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Happy Holi - Drench Yourself in the Color of Devotion

Holi - Festival of colors

Happy Holi - Drench Yourself in the Color of Devotion

“The path of divine love is a nitya-utsav (eternal celebration.) Sing Shree Krishna’s glories, dance, think of Him, and rejoice in His service,” elucidates Swami Mukundananda. Life becomes a sweet, continuous celebration when our every thought, word, and action revolves around the Madhurādhipati (the Lord of sweetness.) This is the only formula for everlasting peace, enabling us to conquer our inner foes, reveals Shree Krishna compassionately in Bhagavad Gita 7.14:

दैवी ह्येषा गुणमयी मम माया दुरत्यया |
मामेव ये प्रपद्यन्ते मायामेतां तरन्ति ते || 
daivī hyeṣhā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te

“My divine energy Maya, consisting of the three modes of nature, is very difficult to overcome. But those who surrender unto me cross over it easily.”

Therefore, the only way to transform this material existence in to an incessant celebration is to immerse all our senses in the divine color.  Many devotees – Ambarish, Prithu, Janak - have done this before, and most importantly Prahlād, whose glorious life we celebrate on the day of Holi. 

While Prahlād was a child, his father Hiraṇyakaśipu sent him to Sanda and Amarka, Sukracharya's two sons, to be educated. One day, he took Prahlād on his lap, and affectionately asked, “My dear son, what is the best subject that you have studied at the gurukul so far?”  

“O Father, I have learnt that any person, who considers himself as the body, falls in a steep, dark well, with no water but only suffering. Therefore, one should take the shelter of the Supreme Lord,” responded the spiritually exalted Prahlād. Exasperated, Hiraṇyakaśipu asked Sanda and Amarka to take Prahlād back to the gurukul and teach him while ensuring that no Vishnu devotee influences his intellect. 

Less did Hiraṇyakaśipu know of how Prahlād, the pure-hearted devotee of Vishnu, learnt everything that Devarishi Narad instructed him while he was in his mother’s womb. Although born in the family of asura, he was absorbed in the thoughts of Vishnu, and was completely devoid of material desires. Therefore, when Hiraṇyakaśipu asked him again what knowledge was the best, Prahlād replied;

श्रवणं कीर्तनं विष्णोः स्मरणं पादसेवनम् 
अर्चनं वन्दनं दास्यं सख्यमात्मनिवेदनम्
इति पुंसार्पिता विष्णौ भक्तिश्चेन्नवलक्षणा
क्रियेत भगवत्यद्धा तन्मन्येऽधीतमुत्तमम्

śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam 
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam 
iti puṁsārpitā viṣṇau bhaktiś cen nava-lakṣaṇā 
kriyeta bhagavaty addhā tan manye ’dhītam uttamam  (Shrimad Bhagavatham 7.5. 23-24)

“Listening to God's glorious pastimes, chanting His names and eulogizing His traits, constantly remembering Him and discerning Him everywhere, dedicating all actions at His lotus feet, worshiping Him, prostrating to Him, serving Him, perceiving Him as a friend and well-wisher, and surrendering to Him completely are the nine spiritual practices. I consider this as the highest knowledge.”

Prahlād’s words infuriated Hiraṇyakaśipu, who considered himself as God and forced everybody in his empire to worship him. Therefore, he tried to annihilate Prahlād in every possible way he could think. However, Prahlad blissfully continued worshipping the Lord and chanting His name every waking moment, even when Holika, Hiraṇyakaśipu’s sister, tried to destroy him in the fire. 

When the Lord descended as Nṛsiṁha bhagavan and offered to bestow any boon upon him, Prahlād humbly pleaded, “O my Lord, I am a servant who asks for nothing from his master. However, since I have to obey your orders, I pray you bless me with a heart that never asks you for anything.”

Such is the nature of a true devotee. When we realize God is our ultimate goal, the external world stops tormenting us, and we can cross the bhav-sāgar (material ocean) very easily.  Moreover, every second of our existence here on earth becomes a fulfilling moment. The more we desire to perform every act for His pleasure, the purer our mind becomes, leading to peace and joy.  A poet has put this point across very well:

या अनुरागी चित्त की, गति समझै नहि कोय।
ज्यों ज्यों डूबे श्याम रंग, त्यों त्यों उज्जवल होय || 

yā anurāgi chitta ki, gati samajou nahi koya |
jyon jyon dubhe shyam rang, thyon thyon ujjaval hoya ||

“People do not understand how this mind functions. The more it is drenched in the color of the Lord, the more resplendent it becomes.”