“They’re coming! Our king and queen are coming! Ram, our beloved God, and Sita, our beautiful queen, are finally coming home!” Thus rejoiced the happy citizens of Ayodhya centuries ago when Ram and Sita returned. After long years away, the living light was returning to Ayodhya, and the people were placing lamps along the road to celebrate the occasion.

This event, central to the Ramayana (one of two great spiritual epics of India), has inspired people for thousands of years. Even today the victory of light over darkness fills a deep soul-longing in the heart of humanity.

Diwali, the Festival of Light, is celebrated throughout India. Lights can be seen everywhere: strings of it decorating balconies and windows, candles placed in doorways and windows and on the altars of homes, and fireworks bursting like stars in the night sky. It’s not only in India that Diwali is celebrated. In New York City it is an official public holiday, given that there are over 200,000 people of Indian origin living there. Diwali is celebrated in the White House and, of course, in the U.K., which now has the first prime minister of Indian origin. The light of Diwali is, indeed, spreading around the world.

Of course, these outward displays are what might be called “social Diwali.” Spiritual Diwali is our daily return to the light in the spiritual eye, which can be experienced in every meditation.

Throughout long cycles of time, this theme—the triumph of light over darkness—has recurred in many different forms. For much of the Western world, it is celebrated at Christmas time, when the Christ was born. Each race and culture recognizes and celebrates light in its own special way.

the return of the light

This holy season is a good time to open our hearts, to recognize and give thanks to the people and events that have been channels for God’s light and love to us. For many of our readers, our “Diwali” is the coming of Paramhansa Yogananda, often experienced when we first read Autobiography of a Yogi. Take a moment to reflect on how God has come into your life, and offer prayers of gratitude. Meditate for a while on all the people—family, friends, and teachers—who have been channels of Divine Mother’s love to you.

One of the things that Devi and I try to do in these weekly essays is to share little moments of inspiration that occur in our lives. As a Diwali gift we were given a small book, 365 Quotes by Gandhi, and I thought it would be nice to share with you a few rays of Gandhi’s light.

“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing there will be no results.”

“Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love.”

“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.”

In a Diwali talk that Swami Kriyananda gave in India in 2004, he urged everyone to fully open themselves to God’s light. That, however, is not enough. He went on to say that we should also strive to see the light of God in everyone we meet, and that we must actively spread God’s love to a world that desperately needs it.

Let each of us be a channel of light and live every day as if it were Diwali, a new dawning of the divine light.

In God’s light,

Nayaswami Jyotish