India's spiritual approach to coronavirus

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

On Sunday 5 April India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, requested the whole country to turn off their lights at 9 pm for 9 minutes and light oil lamps, candles or torches. Based on an ancient text known as the Yoga Vasishta, the idea behind his request was that collectively believing and praying to be free from coronavirus enlists the power of the collective consciousness to see that this happens. India responded to this call, lighting candles and lamps in an inspiring display of unity.

The vigil was a wonderful example of the spiritual approach to life that has been so strongly maintained throughout India’s history. It brought to life concepts that are central to Indian philosophy: the fundamental unity of all forms of life, and the need to establish a conscious relationship with this unity. (Traditionally meditation and yoga practices are geared towards this experience of unified awareness.)

The candlelit vigil also highlights image of light that has long been associated with the inner resources of the soul in Indian spiritual literature. We can see this image beautifully expressed in the ancient text of the Brihad-Aranyaka Upanisad (Chapter IV), during a conversation between the sage Yajnavalka and a king named Janaka:

“…When the sun is set, Yajnavalka, and the moon is also set, and the fire has sunk down, and the voice is silent, what is then the light of man?”

“The soul then becomes his light; and by the light of the soul he rests, goes forth, does his work, and returns.”

“What is the soul?” asked then the king of Videha.

Yajnavalka spoke. “It is the consciousness of life. It is the light of the heart”.

In many ways it’s this inner light we need to draw upon to get us through this extraordinary period. If you’re experiencing some dark times emotionally during our global crisis, maybe you could try lighting a little candle or two as a reminder of this light each of us has deep within.

Its illumination helps us to see the bigger picture: the fact that this crisis as part of a Grand Design that will ultimately benefit our beautiful planet. It will pass…and some wonderful things will grow from the fertile soil of spiritual progress we’re making “behind the scenes”.

Stay well. Take care.



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