Of the little candle’s light
   Date :24-Aug-2021

William Shakespeare_1&nbs
By Vijay Phanshikar :

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world”.
- William Shakespeare in
‘The Merchant of Venice’.
 the candle has often formed a fantastic symbolism in human thought! The Candle, the little oil lamp, any inconsiderable source of light (that we often miss)! It burns itself fully and finds in that burn-out the consummation of its purpose of existence. It is only natural that in philosophical mood, man is often attracted to the terrific metaphor the candle represents. People of faith (all faiths), and ones without such an alignment, have found the candle good enough as a symbol of goodness in its fullness. ‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’, said a philosopher at another moment -- far removed from the time when William Shakespeare wrote ‘The Merchant of Venice’, fully conversant with the power of that little light in the darkness -- that the great Bard likened to a weary world.
And eons ago, in the Upanishad, sages wrote in Sanskrit Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya ... (May I travel from darkness to light). Darkness, thus, is to be shunned, replaced and repelled by light -- may be even from a candle, from a small oil lamp. This is how the human race often found enlightenment. In his famous prayer, St. Francis of Assissi said: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. The direction of the prayer is obvious. It may have been addressed to The Lord, but that Lord resides within man. So, the insistence is upon my own doing the right thing. So, let me sow ... light where there is darkness ...! Me. I am the doer. I am the dispeller of evil and devil. Yes, there is darkness around, but I cannot blame it, curse it. Instead, I must light my little candle. For, I know How far that little candle throws his beams! This very thought offers me such a great sense of empowerment, such a great sense of right and authority over darkness.
I realise, I have a terrific power of lighting up the surroundings, enlightening the inner being. That is how the human community has acted is sheer belief that no matter the darkness, the weariness, the despair around, everybody has that little candle in hand. Of course, poets also imagined a candle burning at both ends -- giving out a light twice brighter. This is how the sages live, possibly burning at both ends, unmindful of their total sublimation. For, in that sublimation is their true elevation. That is the power of that little candle! That little tool in our hand with power to dispel darkness.