Story of Holika Dahan and Holi
What is painting? Painting is an art of putting colour in any picture or image, whether they are real or abstract. Madhubani painting, more popular term of Mithila painting is an art of putting colours of real world and imagination in the pictures of daily life of a Mithila. Though Mithila is spread across Bihar and Nepal, Madhubani being the pivot of the culture, paintings are known more as Madhubani painting.
Holi is played across India with much gusto and excitement, but its celebration in northern part of India is unparalleled. Like other parts of Northern India, Holi is celebrated in Mithila with lots of fanfare and excitement.
Story behind Holi
It is said that once Lord Bramha’s four Sons visited Lord Vishnu. They were stopped at the gate of his palace by two overzealous guards Jay and Vijay, because Lord Vishnu was taking rest at that time. The behavior of the guards was rude and it angered them a lot. While going back, they cursed the guards to be born as demons. When Lord Vishnu woke up and came to know about the incident, he went to meet them and apologized for the behavior of guards ask for lifting the curse. They touched the feet of Lord Vishnu and told him that both the guards will be killed by him and it will remove their curse. Both the guards took birth as Hiranakashyapu and Hiranyaksha.
Hirankashyapu and Hiranyaksha were sons of great Sage Kashyap with his wife Diti. Sons of Diti are known as ‘Daitya’ in the stories of Sanatan philosophy. Hiranyaksha and Hirankashyapu were devotees of Lord Bramha and started their ‘Sadhana’( an ego transcending ritual as a tool to achieve something) at very young age. Lord Bramha became very happy with their ‘Sadhana’ and gave Hiranyaksha the boon that he can’t be killed ever by any ‘God’, ‘Human’ or ‘Devta’ or ‘Daitya’, as he desired. Boosted by this boon, he started tormenting everyone across to prove that he is most powerful person in the universe. As his acts of terror and pain of people increased, Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of ‘Varaha’ and killed him. His killing angered his elder brother Hirankashyapu like hell and he vowed to take revenge. He again started his ‘Sadhana’ of Lord Bramha on one toe and after pleasing him with his efforts, asked for a boon of not to be killed by any ‘Human’, ‘God’, ‘Animal’, ‘Dev’, ‘Daitya’, nor in the day, neither in the night, nor inside the house, neither outside the house, not on the earth, not in the sky and not by any kind of weapon. Lord Bramha was pleased with his ‘Sadhana’, so he granted the desired boon. After getting the boon, he also started tormenting every living being in the universe. He got so immersed in the ego of his powers and was so consumed in anger to take revenge that he forgot everything other than his quest to bring Lord Vishnu to fight with him. But destiny had written something else for him.
He had a son named Prahlad, who was ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. He always had Lord Vishnu’s name on his lips. When it was brought to Hirankashyapu’s notice, his anger knew no bound. But since Prahlad was his own son, he tried to convince him to give up worship of Lord Vishnu and gave him all kind of temptations and threat. But Prahlad took to none of it and continued his worship. Angered Hirankashyapu order his sister Holika to take Prahlad to burning pyre of woods, thinking that this will kill him, because Holika had a shawl as boon from Lord Bramha, which had power to protect her from fire. Holika sat on burning pyre of woods, as instructed by her brother, with Prahlad in her lap. But both were so mad in ego of power and anger of revenge that they forgot this fact that Lord Vishnu is preserver of this universe or all other universes, if they exists. As Holika sat on the pyre, strong wind blew the shawl from her body and covered Prahlad and resultantly, Holika got burned and turned completely into ash. As the news of death of Holika reached Hiranakashyapu, his anger grew even more. Now he decided to kill Prahlad himself. This was the time of evening, nor the day, neither night. As he was entering the gate of Prahlad’s palace, a Lion Man suddenly appeared and caught him. He was Lord Narsimha, incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was neither ‘Man’, nor ‘Animal’, not a ‘God’ per se, not a ‘Dev’, not a ‘Daitya’. He lifted Hiranakashyapu, slammed on his thighs. Hiranakashyapu was neither on earth, nor in sky. Lord Narsimha teared him apart in two pieces with his nails. Lord Bramha’s boon turned true for Hiranakashyapu; he was killed by half man half animal, at the gate of his son’s palace, while hanging between earth and sky in the evening without any weapon. After his killing, entire universe celebrated by playing with colours, which had gone missing from their life.
But how can any story be complete without its true meaning. So, now let’s dive deep into this story and see what it actually has for us.
What It Means
Lord Vishnu is universal body which encompasses everything which exists inside it, Lord Shiva is the universal conscience, consciousness, knowledge, awareness and rule which run this body and both can’t and must not be looked separately. When the body works with the rule, it creates something. This aspect of the body and rule is Lord Bramha.
We as a living being are microcosm of universe. We have their qualities. We start from them and we go back to them to again come back to relive our karma. This process goes on till our last karmic debt is paid. Our all karma is combination of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Bramha and we can’t ignore any of it, most importantly the first two. If we do so, our karmic debt will continue to pile on and we will be tied in this physical world in different forms till eternity. Our objective of life should be to unite our whole of self with the source, the nature, the universe, the one.
Holika is our that part of self which covers us with her shawl of our ignorance about universal existence, the nature, the one and our connect with it. So, we must seek knowledge and power to destroy this ignorance. When we apply colour over each other, we merge all three of it together to make them as one. Colours make differences disappear and make everyone look like one. This symbolizes oneness with the one of which we are part of.
Let us look back at the painting once again. Is it looking the same now? Is it just two people playing with colours or something else? It something else and I bet you know it…..
Go and celebrate Holi……. Happy Holi to you all.