilgrimage to the water courses in celebration of Kartik Nahaan . This festival marks the culminating event in a series of celebrations that span a period of almost three months and like all auspicious events, is observed essentially, to draw man closer to his true nature.
According to mythology, Kartekai , the son of Shiva and Parvati, having defeated the demon Tarkasur, took a cleansing bath in the River Ganga to purify himself. This event took place in the full-moon day in the month of Kartik (October-November) and a blessing was given that whoever worships and immerses himself in any water course on this day, will be free of all impurities.
Far from being a mere allegory, this scriptural episode bears direct relevance to our own spiritual condition. The immersion into the vast expanse of water symbolises inner cleansing of negative qualities. We all seek to attain victory over the six enemies (lust, hate, anger, greed, envy, pride) which, quite often control the reins of our lives, giving direction to our actions, shaping our judgements and defining our relationships.
Of deeper significance, this bath represents our individual and collective efforts to attain the state of non-duality where each individual soul merges with the Lord Himself, realising that there is no difference between him and the Supreme. With the defeat of Tarkasur, who symbolises the illuminator of duality, there flows a river of spiritual fertility in the form of tranquility, serenity, faith, endurance, control of the senses and renunciation of selfish actions and desires. With such abundance, there is the experience of illumination and enlightened vision. In such a state of oneness, one perceives every living being as Divinity personified. Equality and equanimity mark all his relationships, and so too his appreciation, love and consideration for all. Elements of empathy, kindness, unity and compassion become the hallmarks of the purified individual who swims in the flow of the Gangaa.
From a metaphysical stand-point, within the subtle body of man, the Gangaa is symbolised by the ‘Ida Nadi’, one of three channels of bio-energy that directs our lives towards devotion. The individual who intensely pursues the path of devotion according to scriptural injunctions, also takes a dive into the purifying stream of the Gangaa.
While it is advisable that everyone must embrace the opportunity to engage in this process of inner cleansing, it must be emphasised, however, that we should not await the festival of Kartik Nahaan to rid the accumulated scum and moss from our lives.
In fact, this dive into the Gangaa is essential at every moment of our existence. Constant striving to rid ourselves of negativities and merge with Divinity should be our daily quest as we journey across the abyss of life. The flow of our lives should be flowing unceasingly with the Gangaa, slowly but steadily. In addition, each year as we celebrate the festival of Kartik Nahaan, we should be flowing further and further until we come to the source of the rivers and unite in oneness with Divinity. Gangaa Maataa awaits with open hands to welcome us all.