Overcoming the Asura (Evil) within

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Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a festival of lights celebrated by over a billion people around the world. This festival is spread over three to four days and is one of the most anticipated times of celebration of the year. Homes are lit with hundreds of Diya (clay oil lamps) during this season, to signify the victory of good over evil. The day of Diwali is the highlight of this celebratory mood. Families get together to start the day with oil baths, then exchange gifts and sweets, followed by the most exciting event of the year – family fireworks and exchange of gifts. Fireworks begin before the crack of dawn and go well into the day. Words are not sufficient to capture all the excitement and celebrations associated with the Diwali festival. You have to be there to experience it. 

The reason for the exuberance

Our traditions have several stories of the triumphant victory of good over evil, and they are usually symbolized in the death of Asuras (evil individuals with supernatural powers, who terrorize the innocent). Diwali is typically associated either with the return of Ram after vanvas (after defeating the Asura Ravan) or Krishna ‘s defeat of Narakasur (another Asura). In many places, the awesome show of fireworks occurs when huge, firecracker-filled, effigies of Ravan are burnt, symbolizing victory over evil. Inherent to introspection, the Eastern mind also associates this with defeating the evil within – an act of self-purification. Many movie plots and modern spiritual teachings reflect this theme of removing the Ravan (evil) from within so that we simply have Ram (good) within. 

A different perspective: Can there be a deeper personal meaning?

All celebrations aside, have we seriously attempted the removal of all evil from within? Has anyone really succeeded in vanquishing the evil within? Are just human efforts alone sufficient to defeat the evil within? I don’t know how far you have gone, only you and God would know that. But for me, even after several years of introspection and attempts at self-purification, I realized I was getting no closer. My list of failures kept growing.  Then I discussed with people who were farther along than me, and they were also in the same boat.

Let’s even take one of the noblemen from India’s recent history, Mahatma Gandhi, who is a role model in this pursuit of self-purification. Mahatma Gandhi led a great life, and I admire his dedication to pursuing truth. However, in the final chapter of his autobiography My Experiments with Truth, titled ‘Farewell’, he states, 

But the path of self-purification is hard and steep. To attain perfect purity one has to become absolutely passion-free in thought, speech, and action; to rise above the opposing currents of love and hatred, attachment and repulsion. I know that I have not in me as yet that triple purity, in spite of constant ceaseless striving for it… But I know that I have still before me a difficult path to traverse …

The humanly insurmountable obstacle, but there is Hope

Well, if our Mahatma Gandhi, who got the title Mahatma for his great life, sincerely states that he still has a difficult path ahead, what does that mean for ordinary people like you and me? Even if we do our best, will we ever be able to defeat the Asura (evil) within? Is this why we think we need several lifetimes to get this right? Is there another approach? Well, the good news is that there is God’s approach, that is available for us to explore, where the Asura within us is defeated with God’s strength, not ours. Perhaps, learning to apply this purification might be the best Diwali Gift ever. Let us unveil this mystery.

The Asura (Evil) within is more complex than the external entity. To secure permanent freedom for us, God has to deal with our accumulated karma (past), and has to give us the ability to defeat our tendency to give in to evil (present). This victory over our past was accomplished when Yeshu, the immortal God, took upon Himself the full blow of punishment reserved for us and faced death on our behalf. Then Yeshu opened the door for Pavitra Atma (God’s Spirit) to come and live within us after His resurrection (He came back to life after conquering Death). When the Pavitra Atma comes to live in us, we have God as our Internal Guru, who grants us power over evil in each and every circumstance throughout our life. By continuous surrender to the guidance of the Internal Guru, we get victory over the internal Asura consistently. 

God loves us so much that He decided to suffer in our place, and grant each one who believes, true internal victory over evil.

Thankfully, God also knows no one is perfect and no one can do enough good deeds to earn their own salvation.  So God grants us Mukthi (salvation) as a free Gift – we are taking the liberty to celebrate this as Yeshu Diwali.

How to become God’s Diya (How to celebrate Yeshu Diwali)

To experience Yeshu Diwali –there should be the desire to allow God’s Light to manifest in you. It is a personal choice. When we realize we need Eternal Life and sincerely believe that Yeshu completely paid for all our sins, we can receive God’s Gift of salvation.  As part of this redemption, Pavitra Atma (God’s Spirit) comes to live within us. When we surrender to God’s leading through God’s Pavitra Atma, we become God’s Diya (God’s Light in jars of clay) – For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Yeshu. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God.

With great devotion, we pray to God requesting ‘thamasoma jyothirgamaya’ (please lead me from darkness to light), and God has answered that exact prayer in Yeshu. Yeshu said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness”. My dear friend, may you have the desire to invite Jesus to bring the true Light within you as you celebrate Yeshu Diwali – God’s victory over Evil within. The Light will shine in our hearts to give us this experience. This en-lighten-ment (Light within us) from God is available for everyone, and it is permanent, ‘The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness can never extinguish it’.  If you have already received this Gift, may His Light shine brighter as Jesus fills you with the Holy Spirit.

We wish you a Happy Yeshu Diwali. May you become God’s Diya, and celebrate the vanquishing of the Asura within.