By Anand Krishna
It is common – and quite normal – to celebrate light. God is likened to light. God is conceived as the Lucent and the Luminous, the Radiant and the Resplendent One. Darkness, on the other hand, has always been associated with devil, with negative power.
Not so with the Balinese, and the ancients around the archipelago.
Darkness, for those who still adhere to the beliefs of their ancestors, is as important as light. The two are complementary. Light is known because of the darkness. Without darkness as its counterpart, we would never know light.
Without the opposing force of darkness, the forces of light would not be distinguishable. Indeed, darkness is the space in which light manifests, happens and appears. Darkness is the canvass upon which the sparks of light are so beautifully painted.
Without the dark space, without the empty and blank canvass – no light, no painting, is possible. Darkness is a must, and one can hardly do without it.
The Balinese have been celebrating darkness for ages, for as far back in time as their history is. Darkness, to the Balinese, is not something to be dreaded. It is to be celebrated, since it is the harbinger of light, as light is the harbinger of darkness.
Yes, darkness and light are inseparable twins. They are both, in the outside world, and in the deepest recesses of our being.
The Shivaratri festival, the Night of Shiva, celebrated in Bali on January 14 this year, is a reminder of this fact, this truth. Shiva, usually, and quoted mistakenly, portrayed as the god of destruction, is actually the Recycler. Shiva is symbolised in the form of Lingam, or phallus that emerges from Yoni, or the vagina. This is the symbol of creation, new beginning, and the proclamation of the coming dawn.
Following the lunar calendar, Shivaratri falls on the darkest night of the month. This is when moon is barely visible to our naked eyes.
Interestingly this “no-moon” night is referred to as “new moon.” The night marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next. This is when the old and the new meet. The night reminds us of continuity, and eternity. The night reminds us of the Divine, and the divinity.
This is why the night is normally spent chanting the divine names to remind us of our inherent divinity within. Not that we cannot do so on any other night. We can certainly chant anytime, day or night. There are no restrictions.
However, doing so on the night of Shiva – the darkest hour of the month – is especially beneficial. Thousands of years before the discoveries made by our modern scientists – the sages and seers had already explained the connection between the moon and our mind.
The moon regulates the waters on Earth. The full moon raises the sea level. And the sea level drops during the no-moon nights. This happens in the world outside. What happens in the world inside us? We are more than 70 percent liquid – same as our planet.
Our planet should rightly be called planet water. For the areas covered by water dominate over the uncovered areas. Our body and all our organs are liquid based – especially the human brain, which is 90 percent liquid.
What happens in the world outside also happens in the world inside us. What happens to our seas, and oceans, also happens to human bodies and internal organs.
When the sea level rises, the liquids within us rise too. So if you are suffering from high blood pressure, you had better be careful during a full moon – a few days before, a few days after, and a full-moon night itself. Do not provoke the liquids in your body by consuming anything, which could further raise their respective levels.
It is therefore recommended to fast during a full moon. Meditate more – do some reflection and more self-introspection. Be still. Be quiet. This will regulate the liquids within you.
On the other hand, during a dark fortnight, the liquids in your body are more settled. The sea level drops. If you are suffering from low blood pressure, this is the night when you can afford an extra glass of wine, or some extra chocolates (consult your doctor first!).
And this is the night for chanting and singing, dancing and merrymaking. Your mind is more receptive this night than any other night of the month. Whatever you fill your night with remains with you for the rest of the month.
Once a year – in the first quarter of the solar calendar year – the Night of Shiva, the Shivaratri, is darker than any other night in the whole year. This is celebrated as Maha Shivaratri – the Greatest Night of Shiva.
During this darkest night of the year, your mind is most receptive. So filling it with thoughts of peace and love, joy and beauty, togetherness of harmony could change your whole mental outlook for the rest of the year.
The writer is a spiritual activist and author of more than 130 books, several in English (www.aumkar.org, www.anandkrishna.org). His organisation runs Holistic Health/Meditation Centres, a National Plus/Interfaith School, a Charitable Clinic and a Public Reading Room in Bali. For more information, call Aryana or Debbie at 0361 7801595, 8477490.Filed under: Anand Krishna