May 27, 2024, Monday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

The essence of Vijaya Dashami

The Nepal Weekly
October 17, 2023

By Shrish Ballav Pradhan

Vijaya Dashami or Dashain is considered as a great festival of Nepal not only for the Hindus but also for those belonging to other religious backgrounds as well. We can notice that hundreds of thousand of people leave Kathmandu for their homes outside the valley during the festival. Kathmandu looks almost deserted, though looks beautiful with less emission of vehicular emission during the period of almost 10 days.

This festival is important not only from cultural point of view and from the view point of making fanfare. It also possesses great spiritual value, which very few people are aware of. Dashain, as the festival is popularly known for many, is not just the festival of eating, drinking, singing devotional songs, worshiping the Goddess, flying kites, playing cards, putting on new dresses and visiting relatives. It is much more than that.

The ten days festival, Vijaya Dashami, is also linked to our ten organs: five sense organs or Jnanendriya and five organs of action or Karmendriya. It is all about disciplining our sense organs and mind. It is all about purifying the mind or Antashkarana. One can attain Liberation or Moksha by disciplining the sense organs and the mind. The Sanskrit word Vijaya means victory. In fact, the philosophy behind Vijaya Dashami is not defeating the Asura or the bad spirits. It is to attain victory over one’s own Self. If we can properly manage our sense organs, discipline them in a right way then we can conquer the Self. Gautam Buddha once said, the real victor is one who conquers the self, not those who conquers thousands of enemy forces.

As per the legend based on Markandeya Purana, King Surath, abandoned by his own ministers and family members, goes to the forest and takes refuge at the ashram of Medha Rishi. Similarly, Samadhi Vaishya, a businessman, also joins him in the forest after he was abandoned by his own family members including his wife and sons. But both of them had attachment with their family and people despite the fact that they have renounced the palace and the house. To know the reality, both of them counsel with the great sage in the forest.

In response to their queries Medha Rishi says, the entire Universe is governed by Maha Maya or power of Illusion possessed by Devi, the Goddess. People are moving around the circle of birth and death and cannot escape from grip of Maha Maya. This worldly attachment or Moha, forcibly makes slave even great learned men, says Medha Rishi. We cannot escape from the bondage of Maya and Moha without receiving the blessing of the Goddess, he points out.

In fact, the term “Mohani” used by Newar community of Kathmandu valley to describe Dashain is linked to that Maha Maya or great attachment. The Newar community people put a black point like tika on their fore head beside the red tika to get rid of Moha and Maya, the power of the Goddess.

There are two types of tendencies prevelant among the people, Pravritti or Natural behavior and Nivritti or disciplined behavior. Eating, drinking, enjoying life, sex, sleep and rest are the natural tendencies or behavior which are also known as animal instincts. This is known as Pravritti. This type of behavior is common for both the animal and humans, which we consider as natural. In Pravritti, our sense organs turn outward looking for gratification of senses through external objects or Vishaya.

When we restrain our sense organs by learning the Vedas, and other important scriptures, and discipline our life with the aim of attaining Moksha or Liberation, this is known as Nivritti Marga. If we discipline our sense organs and mind through austerity measures, right kind of behavior, listening to the Guru and learning Shastra as well as through practicing meditation, then we will attain Moksha or Liberation and free ourselves from the circle of birth and death.

In the story of Durga Saptashati, the 700 verse scripture based on Markandeya Purana, it is mentioned that Asuras or demons Madhu and Kaitabha, arise from the ear of Lord Vishnu, who is lying on a great ocean. The Ashuras even try to kill Bramha, the creator of the Universe. This literally means that our sense organs usually seek for enjoyment and follow the objects of gratification or Vishaya and thereby we fall into the ocean of sorrow or the circle of birth and death again and again.

The fighting between Deva and Asuras is in fact taking place within our own mind for thousands of years, or from generation to generation. Our sense organs are running after subjects of gratification within ourselves. At the same time we also try to control and discipline the sense organs through our Viveka by following the Sashtra or receiving knowledge from the Guru. This inner conflict between negative and positive tendencies are the normal happennings in each one of us, which we may call Dev-Asura sangram.

In the final part of the Durga Saptashati, King Surath and Samadhi Vaishya both go to the river bank as instructed by the sage and worship Goddess Durga by making her image out of sand. They practice austerity, observe fasting, light incense to please the Goddess. The Goddess finally gets satisfied with their prayer and gives boon to both of them as per their wishes.

King Surath asks the Goddess to return his lost kingdom, which the Goddess gives as boon. On the other hand Samadhi asks for knowledge and Liberation instead of worldly things. With the boon of the Goddess, the King gets back his kingdom and enjoys worldly pleasure for years. Samadhi gets immediate liberation by receiving knowledge from the Goddess. In this way our Eastern philosophy teaches us two paths: the Sansara or the accomplishment of worldly pleasure in one hand and the kingdom of Heaven or Moksha on the other hand.