Heart of Holi


Holi is a much-awaited festival of spring and is not only confined to India but also popular in the west. It is a festival of colours, fun, happiness, love and devotion. In many ways, it is the battle of love. These colours represent love. To win over each other with love that’s what Bhakti is all about. Holi also signifies the victory of good over evil.
This year we are in the middle of a pandemic; it may not be possible for most of us to celebrate Holi with the same vigour and vitality. Is everything lost? No! It is time for us to revisit what a festival is. The festivals we celebrate – Dusshera, Deepavali and Holi – are essentially associated with the divine pastimes of the Supreme Lord and His devotees.
The festival of Holi is associated with Prahlad, a great devotee. He was in the midst of the most gruesome situation we could imagine. But he was undisturbed and was always blissful; he revived his eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord through Bhakti Yoga. He was experiencing the unlimited love of Narsimhadeva.
This loving relationship can alone bestow everlasting satisfaction and joy as stated in the Bhagwad Gita, 6:22. The Lord being the Supreme controller protected Prahlad from being burnt in the fire when Holika, who had the boon to enter fire unscathed, took Prahlad in her lap and sat in the fire. Prahlad was saved by his devotion for the Lord, while Holika got burnt. Thus, Holi is the time to remember this devotion of Prahlad and to revive it within us.
We are living in a world of uncertainties and limitations; today it is the pandemic, tomorrow it will be something else. We are constantly plagued by enemies of lust, anger, greed, pride, illusion and envy. The only solution is to revive our devotion by following Prahlad’s footsteps. This way we can celebrate Holi every moment in our hearts, irrespective of our external situations. This Holi of heart is the heart of Holi.
Each one of us wants to have a colourful life – a life full of newness, thrill and fun. Every day, we try new fashions, cuisine, gadgets, apps, and hobbies. In fact, the whole economy today is based on promising and providing something new to the customers. Why are we searching for so much variety? It points to a deeper reality of our existence. We are searching for happiness. How we try to paint our life, but it soon loses charm. It is evident in our constant hankering for something new or our constant frustration with what we have. Is it a dead end? Is our search for everlasting and ever fresh happiness never going to succeed? Yes, it can succeed. The fact that we have a longing for everlasting and ever fresh happiness, implies that we have had an experience of such happiness in the past. Where was it? When was it? Why don’t we have it now?
Radhanath Swami