Saints have often talked of an ultimate human experience that is centred around the sighting and feeling of a supernatural light, and the accompanying ecstasy. A number of Hindu scriptures convey expressions of this profound encounter in a compelling, even awesome, manner. However, there are different interpretations to what exactly this means, as also the name for this ‘rapturous illumination’. There is no doubt, however, that an experience of the supreme bliss and brilliance of the Divine is firmly rooted in Hindu tradition. Light is another name for Enlightenment - which means the dispelling of the darkness of ignorance. Enlightenment is the primary term used to describe the experience of salvation in Hinduism and Buddhism (in fact the experience of enlightenment is common to most religions). According to the manner in which Reality is perceived in the different traditions, Enlightenment may be either the intuitive grasping of inner wisdom, the illumination of the Truth of the world, or the direct apprehension of transcendent Reality. During Enlightenment, the true self, formerly obscured by false thinking and vain desires, is suddenly revealed. The inner eye, which was blinded by the defilements of worldly living, opens to a vision of the true Reality. From that moment, life can never be the same for the enlightened person, as he begins to live by the knowledge he has acquired. Enlightenment is inner knowledge, the opening of the inner eye - the ‘eye of the heart’. It is the recognition of our original mind. The experience of Enlightenment is a quantum leap in thinking, a powerful conversion. Jesus spoke thus: ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’. The Quran says: ‘Those who believe will stand alongside [the Prophet], their light streaming on ahead of them and to their right. They will say, Our Lord, perfect our light for us, and forgive us! It is said in the Katha Upanishad: ‘Him the sun does not illumine, nor the moon, nor the stars, nor the lightning…nor, verily, fires kindled upon the earth. He is the one light that gives light to all. He shines’. God is the Light that shines into our souls. The highest light that the emancipated Self reaches is Divine by nature. This divinity is higher than the highest, greater than the greatest, and naturally brilliant. It is all light. This brilliance illumines the entire universe. Within the Divine light abides supreme peace and the eternal abode. Whoever encounters this extraordinary light achieves incomparable bliss, and the highest happiness... happiness beyond end. God is seen as the infinite light. In Indian scriptures God is the limitless light - the shining form that gives heat; unending are the rays of Him. He is self-shining, self-luminous. Many saints have experienced God as a great light. When we meditate and see the light at the point between the eyebrows, we are seeing Him as light. As Christ reveals to us, ‘The light of the body is the eye: therefore if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light’. In meditation we pray to God to come to us as light. If you don’t see light in meditation, then visualise God’s light bathing you, purifying you and freeing you.
The Indian scriptures define saintly attributes as peace, calmness, light, sound, power, love, joy and wisdom. The more consciously we tune into those qualities, the sooner we will reach our goal of union with Him. In the spiritual realm, beyond the material covering, is the unlimited effulgence, which is free from material contamination. That effulgent white light is understood by transcendentalists to be the ‘light of all lights’. In that realm there is no need for the external illumination from sunshine, moonshine, fire or electricity. Indeed, whatever illumination appears in the material world is only a reflection of that supreme illumination. The supreme effulgence spreads through both the material and spiritual skies. As Allah’s Nur is the light of all luminaries, similarly it has been stated by Vedic literature that Krishna’s effulgence is light of all lights as verified in the verses from the Upanisads and the Gita. To perceive and attain this light of all lights, leading to ultimate bliss, the Hindu tradition has several methods. In Yoga, the emphasis is on physical and mental preparation. Various exercises have been devised to prepare the physical body for divine realisation. But unlike some of the Yoga that is being practised in the West, in the Hindu tradition, Yoga is much more than just a get-fit class. The encounter with light and bliss comes through inward meditation. Similarly, in the Indian Yoga techniques, the Yogi is able to obtain the knowledge of the subtle, the veiled and the remote. Finally, the Yogi is able to attain the goal of his quest.
In Hinduism, encountering God often involves deep feelings of rapture and bliss. The Upanishads tell us that he whose world is pure becomes an ocean, the one seer, free from duality. This is his highest bliss. This supreme bliss is held very dear by saints. An enlightened person is the all-illuminating, the form of eternal bliss, the supreme essence. The saint who comes to realise God becomes immersed in an ocean of bliss. Whoever reaches this all-pervading and ever resplendent source of all light also enjoys supreme bliss by attaining the state of ultimate Godliness. The wise, who perceive Him, come to realise that ‘this is it’. They get to recognise the highest, indescribable happiness. The wise can see the blissful immortality that gleams forth. The soul becomes the effulgent light into which the entire universe is absorbed. For the true seeker of divine knowledge, the Self alone becomes his Light.
Dr. Rajesh Bhola is President of Spastic Society of Gurgaon and is working for the cause of children with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities for more than 30 years. He can be contacted at email@example.com