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The story of Holi goes that there was a demon King Hiranyakashipu, who hated his son, Prahalad for worshipping God Vishnu. He had a sister, Holika who had a boon that she can never be burnt. To kill Prahalad, the king (his father) had him sit in Holika’s lap on a pyre - just in order to kill him. Strangely, Holika burnt and Prahalad came out alive.
This story is interesting but it does not explain anything much.
For simplicity, the believing Hindus have taken a very moralistic stand to say that this signifies the triumph of “Good over Evil”. We often forget, however, that stories in Hindu scriptures are mostly dialectic because they convey things to people who have reached a certain level of spiritual awakening.
On their own, the stories sometimes mean nothing. More importantly, Hindu scriptures and Spiritual paths are not obsessed with Good or Evil. The “Gods” described in the books certainly weren’t. If they were – even as the story – Brahma would have never given a boon to a demon!
To understand the story of Prahalad, let us go to “Yoga Vasistha”, a treatise where Sage Vasistha takes a 16-year-old Ram through the process of enlightenment.
In one of the processes, he relates the story of Prahalad. Prahalad was a devotee of Vishnu. Vishnu is the overall diety of the entire existence. In Spiritual terms, Vishnu is the Universal Consciousness!
What does it mean when we say that Prahalad was a devotee of Vishnu? When we say Vishnu “protected Prahalad”, what does it mean? Let us listen in to Prahalad himself:
However, one who is not Vishnu does not derive any benefit by worshipping Vishnu. One should worship Vishnu by being Vishnu. Hence, I am Vishnu. He who is known as Prahalad is none other than Vishnu; there is no duality. (Page 236, Part V, “The Story of Prahalad”)
This was a sentiment that Sage Vasistha underscored to Ram again. Basically, Prahalad had reached a level of consciousness that was known to be Vishnu. At that level of consciousness, which is equivalent to the Universal Consciousness, there is no duality. The mountains, the trees, the water, the fire is one.
Those who depend on devices to gain ascendancy over nature can succeed sometimes. They can circumvent what is natural sometimes, but they cannot come to terms and swim with the current of the Universal Consciousness. For normal human beings, a 100ft Ocean Wave spells a sure disaster. Even for large ships. But for Brazilian Carlos Burle, it was a fun experience! He rode a monster wave – created by the St Jude storm – at Praia do Norte, near the fishing village of Nazare, off the coast of Portugal! How does a large ship not survive a 100 ft wave, but a small human being ride on it for fun?
When you are in sync and One with the Universal Consciousness, then your living and existence are in flow with everything. Then fire, water, and other things do not impact you. You are them!
And, THAT, is the lesson of Holi! Osho also reiterated this thing clearly –
Look at nature: there is Existence enjoying Holi every day, and celebrating Diwali daily. In nature the colors flow afresh every day, new flowers open each morning. Even before the old leaves fall, the new buds are bursting out and the new shoots are springing up. The festival does not stop even for a moment — it is non-stop, every moment is Diwali. Such will be the life of a religious person. He will be festive each moment — he is grateful that he is. His every breath is an expression of gratitude and benediction. (source)
Holi is an experience of living in harmony with existence. It is being in the Spirit of existence itself. When you are One with existence, nothing harms you. That is the central message of this amazing festival of Holi.
Enjoy your Holi to the fullest!