Tapas - Heat of Austerity
The festival of Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated in India with an unmatched fervor. It's the birthday of the loveable and extremely powerful 'elephant God', if you will! Ganesha is the harbinger of good fortunes, the gateway to everything auspicious, remover of all obstacles, keeper of knowledge, the patron deity of astrologers and scribes and the ultimate example of balance.
And as with any auspicious occasion, this day too is marked by fire ritual- the Ganapati homa, where He is invoked and blessings sought. The great thing about having a fire ritual in ones premises is that, not only is the environment rid of negative energy, one’s personal energy system also receives a boost. One has to simply sit through one ritual (of course performed by an expert priest) to experience the intensity that can be churned up within the sacred cauldron - the homa kunda.
The scriptures prescribe very specific procedures, chants and specific materials to invoke different deities. The common factor becomes the fire that is lit within the confines of the cauldron. As the offerings are made, the fire is beseeched to take the petitions, wishes and desires of the ritual performer to the higher powers through the etheric medium. The flames pick up intensity as they are fed, crackling and dance with raw, mesmerizing power.
It is a bottom line truth that humans worship God in their own likeness and the real purpose of each ritual is to bring alive the power within oneself – that, which one presupposes, resides in the high heavens! It's an attempt to raise one’s own vibrational energy to a level that divinity can manifest right here and now. Even a glimpse of that resourcefulness within, can make a person act, create and live from an extremely powerful state.
Lots to learn from the sacred fire
The intense heat of the Homa kunda can be intimidating as it serves as a reminder of how much of tapas (a Sanskrit word meaning spiritual heat generated through austerity), an individual can churn up, what purposeful living/ passions it can inflame, what one’s power in the moment really looks like!
It also becomes evident that burning produces brilliance...even when one is burning within due to difficulties and trials of life. Anything that is shining and resplendent is burning within - whether it is a candle, a bulb, the stars or the sun. Burning is a prerequisite for brilliance.
Where there is fire, there is smoke – and smoke is the significator of confusion, of delusions. And as it gets into the eyes, creating pain and a desire to move this way and that, the attention from burning gets deflected to just a desire to move away. If one can stay on, despite the smoke and the heat, all that remains is a purified being exulting in the amber warmth.
There is also the realization that it is a matchless creative force when raging in the confines of the cauldron. And this same fire could burn down all that comes in its way, if limits were not set. Tapas has perimeters that must be maintained - by way of ethics, universal laws and spiritual rules - the most important one being awareness. And if one assimilates this truth, it is a good day to start a fire within...