Why do we light a lamp ?

Discussion in 'Chitvish on Hindu Culture & Vedanta' started by Chitvish, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    In every Hindu household it is customary to light the deepam ( lamp) twice, both in the morning and evening. This is usually done in the prayer room before the deity. Our daily worship starts with the lighting of the lamp. All auspicious functions, religious as well as social, start with the lighting of the lamp. This custom has deep intellectual and spiritual significance.

    Primarily deepam signifies knowledge. All our activities should be governed by the light of knowledge, especially the knowledge of dharma. By this knowledge, ignorance or darkness is dispelled. We bow to knowledge which is the greatest wealth in our lives. Knowledge also backs our good as well as bad actions. So, the lamp which is kept lit for all auspicious occasions, is a witness to our thoughts and actions.

    Chinmayananda says

    “Where there is light, darkness cannot be;
    Where knowledge has come, ignorance must quit.”

    The following shlokas, chanted while lighting a deepam, say it all.

    1 - Deepajyotih param brahma deepajyotih janaardhanah
    Deepo harathu me paapam sandhyaa deepo namo(a)stutae

    The light of the lamp stands for the Unmanifest Truth as well as for Lord Vishnu in His manifest form. Let that light of lamp remove my sins, results of omissions and commissions.

    2 - Shubham karoti kalyaanam aarogyam dhanasampadaha
    Shatru buddhi vinaas(h)aaya deepajyotih namo(a)stutae

    I salute the Supreme who is the light in the lamp that brings auspiciousness, prosperity,
    good health, abundance of wealth and the destruction of Intellect’s enemy.

    3 - Suvarna vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri
    Sudhaanya vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri
    Kalyaana vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri
    Vibhoothi vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri

    I pray to Goddess Lakshmi to shower my house with abundance, grains, auspiciousness and prosperity.

    4 - Keetaa pathangaa mas(h)akaashcha vrikshaaha
    Jalae sthalae ae nivasanthu jeevaaha
    Dhrishtvaa pradeepam na cha janma bhaajo
    Bhavanthi nithyam svachaahi vipraaha

    Learned people say that by seeing the brightly lit deepam, insects, birds, reptiles, trees and plants, all living things residing in water and light can be permanently liberated from bondages due to that particular janma.

    The flame is fed on the oil of clear devotion and enlivened by the breeze of intense love of contemplation on the Lord. The wick is the intellect strengthened by impressions of strivings to cultivate the right values. This is the spiritual significance of a deepam compared to an electric light which can only remove darkness. Like the flame burning upwards, our knowledge must take us towards higher ideals.

    With a single deepam, we can light many more lights. But the original lamp does not diminish when helping to light others. This shows that our knowledge does not decrease when we share it with others. The clarity and conviction increase on giving and so the giver and receiver are both benefitted. A better, more beautiful explanation for lighting a deepam, cannot be given !

    Let us not overly bother about whether we should light 2 or 5 faces, use oil or ghee – these are all minor things and to one’s liking and convenience.

    Let me close with a beautiful quote of Swami Chinmayananda:
    Which else shall beautify a home
    But the flame of a lovely lamp
    Which else shall adorn the mind
    But the light of wisdom deep ?

    Love & regards,

    The photo of a deepam is posted below.

    Attached Files:


  2. vmur

    vmur Silver IL'ite

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    Beautiful Writeup!

    Dear ChitVish,

    That was a very beautiful write-up on the significance of lighting a deepam. While on this topic, can you also elaborate on what direction the Deepam should face, some people say, we should always light two lamps instead of one, and the lamp should be lit on two wicks joint together. I am always confused on what to do.
    It will be nice if you can clarify these and any other suggestions if you have.

