I hope that — by God’s grace — this finds you and all your loved ones in the best of health and happiness. At this divine time of Diwali we line our homes, our rooms, our offices and our streets with brightly shining dias. The brightly lit lamps signified the people of Ayodhyas love for Bhagwan Rama and their joy at his return. On this day, we must pray that Bhagwan Rama returns to our own hearts and our own lives. In our lives, our greatest welcome to Him can be light not only in the oil lamp, but light in our hearts. If we light the lamp of love, of selflessness, of purity and piety in our own hearts then He will surely return to our lives!
There was once a king who was reaching old age. He had three sons and he was trying to decide which of his sons would be the heir to the throne. In order to test his sons and to determine which was the most worthy, he gave them each one palace and 100 rupees. He told them, In the next month I want you each to fill a palace using the 100 rupees. I will return in one month, on the day of Diwali, and see how well you have filled your palaces, and then I will decide who will be my heir.
The first son thought, One hundred rupees is too small of a sum to fill a palace with anything. Therefore, I will take the hundred rupees to the casino and turn it into one million rupees. Then my father will be very happy when I fill the palace with gold and silver. So, he took the money to a casino, and in the beginning he kept winning more and more money. However, rather than saving the money he thought, I still have so much time left until my father returns. I will enjoy myself with this money and keep making more. Unfortunately, after spending his winnings on enjoyments, his luck turned and he lost even the original 100 rupees.
The second son thought, My father must be joking. One hundred rupees is nothing. There is nothing I can buy to fill the palace. I could not even fill it with rice for 100 rupees! Therefore he must be tricking us somehow or joking with us. I will fill the palace with garbage, up to the ceiling. Then he will see that I understood his joke and he will be happy. So the son paid 50 rupees to the garbage collector to bring all of the garbage to the palace, and he filled the entire palace with rotting garbage.
The third son thought, Diwali is coming. My father will be here for Diwali. I cannot buy him any expensive gifts with this 100 rupees but at least I can decorate the palace and fill it with light. So the third son bought incense, candles and oil lamps. He decorated the palace beautifully with candles and oil lamps.
On Diwali day when the King returned to each of his sons, he asked the first son, My son, tell me. What have you filled the palace with?”
His first son replied, My father, I am ashamed to tell you that I gambled the money. In the end I lost even the hundred rupees you gave us. I have filled the palace with nothing but loss.
When the King went to his second sons palace, the son replied, My father, you will see that I have filled every inch of this palace and I still have 50 rupees left over. He smugly handed his father the remaining money and opened the doors. As soon as the doors opened, the stench from the garbage came wafting out, and the King immediately ordered, close those doors. He scolded his second son for having made a mockery of the test and also for having ruined the palace by filling it with rotting garbage.
Finally, the King went to the third sons palace. As the doors opened, the King saw the Palace filled with light. The son explained, My father. There was nothing material I could purchase with 100 rupees to fill the house, but as it is the time of Diwali I thought you would be happy to see a palace filled with light. The King was pleased and he explained to his sons as follows, I wanted to see not so much what you each would do with the money but rather what your tendencies are for life. I wanted to test how you each will live your life in order to determine who will be best suited to rule the kingdom.
The palace in this story represents our lives, and the 100 rupees represents our time and energy. According to the scriptures, we are given 100 years to spend on this Earth. However, in modern times we live even fewer years. The question is how we each will spend those years and how we will fill our lives. Some will spend their lives as the first son has done. They will squander much of their time and energy in the futile pursuit of enjoyment and pleasures. They end up with nothing.
Then there are those who fill their lives with garbage. They may save money but their lives are not livable; their time and energy go to waste.
Then, there are those who use their time, their resources and their energy to bring light to others. They fill their lives and the lives of others with light, joy and peace. Theirs are the lives which are truly worth living. Theirs are the hearts filled with light, signifying the welcome of Bhagwan Rama.
At this beautiful time of time of Diwali when we line our homes, our offices and our streets with rows and rows of brightly burning dias, let us ask ourselves whether our lives are filled with light. Are we using our time and our resources to bring light and life to others? Or are we squandering our time and resources?
On this holy day of Diwali, I pray that you will take this opportunity to examine the balance sheets of your own lives and that you will take a pledge to fill your lives every word, every thought and every action — with light, thereby bringing light and life to others.
May God bless you all.
With love and blessings,
Swami Chidanand Saraswati