Forever spring evening

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 10 Apr 2018 10:33:40


By Vijay Phanshikar

Lighting one candle
with another candle --
spring evening.

- A haiku by Yosa Buson

ThIS thought is as ancient as human
civilisation. Humans have often lighted one candle with another. They have often sought light from others and have carried it forward. This journey -- of light giving way to light -- has gone on forever, beyond human memory!
Each time a candle is sought to light
another, it deepens -- or heightens -- human nostalgia of how our common journey has gone on in candle-light!

Yes, very much ‘nostalgia’. For, when
darkness is pervading, when there is nothing to be seen, there is something to be looking forward to -- light. It is in that state of anxiety that darkness often spells that we seek light. And when we find a candle, a small lamp, we feel a sense of elation and
elevation that words can hardly capture. For, when darkness actually engulfs us, our minds are filled with nostalgia of light, even a frail one -- as frail as that of a candle or an oil lamp.

One can sense a very interesting tendency in candles -- or oil lamps -- as well. Once they start giving out light, they also appear eager to pass the light to some other candle or lamp. Sensitive minds can sense this urge -- to give out light, to dispel darkness in a vaster area, to open the doors of hope.

This haiku, however, takes the thought even further:
Lighting one candle
with another candle --
spring evening.

It talks of spring evening!
What is so special about spring evening?
Everything, so to say.
For, when spring comes, mood changes. When spring advances, Nature assumes spring in its steps, become more sprightly, more bouncy, happy, joyous!

When one candle lights another, it reminds us of a spring evening. For, spring talks of sprightliness, and candle’s light talks of hope, of an indication of looking forward to a zone beyond darkness, the zone of light, of openness, of knowledge, of an unusual camaraderie ...!

A song in the 1964 Hindi movie Sant Dnyaneshwar springs up from the mind’s deep well of nostalgia:
Jyot se jyot jagate chalo, prem ki Ganga bahate chalo ...!
(Light a flame by another flame, keep flowing the Ganga of love)...!

This song also embodies an eternal truth -- light often seeks to spread itself. So, when spring evening brings certain darkness, human thought veers back to that little candle, that little oil lamp, to seek light, to light another candle -- so that spring evening also is full of hope, full of spright, full of a dynamic human journey.

A Baha’i teaching says, “Light a candle or curse darkness”.
In all cultures that humans have built over time, light has been sought as a source to combat physical darkness, to dispel ignorance and usher in knowledge.

“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”, is another profound statement attributed to many persons -- including Confucius, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others. It is often cited as an embodiment of positivism -- don’t curse the darkness; light your own candle. At least for you, that little act would spell light.

Ancient Indian wisdom, as highlighted in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, insists upon another journey humans must seek --
Tamaso maa jyotirgamay ...
(May I seek to travel from darkness to
light ...)!
All these philosophies the Yosa Buson haiku states in simpler words:
Lighting one candle
with another candle --
spring evening.

With a metaphorical candle in the hand, one can live in spring evening forever.