Lamps in Tamil and Sanskrit Literature (Post No 3502)

Research Article Written by London swaminathan

 

Date: 31 December 2016

 

Time uploaded in London:-  18-28

 

Post No.3502

 

 

Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.

 

 

contact; swami_48@yahoo.com

 

 

Prince Aja did not differ from his father in resplendent form, in valour and in nobility of nature as a lamp lighted from another lamp does not differ in brightness– Raghuvamsa 5-37

 

Lamp or Deepa is considered an auspicious symbol in Hindu literature. I don’t think that any other culture gives such a treatment to Lamps. Though lamps were essential items in a household in the ancient world, it did not get any sanctity in other cultures. Hindus light lamps in the morning and in the evening in front of God’s pictures or idols in the prayer rooms and worship god. They have special prayers for lighting the lamp and special places for the lamps. women won’t even touch the lamp during the menstrual period or periods of pollution. Someone else in the house will take care of it. They wouldn’t use the word ‘switch off’ to put out the lamp. They will say ‘see the lamp’ meaning see that it is taken care of. So much sanctity and respect was given to lamps in Hindu homes.

 

There are lots of beliefs regarding the lamps. If it goes out in the wind or falls down then they think it is inauspicious thing or a bad omen. Tamil and Sanskrit literature compare the wife as a lamp in the family. In old Indian films a person’s death will be hinted by a lamp going off suddenly or blown out by wind.

 

Hindu organisations organise 1008 Lamps Pujas or 10008 Lamps Pujas regularly and Hindu women participate in them with great devotion and enthusiasm.

Kalidasa use the lamp simile in several places:-

In the Kumarasambhava, Himalaya with Parvati, received sanctity and was also glorified as the lamp by its exceedingly brilliant flame (K.S. 1-28). The image suggests the bright lustre of Parvati.

Nagaratna or Cobra jewel on the head of snakes giving out light is used by Tamil and Sanskrit poets in innumerable places. In certain places, it served as light. This is also a typical Hindu imagery used from the lands ned to the Himalayas. We see such things in the oldest part of Tamil and Sanskrit literature which explodes the myth of Aryan-Dravidian theories.

Steady lamp is compared to the steady mind of a Yogi or an ascetic. Siva, on account of the suspension of the vital airs, is imagined to be like a lamp steady in a place free from wind. The image shows the steadiness of the mind of Siva (KS 3-28).

 

Manmata (cupid) is imagined to be like a lamp put out by a blast of wind because he was at once, burnt by the anger of Siva. Rati, Manmata’s wife, is said to be the wick f a lamp which when blown out emits smoke for some time.

 

In the Raghuvamsa, the lustrous herbs, burning without oil, served at night, as lamps to King Raghu. Kalidasa sang about these light emitting plants in many places which is not seen in any other literature. Probably some plants attracted the families of fireflies on a large scale (RV 4-75)  Phosphorescent or luminescent plants also KS 1-10.

 

In the Raghuvamsa, Indumati, wife of King Aja, all of a sudden fell from the couch and died. Aja sitting close to her also fell down with her. Kalidasa depicts the sad event by the image of a lamp which is apt and homely. Indumati is compared to the flame of a lamp while Aja to the drop of dripping oil (RV8-38)

 

In another place, the poet says “As the flame of a lamp does not stand a gale, similarly, son of Sudarsana who had no offering could not outlive the disease that defied all attempts of the Physicians (RV 18-53)

 

The king of Surasena is praised as the Vamsadeepa (lamp of the dynasty) in RV 6-45.

A son in a family is also compared to light in RV 10-2.

Rama is described as A Big Lamp of the Dynasty of Raghu (Raghuvamsa Pradeepena)

in 10-68. Because of him all other lamps in the delivery room lost their brightness. They became dim.

Woman- Family Lamp

There is no difference at all between the Goddesses of Good Fortune (Sriyas) who live in houses and women (Striyas) who are the Lamps of their Houses, worthy of reverence and greatly blessed because of their progeny (Manu 9-26)

 

Lamp of Wisdom is used by all the Tamil and Sanskrit devotional poets.

 

Iyur Mutvanar, A Tamil Sangam poet, is also praising the wife as the lamp of a family in Purananuru verse 314, echoing Manu.

 

Madurai Maruthan Ilanagan, A Tamil sangam poet, praised the son as the lamp of the family or lineage in Akananuru 184.

 

Throughout the length and breadth of India, largest country in the world 2000 years ago had the same thought regarding family and family values. This explodes the foreigners’ theory of Aryan-Dravidian divisions. We cant see such a praise for a woman or her son in any other ancient literature.

 

Peyanar, another Tamil poet of Sangam Age also praised the woman (wife) of a house as the Lamp of the House in Ainkurunuru verse 405

Lamp of Mind

In the Mahabharata, we come across a strange imagery of Mind lamp.

pradiptena va dipena  manodipena pasyati (3-203-38)

One sees the soul with the lamp of the mind as if with a lighted lamp.

–Subham–

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