As I was growing up, even as a kid, I remember actually dreading going out on the day of Holi for fear of being drenched in color. It was one thing to be drenched in color by people you knew but things had gotten quite out of hand even back then with people on the street throwing colored powder at you. During the years that I wasn’t as lucky as to be able to avoid it, I got back from school unrecognizable looking at an abstract work of art! And the bad color made it hard work to get cleaned up!
The other reason that drove the dislike for Holi was a lack of understanding of the significance of this festival. One heard multiple stories and none of them in isolation or in combination made much sense or got one motivated to partake in the celebrations! And so I did my very best to stay locked indoors.
God explains to us that Holi is a celebration of being colored in the colors of God or the Supreme. परमात्म रंग में रंगना या परमात्म के संघ में रंगना – to be colored in the colors of the Supreme or by the company of the Supreme. When you understand it like that, all of a sudden it sounds pure, pristine.
But then what does it mean to be colored in the colors of God? There is the color of Knowledge and the colors of powers.
(a) The color of knowledge: The true meaning of Holi is understood as “its past” or हो ली. This is symbolised by burning old belongings or things we no longer want to keep in a big bon fire. Let the past be past and put a full stop. Whatever has happened, Baba reminds us, is history and all the kings horses and men cannot change it or bring time back. So bury the past and stay in the present. If you dont, you’ll be caught by surprise again and will spend your entire life playing catch up. The only way to prepare yourself for the future is to stay current and do an excellent job now, today not by worrying over what happened in the past.
God adds, become “Holy”! Holy means pure. Complete purity means not allowing any form of impurity even in my thoughts not just words and actions. Everything starts with the thought anyway and the impure thoughts include negative or waste thoughts that then lead us to speak or perform negative actions. The main causes for such thoughts turns out to be what Baba calls- परचिंतन (thinking outside), परदर्शन (looking outside) and परदोष (finding fault outside). In short extroversion! When we look externally, we fill ourselves up with what someone else is saying, how someone or thing looks and find ourselves busy finding faults in others. Imagine the amount of time we waste focusing externally which if we turned inwards would help us immensely in transforming ourselves. Self transformation is ALWAYS more profitable, easier and less dangerous! What’s more…..Baba colors us with the spiritual powers to help with this!
(b) The colors of powers: Baba fills us up with all the spiritual powers- all 8 of them which is one more than the colors of the rainbow!
- The Power to Withdraw (Symbol: Tortoise): The Power to Withdraw is the ability to disengage from the world around you. It is the first step in restoring calm and using internal focus to withdraw attention away from everything external. Going within at regular intervals during the day enables me to both accumulate and draw on my stock of inner strength.
- The Power to Pack-Up (Symbol: Luggage): Just as an expert traveler who will carry only what is necessary and useful to enable him to travel light, similarly I must learn the art of packing up all the wasteful thinking about the past, present and future and remain light and positive constantly.
- The Power to Tolerate (Symbol: Tree): The Power to Tolerate is the ability to not be affected by external and internal events and to respond to those events positively. Just as a tree can often withstand assaults from both human beings and natural calamities, develop the strength to remain unaffected by external or internal events and respond to them positively.
- The Power to Accommodate (Symbol: Ocean): The power to Accommodate / Adjust is the ability to expand and accept the ideas and desires of others. Just as the ocean accepts all types of rivers that flow into it, whether polluted or clean, I am able to adjust myself and accommodate all that is happening around me. At a spiritual level, and in the context of our relationships, we learn to accommodate or to evict. My simple acknowledgement of your presence is my first gesture of accommodation as I “let” you into my universe.
- The Power to Discriminate (Symbol: Jeweler): Discrimination is the art of seeing. Not seeing with the physical eyes, but seeing with the inner eye, the third eye. The power to discriminate helps to distinguish the real truth from the apparent truth, between things of temporary value and those of eternal value, between the superficial and the subtle. This power helps to recognize traps of illusion, however sweetly decorated and enticing. Through this power, I see through disguises and act confidently and wisely.
- The Power to Judge (Symbol: Scale): The power to judge is the ability to assess the quality of choices, decisions and actions in yourself and others. It helps assess any situation accurately, with clarity and precision. With a detached impartial state of mind, we can use this power to help discriminate the quality of our thoughts, words and actions and not to be judgmental of others.
- The Power to Face (Symbol: Fire): The power to face is the ability to confront and resolve external and internal obstacles, tests and challenges with great faith and courage. The spiritual journey home is a return to full awareness of what is true and what is right. But there are numerous obstacles, tests and challenges on the way. It is only with your inner strength, which is restored by knowledge and spiritual power from the source that you are able to face and deal with the inner dragons that rear their heads during the journey.
- The Power to Cooperate (Symbol: Moving Mountain): The power to cooperate is the ability to give your attention, time, experience and wisdom in the service of others. The picture of forgers lifting a mountain symbolizes the power to cooperate. Real cooperation comes from the deeper spaces of attitude, feelings, thought and vision.
All of these colors of knowledge and powers have within them the sparkle of love, love from Baba. If there ever was anyone qualified to teach us spiritual knowledge, about how to become holy and equip us with the powers we need, it is Baba. He is the Sun of knowledge, the most powerful, the Holiest and the Highest on High. He cares about us more than we’ll ever comprehend and gives more than we know what to do with. With the combined colors of knowledge and powers we are transformed which reveals itself as colors of virtues.
I now look forward to be colored! To be colored by the company of God. I am no longer filled with dread but rather with excitement and anticipation, with happiness and joy. And what’s more? This is color that I don’t want to get off but rather be colored in forever.
So open the door of your intellect and the window of your mind and come out by all means and join in the festivities. You’re invited! Holi hai!!!