  3. meenu

    meenu Bronze IL'ite

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    beautifully explained

    Dear chith,
    by comparingignorance and wisdom repectively to darknessand light you have told in simple languagehow auspicious and positive lightinga lamp is. the keeta pathanka slokam has so much meaning.. you really surprised us by an early post. Thank you once again in helping to drive away more ignorance from us.
    Dear vmur,
    My guru told us that two wicks joined into one symbolises jeevatma paramaatma aikyam, if yo know a little bit of vedantha. does this help?
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2006
  4. Priya Amarnath

    Priya Amarnath Bronze IL'ite

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    well done

    Dear Chithra

    Another beautiful topic very well explained. I cannot think you enough for making us understand the importance of lighting deepams in our house using ur fantastic language. Thoroughly enjoyed the slokam chanted while lighting deepams and Swami Chinmayanandha's quatations.

    Love and Regards
  5. purnima_2k

    purnima_2k Senior IL'ite

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    Elegant sight!

    What a beautiful topic on this beautiful day of Janmastami . Kannla othi vachukalaam pola irukku , nice velakku. Now its neivedhyam time here, so feel great seeing it. Feels like the lamp is lit in my house! :)

    Very nicely explained about the wick sharing its light, insects bugs etc getting rid of its paavams.I learnt a lot from todays episode...

    Pls keep up this enthusiasm going. We are truly blessed to have a teaacher like you!

  6. Ashna

    Ashna Bronze IL'ite

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    Why do we light a lamp?

    Why not light a bulb or tube light? That too would remove darkness.
    But the traditional oil lamp has a further spiritual significance. The oil or ghee in the lamp symbolizes our vaasanas or negative tendencies and the wick, the ego. When lit by spiritual knowledge, the vaasanas get slowly exhausted and the ego too finally perishes. The flame of a lamp always burns upwards. Similarly we should acquire such knowledge as to take us towards higher ideals.

    Whilst lighting the lamp we thus pray:​

    Deepajyothi parabrahma Deepa sarva tamopahaha
    Deepena saadhyate saram Sandhyaa deepo namostute

    I prostrate to the dawn/dusk lamp; whose light is the Knowledge Principle (the Supreme Lord), which removes the darkness of ignorance and by which all can be achieved in life.
    To Light lamp the Cow’s ghee is preferable but Til Oil is OK. This will genearte a positive energy in the house. The light is to be faced towards God. It gives a good feeling to see God in the flame’s light. Generally, Hindus perform Prayers at least twice a day.​

    1 person likes this.
  7. kanmani

    kanmani Junior IL'ite

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    A query about the lamp

    Hello Mrs. Chithra,

    That was a wonderful piece explaining the significance of lighting a lamp. The slokams along with the explanation makes it more useful. Tons of thanks for sharing such useful information. You are really making it easy for lots of young ladies here to know and learn such religious and spiritual stuff. Kudos to you :clap .

    Now, here goes my query on the same subject...

    Some people say the lamp lit to God should not go off by itself (because of the wick getting over or oil getting over, etc.) and it should be put off by us. I have seen people using a flower to put off the light and some people pulling the wick inside the oil and putting it off.

    Which is right?

    Please let me know. Thank U.

  8. honeybee

    honeybee Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Chitra ma'am

    elated to see this thread dedicated to "deepams".Lighting lamp..is a favorite activity of mine

    I have a couple of doubts..

    1.Is there a specific time frame to light the lamp in the evening?Some say.. the right time is before the sun set ie. around 5.30-5.45 pm..

    2.Is it correct to light the lamp first thing in the morning as soon as one wakes up ...or light it after one's bath? i have seen a couple of families light the lamp first thing in the morning


  9. Laxmi

    Laxmi Administrator Staff Member Platinum IL'ite

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    On Behalf of Chitra

    Dear all,

    Chitra gave me a call to inform that this morning she had to rush to the hospital because of an emergency opeation for her daughter-in-law. So she could not log in IL today.

    Hence I am posting this message on behalf of Chitra madam. She has apologized for her absence in IL and when she returns back from the hospital she said she would answer all the queries in her forums.

    Do not worry Chitra, IL always awaits you. We all understand that personal duties and responsibilities take up the priority. Please do take care of your DIL and we are praying that she gets well soon.
  10. Vidya24

    Vidya24 Gold IL'ite

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    speedy recovery

    Dear Mrs Chithra,

    We wish your daughter in law a fast recovery and healing. And please remember that our prayers are coming with all of you.

    love & regards

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