Dussehra, the festival marking the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king, Ravana, the victory of good over evil, is celebrated with great pomp & delight in the entire country. Colossal effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkaran and son Meghnath, stuffed with explosive materials are erected in open grounds & arrows of fire are shot at these effigies. The deafening blasts, along with the shouts of merriment and triumph from the spectators surcharges the atmosphere with festive mood. As every other tradition from Vedic Culture, this festival also reminds us of its core messages. Because of our existence in conditioned state, we live on sensory level and depictions at the sensory level easily registered in our minds.
It is symbolic for us to understand the consequences of stealing the property of the Lord. As stated in Sri Ishopanishad- ishavasyam idam sarvam, yat kincha jagatyam jagat”. Everything in this universe belongs to the Lord & therefore we should accept only things which are set aside as our quota. We should follow the path of virtue and goodness, bearing in mind the instance of Ravana, who despite all his might and majesty was destroyed because of kidnapping Lord’s eternal consort, mother Sita.
It must also be remembered that Ravana was amongst the most powerful beings not only on planet earth but in the whole universe. But the unlimited powers that were bestowed upon him for his steadfast devotion to Lord Shiva proved to be ineffective in front of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This proves the famous saying that “mare krishna rakhe ke, rakhe krishna mare ke!” However powerful a living being may be, when he is condemned by God, no one can save him, and, similarly, however weak one may be, if he is protected by the Lord no one can annihilate him. In this way, Krishna guarantees fearlessness to His devotees.
The effigy of Ravana depicts our heart as the effigy of lower godless nature. And the arrow is that of spiritual master’s instructions primarily of chanting the holy names of the Lord. By every arrow of maha mantra being shot, the demon of godlessness in our heart is getting weakened & wounded & we are getting more & more purified. As we keep doing it diligently, one day that arrow will make the whole effigy of godlessness burn & fall and then the sun of pure devotion will illumine our heart. That is the ultimate blessing that Dussehra promises us.
As the Lord is competent enough to destroy our evils both within and without, therefore Dussehra is not just an event that happened thousands of years ago. We want it to actually happen in our own heart & that too every day. The same Lord Rama who destroyed Ravana millennia ago has re-appeared as His Holy Name to destroy the Ravana within our hearts. Our only prayer should be to chant with sincere faith & devotion whole-heartedly. And ultimately when Lord Rama decides, that final arrow will come from our tongue, will go through our ears into our heart & will destroy the demon of lust completely. That will be the real Dussehra that will free us from maya’s shackles to return to Ayodhya, back to Lord’s kingdom.
Therefore, this time, while celebrating Dussehra, let us not be just satisfied with burning lifeless effigies of Ravana; let us also burn with the purifying fire of the holy names the living Ravana in our hearts.