The festival of VIJAYADASHAMI or DUSSEHRA celebrates the victor of good over evil, symbolised in Indian Mythology by the slaying of the demon king RAVANA by LORD RAMA,, and by the killing of the monster MAHISHASURA by GODDESS DURGA.
Every year effigies of Ravana are burnt on VIJAYADASHAMI which falls on the 10th day of the month of Ashwin in the Hindu Lunar calendar. Ravana is the personification of evil —– a learned scholar who gave in to lust, anger, greed and ego. Rama is the personification of virtue, the MARAYADA PURUSH.
We celebrate VIJAYADASHAMI every year, but are we really becoming free of vices ? Instead we are becoming slaves to our vices. Increasing corruption, immorality and materialism indicate a growing void that is being sought to be filled with possessions and physical pleasures. The increasing influence of vice in our lives is unwittingly reflected in the size of the Ravana effigies built for VIJAYADASHAMI, which grow taller each year.
Just burning wood and straw effigies is not going to bring us victory over evil. That can be achieved only by “spiritual effort”. The story of the Ramayana is a parable of how God, personified by Rama, and humans represented by monkeys, together can rid the world of negative tendencies.
The battle described in the Ramayana is an allegory for the struggle that goes on in the mind between our higher Self and our weaknesses. God helps us in this struggle by giving us the strength to resist evil and the wisdom to avoid deceptions created by ignorance of our true identity.
When we forget that we are spiritual beings, or souls, we begin to define ourselves in terms of our body and the labels that come with it —– race, religion, nationality and gender. We also measure our worth, and that of others, in terms of personal and professional roles, responsibilities, possessions, appearance and social and financial status. Such identifications with the physical not only begets attachment but also brings sorrow when our gross identity suffers due to ageing, declining social, financial or professional positions. It makes us vulnerable to vice, the cause of suffering.
We need to remove the veils of ignorance from the intellect, by becoming aware of our true identity as souls innately possessing divine qualities of peace, love and co-operation. With the practice of spiritual knowledge and meditation, we can purify our negative proclivities.
To make our celebration of VIJAYADASHAMI meaningful, we must resolve to take at least one step towards conquering our weaknesses, so that each year we move closer to attaining victory over them.. Thus, we can sublimate the negative propensities of Ravana living in our minds.
——- B K Brijmohan.